Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller

Here at 3GW, it was decided to give readers some information about influential African-Americans for Black History Month. I will try to keep it brief and informative and hope you all enjoy.

Solomon Carter Fuller, M.D.

Solomon Carter Fuller, M.D. was the nation’s first African-American psychiatrist and a neurologist who made significant contributions to the study of Alzheimer’s disease. He also focused his research on the organic causes of disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Fuller’s knowledge of venereal disease later helped diagnose syphilis in black World War II veterans who had been previously misdiagnosed with behavioral disorders. The mental health facility at Boston University is now officially known as the Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center.

Supreme Soul

The Tuskegee Experiment

With February being Black History Month (BHM), I usually try to provide others with information which usually is not well-known. I may go back and repost the older topics about many firsts in black history; the first black physicians, the first black nurse, the first black to receive a patent, the first black to receive a gold medal at the Olympics.

Yet, one rarely hears about the negative aspects of black history such as The Tuskegee Experiment—which are just as important for black people of today’s generation to learn and nearly impossible for those of past generations to forget. This post will hopefully help many of my people and others gain insight into what some of our ancestors have been through. I also post this so other African-Americans comprehend that many of the rights and privileges we are now afforded—and often take for granted—were flat out denied to our elders on innumerable occasions and to show that some damages to our race are even self-inflicted. Maybe this can help to inspire changes for each of us as a whole through positive action and improved self-reflection.

The Tuskegee Experiment was an infamous clinical study conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama. This was done to analyze the natural progression of untreated syphilis in poor black tuskegeemen who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government. It was then known as the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. Public Health Service investigators, working with the Tuskegee Institute, enrolled in the study a total of 600 impoverished, black males from Macon County; 399 who had previously contracted syphilis before the study began, and 201 without the disease.

These men—who were for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama—were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Researchers tuskegee 2told the men they were being treated for “bad blood,” a local term used to describe several ailments, including syphilis, anemia, and fatigue. In exchange for taking part in the study, the men received free medical exams, free meals, and burial insurance. Although originally projected to last 6 months, the study actually went on for 40 years!!!

At the start of the study (1932), there was no proven treatment for syphilis. But even after penicillin became a standard cure for the disease in 1947, the medicine—and any information about it—was withheld from the men. In fact, scientists prevented participants from accessing syphilis treatment programs available to others in the area. When several nationwide campaigns to eradicate venereal disease came to Macon County, the men were prevented from participating. During World War II, 250 of the men registered for the draft and were consequently ordered to get treatment for syphilis, only to have the Public Health Service exempt them from receiving it.

tuskegee 3

The Tuskegee scientists wanted to continue to study how the disease spreads and kills. The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis—which can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death. “As I see it,” one of the doctors involved explained, “we have no further interest in these patients until they die.”

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At the origins of the study and throughout its entirety were countless Caucasian physicians, nurses, public health officials, scientists, etc.However, perhaps the same can be said of several blacks in similar positions and vocations. Robert Russa Moton—the head of Tuskegee Institute at the time—and Dr. Eugene Dibble, an African-American doctor who was head of the John Andrew Hospital at the Tuskegee Institute, both lent their endorsement and institutional resources to the government study. Eunice Rivers, a black nurse who trained at Tuskegee Institute, was a central figure in the experiment for most of its forty years.

Robert Russa Moton

Robert Russa Moton

Dr. Eugene Dibble

Dr. Eugene Dibble

Eunice Rivers

Eunice Rivers

The experiment lasted four decades, until public health workers leaked the story to the media. AssociateTuskegeegroupd Press reporter Jean Heller wrote an article on July 25, 1972 in the Washington Evening Star newspaper with the headline on its front page reading “Syphilis Patients Died Untreated.” This story caused a public outcry that led the Assistant Secretary for Health and Scientific Affairs to appoint an Ad Hoc Advisory Panel to review the study. The panel had nine members from the fields of medicine, law, religion, labor, education, health administration, and public affairs.

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The panel found that the men had agreed freely to be examined and treated. However, there was no evidence that researchers had informed them of the study or its real purpose. In fact, the men had been misled and had not been given all the facts required to provide informed consent. The advisory panel found nothing to show that subjects were ever given the choice of quitting the study, even when this new, highly effective treatment became widely used. The experiment continued in spite of the Henderson Act (1943), a public health law requiring testing and treatment for venereal disease, and in spite of the World Health Organization’s Declaration of Helsinki (1964), which specified that “informed consent” was needed for experiment involving human beings.

Eunice-Rivers&USPHS

In the summer of 1973, a class-action lawsuit was filed by the NAACP on behalf of the study participants and their families. In 1974, a $10 million out-of-court settlement was reached. As part of the settlement of a lawsuit the U.S. government agreed to provide free lifetime medical benefits and burial services to surviving participants and to surviving wives, widows and children infected as a consequence of the study.

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I know this may have been a long article to read, but there is a lot more information and viewpoints to this story that would take hours, perhaps days, to review and comprehend. I hope this post has brought about some enlightenment and maybe even inspired people to undertake a bit of soul-searching. If so, then I think I’ve done the job I intended and above all that makes me feel at least two of my goals were achieved. Thanks for stopping by 3GW.

– Supreme Soul (a black physician with a master’s degree in public health)

Thoughts From A Doctor: Does Mental Illness Cause Tax Fraud?

I first came across the story of a 27-year-old Rashia Wilson who received a 21 year prison sentence for tax fraud and thought “that’s a damn shame”. Why? Well as the beginning of the story goes, Rashia constantly posted about her ability to get over on the IRS via Facebook. This was made evident during her recent trial in Tampa as the U. S. attorneys read excerpts from Wilson’s page.

I’m Rashia, the queen of IRS tax fraud

I’m a millionaire for the record, so if U think indicting me will B easy it won’t, I promise you! U need more than black and white to hold me down N that’s to da rat who went N told, as if 1st lady don’t have da TPD under her spell. I run Tampa right now.

The judge over her trial states she stole over $3 million, which is a big part of why she received the harshest penalty yet in the Tampa Bay area for charges relating to stolen identity and refund fraud.

Now I will admit that reading posts like those immediately caused me to make a snap decision. “She’s guilty, and she deserves to serve time for the crime she committed.”  I mean how could someone who’s doing something like that be so brash to go on one of the most public forums in the world and continuously flaunt their criminal activities? Most people would chalk it up to there being a lack of intellect on her part, much like I assumed after reading the beginning of the story. Yet, the more I read the more the entire picture started to come into focus.

A psychologist testified that Rashia Wilson suffers from bipolar disorder first diagnosed at age 14. For those that may not know the disease by that name it’s also sometimes called manic-depressive disorder. A brief explanation of what this entails is as follows:

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that is characterized by extreme changes in mood, from mania to depression. It can lead to risky behavior, damaged relationships and careers, and even suicidal tendencies if it’s not treated.

Most people have an idea of what depression entails so I won’t go into that branch of the disorder here. However, very few people I have talked to have an understanding of what mania means and encompasses. So for the sake of clarity, I found this definition for mania to be simple and explanatory for this post:

Mania is a state of abnormally elevated or irritable mood, arousal, and/or energy levels. Mania symptoms may include excessive happiness, excitement, irritability, restlessness, increased energy, less need for sleep, racing thoughts, high sex drive, and a tendency to make grand and unattainable plans.

The very last part about a tendency to make grand and unattainable plans is why I said the picture came into focus. People who are affected by bipolar disorder who experience mania can have some of the above symptoms, but those that have the grandiose thinking are often those that have issues with various aspects of life, especially dealing with money. These people can have a tendency to show poor judgment, such as impulsively deciding to quit a job. They also can have inflated self-esteem leading to unrealistic beliefs in one’s ability, intelligence, and powers. This grandiose sense can also lead to increased reckless behaviors, such as lavish spending sprees, impulsive sexual indiscretions, abuse of alcohol or drugs, or ill-advised business decisions.

The point I’m trying to get at is that if Rashia Wilson was in a manic phase during her rants on social media, there is some explanation as to why she would continuously rave about being untouchable by law enforcement. Now, I’m not going as far as to say she deserves a pass for what she did. But, I will say that people who are untreated for their bipolar disorder can literally go to the extremes with impulsive behavior and reckless decision-making. I’ve personally had patients come and tell me that they spent all of their savings in one weekend just because they felt like they could, there was no reason not to, and they felt invincible. Yes, invincible. It’s quite a sight to see, and if you know what it looks like you definitely won’t forget it.

It is because of this concept I was reminded that you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover. As cliché as that saying is, it still holds true in many instances and different facets of health care. Before you look down on someone for their decisions I recommend you get to know the true nature of that person. You may find that  there is more going on with them than meets the eye, and their seemingly ridiculous actions and thoughts originate from something other than a wanting to disregard common conventions.

You can choose to do this or not. In the end you have to make your own decisions and live with them. After all, these are just thoughts from a doctor…

– Supreme Soul

Thoughts From A Doctor: Non-Smoker vs. Smoker

nonsmoker vs. smoker

I often get a chance to see some interesting things in the healthcare field. This ranges from limb amputations, open heart surgeries, mastectomies, intestinal washouts, and every now and then, lobe-ectomies. The pictures above likely come from dissections of a human body, much like what happens when medical students undergo their gross anatomy labs. When we did this, we literally would remove different organs from the human body to learn about their shape, size, function, location within the body, and pathology that likely affected the person before their death. It was an amazing site to see, to say the least. Yet, what was more amazing than the normal everyday stuff would be when I would come across things that were not expected. This would range from a metallic joint that had been replaced, a cancer that remained in an organ, a pacemaker or defibrillator placed in the heart, and the large difference that exists between the organs of smokers and non-smokers.

Of course, it’s hard to quantify how much smoking any of the people did before their passing. Yet, you could get an idea of those that smoked more and longer than others. This came from the general appearance of the organ, its texture, shape, and size compared to organs of others. I would have to say that more than 80% of the time the smokers’ organs would appear much different in comparison to the nonsmokers’ depending on what organ we would be examining. Some lungs would be darker (sometimes black), rougher, smaller, and have masses within it while others would be just the opposite. The kidneys could be the same or different. Same goes for the liver, the pancreas, and the heart. Why is this? Well it’s all subjective, meaning each person is different. They smoke different things. Tobacco. Marijuana. Meth. Crack. They smoke at different times of day for different amounts of time. Some at night for a few minutes. Others in the morning while driving to work. They smoke in different settings/conditions. In bars. At parties outside. In a closed office or vehicle. You get the idea. Since every person and their habits/preferences are not the exact same there were always variations of what we would see as medical students.

Now, being on the front line of treatment for those that smoke, I often try to urge people to see the bigger picture versus their current state of health. While they are feeling good and there are no prominent symptoms from the smoking that continues for days, weeks, years, and lifetimes, by the time any arrive it’s often too late. Then comes a load of bad news I have to deliver to that person and their families. What’s worse than this is when I have to see children that are negatively affected by the smoking adults around them put them through on a daily basis. One would think that if they saw their own kid negatively affected by something these parents would definitely remove that negative factor from their kids’ life. Yet, this often is a lot easier said than done. It’s the epitome of what addiction does to people. The ability to quit eludes these parents just as much as it would anyone else, and all the while these kids’ health deteriorates. Asthma flares up. Eczema worsens. Ear infections return over and over and over, and the smoke keeps flowing into the air like a train coming down the railroad. It’s a sad sight to see, but a regular occurrence.

So I write all of this to say that I have multiple conversations a week about quitting smoking. I’m not the overly aggressive type that tries to scare you every time I see you into quitting. I tell people that you can quit whenever you want to, but you have to truly want to first. Most people I talk to are grown up and intelligent enough to make a conscious decision. Quit or not. So if they choose to continue to do so, I leave it be. I will remind you each time I see you in the clinic to quit because it will make a lot of people better in the long run. Yet, I will stop there with all the warnings and reprimands. Hopefully it gets through to that person similar to how I realized it did when I randomly saw a 34-year-old patient of mine outside of the clinic. He was actually having dinner with his family, and stopped me as I walked into the restaurant just to say 6 words that sounded like music to my ears. 6 words that made me feel like a proud parent when their child gets an award. 6 simple words that reminded me why I choose medicine in the first place.

Hey Doc. I actually quit smoking.

Well then it was all worth it. If not, well lets just say that there will always be an anatomy lab out there with medical students happy to see the decision to continue smoking was made. Seeing lungs like the ones above on the right are a great learning experience for them, and if you’ve read up to this point then maybe it has been for you too.

Supreme Soul

Wolverine Gets Help From The Rock

hugh-jackman-wolverine-workout-303Back in the day I used to be a super fan of superheroes. My all time favorite would have to be the older X-Men cartoons. I would watch them over and over on Saturday mornings like I had nothing better to do, then get up and go work because I was late. So what if this was about 2 years ago, don’t judge me for being a big kid. Anyways, seeing that I have still have some interest in the world of superheroes I came across this article about how the current Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) decided to go about preparing his body for the next installment of the series. He decides to kick it up a notch and get help from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who as most people know from his films and TV roles is quite the workout machine. Now I decided to post this not because I think the superhero world is that amazing. Not because I’m so into Wolverine or The Rock that I just had to tell others about their teaming up. I posted this because of what Jackman thought was one of the most important things for getting his body ready for the next movie. It wasn’t the working out constantly (which I’m sure was a big part of it), but it was the diet that he had to stick to while working out that made the most difference. Hugh says…

“Three hours a day [in the gym]. I had a mentor,  Dwayne Johnson, the Rock. We’re mates, and I said, ‘Mate, I need to know what  you do.” And he said, “Tell me you’ve got six months? … You need six months to  do this.” He told me the diet — 6,000 calories — (and that) you have to train  like no one else.  This is what I learned: When I started, I used to think, “You  want to be bigger? You want to be in better shape? Train harder, train harder,  train harder!” It’s not not (that), it’s the food. Seventy percent of the way  you look is your diet, 30% is your training. So if there’s anything you’ve got  to concentrate on, it’s the food.”

fast62Now I don’t want people who read this to think they need to go and do this type of routine, and it will fix all of your health problems. I want readers to take from this statement that diet is often as important, if not, more important than the exercise that you engage in regularly. Why? Just think about how much diet makes up of your daily life. Roughly, preparing and eating 3 meals per day and some snacking between those meals means you pretty much do this for the majority of time during your day. Compare this to the 1, 2, or 3 hours or exercises that you engage in 1, 2, or 3 times per week and I think it would be safe to say that you eat way more than you exercise. So if your diet is lousy, then you definitely won’t see all the results you are hoping for when doing these extreme workouts for that ripped body you’re desiring. If you think I’m making it up, then what is the one thing that comes with every workout tape/DVD that you consider purchasing? That’s right, a diet plan! Each plan is telling you the foods you need to eat to see the best results. If you do eat the way they are recommending and abide to the workout schedule regularly then you will more than likely see the results you’re hoping for and see them faster. Same thing I tell  my friends and patients on a frequent basis. Some people get it and some people don’t. Some people will listen and other won’t. Just the way it is. But if you’ve read this far, then you can’t ever say that you never heard that before. And if the light bulb finally went off about the importance of diet and exercise on a regular basis then even better. Bottom line, a healthier you is better than an unhealthier you any day of the week. You shouldn’t need xray vision, the ability to heal yourself from injuries instantly, or any other superhero powers to understand that.

Supreme Soul

For the full article about Hugh Jackman and Dwayne Johnson click here

Effects of Addiction

I came across these photos while browsing the web and decided to share them since they were so captivating. Created by London-based photographer Roman SakovichHalf gives us a glimpse of the drastic visual differences that substance abuse can cause. What makes it even better is that the series was done without any use of Photoshop according to Sakovich. The transformations were accomplished with skilled costuming and makeup design rather than post picture splicing and merging. By splitting his subjects’ style choices and physical appearances straight down the middle, Sakovich presented a before and after composite image that shows the viewer two timelines—one of the addict and one of the non-user. I think that makes these images extremely creative, and are just a few reasons to bring them to 3GW. Take a look and share your thoughts.

Supreme Soul

(click to enlarge photos)