The Newsletter of Longevity Books, West Towan House, Porthtowan, Truro, Cornwall TR4 8AX
e-mail: Internet firstname.lastname@example.org
Listening and Hearing Chrissie Loveday
Letters: Evolution, Manchester Conference
Keeping up with the Technology Brian Haines
Clear Thinking on Promoting Life Extension Ronald B. Keys, JD, PhD
Ginkgo Biloba Versus Alzheimer's Disease Douglas Skrecky
Reasons to Reject CryonicsDavid Stodolsky
The Purpose of LifeMichael R. Davis M.S.
The New World ViewBrian W. Haines
Reply to Mr Haines Patrick El-Azem
The Terra Libra Superorganism and the Freedom Meme Mark Lindsay
Life Extension An Orthodox Medical View Part One Keith Monnington, M.D.
Mental Health RoundupDouglas Skrecky
Single copy rate 3.50. Subscription rates four issues of 32 pages:- 20 (15 by Banker's Order UK only). Cheques in British Pounds should be drawn on a UK bank and should be made payable to "Reeves Telecommunications Laboratories" Alternatively, dollar checks for $34 can be accepted if drawn on a U.S. bank and made payable to "J. de Rivaz". Contents are provided for information only, under the right to free speech. Opinions are the authors' own. No professional advice is intended. If you wish others to be legally responsible for your health, life or finances, then please consult a professional regulated according to the laws of your country.
Volume 7 no 51. First published June 1995. ISSN 0964-5659.
Listening and Hearing
by Chrissie Loveday
I recently heard a well-known English cleric talking about listening and hearing. I thoroughly agreed with what he was saying ... a rare occurrence for me! He was discussing the meaning of the two words, listening and hearing. He referred to a group of people seeking peace in one of the troubled European states, who hear all of the points made but ignore them because they don't want to listen. It reminded me of school both as a teacher and those distant days of being a pupil.
"Listen, all of you. This is important," says the teacher.
"I am," says the pupil at the back, who obviously isn't.
"What did I say then?" asks the teacher, hoping to catch him out.
But rarely does it happen...the pupil can often quote what was said verbatim but explaining the meaning is quite a different matter. The pupil heard, but didn't really listen to the message.
I always think of an aunt of mine who always said she was deaf in one ear and everyone telling her unpleasant things would inevitably choose her bad ear. I noticed that her bad ear was not consistently the same and when tackled, she admitted,
"I can hear all right, but I just don't want to listen!"
I shall cultivate the technique further when I get old and crotchety! Actually, I already use the technique quite frequently already. There are often things said by students and others, which would cause endless trouble to sort out and sometimes it is prudent to "fail to hear" them. The student thinks they got away with it and feels pleased and I have saved a long inquest and possible need to punish. It can also be amusing to let them know later that you don't have any hearing problems, thus presenting confusing pictures to the student. Did she hear or didn't she? Keep 'em guessing.
We all cultivate an expression of concentration, designed to let people know you are positively hanging on to their every word. I used it myself for years! It allows for time to go wool gathering ... dreaming ... whatever. I often listen best when doodling furiously, the movement of pen on paper somehow allows me to concentrate on what I am hearing and the restless fingers are being occupied. (Perhaps this also explains the generations of carvings on school desks?)
One of today's popular sayings seems to be, "I hear you". This implies a sense of understanding in addition to the affirmation of listening. Counselling skills are more than fifty percent listening skills, something everyone needs. The good listener. Unfortunately, listening takes time and those we turn to for help, are often too busy to spend the time. Five minutes per client/patient should suffice. Can anyone really make themselves understood in that time? The art of précis lives for some but not for all! Think of the horrors possible, if the doctors don't listen properly ... wrong bits chopped out ... wrong pills issued ... wrong case notes studied. Fortunately not all doctors are like that ... there are those who consistently run late in their clinics and get reprimanded by the receptionist for keeping everyone else waiting.
A recent medical TV series reminded me of an occasion some years ago when a friend's husband was dying of cancer. She begged me not to let him know. I sat with him one day while she went out for a break. He begged me not to let on that he had cancer ... he knew his wife could never cope. I listened to them both. I heard what they were saying. I sat them both down together and insisted that each listened to what the other was saying. At last they heard each other and they spent their last few weeks together, both listening to and hearing what they wanted to say to each other.
So much depends on what we say to people and how they interpret it. If everyone truly listened to what is being said, to what they were being told, how many relationships would be saved? How many wars might never have started?
Unfortunately, we tend to pick on one thing we have heard and remember that, often placing things without their proper context. Talk of cryonic suspension to people and assuming they've heard of it, they'll make some comment about borrowing their freezer, power cuts spoiling everything and so on.
But then, some folks never do listen do they?
Gentlemen, evolution is really not a very accurate term. What appears to be occurring is chance mutation responding to specific environmental conditions. Some mutations favour an organism, some disfavour it, and some, gentlemen, do neither, they get the proverbial free ride. Actually the "immortality" mutation may have already occurred but the guy got run over by a bus or more likely got himself killed in some stupid stinking war. My point? The book of life has no plot but some characters in the book have realized this and are attempting to write their own story or at least make it last a few pages longer.
For those of you who doubt the value of life extension,
Laugh while you can monkeyboy, mother nature's making a casserole and you're the main ingredient.
Living Longer Living Better
British Congress of Gerontology Manchester, United Kingdom July 3-5, 1996
Jointly hosted by the British Geriatrics Society, the British Society of Gerontology and the British Society for Research on Ageing.
Invited UK and overseas speakers, symposia and poster sessions, exhibitions and social programme. Parallel paper sessions to include themes of mobility, rehabilitation, longevity and genetics, free radicals, equity in healthcare, and quality of life. Special plenary sessions will focus on biological, clinical and social aspects of nutrition and the dementias.
Deadline for abstracts: 1 December 1995
For further information contact:
British Congress of Gerontology Secretariat
University of Manchester
3.239 Stopford Building
Manchester, United Kingdom
or EMAIL, but please include your full postal address!
This issue we have quite a lot about freedom issues. This not merely a means to promote Terra Libra, but because I believe that Good Health and Longevity are a freedom issue. This is on two levels. One is that of the freedom from the slavery of disease and death. This may seem obvious, but what may not be so obvious is that life extension, disease avoidance and cryonic suspension are political issues.
This does not only cover the politics of the economics of health care, provision of pensions, etc., but also the politics of whether self-interest groups (such as the professions) will allowus the freedom to use technology to avoid disease and ill health. (I write this the day after a news item detailed how surgeon continued with an operation on a woman who had had an epidural (local anaesthetic) that failed, whilst she was screaming for him to stop. Although she got compensation after a long court battle, the surgeon was not imprisoned for what I should have thought was common assault - common sense would have regarded the screams as withdrawal of the consent that prevents surgery being an assault. Not the law, it seems. Surgeons, like lawyers, are allowed to disregard what mere out-group individuals say.)
I have written before that governments are entities in the same way as dogs, cats ... or people. They use people as their cells, and just as when you scratch an itch you are killing some of your cells, governments react in the same way to individuals. If some of your cells grow without constraint, you call that cancer and exterminate them. Immortalism isn't quite like that, as immortal people don't have to reproduce. However some people in government may not understand that point, or may not see it that way! Also immortalism as we discuss it doesn't include invulnerability so absolute avoidance of death may be impossible.
If we are interested in avoiding disease, suffering, ill health and death, then we need to seek whatever form of government may best favour it. In fact Harry Browne suggests that we go further - we should ask what form of societydo we want. He would suggest that one with the minimum of government control is not only better but is the optimum one for many reasons. (see Longevity Report 50). Writing in Chance and Chaos David Ruelle explains how Chaos Theory demonstrates that complex systems like human economies cannot be controlled by individuals such as the Chancellor of the Exchequer or even committees.
Keeping up with the Technology
by Brian W. Haines
Is it possible cryonics has had its day? Well just think about it for a moment. What is proposed is really an ancient and primitive system which is out of the Ark.
What will people of 2000 years time think of a society who popped folk into a deep freeze. Could anything be more basic and utterly without imagination especially in the light of what is available.
Look at some real alternatives for the recreation of a body. Most people will have heard of Virtual Reality. This concept has now been extended to a real-time reality.
Just to put those who don't know in the picture we need to go back to the First World War. At that time there was a demand for action pictures of the war at the front. Naturally the film makers quickly found out that it was not possible to be standing there with a camera while the troops went over the top and to get positive images of the battle from every angle. What they learned to do was to re-create the scene afterwards, either in the safety of a studio set, or on the scene long after the action had taken place. Many films which are so battered and splotched which give the impression of having been in the thick of the battle are today accepted as the real thing. One of the best examples of this genre are the pictures of the Russian Revolution. They look authentic, especially in black and white with suitable scratches and sudden bursts of white.
Moving on to the end of the twentieth century we have computer animations of scenes in which people can place themselves by the use of special viewing glasses. What is happening in effect is a trick is played on the brain through the eyes to give stereo and 3-D effects. And there also very special developments in the field of holograms which can project what seems to be solid people in space.
Some very clever people have now come up with the idea of marrying up all these ideas to give instant viewing of events as they happen without actually being there. This sounds somewhat futuristic, and it is futuristic yet it will be the news media system possibly this year. To explain further:
One of the events that is believed would hold a good viewing audience is the America's cup. This is a yacht race where the boats move quickly in places cameras cannot reach, at least not easily. What they have done is to feed all the information about the different competitors and the yachts into a data base and then placed markers around the course, together with navigational directional finding instruments called global positioning systems. There will be cameras on board to give the relative angles the boats are to each other so that at any given time the race can be viewed as if there were an actual camera following the boats. This is all achieved by an imaging software system which will build up the sort of picture you would see if you were there.
Now then taking these ideas a stage further. It should be possible to develop an ideal form of person in 3-d holographic reality, perhaps actually build a replica in solid form or in some way effect a transport of the light particles in the hologram with organic matter. Now going back to the computer all information about the actual person is fed into the data banks, this information will consist of the thoughts and experiences and behaviour patterns so that the person has been reduced to a code which can be recalled at any time.
With the use of the extended virtual reality in the short term, anyone who wishes to see and speak with, for instance a long dead relative, will be able to interact with that relative in an ideal form. This will be developed to being to associate with the relative in solid form as soon as the technology for transmutation is finalised
The pace of development in the field of genetics, together with the micro surgical techniques of transplantation of artificial organs suggests that the marrying up of the various technologies holds the promise of building people as and when required. The first step will be the recording of the brain mechanisms of the individual to make sure individuality is not lost.
With the new super powered computers an artificial brain which can store all the accumulated intelligence of an individual cannot be far away. This then should be the direction the preservation of life experiments should be going for unfortunately all science to date suggests a brain starved of blood and oxygen is well and truly dead and the memory banks erased.
The next few years will hold some startling developments which will make the idea of simple cryonics somewhat freaky.
Chrissie Loveday comments:
This is all very nice but how do the people who have died themselveshave any experience of living in the future. The chats with long dead relatives - OK, but I shan't have any pleasure from talking to a great-great-great grand-daughter!
on Promoting Life Extension
by Ronald B. Keys, JD, PhD (email@example.com)
Defining the Problem
There is both life extension science and culture. The problem is moving it from the fringe to (1) mainstream science and (2) culture. Some people perceive it even as being a lunatic fringe. The life extension sciences can be divided further into (a) life extension academic science and (b) its related clinical sciences. Life extension clinical sciences can be divided further into mainstream pharmaceutical medicine, nutritional pharmacology, herbology, homeopathy and other sub-classifications. Life extension, at this time in human history, is in its infancy and is both a fringe science and culture.
Just A Start: How to Move it From the Fringe Into Mainstream:
1. Political Process
Influence the mainstream political process in our state and federal congress by turning up the heat in its kitchen where its ovens are located. Ask and encourage politicians and would-be politicians to take positive positions supporting bills in our legislatures that promote all of the different aspects of life extension science (funding research projects) and culture (educational programs in our elementary, junior, senior high schools, medical schools and law schools). Find politicians, develop mentor-protégé relationships and forge power-relationships with them since people will benefit with longerFunctional lifespans. Educate those who you speak with that the emphasis is prolonging longer functional lifespans, enhancing range of function of those currently disabled, enhancing treatment outcome and quality of life. Educate people that its time to retire the concept of "retirement" as we know and experience it, today. Influence the political processes at all of our local universities to incorporate basic concepts of the life extension science and culture into mainstream academic and training programs, now. This includes nursing, the entire dietary and food management industry, accounting, law and particular, estate planning, clinical medicine in all of its forms, art, science, literature. There is a political process that operates clearly at all colleges and universities that is connected to the political process at state and federal levels. It is all part of the same continuum that requires a comprehensive political strategy.
2. Educational Process:
Specialized educational curricula, age-specific computer programs and teaching materials have to be developed for children at the youngest age that includes appropriate reading materials, colouring books, dolls that show shifts and changes in shape, body compartments and changes in lean body mass as a function of age, changes in skin integrity as well as video materials. Children have the capacity to understand life extension science and culture(developing a new concept of personal hygiene for children) but do we have the capacity to teach it? Teaching materials have to be modified for continuing the flow of information from our research computer databanks directly to our junior and senior high schools and then to our medical and law schools. Bioethics of ageing have to be incorporated into basic literature coursework, into our law school property and estate planning courses, and into mainstream clinical medical and nutritional practice.
3. Popular Culture:
Screen and TV script writers should be encouraged to develop more material about the positive aspects of a continued functional lifespan well into the 80s, 90s and beyond since their works have such a substantial impact on popular culture. More talk shows should cover this subject without turning it into a freak show only for laughs and ratings. So, take a screen and/or TV script writer for dinner or lunch some time. Search out and talk to upcoming local reporters, TV and radio personalities and develop credible, personal relationships with them. Encourage playrwriters to develop drama materials that puts the process of ageing in a positive, constructive light. Develop graphic arts projects and comedy shows that can be used in the media to teach, educate and entertain the masses on positive aspects of ageing. The soil of popular opinion can be influenced to reflect the exciting changes and ideas increasingly coming off of the studies in our science computer databases. Life extension science and culture is not just for oddballs but for everybody, if the soil of popular opinion is cultivated.
When the soil of popular opinion is properly cultivated, resources and funding will come for further scientific research and the evolution of life extension science and culture. Avoid a "true believer" (book by Eric Hoffer) mentality and keep your centre as you move forward, striving to advance (1) functional ranges in ageing people, (2) clinical outcome and (3) their (your) quality of life.
The children can learn, but, will we teach them?
From the cutting edge,
Ronald B. Keys, JD, PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org) (3-2-95) Queens, NYC
American Academy of Anti-Ageing Medicine, American Ageing Association, International Association of Biomedical Gerontology, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, American Academy of Clinical Gerontology, Life Extension Foundation, International Health Care Consultant, Public Advocate and Clinician Counselling Professional.
Ginkgo Biloba Versus Alzheimer's Disease
by Douglas Skrecky
One problem for a doctor recommending an inexpensive unconventional therapy over an expensive conventional one is that the evidence for the efficacy of the former is usually far from matching the standard double blind placebo controlled trials that expensive drugs are tested with. In the case of ginkgo biloba extract EGB 761 and Alzheimer's disease this objection is no longer operable.
In a recent double blind placebo controlled trial the herbal extract EGB 761 has been conclusively found to be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease. A variety of test batteries including the SKT and the Sandoz Clinical Assessment Geriatric Scale all showed that EGB 761 reversed the ravages of this disease. Memory improved, attention improved, EEG improved, eye movements improved, appetite improved, etc1.
If any reader of Longevity Report wishes to have a friend or relative suffering from Alzheimer's disease treated with EGB 761, but cannot convince the doctor that this is wise just forward the doctor's address to me c/o Longevity Reportand I will do my best to convince said doctor of the merits of this ginkgo biloba extract.
1 The Efficacy of EGB 761 in Patients With Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type, A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study on Different Levels of Investigation 215-222 Vol.9 1994 Human Psychopharmacology
by David Stodolsky
There has been repeated discussion about how certain individuals refuse to consider suspension because of "irrational" social reasons. One example discussed recently is very wealthy persons who could easily be suspended, but do not do so because they would probably be just ordinary persons in the future. Perhaps a more correct analysis is that the social framework within which they have been successful might not even exist in the future. For example, what would be the meaning of great physical wealth in the future when nanomachines could generate physical objects on command?
Another case is the person who refuses to consider suspension, because their family or friends would not be present when they are resuscitated.
These concerns may not be irrational. One implication of this article on sociality is that the mind's natural environment is a series of organizational structures. The social environments mentioned above and others may be necessary for the survival of the mind as a functional unit. This may sound far fetched, but consider the ant or termite alone, outside of its social unit, which many consider a single organism. What would be its chance of survival or even being able to function effectively in its traditional environment? While humans are not "hard wired" in the same way as these simple organisms, the learning process may program us into similar patterns of interdependence. In this case, the mind is located at the intersection of multiple organizational units, without which it loses much of its ability to function or even to exist in the traditional sense.
There have been proposals that the mind is diffuse and not totally dependent on the preservation of brain structure. Perhaps this article offers a way to integrate these "far out" views into a more comprehensive picture of individual survival. In any case, the suggestion here is that biological preservation alone, no matter how perfect, may not be enough to avoid the destruction of the mind and one's identity.
The Purpose of Life
by Michael R. Davis M.S.
SETI searches have centred on the "water hole", Oxygen-Hydroxy RF signatures in ambient spectrum. These efforts were never funded seriously and had many technical difficulties. Recent investigations into the nature of planet formation via solar dynamics demonstrates that planet formation out of the residual solar disk in not unique, logically it follows that the gross estimates regarding the rarity of life in the Universe, which are centred on the number of habitable planets are in error. The fact that we haven't discovered any intelligent life during our searches may speak more to the relative difficulty of development of systems that are noisy. This relates to the fact that many species demonstrate civil behaviour however, they cannot be detected at any appreciable distance. Regard the Dolphin and Whales, clearly they communicate at great distances however detection across light years is not possible. Would that imply to the distant observer that there was no intelligent life on earth if humans were not so electromagnetically noisy? The question is ripe for argument...
It would be wonderful if one of the immortality ideas were funded fully. However, I think that the current climate excludes federal funding from consideration as a source.
I am in complete agreement with the preposition that the current "test" for intelligence is skewed toward our "kind" of civilization. Whales and Dolphins communicate across distances of several miles without external amplification. However, The U.S. space shuttle cannot detect the existence of any form of communication between them. I agree that efforts to extend the lifespan of individuals within a species enhances the development of the civilization. These efforts should be fully funded.
The comparison that I make is similar to that which exists between the proponents of Fusion and Solar energy. It seems that all the scientific money pie is being spent on fusion (Billions and Billions of dollars), we have learned many interesting principles but have not developed any fusion reactors (with none planned anytime soon Aries?).
Progress has been made in the field of solar energy in a smooth and steady way, resulting in applicable technology that has lead to enhanced quality of life for millions of people in the world. Take for instance solar ovens in semiarid and desert areas, or solar cell powered water pumps, or insulation....
See the comparison? It seems that the current scientific consensus is skewed toward research for research's sake. What is required is a change in the paradigm towards science for humanity's sake. This shift in focus will naturally lead to increased funding of worthy efforts such as yours.
I agree with you totally with respect to lawyers and the drain that they cause on the scientific pool. The problem is that everyone in America wants fast cash and the way to get it is to sue the pants off some poor fool for whatever the reason. The revolving door policy where law is fluid naturally allows for the proper application of the scientific method (test and observe, record and vary, controlled conditions, variable accountability, etc.). This allows for the existence of no rule that is carved in stone and the continual reinterpretation of the law. What a waste of talent.
Regarding big science and small science, its all a paradigm thing, meaning that it is almost impossible to shake the convention wisdom during the lifetime of the "shaker". Note the problems that de Broglie had with matter waves, or the current problems with warm blooded dinosaurs and fractal dynamics as models of wide scale phenomena (Mandelbrot was released from IBM, this after they agreed that he was right).
It is all about how the scientific paradigm is developed, continued, and reinforced. before any paradigm falls (is reinterpreted) massive amounts of money are spent making sure that there is something wrong. Once this is established the next step is permutation of the paradigm with the attendant expenditure of funds trying to make it fit. The final step is the replacement of the consensus opinion and "evolution" of the paradigm.
Curiously, the originator or the new idea is rarely incorporated into the paradigm or given credit as the originator of the body of thought during his lifetime. Why is this? I believe that it goes to the fact that new ideal are outside of conventional science and therefore proponents of "new ideas" are radical. It takes time for ideas to be accepted and time is money.
Look at the vast amounts of money spent on fusion as compared to all of the other areas of energy research. Billions just to learn or fine tune a concept. What I am not saying is that this research is wasted. What I am saying is that a finite fraction of all research money should be set aside for alternative concepts andthe judge of the worthiness or worthlessness of a project should have no vested interest in the current paradigm. A good example of the above is the fact that the DOE (department of energy) in America oversees all energy projects but DOE has vested interest in nuclear, conventional (fossil), and fusion energy among others.
Therefore in a typical budget one will find minute amounts of funding for geothermal, solar etc. (not much money is selling solar cells since its a one time profit if the cells last for their expected lifetime of >30 years).
On another line look at the current research in AIDS, I really have a problem with the fact that the "way the disease progresses" keeps being reinterpreted as fringe data is substantiated by "established" researchers.
It is an exclusive club, in short we are good because we say that we are good and others believe that we are good. Therefore if some young hotshot comes along he must pay his dues and not pull to hard to the left or right. Its the window washing approach to science. The problem is that there is more that one window but only one wash rag.
You have my approval to use this correspondence in Longevity Report.
Michael R. Davis M.S.
The New World View
by Brian W. Haines
One of the great advantages of living in London is the accessibility of libraries. Within walking distance I can call upon the resources of something like twenty million books upon every subject known to humankind. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the sheer weight of it all. I feel that not in my life-time, nor in the lifetime of anyone else would it be possible to absorb the accumulated wisdom of the ages. For this is what it represents. Mere in these libraries are the answers men and women have found to the perpetual questions that have been posed by life since the beginning of time. And of course these questions are still being asked today.
It is when I look back to that period of my life at school when the weeks were so long and we had just entered the lower sixth and had time on our hands to sit around and ask questions of our own, that I remember we had little use for the dull rows of books upon shelves. The fact is we knew all the answers. We had questions of our own to be sure - which we knew with certainty could be resolved with a little practical and sensible co-operation by the elderly. Why we wondered were the old so determined to be stubborn and refuse to understand the miracles of organisation we could bring to solving the troubles they had brought upon the world. How could the old understand the young and their needs, and why were they so perverse in failing to appreciate the simple matters of relationship between the sexes which we had found to be such a potent force. In short our way was blocked by an obtuse authority bent upon frustrating us at the very beginning of life. It was infuriatingly easy to settle matters if only those in power would listen.
I was reminded so much of these thoughts as I read the diatribe proposing Mr. Browne as President of the United States. I have never met Mr. Browne, but I have met many like him. There are always very simple evils for which they have the solution if given the chance to put some unspecified plan into action. Authority is too authoritarian they proclaim. Just let me get in there and I will show them how a Country should be governed.
Here just a moment, what is this about government. And how exactly does one become President of a country if all government is wrong and authoritarian? It seems a bit of a contradiction in terms to call on the one hand for an absolute freedom to do what you want, yet at the same time ask to be elected head of some organisation. It does not make sense.1
Libertarians? The definition of a libertarian is a person who believes in number one at all times. Everyone else must look out for themselves. Hardly a recipe for peaceful coexistence.
As I grew older I discovered our schoolboy ramblings had all been mulled over in detail by thousands and thousands of previous generations, many of who had gone to the trouble of putting their solutions down on paper. A quick visit to one of the many libraries disclosed books by the ancient Greeks, people of the medieval times and whole bands of chaps called Fabians and Socialists and Communists, to say nothing of religious leaders, wayfaring travellers and the concept of an Alternative Society. Each and everyone was convinced there was a solution to this age old problem. And the basic problem is of course selfishness.2
There is, and always has been a true form of self governing principle that could save the world from itself. It is called Anarchy. Total anarchy is where everyone accepts absolute responsibility for their own actions which shall not impinge upon the freedom of others. There are no leaders, there are no rules. It is a matter of accepting duties and obligations without any accent upon rights. How can anyone believe the way forward is to elect a President of country based upon material wealth and looks only to the positive acquisition of more wealth and a stronger currency?3
For anyone who enjoys reading I can recommend a book by Jerome K. Jerome called "Diary of a Pilgrimage". It is a very amusing book with a serious purpose. At one point he describes his personal view of work and the work ethic. He talks about his contract with society. I think Mr. Browne could do a lot worse than study this little gem and take some of the message to heart before he starts to organise his brave new world.
I am worried by the messages on the Internet. I have not had time nor the inclination to surf this new superhighway. Mr. Browne it seems believes this is the place to spread his gospel. By a sheer force of numbers there will be many who will listen and follow with unquestioned devotion. This is the way of the world. It is the way Nazi Germany was able to run such a destructive regime. It is the very force about which Mr. Browne complains.
No government call compel the citizens to do anything without the cooperation of a large number of compliant enforcers. Mr. Browne is right when he says it is the forces of law and order that compel the paying of taxes and enforcement of the rules. But who are these people who put the force into operation? Who are the policemen, or if you like the Gestapo who knock on the door to see if the rules are being obeyed? They are you and the many like you who put people in power to do your bidding. And then you have to support them because you like a quiet life.4
I have just been down to my library to read about Hitler and the foundation of the National Socialist Party. Yes it is all there for anyone to read if they bother. All the works written long before the war about the ideals and the aims and objects of the new Germany. It is a matter of factual history that Hitler had no personal ambition for himself. He was very Spartan in his own life., he unlike all other leaders sought no personal enjoyment, he neither drank nor smoked, was a vegetarian and did not surround himself with woman and debauchery. He came from no favoured background nor was he a national of the country he came to lead. But be was a focus of some common denominator. Very quickly power became out of control centred in the midst of mindless authority. It is hard today to find people who will admit to a total support for the aims and objectives of wartime Germany. Yet there must have been millions of them. People who carried out instructions and orders with unquestioned loyalty.
Today we see the same forces in operation in Russia, in Yugoslavia and surely will inevitably rise in South Africa. In these countries local barons command the loyalty of numerous underlings who individually look to preserving their own interests. In no time at all violence escalates beyond the control of any individual.
It has been my contention, and the contention of many others in the third world, that the United States is the greatest threat to world peace and security. For too long a stream of propaganda has issued from that country directed at keeping the rest of the world in economic and political subjugation. Weak governments like our own have slavishly supported every twist and turn of the politics of oppression. Of all the countries of the world the United States until last year was the only country not to have ratified any Human Rights convention of any sort. Last year it reluctantly did so, but with the addition of so many reservations it has scarcely altered the position it previously held. It is not a record to be proud of, and yet hardly a person reading the mass publication media would know the United States had so poor a record. Such is the power of self advertising. And such is craven attitude of Britain it will never oppose the United States in any move to free an individual who is wanted by that Country.
We do not need or want a world dominated by the United States with or without any libertarian President. It would be an unmitigated disaster. At the present the United States is in debt to the rest of the world to the tune of billions of dollars and the debt is rising. It does it by printing dollars which do not have the backing of production. Because the dollar is a world currency it is supported as it gets weaker and weaker. In effect the rest of the world is keeping the United States in a standard of living it does not deserve. The United States uses more of the worlds' resources than any other country, it burns more oil and wastes more wood, it wastes more paper, it creates more pollution.
It would not be possible in such a large country and with such a large population that there would not be some in the country who were not aware of the situation. They are minority voices. The books they write are in my library. Anyone who wants to take the trouble to find out the true position can do so. The majority don't want to know or can't accept the pictures on television are wrong. These are the people who make up that grand group who want a quiet life and supported Macarthyism. They are the ones who proposed Eugenics, the founding principle in the United States upon which the Nazi party and subsequently Yugoslavia based ethnic cleansing. The policy of the United States is to shout loudly about the deficiencies in the rest of the world to cover up the dreadful racial discrimination and lack of Human Rights in their own country. The death penalty for under age persons, life sentences for petty theft. What other civilised society in the world sanctions such punishments?
Go into the library and see what Dickens and Oscar Wilde had to say about their trips to America. Things haven't changed, it is an aggressive acquisitive materialist society and libertarianism is just one aspect of it.
Bernie Cornfeld, a New York taxi driver had a vision. He wanted to be rich. He adapted the chain letter principle to a pyramid selling system which benefited him millions and nearly bankrupted a number of small countries and many people in the process. I see Mr. Browne is being promoted by a system of chain letters which promise similar riches. Need I say more.
My library has it all on the shelves, so have most other libraries. It is a question of opening your eyes to the mistakes of the past and perhaps turning to the philosophy section to see there are other ways.
Reply to Mr Haines
by Patrick El-Azem
(Editorial note: This reply was received over the Internet where people tend to be abrasive with ideas they don't agree with. I have edited this to try and make it as constructive as possible as is intended for the style of Longevity Report. I hope that this will encourage genuine debate and not be offensive to Mr Haines or Mr El-Azem, both of whose views should be of value to readers interesting in drawing their own conclusions on these matters. I have added numbers to Mr Haines' article as a cross reference to this one. The Internet method is to quote large bits, which is impractical here.)
(For the sake of brevity, I shall refer to libertarians and/or anti-authoritarians as libertarians). The section ending (1) is a gross oversimplification and, indeed, quite a misstatement of libertarian thought; most thinkers in these realms would never stoop to uttering something as simple-minded as "Authority is too authoritarian". Of course, a responsible and objective statement of libertarian goals would make even clearer the errors this article contains. Authority of any form is to be questioned; this obscure principle is found also, among other places, at the foundation of the sciences. Libertarians are very well aware of the constraints of the real world, and that the absolute absence of any type of government would be hard to reconcile with our present society; that doesn't mean libertarians don't want to curtail arbitrary authority to the greatest extent possible, to prevent the pontifications of self-anointed authorities like this one from becoming law (the discerning individual will of course already have recognized similarities between this balderdash and current regimes).
Mr Haines says the definition of a libertarian is a person who believes in number one at all times. "Everyone else must look out for themselves. Hardly a recipe for peaceful coexistence."
Really? How about reading anything by, say, Ayn Rand or Leonard Peikoff, for example? This comment alone shows the biased and subjective nature of this article; misinformation (or total lack of information) leading to misinterpretation.
He says that the basic problem is of course selfishness.(2)
Now, if this person had ever read anything concerning libertarianism, he would realize that libertarianism holds that this is the exact opposite of the truth. Essentially, the libertarian attitude is that if everyone acted in a selfish manner, society as a whole would benefit. Obviously, this does not mean indulging in uncivilized behaviour for the sake of convenience or laziness; this means acting to further one's fortunes. As a result, it is held that society as a whole would automatically arrive at maximum efficiency, where everyone is as well off as possible. Naysayers would immediately seize upon this and comment to the tune of "but you wouldn't give welfare to poor people, and you wouldn't ...". Yes, pointless altruism is held to be one of the factors most responsible for the ills of societies today, further exacerbated by the mandatory nature of present-day altruism (i.e. welfare and similar programs). Here is my personal response to this: if all these statist altruism programs were done away with, I would have a lot more disposable income. At some point, most capitalists would be inclined to create capital with their wealth, which would almost always result in job creation. Most capitalists would see the point of donating money to schools, churches, etc... in order to, for example, assure a more competent, better-educated work-force and less social garbage. Thus, I hold that the absence of mandatory giving would actually benefit those "in need" much more. I believe that this point is substantially supported by the level of private giving in the U.S. by foundations (mostly founded by very rich white male capitalists!) and private givers; even at the present levels of government theft, these foundations and people still find it possible to give privately. Imagine what many could -and would- do in a freer society.
Anarchy (3) is not a "self-governing principle". In fact, to call anything that is to engage in empty semantics; the term makes no sense. Anarchy has nothing to do with government or society, or even civilization. Anarchy is pure chaos; -this-, not libertarianism, is pure, unmitigated survival of the fittest (actually not an unrepulsive principle). A question similar to the author's in the first paragraph presents itself: without rules and/or leaders, how do these hypothetical anarchists know what their duties and obligations are? And further; -duties- and -obligations- in an anarchy? I thought "there are no rules". How does our purported saviour propose to assure that all his anarchists accept the same set of -duties- and -obligations-? What if Anarchist A feels an -obligation- to save oxygen by killing everyone else off? "It -is- an obligation"... of sorts.
Mr Haines asked how can anyone believe the way forward is to elect a President of country based upon material wealth and looks only to the positive acquisition of more wealth and a stronger currency?
It is maybe because we believe that one of the few actually objectively defensible human rights (which don't include housing, an income, or a paternalistic regime) is the right to property. If a person is remunerated for some sort of effort, libertarians (and most other rational people) hold that that person is entitled to use that remuneration in any way he sees fit and to invest or trade that remuneration in any way he sees fit. (Like our friendly author, most governments disagree with this principle). The election of a President, or any other effort aimed at building the structure of a society based on individual property rights and freedom of choice (and extending the possibility of the acquisition of wealth) is thus merely the means to an end: personal freedom. Trying to maintain a strong currency is merely rational; why should a country not do so and thus disadvantage itself? (More on this below).
Mr Haines recommends a book by Jerome K. Jerome called Diary of a Pilgrimage. I would recommend that he reads the above-mentioned Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff. I wonder if you've read their books; if not, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley would be a revelation for you; of course, probably not in Huxley's intended sense. Anthem by Ayn Rand would also be a good starting point.
Many like Mr Haines are worried about the Internet. That is precisely why the rest of us love it. If Mr. Browne wants to "spread his gospel" here, more (figurative) power to him; you don't have to read it (a difference from your preferred type of society - which I don't for a second believe is anarchy - isn't it?)
So, many will listen and follow with unquestioned devotion. Why not spread your own gospel on the Internet? By your logic, the louder you yell, the more followers you'll have; if you mass e-mail, you should (according to you) shortly be inundated with enthusiastic lemmings, although I believe vicious flames en masse are more likely.
Unfortunately, this (4) is no longer true, either. Thanks to modern technology, a police state can, with some degree of effort, sustain itself with only a small number of actual enforcers by pinpointing and eliminating "trouble-makers" before they proselytize. And just by the by, it's true that we put the people who are in power there. But (at least in the U.S., the rest of you are still sinking deeper in a morass of taxes and regulations) we're working on it.
Mr Haines refers to the rise of National Socialism and also to events in Former-Yugoslavia. On the contrary, the "local barons command the loyalty of numerous underlings" who are either in it against their will or, more likely, too stupid to look to their own interests or just plain brainwashed (funny, they sound like his anarchists - all uniformly aware of the same -obligations- and -duties- !). The wars he refers to are not due to individuals looking out for their own interests. In fairness, I recognize that the motivations driving the instigators of these conflicts were and are not those commonly recognized among rational thinkers as legitimate reasons for aggression; but I take issue with the mis-characterization of the force driving these conflicts.
He says it is his contention, and the contention of many others in the third world, that the United States is the greatest threat to world peace and security.
Really? Then why is everyone immigrating here (including me)? Why do countries everywhere look to the standard of living here as a reference? Why do countries under assault call upon the U.S. for aid, not only military? Why does everyone buy U.S. products?
Mr Haines commented that Weak governments like our own have slavishly supported every twist and turn of the politics of oppression. Of course, the UK's government doesn't merely "support...", it amplifies (and, for example, has had an even more nightmarish tax code for far longer), and by the way, I seem to remember that the U.S. rebelled against tax, mostly because WE didn't feel like "slavishly supporting", and so on.
He also comments that of all the countries of the world the United States until last year was the only country not to have ratified any Human Rights convention of any sort. Let's just leave aside the fact that nowhere else in the world are the presumed beneficiaries of such human rights treaties (by the way, do these treaties ever actually benefit anyone?) as coddled as here, what with affirmative action, quotas, and, at last count, almost 300 laws and government programs designed to "equalize", "diversify", "sensitize", "empower", and so on.
Of course, OUR mass publication media are, for the most part, not government controlled, and do a decent job of lighting the insides of our prisons and such to fuel the popular outrage. But then we don't have royal figureheads to crowd everything else out of our media every day. What, Mr Haines, are you saying here? That Britain will never stop the U.S. from freeing someone we want? Well, good for you!
Yes, we're deeply in debt, thanks largely to the tax-fattened hyenas in our capital. We're working on it. But Mr Haines' grasp of economics is dim at best; he says earlier that we have a country that pursues a strong currency. Now you say we print dollars to weaken our currency (making our debt less). Which is it? And the reason the dollar is supported internationally is not exclusively to keep us in a standard of living we damn well do deserve - who worked for it? - but so that the U.S. can continue to import goods from the rest of the world, and thus -coincidentally- support everyone else's standard of living, too. No more laudable, but it shows the true motivations on both sides!
Accepted, we use more resources per capita than anywhere else. (So don't sell oil or wood to us anymore if you don't like it). We're working on it - the U.S. has one of the most extensive environmental programs (in fact, only Germany compares) anywhere which, being government-run, is ridden with inefficiency, but it's a start, and at least we don't poison everyone else's oceans too, like Britain with the North Sea (lovely mercury puddles on the bottom there - which Britain admitted to putting there some years back!). Again - glass houses and dying seals.
It is not the "true" position that Mr Haines reads in his library, it is your subjective position. People in his branch of politics have this problem; they can't distinguish between objective truth (or attempts to define it) and shallow, unrationalized subjectivity.
He says "The majority don't want to know or can't accept the pictures on television are wrong. These are the people who make up that grand group who want a quiet life and supported Macarthyism. As opposed to the ones who wanted a loud life and DIDN'T support unwarranted intrusions into their or their friends' lives? Your generalizations are wrong.
With regards to sanctions against crime, are Singapore, or the Arab nations, uncivilized? And where, pray tell, are criminality rates -coincidentally- the lowest? And would you care to explain to the parents of a six-year old dead girl why her sixteen-year old rapist and killer will go free at eighteen?
Dickens and Wilde were wildly biased anyway, and, as Mr Haines says, just visited this country. If I were to visit Britain (which I have already done a number of times) and, on that basis, say that Britain is a country of effete royalist wig-wearing snobs who drink repulsive beer lukewarm and drive on the wrong side of the road, I think you would be mildly put out. By the way, yes, we're aggressive, we're acquisitive, and we're materialist (at least those of us who don't persist in whining for a welfare check). So what's your point?
The comments about Cornfield and chain letters is generalizing and simplifying (and twisting and distorting) again. First, why (if they really did...) did these small (and conveniently unspecified) countries go bankrupt? The gist of this paragraph is that a Joe Shmoe had an idea and made a lot of money. (That, by the way, is still what makes America great - you can do that here, even under Klinton and the Demokrats). I don't see how it is his fault that all these other people supposedly went bankrupt - you're not trying to say they blindly bought in and lost (in which case they deserved it)? Or that they were stupid and that it wasn't their fault (it would have been)? Or that he was a capitalist villain (shame on him! What was that scheme again?)
Precisely what do most libraries have on the shelves? Diatribes as to why systems that demand personal effort (beyond picking up a government check) and stress personal, individual responsibility, are evil? I have known many leftists, and every single one always hated the capitalist principle of individual thought and individual action, based on individual property rights and individual responsibility (the mere mention of the word "individual" served to make some of them froth). The difference between people like you and people like me is that, in my system of choice, people like you would be free to live as you would, as long as you didn't make me obey your silly notions. In your system, I would forfeit any freedom I cherished, because it would be wrong, counterproductive, evil, selfish, etc... In other words, your system, be it called anarchy (wrongly so), communism, socialism, or brave new world, is absolutism and authoritarianism at its intolerant, closed-minded, arrogant worst.
Freely and Sincerely, Patrick El-Azem.
The Terra LibraSuperorganism
and the Freedom Meme
by Mark Lindsay
Reprinted from Terra Libra News, by kind permission of the publisher.
The term "superorganism" was invented by an entomologist named William Morton Wheeler to describe a group of individuals working together as if one giant organism. Wheeler made this observation while studying the behaviour of ants. Just as individual cells work together as an entire organism, individual organisms work together as a superorganism.
The biologist Richard Dawkins pointed out that there were basically two different kinds of superorganisms: one held together by genes, and the other by what he called "memes." Dawkins coined the term "meme" to refer to ideas or clusters of ideas which pull together large numbers of (human) individuals to form social super-organisms. Like its biological counterpart, the gene, the meme is a replicator whose sole purpose is to propagate itself. And in its quest to spread itself, a meme inevitably attempts to compete with and conquer the superorganisms of other memes. Human history is basically a long bloody tale of various meme-superorganisms competing and gobbling each other up. Ancient Rome, the Catholic church, Marxism, and Islam are all examples of superorganisms. For a brilliant explication of the behaviour of meme-based superorganisms, I highly recommend you read the newly published book, The Lucifer Principle, by Howard Bloom - your understanding of human behaviour will be greatly expanded. In order for those of us interested in helping to spread freedom to more effectively do so, it is important that we understand freedom as a meme and Terra Libra as a superorganism, for it is by means of the superorganism that memes (ideas) spread or replicate themselves. The rest of this essay discusses Terra Libra as a superorganism, with particular emphasis on the fact that Terra Libra is not only a new superorganism, but also a new kind of superorganism -- a superorganism based on voluntary exchange.
Spearheading the Superorganism
The men and women who spearhead meme-superorganisms stand to gain the most from the success of their superorganism. Those individuals who take the initiative to create and implement voluntary alternative real free-enterprise institutions and businesses will be the next century's millionaires and billionaires. This could all happen within a decade. Harry Plott of Golden Eagle Services is an example of someone who is becoming a millionaire right now. In a few decades, Harry's business may become one of the largest in America.
Any business can be shifted into the true free-enterprise zone that is Terra Libra. Anyone can start a real free-enterprise business by purchasing and implementing the Terra Libra materials. That's what Harry Plott did!
One thing that distinguishes Terra Libra as a superorganism is that not only will its success enrich the lives of those who initiate major free-enterprise projects, but also the lives of everyone else involved with Terra Libra. This is because Terra Libra is based on the idea of synergy.
The Absence of Coercion
What most distinguishes Terra Libra from practically all other super-organisms is that it has no place for coercion. Almost all other superorganisms throughout history have used violence, direct force, threat of force or subtle coercion to propagate their memes. Ancient Rome, Alexander the Great and the Catholic church have all used violence to expand their superorganisms. Furthermore, before Terra Libra almost all superorganisms have been held together to a considerable extent by coercion and violence. Perhaps this use of internal violence can be traced back to animal superorganisms which maintain a pecking order through brute force. When an animal wants to move up in the pecking order it challenges its superior by initiating a physical fight.
A New Kind of Superorganism
Terra Libra is a new kind of superorganism since it uses no coercion or violence to pull more individuals into itself or to hold itself together. But Terra Libra is different from other superorganisms in another important way: In practically all other superorganisms throughout all of history, individuals were more or less expendable or irrelevant: the superorganism was far more important than any particular individual within the superorganism. But in Terra Libra the individual is paramount. Terra Libra is an attempt to create a superorganism based on respect for individuals and their property, and on voluntary exchange. Terra Libra is a non-coercive superorganism.
I should also emphasize that memes use individuals to propagate themselves by pulling together a superorganism. In most superorganisms, individuals are not aware that they are being "used" by memes. Terra Librans, however, are consciously aware of being used by the Terra Libra freedom meme. The relationship between an individual Terra Libran and the Terra Libra superorganism is a voluntary symbiotic relationship. This is due to the fact that Terra Libra is a new kind of superorganism in that it is based on respect for individuals.
The Illusion of Control and Real Control
Both humans and animals have a biological need for control. Control is beneficial to physical health; in laboratory experiments, animals who are given control live longer than those without control. The degree to which we control our own lives also has a profound effect on our mental powers -- a sense of control keeps our minds perceptive and alert. Experiments have shown that a lack of control can cripple our mental abilities.
In The Lucifer Principle, Howard Bloom explains that memes also lure individuals into their superorganisms by offering the illusion of control (although the unsuspecting individual is unaware that the sense of control is an illusion). Medical doctors, for example, sell the illusion of control. A doctor has almost no real control over a patients health; in fact, much of the doctors sophisticated high-tech equipment is really no more effective in restoring health than a voodoo ritual. Dr. Robert Mendelssohn, in his book Confessions of a Medical Heretic, states: "I believe that more than 90% of modern medicine could disappear from the face of the earth and the effect would be immediate and beneficial." Similarly, Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "...if the whole materia medicacould be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes." For the most part doctors sell the illusion of control: the illusion is that by accepting the doctors services you gain control over the state of your body.
Bloom says that while most memes simply offer the illusion of control, the technologies and insights of some memes "...actually do help us get a handle on the elusive forces of our fate." In other words, the insights and technologies of some memes actually do give us real control and power. I suspect that Terra Libra may be the first meme-superorganism to come along and provide individuals with the means to an enormous amount of real power and control - far more than any other meme in history. Part of the reason is that in Terra Libra the individual is the most important. The other reason is that the insights and technologies offered by Terra Libra are being offered precisely because they are so effective in increasing personal power and control. Here are some of the ways our insights and technologies increase power and control:
The primary purpose of Freedom Technology is to increase control of the self. Rose Wilder Lane once said, "Freedom is self-control; no more, no less."
Trusts give us control over our property; they also provide protection (power and control in the form of defense). This minimizes our powerlessness over our property due to the whims of terrocrats (terrorist bureaucrats).
Terra Libra advocates biological immortality. The ability to extend our lives indefinitely amounts to a tremendous increase in personal control.
We offer guidelines for achieving superhealth. Incidentally, after I read the Superhealth Report and some of the books listed in the bibliography, and concluded that it was very likely that the information contained in those books was valid, I had this experience:
I felt an enormous sense of personal control over my own health (state of my body). I no longer felt at the mercy of disease and illness beyond my control; if these books were right, then I had much more control than I realized. Understandingdisease in terms of detoxification was very helpful too. The conventional way of thinking about sickness can be rather horrifying: cancer and heart disease can strike you at any moment; the doctors can do very little about it; furthermore, the doctors cure is more likely to be worse than the disease.
Financial freedom, control and privacy.
Tax elimination strategies - income protection.
Establishing or participating in alternative, voluntary institutions. For example, individuals can escape the clutches of the Federal Reserve through alternatives like World Trade Clearinghouse. We need freedom-oriented individuals to create voluntary alternatives to out-compete all other government-controlled and forced-backed institutions.
Individuals can vastly increase their personal control through a better understanding of semantics. Terrocrats try to control you through the use of language and words.
The unrealized human potential concept in connection with the Personal Power Institute. Humans are currently operating at pathetically low levels. Most of us are only living "on the surface of life," never actualizing our vast potential. Since we tend to operate at only the 1% level, it remains to be seen what incredible power and control we could achieve at the upper levels. The Personal Power Institute also emphasizes the development of conscious control.
The purpose of Terra Libra is to help propagate the individual-freedom meme and to provide individuals with insights and technologies to achieve a high level of personal power and control.
The Implications of Terra Libra
Terra Libra is developing at an accelerating rate. Terra Libra has the potential to become the greatest freedom-based superorganism in history. It also has the potential to become the most successful superorganism of all time, for it is a world-wide information-based country. The best part is that Terra Libra offers us real control over our own lives, not the illusion of control.
In Terra Libra we often talk about reaching a "critical mass." In other words we need to pull a certain number of individuals into our superorganism before we can achieve a major quantum leap in our success. In fact, once this critical mass is reached, coercive superorganisms will begin to fall apart, and Terra Libra will be on its way to ultimate success. And in order for Terra Libra to _outcompete_ coercive superorganisms, we need more Freedom Technologists like Harry Plott to create and expand alternative institutions like Golden Eagle Services and World Trade Clearing House. The creation of alternative voluntary institutions will help us to reach critical mass.
Terra Libra has established a Personal Power Institute, the products and services of which enable individuals to discover and develop their freedom to the point that terrocrats cannot intimidate, dominate or control them. The Personal Power Institute helps individuals to prepare themselves so that they can begin applying freedom technology to their personal lives and businesses. We have identified and/or developed many highly effective technologies which enable humans to reprogram their brains and become vastly more successful and competent. The first step is for individuals to wake up from the consensus trance and discover that they are free by nature.
I leave you with the Terra Libra vision statement taken verbatim from Terra Libra News: Journal of Freedom Technology:
"A civilization based on the principle of respect for individuals and their property. A civilization that maximizes freedom, health, wealth and the pursuit of happiness. A civilization free from coercion. A civilization in which individuals can maximize their quality of life in general, and raise their consciousness and thinking abilities to the highest levels attainable."
Permission to reprint this document extends only if the item below is included:
Disclaimer: Terra Libra does not challenge or threaten the authority of any legitimate government.
For more information, send email to email@example.com, or write Terra Libra, 2430 E.Roosevelt #998XM, Phoenix,AZ 85008, or telephone (44) (602) 265-7627, or fax 44 (602) 234-1281, or connect to BBS (602) 285-9280
Freedom Technology is the Wave of the Future!
An Orthodox Medical View
by Keith Monnington, M.D.
Life extension can be considered from three aspects. Firstly there is cryonic suspension in which the body of a deceased person is frozen and stored in the hope that at some time in the future that person can be restored to life. Cryonic suspension is future technology in so far as there is at present no hard data to show this is possible. Persons who elect to undergo cryonic suspension do so in the hope that futurescientists will have the technology to resurrect them, complete with their thought patterns, memories and personalities. At present we have no knowledge as to whether this is possible or will be possible in the future. We do not know whether our present methods of suspension are those required for successful future restoration. However, unless people are prepared to experiment, knowledge on this subject cannot progress. Those undergoing cryonic suspension have nothing to lose as the alternative is death and decomposition or cremation. I am presently undecided on the subject as regards myself. Hopefully I have another 30 to 40 years of life ahead during which time progress will be made.1
The other two aspects are prevention of premature death and prolongation of our present lifespan. In order to extend the natural lifespan of Homo Sapiens, biologists will need to understand more about the ageing process and develop ways to retard it. This may be achieved by genetic manipulation, drugs or some other method. Realisation of this is also in the future.
For the current generations the best hope of life extension lies in remaining free of the diseases most commonly responsible for premature death. The longer you live, the greater the chance that new methods of artificial life extension will be discovered during your lifetime. What can individuals do to maximise their own life expectancy? Below are some of the remediable factors which can lead to premature death.
It is now over 30 years since Doll and Hill first demonstrated the link between lungsmoking and lung cancer. Since then the evidence against smoking has continued to accumulate, and the number of diseases linked to smoking continues to increase. Cancer of organs from the lips down to the stomach and bladder cancer occur more frequently in smokers. Heart attack risk is doubled. Blockage of lower limb arteries is largely confined to smokers and diabetics. It is now estimated that one third of all smokers will die prematurely from a smoking related disease and many more will be incapacitated. Sidestream (other peoples) smoke is also hazardous. The risk of infant cot death is increased in houses where people smoke. An immortalist who smokes is a contradiction in terms!
Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced life expectancy and an increased risk of accidental death, heart and liver disease, high blood pressure and possibly some forms of cancer (liver and stomach). A recent much publicized report showing that the French had a lower death rate from heart disease because of their consumption of red wine failed to mention the they also have a high death rate from cirrhosis of the liver. Current conservative recommendations are to drink no more than 20 grams of alcohol per day with 2 alcohol -free days each week.
3. Heart Disease.
Coronary artery disease (blockage of the arteries which supply the muscle of the heart leading to myocardial infarction or heart attack) is the number one cause of premature death in developed countries. The major risk factors for coronary artery disease are family history, high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, lungsmoking, and high alcohol consumption. Many of these factors are interlinked. A recently described concept is the "syndrome-x" of insulin resistance. This consists of hypertension, non-insulin dependent diabetes, obesity and dyslipidaemia (elevated cholesterol and triglycerides). Most of the risk factors can be modified by lifestyle changes. Lowering blood pressure with drugs appears to greatly reduce the incidence of stroke but has much less effect on heart attack risk.
Cholesterol lowering agents will be discussed in part two.
A number of reports have been published in the medical literature showing that people who exercise regularly are less likely to experience premature coronary artery heart disease, hypertension, stroke and cancer than those do not. The exercise does not have to be intense; 30 minutes of brisk walking each day is sufficient. Physical activity whilst performing work does not seem to confer the same benefit.
A. Reduction of risk.
The single most important factor in reducing cancer risk is avoidance of tobacco smoke, both from lungsmoking and sidestream smoke. Approximately 30% of all cancers (excluding skin cancer) are smoking related. Breast feeding reduces the risk of breast cancer. Exposure to solar radiation is the most important factor in the causation of skin cancer, both melanoma and non-melanoma forms. A high fibre, low animal fat diet probably reduces the risk of large bowel cancer. A family history of breast or bowel cancer increases the risk. Screening is especially appropriate for those at high risk.
B. Screening for early detection.
A screening test is one that can be applied to well people in order to detect disease before it becomes otherwise apparent. It is only of value if such early detection improves the prognosis, and is both specific and sensitive.
The cervical smear is the most widely used cancer screening method in current use and can prevent most cervical cancer by detecting pre cancerous changes which can then de treated to prevent the development of actual cancer of the cervix. Recommendations vary between countries; in New Zealand a national program of a cervical smear every 3 years from age 20 to 70 is in place.
Mammography can detect many breast cancers before they can be felt. A mammogram every 2 years from age 40 seems to be the most widely accepted program. A blood test is available for the early detection of prostate cancer (PSA) which can then be treated by a radical prostatectomy operation.
Testing faeces for traces of blood has been suggested as a screening method for bowel cancer; however the method is neither specific (haemorrhoids can cause false positive results) or sensitive (not all bowel cancers bleed). It is not generally used as a population screening method in the same way as the cervical smear.
Chest xray can detect lung cancer before symptoms develop but is not used as a population method. By the time a lung cancer is large enough to show on a chest xray, the prognosis is not good anyway. It is better not to smoke!
The Japanese have a high incidence of stomach cancer which has a very poor survival rate by the time symptoms develop. Gastroscopy (looking directly into the stomach directly with a fibre-optic scope) is being used as a screening procedure. Similarly, colonoscopy is used to screen for bowel cancer in high risk families. Regular inspection of the skin is the best method of skin cancer detection. In Australasia where there is a high incidence of skin cancer, mobile caravans on popular beaches are used.
This is a controversial topic within the medical profession. My own opinion, based both upon personal experience and reading is that persons who are not in control of their own life situations are significantly more illness prone than those who are.2
Psychologists have created a stress inventory in which various life events are assigned a stress score. Death of a spouse scores 100, divorce 75 and so on. A score of 300 in a 12 month period is highly predictive of developing a significant illness. Stress appears to depress the body's immune system.
In the second part of this series I shall discuss the various drugs being used the reduce the risk of premature death in persons with high risk, and trauma, in many countries the leading cause of death in the first 4 decades of life.
1 Of course, once it is proved revivals are possible, it should also, by benefit of the same technology, be possible to prevent ageing and consequent death by old age. Therefore all those who will benefit from cryonics will have to be suspended before it is known for certain that they can be revived.
2 In a recent Terra Libra conference, Pearson and Shaw made the same point in their lecture. (Also available on cassette.)
Mental Health Roundup
by Douglas Skrecky
The Mental Effects of Clean Air
For years experiments involving negative ion generators have generated controversial data that could be interpreted to imply that negative ions have a calming effect. However none of these negative ion experiments has ever cut the mustard when it came to adequately controlling for confounding variables1. Few studies filter the air. Since negative ions are known to help clear smoke particles out of the air any beneficial effects could be attributed to an air cleaning effect. Few studies also measured ozone levels and as negative ion generators emit about a million times as much ozone as negative ions this oversight is not a minor one. Trace amounts of ozone can oxidize odours and give air a "fresh" smell2. Recently one negative ion experiment has finally been conducted under scrupulously controlled conditions. It comes as little surprise that absolutely no effects were observed with ions in this experiment3. Perhaps the main conclusion that can be drawn from the enormous amount of bad research on negative ions is that clean air is probably beneficial for one's mental health. Some air cleaners now sport negative ion generators to help clean up smoke particles.
Breathing air contaminated with 5% carbon dioxide for 15 minutes increases respiration and reliably induces panic attacks in patients with panic disorder as well as causing mild anxiety in normal subjects4. If you do not enjoy shopping at your local shopping mall, this may be due to poor ventilation. Consider taking your business elsewhere.
1 Biological Effects of Small Air Ions: A Review of Findings and Methods 351-389 Vol.34 1984 Environmental Research
2 Natural and Artificially Produced Air Ions- a Biologically Relevant Climate Factor? 233-242 Vol.29 No.3 1985 International Journal of Biometeorology
3 Acute Exposure of Rats to Air Ions: Effects on the Regional Concentration and Utilization of Serotonin in Brain 173-181 Vol.8 1987 Bioelectromagnetics
4 Carbon Dioxide-Induced Anxiety 43-52 Vol.45 1988 Archives General Psychiatry
The Most Effective Therapy
The purpose of psychoanalysis is to improve the mental health of troubled individuals. Over the years however it has become apparent that the real effect of Freudian style therapy was mainly to enrich psychoanalysts. In an effort to boost flagging revenues alternative talk therapies have been tried out. Beck's cognitive therapy has emerged as the winner as it has consistently achieved greater reductions in depressive symptoms that nondirective therapy, insight-oriented therapy, behaviour therapy, and even some antidepressant drugs1. Cognitive therapy works by reducing the depressed individual's tendency to negatively distort perceptions of self, world and future2. This therapy has recently been successfully administered using a computer in place of the traditional therapist and thereby greatly reducing its cost3. Such computerized cognitive therapy might one day be introduced as a cheap and effective means for improving the mental health of the general population. For more information on cognitive therapy try reading Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns M.D..
1 Mechanisms of Change in Cognitive Therapy of Depression 227-241 Vol.18 1987 Behaviour Therapy
2 Beck's Cognitive Theory of Depression: Convergence of Constructs 416-427 Vol.28 No.5 1987 Comprehensive Psychiatry
3 Computer-Administered Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Depression 51-56 Vol.147 1990 American Journal Psychiatry
Are You Feeling Blue?
Colour can influence how relaxed one feels. The colour blue tends to be less arousing than yellow or green, which in turn are less arousing than red1. For anxious individuals choosing a 'relaxing' colour for ones apartment may be of some benefit.
The reason different colours have different mental effects may be because of their associations. Red may be the most stimulating colour because of its associations with blood. Perhaps blue is the most relaxing because of its associations with clear sky. The author's own favourite is the blue-green colour found at the bottom of some swimming pools. Choosing a relaxing colour for your sunglasses may make frying your hide on the beaches less distressing. Coloured light has not yet been tested in SAD patients.
1 Effects of Four Psychological Primary Colours on GSR, Heart Rate and Respiration Rate 763-766 Vol.38 1974 Perceptual and Motor Skills
Breathe Away Anxiety
Hyperventilation is a part of the "fight or flight" response. Panic disorder patients greatly benefit from respiratory control training. This training consists of 2 minutes of huffing and puffing to induce anxiety following by a period of breathing slowly to recover. Slowing the breath rate also reduces the arousal of normal subjects in anxiety provoking situations1.
Slowing your breath rate is probably the single most effective tactic for reducing anxiety.
1 Respiratory Control: Its Contribution to the Treatment of Panic Attacks 232-236 Vol.154 1989 British Journal of Psychiatry
Brighten Up Your Life
Some people become depressed only during the winter months and then recover during the spring. Appropriately this particular syndrome has been termed Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD is believed to be caused the shortening of daylight hours which occurs during the winter months. Extending the period of daylight with artificial lights improves mood in SAD patients1. The explanation for the therapeutic effect of extended lighting is unknown. However a comparison of phototherapy of the skin or of the eyes found that the eyes have it as far as a significant therapeutic response goes2. Neither normal subjects nor depressed patients not suffering from SAD respond to phototherapy3,4. If one tends to feel dark and gloomy when it is dark and gloomy it may be well worth the increased hydro bills to keep ones apartment brightly lit.
1 Phototherapy and its Mechanisms of Action in Seasonal Affective Disorder 13-19 Vol.14 1988 Journal of Affective Disorders
2 Eye Versus Skin Phototherapy of Seasonal Affective Disorder 753-757 Vol.144 1987 American Journal of Psychiatry
3 Effects of Bright Incandescent Light on Seasonal and Nonseasonal Major Depressive Disorder 355-364 Vol.18 1986 Psychiatry Research
4 No Mood-Altering Effects Found After Treatment of Normal Subjects With Bright Light in the Morning1-9 Vol.22 1987 Psychiatry Research
People tend to feel more stressed when the weather is cloudy and warm and feel better when it is sunny and cool1. Air conditioning can improve mood during the summer months2. For those who particularly object to being roasted for several months out of the year moving to a more temperate clime, installing air conditioning or at the least purchasing a ceiling fan may offer benefits.
1 The Effect of Weather on Mood, Productivity, and Frequency of Emotional Crisis in a Temperate Continental Climate 134-143 Vol.32 1988 International Journal of Biometeorology
2 Seasonal Affective Disorder With Summer Depression and Winter Hypomania 1602-1603 Vol.144 1987 American Journal of Psychiatry
Does the Early Bird Really Get the Worm?
Some depressed patients feel BETTER after being deprived of sleep by being forced awake early in the morning. These patients then typically relapse after sleeping normally for several days1. Curiously, giving patients lithium seems to prevent this relapse2. Partial sleep deprivation has been found to improve mood in depressed patients only when it involves getting up earlier. Going to bed later is without any significant effect3. By continuously advancing bedtime by 5 hours per day similar benefits have been found for getting up earlier, even in the absence of sleep deprivation4. Shortening one's day seems to improve mood. Lengthening one's day by continuously delaying bedtime by 6 hours each day lowers mood in some subjects5. Avoiding sleeping in on weekends may help prevent weekend blues.
Shortening one's day is not a feasible method for enhancing happiness as regular hours are required for many daily activities. However long term sleep reduction has been studied in healthy non-depressed subjects. By gradually reducing sleep time no side effects such as tiredness are encountered until sleep time is reduced below 6 to 6.5 hours a night6,7. Like excess fat sleeping more than about 6.5 hours per night appears to be optional. Mortality rates are lowest for those who sleep 7 or 8 hours so it may not be wise to reduce one's sleep much below 7 hours. Mortality is about 30% higher for those who sleep either less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per day8. (Cause or symptom of underlying disease? -ed) While gradually reducing sleeping time from 8 to 7 hours per night may not automatically improve mood it would still provide some extra time for recreational purposes. Having an extra hour each day for leisure would likely be welcomed by those on tight schedules. This would amount to a rather novel "life extension" strategy. Be forewarned that sleeping in on weekends is likely to reset sleep requirements back to 8 hours and may result in weekday tiredness. If sleep reduction is tried it will require a 7 day per week commitment.
1 Sustained Antidepressive Effect of Repeated Partial Sleep Deprivation 172-176 Vol.19 Supplement 2 1986 Psychopathology
2 Prolongation of the Antidepressant Response to Partial Sleep Deprivation by Lithium 17-23 Vol.19 1986 Psychiatry Research
3 Therapeutic Effect of Sleep Deprivation in Patients With Premenstrual Syndrome 808-810 Vol.144 1987 American Journal of Psychiatry
4 Antidepressant Effects of the Sleep/Wake Cycle Phase Advance 41-46 Vol.12 1987 Journal of Affective Disorders
5 Mood Change Following an Acute Delay of Sleep 149-158 Vol.22 1987 Psychiatry Research
6 Performance and Mood During and After Gradual Sleep Reduction 245-250 Vol.14 No.3 1977 Psychophysiology
7 Chronic Sleep Reduction: Daytime Vigilance Performance and EEG Measures of Sleepiness, With Particular Reference to "Practice" Effects 69-78 Vol.22 No.1 1985 Psychophysiology
8 Mortality Risk Associated With Sleeping Patterns Among Adults 102-107 Vol.6 No.2 1983 Sleep
Exercise and Mood
Individuals who participate in physical exercise, and sports activities tend to possess above average levels of psychologic well-being1. Clinical trials using exercise as therapy have found that jogging, swimming or even walking can improve mood2. The type of exercise may influence the degree of mental benefit obtained. Overly strenuous activity appears is be of no value3. Swimming is generally preferred to either walking or riding a stationary bike and stretching exercises are preferred to muscle tensing exercises4,5
1 Exercise and Psychologic Well-Being in the Community 762-771 Vol.127 1988 American Journal of Epidemiology
2 Exercise as a Treatment Option for Anxiety and Depressive Disorders 299-302 Vol.152 No.2 1987 Military Medicine
3 Serum Beta-Endorphin and Affective Responses to Graded Exercise in Young and Elderly Men429-431 Vol.42 No.4 1987 Journal of Gerontology
4 Weight Loss Without Dietary Restriction: Efficacy of Different Forms of Aerobic Exercise 275-279 Vol.15 No.3 1987 The American Journal of Sports Medicine
5 Relaxation Training Through Muscle Stretching Procedures: A Pilot Case 121-126 Vol.18 No.2 1987 Journal of Behavioural Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry
The Future of Happiness
Most of us are neither particularly happy nor unhappy. In fact only a few people can be termed truly "alive" to the joys of life. Such supernormal individuals exhibit very low levels of anxiety and neurotism and exhibit a distinct theta rhythm in their brain waves1. Just as it is impossible for the average person to understand how severely depressed patients feel, so it is also very difficult to comprehend what it is like to be truly happy. If certain "pleasure" centres of its brain are electrically stimulated whenever a lever is pressed rats will become so highly motivated to obtain this brain stimulation that they will continue lever pressing, to the virtually complete exclusion of all other activities2. One could argue that one of the central tenets of religion is that a happiness far surpassing our mundane existence is possible. Scientific research fully supports the idea that we are all capable of incredibly intense and lasting happiness.
In the not too distant future may lay the fulfilment of mankind's desire for true happiness. Here's the reason why ... Pregnant rats doped with low doses of the benzodiazepine antagonist flumazenilgive birth to offspring which are far more intelligent, happy and fearless than average3. They would probably make ideal pets. The 21st century will likely see the first widespread use by humans of either flumazenil or other similar therapies as caring parents seek to give their children the best possible start in life.
Although special strains of rodents have been bred for increased intelligence and happiness such strains do not apparently occur naturally. Is there a catch? Why are "normal" rats not happy naturally? The answer appears to lie in the rigors of life in the wild. A happy animal would also be less likely to fear the real dangers which surrounded him. A rat that was not afraid of a cat would quickly become a dead rat. Such is the fate of true happiness in the wild. This is probably why animals, including man tend to be fearful and unhappy. In the wild it pays to feel acutely the lash of anxiety and react fearfully to a threatening environment.
Neither humans, nor their pets now live under such primitive conditions. The advent of civilization has eliminated the survival advantages of being unhappy or fearful. As our technological society continues to rapidly evolve the primordial anxiety humans are naturally endowed with will likely be left behind. Within a few centuries life on earth will likely be transformed into a paradise, such as we can not currently imagine.
Provided we can prolong our existence beyond the traditional three score and ten we may be able to live long enough to see the dawning of this age of enlightenment.
1 Frontal Lobe: mental Functions and EEG91-101 Vol.27 1987 American Journal of EEG Technology
2 Competition Between Lever-Pressing Behaviour and Thermoregulatory Behaviour on Exposure to Heat in Intracranial Self-Stimulating Rats 599-603 Vol.42 1988 Physiology & Behaviour
3 Animal Models of Chronic Anxiety and "Fearlessness" 483-490 Vol.21 1988 Brain Research Bulletin
Mood and Macronutrients
Unhappiness is quite common. According to standard diagnostic criteria about 49% of the general population suffer from a variety of psychiatric disorders at some point in their lives. This includes 13% for major depressive disorders, 19% for anxiety disorders, 35% for drug abuse or dependence and 6% for antisocial personalities1. If one expands the definition of mental disorder to include bouts of mild depression it seems that about 75% of the population will qualify2. With unhappiness being so common is it really any wonder that the streets are unsafe, that so many marriages end in divorce and even that nations so often resort to war? One could hope that like good wine, people would improve with age. Alas, levels of psychological well-being in fact typically neither increase nor decrease with age3. Unhappiness is the major problem afflicting mankind. Can diet influence mood?
People who consume diets with a higher than average protein content tend to suffer from depressed mood more often4. This is probably due to the fact that high protein diets impair the transport of the amino acid tyrosine into the brain5,6. Tyrosine is required for the biosynthesis of the brain neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Most depressed patients show disturbances in norepinephrine metabolism and antidepressants can help ameliorate this7,8. Supplemental tyrosine helps improve mood in humans exposed to cold temperatures or suffering from depression9,10. The most important effect of diet on mood is excessive protein consumption. Big meat eaters may do well to try a few more vegetables and a little less meat.
Protein source can also be important as different proteins contain differing amounts of tyrosine. Cats fed protein in the form of milk casein, which is high in tyrosine show less biochemical response to immobilization stress than do soya protein fed cats11. It will may be helpful to ingest a portion of ones protein requirements from milk products. The amino acid tryptophan is required for the biosynthesis of the brain neuro-transmitter serotonin. Some depressed patients show an improvement when given large supplemental doses of tryptophan12. However low tryptophan diets have no effect on mood when fed to healthy subjects13. Unlike tyrosine, tryptophan appears to have only a limited relevance to one's mental health. Although lowering overall protein intake is likely to improve ones mental health there may be a danger of malnutrition if this is carried to an extreme. One side effect of a protein deficient diet is continual feelings of hunger14. For protein, as with many things in life the middle road is the best road. In comparison to protein dietary carbohydrates seem to have a much more limited effect on mood. Some rats fed a sucrose solution seem to be more vulnerable to certain forms of stressful stimuli15. Ingestion of sucrose sweetened but not aspartame sweetened Kool-Aid has aggravated mood disturbances in a few humans16.Switching to diet pop may be beneficial for some sugar sensitive individuals. There is little evidence that normal dietary fat can affect mood4. However one special type of fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid (GLA) does prevent stress induced blood pressure increases in rats17. In humans the depression associated with premenstrual syndrome is alleviated with a daily supplement of from 260 to 360 milligrams of GLA18,19. Although supplemental GLA generally lacks side effects it is contraindicated in cases of epilepsy or manic disorder. Borage or evening primrose oil are good sources of supplemental GLA. While GLA is not typically found in the adult human diet, it does exist in human breast milk20. For a quiet baby it may be best to breast feed. Caloric restriction increases the ability of middle aged but not young rats to withstand stressful stimuli21. If one can generalize from rats to humans dieting might confer some mental benefits in older individuals. Regular caffeine consumption is associated with increased incidence of depression, higher anxiety levels and lower grades in students22. Although caffeine can improve the mood of heavy coffee drinkers it also can make caffeine abstainers jittery and nervous23.Heavy caffeine use is a drug addiction. Since most people are unable to drink coffee while sleeping it is likely that the unpleasantness many heavy coffee users experience early in the morning before their first cup is a drug withdrawal effect. Experiments have shown that preference for caffeinated over decaffeinated coffee disappears after subjects have been prevented from consuming caffeine for at least a week. Caffeine craving is caused mostly by physical dependence. Headache and fatigue are the most common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. Occasionally anxiety, impaired psychomotor performance, nausea, vomiting and craving occur. The onset of withdrawal symptoms commence after 12-24 hours of abstinence, peak at 20-48 hours and end after about a week24.
Unless you are sleep deprived there is no reason to consume caffeine and many reasons not to. If you are heavily addicted try cutting down gradually to avoid withdrawal effects. Sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, hot cocoa, cola beverages and chocolate bars. Is it any wonder that so many young people try drugs when their parents are on a caffeine rush in the morning, an alcoholic daze in the evening and smoke like chimneys inbetween? To sum up some improvement in mood is likely if protein intake is lowered, milk proteins are favoured over other protein sources and caffeine is eliminated. Supplements of tyrosine or GLA may also be helpful.
1 Lifetime and 12-Month Prevalence of DSM-III-R Psychiatric Disorders in the United States' 8-19 Vol.51 1994 Archives of General Psychiatry
2 Self-Help Attempts of Depressive Patients220-224 Vol.19 Supplement 2 1986 Psychopathology
3 Longitudinal Analyses of Psychological Well-Being in a National Sample: Stability of Mean Levels.' 50-55 Vol.42 No.1 1987 Journal of Gerontology
4 Macronutrient Relationships With Meal Patterns and Mood in the Spontaneous Feeding Behaviour of Humans561-569 Vol.39 1987 Physiology & Behaviour
5 Adaption of Rats to Diets Containing Different Levels of Protein: Effects on Food Intake, Plasma and Brain Amino Acid Concentrations and Brain Neurotransmitter Metabolism 382-398 Vol.115 1985 Journal of Nutrition
6 Diurnal Variations in Plasma Concentrations of Tryptophan, Tyrosine, and Other Neutral Amino Acids: Effect of Dietary Protein Intake' 1912-1922 Vol.32 1979 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
7 Norepinephrine and Its Metabolites in Cerebrospinal Fluid, Plasma, and Urine 849-857 Vol.45 1988 Archives General Psychiatry
8 Antidepressants Reduce Whole-Body Norepinephrine Turnover While Enhancing 6-Hydroxymelatonin Output150-154 Vol.45 1988 Archives General Psychiatry
9 Treatment with Tyrosine, a Neurotransmitter Precursor, Reduces Environmental Stress in Humans 759-762 Vol.22 1989 Brain Research Bulletin
10 Tyrosine for the Treatment of Depression163-173 Vol.3 1984 Nutrition and Health
11 Dietary Protein and Carbohydrate Effects on Blood Parameters Related to Stress in Cats 1-5 Vol.42 1988 Physiology & Behaviour
12 Relationship Between Plasma Ratio of Tryptophan to Competing Amino Acids and the Response to L-Tryptophan Treatment in Endogenously Depressed Patients47-59 Vol.2 1980 Journal of Affective Disorders
13 Neuroendocrine and Behavioural Effects of Dietary Tryptophan Restriction in Healthy Subjects2323-2332 Vol.45 No.24 1989 Life Sciences
14 A Study of the Interrelationship of the Energy Yielding Nutrients, Blood Glucose Levels, and Subjective Appetite in Man 684-696 Vol.45 No.5 1955 Journal of Laboratory & Clinical Medicine
15 Fasting, Feeding and Regulation of the Sympathetic Nervous System 1295-1301 Vol.298 No.23 1978 The New England Journal of Medicine
16 Psychological Distress and Diet- Effects of Sucrose and Caffeine 44-49 Vol.40 No.1 1988 Journal of Applied Nutrition
17 Effects of Essential Fatty Acid Administration on Cardiovascular Responses to Stress in the Rat139-142 Vol.21 1986 Lipids
18 The Role of Essential Fatty Acids and Prostaglandins in the Premenstrual Syndrome 465-478 Volume 28 No.7 1983 The Journal of Reproductive Medicine
19 Biochemical and Clinical Effects of Treating the Premenstrual Syndrome With Prostaglandin Synthesis Precursors 149-153 Vol.30 No.3 1985
20 Fatty Acid Composition of Human Colostrum and Mature Breast Milk 252-257 Vol.34 1981 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
21 The Effects of Acute and Life-Long Food Restriction on Basal and Stress-Induced Serum Corticosterone Levels in Young and Aged Rats 1934-1941 Vol.123 1988 Endocrinology
22 Ad Lib Caffeine Consumption, Symptoms of Caffeinism, and Academic Performance 512-514 Vol.138 No.4 1981 American Journal of Psychiatry
23 Behavioral and Molecular Actions of Caffeine: Focus on Adenosine 91-106 Vol.18 No.2 1984 Journal of Psychiatry Research
24 Caffeine Physical Dependence: A Review of Human and Laboratory Animal Studies 437-451 Vol.94 1988 Psychopharmacology
Happiness is Found in Others
Animals generally are less happy when they are subjected to conditions which would lower their chances for survival in the wild. Mice for instance would probably be an easier mark for predators if they congregated in herds, so they don't. It is perhaps not overly surprising that experiments have found that social isolation has no deleterious effect on mice1. However unlike mice, man is a sociable animal. One can easily imagine that if a lone hunter swinging his spear at a predator in the primordial jungle were given just one wish it would be for there to be someone at his back whom he could trust. Surveys have found that people with more confidants and companions tend to be happier than average. Other factors such as marital status, living alone, having no children or even any daily social contact at all are irrelevant2. All that matters is whether you have or do not have good friends. Friends you can talk to; friends you can trust.
One survey of the elderly found that the bereaved who were without other friends tended to be less likely to be depressed if they owned a pet3. One is reminded of that old saying: "a dog is man's best friend".
1 Effect of Isolation on Brain Monoamines and the Behaviour of Mice in Tests of Exploration, Locomotion, Anxiety and Behavioural "Despair" 371-374 Vol.33 1989 Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behaviour
2 Social Isolation and Well-BeingS169-S176 Vol.44 No.5 1989 Journal of Gerontology
3 Take Two Pets and Call Me in the Morning1560-1561 Vol.237 1987 Science
Peace and Quiet
People vary enormously in their sensitivity to noise stress. Introverts are more sensitive than extroverts and anxious people are more sensitive than non-anxious people1. Prolonged exposure to noise stimuli can make one less noise sensitive2. Listening to a tape recording of unpleasant sounds could make listening to them easier in real life.
Apartment buildings vary dramatically in their degree of sound-proofing. Living in a tenement with paper thin wooden partitions is very different from living in a well-maintained concrete reinforced highrise. If you can hear intimate conversations conducted in the next apartment a move may well be in order.
If a sound is pleasant to listen to it is music, but if it is unpleasant it is noise. One man's music may be another's noise. As the parents of teenaged acid rock enthusiasts can easily attest not all forms of 'music' can be called relaxing. However some less strident forms of audio entertainment such as harp chamber music do appear to lower anxiety3.
1 Noise: Hearing Loss and Psychological Effects 1325-1327 Vol.281 1980 British Medical Journal
2 Extra-Auditory Responses to Long-Term Intermittent Noise Stimulation in Humans 985-993 Vol.49 No.6 1980 Journal of Applied Physiology
3 Biofeedback, Relaxation Training, and Music: Homeostasis for Coping With Stress 169-179 Vol.9 No.2 1984 Biofeedback and Self-Regulation
The Secret of Happiness
Although most people who are depressed suffer from significantly distorted cognitive perceptions, this is not always the case. The only factor that is common to all depressions is an inability to feel pleasure1. We can define depression as a state where hedonic bodily sensations are largely absent. By way of illustration imagine you are outdoors and the air is cool, clean and fresh. You take a deep breath and you feel wonderful sensations in your nostrils and lungs. Then you come inside, run the hot water tap for awhile and then splash hot water on your cold face. Your face feels warm and pleasant. The secret of happiness is to feel bodily pleasure in simple daily activities such as this. In similar circumstances, I have been told depressed individuals might feel the rush of air that occurs with a deep breath as well as the warmth induced by hot water, yet still be unable to detect any pleasurable bodily sensations as such. Fortunately there is hope now for even the most severely depressed patients. A combination drug therapy including clomipramine, tryptophan, and lithium has been found to be remarkably effective in treating this malady2.
1 Sleep and Depression 20-31 Vol.20 Suppl.1 1987 Psychopathology
2 Clomipramine, Tryptophan and Lithium in combination for Resistant Endogenous Depression: Seven Case Studies 213-217 Vol.151 1987 British Journal of Psychiatry
Cerebral electrotherapy directs electricity through the brain from electrodes placed on the scalp. This therapy is accompanied by tingling sensations and generally results in lowered anxiety. Recently it has been determined that the passage of electricity through the brain has nothing to do with the therapeutic effect. *1 Thus it appears that it is the electrically induced tingling sensation which triggers the reduction of anxiety. Tingling sensations can also be generated with the aid of a feather.
1 Electrosleep Therapy: A Controlled Study of its Effects in Anxiety Neurosis' 213-219 Vol.25 1980 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry
If you tend to sleep in during the mornings yet still feel tired during the day try connecting a floodlight to a timer near your bed and set the timer to go off 10 minutes before your regular alarm clock goes off. This method for brightening up your mornings has worked in curing hypersomnia1. Finally if you temporarily can not budget enough time for a good night's sleep, going to bed later will produce less tiredness the next day than getting up earlier would2.
Napping usually improves mood regardless whether any sleep was obtained during the nap. *3 The ancient art of meditation can be regarded as organized napping. Meditation does appear however to be somewhat more relaxing than eyes-closed rest, possibly because it is perceived as a more credible pastime than mere napping or resting4. Meditation techniques which stress effortlessness such as Transcendental Meditation have been found to be more effective in reducing anxiety than techniques which emphasise concentration5. Effective relaxation techniques do not need to be overly complicated. For instance relaxation can be induced by expanding the abdomen instead of the chest during breathing6. If you enjoy power naps it may be worthwhile to try reducing your sleeping hours, altering the physical setting such as adding pillows and trying different relaxation techniques such as meditation.
1 Waking in a Lighted Room 372-374 Vol.27 1990 Biological Psychiatry
2 Early Rising or Delayed Bedtime: Which is Better for a Short Night's Sleep 403-411 Vol.56 1987 European Journal of Applied Physiology
3 Napping Versus Resting: Effects on Performance and Mood 82-88 Vol23. No.1 Psychophysiology
4 Physiological Concomitants of Meditation Practice 23-36 Vol.31 No.4 1984 International Journal of Psychosomatics
5 Differential Effects of Relaxation Techniques on Trait Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis 957-974 Vol.45 No.6 1989 Journal of Clinical Psychology
6 Subjective Effects of Several Stress Management Strategies: With Reference to Attention 39-43 Spring 1990 Behavioural Medicine
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