Is Rudy Senile?

I don’t ask this question based on Rudy Giuliani’s comment that “I do not believe that the President loves America.”  The statement is absurd and nasty, but it doesn’t mean he has dementia.

No, what makes me ask the question is Rudy’s follow-on assertion that “I’m not questioning his patriotism.”

What is patriotism?  It’s love of country.  So if you argue that Obama doesn’t love America, yet he’s patriotic, there must be something wrong with your brain.

The White House had it exactly right when they said they feel sorry for Rudy.

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Phew! It’s Not Alzheimer’s, It’s the “Doorway Effect”

A new article in Scientific American* claims our brains are wired to forget what we were thinking about any time we walk through a doorway.  So when you leave one room in your house with a specific mission to do in another room, only to find yourself standing there befuddled when you reach the new room, it’s not incipient dementia, it’s just the “doorway effect.”

Other interruptions can function the same way, such as someone ringing your doorbell.  Our memories purge what we were thinking in order to deal with the new situation.  That’s a relief!

*”Why walking through a doorway makes you forget,” Charles B. Brenner

Must Read About Our Troops

Nicholas Kristof has a breakthrough  column today, “Veterans and Brain Disease,” NYT.

He writes about the autopsy of a Marine who committed suicide after two tours in Iraq:

“His brain had been physically changed by a disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E.  That’s a degenerative condition best know for affecting boxers, football players and other athletes who endure repeated blows to the head.

In people with C.T.E., an abnormal form of a protein accumulates and eventually destroys cells throughout the brain, including the frontal and temporal lobes.  Those are areas that regulate impulse control, judgment, multitasking, memory and emotions.

“That Marine was the first Iraq veteran found to have C.T.E., but experts have since autopsied a dozen or more other veterans’ brains and have repeatedly found C.T.E.  The findings raise a critical question:  Could blasts from bombs or grenades have a catastrophic impact similar to those of repeated concussions in sports, and could the rash of suicides among young veterans be a result?

“‘P.T.S.D. in a high-risk cohort like war veterans could actually be a physical disease from permanent brain damage, not a psychological disease,‘ said Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who examined the veteran.

“The discovery of C.T.E. in veterans could be stunningly important.  Sadly, it could also suggest that the worst is yet to come, for C.T.E. typically develops in midlife, decades after exposure.  If we are seeing C.T.E. now in war veterans, we may see much more in the coming years.

“C.T.E. leads to a degenerative loss of memory and thinking ability and, eventually, to dementia.  There is also often a pattern of depression, impulsiveness, and, all too often, suicide.  There is now no treatment, or even a way of diagnosing C.T.E. other than examining the brain after death.”  Emphasis added.

This article made me wonder if what was called “shellshock” after WWI may have been C.T.E.  Also, much of what we’re doing for our veterans right now may be a complete waste — if they have C.T.E., anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs and cognitive therapies like anger management won’t provide any relief.