Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Was J.F.K a Dope Fiend?

Slowly, historians extract bits of information about major figures, and the past acquires more and more context and texture. Now we hear about how:
Racked with pain, President John F. Kennedy turned to a cornucopia of drugs - including painkillers, stimulants and anti-anxiety pills, his secret medical records reveal. Historian Robert Dallek got unprecedented access to documents from the last eight years of JFK's life for his upcoming biography, "An Unfinished Life." He found that at various times Kennedy took codeine, Demerol and methadone for pain, the stimulant Ritalin and anti-anxiety drugs meprobamate and Librium
Some may be sanguine about this, but today, anyone who is on uppers, downers, and tranks, all on the same day, is considered a "dope fiend," a term of art meaning someone with a very significant substance abuse problem. Barbiturates and methadone, in particular, have come under federal regulations over the last few decades that would put anyone who is being prescribed such a pharmacological regimen under Drug Enforcement Administration scrutiny. A single doctor prescribing these three substances to a single patient today would very likely lose his license.

Now, personally, I think that these government regulatiuons over cognitive freedom are obscenely intrusive and unconstitutional, but I wouldn't hire a person taking this melange of dangerous and addictive substances to manage my mail room, let alone to a position where his judgement would make a difference to the profitability and survival of my company. Now I can understand why JFK played russian roulette with all of our lives in his handling of the Russian missile threat in Cuba. The Testosterone alone is nototious for its psychotomimetic properties, causing a condition called in the vernacular as "'roid rage'" meaning a certain volatility of behavior. Add to that uppers in the morning, tranks in the evening, seconal at night, and methadone all day and his substance abuse really explains a lot. To me at least.