“The Radium Water Worked Fine until His Jaw Came Off”

The sad death in March 1932 of Eben Byers led to this headline in the Wall Street Journal.

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From Wikipedia:

In 1927, while returning via chartered train from the annual Harvard–Yale football game, Byers fell from his berth and injured his arm. He complained of persistent pain and a doctor suggested that he take Radithor, a patent medicine manufactured by William J. A. Bailey.[4] Bailey was a Harvard Universitydropout who falsely claimed to be a doctor of medicine and had become rich from the sale of Radithor. Bailey created Radithor by dissolving radium in water to high concentrations, claiming it could cure many ailments by stimulating the endocrine system. He offered physicians a 17% rebate on the prescription of each dose of Radithor.[5]

Byers began taking enormous doses of Radithor, which he believed had greatly improved his health, drinking nearly 1,400 bottles.[6] By 1930, when Byers stopped taking the remedy, he had accumulated significant amounts of radium in his bones resulting in the loss of most of his jaw. Byers’ brain was also abscessed, and holes were forming in his skull. His death on March 31, 1932, was attributed to “radiation poisoning” using the terminology of the time, but it was due to cancers, not acute radiation syndrome.[4][7] He is buried in Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a lead-lined coffin.[

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I am confident this is the most memorable article ever from the British Journal of Urology

Full access here. This is certainly worth reading all the way to the end…. can’t help but wholeheartedly agree with the author’s conclusion.

How (not) to communicate new scientific information: a memoir of the famous brindley lecture

In 1983, at the Urodynamics Society meeting in Las Vegas, Professor G.S. Brindley first announced to the world his experiments on self‐injection with papaverine to induce a penile erection. This was the first time that an effective medical therapy for erectile dysfunction (ED) was described, and was a historic development in the management of ED. The way in which this information was first reported was completely unique and memorable, and provides an interesting context for the development of therapies for ED. I was present at this extraordinary lecture, and the details are worth sharing. Although this lecture was given more than 20 years ago, the details have remained fresh in my mind, for reasons which will become obvious.

The lecture, which had an innocuous title along the lines of ‘Vaso‐active therapy for erectile dysfunction’ was scheduled as an evening lecture of the Urodynamics Society in the hotel in which I was staying. I was a senior resident, hungry for knowledge, and at the AUA I went to every lecture that I could. About 15 min before the lecture I took the elevator to go to the lecture hall, and on the next floor a slight, elderly looking and bespectacled man, wearing a blue track suit and carrying a small cigar box, entered the elevator. He appeared quite nervous, and shuffled back and forth. He opened the box in the elevator, which became crowded, and started examining and ruffling through the 35 mm slides of micrographs inside. I was standing next to him, and could vaguely make out the content of the slides, which appeared to be a series of pictures of penile erection. I concluded that this was, indeed, Professor Brindley on his way to the lecture, although his dress seemed inappropriately casual.

The lecture was given in a large auditorium, with a raised lectern separated by some stairs from the seats. This was an evening programme, between the daytime sessions and an evening reception. It was relatively poorly attended, perhaps 80 people in all. Most attendees came with their partners, clearly on the way to the reception. I was sitting in the third row, and in front of me were about seven middle‐aged male urologists, and their partners in ‘full evening regalia’.

Professor Brindley, still in his blue track suit, was introduced as a psychiatrist with broad research interests. He began his lecture without aplomb. He had, he indicated, hypothesized that injection with vasoactive agents into the corporal bodies of the penis might induce an erection. Lacking ready access to an appropriate animal model, and cognisant of the long medical tradition of using oneself as a research subject, he began a series of experiments on self‐injection of his penis with various vasoactive agents, including papaverine, phentolamine, and several others. (While this is now commonplace, at the time it was unheard of). His slide‐based talk consisted of a large series of photographs of his penis in various states of tumescence after injection with a variety of doses of phentolamine and papaverine. After viewing about 30 of these slides, there was no doubt in my mind that, at least in Professor Brindley’s case, the therapy was effective. Of course, one could not exclude the possibility that erotic stimulation had played a role in acquiring these erections, and Professor Brindley acknowledged this.

The Professor wanted to make his case in the most convincing style possible. He indicated that, in his view, no normal person would find the experience of giving a lecture to a large audience to be erotically stimulating or erection‐inducing. He had, he said, therefore injected himself with papaverine in his hotel room before coming to give the lecture, and deliberately wore loose clothes (hence the track‐suit) to make it possible to exhibit the results. He stepped around the podium, and pulled his loose pants tight up around his genitalia in an attempt to demonstrate his erection.

At this point, I, and I believe everyone else in the room, was agog. I could scarcely believe what was occurring on stage. But Prof. Brindley was not satisfied. He looked down sceptically at his pants and shook his head with dismay. ‘Unfortunately, this doesn’t display the results clearly enough’. He then summarily dropped his trousers and shorts, revealing a long, thin, clearly erect penis. There was not a sound in the room. Everyone had stopped breathing.

But the mere public showing of his erection from the podium was not sufficient. He paused, and seemed to ponder his next move. The sense of drama in the room was palpable. He then said, with gravity, ‘I’d like to give some of the audience the opportunity to confirm the degree of tumescence’. With his pants at his knees, he waddled down the stairs, approaching (to their horror) the urologists and their partners in the front row. As he approached them, erection waggling before him, four or five of the women in the front rows threw their arms up in the air, seemingly in unison, and screamed loudly. The scientific merits of the presentation had been overwhelmed, for them, by the novel and unusual mode of demonstrating the results.

The screams seemed to shock Professor Brindley, who rapidly pulled up his trousers, returned to the podium, and terminated the lecture. The crowd dispersed in a state of flabbergasted disarray. I imagine that the urologists who attended with their partners had a lot of explaining to do. The rest is history. Prof Brindley’s single‐author paper reporting these results was published about 6 months later [1].

Professor Brindley made a huge contribution to the management of ED, for which he deserves tremendous gratitude. He was a true lateral thinker, and applied his unique mind to a variety of problems in medicine. These include over 100 publications that focus on the areas of visual neurophysiology and several other aspects of neurophysiology, including ejaculation and female sexual dysfunction. He also published one remarkable paper studying the effect of 17 different drugs used intracorporally to induce erection [2]. Seven of these (phenoxybenzamine, phentolamine, thymoxamine, imipramine, verapamil, papaverine, naftidrofury) induced an erection. It is not clear to what degree Brindley’s own penis served as the test subject for these studies.

This lecture was unique, dramatic, paradigm‐shifting, and unexpected. It is difficult to imagine that a similar scenario could ever take place again. Professor Brindley belongs in the pantheon of famous British eccentrics who have made spectacular contributions to science. The story of his lecture deserves a place in the urological history books.

Article on bereavement and grief from the website of the Galway Diocese

I found this article (PDF) a good, clear, wise and down-to-earth piece on grief. There is no particular religious content to the article, aside from the framing device of the month of November being a month of remembrance – an association with secular as well as religious overtones.

The article is especially good on the limits of Kubler-Ross’ Four Stages:

 

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?” Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.” Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.” Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. However, not everyone who is grieving goes through all of these stages – and that’s okay. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. And if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in.

Kübler-Ross herself never intended for these stages to be a rigid framework that applies to everyone who mourns. In her last book before her death in 2004, she said of the five stages of grief, “They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.

“Transgenerational Trauma – the Armenian Genocide Considered”

I have posted at times speculating as to the long term impact of collective traumas I may have a personal motivation for this. On my other blog I have often re-posted from the excellent blog of Adam deVille, Eastern Christian Books. On this blog deVille considers recent books relevant to the broad theme of Eastern Christianity – along with his own always perceptive and thought-provoking reflections.

He has a post on a recent book on transgenerational trauma and the Armenian Genocide:

To my mind one of the most important and far-reaching insights Freud first helped us to understand, and many analysts–as well as other psychologists, sociologists, historians, and churchmen–have deepened in the years after Freud (and in particular after the Holocaust) is the long-lasting nature of major trauma, and the very real ways in which something of those traumatic memories will shape later generations who did not experience the trauma directly.

In this instance, Eastern Christians have first-hand experience, starting in 1915 (though, of course, actually much earlier, given a centuries-long trail of blood and tears among Armenian Christians, subject to periodic mass slaughters under the Ottomans) with the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek genocides. The first of these was the largest, and has attracted a good deal of attention in the last two decades. Now that a century and more has passed, and all survivors are dead, the memories and effects of the genocide are not, as a new book reminds us: Anthonie Holslag, The Transgenerational Consequences of the Armenian Genocide: Near the Foot of Mount Ararat (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 291pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
This book brings together the Armenian Genocide process and its transgenerational outcome, which are often juxtaposed in existing scholarship, to ask how the Armenian Genocide is conceptualized and placed within diasporic communities. Taking a dual approach to answer this question, Anthonie Holslag studies the cultural expression of violence during the genocidal process itself, and in the aftermath for the victims. By using this approach, this book allows us to see comparatively how genocide in diasporic communities in the Netherlands, London and the US is encapsulated in an historic narrative. It paints a picture of the complexity of genocidal violence itself, but also in its transgenerational and non-spatial consequences, raising new questions of how violence can be perpetuated or interlocked with the discourse and narratives of the victims, and how the violence can be relived.

Efficacy of PRIME, a Mobile App Intervention Designed to Improve Motivation in Young People With Schizophrenia

From Schizophrenia Bulletin:

The onset of schizophrenia occurs during a period critical for development of social relationships and functional independence. As such, interventions that target the early course of illness have the potential to stave off functional decline and restore functioning to pre-illness levels. In this entirely remote study, people with recent-onset schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs) participated in a 12-week randomized controlled trial to determine the efficacy of PRIME (personalized real-time intervention for motivational enhancement), a mobile-based digital health intervention designed to improve motivation and quality of life. Participants were randomized into the PRIME (n = 22) or treatment-as-usual/waitlist (TAU/WL) condition (n = 21) and completed assessments at baseline, post-trial (12 wk), and for people in the PRIME condition, 3 months after the end of the trial. After 12-weeks, WL participants received PRIME, resulting in a total sample of 38 participants completing PRIME. In PRIME, participants worked towards self-identified goals with the support of a virtual community of age-matched peers with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders as well as motivation coaches. Compared to the WL condition, people in the PRIME condition had significantly greater improvements in self-reported depression, defeatist beliefs, self-efficacy, and a trend towards motivation/pleasure negative symptoms post-trial, and these improvements were maintained 3 months after the end of trial. We also found that people in the PRIME condition had significantly greater improvements in components of social motivation post-trial (anticipated pleasure and effort expenditure). Our results suggest that PRIME has the potential to be an effective mobile-based intervention for improving aspects of mood and motivation in young people with SSDs.

Sleep disturbances in girls associated with more difficulties staying awake in and out of school

From Pedro de Bruyckere’s blog:

Sleep disturbances in girls associated with more difficulties staying awake in and out of school

We’ve known for some time now that we all sleep less than a decade ago and that our children often nowadays don’t sleep enough. This new study describes that there are maybedifferences related to gender. I wasn’t able to read the study because it’s something that was presented at a conference last week. From the […]

via Sleep disturbances in girls associated with more difficulties staying awake in and out of school — From experience to meaning…

Preliminary results of a recent study show that teen girls reported a higher degree of interference of daytime sleepiness on multiple aspects of their school and personal activities than boys.

The study examined whether teen boys and girls report similar negative impact of sleep disturbances on their daytime functioning.

“What was most surprising is the fact that teenage girls reported a higher degree of interference of daytime sleepiness than teenage boys on multiple aspects of their school and personal activities,” said co-author Pascale Gaudreault, who is completing her doctoral degree in clinical neuropsychology under the supervision of principal investigator Dr. Geneviève Forest at the Université du Québec en Outaouais in Gatineau, Québec, Canada. “For example, teenage girls have reported missing school significantly more often than teenage boys due to tiredness, as well as reported having lower motivation in school due to a poor sleep quality.”