Published Articles

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A recent article appearing in the magazine Scientific American Mind caught my attention as a perfect example as to how science (scientism) is being used to demonize those who disagree with a particular issue. The article, “What a Hoax,” appeared in the September/October 2013 issue. In fact, the article goes far beyond just demonizing dissenters of the orthodox opinion; incredibly, it classifies them as mentally ill and a danger to society. This of course reminds one of a similar methodology used in communist countries, such as the Soviet Union, Maoist China and communist Cuba.

Recognizing that the gulag had its limitations and was somewhat embarrassing when discovered by the West (through Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s three volume Gulag Archipelago), the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev switched to the use of the psychiatric prisons. Not only were dissidents marked as “enemies of the state,” they were reclassified as dangerous psychopaths and delusional. Incredibly, that is exactly what a group of psychiatrists and the author of this article, one Sander van der Linden, a doctoral candidate in social-environmental psychology at the London School of Economics, are proposing.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Caesar's Women (1997) is the fourth installment of the Masters of Rome historical book series by novelist Colleen McCullough. The complete series spans the period from 110 B.C. to 27 B.C. This tome covers the eight years of the Late Roman Republic from 67 B.C. to 59 B.C., including the revolt of Aemilius Lepidus; the Conspiracy of Catilina and the passing of the Senate's Ultimate Decree; the curious episode of the Consul Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus (also an augur) withdrawing to his house to watch the stars and cancel the legislative acts of his very active fellow Consul Julius Caesar; the sacrilege of Clodius Pulcher, and Caesar's consequent remark that his wife must be above suspicion, etc. The main characters are Julius Caesar (not unexpectedly given the title of this volume), who is mostly in Rome, intriguing and womanizing, while ironically presiding over Rome's civic religion as supreme Pontifex Maximus; Marcus Licinius Crassus, the plutocrat; Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great advocate who becomes consul at the time of the Catilina crisis; Marcus Porcius Cato, the unyielding politician and stoic philosopher; Publius Clodius, the young iconoclastic rogue; Marcus Junius Brutus...



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Abstract — In the final installment to this three-part, essay-editorial on psychosurgery, we relate the history of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in humans and glimpse the phenomenal body of work conducted by Dr. Jose Delgado at Yale University from the 1950s to the 1970s. The inception of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research (1974-1978) is briefly discussed as it pertains to the "determination of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare regarding the recommendations and guidelines on psychosurgery." The controversial work — namely recording of brain activity, DBS, and amygdalotomy for intractable psychomotor seizures in patients with uncontrolled violence — conducted by Drs. Vernon H. Mark and Frank Ervin is recounted. This final chapter recapitulates advances in neuroscience and neuroradiology in the evaluation of violent individuals and ends with a brief discussion of the problem of uncontrolled rage and "pathologic aggression" in today's modern society — as violence persists, and in response, we move toward authoritarianism, with less freedom and even less dignity.

DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION (DBS)...



Monday, July 8, 2013

Fortune's Favorites is the third installment of the fascinating Masters of Rome series of historical novels by famed Australian novelist Colleen McCullough. The 878-page book opens in 83 B.C., as the triumphant general, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, returns from the East after his successful campaign against King Mithridates VI of Pontus. The book ends with events taking place at approximately 69 B.C. surrounding the rivalry and rise of Pompey the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus, while young Julius Caesar is biding his time and foreshadows a political and military career superior to them both, a worthy descendant of Venus and Aeneas!

In this novel McCullough continues to enhance her work with magnificent maps, a useful glossary, and realistic, hand-drawn sketch portraits of many of the main characters. Her well-researched novel, written in crisp and eloquent prose continues to enchant and makes us marvel at the ancient Roman world, which draws so many parallels with our own. Outright mistakes or errors of fact are few and usually minor. For example,  she claims that after the first century of the Republic most consuls were plebeian, when in fact most consuls in the...



Thursday, June 6, 2013

The magnificent "Masters of Rome" series of historic fiction by novelist Colleen McCullough continues down the annals of the Roman Republic with the notable careers of Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Aemeilius Scaurus, Metellus Numidicus, Metellus Pius, and Marcus Livius Drusus. This second tome at 894 pages also contains magnificent maps, improved glossary, and sketch portraits of many of the main characters. The scholarship still astonishes as does the crisp writing and exhilarating reading in this historic drama. The informative and elegant correspondence to and from Rutilius Rufus, now expanded to Scaurus and Sulla, continues in The Grass Crown.

Nevertheless, we are still obliged to point out deficiencies in this second historic novel as we did with the first one for the same reasons. The apotheosis of her main protagonist, Gaius Marius, continues to the detriment of other historic figures, despite the author's claim to historic veracity and her outstanding scholarship. Her politics and her prejudicial bias for the Populares faction at the expense of the Optimates distorts the personalities, motives, and true attitudes of the historic figures and detracts...



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This is a wonderful introduction to the "Masters of Rome" series of historic novels by famed author Colleen McCullough. The first tome in this series, The First Man in Rome, at 896 pages, including magnificent maps, glossary, even sketch portraits of many of the main characters, is incredibly well-researched. Crisp writing, eloquent prose, exhilarating reading, spellbinding plots and intrigue — are all parts and parcel of this literary, unfolding, historic drama. The historic novel would have been a complete masterpiece had not the author fallen head over heels for the main protagonist, Gaius Marius, to the detriment of other historic figures who deserved better, particularly when the author boasted of historic veracity. Indeed, McCullough's scholarship is outstanding, and her literary abilities certain; the problem lies elsewhere, apparently her politics and her prejudicial bias for the Populares faction at the expense of the Optimates and the historical veracity she claimed.

Thus, to cover her political leanings, the author does not use those terms at all in her novel, as she "does not want to give the impression that there were formal political parties." The reality...



Saturday, June 1, 2013

Abstract — Knowledge of neuroscience flourished during and in the wake of the era of frontal lobotomy, as a byproduct of psychosurgery in the late 1930s and 1940s, revealing fascinating neural pathways and neurophysiologic mechanisms of the limbic system for the formulation of emotions, memory, and human behavior. The creation of the Klüver‑Bucy syndrome in monkeys opened new horizons in the pursuit of knowledge in human behavior and neuropathology. In the 1950s specialized functional neurosurgery was developed in association with stereotactic neurosurgery; deep brain electrodes were implanted for more precise recording of brain electrical activity in the evaluation and treatment of intractable mental disorders, including schizophrenia, “pathologic aggression,” and psychomotor seizures in temporal lobe epilepsy. Psychosurgical procedures involved deep brain stimulation of the limbic system, as well as ablative procedures, such as cingulotomy and thalamotomy. The history of these developments up to the 21st century will continue in this three‑part essay‑editorial, exclusively researched and written for the readers of Surgical Neurology International (SNI).

ADVANCES IN...



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The disintegration of the USSR is inextricably entwined and intimately related to the life and times, failures and accomplishments, paradoxes and contradictions of the courageous Russian who is the subject of this book — a man with tenacious clarity of purpose and the steely determination to carry on through and accomplish his goal at any price. We are speaking of KGB officer and Russian patriot, Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Ippolitovich Vetrov (1932-1985; code name: Farewell). Vetrov crossed over to the West as a defector-in-place and spied against the KGB and his former Soviet comrades. Why? Because he was sickened by the nepotism of the apparatchiks, the abuses, corruption, and injustice plaguing the KGB specifically, and the lack of individual freedom, hypocrisy of the nomenklatura, inequalities and abuses sustained by the citizens in the entire Soviet system where family connections were more important than merit and hard work. What was his goal? To break the machinery of repression of the corrupt KGB and bring down the Soviet system, even if this task would ultimately lead to his personal destruction and death.

To comprehend the dimensions of Vetrov's accomplishment...



Friday, April 5, 2013

Abstract — Psychosurgery was developed early in human prehistory (trephination) as a need perhaps to alter aberrant behavior and treat mental illness. The “American Crowbar Case" provided an impetus to study the brain and human behavior. The frontal lobe syndrome was avidly studied. Frontal lobotomy was developed in the 1930s for the treatment of mental illness and to solve the pressing problem of overcrowding in mental institutions in an era when no other forms of effective treatment were available. Lobotomy popularized by Dr. Walter Freeman reached a zenith in the 1940s, only to come into disrepute in the late 1950s. Other forms of therapy were needed and psychosurgery evolved into stereotactic functional neurosurgery. A history of these developments up to the 21st century will be related in this three-part historical review article, exclusively researched and written for the readers of Surgical Neurology International (SNI).

TREPHINATION, SHAMANS, AND MENTAL ILLNESS

Trephination (or trepanation) of the human skull is the oldest documented surgical procedure performed by man. Trephined skulls have been found from the Old World of Europe and Asia to the New...



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

B. F. Skinner (1909-1990) was a prominent professor of psychology at Harvard (1958-1974) and a founder of Operant and Behavioral Psychology. I revisited his work while researching my paper,  “Violence, mental illness and the brain — A brief history of psychosurgery” for Surgical Neurology International (SNI).  Although more than 40 years have elapsed since publication of his book and my study of the subject in college, it deserves a reappraisal since history seems to repeat itself because man forgets, insisting on reinventing the wheel for his fellowman’s edification or his own vanity.

Besides, Skinner’s 1957 book, Verbal Behavior, was reprinted in 1992 and in the last decade has been resurgent in psychological research and applications. And even more revealing, in a 2002 survey Skinner was listed as the most influential psychologist of the 20th century.

In his book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971), B.F. Skinner (photo, right) waged war against the cherished Western concept of individual freedom and the dignity of man. Again and again, he assailed and derided “the literature of freedom and dignity” and the concept of “autonomous man,” as enemies of...