Monday, 23 January 2012

Book Review: Madness and Civilization

Originally posted to my Simple Food Remedies blog, I'm reproducing this book review here as I think it is relevant to this blog as well.

After reading the Madness of Adam and Eve, How Schizophrenia Shaped Humanity (2002) by David Horrobin, I became interested in the theory that homo sapiens have actually become increasingly mentally deficient since the beginning of civilization and so was intrigued to discover a book called Madness and Civilization, A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (1961) by Michel Foucault (translated from the French by Richard Howard) which proved to be an interesting read. I think few would argue that we live in a mad world; mad in the sense that we are constantly bombarded every day by human actions that harm, destroy and mutilate. We are destroying nature, ourselves, each other and life itself. Only madmen would do that.

So, I think it is only fitting to share some of what I found to be the highlights of this book. Obviously, not everyone is a raving lunatic, although many of us can remember having an episode or two in our own lives. And, some people are actually quite sane. But the tendency is innate in all of us, like the religious concept of original sin; our species seems to have a propensity to, well, madness.

The more we strive for perfection, the more defective we actually are becoming. I really liked David Cooper’s comment in the Introduction that “curing we understand here as a sort of anti-healing – a process not entirely dissimilar to the curing of bacon, and totally opposed to healing in the sense of the making whole of persons.”

And the more we try to “cure” diseases of any sort, the more they proliferate. Raulin is quoted in this book as saying in the nineteenth century that “since the birth of medicine... these illnesses have multiplied, have become more dangerous, more complicated, more problematical and difficult to cure.”

Foucault starts out with a discussion of Stultifera Navis (Ship of Fools) a book of satire published in 1494 in Basel, Switzerland by Sebastian Brant, a conservative German theologian which he uses to discuss the theory that the invention of the arts can be attributed to deranged imaginations. One point I found particularly relevant was that “self-attachment is the first sign of madness, but it is because man is attached to himself that he accepts error as truth, lies as reality, violence and ugliness as beauty and justice.”

Next, Foucault leads the reader into a discussion about Confinement. From the times of when lepers were isolated, to when fools were sent off to sea until the development of the asylum, civilized man has been confining those who do not fit into the mercantile society which is based on a system of labour that supports the elite upper class of wealthy citizens. “The wars of religion multiplied this suspect crowd, which included peasants driven from their farms, disbanded soldiers or deserters, unemployed workers, impoverished students, and the sick.”

From the chapter on the Insane: “The animal in man no longer has any value as the sign of a Beyond; it has become his madness, without relation to anything but itself: his madness in the state of nature.” Foucault then delves into a discussion about Passion and Delirium.

In the chapter on Aspects of Madness, an interesting physiological observation is made: “Thèophile Bonet, in his Sepulchretum anatomicum, declares that the brains of maniacs, insofar as he had been able to observe them, always seemed to be in a state of dryness, of hardness, and of friability. Later, Albrecht von Haller also found that the maniac’s brain was hard, dry, and brittle.” He makes further observations about hypochondrical and hysterical aspects of madness and the physical condition of the brain and body, but also about the personality, such as this comment: “On one hand, nervous sufferers are the most irritable, that is, have the most sensibility: tenuousness of fibre, delicacy of organism; but they also have an easily impressionable soul, an unquiet heart, too strong a sympathy for what happens around them.” Foucault concludes that it was in these “diseases of the nerves” and “hysterias” that
modern psychiatry was born in the nineteenth century.

A continuing theme throughout the book is that madness is caused by a physical weakness in the constitution of the body.

In the chapter on Doctors and Patients, some daft cures were mentioned such as eating soap to clean out impurities and eating iron filings to make one strong. Vinegar rubbed on a shaved head was supposed to draw out harmful humours and liquids, and taking a bath was good except that taking too many hot baths would make one prone to feinting. But a good remedy that was mentioned was this one:

“It was to Jean-Jacques Rouseau that I owed my return to health. I had read, in his immortal writings, among other natural truths, that man is made to work, not to meditate. Until that time I had exercised my soul and rested my body; I changed my ways; I exercised my body and rested my soul. I gave up most books; I turned my eyes to the works of nature, which addressed all my senses in a language that neither time nor nations can corrupt. My history and my newspapers were the plants of the field and forest; it was not my thoughts that struggled to them, as in the system of men, but their thoughts that came to me in a thousand agreeable shapes.” (Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Prèambule de L’Arcadie. Oeuvres (Paris, 1818), Vol VII, PP. 11-14).

Foucault progresses with his history of madness in the chapter entitled the Great Fear with a discussion of how madness attained medical status. He says this was in fact made possible only by a strange regression and not really progress at all. Nervous diseases “were formerly much less frequent than they are nowadays; and this for two reasons: one, that men were in general more robust, and less frequently ill; there were fewer diseases of any kind; the other that the causes which produce nervous diseases in especial have multiplied in a greater proportion, in recent times, than the other general causes of illness, some of which even seem to have diminished. ... I do not hesitate to say that if they were once the rarest, they are today the most frequent.” (Simon-Andrè Tissot, Traitèedes nerfs et de leurs maladies (Paris 1978-80), Vol I, pp. iii-iv.).

Well that was said in Tissot’s time, 1728 -1797. Now, over 200 years later, things look much worse indeed. For some further information, please see my article which includes the amount of prescriptions taken for anxiety and depression in the UK during 2010 (nearly one for every person living here).

Foucault also explains Tissot’s finding that physical labour is good for the human body leading to health and longevity, but “among men of letters, the brain hardens; often they become incapable of connecting their ideas, and so are doomed to dementia.” I know several people who were very smart in their youth and in old age had dementia, one of whom was my grandfather. Foucault concludes that “the more abstract or complex knowledge becomes, the greater the risk of madness.” This is truly scary indeed when we consider the height of complex scientific research that is being undertaken today and especially that being applied to medicine and food.

“Madness became possible in that milieu where man’s relations with his feelings, with time, with others, are altered; madness was possible because of everything which, in man’s life and development, is a break with the immediate.”

Foucault further says that by the nineteenth century, physicians and philosophers became alienated and all trace or semblance of truth was lost.

In the chapter entitled The New Division, Foucault touches upon the need for paupers in a society bent on attaining riches and how it was difficult to fit in madness in the social sphere that was developing before the Birth of the Asylum which is the final chapter. Some might say that we have come a long way since then because we use drugs to treat madness.  At the very least, we have created lucrative markets surrounding the care of disabled people including those with mental disabilities.  However, my view is that madness prevails in the so-called civilized Western society today and the use of drugs is exasperating the situation.

Foucault describes how asylums were places of correction, where moral standards were imposed and how religion was used as a standard of cure.

“... religion can play the double role of nature and of rule, since it has assumed the depth of nature in ancestral habit, in education, in everyday exercise, and since it is at the same time a constant principle of coercion. It is both spontaneity and constraints, and to this degree it controls the only forces that can, in reason’s eclipse counterbalance the measureless violence of madness, its precepts, “where these have been strongly imbued in early life ... become little less than principles of our nature; and their restraining power is frequently felt, even under the delirious excitement of insanity. To encourage the influence of religious principles over the mind of the insane is considered of great consequence, as a means of cure.”” (Samuel Tuke, Description of the Retreat, and Institution near York for Insane Persons of the Society of Friends (York, 1813), p. 50.)

What follows is a long quote because Foucault puts it so well about how doctors take on surreal roles of authority which is still common today. Just because a person becomes a doctor and has a piece of paper that says he did a formal spell of education, people allow him to prescribe chemicals that they know nothing about, cut them open and explore around, poke with needles, remove blood, stick tubes in various places, cut off bits, etc etc, Its all quite shocking really. Meanwhile, I’ve been called an Evangelist for explaining that the GAPS diet could benefit those with certain illnesses when it’s simply based on whole foods!

“In authority he has borrowed from order, morality, and the family now seems to derive from himself; it is because he is a doctor that he is believed to possess these powers, and while Pinel, with Tuke, strongly asserted that his moral action was not necessarily linked to any scientific competence, it was thought, and by the patient first of all that it was in the esotericism of his knowledge, in some almost daemonic secret of knowledge, that the doctor had found the power to unravel insanity; and increasingly the patient would accept this self-surrender to a doctor both divine and satanic, beyond human measure in any case; increasingly he would alienate himself in the physician, accepting entirely and in advance all his prestige, submitting from the very first to a will he experienced as magic, and to a science he regarded as prescience and divination, thus becoming the ideal and perfect correlative of those powers he projected upon the doctor, pure object without any resistance except his own inertia, quite ready to become precisely that hysteric in whom Charcot exalted the doctor’s marvellous powers. If we wanted to analyze the profound structures of objectivity in the knowledge and practice of nineteenth century psychiatry from Pinel to Freud, we should have to show in fact that such objectivity was from the start a rectification of a magical nature, which could only be accomplished with the complicity of the patient himself, and beginning from a transparent and clear moral, practice gradually forgotten as positivism imposed its myths of scientific objectivity; a practice forgotten in its origins and its meaning, but always used and always present. What we call psychiatric practice is a certain moral tactic contemporary with the end of the eighteenth century, preserved in the rites of asylum life, and overlaid by the myths of positivism.

These cures without basis, which must be recognized as not being false cures, would soon become the true cures of false illness. Madness was not what one believed, nor what it believed itself to be; it was infinitely less than itself: a combination of persuasion and mystification.”

In Conclusion, “the night of madness is thus limitless; what might have been supposed to be man’s violent nature was only the infinity of non-nature.”


Photo credit

Available online in pdf format

PS I took this book out of the local library which was the version first published in Great Britain in 1967 by Tavistock Publications Limited, London.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Watch Out for the Obesity Virus!


Some scientists believe that there is a HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS virus out there that makes us obese! And apparently, you can catch this virus from a skinny person sneezing near you!!! Fat people can’t pass it on because once it infects a person it is busy making them obese and then mysteriously leaves them and so even though they are obese, they are no longer infected. Professor Richard Atkinson, Nutritional Scientist, University of Wisconsin explains this bizarre theory as a matter of fact in the shocking pseudo documentary called Fat Plague.


Discrimination Against the Obese

Narrator Jack Fortune explains that “current explanations” see the obese as prisoners of their genetic code or gluttons who just eat too much. Obesity is often seen as a simple result of eating too much fat and having a sedentary life-style. But, could it be that obesity is really caused by a virus that is spreading like a plague instead? By the way, too much fat doesn’t cause obesity unless its trans fats, but too much sugar is probably the main problem.

Obesity started on a steep incline in 1980. What the program doesn’t mention is that this is when The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) started jointly publishing the Dietary Guidelines every 5 years and many other countries followed suit. These guidelines haven’t changed much over the years as I explain in my article called Americans Continue Obesity Trend and they recommend a low fat/high starch diet. Starch and sugar are fattening (doh!).

Dr Nikhil Dhurandhar and Cohorts

Dr Nikhil Dhurandhar was originally from Bombay but knew that if he wanted his wild theory to fly, he’d have to go to America (no surprise there). He has been exploring his human version of the chicken virus that causes obesity theory for years now. This virus which is called AD-36 was literally picked willy nilly out of a list of 50 that caused flu-like symptoms in humans! What luck!

Meanwhile, McDonalds is mentioned or shown a lot in this program which usually means it’s sponsored by them. It would be convenient for them if a virus was promoted as the cause of obesity and not the crap sold in its fast food outlets. People could then happily still eat crap and also support the chemical industry by taking whatever “cure” in a pill they come up with.

Having a big corporation sponsor or two seems to me the only way such a load of rubbish can get on the air. Besides McDonalds, Mars bars, Coca Cola, and Pepsi got a mention.

Dr John Foreyt, Obesity Specialist, Baylor College, Texas admits he doesn’t know much but is open to new theories, even bizarre ones that don’t stack up. I think it depends on whether there is potential to make money off lots of people, and after all, there are lots of people who are obese, so this one is obviously in the running.

Professor William Russell, Virologist, University of St Andrews and Professor Stephen Bloom, Endocrinologist, Imperial College London have an input expressing their reservations, but in my view, not strongly enough.

Dhurandhar doesn’t care whether anyone believes whether a virus causes obesity or not, HE’S GOT DATA!

Pre-Fat Cells

I have read lots of books and articles on nutrition and never heard of pre-fat cells before. When I Goggled it, I came up with a few non-scientific hits. There was no Wiki definition.

Dhurandhar says that these are immature cells (!) waiting to become fat cells when the body needs to store fat. I guess what he is referring to is fat cells getting bigger as there is no such thing as immature cells waiting to become fat cells. They are not pre-fat cells. They are fat cells.

“The virus forces his DNA into the pre-fat cell which is powerless to resist.” Dhurandhar says this was actually done in a Petri dish! “The damage is done. Fat forever unless Dhurandhar finds a cure.” Definitely sounds like something out of Bollywood as entertainingly shown in this program, but why is Dhurandhar so serious?

Fat Rewards

The Dhurandhars moved to a comfortable suburb outside of Detroit, Michigan, so someone is paying them a nice packet. In fact, it’s a private (I wonder if this just means secret) donation of $2mil. He’s working at Wayne State University.

Dhurandhar works like a maniac, waking up in the morning between 6 and 6.30 am working until 7.30 or 8pm, then having dinner and spending time with wife and son before starting work again between 10 and 10.30 pm and finally retiring between 2.30 and 3am. I’d say this is a sure fire recipe for becoming a mad scientist. Three hours of sleep is just not enough to keep sane.

So, from this sleep deprived condition we get the view that the obesity epidemic is spreading across the US like a viral infection and possibly all over the world.

Virus Hoaxes

Professor Atkinson acts very helpful in this program. He explains that viruses lie dormant, like HIV, and that there may be a parallel between these two. “It’s not unusual. This is what viruses do.” I think he could have also included the bird flu epidemic here too. It makes me wonder if any of them are real. I’m inclined to believe Dr Mercola who wrote the Great Bird Flu Hoax. Now we are developing the Great Obesity Flu Hoax!

Dhurandhar believes that this virus started in India where the chicken version mated with the human version to produce the one that makes people fat. Now they are researching to see how far it has spread. It’s possible that it’s here in the UK (doh!). So they decided to test some willing guinea pigs (I mean people) here in the UK. Samples of blood were shipped back to the US for testing. Reactions from the volunteers were that they’d love a virus to blame for their condition and would welcome a course of tablets to help them to fight the virus to lose the weight. But the results clearly showed that there was no consistent relationship between obesity and the virus AD-36.

Well, besides no connection to the virus, surprise surprise, there’s no cure at this stage, but it’s still early days. Dhurandhar is publishing his fiction as fact in major scientific publications with funding from the prestigious National Institute of Health (more things to be sceptical of). Dhurandhar’s dream is to create a vaccine to prevent at least some types of obesity. His dream, and for the obese, a nightmare because, as I keep saying on my blogs, medicine creates more health problems than it solves. It only makes a few people wealthy.

Professor Atkinson says that people are sceptical about the AD-36 virus causing obesity theory because there is such discrimination against obesity. But with programs like this, they’re whittling away at folks and brainwashing them yet again to take more chemicals instead of improving the food they eat as I prescribe on my Simple Food Remedies blog. It really is shocking!

Photo credit: BBC News (28 July 2000), Can a Virus Make You Fat?


Sunday, 1 January 2012

alkyldimethylbenzlammoniumchloride

No, the title of this blog is not in a foreign language for Happy New Year, but I wish one to all my friends, family and blog readers who I haven’t met yet.  And I wish you one without the above chemicals in your life.

I thought supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with its 34 letters and my spinalspondylitisankylosingspondylosis with its 38 letters were long, but so is alkyldimethylbenzlammoniumchloride with its 34 letters which refers to chemical compounds.  I’m writing this article because they’re negatively affecting our food, health and environment.

I came across alkyldimethylbenzlammoniumchloride when I was reading about a product called Suma Bac D10 that all of a sudden seems to have become very popular.  I have seen it being used in restaurants where people dine, in supermarkets (while I was buying my organic food in Waitrose, a germicide was sprayed right under my nose at the checkout), in hospitals, and in care homes.

What is alkyldimethylbenzlammoniumchloride?
Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC) is also known as benzalkonium chloride with 24 compounds that are structurally similar to Quaternary ammonium compounds.  It can be used as a biocide, a cationic surfactant and phase transfer agent in the chemical industry.

A biocide can be:

Biocides are purportedly used on harmful organisms, but in reality, they can and often do indiscriminately harm any organism.
It you eat conventionally grown foods, it is possible that you will have more than one source of exposure to ADBAC.

Because the odour is barely noticeable, it has only a feint almond-like smell in concentrated form, it is easy to see why one would not immediately be aware of the danger it poses.

The applications are wide ranging, from disinfectant formulations, such as being an active ingredient in D10 (and Dettol and Lysol brand products), to microbial corrosion inhibition in the oilfield sector, and a multi-surface mould, algae and moss remover.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much information about exactly what effect ADBAC has on our health.  We know it kills fish, but not whether it causes cancer in humans.  We also don’t know (or at least it’s not documented) whether or not it’s a hormone disrupter or interferes with reproduction.  Regardless, it is widely used.

Besides being used for cleaning and microbial control in the oil industry, ADBAC is used for wood treatment, carpets, textiles, hard surfaces, agricultural premises and equipment, aquatic areas, food handling/storage, industrial processes and water systems. ADBAC is also applied to nursery ornamentals and turf, and is used for mosquito control in ponds and puddles.  Based on this information, ADBAC is present without your knowledge in a lot of circumstances.

Believe it or not, it is also used in:

·         Pharmaceuticals such as leave-on skin antiseptics
·         Antiseptic in Bactine to treat childhood scrapes and cuts.
·         Hand sanitizers
·         Towelettes and wet wipes
·         Cosmetics such as eye and nasal drops, as a preservative!
·         High-level surgical instrument sterilizing and disinfection solutions
·         Air disinfectants!
·         Over-the-counter herpes cold sore and fever blister single-application treatments such as RELEEV and Viroxyn
·         Algaecide


D10, a short snappy innocuous name for a product whose main ingredient is such a long-named chemical compound with dangerous potential.

I have seen people without gloves, spray this, wipe it up with either a dry or wet cloth/paper towel and then continue on as if everything was fine.  Far from it.

The Safety Data Sheet for D10 under section 8 Exposure Control/ Person Protection, which perhaps few employees have time to read, states that in order to protect hands: “use gloves resistant to alkyldimethylbenzlammoniumchloride.”  I take this as a good indication that the product can and will harm us.

On the label on the bottle, which is available online here, the directions for use are as follows:

Spray cleaning and disinfection:
1. Use at a concentration of 1 dosage in a 750 ml spray bottle
2. Remove gross soiling
3. Spray onto surfaces
4. Leave for at least 30 seconds
5. Rinse food contact surfaces thoroughly with clean water and allow to air dry

First of all, someone has to make-up these spray bottles and expose themselves to this hazard in concentrated form.

Secondly, it advises the user to “Rinse food contact surfaces thoroughly with clean water and allow to air dry.”  I have never seen this done and think it is unlikely it is done much, if at all.  So if you consider a restaurant kitchen spraying D10 on the work surface, then wiping it up with a damp cloth and then setting the food for your meal on it to be prepared (such as making a burger), it is likely that this chemical is getting in your food.  If you eat out regularly, or even buy a prepared sandwich for lunch, it is likely that you will be getting a regular supply of this chemical.

For those who work in places where this chemical is sprayed and used like water, especially in small areas with poor ventilation, you are likely to be getting a good dose in your body from the vapours, absorption through your skin and your eyes.

TOXICOLOGICAL INFORMATION from The Safety Data Sheet
Eyes : Strong irritant with the danger of severe eye injury.
Skin : Irritant
Inhalation : Irritant
Ingestion : Irritant                      

At the very least, it is clearly irritating, in more ways than one.  The most irritating thing to me is that people don’t take it seriously.

ECOLOGICAL INFORMATION from The Safety Data Sheet
Very toxic to aquatic organisms.  The manufacturer lets us know that the undiluted product is hazardous waste, but what about the cumulative effect of using it diluted every day all over the world.  By the way, aquatic organisms are big and small.  Furthermore, I figure that something that kills fish could kill me because I am mostly water and have many aquatic-like organisms living inside me that keep me alive.  Of course, I’m talking about the help from all the bacteria, fungi and other such creatures.

Suitable gloves

As I’ve already mentioned, the person using D10 is supposed to wear gloves resistant to alkyldimethylbenzlammoniumchloride.  This is a bad joke really.  Never mind do most people not wear gloves (especially younger people who think they’re invincible, especially to anything invisible), but when was the last time you saw a package of rubber gloves that said they were resistant to alkyldimethylbenzlammoniumchloride?  I’ve yet to notice this, but I’ll let you know if I find a pair and where to get them.

In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive advises that employees must be trained when and how to use and replace such protection.  From my experience, this training is totally inadequate if not non-existent.

Diversy
for a cleaner healthier future

The company that produces D10 is now called Diversy.  The parent company is Diversy, Inc with its headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin.  Before March 2010, it was known as JohnsonDiversey, Inc., and was created by Johnson Wax Professional's acquisition of the DiverseyLever company in May, 2002.

Purportedly 10,000 persons or so are contributing to the manufacture and distribution of its products.  The corporation in turn is making lots of money with sales of $3.1 billion in 2010.

Edward F. Lonergan (51) is the President & Chief Executive Officer of Diversy, Inc and his total calculated compensation for 2010 was $18,296,853.  That’s over 18 million dollars in one year for big number-shy people like me!  Follow the link on his name for more companies he’s put his fingers into, like the man with the Midas touch (everything he touches turns to gold for him and chemicals for us).  The rest of the Investors Management Team would also make lots of money and I noticed that one fourth of them previously worked for Unilever, a big B’org of Food.

In further B’org of Food-like shenanigans, Sealed Air acquired Diversey Holdings Inc. along with Sturtevant commercial cleaning products in a 2011 deal valued at $4.3 billion.  Sealed Air specialises in packaging and hence the name makes sense, but it is a scary name when you think that in the future air may be sold like water is today, in plastic containers.

Diversey develops and markets cleaning and hygiene solutions and services that are used in lots of places all over the world in retail, food & beverage, food service, healthcare, lodging, building service contractors, commercial laundry, government, education, manufacturing, janitorial distributors and cash & carry.

I’m not so sure about the ‘cleaner’ in Diversy’s motto, after all, how clean is a surface that is full of chemicals.  But it certainly is not healthier.

Our mission: Transform our industry, preserve lives, protect the environment.

They’ve got a long way to go with their mission with products like D10. For example, how can a product that kills the environment, protect it? The environment includes the living organisms that comprise it. Without the living organisms, we would live in a barren world like the moon or Mars! But D10 and other products this company produces are designed to kill living organisms, indiscriminately. They don’t even know half of them, never mind whether they are harmful or not to humans. They know of a few harmful ones and so use this as an excuse to kill them all.

You won’t get much information off the company’s website, but it does say that they are in 175 countries.  With the cummulative effect of so much D10 being used around the world, it seems to me that aquatic life hardly stands a chance.

I was recently asked why this product would be provided by the employer with little warning about using it if it was so dangerous.  With so much money at stake and available for lobbying and other political tactics, how could poor people with little political clout be protected?  How would you protect your $18mil job?  With delusions perhaps?

Well, if you’re making minimum wage or near enough, it doesn’t follow that you need to sacrifice your health as well as income prospects just so a few top executives can be millionaires and billionaires.  They may be delusional and think that this product is good for life, but we need to have common sense and acknowledge the facts.  If your nose turns red after breathing in the spray, you cough and sputter, your eyes become dry, puffy and bloodshot, your stomach cramps up and/or your hands start to crack and chap after handling it, this is proof enough that it is irritating your health.  In the long-term, irritating your health leads to diseases such as cancer, heart problems and dementia.

It’s time for us to stop being so trusting and take matters into our own hands, hands that aren’t being poisoned by chemicals.  Stand up for your rights.  Don’t use D10 or support the use of such chemicals with your daily life choices.  Nobody can make you do it.