Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Why Blame It On Alcohol?
There is a rule in psychiatry called McNaughton rule. This rule applies to anyone who is accused of committing a crime and then claims that he was mad or insane when he did the alleged act. This rule was first introduced almost 150 years ago in England when a guy called Daniel McNaughton tried to kill the then British Prime Minister Robert Peel but instead shot dead the PM's private secretary Drummond whom he mistook for the PM. When the assassin's lawyer later claimed that he was mad and hence should not be hanged but sent to a hospital for treatment- the McNaughton rules was formed. These are a bunch of criteria which determine whether someone is really insane or just feigning insanity after the criminal act. It includes criteria like checking to see if the criminal was already undergoing treatment for his condition before the crime or if it is just a newly developed condition (thought up after the crime) to escape justice.
I am not a psychiatrist and I don’t remember much of the rules (refer to Wikipedia for full details) but suffice it to say that the rule in McNaughton helps in preventing false alibis and avoiding responsibility for crimes committed. The general public in India is very familiar with McNaughton's rules (even if they don’t know the actual name) because we are used to seeing our politicians get sick (mostly of heart disease) whenever they are accused of a crime and are about to be arrested. Almost every single politician immediately suffers from chest pain and gets admitted in hospital doesn’t he? And by the time they get discharged from treatment the initial media scrutiny goes away into yet another “breaking news" and so they are never held responsible for their actions and crimes.
Likewise there are a lot of people out there who do things knowingly and then get away easily by blaming it all on alcohol. As far as I know ethyl alcohol when ingested in large quantities degrades fine reflexes, causes loss of balance and impaired (double) vision - which is why drunk drivers cause accidents. But alcohol in no way encourages crime- crime which was not previously in the persons mind before- to say so otherwise is to lie. Alcohol provides an alibi for doing many things, things which people lack the courage to do so but always want to do. It’s like the guy who is always afraid of his wife’s stinging tongue coming home drunk to beat up his wife and then blaming it all on his drunkenness - even while secretly enjoying getting even with her abuse.
It’s like getting inside a lift and cleverly pushing all the buttons of the lift to make sure that it does not stop at any single floor and then going down on your knees in front of a girl young enough to be your daughter (daughters classmate in this case) and after forcibly lifting up her skirt and pulling down her panties indulging in cunnilingus (oral sex) with her despite her attempts to escape from your grasping hands and your probing tongue violating her body. When it is such a difficult sexual act to perform for even sober men is it scarcely believable that a drunk man could do it with ease all the while physically controlling (with brute strength) a struggling girl? And how does an intelligent man expect other intelligent people to believe that it was all done in a state of drunkenness? If alcohol had a voice of its own it would be screaming in its defense. (And as a side point I wish someone would explain to me what real purpose is solved by the police insisting on a potency test when it was not a question of erection or penetration but oral sex? I know rules are rules but do they have to be applied so blindly all the time?)
Anyway the point of this post is that when people get drunk and do certain things - they do it clearly and soberly knowing what they are doing and enjoying the act of doing. In fact they may have even planned it and fantasized about it for long and were just waiting for the right set of circumstances to do it. Blaming alcohol for their actions is like pretending to be mad after assassinating the prime minister. Doesn’t wash. There are no drunken crimes- there are only crimes. And all of these crimes are committed by cowards who use alcohol as an excuse. So the next time someone blames alcohol for their actions- it means they are not brave enough to admit that they enjoyed what they did regardless of the consequences. And not because they were drunk. So any number of apology letters blaming alcohol for causing and I quote “ a temporary lapse” is just splitting straws and throwing chaff. Even without alcohol this one was waiting to happen given the right circumstances and it finally did. Isn’t that the truth?
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
It’s A Nutty Result
There was an interesting article in last month’s New England Journal of Medicine titled - [Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality, N Engl J Med 2013] which talked about how eating nuts- walnuts, peanuts and hazelnuts for more than 5 times a week reduced death rates by 20%. This lowering of death rate is achieved by lowering the risk of heart disease and lowered cholesterol levels according to the study. As the study says - nuts are nutrient dense foods rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants and all kinds of goodies. So are nuts the new miracle foods? Should we all rush out to buy nuts and start eating them?
Just hold on a bit and before we start stocking kilos of nuts at home, let’s take a closer look at the entire study again. With the current trend of sharing breaking news on social media most people just read the title and overall conclusions of any scientific study published (hyped) in the popular media - rarely do people take the time to read the entire article in full and try to understand the pitfalls in the study design or the subjects chosen. And that’s why when we take this entire study in totality we find a few queer aspects in it which might confuse these stupendous results.
First of all, the people who participated in this study (eating nuts regularly) were all nurses and doctors- so we can assume they would have taken care of their health in other ways too- like cutting out junk food and exercising regularly and eating lots of vitamins daily and so the reductions in heart problems and cholesterol might not be entirely due to the effects of the nuts, you get what I am saying? And also this study has specifically excluded those who smoke and those who are overweight which means that any results which talk about reducing heart attack risks is a bit biased towards those who are already fit and healthy and taking good care of themselves.
I mean, when you take a naturally healthy person and then say they have reduced risk of heart attacks because they ate nuts, put that way it’s not a very jaw dropping result is it? On the other hand show me a morbidly obese person who never exercises in his life but sits home watching TV and smokes 40 cigarettes a day and then tell me that eating nuts reduces his cholesterol and saves him from heart attacks and I promise to stop prescribing medicines henceforth and start writing 2walnuts/2almonds twice a day for 5 days as my prescription.
So in conclusion nuts are nutritious, beneficial and probably prevent heart attacks. But so does exercise and weight loss. And if you prefer not to go nutty do eat nuts but also try to live a stress/tension free life. Save your heart- ‘cos you only got one. Okies?
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
It’s a tough moment in life when someone you believed was your friend betrays you without a second thought. At some level, intellectually, you understand that what occurred is not unique to you, that it happens every day to everyone and there is nothing to be done except to move on and let it go but still the first shock of betrayal and the consequent thought of having been such a fool to be taken in like this - hook, line and sinker by a confidence trickster- "that" that is quite jarring at first notice. And then as you swallow the betrayal and think it over calmly you come to realize that the fault lies partially with you for failing to see that the other person was just using you as a ladder to move up in life while you believed that it was eternal friendship. In their mind you were just not the friend that they were in your mind - you were just a means to an end; an acquaintance who could prove useful someday and now that there was no more need you have been discarded without a backward glance. This bitter fact of being discarded after being judged useless hurts- hurts the ego if anything- but as better men than I have said before- the truth may hurt but its nevertheless necessary- for instead of going along in the false fog of belief in "eternal friendship/yeh dosti" the stark bright truth of betrayal is preferable any day- to let you know where you stand in relation to that friendship/person.
Right now at the very first moment of backstabbing it becomes easy to turn cynical and start doubting everyone- every friendship- as just one more betrayal waiting to happen when the conditions are right. But there, that’s exactly what one must guard against- ward against stone- to not let the betrayal of one person turn you into something you are not originally- a cold hearted person suspicious of everyone’s motives. In short to fight against the temptation to turn your heart into stone so that no one can betray you by taking you by surprise again. It’s easy, quite easy and so tempting to turn heart into stone and bar its gates to all your friends - but if once you start going down that path and become suspicious of every friend - you never know how it will end- but i guess mostly in a lonely life filled with no fun, I suppose.
And so I will fight. I will swallow the betrayal. I will try to forget it and move on- it’s too early to forgive. And I will try my uttermost not to be suspicious of the motives of all my other friends. I will try to shun the easy path of cynicism and continue to trust everyone and never look back over the shoulder to see who is planning to betray me. And i will hope that people will prove themselves to be good friends and restore my faith in friendship. Finally I hope that if there is a providence somewhere let it judge the rights of what happened- if people use and discard friends for temporary benefits do they really deserve the success they get from that betrayal? Only god alone can decide and I leave it to him.