[Paleopsych] Richard loses his keys

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Thu Aug 26 13:48:14 UTC 2004

Ha! Richard, this is funny, thanks.

I am a psychologist, not a neurologist. I focus on social consequences. 
Marijuana does disconnect people rather dramatically from those around 
them. More than caffeine, not more than >4.5 oz of alcohol. Test it: 
stay clean and sober and try to have a real dialog with someone who is 
stoned. (You might want to wait until you are completely clean yourself, 
like 30 days.)  I am told that it harms your lungs much more than 
tobacco, but that is not my field.

I had a patient once who thought his therapy would be better if he was 
stoned. I was skeptical, and mentioned the rather abundant evidence that 
people on marijuana are quite pleased with rather trivial efforts.

Anyway, one day he showed up and as we talked, his thoughts were 
terribly unconnected and he didn't seem to be able to actually dialog 
with me. After about 15 minutes, I mentioned to him that the session was 
not going any where today, and he wasn't nearly as sharp as usual. With 
a sheepish grin, he admitted he had gotten high before coming in, saying 
'I didn't think you would notice.'

Now I don't know how much permanent damage there is to this. It is hard 
to know. In the 60s and 70s when I went to school (yet, that is my 
generation) there were some studies showing subtle long term damage 
(Richard's key losing syndrome). But we do know that any addictive 
substance - e.g., tobacco - creates some permanent changes in the brain. 
For heaven's sake, being in love creates some permanent brain changes 
(test it by looking up an old lover). How could weed NOT?

I said marijuana damages relationships, and that moves into a cycle of 
alienation and stress, which may lead to more marijuana use as the user 
tries to escape the interpersonal effects of the drug. If people don't 
notice, it is generally because they are using and are unable to notice. 
Any chemical dependency counselor will explain the role of 'denial' in 
substance abuse. The argument about permanent damage is a straw man.

Objective studies back in my grad school days did show a loss of 
motivation and lessened performance. The fact that Richard says he was 
not affected is an interesting clinical anecdote, not proof. Another way 
to frame that is to say if Richard had NOT smoked tons of hash, he would 
be president today (and perhaps we would be better off instead of the 
two idiots that are running for president now). 
Lynn Johnson

Richard Metzger wrote:

>I agree.
>I smoked pot for over 23 years from the minute I woke up until I fell
>asleep --Rastas have looked at me in utter disbelief at how much weed I
>could huff-- and I was certainly never called an underachiever by anyone.
>And then one day I decided that I'd had enough (and truly I had!) and I
>quit. I noticed not the slightest long-term damage.
>I still lose my car keys a lot, though...
>----- Original Message ----- 
>From: "Michael Christopher" <anonymous_animus at yahoo.com>
>To: <paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
>Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 2:53 PM
>Subject: [Paleopsych] marijuana
>>>>Finally, the concept of some drugs being victimless
>>contradicts my experience. Ain't no such. I have seen
>>much family damage done from marijuana, and have
>>treated patients with all kinds of drug abuse.<<
>>--My experience contradicts yours. I've never, ever,
>>seen serious damage from marijuana (except legal
>>penalties) to anyone I've known. I suppose you could
>>take any group and attribute their problems to their
>>drug of choice... take a group of coffee drinkers,
>>find the ones with problems and say "see the damage
>>caffeine can do?" But the pot smokers I've known had
>>no more problems than the coffee drinkers. They were,
>>by and large, as screwed up as everyone else.
>>I'm wondering, did the people you mention who smoked
>>pot happen to use other drugs as well? What damage,
>>specifically, do you attribute specifically and
>>uniquely to marijuana? Every time someone has told me
>>they've seen marijuana harm their friends or family, a
>>little questioning revealed that the pot smokers were
>>also addicted to alcohol and more damaging drugs. Or,
>>family problems which were systemic and psychological
>>were attributed unfairly and arbitrarily to the pot
>>smoker. But nothing that seemed directly and logically
>>related to marijuana.

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