Donald Trump and the Mind of an Adolescent

By Dr David Laing Dawson

ownersmanualThe friends and family of Donald Trump should have intervened a year ago, as I hope my friends and family will do if I ever decide to try something for which I do not have the skills, knowledge, history or temperament. He has made a fool of himself. And at some point, that is going to really hurt.

It is sadly remarkable how far he has come in this race while being a clown, shouting slogans, inanities, lies, slander, and incomprehensible half-sentences. Let us pray he inflicts no lasting damage to American democracy when he loses in November.

The third debate is being picked apart by pundits both professional and amateur. I have little to add, except …

Once again Trump has demonstrated that he has the temperament, language skills and emotional age of a teenager.

“No one respects women more than I do.” This is a particular and entirely unnecessary hyperbole one hears from adolescents. “No one likes pizza more than I do.” It is, on face value, a ridiculous claim, and the kind of hyperbole that only rolls off the tongue of someone whose awareness of others (and himself) is very limited.

It is also an example of the Big Lie, when the hole is too gaping to be bridged with a small lie.

The leaders of ISIS may have fled Mosul in anticipation of the Kurdish and Iraqi forces attacking. Donald tells us MacArthur, and Patton would be embarrassed by the lack of secrecy in planning this operation. “How stupid can they be.” He went on in this vein. And what I heard was the experience, the knowledge, the strategic thinking about warfare of a teenage boy. A knowledge based on movies set in the old west and before the telegraph. Electing Trump really would be giving the role of Commander-in-Chief to an impulsive teenager who watched George C. Scott play Patton and learned all the wrong lessons.

“She’s a nasty woman.” Point at her, make a face of distaste. Put it on Facebook; start a, well, “nasty” rumour in High School.

Then there is blaming Hillary for not creating a tax code that could prevent him from avoiding paying taxes. That was a good one. And it did remind me of teenagers who steal. I have heard them say that it was really the store’s fault for not having sufficient security. “If they leave it out like that, what do you expect?”

Deny saying what millions of people heard you say just a few days ago. Again, who but an adolescent can convince himself of this kind of revision of reality?

And finally, the horrifying statement that he may or may not accept the outcome of the election. There it is. That alone should disqualify this man from running for office in a democracy. Self aggrandizement, putting himself, and the welfare of his ego, above the democratic process, with a hint of blackmail. It is the hint of blackmail that reminded me once again of the teenage brain. “I’ll only go to school if…”

That’s it. No more. Let us pray Donald J. Trump slips into oblivion and we can all recover from the obsession he has created. And let us pray that democracy and civilization can survive him.

Donald Trump’s Mental and Emotional Age?

By Dr David Laing Dawson


The recent revelations about Donald Trump, especially his barging into the dressing room of pageant contestants, left me wondering about emotional and mental age; specifically, at what age in a boy’s development would we find some of Trump’s behaviour, if still not laudable, at least common?

1. Peeking in the dressing room to get a glimpse of girls in partial dress: age 13 to 15

2. Complaining that the moderators are unfair and gave Hillary more time: 6 to 12 (preteen sibling rivalry)

3. Name calling repeatedly: age 6 to 12 (the school yard taunt)

4. Use of single word hyperbole to describe something: Age 14 to 16 (“It was like horrible, horrible.”)

5. Lying even when it is not necessary: 14 to 17 (Some teens get so used to shading their responses to questioning by parents that they lie even when the truth would get them kudos). Donald could have said, truthfully, that he decided, within a year or so of its onset, that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, and he would have sounded thoughtful and mature.

6. Never taking responsibility; it is always the fault of someone else: age 10 to 15. (“The teacher hates me, I wasn’t doing nothing when…”.)

7. Boasting about sexual prowess: 16-18 (Actually at that age males usually boast about sexual prowess to an audience of peers who know the story is fiction. It’s more of an in-joke than a real boast. We all understand the deep level of insecurity that lies behind a real boast.)

8. Groping or kissing women without consent. Perhaps 15 to 25 but only if the young man is brain damaged, severely inebriated, or mentally handicapped.

9. Denying the obvious truth. Perhaps 13 to 16. (“The marijuana you found in my sock drawer – it’s not mine. I have no idea how it got there.”)

10. Broadly lashing out at unfairness when challenged. Perhaps age 3 to 10, and beyond that into teens when the boy has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

11. Just a few days ago, Mr. Trump said something I haven’t heard since I was privy to post football game teenage drunken banter:  “Look at her.” he said, implying clearly that he would only consider assaulting a more attractive woman.

12. And he keeps giving us fodder to think about. The latest: “I think she’s actually getting pumped up, you want to know the truth.” Now beside the bizarre accusation (he’s referring to Hillary) he uses one of his favourite phrases, “you want to know the truth.” There are many variants to this: “To tell the truth.” “I have to be honest.” “If you want to know the truth.” “Gotta be honest with you folks.” Now these kinds of qualifiers are not limited to adolescents, but they are precisely the phrases boys between the age of 14 and 19 use just before they lie. And addicts of all ages.

Fortunately Donald Trump’s candidacy is foundering on his behaviour and attitude toward women. The threat of having him in the White House is diminishing. But really, by my calculations, if Donald Trump were to be elected, we would be giving an immense amount of power to someone with the judgment and emotional age of a 7 to 15 year old boy, and not a sober, stable, empathic, conscientious 7 to 15 year old at that.

Psychiatric Refugees? Give me a Break!

By Marvin Ross

For years, we’ve had a small group of very vocal people who call themselves psychiatric survivors — people who have had psychiatric treatment, do not agree with it and consider that they have survived it. Now, thanks to CBC radio, we have someone dubbed a psychiatric refugee — a woman who fled British Columbia for Ontario to escape her involuntary status in a B.C. hospital. And, it was said, she is not the only so-called refugee.

Comparing yourself to people who survived a genocide like the Holocaust or saying that you are comparable to Syrians and others fleeing in leaky, dangerous boats from war is absurd. But what is also absurd is the story that this anonymous person called Sarah by the CBC told. It is just not logical but it is being used to justify the Charter challenge to the B.C. Mental Health Act that I suggested was misguided.

People deserve to know and to understand what the Mental Health Act is about. They deserve to know the processes that are in place to commit someone against their will and to treat them. And they need to know the safeguards that are in place to prevent excesses and protect the rights of the individual. These are never explained.

First, I encourage you to listen to the interview. To begin with, Sarah said that she went to the emergency at a hospital with her mother because of troubling life events and she wanted help. She was admitted, she said, voluntarily but then her status was changed to involuntary.

Now, for her to have been declared involuntary, she would have had to have satisfied all four of these criteria (page 18 of the guide):

  • Is suffering from a mental disorder that seriously impairs her ability to react appropriately to her environment or to associate with others;
  • Requires psychiatric treatment in or through a designated facility;
  • Requires care, supervision and control in or through a designated facility to prevent her substantial mental or physical deterioration or for her own protection or the protection of others; and
  • Is not suitable as a voluntary patient.

If she was involuntary, a licensed physician must have assessed her and certified that she met the criteria. Then, another independent physician conducted an examination with the same criteria to extend the stay beyond 48 hours.

( See form 4 where the reasons for the involuntary decision must be listed.)

At the end of one month, she would be examined again to determine if she still met the involuntary admission criteria and the proper form would be filled out to extend her stay a further month (page 20 of the guide). If she no longer needed to be involuntary during this period, the doctor can cancel it and she can always appeal her status to a review board at any time.

Once a patient has been deemed involuntary, they are given a form 5 (consent to treatment) (page 173), which explains to them what treatment is being given. Note that Sarah told the CBC that no one ever discussed treatment with her. They had to.

In addition, Sarah’s rights would have been explained to her and she would be given a form 13 to sign (page 182). She did say she had to sign something but she was not sure what it was. The person having her sign would have told her that she had a right to a lawyer, that she would be regularly examined by a doctor to ensure she was being held appropriately, informed that she could apply to a review board to assess her capacity, go to court to challenge the doctor’s decision and/or request a second opinion from a different doctor.

Next, she would be given a form 15 (page 186) to fill out so that she could nominate a near relative to be informed of her status. She did say that her mother went to the emergency with her so I have to ask where her mother was in all this. Surely she would have been liaising with the hospital staff over diagnoses and treatments. While her mother would have no authority under the act, most doctors do encourage family participation. During the CBC interview, Sarah said that she wished her mother could be involved in her treatment and there is nothing in the act that says she can’t be.

Sarah told the CBC that she absconded during a smoke break and that a form 21 (page 193) had been filled out. That form obligates a peace officer to return her to hospital. Sarah said she went to police in Calgary and told them, and that they called her psychiatrist but they did not hold her for return. The form 21 is only valid within British Columbia, but if 60 days had expired, it would not be valid and she would be deemed discharged.

There are so many holes in what she told the CBC that cast doubt on all she said. It is important for people to understand, particularly in light of the court challenge, what protections there are for an individual who is involuntary. This is not something that anyone takes lightly and is done for the best interest of the patient and for society.

The infamous Vince Li, who beheaded Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus, was initially picked up by Toronto Police in 2004 and taken to hospital. He left hospital against medical advice as there was no mechanism with which to keep him.

Imagine what would have happened if he had been treated initially? Tim McLean would be alive, his family would not have suffered the pain and anguish they did, and the first Mountie on scene might not have developed severe PTSD and eventually taken his own life.

As for Vince Li, he has done so well on treatment that he is now living in a halfway house. I can only guess at the pain he must feel knowing what he did while psychotic and that he would not likely have done if he had been properly treated at the outset.

Vancouver resident Erin Hawkes has written extensively on how the so-called forced treatment had saved her life. She has written in the National Post, numerous times in the Huffington Post and in the Tyee.

The CBC should interview her as well on the court challenge and they should do better fact-checking. If the plaintiffs in this Charter challenge call Sarah as a witness, we will see how well her story holds up to cross-examination.

Note: this first appeared in the Huffington Post on September 26. One person criticized me for attacking mothers which is not what I intended. I pointed out that Sarah’s mother has gone to the ER with her and I likely had input. When I asked where she was, it was a comment directed towards Sarah who said that she wished her mother could have been involved and I suspect she was. I realize that not all doctors and mental health staff are open to families but enough are. My own experience as a family member is that I have always been involved.

Global Warming and CO2

By Dr David Laing Dawson

I am an amateur in these matters. I don’t really know the science of Global Warming. But boiled down it seems we have to either stop pouring CO2 into our atmosphere or find a way of taking it out of the atmosphere as fast as we put it in.

Okay. We have two choices. Stop using fossil fuels or find a way of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. Or we perish. Slowly but surely. The most vulnerable and the poorest first. And not without a lot of chaos.

Every few months I read a small article on technologies that might be able to take CO2 out of the atmosphere. There are two problems remaining to be solved with this approach: scale/cost (whatever technology does this better must be distributed world wide) and what to safely do with the CO2 once it is captured. (stick it in the ground, turn it into something useful).

But every day I read about green energy, solar power, wind power, electric vehicles, reducing carbon emissions. Hours of talk. Hours of energy used. Billions of dollars spent. Alliances, declarations, conventions, plans, agreements.

Maybe Norway will get there. Having made a great deal of money exporting oil, having been fiscally prudent (unlike Alberta), and having a small post industrial contained population, all doing well with education, employment, health and social services – maybe they can get there. They are talking now about prohibiting the sale of gas or diesel vehicles after 2025. That one small country may soon enough get to the point of neutrality. Emitting no more CO2 than their forests can absorb.

No one else will.

It is time to get realistic. I may be an amateur in the science of global warming and the consequences of this, but I am not an amateur in the observation of human behaviour, singularly and in groups.

We will not get there simply talking about and trying to reduce CO2 emissions. It won’t happen. Even today the burning of coal is dramatically increasing in China and India. The USA produces 40% of its electricity burning coal. We will make a dent here and there. We can feel good about all those wind turbines despoiling the landscape, driving our expensive electric cars, buying efficient refrigerators, using LED lighting. Maybe a few more small countries like Norway will reach neutrality. But not the others. All the others are striving to achieve just a little of the safety, mobility, security, comfort and luxury of the developed world. They will use cheap energy to get there.

So. I want to be reading  less about green technology and more and more about capturing and using CO2. And that is where we need to put our billions of research money, our best scientists and engineers. That should be the focus.  I want to be reading about billions and billions of dollars spent researching and developing methods to remove and reuse CO2 around the globe. It is time for a Manhattan project to develop scalable ways of removing, safely sequestering, and/or reusing CO2.

One Last Appeal to the American Voters

By Dr David Laing Dawson

In 4 years 5 of my grandchildren will be in their teens, one turning six and another will be 21. For America and the world to be in a better place 4 years from now the following spheres of American reality must improve or, at at the very least, not get worse:

1. gun control

2. race relations

3. access to health care

4.  public education

5.  access to college and universities

6.  infrastructure

7. police practices re gun use

8.  reliance on Prisons

9.  access to mental health care

10.  a pathway to citizenship for current illegal immigrants.

11. treatment and rehabilitation response to addictions.

12.  the respect and trust of world leaders and the citizens of other countries.

13. Play a large and important role in all world organizations.

14. Participation in the containment and eventual elimination of ISIS/ISIL

15. Participation in the stabilization of unstable countries.

16. Help end the civil war in Syria.

17. Participation in finding solutions to current migrant/refugee problems facing much of the world.

18.  the use of renewable energy sources, reduce reliance on oil and coal, or invest heavily in the development of scalable technologies for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, or both.

19.  income equality. Improve minimum wage. Increase tax rates and tax recovery on the wealthy, individual and corporation. Recover tax from tax havens. Close loopholes that allow avoidance by the wealthy.

20. Work with international agencies to control nuclear proliferation and ultimately reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons.


Non-Americans are often appalled at the grandiosity and Jingoism voiced at times by American citizens. USA, USA, USA. But the truth is the entire world needs a good and healthy and influential United States of America. We need you to live up to your ideals.

We need you to be stable, and one of the adults in the room. I doubt the world could survive four years of deteriorating alliances, economic recession, more violence, an increasing gap between the 1% and the rest, policies built on ignorance and bluster, denial of global warming, and the angry impulsive use of nuclear weapons.

So read that list again, remove a few if you would like, add a couple more, and ask yourself which candidate for president, if elected, is most likely to improve most of those issues, or, at the very least, not make matters worse, far worse.



Conspiracy Theories, Big Pharma and Anti-psychiatry

By Marvin Ross

The world is full of conspiracy theories from President Obama was not born in the US and is a Muslim to vaccines cause autism, cancer could be cured but Big Pharma prevents the cure to make money and Big Pharma drugs people with mental illnesses to also make money.

The only truth in any of that is that Big Pharma’s goal is to make money. And that goal to make money is why they exist as they are private for profit companies in our capitalist society. TV networks, publishers, banks, retail outlets are all designed to make money by providing something that people either want or need.

What’s the big deal?

And if you are opposed to that concept, then join a political movement that advocates for socialism. However, bear in mind that only Big Pharmaceutical companies have the means and motive to invent, study, produce new and better treatments for our ailments. But they need to be monitored, regulated, and whatever research they sponsor that “proves” the safety and value of a new agent needs to be replicated by  independent studies.

Profit companies provide a service or a product that is needed in order to make money for their shareholders or owners. In the case of Big Pharma, it is medications that will help to ameliorate illness – probably not cure but reduce symptoms. They are the ones who do this because governments either can’t or won’t. History has shown that their products have dramatically improved our lives, or at least the levels of health and wealth and comfort that many of us maintain.

The role of governments is to provide a regulatory framework to ensure that these capitalist outfits do not ignore ethics in their pursuit of profits. Restaurants need to abide by rules of cleanliness for example so that their customers do not get ill and there are government inspectors to ensure that. In order to drive a car, you need a license as proof that you are capable.

The banking system requires very stringent regulations to ensure they do not run amok which is what happened to cause the recession in 2008. Many of the banking controls in the US had been removed and we saw what happened. Canada, which has always had a very tightly regulated banking system, was only mildly impacted by the 2008 crash.

And so too Big Pharma. In the US, Teddy Roosevelt brought in legislation creating the FDA in 1906 to regulate food and drug purity. At that time, many medicinal elixers contained opium, heroin and cocaine so regulation was implemented to make these products safer. Today, the FDA regulates drug development via a very stringent process to ensure that when a drug is made available to the public, it has proven to be efficacious for its intended purpose with side effects that do not outweigh its benefits. Absolutely we should not trust them or the doctors who shill their products for big paychecks. But without them there would be no pharmaceutical progress.

In Canada, that role is carried out by Health Canada and in the European Union, it is the European Medicines Agency. Each agency must approve any drug sold in that jurisdiction so that Big Pharma must gain the approval of the FDA, Health Canada and the European Agency to sell their product in those jurisdictions.

And drug development is expensive. It is estimated that for every 5-10,000 agents that begin preclinical testing, only one ends up approved for dispensing. The cost of developing that one prescription item is about $500 million and takes 8-12 years. That is a lot of money and time to get to market. Now I’m not justifying the price of drugs but the company does have to get its money back and show a profit.

The resources required to accomplish all of this are far greater than governments can afford. For those who think that drugs are mostly poisonous and are foisted upon unwitting patients by evil people to make money, this is the process to ensure that the drugs are as safe as possible.

Promising therapeutic agents are identified based on the latest understanding of a particular disease. That agent is then tested in lab animals to determine safety before an application is made to the regulatory body for an investigational new drug license. At this point, the testing involves 3 phases of study. The first involves giving a small amount of the agent to a small group of healthy volunteers to see if there are any adverse effects.

In the second phase, a small group of subjects with that disease are studied to see how effective the agent is. The third phase, if they get that far, can last for years and involve thousands of patients in various locations to test for efficacy compared to a placebo or an already approved drug and side effect profile.

Only then, years later, is the drug submitted for approval to the regulatory agency who then have their own scientists evaluate all the data. A drug approved by one regulatory agency for a particular country as I said earlier will also have to be approved the same way by the regulatory agency in those other countries.

This is a very long and costly process to ensure that the drugs doctors use for their patients are effective and have a side effect profile that is not greater than the benefit they have. And everything has a side effect including something as seemingly benign as water

Of course, it isn’t always possible to predict what will happen when patients begin taking medications in the real world and so regulatory agencies do have adverse event reporting systems in place to track and investigate these occurrences. In many cases, drugs are removed from the market for various reasons that became clear with widespread use over time. Wikipedia has a very long list of these agents, the countries where they were pulled and the reasons.

The system is not perfect but it works for the most part and people are able to have prescription products to help ameliorate their symptoms. To attack Big Pharma for developing these drugs and the doctors who prescribe them for their patients, is absurd. I am not defending Big Pharma or suggesting that they do not sometimes go to excess but simply describing what is and why.

Donald Trump vs Lincoln, FDR, Eisenhower and JFK

By Dr David Laing Dawson

A depressing explanation for the existence of Donald Trump as a viable candidate for a position held by Lincoln, Eisenhower, F.D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy.

Disparate data supports this hypothesis:

  • I have some patients, teenagers, 20 somethings, who spend almost every waking hour in front of one or two or even three screens, absorbing Youtube Videos, Reality TV shows, and gaming. Some sleep at random times, and bathroom breaks and grabbing some food from the refrigerator are minimal, random, and treated as an interruption.
  • Some years ago mental health professionals were so influenced by film and television that “multiple personality disorder” migrated from being a theatrical device to a real syndrome.
  • One teenager I have seen told me she did not identify as specifically male or female. And then she went on to tell me that in fact she did not identify as human.

Two hundred years ago the average person lived within and experienced reality for 99% of his or her waking hours. Perhaps he or she listened to a storyteller once per week.

Books do transport us to imaginary places populated with imaginary people, but to make a book come alive, the writing must be clear and we must use our own imagination to visualize the pirate ship, the colony on Mars, the monster in the swamp. The boundaries between literary fiction and the reader’s reality remain reasonably intact at all times. At least after grade 6.

Perhaps our ancestors in the 18th and 19th century were transported to fictional experiences as often as once per week at a theater, and once per week at a church. But no more than that.

With radio in the 20th century this transportation increased, and the power of it is evident in the consequences of Orson Welles’ broadcast of War of the Worlds.

Still, absorption into a fictional universe occurred, at most, and for most, a few hours per week.

Then came television, and we couch potatoes expanded that to perhaps 20 hours per week.

And now new media, smart phones, tablets, internet, plus television and film, and a whole generation has grown up with their waking hours being divided evenly between a virtual reality (fiction and spectacle and gaming), and reality, and for some the balance has made a profound tilt toward fiction and virtual reality.

So I am wondering if Donald Trump owes his current success to a demographic that can no longer make, can no longer see clearly, the distinction between entertainment and reality, between spectacle and thought, between the absence of real consequences to bad ideas and decisions in virtual reality and the tragedies that bad decisions cause in the real world.

The proposed high wall between the US and Mexico may be a specific symptom of this confluence of reality and virtual reality. In a computer game such a wall can be built quickly and easily, the cost assigned to one’s opponents. It fulfills its purpose or not. It is breached or not. It can be torn down as easily as it was put up. Even if we go bankrupt and our warrior is killed, we simply push the reset button. That ain’t reality.

Donald Trump is a spectacle, a fiction, a celebrity. He is entertaining. He appeals to the petulant child in all of us. We don’t worry about the consequences of his leadership, his stupid statements, his endless lies, because this is just a TV show, a Youtube video, a game. He is a harmless Avatar, and a guilty pleasure. Vicariously we can be The Donald for a while, enjoying his billions, his jets, his mansions, his trophy wife, his freedom to say whatever comes to mind, his freedom from guilt, from anxiety, from empathy. We needn’t think about the real consequences of his candidacy because the season isn’t over yet. And it is just a game show after all.

Charter Challenge To B.C. Mental Health Act Is Misguided

By Marvin Ross

Two B.C. patients have just launched a Charter challenge to the province’s Mental Health Act. The last challenge to a Mental Health Act that I am aware of was in Ontario where expanded civil commitment rules and the provisions of Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) were challenged. That was unsuccessful. A CTO is an order mandating treatment in the community.

The case in B.C. is a bit unusual in that it opposes provisions in the B.C. Act that are unique in Canada. The two plaintiffs are opposed to the rules that allow a detained individual to receive treatment without consent. The concept of the Act is that if you need to be detained because you pose a danger to yourself and/or others yet lack the capacity to seek voluntary treatment, then you should also be treated as soon as you are detained. That provision is one that makes the Act in B.C., in my opinion, superior to other jurisdictions.

The claim suggests that this forced treatment violates a person’s rights and that the person being committed should be able to help decide on the treatment they wish to have. However, involuntary committal only occurs when someone with a mental illness poses a danger and refuses to accept treatment according to the guide to the Act. (P11). If they recognized they needed treatment and accepted it, they would not be detained.

The plaintiffs argue that with physical illnesses, patients are allowed to make bad health care decisions, which are denied to psychiatric patients. But — and they acknowledge this — if someone is taken to the emergency injured and unconscious, it is appropriate that they be treated. When someone’s brain is so injured and incapacitated by their mental illness, they can be considered to be in the same situation as someone unconscious from a physical trauma. It may take them longer through treatment to reach a level of consciousness where they can participate in their treatment options but providing that treatment is analogous to treating the unconscious victim.

Many will likely disagree with my statement above but B.C. civil libertarian, Herschel Hardin, writing in the Vancouver Sun in 1993, gave an excellent explanation of that when he said, “Here is the Kafkaesque irony: Far from respecting civil liberties, legal obstacles to treatment limit or destroy the liberty of the person.”

He went on to say:

The opposition to involuntary committal and treatment betrays a profound misunderstanding of the principle of civil liberties. Medication can free victims from their illness – free them from the Bastille of their psychoses – and restore their dignity, their free will and the meaningful exercise of their liberties.

Ontario is a good example of the downside of committing someone involuntarily because they pose a risk of danger to themselves and then allowing them to refuse the treatment that is deemed necessary. This issue was discussed in a 2008 article in the Canadian Bar Review called Treatment Delayed – Liberty Denied . The authors demonstrate that attempts to safeguard autonomy by allowing involuntary patients to then refuse treatment has the opposite effect. It: “often results in subjecting them to prolonged detention, mental anguish, physical and chemical restraint, and solitary confinement.”

The most famous Ontario case is that of Professor Starson as he called himself as he believed he was a son of the stars (starson) and a professor. In 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld his right to refuse treatment that had been proposed in 1998 (P 680 in Bar Review Article). After that decision, Starson’s delusion led him to refuse to either eat or drink for fear that his imaginary son would be tortured. By 2005, his health had deteriorated to such an extent that, fearing death, his doctors appealed to the Consent and Capacity Board who ruled that he could be treated. He began on the anti-psychotic medication that he was offered in 1998 and he improved dramatically. He lost seven years of his life as the result of his refusal to accept treatment [P 680-681 in article].

Three other patients like Starson were incarcerated from 5 1/2 years to over 10 with long stretches in solitary until they became so ill without treatment that they had to be treated to prevent death [P 713]. As with Starson, the three of them improved dramatically once they began treatment. One person who continued to refuse, Paul Conway, has been locked up for 25 years and, without treatment, he is unlikely to ever be discharged P 714].

The choice is agreeing to treatment when voluntary or putting up with it when involuntary and getting better in both instances versus being locked up indefinitely. I think the rational decision is treatment.

And, it should also be pointed out that there are protections for the involuntary patient at every step of the procedure. Those opposed to involuntary treatment imply by omission that once someone is locked up they remain so and lose all their rights. That is not the case in any jurisdiction.

Section 7.1 of the B.C. Guide lays out all the rights that the involuntary patient has upon being hospitalized. These range from the right to consult with a lawyer or advocate, the right to a second medical opinion, to a hearing by a review board, regular reviews of the committal orders and the right to apply for habeus corpus.

Involuntary committal and treatment is not something that is taken lightly by anyone or used frivolously but is only done in extreme circumstances in the best interests of the patient.

The Excited States of America

By Dr David Laing Dawson

I am of an age when I might sit on the back porch and grouse about the sorry state of the world. Either that or stop watching the news. Two items disturbed me last night. They were two rather inconsequential items amidst the horrors of the Fentanyl epidemic, the disaster of Aleppo, and a Canadian company selling war machines to South Sudan. But these two items spoke of a mind set more far reaching in its possibilities than the others.

The first was the CNN report of the Iranian warning to a US plane. I listened to the warning. It was standard fare. A radar ground crewman warning a war plane that it was currently in international air space but drifting toward Iranian air space and if it entered it would be “targeted”. An Iranian radar guy doing his job.

But then we have Wolf Blitzer announcing in that voice of his that I suspect could not order a cup of coffee without it sounding like Armageddon is the next customer in line, and then commentary by experts and generals and an old CIA guy. Wow. I could hear the war drums, the pounding of chests, the sirens in the missile silos.

I hope this is a matter of ratings, of audience appeal, the need to grip the audience with drama and threat and suspense. I hope the American ego is not that fragile. For if it is, and if Donald is commander-in-chief, a raised middle finger could trigger a nuclear disaster.

The second item was our Peter Mansbridge interviewing a debating expert from one of our Universities. I have no doubt there is technique involved in a good debate. And I am sure technique is everything in one of those sporting debates with an audience of students and profs scoring the event.

But the examples used were clips from the Lauer interviews of Trump and Clinton. The clip of Trump had him first stating a lie, then quickly following this with two simple truths, and then diverting to an attack on Obama. The expert pointed out the form of this technique and rated it a good one that she herself has used a couple of times. Start with a lie but cover it quickly with a two indisputable truths. Mansbridge did not question this.

The boundary between entertainment and reality has disintegrated. This is a candidate for President of the United States lying, not a clever sophomore convincing us that angels do dance on the head of pins. Not a reality TV show where the only stakes are ratings and advertising dollars.

I would actually like to believe that when Trump lies it is a clever strategy he is employing. Unfortunately I think it comes naturally to him, easily, just as it does to a child.

Follow Up Donald Trump and the Nature of Thought

By Dr David Laing Dawson

My Monday blog may have leapt too quickly from pondering on the nature of thought to Donald Trump. Let me try to clarify.

This is a unique situation. We have a candidate for the highest office in the land who has no track record in public service, elected office or governance. We cannot look at his record of speeches, policies, and voting to make any decision about how he might continue to perform, what his core values are, how he thinks about issues both large and small. We do not have a record of principles and problem solving to consider – at least not outside his reality TV personae, and the wild west of High Finance.

We can only look at what he says and how he says it now, during this election season. As everyone points out what he says is entirely inconsistent when substantive, often outrageous, sometimes simply untrue. Only his hollow slogans are consistent: “Make America Great Again”.

So we need to ask, “How does he think? Does he have a keen penetrating mind? Can he ponder the evidence, consider long term outcome, consider consequences to people other than himself? Can he dispassionately apply deductive reasoning to the questions that will confront him. Can he look beyond his very human emotional reactions to slurs, to impasses, to challenges, to disappointments and to sycophantic praise?”

Now I must admit I think we are all a little limited in this attribute. Hence the first half of Monday’s missive. What usually follows the phrase “I think…” is a rationalization. Much of what we think and say is really a defense of what we did or said yesterday or of a rigid belief we happen to hold.

Seldom do any of us apply that other kind of thought to an issue: look at the evidence with an open mind, apply logic and reasoning, consider the short and long term consequences to ourselves and others, and formulate a sensitive and considerate answer.

But that is the kind of thinking I want our leaders to have, especially those who may be called upon to make momentous decisions. We can only see evidence of this through our candidates’ track records or implied by their off-the-teleprompter speech.

And I see no evidence of this kind of thinking in Donald Trump’s speech pattern – in his off-the-cuff speech. In fact I see only the rationalizations, evasions, repetitions, accusations, partial sentences of a 14 year old boy with ADD. (or a ten year old without ADD)

I used the pronoun ‘we’ in this essay though I am Canadian and do not get to vote. Like it or not we are all affected by some of the decisions made in the White House. We are all affected by how well the President of the United States comports him or herself at home and abroad.

Especially with the darkening clouds of CO2 emissions, refugees from war and famine, and unrest from inequality and deprivation looming on the horizon. We need a President who will put some real thought into these matters, who will listen to experts, and consider the long term consequences of any decision he or she may be called to make.

We need a President who understands it is not wise to either taunt or cozy up to a bear. We need a President who knows something of the history of Walls. We need a President who relies not on economic theory but on the evidence of what has worked for all in the past in some countries and states and what is working now. We need a President who genuinely understands the increasing importance of a very good public education system. We need a President who won’t bankrupt the country or blow it up.