Excerpts from “A Madman’s Soul” by Doug Dean

Originally posted on Cannabis Dialogs:

CHAPTER 1: Psychosis
by Doug Dean

Running To or From?
Was I going to something, or going from something?

That’s what a psychiatrist asked when I requested an Against Medical Approval (AMA) release. Little did I know this document was unnecessary for those, like me, who were here under their own freewill. What sane person would voluntarily be confined to a sanatorium?

I had been at the notorious Illinois Psychiatric State Institute (8E-ISPI) for three months without knowing this – or much of anything else. My stayed at ‘ISPI’ was provided by the taxpayers of Illinois State, represented by the first two letters of ISPI (pronounced ‘is-pee’). Psychiatric Institute was the ‘pee.’ I stayed on the east wing of the eighth floor, which explains the 8E.

I learned a few things about “institutional living,” a paradigmatic oxymoron if there ever was one. One is official authorities mischaracterize truth for their…

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Excerpts from “A Madman’s Soul” By Doug Dean

CHAPTER 3: One More Case

Bottom Up or Top Down?
It would come to be the hardest case he lent his analytical mind to. Could sense be made of another disjointed life by connecting its dots into a coherent whole? The partial records from Illinois State Psychiatric Institute would be the only non-subjective accounts he would have to work with. Doug would have to rely on the subjective accounts of psychotic memories.

Three pages of faded progress notes provided the only independent information available. The mimeographed records, filled with typos and corrective pencil markings, were as hard to decipher as the patient himself;

“Patient received a significant amount of over protection during his childhood years particularly from mother, an aggressive dominant figure in the home. The relationship between the parents was a poor one and the over protective attitude of mother appears somewhat to have been a displacement of feelings from father to patient. This displacement included not only affection but probably also hostility and aggressiveness.”
– ISPI Records No. 01-78-71

Doug took his family, education and career seriously – and in that order. He was known as a hard worker and delighted in working the toughest cases. Thirty years in mental health told him this was a worthwhile project to “soften the landing” left by the time vacancy of his retirement.

Doug learned to deal with the mentally damaged by starting from the bottom up. He honed his ‘no nonsense’ approach from directing a chronic mentally ill facility after implementing behavior modification programs for developmentally delayed residents. He liked to get his “hands dirty,” he would say, after convincing some schizophrenic to put down a weapon. But nothing prepared him for the most difficult population anyone has ever worked with; teenagers.

“There appears to have been repeated traumatic experiences associated with death of grandparents and finally a parent during grammar school period of this patient’s life. Patient became even more insecure and threatened by separation and abandonment and was thus even more vulnerable to the overtures of mother during this period. Patient’s self-esteem was inadequate and this too was useful in fitting into the relationship with mother who appeared to nurture the patient’s feeling of inadequacy and dependency upon her.”
– ISPI Records No. 01-78-71

Doug was unusual for someone working in an educational bureaucracy because he thought out of the box. In fact, he could be heard complaining that he couldn’t think in the box. Humor peppered his interactions and he was said to become calmer when others became more upset. Doug took his career as an educational psychologist seriously. Priorities were important to remember when decisions are weighed in the day to day world. Doug knew his priorities.

This case was different, Doug thought, it felt heavy in a way that would test his ability to stay objective. Staying on top of any therapeutic situation was vital for a patient to feel free to subject themselves to awful memories. He knew overwhelming pain had to be kept in check in order to function normally. “I just got on with life,” Doug heard many a survivor say.

“As adolescent activity and growth ensured, the patient was confronted with feelings of aggressiveness and the reality situation of progressing in school, employment, and maintain a position of increased independence. These factors were significantly threatening for the patient and only served to foster a regressive type of behavior which was further aggravated by use of alcohol and drugs.”
– ISPI Records No. 01-78-71

Doug knew he had to get beneath hard calluses built up from constantly rubbing others the wrong way. “It’s a emotional callus cushioning the trauma experienced of being institutionalized followed by homelessness,” he thought metaphorically. What would it be like to reliving that part of life left numb by years of conscious neglect? “One more case,” Doug thought.


Before retiring Doug learned what ‘keep your friends close and your enemy’s closer’ meant in real time. Survival in a bureaucracy depended on it, especially when making six figures during a world recession. Parents considered it their responsible to see to it that public employees did their jobs rightly, while teachers resented colleagues earning more than they did. Retiring two year ahead of time was not in his plans, but Doug had enough of union loafers and self righteous administrators.

“The kid doesn’t have a chance,” was all Doug said. The principal of Doug’s school wanted nothing to do with this homeless family anymore. Little did Doug know that this would be his last day employed as a school psychologist. He had managed his way through over two decades of working with special education students, whom he enjoyed immensely. It was everyone else that drove Doug nuts; parents, teachers and administrators. He liked the clerks and maintenance crew.

The department clerk, the first defense from becoming a bureaucratic scapegoat, rang Doug’s extension; “You might want to know there’s something brewing in the Seriously Emotional Disturbed (SED) class,” the clerk reported. “I’ll deal with it when I learn about it through the proper channels,” Doug reluctantly responded. “Okay. Good luck” could be heard as the receiver fell back into its cradle.

True to clerk’s words, in three days time the principal himself called, “I need to see you in my office immediately, there’s another expulsion.” “I’ll be right there,” Doug replied. He had been the psychologist for this particular high school for close to a decade, far longer than the average psychologist lasts. His office had been cleared out of what he absolutely couldn’t leave behind. It seemed only a matter of time before the new administration short circuited due process with their “Just obey, don’t ask” attitude. He would be ready either way.

“You’ve been here through many emergencies,” was the first words out of principal’s Ben’s mouth. Doug felt old and worn out; six suicides, a racially motivated student homicide, murdering students, and both male and female teachers molesting students all came to mind for starts. “Yeah,” Doug said, following with a quick “what’s up,” in hope of avoiding nostalgic paths.

“A terrorist bomb threat had been reported through 911 dispatch,” the principal said, accepting the hint. His large thick hand fumbled a few buttons and an audio recording began:

“He’s crazy and said he was going to blow up the school,” a hysterical teenage girl shouted. Beep. The dispatcher calmly returned, “Is he there now?” “No, he said that in class earlier today,” the caller said in a quieter, meeker voice. “What is your name?” Beep. The dispatcher heard a whispering voice coaching the girl in answering, “He’s just crazy and scares all of us. He doesn’t need to be here. His name is Jason Powers”

Ben wanted to expel this SED student and he needed the case evaluate before meeting to determining if the student could be held responsible for his action, or whether the behavior would be considered a manifestation of his emotional pathology. This was one of the requirements within the law that kept psychologists, like Doug, employed. It was up to him to collect evidence in support of deciding which explanation the school district may need to defend in court. At least that’s the way he had come to think about it.

Years back Doug came to the conclusion that even if a case never went to trial this was a way of thinking which coincided with the best interest of the student. Administrators had their careers to think about and parents never seemed to find their children responsible. Doug strove to be as objective as possible, which rarely went without being attacked by one side or the other.

Having presided over a hundred of these sorts of meetings, Doug immediately knew the administration had been stalling for four out of the five days he had by law to complete his evaluation. The student in question was a teenager living with his, off and on, homeless parents. All were certified mentally ill. Ben explained that the district’s administration was very concerned “from the very top-down.”

Ironically, the story did start at the top in that a wife of a school board member was the 911 dispatch operator that took the call. This meant that the school board, as well as the chief of the police, had determined to see justice completed for a case they brought to light.

Doug reviewed the four inches of Jason Power’s records and was relieved to discover a clear argument for the case based on documentary evidence. Jason’s first evaluation, made during kindergarten, described the very same symptom he continued to suffer from in high school. That was why he was in the SED classroom to begin with. He wrote up his findings based on his clinical expertise as he had done weekly for twenty five years. That’s when it hit the fan.

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Excerpts from “A Madman’s Soul” by Doug Dean

CHAPTER 2: Stray Dog
by Doug Dean

How Did This Happen?
Every day for the last three months I sat silent in front of Dr. Cycow. I was the first case of his psychiatric residency, which meant twenty years of education was being wasted in speaking to a chemically induced deadhead. Each line of his questioning led to pleas for more freedom and less medication. It wasn’t until I cheeked the Thorazine did I start speaking, but not to Dr. Cycow.

It’s hard to pick a point when things began going bad for me. It didn’t matter which of my nineteen years one began an inquiry. Each year was worse than the previous one, year after year. Early dyslexia was compounded by childhood depression after my dad died. I was twelve and in eighth grade. President Kennedy had been assassinated weeks previously and death was in the public mind.

Prior years prepared my understanding of death as my great grandmother, grandmother, and my dad’s best friend died one after the other. My dad was man enough to cry in front of me, his only child. A stroke took him out. He was fifty one.

I cried knowing the pain that he shared with me was what I now felt. Then I stopped crying. I didn’t cry for six years – until I saw that stray dog.

Similar to the jokers teasing those under intoxication of ‘Bath Salts,’ as seen on YouTube, we attempted to ‘freak out’ each other back in the days. But a bad LSD trip can last a long 10 hours, especially when it starts out wrong.

After a visit to high school friends away at college my relationships began falling apart. I was an abnormally depressed teenager when a bad LSD trip took me completely out of the game. Those friends whose families were more stable growing up recovered sooner, or weren’t as damaged, from the counterfeit Ozzy Clinical Black Four-Way tabs of acid.

The mistake I made was visiting the wrong friend at the wrong time. Jokers generally don’t want bad things to happen to good people, but to rationalize the harm caused from pranking, as a deficiency of those pranked, isn’t funny. Thieves use the same excuse by stating stupid people deserve to be ripped off.

George had a brother, Steve, who was a year younger. They were both good friends of mine as our fathers had been drinking buddies at a local Chicago bar. George and Steve related to my other friends well – but not to each other. Inevitably George would take a parental role in correcting Steve, who would immediately slip into the child role of demanding independence. George would respond with criticism which escalated to condemnation as Steve protested, typically with a ‘fuck you,’ and the brothers would then stop talking until the next episode.

George was a student at Southern University of Illinois, although by my visit he had stopped going to class. George was a prototypic ADHD individual when it was called impatience. The only thing that could keep him calm for more than 10 seconds was cannabis.

George was a joker and spent a lot of time planning gags. Cramming hundreds of freshmen in multiple story dormitories seemed like a good idea at the time. They became caldrons for breading adolescent pranks where George created his greatest prank of all.

I stumbled into George’s dormitory room as the bad LSD seized my brain. Confusion gripped me as I rode up the elevator through a building full of 18 year olds getting ready for Friday night. Tonight the Bob Seeger System was in concert and the place was buzzing. My mind couldn’t process the madness around me as I was led into George’s room by one of his dorm buddies.

George was going through his ‘going out’ routine as I attempted to make sense of why a steady line of guys came in and out of the room for no reason at all. That scared me and I realized I had lost my notion of what people were up to. One fast talking friend of George’s tried to sell me a suit, which made no sense to me at all. Another was whispering that George had something crazy planned that was too dangerous.

Then the room filled with so many freshmen it would give any fire marshal heart burn. Words became nonsense to me as the tainted LSD shut down any resemblance of who I was to myself or anyone else. Then I hear myself say, “What’s going on?” With that George stood up and yelled something as indecipherable as it was loud.

The excited band of freshmen became silent as the one who had been whispering in my ear suddenly said, “George, no!” With that George open the window and left the room through it. In a single move the band of freshmen filtered out leaving the whisperer alone in the room with me. This time, in a normal voice, he said, “He’s done this before.”

Having known George since elementary school I figured he’d be safe out on a ledge or he had popped into the next window. With amused disbelief I looked out the window George had used to remove himself so stunningly. With the whisperer by my side I looked out the window, down eight stories, and saw no George splatter on the concrete below.

Something didn’t make sense and my mind filled with a fuzzy noise that slowed my thoughts as if going through molasses. The sight of no George splatter was reassuring, but I was struck by the danger George went through to freak me out.

Surrounding the dorm three feet below the bottom of the window was no more than a three inch ledge. There was no window to the right side, into which to slip, and only the corner of the building far to the left. Then it hit me, George somehow used the three inch ledge to circumvent the corner where he…, where the fuck was George?

I wasn’t sure how George did it but the band of freshmen soon appeared with George laughing his head off. Didn’t he know death was forever?

I knew George could do it because he did. What drove me down the rabbit whole was why the fuck would anyone risk his life to freak me out? Nothing came to me – a void filled my head except for an uncontrollable urge to fill it with something, anything. All I came up with seemed based on pure imagination, and at the time my imagination couldn’t be trusted. Everyone seemed to be acting for no good reason. I was going mad.

Insane Concert
Somehow, someway, I made it to the concert with three close friends, which included George, now dealing with his own bad LSD trip. Slim, the friend I made the trip with from Chicago to Urbana-Champaign, where SIU is located, had taking the bad LSD at the same time I did and looked like he was continually being shocked by something attached to his gonads. The Bob Seeger System had their amps turned up to eleven and it was an hour before I figured something else was very wrong.

I was continually being blasted with a booming sound that I felt more than heard. Raw sounds of guitars, drums and voices where so intense that the source seemed to be coming from within my head rather than from outside of it. My whole body rumbled. As the force rose to levels which I thought none could stand, the blast of amplified air faded, only to cycle back again and again. The LSD absorbed me into each frightening crescendo of fierce roaring sound. The intensity was what made it feel like it was from me.

Sitting in a large auditorium thousands of college age students surrounding a round stage centered in the middle of what would typically be a sporting event. Not knowing the stage revolved to face different sides of the auditorium, I looked up to see the entire Bob Seeger System gone and yet still playing. ‘What the fuck is going on,’ I yelled to none in particular, which nonetheless, fell on friendly ears in their own LSD hell. I had to get out.

I’m not sure if Slim followed me out of the concert, or I followed him, but we were both headed away with our legs on autopilot. Rain drenched us to where it became cumbersome to walk weighed down by wet cloths. We were lost in a college town, late at night, in a storm, waiting for bad acid to wear off. So we found a street curb, took a seat, and chatted in parallel about life and death.

“I figured if there was no afterlife a dead person had no way of knowing he was dead. He may know he’s dying, but at the moment of death others will know something the dead man doesn’t – the fact he’s dead.” I’m making sense, I thought, “But nobody knows what it’s like to be dead since there’s nothing to compare it to.” “Except before-birth,” Slim said. “Have I been thinking out loud?”

Suddenly a stray dog tromped by. The mutt was cold and wet and I immediately assumed it had lost track of those taking care of it. That stray dog suddenly meant more to me than anything in the world. I picked her up and held her tight within my jacket. She squirmed and squirmed but couldn’t get away from me. Slim pleaded with me to let the muddy mutt go, but I held on to it as if its, or my, life depended on it.

In my LSD state of mind this stray must have reminded me of my childhood dog. Penny was a mid size all black mutt except for a splatter of white under her neck. We would play endless ball and she remained the only non-adult companion in my home growing up.

My dad brought Penny to me on my fifth birthday. Hidden in his coat Penny licked my face as my dad bent over to kiss me hello. This surprise brought joy to my life. Penny and I hung out like siblings as I learned how to train her with my dad’s coaching. He had been a Captain in World War II; stationed in England, guarded German prisoners, and kept track of the chemical warfare the USA kept stockpiled in case Hitler released his. He was firm, but seldom mean.

The war took something out of him, my mom told me. Being a few years older than most of the enlisted men, and married to boot, he was the ‘old man’ to the guys. The war took three prime years from his life and depressed him. When the confectionary box business he was partners in withered away, with war rationing, he lost his livelihood.

The stray dog was wet and didn’t cotton to being held. Nice enough not to bite me, she wiggled and wiggled to be let down. But I couldn’t put her down. I felt so sorry for that dog that I couldn’t put her down. She didn’t know what was good for herself. She needed help, “I thought.”

After my father died my mind went into a rage. I wanted to hurt someone for my dad dying no matter how unreasonable it made me. Day after day I shot my air pistol at targets I pretended felt pain. Until one day I saw Penny shitting on the basement floor after begging to go out while I was too busy target practicing to let her out.

Childhood rage took over and I shot at her twice. She growled and then looked at me as I had never seen her do. It was a mournful look only a loved one could inflict. Having played war with pellet guns, I didn’t think the pellets would penetrate. But they did.

At age fourteen my anger made communicating with my mother impossible. Overprotective by nature, she let no other tell me what to do. This not only prevented others from correcting me, it spoiled the shit out of me. My dad kept counter balance with firm consequences and never resorted to physical discipline. He’s gone.

Meaning to teach me self-disciple my mother failed at every juncture. Penny was nine years old and a burden to my mother to care for now that she had to work. She euthanized Penny without ever saying a word until I notice her missing. She told me I mistreated Penny and that’s what I get.

Nothing else was said about it ever again, nothing about the rage I felt for having my dad dying. Nothing about how bad I felt for hurting my own dog or how angry I was at…everything! Coming from an Italian family any thoughts my mother had were spoken out loud or, most often, shouted. But now she had broken down and I was her only reason to stay alive – and she wanted to die. The feeling that I was a burden to her, true to a degree, must have been compounded by the depression she told me would have ended her life but for me.

The rain had stopped but not the dog wiggling a paw away whenever it could get one from my grip. Finding a student to direct us to a friend’s dorm couldn’t have come sooner, especially for the dog, who at this point had partially succumbed to its captivity.

Slim managed to get a few psych majors to put their second year of classes to work. One convinced me to give the stray dog to another to carry away while another played guitar in the stairwell of the dormitory until the bad LSD wore off. It never really did.

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Excerpts from “A Madman’s Soul” by Doug Dean

CHAPTER 1: Psychosis
by Doug Dean

Running To or From?
Was I going to something, or going from something?

That’s what a psychiatrist asked when I requested an Against Medical Approval (AMA) release. Little did I know this document was unnecessary for those, like me, who were here under their own freewill. What sane person would voluntarily be confined to a sanatorium?

I had been at the notorious Illinois Psychiatric State Institute (8E-ISPI) for three months without knowing this – or much of anything else. My stayed at ‘ISPI’ was provided by the taxpayers of Illinois State, represented by the first two letters of ISPI (pronounced ‘is-pee’). Psychiatric Institute was the ‘pee.’ I stayed on the east wing of the eighth floor, which explains the 8E.

I learned a few things about “institutional living,” a paradigmatic oxymoron if there ever was one. One is official authorities mischaracterize truth for their own benefit by not revealing the choices I don’t know about. A second is deceit doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t meant for the good of the other. But as they say, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’

With his best “this is in your best interest” attitude the psychiatrist attempted to get an answer to the question again, “Would you be going from something, or to something?”

Attempting to imagine what it’s like to be psychotic doesn’t hold the true mortification of being psychotic. Unlike nightmares, which readily dissipate upon awaking, psychosis sticks around. Part and parcel of being mentally ill is the humiliation of being crazy. Or is it the fact that too much self-humiliated is what mental illness is?

Admission Day
I heard others speaking to me but nothing they said made sense. They weren’t speaking another language. I understood every word being said. Comprehension was what I lacked, although lacking that I didn’t comprehend this. People seemed to be playing some part, a role, in a staged masquerade without filling me in about what was going on. Was there a plot?

Staying inside one’s own head for too long is considered catatonic. Whether it was the intentional overdose of prescription drugs I took, or the natural outcome of my sad life colliding with bad LSD, I was being rolled into a mental institution half conscious. “Who’s the president?” I was asked. I was lost in my own mind and really couldn’t understand why someone would want to know who the president was when I had just tried to check out. No need for me to put energy in answering this question. I don’t understand why it’s being asked of me anyway.

Depression had filled me to the point where I couldn’t be with others without remaining mute or bringing them down. I chose the former. Social suicide precedes bodily suicide whether completed for the sake of mercy or vengeance. For both fear and anger can be overwhelmingly painful and functioning under such conditions hardens one. I trusted no one but my dad, and he had been dead for seven years now. He’s not coming back.

More questions, more not comprehending, more no answering, and I had a bed in the notorious ISPI of Chicago. ISPI stands for Illinois State Psychiatric Institute, which was situated on the near south-west side, was one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. I was free to walk out at any time, something I tested the first night. The night guard quickly glanced at me with a, “It’s dangerous out there.” Ninety seconds later, without looking up this time, I heard, “I thought so,” while I quickly heading back to a relatively safer insane asylum.

That night my antipsychotic medication, Thorazine, was increased to a ‘therapeutic level.’

The new dose of Thorazine kept me knocked out for months. Daytime blurred into nighttime and then back again. Even walking became a chore I avoided at all cost. Some called it the Thorazine shuffle; dazing straight ahead while shuffling the feet without lifting them fully off the flood. Drooling accompanied those new patients, like me, as well as those ‘needing’ a form of physical restraints. Time was passing by without me.

Willy Brown
I was lucky at first. I had no roommate in my cold fifteen by fifteen foot room painted the same pale green of the hallways. Willy Brown was a veteran patient who seemed to know the ropes of the hospital, having been an ISPI patient three times previous. Willy was tall, thin, black and in his late twenties. Sporting a scruffy beard, every ten minutes Willy would walk by my door pacing the halls of the 8th floor for hours at a time.

Willy’s footfalls could be heard echoing off the east end of the hall that held approximately fifteen rooms. My room was the second room from the nursing station separating the east wing from the east wing where the females stayed. It amounted to one long hall with a nursing station and TV lounge in the middle, which served to keep different gender parts apart.

Each footstep slowly bounced sound off one side of the hall to the other, keeping the silence punctuated with the rhythm of echoes which Willy seemed to play on. Up and down that hall Willy walked, turning around one room passed my mine at the nurses’ station. The Doppler Effect subtly made the sound seem electrified when he walked by. One day the sounds of his pacing suddenly stop short of the well worn path he took – right in front of my open door.

“Hey man, meds,” slipped smoothly out of Willy’s lips and echoed into my stark living space. Each room was bare except for two or three metal beds, each with a three inch rolled up mattresse, and two or three institutional type metal draws to place cloths in. The floors that carried the sounds of Willy’s walking were cold and hard throughout the entire hall. I looked up with the same Thorazine empty stare I wore on my face for the last four months. “You gotta start cheeking, man,” Willy whispered.

Learning to Cheek
Staying by oneself all day seems natural when the medication they served in little paper cups held my mind still without thought or feeling. Four times a day we stood in front of that nursing station, some of us shaking, others in stoopers, all waiting to be handed a little cup of pills. Mine had two large tan colored pills along with two smaller pills with an extra pink one at night. Then I saw what Willy was talking about, as he walked by me in line he tipped his hand just enough for me to spot a handful of saliva drenched pills as he whispered, “Cheeking.”

With the pills in my mouth I found my tongue to be quite talented in pushing those tiny bits of chemicals to various crevices of my cheeks. Eventually I could open my mouth with the un-swallowed pills remaining unseen. When the nurses worn rubber gloves the patients knew it was time to get ready to regurgitate half swallowed pills. It’s amazing how far humans will go not to be under someone else’s control even when they’re not in control of themselves.

It was the first thing that made sense to me since being institutionalized. The medication didn’t so much end any symptoms of thought or passion as they simply dulled one’s mind to the point of not recognizing the symptoms as disturbing. Now, I do realize that much of civilization goes to great lengths to reach such a state of similar inebriation most weekends. The difference with Thorazine is its dysphoria, which is the direct opposite of euphoria. It just makes one feel shitty.

That’s why head-doctors once combined Thorazine with other drugs meant to reduce Tardive dyskinesia, a nasty side-effect of tics and spasms from taking Thorazine. But Cogentin, for reducing side effects, also functioned as a “feel good” pill in combating dysphoria. Willy wanted more of these feel good Cogentin pills and less of the Thorazine. Everyone does what seems to make sense to them and cheeking was what I understood would wake my brain up – up to what I didn’t know. Nothing else was making sense at the time so that seemed the first step to doing something.

Soon Willy had a steady source of the feel good pills from me while my stash of Thorazine grew larger and larger with time. The trick, I found out too late, was to trim oneself off Thorazine gradually to the point where the staff doesn’t notice the change. Changing from a Thorazine zombie to an alert, yet crazy, person in a few days will alert a doctor into prescribing Thorazine injections, which are hard to cheek – so to speak.

By tapering off of Thorazine over a four to six week period, nothing will be said, besides, “Oh good, you’re adapting to your medication,” while suspicious looks gave one notice to put on a little more shuffle. As my mind slowly cleared of the energy draining medication I found other patients my age also living institutionally, each with their own pile of Thorazine.

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California patients are in a quandary over BHO (Butane Honey Oil)

ButaneHoneyOil01One of the positive effects of California’s SB 420 (*1) is the allowance of “converted” cannabis into “hash oil” for medical reasons. The effect of one small dab of vaporized BHO wax can last as long as smoking a quarter gram of cannabis without inhaling most all of the non-psychoactive plant material. Butane conversion of cannabis is as safe as other industrial botanical extractions when the laws pertaining to health and safety are followed. So what’s the problem?

California has prosecuted a BHO case under strict drug lab laws (*2). The case involved “665 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of over $2 million.” The plaintiff received two additional years “as punishment for having produced concentrated cannabis by chemical extraction” and justified “by the danger his activities posed to the public at large from having used a highly flammable and volatile solvent in a residential setting in the process of manufacturing concentrated cannabis.”

GrinspoonWax002The dabbing controversy is analogous to how medical marijuana’s progress has been impaired from birth. Under California SB 420 a patient is allowed hash oil and yet the state can use health and safety laws to prosecute the making of BHO due to the “danger” involved. Notice this danger was not due the fact that cannabis was the substance being converted.

From my understanding, converting any substance with butane, even Chamomile tea, in ones backyard holds the same danger. The fact that health and safety laws pertain to controlled substances at all results from illegal drug manufacturing, i.e., methamphetamine.

The association of backyard butane extraction with the danger of illegal meth labs is real – both are very dangerous and forbidden by law. But is it the process or product that’s dangerous? Is the law against using butane conversion with anything or just with a controlled substance? Don’t get confused by the rhetoric used for frighten marijuana patients away from hash oil. That’s a red herring.

GrinspoonWax005aPharmaceutical companies legally produce methamphetamine for clinical use and I’m sure there are just as many safe procedures for extracting THC from cannabis as there are for any other botanical substance. BHO can be safely made with industrial equipment under preexisting health and safety laws.

But the not-for-profit medical marijuana laws in California are preventing hash oil from getting to patients. Unless a patient can purchase the industrial equipment to produce enough hash oil for personal medical use, say a gram a week, they have no legal access. Few, if any, patients have the financial ability for such a no profit venture.

So a legal California medical marijuana patient is allowed hash oil as long as all safety and health laws are followed. It’s the profit that legally turned the plaintiffs’ hash oil into a controlled substance, as it does for any medical cannabis as the law now stands. This, in turn, made the butane extraction illegal under health and safety laws forbidding the dangerous manufacturing of a controlled substance. Had this plaintiff followed the health and safety laws, and made BHO for his own medical use, this case would have been qualitatively different.

Zeta KiefA California medical marijuana patient is immune to prosecution for converting cannabis under controlled substance laws. The nonprofit model of California’s medical marijuana laws is preventing pure industrial hash oil from being produced legally. I hope those working on laws to further access for cannabis will place BHO in the above ground market where it safely belongs.

(*1) SB 420: “It stops arrests — not just prosecution — of card-holding individuals for possession, transportation, delivery or cultivation up to a very minimal level of 6 mature plants per patient and 8 oz of bud or conversion (that could arguably be hash or hash oil, or equivalent amounts of foods and tinctures, which have a lot of liquid weight) 11362.71(e)”

(*2) [This was a BHO case the state convicted as a drug lab for controlled substances - 2008 appeal] THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. NIALL PATRICK BERGEN, Defendant and Appellant. http://www.chrisconrad.com/expert.witness/Bergen08CalAppB203793hashOil.pdf

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A Madman’s Soul: An open letter to Joni Mitchell

330A Madman’s Soul:
An open letter to Joni Mitchell
by Doug Dean

A point of time in eternity may be all that life has to give. Coincidentally crossing the path of a siren as a youth can be a harrowing discovery to remember in the dusk of one’s life. Now when celebrities want to relax they aren’t necessarily thinking of themselves as the person you and I see images of. We identify celebrities as ‘imaginary friends’ we’d like to know and hang out with. It’s this image that celebrities develop as another self. Their celebrity is not who they are unless they don’t want to know you.

A bad LSD trip sent me to the hospital and, after leaving against medical approval, I lived on the streets where I sought to recover my lost mind. Meditation, yoga, mysticism and religion were each were tasted, swallowed, digested and excreted one at a time to no avail. When I met Joni I had been on the streets for a year and under the delusion that the fates had a woman in my destiny. Crossing the country four or five times, east to west, and up and down the west coast a number of times, I found myself on a nice highway along the California west coast. Two long haired dudes came up to me and asked me to do them a favor.

121206085238411986690Me? “I have nothing to give but the cloths on my back and this old faded green sleeping bag.” But they looked to be good guys and I heard them out. “We want you to speak to someone, she needs someone like you to talk with,” they told me as we walked up a hill to small modest cottage. So I knocked on the door as the two friendly pipe pipers crouched out of sight grinning together.

To my surprise, a lovely young blond woman answered with a, “Hello.” It was Joni Mitchell.

Not that I knew it was Joni at the time. In fact, for the next 40 years I kept that memory hidden away in the back of my mind where it rested until I started psychoanalysis late in life. You see, since my madman days of 1972 I somehow worked my way off the streets, into college and became an educational psychologist helping bad off kids like I was once myself.

Then one day someone at the school district I worked for commented on the lyrics of a song that was playing. It was Court and Spark and the person questioned why “giving up the blues was a sacrifice?” Without hesitating I responded, “It was a sacrifice of playing blues guitar, not the metaphorical ‘blues,’ as in depression.” “How do you know,” I was immediately asked. “I was there,” I responded, shocking even myself!

Fearful my recent midlife depression was leading me down a psychotic path, I quickly told my tale to the best psychoanalysis I could find – only to be told I probably wasn’t being delusional. He convinced me to spend some time separating the real experiences of my youth from those I suffered due to psychosis. What if he’s wrong?

She invited me in and to sit and speak with her. She explained something about her music and she seemed to muster up enough kindness to want to hear what I said. It’s a very rare moment in the life of a madman living on the street to be noticed for anything besides being a nuisance. Here was a well groomed, laid back and beautiful maiden paying attention to me. “Tell me about you,” she said.

Dancing up the river in the dark
It was a very long year. I had left Chicago on New Year’s Day 1972 on my own adventure in finding the answers to life’s questions. My journey led me to the 1st Rainbow Tribe Gathering in Colorado where thousands of counter culture hippies joined in one spirit to be renewed. Having arrived with the setup crew I managed to be a part of the activities preparing the mountain site for a few days of peaceful naked ‘Oming.’ When the ‘no band’ festival began the crowds grew so strong that I could barely breath due to smoke from the hundreds of campfires that now filled the valley.

It was time for me to go and I headed out in the middle of the night down the hill and into breathable air again. Like a fish swimming upstream I was headed against the throngs of weekend hippies who had been held back by the local sheriff. Suddenly I was lost in the dark as those trekking up the mountain dwindled to nothing. Not wanting to get lost I stood there silently waiting, in the moonless night, where only the trickling of a little stream could be heard. That was my spiritual moment, being alone, halfway down a mountain top in Colorado were thousand were choking on organic pollution.

I was lost to the sounds of trickling water when a loud scream arose from behind me that sounded inched away from my ear. It was! I had become turned around and, in the darkness, I found myself face to face with, what must have been at the time, the loudest screamer in Colorado. Through the starlit trees and bushes I made out a small group of travelers heading out from the gathering, like myself, with a lead female who didn’t expect to run into a fellow fleer on a dark mountain path. Once everything settled down I joined the little crew and we danced down the mountain where a large bus waited to haul us away.

Doug 1971

Doug 1971

So He Buried the Coins He Made in People’s Park
Berkeley was a hotbed of political activity in the spring of 1972. I had just hitchhiked there and I enjoyed the pleasant laid back atmosphere of the college town. My life on the street had been more of a spiritual journey than a party. I felt lost in a sea of humanity and thought I needed something. What that something was I didn’t know.

I understood wealth alone wasn’t enough for happiness, and I took every chance to show I knew that. Desiring to be free spirited I passed on what was passed on to me. It seemed only right. So I only begged enough to put food immediately in my mouth. In Berkeley, the land of panhandlers, when a guy worst off than me ask for spare change I’d pass my panhandled change on to him. Passing on change was the one opportunity I had for a little grace.

President Nixon decided to mine the bays of North Vietnam and the mood on the streets of Berkley suddenly turned bad. Soon cars and buildings were set ablaze and the sound of police rifles shooting rubber bullets pierced the air. A curfew allowed police to beat anyone out after dark, a lesson I learned the hard way. Finding sanctuary in People Parks, which had been retaken that day, I found myself with a pocket of change I had begged when the riot broke out. I dug a hole and buried those coins as a message to the surrounding violence that misunderstanding wealth as an end to itself was a bloody mistake. Nuff said.

Glory Train Passed Through Him
Attempting to live life by fate ultimately leaves the suspicious aftertaste that giving up control to another, whether imaginary or real, is not possible without, from the very beginning, the individual having the control to give up. Freedom from being accountable for one’s own actions is like being freed from the truth, which is to be in error. After all, madness is paradoxical, with the crazy ones being the only ones who think they’re not crazy. So as long as I thought I was crazy, I thought I’d be okay.

I was told that believing that I was healed, with the aid of the proper deity, was enough for the mind to enjoy the most perfect mental health. I was now free to enjoy life since my ‘old life’ was now as dead as the life of my rebirth. It seemed like a good idea at the time, so I shifted my focus to finding that one person meant for me. Of course, being susceptible to such notions is the fault of the delusional and the romantic, both seeking reasons beyond themselves for love.

The only person who can’t look directly into your eyes is yourself. With apprehension, Joni listened with a part of herself that was somewhere far off. Artists of all ages seek out suffering to find the opposing pleasure that drives out the pain. Socrates was said to have questioned poets about the interpretations of their own work. He concluded that artists, as vessels of the mythical, need not understand the message they express. That takes a metaphoric third eye, grown by us, for imagining the truth.

He Saw Me Mistrusting and Still Acting Kind
What I saw in her eyes was something I had not seen in years; true innocence. Not the kind that was free for the taking, for that would destroy what made it valuable to begin with. No, this was an innocence grown naturally by the suffering of being the sole authority of oneself. Those, like me, who suffered childhood rage, know all too well how this feels and can easily spot like minded people.

“Something was off,” I thought. Deliberate mischaracterization of the circumstances doesn’t come as easy to the romantic as to the delusional. Systematic delusions hold together like a geometric tapestry whose every angle is connected at many levels. Romantics find this tedious, but fascinating, as they tend to relate to other’s feelings. But of all the time I spent on the street, I remember well that moment when I looked again into Joni’s eyes and saw a fearful girl who needed love.

Doug 2010

Doug 2010

I Sacrificed My Blues
It was not my style to take charge of fate at the time, and all I had that was worth anything was my ability to play blues guitar. I was headed back to a halfway house run by a charismatic preacher in order to plead for another chance to get off the street. Playing blues guitar was the one dream I had left for myself.

My conversation with Joni was brief, as her two male guardian angels where not far away and quickly came to her aid when it became apparent that she found what she was looking for. I was on the street again. I wound up at that halfway house again, and by some miracle, the pastor made one last exception and let me stay. It felt as though I had a guardian angel looking out for me.

The More He Reached Me
I now realized that accidental encounter with Joni may have been significant for me even if it went unrecognized most all my life. Having been convinced by my analyst to recount some of my past delusions, I told him how songs like Court and Spark seemed to have been about me. ‘Delusions of reference,’ I had learned to call them in graduate school; thinking songs or celebrities are referring to one. The more I spoke about it the more the memories seemed real. I began to wonder how long it would before I would go mad forever.

Then I thought the unthinkable. What if I am the madman of Court and Sparks? There’s no pride to being a madman, mind you, although I’m damn proud of the direction my life eventually took. And not everyone has had a famous scribe recording the adventure of their life. Perhaps, in ways not fully understandable, the delusional and romantic are kindred spirits who create meaning they themselves don’t understand, and only revealed in the fullness of time.

And You Could Complete Me
After a time I taught myself better reading comprehension skills and then I went back to school, pursued a career, married and raised a family. I began collecting credentials and degrees until I found my place as a school psychologist and getting paid to help students like I was once myself. It was hard – to say the least. I succeeded, but I never forgot what it’s like to experience real need.

I’d Complete You
During the time I met Joni she was struggling through a creative slump. Court and Spark became a turning point in her music and establishing herself as a breakthrough artist while preserving her dignity. Fate has been good to her in this way. Joni did find herself in the role of mother and grandmother when she met the family she thought she’d never find. In the process of giving up the romantic notion of one destined mate meant for her, Joni won the love of the world with a siren’s call that mesmerized all that heard her voice.

But I Couldn’t Let Go of L.A. – City of the Fallen Angel
Looking back, it was I who found lifetime love and raised two wonderful daughters. I sometimes wonder, maybe as a delusional romantic, whether the fates picked me, a hopeless madman, to receive the life of love destined for the greatness of someone like Joni. The muses must have told the fates that the pain was necessary so that millions would find solace in the resulting music.

Either that or Joni would have raised a large family and the world would of had to suffered the famous “Madman of Blues.” But that’s a different delusion.




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Bill O’Reilly – An Act of Ignorance

Yesterday Bill O’Reilly indicated that half our country are moochers for taking government assistance, but then he qualified it by stating, some for good reasons and some for not. The first part of what he says is most likely a fact when one considers certain factors, the second, which is also true, might be totally misleading. Let me explain.

People on the right don’t distinguish ‘need’ from ‘greed’ in their argument (as they also do with ‘cannabis’ and ‘hard drugs’). Then they wait for the opponent to react in a way in which they are prepared for, i.e., an argument only in terms of ‘lazy’ people taking hard earned tax money. But this is true about only a portion of those receiving public assistance.

The O’Reilly’s of the world are literally ‘acting in ignorance’ by basing their argument on the assumption that a large percent of those receiving government assistance would be self-sufficient if not given assistance. Yet, for all they know, many military, retired, children, mentally ill, sick, etc., will end up being the vast majority of those receiving benefits.

Without knowing the truth about how many people are actually ‘mooching off’ their earnings they have no reason to oppose public assistance except for not wanting to be taxed more. By agreeing that they are at least partially right (after all, a portion do mooch) we take care of their ‘concern’ by finding out how much real mooching is going on and then eliminating it as best we can. But there is nothing to argue about until an unbiased measurement of mooching is made!

The O’Reilly’s are ignorant of the facts they base their argument on and yet qualify it in a way that backs them out of blame when the facts come out (“I said only ‘some’ do”). In the mean time they do a lot of damage to compassion.


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