Thursday, May 7, 2015

Latest From Lawrence F. Gold Spotlights Extremely Important Research Activities in Today's World!

Lawrence W. Gold, M.D.
Biography: I was born in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, moved to Queens, and then, as New Yorkers say, my family ascended to the Island. After graduating from Valley Stream Central High School, I went to Adelphi, a college then, a university now, and then to medical school in Chicago. The war in Vietnam interrupted my postgraduate medical training with a year in Colorado Springs and another as a Battalion Surgeon in Vietnam. I spent seven months in the Central Highlands with the 4th Infantry and five months in an evacuation hospital in Long Binh outside Saigon where I ran the emergency room. I returned intact in 1968 to complete my training in internal medicine and diseases of the kidney, nephrology. I worked for twenty-three years in Berkeley, California in a hospital-based practice caring for patients with complicated illnesses often in ICU, and served as Chief of Internal Medicine and Family Practice. For many years, I was an active member of the quality assurance committee. Circumstances permitted my wife, Dorlis, and me to retire in October 1995. Before fate could intervene, we tossed off the dock lines, and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge for a life at sea in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Four years later, exhausted from repairing everything on board, (often many times) we sold the sailboat and within a year took the lazy man’s out; we bought a Nordic Tug trawler. We motored around Florida, the Bahamas, and the entire East Coast and completed two ‘circle trips’ to Canada and back, eight months, the first time, five months, the second. I’ve written eight novels, five in he Brier Hospital Series, and one non-fiction book, I Love My Doctor, But…, a lighthearted look at the patient/doctor relationship. I recently published my ninth novel, A Simple Cure, about the search for the cure of the most deadly skin cancer, malignant melanoma. I write primarily to entertain, but I can’t help but pass on to readers observations and beliefs culled from years of practice, and yes, my biases, too. I strive for realism in portraying the medical scene which is gripping enough without melodrama or gimmicks. With even a minor degree of success in writing novels, comes responsibility to readers. I attempt to produce honest material that reflects my beliefs. Exposing these beliefs to the public through my writing requires courage, stupidity, or both. My fans have been generous, and although nobody enjoys criticism, I’ve learned much from that, too. The novel that expresses most clearly my candor, and my bias, is For the Love of God. The novel reflects my attitudes toward those who are willing to sacrifice the lives of their children for their personal religious beliefs. We live in beautiful Grass Valley with 15 1/2 year old Mike, a terrier mix and Bennie, an 8 year old Yorkie who just looks like he’s on steroids.

[I've rearranged my normal format today because I wanted to use the Author's Note at the beginning on the book. I, of course, read it as the first page; but it was no until I finished the book that I really understood it. Let me know if you do better. LOL...]

State of Mind:
Brier Hospital Series

By Lawrence W. Gold, M.D.

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding...--Albert Camus

Going through job burnout, which is medically defined under clinical depression, never prepared me for realizing or understanding what had really happened to my brain in relation to emotional health. I have come to recognize that I have changed, and, to some extent, will live with what the job did to me for the rest of my life. Thus I was quite interested in the latest book out by Dr. Gold, State of Mind. Here's what he says to the reader on the first page...

Author's Note
While we have made substantial progress against a whole range of medical problems, why do psychiatric and behavioral ones remain so difficult? Depression, schizophrenia, psychopathy, criminality, and the mundane emotional problems of living seem largely beyond our control.
Treating medical problems, except in extraordinary circumstances, avoids moral complexities while attempts at controlling neuropsychiatric disorders are fraught with ethical pitfalls. The newest technology, transcranial stimulation of the brain by electricity, magnets or ultrasound may prove to be effective tools, but they create the next level of ethical dilemmas in medicine.
Procedures on the brain go back to the late 1800s, but they made their major impact in the 40s, 50s and 60s with a psychosurgical procedure known as frontal lobotomy. While that's frightening by today's standards, in 1949 Antonio Egas Monitz shared the Novel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for the discovery of the therapeutic value of frontal lobotomy in certain psychosis.
Today, we have the ability to perform such surgery without the mess created by the scalpel, the ice pick, or the bone saw.
While I believe that these new procedures offer humanity great hope for dealing with intractable medical problems such as depression, Parkinson's disease, PTSD, and others, I'm not as hopeful about our ability to use these powers wisely.
Good intentions, even humanitarian ones, are not enough as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb said, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

This is my fourth novel by Dr. Gold--I became a fan after spending a weekend with him reading, Tortured Memory, For The Love of God, and Rage. His latest novel is quite different for the reader--it reads more like a drama until the last explosive ending. Of course, the reason is that the novel moves into the realm of research--a detailed, slow process, based upon a scientific methodology that assures every concern is addressed before proceeding to the next step and, then, perhaps acceptance. 

Transcranial magnetic stimulation
But this breakthrough, once discovered, soon caught the wind and word spread, especially to those who were greatly in need, whether it was only in trial mode or not... The idea was to consider noninvasive ways to treat the brain...

As routine, testing was first done on animals and had to go through various stages of approval before it could even be considered for human testing, but who to test? Let's face it, the logical group was prisoners who had already exhibited the types of problems that were being studied! Thus, the prologue, set in 2014, has the main research investigator, Dr. Kimberly Powell and her supervisor, Dr. David Cohen, heading for Guantanamo Bay... (A married couple also later added greatly to the book as forensics psychiatry experts who worked to help prepare legal representatives and others for presenting cases/issues within the courtroom environment.)

Suddenly, Penny broke the soft restraints and he was
free. He pushed Bernie to the floor and wrapped his
hairy arm around Kim's throat. The room resounced
with a coarse buzzing alarm as she struggled for
One of the other volunteers entered the room and
approached Sergeant Penny. "Hey, Johnny Boy--
take it easy. Don't hurt the doc--she's here to help us."
When the soldier got closer, Penny said, "Stop
before I break her neck."
Almost immediately they were told that "what the powers want you to see is the worst of the worst. Here, these violent detainees are the rule, not the exception." Not exactly a warm welcome to what would have already been a stressful situation...right?

But first we need to set up the main character Kimberly Powell... For you see, she had once faced one of those violent criminals face to face! He had fired the shots, several times, point blank, but was out of bullets--frustrated, he had run away. But she had already experienced the terror which turned to PTSD...

Kim smiled, "Do you want to search
me for hidden devices?"
"I'm a smart guy, Kim, but I don't
have a clue how to answer that one
without the risk of foot-in-mouth."
David also had a similar tale to tell! No wonder both had become passionate enough to train for and become experts in the field. David was a teaching assistant working at the neuropsychiatric level on the roots of aggression and violence...

Kim had earned her PhD in neuropsychology and turned out to be a strong guardian of ethics of their research, after some early uncomfortable situations with her supervisor when she spoke out quickly, initially too quickly expressing her concern about procedures and proposed methods. At first, you'll wonder about her; then as other professionals did, know that her concern was real, knowledgeable, and, most importantly, willing to take the responsibility of speaking out to ensure consideration of all issues... By the end of the book, I was proud of this gutsy lady! Remember Judging Amy? I thought of her as the personality developed for Kim...

The book includes several individual cases, accepted on a case-by-case basic, because of the particular medical diagnosis. Actually, there were many more requests from those diagnosed with the specific issues that could possibly be affected by this new process. Several were heartwarming successes, while I found the most interesting was one of the individuals in the prison environment. He was not only extremely and dangerously volatile; he was the "main man" within the prison. The application and testing on this man was successful! He had definitely been changed!

But in doing so, he lost his status and all the other inmates began trying to toss him from the top--he wound up in solitaire because he was forced to defend himself against those not yet treated! So much for improving the prison environment, huh?

DARPA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, plays a major, funding role, in the research and allows readers to consider the good and bad side of work sponsored by this Agency.

"DARPA scares me," Kim said. "I know they've done some fantastic things, but they're involved on the dark side as well, you know, surveillance, drones, and God knows what else."
"I know a bit about DARPA," Bernie drawled. "I almost went to work with the,. The military created it after the shock of the USSR's success with Sputnik. Their objective, back then and now, is to maintain a technological lead in all things military. They're big into high-tech weapon systems."
"What a waste," Kim said.
"Without DARPA, "Bernie said, "We'd have to close this lab and virtually every research lab across the country. Remember the Internet, GPS, and robotics, for example."
Kim sat down at her computer. "Let's go to YouTube." She typed in several names and said, "Have you seen the high-tech robots from Boston Dynamics, Big Dog and Petman? They're the stuff of science fiction nightmares?"

"They're tools, ma'am, don't tell me that a research scientist like yourself is a Luddite in disguise?"

One sad case, a sports player, was of a boy who was hurt during a football game, but had never returned to the boy who had been the heart of the family before being hurt...

This case moves us into the last part of the book as the boy's father, a judge, is doing everything possible to gets waivers and support to have his son be approved for treatment...

Don't let yourself get bogged down in the details of the research--it's important stuff for you to understand what is happening in this important update in research related to understanding aggression, and more... Our prisons are full; those on the outside wonder how do these people become psychopaths and murder as we see on each night's "breaking" news. Has the research on Transcranial magnetic stimulation become a cure for ridding the world of psychopaths?! If you are into medical drama/thrillers, read  Dr. Lawrence W. Gold's novels... Start with one of the four I've recommended here on my blog! Learn and enjoy from this medical expert!


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