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"this chattering-class version of Heat magazine"
March 15, 2009 12:55 AM   Subscribe

The novlist Julie Myerson has written a book, The Lost Child, about her son's addiction to cannabis, the violent behaviour she says this caused and her tough love policy. Extract. Her son is angry that she's published it, and says his parents over-reacted: "I wasn't doing anything that most other teenagers do, but such was their naive terror of drugs they were acting like six-year-olds". It comes out through MumsNet that Julie Myerson was the anonymous author of a Guardian column, "Living with Teenagers," which described her children's behaviour candidly without their knowledge. Extract. Myerson first denied this. The Guardian discusses whether it was right to publish the columns. Myerson is interviewed about whether she was right to publish The Lost Child. Her partner, and son's father, Jonathan Myerson supports her: This is an emergency. Her son says she's addicted to writing.

The tag line "this chattering-class version of Heat magazine" is from Libby Purves's comments. Many commentators consider Myerson was wrong to publish: Ian Jack in the Guardian, Tim Lott in the Independent, balanced by a positive review also in the Independent. The Daily Mail has dug up some more dirt from Myerson's sister. And here's an article by Myerson from 2001 about getting her son into the right school.
posted by paduasoy (160 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Addiction to cannabis". Heheh.. heh.. HAHAHA... BWAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

O, the tribulations of the privileged. Yet more proof that people with no real problems will find it necessary to invent them. Good on the kid for calling out his mother on her naive Reefer Madness-esque ridiculousness, and hopefully he can grow up normal despite having a mother who'll gladly exploit him.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:05 AM on March 15, 2009 [18 favorites]


I don't see what's so funny about an addiction to cannabis. My uncle has smoked dope every day for 35 years...how is that not addicted? Yes, he wants to stop but can't.

Having said that, this Julie Myerson person strikes me as an idiot who has overplayed her son's dopesmoking for profit.
posted by dydecker at 1:10 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


According to a newspaper I read yesterday (possibly the Times?), Myerson fessed up to her anonymous Guardian column in 2006.

As a matter of interest, hers is not the only 'slice-of-life with troublesome kids' column around. My local newspaper runs one where the heroic single mum narrator trudges through her son getting addicted / stealing / getting violent / thrown out of the house / reluctantly let back in before the cycle repeats. The Times has another in which the anonymous narrator details the other parents picking up school children alongside her. Lately she seems to have become embroiled in some amateur detective work, that involves her taking expenses and donning disguises.

While not doubting the reality of addiction and abuse, its not clear to me how real these are supposed to be. There's a whiff of convenient drama about it ("this week my son ...") and I wonder if we're just noticing a new literary sub-genre - the quasi-fictional autobiographical child-raising drama? - with Myerson at one end mining her family for details and utter fiction at the other. There's a long history of newspaper soaps, presented as diaries.
posted by outlier at 1:28 AM on March 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sorry, you're not gonna win this debate with me. It is possible to be psychologically dependent on marijuana. It is not possible to be addicted. "Addicted" means you can't stop doing it without debilitating withdrawal. "Addicted" means you'll pawn your mother's heirloom jewelry to get more. "Addicted" is the "filthiest toilet in Scotland" scene from Trainspotting. Anyone who has themselves been actually addicted to a substance or has been close to someone who has would find the idea of "cannabis addiction" absolutely ludicrous.

I am what you would call "polyaddictive", although I'm not dependent on anything now. If I allow myself to have access to something, I do it until it's gone and then try to get more. I was high on marijuana constantly for a little over a third of my life. One day about 3-4 years ago, I decided I didn't like it anymore and quit. Other things, things that are actually addictive, were not so easy to stop doing. The idea of "cannabis addiction" is born of ignorant drug hysteria and a desire to falsely justify its illegality.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:34 AM on March 15, 2009 [55 favorites]


Ugh. Sorry kid, your parents are narcissists. You're better off without them.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:37 AM on March 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dave's not here man.

Wait, what?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 1:49 AM on March 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


I came in prepared to hate the parents after reading the Daily Mail article, but then I read this:
She began writing the book partly because “it was a way of spending time with him”. And besides, she couldn’t help herself: “My writing comes from a place I don’t have total control over.”
As someone with literary inclinations, I can relate to that; Elizabeth Grove talks about it in a manner much better than I can ever do. What I don't understand though, and here's where my amateur-status plays a part, is publishing it; publishing a tract takes it to a different level.

Basically, if they'd 'packaged' this as her writing about her son is Myerson's way of dealing with her grief, it would have been cool. Instead, we have this public-service message that really doesn't add anything (notice that none of the articles talk about skunk at all), and has generated all these betrayal sagas.

I keep telling this to my (twenty-something) friends who've had problems with their parents, but part of becoming adult is understanding why our loved ones sometimes hurt us, and finding peace with ourselves for their actions. It is perhaps unlikely in the near short-term for the son now, but here's hoping he'll find it eventually, ideally without any more chemical influence.
posted by the cydonian at 1:54 AM on March 15, 2009


Boarding school fodder.
posted by ruelle at 1:57 AM on March 15, 2009


As Libby Purves noted "we have no uncontested version" of the events. Myerson's account might be true, false or in-between. In any event, the writing is a bad idea. It's escalating the conflict between parent and child, talking louder, a shouting to the world about how you are right and the other side wrong. It also staves out any sort of reconciliation. Where private disputes and faults - real or imagined - can be allowed to fade, to be forgotten or ignored, these charges are out in the world forever. They're in print, in newspapers, they're on other people's book shelves. They're an accusation for the ages.

Or, in summary: lady, did you really think this would help?
posted by outlier at 1:58 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing that strikes me is how casually violence is mentioned. Julie slaps Jake. Jake hits Julie. Jake and his dad punch each other. That's disgusting. You do not lay hands on your son, mother or father. These people have problems that go beyond drug use.
posted by mobunited at 2:03 AM on March 15, 2009 [16 favorites]


You'd think that journalists would understand the difference between correlation and causality and the problems associated with extrapolating from a sample size of one. Perhaps the fact that they can still get away with not understanding something so basic is why the print media is dying?

Jake seems like a smart, likeable kid. Parents seem like a pair of obnoxious attention whores who will sell anything and anybody's personal problems for cash money and an improvement to their lifestyle.

As aeschenkarnos said, he's better off without them.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:06 AM on March 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Perhaps the fact that they can still get away with not understanding something so basic is why the print media is dying?

They do understand it, they just don't care.
posted by fullerine at 2:16 AM on March 15, 2009


DecemberBoy, your mind sounds made up, but addiction is a lifestyle issue not just a medical one. In the case of my uncle, for example, who has been stoned for 35 years, it's of little importance that we can distinguish between "addictive" and "non-addictive" drugs according to a relatively unimportant issue like whether it causes withdrawal (and remember, withdrawal from class A's like meth or heroin only takes a day or two), the important issue, and the thing all drugs have in common including cannabis, is that when people take them long enough, they find it difficult to get through the day without them. And that's exactly the same issue, whether you're talking about heroin, coke, marijuana, or beer.
posted by dydecker at 2:20 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


No. People can die when they withdraw from alcohol. I've known people who're stoned all the time. When they stop they stop. They don't die. Arguing that marijuana is addictive like heroin or alcohol are addictive is just brain dead.
posted by rdr at 2:25 AM on March 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


DecemberBoy: "Sorry, you're not gonna win this debate with me. It is possible to be psychologically dependent on marijuana. It is not possible to be addicted. "Addicted" means you can't stop doing it without debilitating withdrawal. "

And black people can't be "racist". Your using such a narrow definition of addicted that it approaches jargon and it isn't supported by any of the online dictionaries (websters, Wikitionary, Chambers, Dictionary.com, American Heritage, Cambridge) I could find. They all have variations on a definition of "Being physically or psychologically dependent on something".

Undoubtedly I've done this wrong and languagehat will be along within moments to school me the _actual_ meaning of addicted. My point will still stand that the common internet definition of addicted isn't so narrow.
posted by Mitheral at 2:25 AM on March 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


His seeming inability to stick to any plan – our child who has always been so reliable, so easy to deal with, so very considerate and sensible. His complete inability to get to school on time. Followed by his inability to get to school.
Kids are such a pain when they become teenagers, amiright? Joking aside, after reading the whole thing, it seems it had very little to do with cannibus at all: weed was just the scapegoat for how their wonderful, perfect little boy grew up into a... stubborn teenager who decided to drop out of school to become an artist instead.

It's more than a little disturbing how quickly she starts to believe that he's so incredibly "addicted" and "violent" despite the fact all that happened were heated arguments. And given that his mother kicked him out of the house and cut him off financially at 17, along with practically making a career out of fictionalizing his life, his past anger seems pretty understandable.

The parents are the ones who need help here.
posted by tachikoma_robot at 2:26 AM on March 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


When they stop they stop. They don't die. Arguing that marijuana is addictive like heroin or alcohol are addictive is just brain dead.

Uh, heroin withdrawal doesn't kill you either.
posted by dydecker at 2:39 AM on March 15, 2009


There can be no greater security than knowing your child will spend those vital years in the environment of your choice. [...] So, anyone out there expecting their first baby, here's my advice. Forget the antenatal classes. All that breathing is only useful for a few hours; education is for ever. Bin the yoga books, hit WH Smith's, get yourself a test sheet, and start practising.

I am expecting my first child within the next few days, so maybe this is my last chance to feel so completely justified and honest in saying:

Fuck you lady. You are wrong. Your obsessive desire to get your kids to test well and get into the best schools is a selfish eructation of your own issues, not what's right for them.

Empirical evidence: you ended up kicking your own somewhat messed-up kid out of your house, then trying to turn it into some onanistic self-justifying journalism exercise. Your kid is not there to show the world how great YOU are - neither by satisfying you plans to get him to Oxford, nor by providing fodder for your febrile cautionary tales.

I know that I will soon be worrying about good schools and bad grades myself, fine. But I hope that my own life path helps me remember that the best and smartest and happiest people don't always test well or come from the top schools or care that much about their fucking grades, and that trying to force a child to be an overachieving vehicle for my own ambitions and issues is the surest way to make them unhappy with themselves, me, and the world.

The problems her child faces are generated by her own messed up view of what is important about being human and living a worthy enjoyable life. I only hope he is able to move beyond her damage radius and that when she realizes what she has done it does not destroy her.
posted by freebird at 2:41 AM on March 15, 2009 [31 favorites]


Your using such a narrow definition of addicted that it approaches jargon and it isn't supported by any of the online dictionaries.

Outside of the USA, people working in the field of substance misuse largely dropped the use of the term 'addicted' years ago. (Aside from those working in areas dominated by the quasi-religious 12 step modality who view addiction as a 'spiritual malaise' often unrelated to any substance use.)

The World Health Organisation hasn't used the term 'addiction' since the 1960's, preferring to use more precise terms such as drug misuse, physical dependence, etc.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:43 AM on March 15, 2009 [16 favorites]


The more I read of those articles, the angrier I get. Of all the ignorant suburban helicopter parents ... Goddamn the best thing that happened to that kid was moving out.
posted by Xany at 2:44 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Someone in this scenario was acting selfishly with a breathtakingly narcissistic disregard for the feelings of their loved ones, betraying the trust of the family, and lying about it for years.

Hint: it's not Jake
posted by taz at 2:44 AM on March 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Uh, heroin withdrawal doesn't kill you either.

Tell that to Jerry Garcia's family.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:45 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Parenting=FAIL
posted by hal_c_on at 2:46 AM on March 15, 2009


At almost midnight he bangs through the door, gripping the walls to steady himself. He doesn’t quite seem drunk. His face is grey. When he speaks his voice is strange. He makes no sense. ... His eyes look through me. A small stream of something comes out of his mouth. Not quite vomit. Green water.

I've smoked my share of weed, and I'm pretty confidant that this is fiction. Not once has weed turned my saliva green or my face grey.
posted by creasy boy at 2:49 AM on March 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


Also: "people who think heroin use and marijuana use are in the same category", I'd like you to meet "people who think marijuana cannot have destructive self-perpetuating impact on lives". I think you're going to get along awesomely. I'll be over here talking to "people who know something about the actual world".
posted by freebird at 3:06 AM on March 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


Tell that to Jerry Garcia's family.

Yeah, and sex killed Errol Flynn
posted by dydecker at 3:13 AM on March 15, 2009




At almost midnight he bangs through the door, gripping the walls to steady himself. He doesn’t quite seem drunk. His face is grey. When he speaks his voice is strange. He makes no sense. ... His eyes look through me. A small stream of something comes out of his mouth. Not quite vomit. Green water

The part that got left out is the mother's addiction to PCP.
posted by mannequito at 3:24 AM on March 15, 2009


creasy boy: It wouldn't surprise me if the eldest had been taking something else (Ketamine? LSD?) and it was just easier to tell his parents that it was (more) weed. They're dumb enough to believe the tales about "modern super strength weed" (which doesn't fall outside the normal range of strength measured in 70s vareities if Ben Goldacre is to be believed), so why not just spin them a line?

The Guardian message boards have been having a merry time with this stuff all week.
posted by pharm at 3:26 AM on March 15, 2009


It's more than a little disturbing how quickly she starts to believe that he's so incredibly "addicted" and "violent" despite the fact all that happened were heated arguments.

He hit her so hard she ended up in the ER with a busted eardrum. That's pretty hard.

If she's telling the truth in that excerpt then no way is the kid only smoking weed, he was in to much harder shit (especially considering how weak most of the weed is in London). If he's telling the truth and she's exaggerating, then the family has problems that go far, far beyond a bit of pot-smoking.

Either way they're all assholes. But I call BS on the kid, that interview he did was denial at its most classic. Countdown to the Daily Mail stories about how he sold heroin to 12 year old girls in thre, two, one days................
posted by fshgrl at 3:26 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


(especially considering how weak most of the weed is in London)

Actually, good point. If I was stuck with smoking British weed I might get violent too.
posted by mannequito at 3:29 AM on March 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


NB. As far as I'm concerned you can apply the same questions that are asked to determine addiction to alcohol: Alcohol addiction questionnaire. Physical addiction is a red herring: you don't have to be physically addicted to have a problem.
posted by pharm at 3:34 AM on March 15, 2009


Seriously, I gave my parents very little trouble as a terrible teen, other than minor smartmouthing, and figuring I knew it all... In fact, I would have appeared to be the one of the mysterious kids of "other parents" - one of the "clean, calm, reasonable, proto-adults who helped around the house, took an interest in current affairs and saved up money from their Saturday jobs to buy their own gig tickets, CDs and clothes". Except I worked a lot more than just Saturdays.

But I was smoking weed and cigarettes and going to bars, staying out all night, had a fake ID... the usual. The typical. But my parents had either the good sense or crazy optimism not to be overly inquisitive, suspicious, or terrified... even when I did some pretty wack stuff, like coming home still drunk at 9 a.m. (I looooovvvvve you guys, no, really, I really, really love you!) on the morning they were leaving for an out of town vacation, and friends losing joints under the lazee boy, etc.. I was a considerate and intelligent child, but incredibly willful and ready to go the last mile in matters of personal freedom - which rarely had to do with my parents. It was more usually the school I went up against, often with support from my parents. They weren't hippies, or wimps, or benighted doters, and certainly weren't the sort to spoil their kids, or put up with the least abuse. In thinking about it wonderingly in my older age, I still don't know how they were so instinctively right about how to handle me, but I respected them (and still do) tremendously. Given a mother like Myserson, I would have been at least as bad as Jake. At the very least.

fshgrl, I was shocked at that as well - but in his version, she kept slapping him first. Nobody will know how it really went down, but I can see his story as being at least as plausible, if not more, than hers.
posted by taz at 3:39 AM on March 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Teenagers turn in to such dicks when they become parents amirite?
posted by davemee at 3:48 AM on March 15, 2009


It wouldn't surprise me if the eldest had been taking something else (Ketamine? LSD?) and it was just easier to tell his parents that it was (more) weed.

Yeah, maybe he was on ketamine and eating sour-apple candy. That might explain green drool. Or it could a poor fantasy about what drug addiction looks like. I guess we'll never know.
posted by creasy boy at 3:51 AM on March 15, 2009


Mumsnet - By parents, for parents

The English Bourgeois (Media Division) wearing their prejudices on their sleeves, there. It's not as if dads are proper parents, anyway, is it?
posted by Grangousier at 3:53 AM on March 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Report on Newsnight, followed by Julie Myerson interviewed by Jeremy Paxman, who characteristically refuses to allow his guest to waffle and bullshit...

If she was so damned concerned about getting the word out about skunk, she could easily write an article or book about the problem as a whole, right? Not like cannabis hasn't been in the news much lately in Britain, what with the reclassification of the drug - she could have very easily argued to an editor about newsworthiness. Or hey, maybe interview parents of kids in a similar situation to hers in her paper? Or change the kids name and relationship to her?

Outlier - you're dead on. Aside from questions of honesty about the events in question (and their frequency), this whole "lifestyle confessional" kind of journalism seems to have become the 2000's version of the women's ghetto in the newsroom, away from hard journalism. In 1940, women wrote obits and society pages. These days, they moan endlessly about kids/partners/dating/families. A book like this is the next natural step for someone whose bread and butter is writing about personal drama, exaggerated for effect and column inches.

Private Eye's been joking around about Polly Filler for years now - maybe this woman's example will stop the tide for a bit.
posted by Grrlscout at 3:54 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


creasy boy: Yeah, it doesn't really matter. The WTF is the violence & the attitudes as far as I'm concerned.
posted by pharm at 4:15 AM on March 15, 2009


Sounds to me like the family problems have nothing at all to do with pot.

Considering her family history one wonders if there is some bipolar or some other mental issue going on. Her own father killed himself, after all.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:31 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


And that's exactly the same issue, whether you're talking about heroin, coke, marijuana, or beer.

That's ignorant. Your ,pardon me, wussy definition of addiction might as well include "addiction" to socks (omg they wear them EVERY DAY their whole liiife).
Next time someone starts vomiting and having a seizure when they try to take their socks off, I'll stop jabbing your opinion of what the word "addiction" really means.
posted by 5imian at 4:37 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This lady should know not to go slapping her teenage son around- unlike a little kid, he can actually do her some damage, and I wouldn't blame him either.
And the father admitted to starting a fistfight with his kid. I can't say I feel sorry for either of those parents.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:55 AM on March 15, 2009


two words... Jerry Springer
posted by HuronBob at 4:56 AM on March 15, 2009


That kid is too smart and the mom is too prissy and has too many teeth for Springer.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:56 AM on March 15, 2009


More like the chattering class version of Jeremy Kyle (... inspired by youtube comments, the gift that never stops giving)

I always thought Myerson was an idiot on Late Review and this kinda proves it

There's a good point by Alexander Chancellor on the Newsnight clip. The kid has now been publicly labeled a 'drug addict', tough shit if he wants to do something even vaguely conventional, like well get a normal job, somewhere down the line
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:59 AM on March 15, 2009


That's ignorant. Your ,pardon me, wussy definition of addiction might as well include "addiction" to socks

An irrelevant semantic argument. The point is not withdrawal symptoms. The point is: do you have a dependency on something to the extent that it is disruptive of your life?

We have no evidence that Jake Myerson has this dependency; the main thing his cannabis use seems to have disrupted is his mother's perfectionistic idealized notions of how she wanted her son to grow up, which is quite another matter. But denying that this kind of disruptive dependency can ever happen with cannabis is just silly.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:01 AM on March 15, 2009


If she's telling the truth in that excerpt then no way is the kid only smoking weed.

I disagree. This is a common phenomenon. Teenagers often go through a rebellious phase, during which they'll reject their parents goals and aspirations for them. The parents attribute the rebellion to the weed smoking, and insist the kids stop immediately. The kid is pretty sure that their weed smoking *isn't* a problem, it's less harmful than the booze and fags that their parents smoke, and so they refuse to stop. Parents then attribute the refusal to stop to addiction, and escalate their clamp-down, which then amplifies the rebellion. Cue increasing conflict and further amplification until the kid gets chucked out of the house, or packed off to boot camp, or the kid simply fucks off of their own voilition rather than live with a pair of controlling anal killjoys.

It's a pattern that's been fairly common since the 1960's, long before the existance of strains of extra-strong Nederweed. It was certainly characteristic of my own relationship with my parents.

What's peculiar to me is how so few otherwise seemingly sensible people seem to recognize it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:09 AM on March 15, 2009 [16 favorites]


An irrelevant semantic argument.

No, she/he is the one with the irrelevant semantic argument. Their argument is that if you do it every day for 35 years its an addiction. I mean, how many things in your life do oyu do every day? Brush your teeth? Shower?

And disruptive? Semantically vague. Am i addicted to showers? They "disrupt" my life every morning. I "feel bad" and have "shower withdrawal" if i don't do it. Is it like heroin? I mean, lets be honest ... is Pot even like Alcohol?

I am not dismissing "psychological" addiction as a component to addiction...but in one, ignorant breath heroin and marijuana was LUMPED into the same category. Like, as if it was "all the same". Dude, seriously. its not. Ask a heroin addict.

Newsflash: Not all drugs are created equal. Caffiene != Heroin.
posted by 5imian at 5:11 AM on March 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


He hit her so hard she ended up in the ER with a busted eardrum. That's pretty hard.

In the kid's defence, she *was* repeatedly slapping him in the face at the time, thereby provoking this retaliation. It's kind of easy to lash out in an attempt to stop somebody repeatedly slapping you in the face. If you happen to catch somebody wrong when you do lash out, a black eye, a burst eardrum or a broken nose may easily result.

If you repeatedly poke a young dog with a stick, you can't really complain when it bites you and draws blood.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:16 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's hoping the kid is working on his own Mommie Dearest. It should start with, "My mother always felt that if there were no crisis immediately at hand, it should be necessary to invent one ..."
posted by adipocere at 5:21 AM on March 15, 2009


If you repeatedly poke a young dog with a stick, you can't really complain when it bites you and draws blood.
When I was about 15 or 16 my mom and I got in an argument (something about my dirty friends, I think) and she ran at me and started punching. Not that I'm happy it happened, but I socked her so hard that she never hit me again.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:24 AM on March 15, 2009


Damn, it's hard being a teen. It's hard on the rest of the family, too. When my younger brother hit puberty, he had more to deal with than most, and the impact it had on our family was a challenge for all of us, my parents particularly. Luckily, drugs weren't involved, but the tension of the ever-present threat of violence is something I recall keenly.

It wasn't easy, but my folks did the right thing. They took a leap of faith, hunted around for the right psychiatrist, a specialist in the treatment of delinquency and a very decent, sympathetic man, to guide us through our turmoil. It was a painful and difficult process, but we came through it. We were very, very lucky.

I can't help thinking that drugs are not the only issue in this train-wreck of a family. Yes, I'm willing to believe that Jake likes his puff a bit too much, but hell, he's an aspiring musician, he's feeding the muse, and making art is sometimes like that. But I try to imagine what damage it would have done to my own family if, instead of facing up to the situation, either one of my parents had started writing about what we were going through, and then lied to us about what was happening. I look at Ms Myerson fulminating on Newsnight, and I think: the lady doth protest too much.

So the only conclusion I can draw here is this: if the Myersons had dealt with their crisis in a more responsible and understanding fashion, instead of writing about it, they might all still be together. And I don't think it helps the debate on cannabis legislation one jot to see these self-indulgent people trying to shift the blame for their failure of parents, putting their own ambitions before their son's welfare, instead of supporting him in the choices he's made.

And in case you're wondering, my brother is doing fine these days. Just fine.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 5:26 AM on March 15, 2009


5imian, you seem to be making a distinction between two categories of drugs: there are the nasty addictive ones that the "drug addicts" take, and the non-addictive benign ones like pot which non drug addicts can enjoy too, even for years and years, and not have to worry about too much about negative consequences because it's a doddle to give up, right?

The emphasis is wrong here. It's not the giving up at the end that is the important part; it's the harm the drug causes when you take it that should be emphasised. And no, all drugs are not created equal, or are equally dangerous, but all of them are dangerous to some extent, and those dangers should be acknowledged in the dialogue rather than a blanket distinction between "this drug is fine" and "one puff of that and you're an addict".

Like Peter said upthread, the "addiction" thing is way way overstated, and it seems to be used to demonise people (as this woman uses the label with her son) in society rather than say much about the reality of people's myriad behaviors with illicit substances.
posted by dydecker at 5:55 AM on March 15, 2009


Look, I wouldn't want any of my kids smoking dope, but I do know that back in my stupid days when I inhaled that all it did was make me mellow and a bit stupid. NOT violent.

If, as he said, he was suffering from severe insomnia as a young teen, I can see this as selfmedicating behavior. How very selfish of his mom to write about this. Particularly without his permission!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:59 AM on March 15, 2009


@dydecker

You seem to have backed off a bit, because your last post is a bit more agreeable. The thing i took issue with was with you lumping pot with heroin, really in almost any sense. Its done by way too many people who want to make the point that "all drugs are dangerous and therefore the same", when in reality there is a great great degree of variation between them.

I mean, the fact your uncle could even smoke pot for 35 years, without any MAJOR, fundamental health issues is my point. Heroin? Average lifespan, as told to me by a doctor, is about 5 years. You fucking die.

The thing you lumped pot with in this sentence:

"the important issue, and the thing all drugs have in common including cannabis, is that when people take them long enough, they find it difficult to get through the day without them. And that's exactly the same issue, whether you're talking about heroin, coke, marijuana, or beer.

See? thats not true. Maybe some cannabis users. I know plenty of "weekend smokers". They've been that for a very very long time. They hold jobs and function quite well in society. How can you even put this on the same plane as heroin on any level? When you take heroin its more than just fucking "hard to get through the day". Its hard to get through he day times a hundred million thousand billion. Its not AT ALL the same.

I mean, you can easily vilify caffeine by your logic. How many people drink coffee every day? Hwo many people drink it to wake up? I mean, if anything that's a fairer comparison. You can even be "physically addicted" to caffiene... that is you'll get a headache when you try to stop (note. that's more than pot does). Think of how silly this would sound if the mother was stating that her son was drinking "caffiene" every day. We wouldn't even bat an eyelash.

Tha'ts why people are LAUGHING at the "addicted to pot" thing. You can obviously be addicted to anything, even socks... but when we talk about addiction in the context of drugs, we typically refer to physical as well as psychological addiction. Addicted to pot? What? Please clarify. And yes, to people who know better its like saying addicted to coffee as a "serious problem".

And for the record, (because i KNOW you're thinking it) I don't smoke pot , i just grew up around a family of doctors. (but i do drink mountain dew....a lot.... eek!)
posted by 5imian at 6:14 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I couldn't help but hear Cynthia Purley's voice in my head reading these articles. "Please, dear - I only want you to be happy!"
posted by koeselitz at 6:16 AM on March 15, 2009


Note as per my previous post I am seeing evidence that many sources say heroin will simply "reduce your lifespan by 10-15 years", but regardless, and MD gave me the figure of 5 years.

Why the discalimer?
Because this is metafiiiiltaaaaaah you fact checking bastards :)
posted by 5imian at 6:28 AM on March 15, 2009


5imian: Like to give a reference for that lifespan figure? Becuase personally I think it's bunk.

Which is not to say that heroin addicts don't generally have a much shorter lifespan than average: they clearly do. However, that has more to do with the low-quality of the heroin available on the street, combined with the environment the average heroin addict lives in than the heroin itself. Heroin addicts who can secure access to a high quality supply can take heroin for decades without serious side effects. (Ask your Doctor friend about the addiction rates in the medical community sometime.) The only real direct side effect of heroin abuse is physical addiction. The knock-on effects of that addiction can be serious of course, but it's a misrepresentation to blame those on the heroin itself.

Regardless, all this splitting hairs over whether something is really "addictive" or not is irrelevant: what matters is the harm caused. If you need to light up before doing anything else when you get up in the morning, and it affects the rest of your life in negative ways, then you have a problem, whatever label one chooses to put on it.
posted by pharm at 6:33 AM on March 15, 2009


(Crossed in the ether). Oh, yeah: I'm a fact checking bastard and proud of it :)
posted by pharm at 6:34 AM on March 15, 2009


pharm, i beat you to it.

And secondly, I already gave you the reference to the original figure. A doctor told me. I posted AGAIN before you because i knew one of you wouldn't believe me. The post has a reference.
posted by 5imian at 6:34 AM on March 15, 2009


Oh, yeah: I'm a fact checking bastard and proud of it :)

no really, me too. Really.
posted by 5imian at 6:36 AM on March 15, 2009


also, your post on drugs is

eponysterical.
posted by 5imian at 6:39 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


5imian, your link states that the "average lifespan of heroin users is 10-15 less than the general population". This is because of overdoses. Heroin itself doesn't have particularly bad side-effects on your health, unlike say methamphetamine or alcohol. If you were rich enough, and heroin was legal, you could probably live perfectly happily on it.

Anyway, this conversation is too much about heroin. My point is simply that "addiction to cannabis", or "chronic uncontrolled cannabis use which is harmful to the user" if you prefer, exists, the existence of weekend smokers etc notwithstanding.
posted by dydecker at 6:39 AM on March 15, 2009


5imain: That's not a reference to an actual study with real data, that's an anecdote.
posted by pharm at 6:40 AM on March 15, 2009


5imian, your link states that the "average lifespan of heroin users is 10-15 less than the general population". This is because of overdoses.

duh. Heroin is one of the top two frequently reported drugs by medical examiners in drug abuse deaths. Are you downplaying heroin addiction to get a meager point across?

I think my exact words were "you fucking die". I'm just saying. Can pot kill you? Can you overdose?

"chronic uncontrolled cannabis use which is harmful to the user" if you prefer, exists, the existence of weekend smokers etc notwithstanding.


Right. Same with caffiene. Heck, moreso with caffiene. You're making a really weak point. Even if you DO know someone who really really truly addicted to cannabis, It has to be noted they are an exceptional case, and their addiction is on par with say, videogames. NOT FUCKING HEROIN.
posted by 5imian at 6:47 AM on March 15, 2009


This is because of overdoses.

It's actually due to a range of lifestyle related issues. Injecting transmits bloodborne viruses and introduces bacterial infections like endocarditis. Another major problem is deep vein thrombosis. Overdoses do cause very early deaths, but there are a whole range of other problems that reduce the lifespan of chronic heroin users.

Your basic point though, that it isn't the drug itself that causes a reduction in lifespan, is absolutely correct.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:48 AM on March 15, 2009


honestly.. this whole heroin discussion is a red herring... and one intruduced by dydecker my whole post was to intended DISPEL this red herring not inflate it.

i think my point stands. Lumping pots with heroin is silly.

In any case, i gotta go. To work. Bye.
posted by 5imian at 6:51 AM on March 15, 2009


metafilter: your favorite drug sucks and you're an addict to it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:57 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, you guys? The question about whether marijuana is addictive or not is kind of boring to me, has been addressed a million times in a million places, and is not why this post is interesting to me. Is there any chance we don't need to try to turn this thread into the ultimate showdown re "is cannabis addictive"?
posted by taz at 6:58 AM on March 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Righto, let's discuss how shallow the British media is then!
posted by dydecker at 7:00 AM on March 15, 2009


Oh, that's been done to death also. hmm
posted by dydecker at 7:01 AM on March 15, 2009


Lumping pots with heroin is silly.

I agree with you, but I'm not sure anyone was doing that. I think that dydecker was simply making the point that pharmacology is just one factor among many that determines dependence, and that's unarguably true.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:07 AM on March 15, 2009


she sounds like the poster girl for a psychological version of munchausen syndrome by proxy - she needs a shrink, badly
posted by pyramid termite at 7:09 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don’t want anyone to ask me how I am because I don’t know how I am. OK, I do. I have nothing in my mind except the deep black hole that is the loss of my child.

I'm just judging by the excerpt but for a story about her son, it seems rather focused on how the mother felt about it all; how it affected her, what she wanted, what she had to deal with. After her son's girlfriend has the abortion, the main point she makes is that she lost a grandchild. They let their son come back home at one point because, she explains, they can't be without him.

The only "whys" that come up in the excerpt are directed at her. Why is she getting involved in her son's girlfriend's pregnancy; why is she allowing her son to be homeless; and why "does it feel so traumatic to have someone accuse you of not loving your child enough."

It's like her son is a cardboard cut out of a pot head placed in various scenes to provide a sounding board for her various issues with being a parent.

Having said all that, if the account is accurate, the boy definitely had some kind of problem but how the parents dealt with it only made things worse. The parents were trying to make the boy solely responsible for the family strife and so everything was on him. He had to deal with his addiction, he had to sign the agreements, it was all his fault and the only way it can be fixed is if he does something about it. The mother almost gets it at one point when she mentions a friend who suggested Families Anonymous. Then it's never mentioned again.
posted by effwerd at 7:14 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nevertheless, what DecemberBoy says above: "The idea of "cannabis addiction" is born of ignorant drug hysteria and a desire to falsely justify its illegality" strikes me as a central issue here.

I just finished listening to a 2007 BBC documentary* about The Marijuana Industry in the UK, which was largely based on this concept. It featured determined yet human policemen taking down grow ops in "lovely" suburban neighbourhoods, and constant reference to this idea that marijuana is addictive and causes violent behaviour.

There's no doubt that this is an important emerging issue in Britain, but let's ignore the last 40 years of discussion and build our own consensus based on the largely discredited anti-drug propaganda of the past. (I'm leaving out the part where they blamed the bulk of the grow-op problem on Vietnamese immigrants...)

* Here's a link to one of the accompanying articles - I don't know if the audio I heard on mp3 is still available.
posted by sneebler at 7:15 AM on March 15, 2009


pharmacology is just one factor among many that determines dependence

Yes, one of many. But arguably the GREATEST factor.

but I'm not sure anyone was doing that (lumping pot with heroin)

This sentence sounded like it:

"the important issue, and the thing all drugs have in common including cannabis, is that when people take them long enough, they find it difficult to get through the day without them. And that's exactly the same issue, whether you're talking about heroin, coke, marijuana, or beer.

Dydecker backed off some, and i appreciate it, but yes. there was absolutely a "lumping" of heroin with pot, coke and beer.
and the reason was:

My uncle has smoked dope every day for 35 years...how is that not addicted? (basically it was hard for him to 'get through the day' without it)

And i am saying that pointing out commonality with having a "hard time getting through the day", while possibly true is very very misleading, and I am wary of any sentences like that. As i said, stopping a HARD drug is a lot more than having trouble "getting through the day".. to the extent that saying someone is is "addicted to pot" unless its a fringe case is a heck of a lot different than "addicted to coke". As many people who have been around real drug use on this board have pointed out, that is one of the major absurdities of Jake's mother. Unless sit is some exceptionally unusual case.. Jakes mother was writing a book on the equivalent of 'comic book addiction', in that while there is a strong case for psychological addiction, there is very little physiological addiction. And as a result her naive alarmism actually did MORE harm to her family than smoking 50 reefers a day.

Secondly, just because you do anything for 35 years is, in itself not a case for addiction. And certainly not addiction the same way that we typically refer to "drug" addiction. And like i said, by that same logic the phrase "I am addicted to showers" is totally true.
A semantic argument for a semantic argument, basically.

Ok i am REALLY leaving now. *tips hat*
posted by 5imian at 7:30 AM on March 15, 2009


Marijuana can indeed lead to dependency, but I don't know of any reliable science that links marijuana dependency to a greater inclination to violence; quite the contrary, in fact.

So yeah, reefer madness bullshit, and if she were my mom I'd tell her to fuck off too.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:43 AM on March 15, 2009


It featured determined yet human policemen taking down grow ops in "lovely" suburban neighbourhoods, and constant reference to this idea that marijuana is addictive and causes violent behaviour.

and yet, across the pond, americans are fearing that marijuana causes people to not want to do anything but lay around and get fat

it sounds to me like each society is projecting its fears onto its drug users
posted by pyramid termite at 7:51 AM on March 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, can we please acknowledge the existence of an addiction disorder spectrum and be done with it? It trivializes addiction to talk about it so simplistically. Physical and psychological dependence are not mutually exclusive; withdrawal symptomology is not determinative; long-term effects are very poorly understood; interactions between different substances are even more poorly understood over the long term. Addiction is not like pregnancy or cancer. It's a mental illness with physical symptoms, as well as a physical illness with mental symptoms. It's gradient and multi-factorial. Any serious addiction medicine specialist would start from this point so all the flame-throwing above is frankly silly.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:55 AM on March 15, 2009 [18 favorites]


Yes, one of many. But arguably the GREATEST factor.

Only to those who don't know the subject.

Cocaine doesn't produce physical dependence at all, and yet there are few people whose behaviour fits the stereotypical definition of 'the addict' than your average crackhead.

Similarly, when people with severe pain are given opioids, they rarely become dependent -- they rarely experience withdrawal symptoms. Most of them report not even liking the drug. If pharmacology was the key determinant, all these people would become drug-seeking opiate addicts and the fact is, they just don't.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:59 AM on March 15, 2009


no such thing as marijuana addiction?

it seems to be a commonly accepted term

frankly, some of the arguments that pot smokers can't be addicts sound to me like beer drinkers saying that beer can't make them alcoholics because it's not as "bad" as whiskey
posted by pyramid termite at 8:00 AM on March 15, 2009


Or what fourcheesemac more eloquently said...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:01 AM on March 15, 2009


*sigh*
posted by taz at 8:01 AM on March 15, 2009


Tell us what's on your mind, taz. What does this story mean to you?
posted by dydecker at 8:04 AM on March 15, 2009


There's a lot that's interesting about this, and I'd like to hear people discussing the post about the mom who spent years writing anonymously and secretly about her family life, and her son who disputes her version of events instead of a million back-and-forths about "is pot addictive?". If the post had been titled "Is Pot Addictive? The Experts Disagree" I wouldn't even have opened the thread.

So, yeah, basically, I'm bored.
posted by taz at 8:19 AM on March 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think the book was an extremely poor call on Myerson's part - but that most of you are being far too stupidly tough on her.

She has chronicled the failure of an outwardly secure, bright, solvent, middle-class family to navigate a shitty situation - it's too easy just to sneer.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:28 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


She has chronicled the failure of an outwardly secure, bright, solvent, middle-class family to navigate a shitty situation - it's too easy just to sneer.

if she'd put the energy she spent chronicling that failure into working on it, she might have found a solution - and we wouldn't know about it so we could sneer at it

i don't know if her son's a pot addict or not - but i know that she's a narcissist and an exhibitionist with no consideration for her own family - she deserves to be sneered at and shamed

maybe she'll get her head out of her ass and realize just how much she's screwed everything up with her selfish and destructive behavior
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is the first time on Metafilter I've seen everyone in a derailed thread completely stop, look at each other, and say, "Hey - let's talk about something else. What interests you?"

Fascinating.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:43 AM on March 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I always thought Myerson was an idiot on Late Review and this kinda proves it.

Likewise. I'd seen comment about this book a few days ago and thought, I recognise that name... Then saw her photo in this one, and reacted with 'I knew she was batshit!'

I'm nthing the comments about there being more wrong than just pot, be it lying kids doing worse things, or just the fact that she does seem like a narcissistic, self-involved fuckup of a violent parent. How she can get all upset about he son's violence when she admits being violent on numerous occasions...

Well, hopefully all the controversy will get them to stop having her on Late Review, 'cause she was always just stupid on that.
posted by opsin at 8:44 AM on March 15, 2009


Report on Newsnight, followed by Julie Myerson interviewed by Jeremy Paxman, who characteristically refuses to allow his guest to waffle and bullshit...

Hahaha, wow

"You seriously thought you could publish a book detailing your son's drug use, and his identity wouldn't get out?"

"Well...I may have been a bit naive about that..."
posted by voltairemodern at 8:51 AM on March 15, 2009


Love this quote on the MumsNet thread:
This whole thing has almost turned into a national version of an AIBU thread.

"My seventeen year old son smoked too much dope, used to come home at all hours, was abusive to me and my husband and came to Sunday dinner in his underpants so we threw him out of the house and let him survive on his own. Now I've written a book about him to put my side of the story. Am I being unreasonable?"
Sounds like a great answer to the "what's the best way to troll ask.mefi" thread :)
posted by pharm at 8:58 AM on March 15, 2009


i don't know if her son's a pot addict or not - but i know that she's a narcissist and an exhibitionist with no consideration for her own family - she deserves to be sneered at and shamed

With respect, pyramid termite, "sneering and shaming" are lousy responses to poor behavior.

And actually you haven't any idea whether she's a narcissist or exhibitionist.
It's a bit ironic to label people with derogatory clinical terms - while rolling your eyes at Myerson's diagnosis of pot addiction in her son's case.

(Btw, I am leery of the clinical concept of pot addiction too).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:06 AM on March 15, 2009


Yes, the interesting thing to me was the privacy stuff and her possible compulsion to write. Lots of journalists write about their children. At what point does it become invasive? At what point does a parent's apparently authoritative view of events become actively unhelpful to a child who's trying to create and own their own life story? And if you're a writer, putting stuff into words may be one of your main strategies for dealing with problems - should writers try to hold back on this and how can privileged story-telling be managed in families?

I've not got any answers, obviously, except that it does seem odd that no-one at the Gurdaian ever paused over the Living with Teenagers columns (which could be pretty nasty stuff) and came to the conclusion that they were unacceptable in terms of the children's lack of consent.
posted by paduasoy at 9:07 AM on March 15, 2009


If she's telling the truth in that excerpt then no way is the kid only smoking weed.

I disagree. This is a common phenomenon. Teenagers often go through a rebellious phase, during which they'll reject their parents goals and aspirations for them. The parents attribute the rebellion to the weed smoking, and insist the kids stop immediately...
I think the skepticism was to the grey face and the green semi-liquid (chyme) that was frothing at the kid's mouth. That to me seemed like either like something made up or as others have 'pointed out, ketamine, LSD, Angel Dust or whatever else the 'youts' are into now.

Re: Marijuana & addiction. Problem is the hysterical reaction to *any* marijuana smoking. For many, most people, marijuana might be like alcohol, use a lot when you party yuoung, hit your thirties and responsibility you use less. Just like most of us have a few beers or some wine every now and then, for some, alcohol gets you to your city's Skid Row, for those people, who might already have psychlogical problems, they can be psychologically dependent on cannabis. The issue is them, however, and not the demon weed. They might be good to totally stop the demon weed, and maybe other addictions, it isn't the weed. I was very very fat, lost lot of weight but still a bit paunchy. For the slim, apple pie is an occasional treat, not for us fatties. What is the problem, the pie or my relationship to it?
posted by xetere at 9:09 AM on March 15, 2009


"My seventeen year old son smoked too much dope, used to come home at all hours, was abusive to me and my husband and came to Sunday dinner in his underpants so we threw him out of the house and let him survive on his own. Now I've written a book about him to put my side of the story. Am I being unreasonable?"

DTMF YMMV.
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:10 AM on March 15, 2009


It's not the giving up at the end that is the important part; it's the harm the drug causes when you take it that should be emphasized.

That is true of all behaviours, regardless their root cause.

If you drink 10 cans of soda pop every day, it's causing real harm to your body and you should end your "addiction" to it. If you're compulsively browsing porn at work, wanking it under the desk, you need to recognize that your ass is going to be fired, and end your "addiction" to that behaviour. Etceteras.

Back to the monstrous mother now...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:13 AM on March 15, 2009


Regardless of your attitude toward the use of cannabis, anybody who exploits their offspring's problem for personal profit is a fucking asshole.
posted by kldickson at 9:13 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fuck man, I remember coming home in the morning as a teenager white in the face with puke on my clothes. I went and took a shower and my dad made me coffee and toast. No questions were asked.

The problem with this lady is that she's incredibly narcissist: everything's about her, her way, her rules. When her teenage son doesn't want to go with her plans (and admittedly does some dumb and illegal stuff) of course he's not going to back down. Because she wasn't willing to yield at all, it meant she just ended up escalating the conflict where she ended up calling the cops on her own kid (after the dad took swings at him- assault) and being cool with not supporting him and him being homeless- all because he doesn't fit in with her dream of how he'd turn out.

This kind of narcissism reminds me of my grandfather, who would snicker at all my dad's misfortunes, scoff at anyone who wasn't a scientist exactly like him, and was kind enough to let my dad live in the woodshed when he was 15.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:19 AM on March 15, 2009


paduasy: To me it seems odd that the Guardian didn't ever pause over the LWT column and wonder whether the mother had psychological problems. Apparently taking advantage of both her and her children by putting her nacissistic screeds in the public realm was too lucrative for them.

After something like the tenth time she recounted how she played the victim & gave in to her children's toddler-like demands, or lets one of them act in completely unacceptable ways to the younger children it becomes clear that this is not an ordinary household and that there were serious problems. At this point, I'd hope that I'd ask myself whether it was morally OK to continue to publish: However, from their own account, the Guardian editors appear to have been completely oblivious to the potential for harm, busily turning a blind eye to their own complicity in the whole sorry saga.
posted by pharm at 9:25 AM on March 15, 2009


I'm currently enrolled in a wanking-it-under-the-desk reduction programme. I anticipate being completely abstinent by about 2040.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:26 AM on March 15, 2009


I'm not really playing devil's advocate here - this mother sounds somewhat hysterical, and the wallowing shame is as grating as fuck all - but it strikes me that this kid is sort of an asshole. That might well be the parents' fault, but it seems like there's an unusual amount of bitterness there. All I know about the English family I learned from Mike Leigh movies, but it seems like English young people are a lot more likely to speak harshly to their parents. I'm not moralizing; it's only that in America, when kids hate their parents, it's "whatever" and they run off and do whatever the fuck they want. I think the intensity in this case probably has something to do with the fact that the mother's just so goddamned cloying - "I want to die"? Seriously? - and that makes an angry kid angrier.

That and the fact that English houses are like small caves.
posted by koeselitz at 9:30 AM on March 15, 2009


Wow what is going on in England, I was under the impression that attitudes towards cannabis were on the progressive side (I mean they even call it Cannabis) and that laws were changing. Is this just tabloid hysteria or is this whole "Skunk" demonization ("it's really really strong!") actually credible? I mean that stodgy hard-hitting interviewer even stated as fact, as an aside, that of course it causes permanent damage to the brain. I am going to be really shocked when America (or at least some states) becomes the first Western nation to decriminalize.
posted by kaspen at 10:03 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


As but a brief example of the actual science which founds the well established rational counter to this typical folly, it was recently discovered that marijuana actually promotes the growth of new brain cells.
posted by kaspen at 10:23 AM on March 15, 2009


With respect, pyramid termite, "sneering and shaming" are lousy responses to poor behavior.

she's polluting the public idea space with her self-absorbed hysterics - sneering and shaming is exactly what's needed to stop people from doing this - it's created a culture of corrupting shallowness and trite drama in which people are using people's baser instincts for entertainment and the media to get revenge on those they have grievances against

it's disgusting and loathsome and she needs to be encouraged to crawl back under her rock as soon as possible

And actually you haven't any idea whether she's a narcissist or exhibitionist.

if she wasn't, i wouldn't know about her problems, would i? - it seems as though many people agree with me

It's a bit ironic to label people with derogatory clinical terms - while rolling your eyes at Myerson's diagnosis of pot addiction in her son's case.

i used no clinical terms, such as narcissistic personality disorder - and i've decided not to say if he's a pot addict or not - it's not impossible he is
posted by pyramid termite at 10:37 AM on March 15, 2009


Heroin? Average lifespan, as told to me by a doctor, is about 5 years. You fucking die.

William Burroughs. Keith Richards. Art Pepper. Chet Baker. Anna Kavan. Anita O'Day. Each of these artists was addicted to heroin for 30 years or more. So, clearly there are some long-term heroin users out there. I'm not recommending heroin as a lifestyle, BTW, but it's not instant death. It's more like living death.

posted by ornate insect at 10:39 AM on March 15, 2009


Guys, I have something to tell you.

I'm addicted to marijuana.
posted by Bageena at 10:40 AM on March 15, 2009


Is this just tabloid hysteria or is this whole "Skunk" demonization ("it's really really strong!") actually credible?

This supposedly 'extra strong' skunk that our media and a handful of doctors are currently obsessed with is no stronger than the grass that's grown domestically in the USA.

It's exactly the same stuff.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:45 AM on March 15, 2009


My mother was rabidly anti-pot until the day she died. There's some irony there: while she'd berate my older sisters for smoking pot, and kicked my youngest sister out at age 17 for it, my mother lived the last five years of her life constantly soused by alcohol and drugged like a zombie on prescription downers. She also smoked two packs of unflitered Pall Malls per day. Hey, those were LEGAL, so that made them okie dokey. But they still killed her, especially the alcohol, when she was 47 years old and I was 12. I went a different route, little alcohol and no downers, but lots of pot, and now I'm almost as old as my mother was when she died, but vastly happier and healthier.

I've smoked pot since I was 15, off and on. Mostly on. I did quit for about 3 years once, and for several months many times. It was never a big deal, involving no particular physical symptoms. (Unlike, say, cigarettes.) That doesn't mean I stay stoned 99% of my conscious life; I do not. I usually relegate it to the evenings, relax with the woman, watch some cartoons, laugh some. Mainly, it helps me sleep better, has zero hangover-ish symptoms the next morning, and isn't addictive. I *far* prefer pot to alcohol, and I prefer eating it to smoking it.
posted by jamstigator at 11:03 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Guys, I have something to tell you.

I'm addicted to marijuana.


I guess I am too, in the sense that I find it harder to fall asleep at night if I haven't had some earlier in the evening. But that's about it, and I actually don't like to smoke in the day, mainly because I recognize that virtually all my productivity aside from house cleaning goes out the window.

The funny thing is the few people I know who really are addicted - as in, smoke multiple times a day, from morning until bedtime - are way more tolerable when they are high. They're some of the most energetic, amicable, intelligent people I know. Of course, if their sack is empty they become cranky bitches.
posted by mannequito at 11:17 AM on March 15, 2009


"I mean, the fact your uncle could even smoke pot for 35 years, without any MAJOR, fundamental health issues is my point. Heroin? Average lifespan, as told to me by a doctor, is about 5 years. You fucking die."

That's not right, either. A lot of junkies will make it 20 years or so and quit. It's usually not a well-spent 20 years, but that's about the average length of addiction to strong opioids if it plays out. It depends on a lot of circumstances, obviously. If you have a relatively clean supply and money, you are much more likely to pull through.

Meth will do someone in quickly, though. Coke, too.

A lot of people I know who smoke marijuana consistently are self-medicating to some extent, usually ADD, bi-polar, etc., and it's more to become functional or deal with symptoms. It's not as physically debilitating in the same way a lot of other drugs are, and for a lot of people it heightens their functioning, not impairs it. But it depends, and for some people sometimes you get some good effects but others make it hard to use it every day. I don't see anything wrong with it, but it helps to find what works, not just what sort of works, and sometimes marijuana by itself just sort of works. Sometimes that's good enough.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:04 PM on March 15, 2009


"The funny thing is the few people I know who really are addicted - as in, smoke multiple times a day, from morning until bedtime - are way more tolerable when they are high. They're some of the most energetic, amicable, intelligent people I know. Of course, if their sack is empty they become cranky bitches."

Chances are there's something else going on there. But some people can't function very well without Adderall.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:07 PM on March 15, 2009


Meth will do someone in quickly, though.

Possibly. There are also people who do meth multiple times per week for decades.

This is not to say meth isn't problematic. But drug hysteria benefits no one.
posted by Justinian at 12:14 PM on March 15, 2009


"Similarly, when people with severe pain are given opioids, they rarely become dependent -- they rarely experience withdrawal symptoms."

Well, they do if they have to take them a while. Anyone will become physically dependent on opioids if they take them long enough. That's why tapering is used when the drug is withdrawn - you don't just cut someone off cold turkey after having been on Demerol for six months straight. It doesn't mean the person is "addicted" in the sense we use it. Physical dependence is a medical issue with nearly all chronic pain management. Unfortunately, our DEA has been very ignorant about it and made the whole field of study more difficult for patients who have to live with it and their doctors.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:20 PM on March 15, 2009


"Possibly. There are also people who do meth multiple times per week for decades. "

That's true. I was going to mention medical uses, too. But it is easily abused. Doesn't mean there aren't legit uses or that people can be functional on it, although I don't find that to be typical of people I've known who've got caught up in street meth.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:22 PM on March 15, 2009


It's exactly the same stuff.

Well, ya, I know. You can smoke straight THC crystals, whatever, it's all the same thing, and it's all moderately harmless and arguably good for you. I'm from BC, I take this for granted. I was more trying to ask if this claptrap is considered credible in the British media, because from the reception I saw of this book, while everyone is rightfully criticizing the mother, no one seemed to be questioning her outrageous slander of cannabis itself.
posted by kaspen at 12:48 PM on March 15, 2009


For those of you who took the time to comment on my "5 year" comment, without reading the almost immediate follow up post where i corrected myself.

Thanks.

And yes a doctor (who was apparently wrong) did tell me that. Regardless, the only real thing i wanted a reader to take away from that was that it severely reduced your health/lifespan. Is that even debatable? 5 years is a little short. yes. The majority of long-term, hard-core drug addicts are dying in their 40s and 50s. The latest studies show that the life expectancy of a drug addict is 15 to 20 years after they start being a drug addict.

However. Its does reduce your lifespan. There are no 90-year-old heroin addicts. It degenerates your health. Withdrawals can be bad and even induce coma/ heart attack. There is a 90 percent failure rate of people trying to get off of it. You can overdose super easily. Its scary stuff. I was contrasting it with marijuana (if you read the full thread you'll see why) just to make a singular point, about how that kid's mom's drug hysteria might have been worse than his percieved 'addiction'.


Really, this whole heroin thing is beside the point and I wish i had said nothing. I am sorry, thread. I am sorry for bringing that up. I thought the train of thought would be succinct, but...damn. Again, I apologize for any miscommunication.
posted by 5imian at 1:03 PM on March 15, 2009


I feel like the barrier between trash culture (this) and high culture is much more porous in the UK than in the US. I click on a MeFi link to a UK newspaper article about something intellectual-sounding, and the screen is covered with links to articles about celebrity gossip or dieting trends.

Not sure how I feel about this. It's less snobby, for sure. But on the other hand, I'm a bit of a snob.
posted by grobstein at 1:17 PM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


thoughts on finding all of this in the Guardian, which has won its world-wide internet following as a highbrow sheet
posted by grobstein at 1:18 PM on March 15, 2009


I had a friend growing up with parents like the Meyersons. They were these raving hysterical insaniacs who tried to destroy his life before it had a chance to start. They put him in hellish institutions to try to break him as a young teenager because he didn't ask how high when they said jump. He got away at the earliest opportunity and didn't look back. Thankfully, he's now a very successful session musician in L.A..
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:37 PM on March 15, 2009


grobstein: "I click on a MeFi link to a UK newspaper article about something intellectual-sounding, and the screen is covered with links to articles about celebrity gossip or dieting trends."

Otherwise known as the Daily Mail. If it's in the Mail, it's trash & should be ignored or laughed at according to preference. This is a good rule of thumb.

(At least, that description sounds far more like the Daily Mail website than any of other newspaper sites linked to up top.)
posted by pharm at 1:46 PM on March 15, 2009


no one seemed to be questioning her outrageous slander of cannabis itself.

You can't slander a plant.
posted by dydecker at 1:47 PM on March 15, 2009


The majority of long-term, hard-core drug addicts are dying in their 40s and 50s. The latest studies show that the life expectancy of a drug addict is 15 to 20 years after they start being a drug addict.

The counter argument isn't that drug addicts don't have shortened lifespans (many do). The counter argument is that much of that shortened lifespan is a result of the drug's illegality and not intrinsic to the drug. How much is impossible to tell while prohibition is in effect.
posted by Justinian at 2:02 PM on March 15, 2009


God, this thread has made me grumpy.

If you've got a happy teenager (on the whole), who is negotiating life and family pretty well (on the whole) and he or she is smoking pots of pot - then the parents haven't got a problem (on the whole).

If, on the other hand, you have a teenager who is being an asshole (on the whole), who appears to be drifting badly (on the whole) and he or she and the family (on the whole) are unhappy and he or she is smoking pots of pot - then the parents may have two problems. And one of them might be the pot.

Maybe the Myersons are wrong about the cause of their son's woes.

And I do think the mom's memoir is a mistake.

But I don't blame her for seizing on the drugs as something that is not helping.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:34 PM on March 15, 2009


I hate-read her Guardian column fairly regularly and the whole family came across as spoilt, indulged, snowflakes. The kids never seemed to face consequences for the incredibly immature things they did and demanded. They bore no relation to any teenager I'd ever known (bar a cousin with ADHD). When Jack found out about the column and was given a column of his own his shock at what his mother had been doing was obvious. No wonder he went into extra rebellion mode.
posted by minifigs at 2:46 PM on March 15, 2009


Depression is a gateway drug...
posted by GratefulDean at 2:48 PM on March 15, 2009


I've been hesitant to jump in this thread, because almost no one seems to agree with me, but here goes: no matter how unethical Julie Myerson's behavior was and no matter how poorly she raised her son, her sins pale in comparison to his.

For one thing, the two most salient details in her narrative (at least to me) were her son's smashing the planters against her front door and striking his mother so hard she got a perforated eardrum.

I was certain that Jake would say that both of these claims, or at the very least the claim that he perforated her eardrum, were false. Because if they were true, I couldn't see any way that he could argue that his parents overreacted. But he didn't. Instead, he give the following defense for the eardrum damage (as summarized by Peter McDermott):

Peter McDermott> In the kid's defence, she *was* repeatedly slapping him in the face at the time, thereby provoking this retaliation. It's kind of easy to lash out in an attempt to stop somebody repeatedly slapping you in the face. If you happen to catch somebody wrong when you do lash out, a black eye, a burst eardrum or a broken nose may easily result.

Let's be careful: Jake claims that his mother was slapping him at the time. I don't know how much credence to put in anything he says. But even assuming he's telling the truth, I don't buy that it's easy to accidentally hit someone hard enough to cause that sort of damage if you're fending off slaps at the time.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 3:03 PM on March 15, 2009


If she's telling the truth in that excerpt then no way is the kid only smoking weed.

I disagree. This is a common phenomenon. Teenagers often go through a rebellious phase, during which they'll reject their parents goals and aspirations for them. The parents attribute the rebellion to the weed smoking, and insist the kids stop immediately...


Pot does not give you pinprick pupils, make you nod off when you're moving house and no upper middle class teen has to steal all the time to keep themselves in joints. Kid was on something else. Which is not outside the bounds of normal teenage behavior but assaulting your parents, smashing up their yard and some of the other stuff IS abnormal. The fact that he shrugged it off as nothing and basically said they deserved it is weird.

Having said that, the parents appear to have handled the raising of their son as badly as humanly possible down to the publishing of this book. Making a 16 year old girls abortion public? That is fucked up lady.
posted by fshgrl at 4:23 PM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


@ UrineSoakedRube

to perforate an eardrum it's not so much about how hard you hit, but rather where you hit.

He probably just swung at her to stop her from slapping him and hit the wrong spot.

I don't really see how you could feel that the mother is to be trusted more than her son based on her prior of writing a book about his life without his consent.

No story is completely factual.

Anyways it seems that she's the type who likes to create drama to try to validate her life. I have some in my family who are like that and cut them out a long time ago.

Also, it sounds like you come from a childhood where your parents weren't physical with you. I didn't so please don't try to talk about something you have no knowledge about.
posted by Allan Gordon at 4:34 PM on March 15, 2009


I'm not sure her actions were intentionally exploitative as she falls into a class of people who find it necessary to share too many nuances of their lives with people at the expense of those who are close to them. I've seen this more than a few times, and usually it's coupled with a personal feeling that what they are doing is so important that there simply should be people out there that will resonate with and respond to and interact with their struggles. In a weird way, this is also their addiction, and they think that they probably can't cope without doing so. They are also often shortsighted enough to not understand when sharing something isn't a good idea, because doing so necessarily feeds into their need for public participation in their problems. It's like they need people to be drawn into their emotional struggles to cope, which might explain why she continued to write anonymous stories about her family, even as she was being questioned on it and found out.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:47 PM on March 15, 2009


I don't know how much credence to put in anything he says.

Why wouldn't you? Simply because he smokes pot? Personally, I struggle to put any credence in anything his mother says. She's got the profit motive behind her account, and the desire to tell a good story. He's simply seeking to defend his reputation in the light of two extremely media savvy parents. I'm guessing if what he was saying was a total lie, these parents would be saying so.

But even assuming he's telling the truth, I don't buy that it's easy to accidentally hit someone hard enough to cause that sort of damage if you're fending off slaps at the time.

I've no idea how hard you have to hit somebody to burst an eardrum but I'd have thought that all it took was a good hard retaliatory slap that caused pressure to build up in the ear canal.

If that's true, then he needn't have actually hit her any harder than she was hitting him. He'd have simply had to have caught her a problematic blow.

I wasn't suggesting that his blows were attempts to fend off her blows though. I was suggesting that he was retaliating while under attack -- in precisely the same way duncadunk describes upthread.

Pot does not give you pinprick pupils, make you nod off when you're moving house and no upper middle class teen has to steal all the time to keep themselves in joints.

Pot may not, but staying up until 5.00am in the morning will. Also, where do you suppose upper middle class teens get their money from when their parents cut off their supply in an attempt to stop them smoking pot?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:50 PM on March 15, 2009


I meant:

"I'm not sure her actions were intentionally exploitative as much as she falls into a class..."
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:59 PM on March 15, 2009


I don't know how much credence to put in anything he says.

Peter McDermott> Why wouldn't you? Simply because he smokes pot? Personally, I struggle to put any credence in anything his mother says. She's got the profit motive behind her account, and the desire to tell a good story. He's simply seeking to defend his reputation in the light of two extremely media savvy parents. I'm guessing if what he was saying was a total lie, these parents would be saying so.

No, I wouldn't put any credence in what he says because he's contradicting himself. You can't argue that your parents wildly overreacted to your pot use and the consequences thereof when you admit to hitting your mother hard enough to perforate an eardrum during one of your arguments.

As for his mother's version of events, you don't have to put any credence in it, because Jake admits to severely injuring his mother. He doesn't have any reputation left to defend after that.

Peter McDermott> I've no idea how hard you have to hit somebody to burst an eardrum but I'd have thought that all it took was a good hard retaliatory slap that caused pressure to build up in the ear canal.

If that's true, then he needn't have actually hit her any harder than she was hitting him. He'd have simply had to have caught her a problematic blow.

I wasn't suggesting that his blows were attempts to fend off her blows though. I was suggesting that he was retaliating while under attack -- in precisely the same way duncadunk describes upthread.

Allan Gordon> @ UrineSoakedRube

to perforate an eardrum it's not so much about how hard you hit, but rather where you hit.

He probably just swung at her to stop her from slapping him and hit the wrong spot.

I don't really see how you could feel that the mother is to be trusted more than her son based on her prior of writing a book about his life without his consent.

No story is completely factual.

Anyways it seems that she's the type who likes to create drama to try to validate her life. I have some in my family who are like that and cut them out a long time ago.


One, I did say that Jake was fending off blows at the time, but you (Peter) are right: it's more accurate to say that he did it while being slapped (if not literally mid-slap), assuming that he's telling the truth (and unless you've read everything Julie has said about this, or if she actually admits to having suffered the injury while slapping her son, I don't view her silence as evidence that Jake is telling the truth).

Two, if you want to argue that a slap which wasn't particularly forceful but happened to be well-placed was the cause of the injury, you're going to have to muster some actual facts or statistics, because I see no reason to take it at face value. Here's the uncontested fact: Jake slapped/struck/hit his mother Julie in the ear, causing a perforated eardrum. Here's Jake's claim: he did this in response to being slapped "eight or nine times", and not "to stop her from slapping him", but because Jake " finally lost it and lashed out [his own words]." Even taking his statement at face value, it was not a defensive blow, but a retaliatory one (as you say in your post, Peter). Therefore Allan, it just isn't true that he "probably just swung at her to stop her from slapping him and hit the wrong spot."

Allan Gordon> Also, it sounds like you come from a childhood where your parents weren't physical with you. I didn't so please don't try to talk about something you have no knowledge about.[emphasis mine]

Well, Allan, you have no idea what my childhood was like, so that is one thing you have no knowledge about. And if you want to talk about what really happened between Julie and Jake, your childhood is far less relevant than what Jake admits to doing.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 5:53 PM on March 15, 2009


was the cause of the injury

I should have clarified: "was the likely or probable cause of the injury".
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 6:16 PM on March 15, 2009


Here's Jake's claim: he did this in response to being slapped "eight or nine times", and not "to stop her from slapping him", but because Jake " finally lost it and lashed out [his own words]." Even taking his statement at face value, it was not a defensive blow, but a retaliatory one

I dunno man, if anybody slapped me eight or nine times and showed no sign of stopping, I'd probably haul off and knock them on their ass. It's a defensive mechanism a lot of people have; when under attack with no sign of stopping, hit back. For self preservation.

The fact is, if she slapped him eight or nine times she was abusing him, and if he hit her back at that point he was likely just reflexively defending himself.
posted by Justinian at 6:54 PM on March 15, 2009


I dunno man, if anybody slapped me eight or nine times and showed no sign of stopping, I'd probably haul off and knock them on their ass. It's a defensive mechanism a lot of people have; when under attack with no sign of stopping, hit back. For self preservation.

The fact is, if she slapped him eight or nine times she was abusing him, and if he hit her back at that point he was likely just reflexively defending himself.


I just don't see how you can possibly call Jake's slap/blow/hit/punch to his mother's ear self preservation or reflexive defense even if you take his version of events at face value. If a family member or other loved one were slapping me, my defense mechanism would kick in after the second (or maybe third) slap. If you (assuming you're not a small child, which Jake was not) let someone slap you 8 or 9 times, with your sole response being, "Mom, stop slapping me", you don't have a defensive reflex, and "losing it and lashing out" is how you're going to respond (and how Jake says he responded, with no claim of self-defense), if you respond at all.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 8:17 PM on March 15, 2009


The mother describes how she grabbed her (adult) sister by the hair and threw her out of the house in the more dirt link:

But the discussion soon descended into rancour, when, Julie said, Debbie accused her of treating their father badly. At that point - as was the case more recently between Julie's son Jake and both his parents - the row led to physical violence.

'Something snapped in me,' Julie wrote, 'and I grabbed her hair and I threw her out by it.

'I haven't seen her since.'


This is a relatively physically violent woman/family. It seems to me that Jake was probably doing the sorts of things (throwing the pots, hitting back at his mom) that are done in that family, the things he learned from his parents.
posted by taz at 10:01 PM on March 15, 2009


@UrineSoakedRube

sorry how that came out. The only point that I was trying to make, which I failed to, was that in most situations both parties are partially victims and aggressors. This woman seems to be quite physical so I'm not surprised her son took a few swings at her. But I don't think the reason behind him hitting her was just to cause her pain, he could have punched her in the gut or something similar, but more to get her out of his face.

As to when he actually hit her. Obviously I can't say how hard the slap was, but it has always been to my understanding that it is more about the placement of the blow than anything else.
However since it seems that violence was not an unusual occurrence in this family I wouldn't be surprised if the kid didn't hold back.

Eh. I am still hoping that this is all just a farce and the son is in it with her parents to generate hype for the book.
posted by Allan Gordon at 11:59 PM on March 15, 2009


sorry how that came out. The only point that I was trying to make, which I failed to, was that in most situations both parties are partially victims and aggressors. This woman seems to be quite physical so I'm not surprised her son took a few swings at her. But I don't think the reason behind him hitting her was just to cause her pain, he could have punched her in the gut or something similar, but more to get her out of his face.

As to when he actually hit her. Obviously I can't say how hard the slap was, but it has always been to my understanding that it is more about the placement of the blow than anything else.
However since it seems that violence was not an unusual occurrence in this family I wouldn't be surprised if the kid didn't hold back.


Apology accepted.

I agree that Julie has been shown to be an aggressor of sorts (as per Taz above); clearly Jake's violent tendencies weren't created out of a vacuum.

But the simple fact is that Jake (by his own admission) went way overboard. Slapping your kid repeatedly -- if that happened in this case -- is wrong (but I am not an absolutist about corporal punishment). Slapping your mother hard enough to perforate an eardrum is far, far worse. And according to Jake, he lost it and lashed out. That doesn't mean he slapped her with the express intent of tearing an eardrum. But the damage caused and his description of his state of mind make it clear that this wasn't a defensive blow.

And in his interview he treats the entire episode as an afterthought. That makes it impossible for me to take him, or his diagnosis of his parents' flaws, seriously.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 12:31 AM on March 16, 2009


USR: You really don't have to hit someone very hard to perforate their eardrum. If you catch them on the ear with a flat hand, the pressure wave can get concentrated down the ear canal & burst the eardrum.
posted by pharm at 12:44 AM on March 16, 2009


Every time I see this thread in "recent activity" I get phantom pains in my ear.

And I want to write a Guardian column about it.
posted by taz at 7:12 AM on March 16, 2009


This thread makes me want to smack my own mother in the ear. Thanks, rube.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:52 AM on March 16, 2009


How is it possibly "far, far worse"?

He is a child, she is a parent. Going by level of responsibility, her action is worse. I see no mitigating factor for this.

As accounted, she struck multiple times. By number of attacks, her action is worse. Granted, we don't really know the details, but your comment "far far worse" was assuming the accounted version on both their parts.

As accounted, she has a history of physical violence. By creating a pattern of abuse, her action is worse. Though perhaps this belongs lumped into #1.

He ruptured her eardrum. By results, his action is worse. However, the results of hitting someone are often unpredictable, which is one good reason to avoid doing it. You can just cause a little sting, or the angles can all add up wrong you you just broke someone's neck. If you believe that rupturing an eardrum is extreme, a simple google search will correct that impression. Any open handed blow that lands on the ear has a decent chance of causing it.
posted by Nothing at 8:25 AM on March 16, 2009


Total derail here, but if you're really unlucky it's possible to kill someone with a fairly light punch to the chest: there's a window of time in the middle of every heartbeat a few milliseconds long during which a strike to the chest in the wrong place will stop the heart by interrupting the nervous "clock" that keeps the heart beating. "Commotio Cordis" is the term IIRC.
posted by pharm at 8:42 AM on March 16, 2009


At almost midnight he bangs through the door, gripping the walls to steady himself. He doesn’t quite seem drunk. His face is grey. When he speaks his voice is strange. He makes no sense. ... His eyes look through me. A small stream of something comes out of his mouth. Not quite vomit. Green water.

I'm pretty sure I've seen that somewhere before...
posted by mkultra at 11:25 AM on March 16, 2009


five fresh fish> This thread makes me want to smack my own mother in the ear. Thanks, rube.

You should probably stop reading it, then.

Nothing
> He is a child, she is a parent. Going by level of responsibility, her action is worse. I see no mitigating factor for this.

And yet his entire argument is that he is a far better judge of his drug intake than his mother and father are. Either he's too young to determine that his marijuana use isn't an issue, or he's old enough to be fully responsible for his actions.

But let's deal with this eardrum thing once and for all. The argument is that you don't have to hit someone that hard to perforate an eardrum. I'm going to let pharm point out why I think that isn't a reasonable defense:

pharm> Total derail here, but if you're really unlucky it's possible to kill someone with a fairly light punch to the chest: there's a window of time in the middle of every heartbeat a few milliseconds long during which a strike to the chest in the wrong place will stop the heart by interrupting the nervous "clock" that keeps the heart beating. "Commotio Cordis" is the term IIRC.

If someone kills another by punching him in the chest, and admits that he lost it and lashed out, which of the following seems more likely to you: 1) he hit the guy fairly lightly in the chest, and it happened to stop his heart, or 2) he hit the guy hard, intending to hurt him?

Yes, I fucking get it -- it is possible to perforate an eardrum with a fairly light slap which hits just right. This is why I asked for any evidence that this sort of trauma was likely or probably due to 1) a light slap which hit just right as opposed to 2) a harder hit which was close enough. And if someone loses it and lashes out, does that make 1 or 2 more probable?

And here's another factor. Julie Myerson "as accounted, struck multiple times". And yet Jake is the one who happens to get unlucky and send his mother to the emergency room. Despite that "pattern of abuse" she created, he didn't end up there from his mother's slaps. None of his mother's physical abuse broke his eardrum, and not once did all of the angles add up wrong and his mother break one of his bones.

You guys ascribe this to luck? I don't. Physical abuse that goes beyond corporal punishment is wrong. What Jake did was far, far worse because his physical abuse was severe enough to send his mother to the ER. And it's far, far worse because he treats the episode as a fucking afterthought.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 11:58 AM on March 16, 2009


What Jake did was far, far worse because his physical abuse was severe enough to send his mother to the ER.

Ridiculous. That's like saying if she hit him with a baseball bat but got lucky and didn't break anything, but he knocked her over trying to get away from her and she sprained an ankle, what he did is far, far worse.

We don't actually know what precisely happened but your apologia for "corporal punishment" is bordering on offensive.
posted by Justinian at 12:36 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


We don't actually know what precisely happened but your apologia for "corporal punishment" is bordering on offensive.

But there's no apologia for Jake's action in this thread, right? We do know one thing that precisely happened: Julie ended up with a torn eardrum.

Ridiculous. That's like saying if she hit him with a baseball bat but got lucky and didn't break anything, but he knocked her over trying to get away from her and she sprained an ankle, what he did is far, far worse.

I'll say this one last time: if you take Jake's account at face value, he does not argue that he was trying to get away or defend himself. Period.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 12:59 PM on March 16, 2009


I think there's too much missing information regarding circumstance and/or mitigating factors to make anything approaching a "Which was worse?" call on the slapping & eardrum incident.

Just a brief anecdote regarding lashing out in reaction to being slapped repeatedly (both in a moment, and over a long period of time):

I had a family member whose way of dealing with any loss of control in a conflict or backtalk (real or perceived) was to face-slap the kid, (as many times as needed to get their attention) and send them away (room, basement, far corner) until they "calmed down".

At some point in their teenage years, one of her kids decided that if she ever hit him again, he was going to hit her back, which he told her. And it took a few more fights for him to work up the nerve, but when he did, he did so with all the anger and frustration of all the previous fights and he slapped her much harder than he'd intended and left a welt on her cheek. All he'd meant to do was follow-through on his decision to not take it anymore, but he's the one who got arrested, because it wasn't considered a defensive blow.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:04 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll say this one last time: if you take Jake's account at face value, he does not argue that he was trying to get away or defend himself. Period.

And I'll say this one last time: if someone is hitting you over and over and over again and you hit them back, it is a prima facie case of defending yourself, at least in a colloquial sense.
posted by Justinian at 1:05 PM on March 16, 2009


Justinian> We don't actually know what precisely happened but your apologia for "corporal punishment" is bordering on offensive.

Oh, one other thing: I never equated Julie Myerson's actions with corporal punishment, and your statement is offensive.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 1:57 PM on March 16, 2009



"Similarly, when people with severe pain are given opioids, they rarely become dependent -- they rarely experience withdrawal symptoms."

**
Well, they do if they have to take them a while. Anyone will become physically dependent on opioids if they take them long enough. That's why tapering is used when the drug is withdrawn - you don't just cut someone off cold turkey after having been on Demerol for six months straight. It doesn't mean the person is "addicted" in the sense we use it. Physical dependence is a medical issue with nearly all chronic pain management. Unfortunately, our DEA has been very ignorant about it and made the whole field of study more difficult for patients who have to live with it and their doctors


Hopefully, once DSM V is published, I will stop having to explain this stupidity of addiction v dependence. What Peter meant in the top quote was that pain patients don't become addicted in the sense that they develop compulsive use despite negative consequences, which is the DSM definition of addiction, summarized. Sadly, for stupid PC reasons, the DSM calls what lay people call "addiction" substance dependence. Peter meant they aren't substance dependent in the DSM sense, not that they don't develop physical dependence.

DSM substance dependence is different from physical dependence-- which is neither sufficient nor necessary to define addiction but which does characterize most long term use of opioids, even in pain patients, in the sense that sudden cessation of the meds will often produce withdrawal symptoms.

However, if you aren't addicted (AKA no DSM substance dependence), withdrawal symptoms may well be minimal or non-existent with a slow taper and even sometimes with abrupt cessation. Most heroin addicts, the first time they go through physical withdrawal, don't find it to be a huge deal. But it gets worse with time.

So, given that most pain patients don't have prior experience of withdrawal, many write it off as "the flu" and go on tapering and never realize they were "kicking," so in that sense, Peter is right that withdrawal often isn't even much of an issue with chronic pain patients on opioids who are not addicts and stop the drugs.
posted by Maias at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2009


USR. I just don't get your line of argument. A parent should not repeatedly slap her child. If she does, and then writes a book about her relationship with that child, I figure she's put herself in the firing line for criticism. The child, no so much.

You also seem to be relying on the claim that he must have hit her harder than she was hitting him, because his one blow caused damage. Even a basic consideration of probability will show this not to be the case. Likely things sometimes don't happen, and unlikely things sometimes do. As we have no way of knowing whether this is what happened in this case, your apparent certainty seems a little unusual. Even if you could demonstrate that his blow was harder, it would be hard to demonstrate malevolence. Teenagers sometimes don't realise their own strength in such situations.

I don't mean to be personally critical, but your response seems more driven by emotion than reason. You are more horrified by his action (or its consequences), and so take it to be more reprehensible than hers. I believe that there are incredibly strong (I actually believe them to be unanswerable) reasons why this is faulty ethics.
posted by howfar at 3:21 PM on March 16, 2009


howfar> USR. I just don't get your line of argument. A parent should not repeatedly slap her child. If she does, and then writes a book about her relationship with that child, I figure she's put herself in the firing line for criticism. The child, no so much.

I can't say anything in response to that other than we disagree on that point (that the child doesn't come in for much criticism, not the point that a parent should not repeatedly slap her child). And, as is clear from this thread, I am in the minority.

howfar> You also seem to be relying on the claim that he must have hit her harder than she was hitting him, because his one blow caused damage. Even a basic consideration of probability will show this not to be the case. Likely things sometimes don't happen, and unlikely things sometimes do. As we have no way of knowing whether this is what happened in this case, your apparent certainty seems a little unusual. Even if you could demonstrate that his blow was harder, it would be hard to demonstrate malevolence. Teenagers sometimes don't realise their own strength in such situations.

Hold on: "apparent certainty" is your words, not mine. I was speaking in terms of probability, and yes, I absolutely do think that it is far more probable that he hit her harder than she hit him.

As far as demonstrating malevolence, people in this thread have been repeatedly characterizing Jake's actions as defense-related (which would make it more likely that the eardrum damage was an accident), when he stated he lost it and lashed out. Am I saying that he meant to burst an eardrum? Of course not.

howfar> I don't mean to be personally critical, but your response seems more driven by emotion than reason. You are more horrified by his action (or its consequences), and so take it to be more reprehensible than hers. I believe that there are incredibly strong (I actually believe them to be unanswerable) reasons why this is faulty ethics.

As far as being more horrified by the consequences of his actions than hers, that's a fair assessment. I can't speak to the ethics of that. What I would say is that the actual consequences do guide my understanding of what probably happened.

There's something that comes to mind in all of this, and perhaps it will clarify why I think the way I do. Everyone (including myself) has characterized Julie Myerson's actions (or possible actions, based on her own admission of violence against her sister, etc.) towards Jake as physical abuse. It definitely is, but in some ways I see it as emotional abuse which happens to have a physical component. It is wrong, and slapping someone 8 or 9 times (assuming she did that, although I concede that it is likely she got physical with her son on other occasions, even if it didn't happen the way he says it did that time) goes beyond anything you could possibly argue is reasonable corrective action.

Jake's response was out and out physical abuse. And yes, I do base that on what I see as the strong probability that he hit her much harder in response than she hit him.

That's only part of the reason why I judge him more harshly than I do her. Had Jake, in his interview with The Daily Mail, given any real indication at being horrified that he had struck his mother hard enough to cause the damage he did after having had a rage-filled episode where he smashed the planters against the front door (which would have scared the crap out of me, had I been one of his siblings or his parents), then he could have gone on from there to discuss how he deals with those issues, how his drug use does or does not affect his emotional makeup, and based on his careful assessment, he could then go on to argue that his parents hugely overreacted to his pot use.

But he doesn't. I just don't know how anyone looks back on all that and doesn't end up more chastened than he seems to be.

As far as being driven more by emotion than reason, come on. Most of the back and forth that I've taken part in discussed the single issue of Jake hitting his mother in the ear. Of course that's an emotional topic, but I refuse to see how my take on it is any more emotional or less rational than anyone else's.

As with that, I'm throwing in the towel. I don't know that this has necessarily been a derail, but it's clear that there are some other issues here (drug use vs. addiction, psychological dependency vs. physical addition) and this is drowning everything else out. But just so I won't be accused of posting and running, feel free to MeFiMail me if anyone wants to discuss it further.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 4:34 PM on March 16, 2009


Well, leaving the rest of it alone, I think that teenagers do stupid and sometimes unpleasant things. I know I did. The child has done me no harm, and his mother evidently forgives him. I am much more uncomfortable with the phenomenon of educated and well-paid professionals washing their dirty linen in public for the sake of titillation and profit. Their private actions as a family are not my business, her decision to publish this book is.

Let's be straight, people won't buy this book to learn about the "problem of skunk" (and that seems to be much more a media construct than something supported by hard data). The majority of buyers will get this book for the same reason that people buy abuse memoirs: titillation. The thrill of a cheap holiday in other people's misery is real (I am no stranger to the impulse, are you?), and there will always be an appetite for these kinds of books. To profit from this nasty streak in most humans, particularly at the expense of the privacy of a minor, is not just morally wrong, but is an act that is by definition open to public criticism. Newspapers and blogs should not criticise mothers or sons who reach breaking point, but they should should criticise authors who exploit this situation for personal gain.
posted by howfar at 5:28 PM on March 16, 2009


Sneaking this in late. But, like UrineSoakedRube, I've been a minority voice here because I believe Jake's behavior has been indulged in this thread to a peculiar degree.

There's so much prissy moralizing here it's depressing.

The Guardian for which Myerson-the-monster-mom previously wrote a witty and hugely successful - in terms of readers' responses -anonymous column about the trials of living with teenagers is the worst culprit, I think, of all the quality UK papers (the Observer is also guilty) for commissioning misery memoir writing.

Sometimes these columns are productive. A late friend of mine, Oscar Moore, did untold good with his unusually insightful, often outrageously mordant & courageous Guardian column, PWA, about dying from Aids. He benefited from the experience.

On the other hand, my late, much beloved sister - who was a national UK journalist, was royally pissed off when she was - oh so sympathetically - invited to chronicle her weekly experiences dying from cancer - by The Observer. (But the commissioning editor who was the same one responsible for Oscar's column). She refused.

She didn't feel like "sharing her pain", she knew perfectly well what her "hook" was going to be- not "just" a terrific writer, she was young and gorgeous with small children. (And she certainly did not want to deal with tearful readers' letters - offering crap medical advice!).

My sister also knew "the newspaper" didn't give a shit about her. Not really. She knew the score.

Now Julie Myerson is being scalded with disapproval for now crossing that arbitrary line between "socially useful confession of what happens behind closed doors" and "disgusting exploitation".

It's fair to remember, I think, that her book came after years of writing a popular confessional column.

I think she was wrong to publish now.
Largely because the timing is all wrong.
She should have waited - because the story is - obviously - not only hers.

But we are all voyeurs.

And I think we go overboard with our disgust when the target is an articulate, middle class person (instead of the poor Jerry Springer fodder lousy parents, of whom we always say so very condescendingly "oh, they didn't know better than to go on the show.").

Loads of parents fuck up at times. And loads of teenagers are assholes at times.
They were two sides to this story. We learn nothing if we hear only one.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:34 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yet, if Jake hadn't come forward, only one would have been heard.

To me the situation is like your bitter ex blogging about you... every time you ever belched or farted or got drunk or acted like an idiot. Every vulnerable moment, every mistake, every embarrassment, error, wrong move. Except they fail to record their own mistakes and participation in household nastiness, so you just come off like this uncaring, selfish, abusive, filthy slob that no one should ever, ever go out with or even meet socially for any reason.

Except now imagine it's your mother. And instead of doing it for six months or so until they work out their break-up aggression, it's years and years. And instead of a few dozen readers, it's the whole damn country, and every single person you know, and pretty much every single new person you meet. Your teachers, your bosses, your neighbors, the bus driver, the guy at the bodega.

Fun! So I might be guilty of prissy moralizing but I have to say, wow, that totally sucks.
posted by taz at 1:33 AM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


To me the situation is like your bitter ex blogging about you... every time you ever belched or farted or got drunk or acted like an idiot. Every vulnerable moment, every mistake, every embarrassment, error, wrong move.

Taz,
I don't agree that Myerson's motivation was pure malice.
I think she - and her husband - were scared and desperate.
(And she did pay her son for his contribution to the book - which he had read in advance. That's only a tiny point, granted but it's a point.)

I agree it was wrong to publish.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:37 AM on March 17, 2009


Yes, agreed... not pure malice, but with such a cavalier disregard for his privacy and feelings that the end result is indistinguishable from malice, because the net result is identical. I don't think she is a monster, but I do think that she is entirely self-absorbed in a destructive way. I don't talk about my husband much online because even though pretty much everything I might say would be out of love and goofy fondness, his life is his life, and it's not for me to share this cute/embarrassing thing he did with perfect strangers (or even people we know, unless he's sitting right there, and part of the conversation). I understand that he is vulnerable to me in this way, and that his trust is in my safekeeping, so I exercise a bit of tender care. And he's a grown man...

Laying bare the details of your adolescent child's most awkward and challenging years... I just can't see it. My mom writing about me getting my period... first pubic hair... that my feet smelled as a teen and my room was a disaster zone? Pimples, body odor, the time I peed my pants, maybe? No. I can't even imagine what sort of emotional scars that would have left. Myserson had the choice to stop when her kids began to suspect. She had the choice to stop when her kids' friends began to suspect. She had the choice to stop before she published a tell-all about her own family under her own name. We don't need to call it mailice, but whatever she was doing, the best interests of her children, and Jake in particular, certainly wasn't a prime motivator.
posted by taz at 5:06 AM on March 17, 2009


Taz,
If I begin to project what, say, my mother - a former journalist - would have spilled about my own past - I begin to hyperventilate:)
More seriously, I think I'd have found it unforgivable for a very long time - whether or not it was well written and partly accurate.

But journalists do cannibalize. Novelists also cannibalize. Biographers invade privacy.
We all, tacitly or not, allow them our indulgence to some degree or other - until we don't!

Myerson - from that POV alone - was a perfect storm waiting to happen when her private life - because of her relationship with her son and her bewilderment at what he was doing to himself - fell to pieces.

Actually Taz - you are probably right.
Possibly I'm being a bit precious about this.

Just because I have a hunch that Jake will get through this - AND start to reflect on his own part in what happened AND - despite all - still be able to rely on his mother's fundamental, frantic love and concern for him - well, maybe that's just me projecting!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:01 AM on March 17, 2009


USR: You appear to be making the deduction that bust eardrum implies a hard blow. That just isn't true. What busts the eardrum is chance placement that puts the blow directly over the ear causing a pressure wave to travel down the eardrum & burst. You also appear to be assuming that a perforated eardrum is a serious injury. It's not, in the grand scheme of things (although it can occasionally have complications):
A perforated (torn) eardrum is not usually serious and often heals on its own without any complications. Complications sometimes occur such as hearing loss and infection in the middle ear. A small procedure to repair a perforated eardrum is an option if it does not heal by itself, especially if you have hearing loss. — Patient UK
You can cause a perforated eardrum by shouting down someone's ear. That really doesn't take a great deal of energy. So it's not reasonable to conclude from the fact of the perforated eardrum that his blow was the harder one. Indeed, the whole point of my derail post upthread was that the outcome can have little correlation with either the intent or the strength of the blow.

None of this exonerates the eldest child from responsibility for his own behaviour of course.
posted by pharm at 8:24 AM on March 17, 2009


No, I wouldn't put any credence in what he says because he's contradicting himself. You can't argue that your parents wildly overreacted to your pot use and the consequences thereof when you admit to hitting your mother hard enough to perforate an eardrum during one of your arguments.

You're biases are showing, usr.

Jake didn't hit his mother during a verbal argument. He defended himself while his mother was physically attacking him. Both mother and son agree on this point. This may or may not have had anything to do with his pot use -- there's no way of knowing. But there's no inherent contradiction there that I can see.

Most sensible people recognize that if you don't want to be the victim of physical aggression, it's a not a good idea to initiate it. Ergo the mother has only herself to blame for her burst eardrum.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:24 AM on March 21, 2009


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