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Points on the Map

Philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), wrote that life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. Internet sources, such as the Encyclopedia of Philosophy suggest Kierkegaard, who wrote about religion and faith from other that the mainstream traditional perspective, lived a life marked by melancholy, a yesteryear term for depression. He spent his final weeks in a hospital, dying young, sources suggest, from: perhaps from unknown causes, perhaps from tuberculosis, perhaps from complications resulting from a childhood fall from a tree, and perhaps from “writing himself to death.” 

Euphemistically and metaphorically, it could be said that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi “wrote himself to death.” Reporting can be dangerous. And, metaphor and simile can substitute for plain speaking. In ideologically mixed discussions I say “God is love” as a metaphoric summary of my belief that all of the energy of which we and our universe are comprised, including but not limited to air, sunlight, plants, neurotransmitters, hormones, blood, bone, our senses and consciousness are intended to function together so we can live fully and in good health. Pain and anger, both of which feel stronger than health and peace, signal us that something’s wrong. We’re wired to keep safe.

Prior to my reading that Kierkegaard may have “written himself to death,” I had heard that there is an actual psychological diagnosis known as hypergraphia, a condition the Medicine Net medical dictionary defines as “the driving compulsion to write; the overwhelming urge to write.” Well, writers write, and, these days, writing in a journal is one of the first activities psychotherapists suggest to clients overwhelmed by problems or emotions. Consistent analytic narrative journaling, with its “aha moment” potential, often connects the writer to how yesterday’s experiences affect that writer today.

Internet information about hypergraphia link to information about Geschwind
Syndrome, a constellation of behaviors including hypergraphia, hyper-religiosity, reduced sexuality, intensified mental life, and circumstantiality. Psychological circumstantiality occurs when a person seemingly talks aimlessly, providing irrelevant details while not getting to the point. Of course, the point of any discussion is often a matter of participants’ end game goals and perspectives. One person’s valid point and is another’s irrelevancy. Whether or not everyone agrees on any talking point, points can be valid and differ. Detailed narratives provide points, counterpoints, and context. All points are surrounded by other points. One point about Geschwind Syndrome is that it is debatable whether Geschwind Syndrome is or is not a disorder; Geschwind is sometimes associated, but not always, with temporal lobe epilepsy.

What’s my point? Throughout history, worldwide, people have suffered from physical and mental ills and injuries whose origins were unknown or known but not discussed. One condition much in the news, Lyme Disease, has many mind-body manifestations. Here is a short list: rash, fever, severe headaches and neck stiffness, arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling(particularly the knees and other large joints), facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face),intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones, heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis), episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, nerve pain, shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet, problems with short-term memory. Amy Tan, author of the “Joy Luck Club,” wrote that her Lyme symptoms included

hallucinations, getting lost in familiar places, speech problems, blood sugar
fluctuations, insomnia, and fatigue.

Conspiracy theorists have suggested that the US government created Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is named for the Connecticut town in which, in the 1970’s, similar symptoms were identified in enough patients located in close enough proximity in location and time to get someone to notice. News, including conspiracy theories doesn’t always travel fast. It was from the July 17 edition of Newsweek, which Bill Maher circulated to his fans and followers via Facebook, that I learned that the House of Representatives is requiring the Department of Defense to investigate allegations that the Pentagon “weaponized” ticks with the spirochete delivered bacteria that causes Lyme’s Disease’s misery.  Lyme Connecticut is just across the Long Island Sound from Plum Island Animal Disease Center, one site where, Newsweek reports, bacterial weapons research occurred. And, however long tick-borne diseases have been around, the US Center for Disease Control Lyme Disease map shows that Lyme Disease is concentrated in one area and that area’s land-based epicenter includes Plum Island in the Long Island sound.

Books written about tick research at Plum Island have perhaps been prematurely dismissed as mere conspiracy theories. Going forward, people living near Plum Island and points beyond should hear about back then.

Debra Merryweather