Letter to the Editor

Dear Ashling,

Today, I read your blog on Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. I have a few commentaries and disorders of my own you may not have heard of:

1. Having To Achieve Tenure Disorder (HTATD)
2. Having To Explain Everything Disorder (HTEED)
3. Having To Research Everything Disorder (HTRED)
4. Having To Name Everything Disorder (HTNED), you are familiar with this one!
5. Having To Treat Everything Disorder (HTTED)
6. Having To Code Everything Disorder (HTCED)
7. Having to Make Money For Diagnosing Everything Disorder (HTMMFDED)
8. Having To Have A Pill For Everything Disorder (HTHAPFED)

And, oh, a little side note on what they have in common with the Wall Street Occupiers.

Winston Churchill, the famous British leader during WW II, was once asked why he liked pigs.

“Because cats look down on you, dogs look up to you, and pigs, well, pigs just treat us as equals,” he famously responded.

This holds a lot of truth when it comes to human behavior. People are cataloged, ranked, and filed. They are relegated to some obscure place for the sake of some “social norm.” There is a quiet, but distinct need for the majority of people in power to become more like Churchill’s “domestic cats: aloof, secluded, evasive, distant, dark. And yet, they are needy!

Looking down from the high perch of a couch cushion, cats paw, purr, and prance until they get fed, petted, or acknowledge. Cats nestle silently into your world, supplanting their own version. They know they’re better and right. Why else would they nap on your keyboard or get hair on your favorite suit? In fact, cats have little qualm with you. Rather, they feel they are right-minded in most of their thoughts and practices.

In professional circles we refer to these folks as “Elitist.”

And the world of academics is littered with elitists. Seen prowling the halls of University Institutions across America. They shield themselves behind the “academic freedoms and privileges” given to them by the University. Aloud to do just about anything they wish in the pursuit of “knowledge and tenure,” just as long as they get “funding and publications.”

Academic circles call this process “publish or perish.” Professors—ranked depending on their number of publications and on the prestige of the journal in which they are published—work hard to get enough publications and recognition to be awarded tenure. Once tenure has been achieved, they can sit back and purr on their income, knowing they can’t be fired no matter what (unless of course they kill or rape someone, but even then it’s hard).

All of this is absolutely linked to the amount of funding you bring into the institution for your research, which of course goes into the university’s bank account.

Think about it: that’s why academicians hate football. One televised football game on Saturday afternoon can bring in millions of dollars into a university’s bank account. Professors have to spend an entire 20-30 year career just in hopes of getting tenure. It takes decades for them to gain this recognition and an endowment to keep their departments afloat.

That’s why Public Universities can’t get rid of football (as much as they would like to). It is also why government contracts and funding is so important to the universities… They are both a huge source of funding. Football players and professors (who get lots-of-funding) are king.

But what does this have to do with delayed sleep phase disorder?

When it’s all said and done, that process of trading funds and funding trade leaves the rest of us dogs and pigs trying to clean up the mess.

Expanding on Reference #8.

Every patient that comes in my door thinks there is a pill they can take for everything. For weight loss, itching, achy, mood, personality, sleep, ugliness (that’s a tough one), big boobs, smart pills (because “my attention and concentration is poor”), and, let’s not forget, sex (that’s a big one, no pun intended)…they think there is a pill for everything because, somewhere, someone has NAMED a syndrome after it, and if I (the doctor) don’t know about it then I’m just dumb, ignorant, or uninformed.
Expanding on Referencing #s 7, 6, and 5.

Patients come to doctors because they think doctors treat everything, because everything has a name. Everything that has a name has to have a diagnosis code (these are published in ICD Books, so far 9 have been published and #10 is about to come out) because without a diagnosis code you can’t charge for seeing or treating the patient: the code is a number we put into the computer to bill the insurance company for a service done by doctors to the clients (patients) of insurance companies.

No code, no money. No diagnosis, no code. No code, nothing to treat. No name, nothing to treat.  Nothing to treat, no diagnosis. No diagnosis (because nothing was named), nothing to research. Nothing to research—no money!

Expanding on Reference #s 4, 3, 2, and 1.

The lie: Build it and they will come.

The truth: NOT ALWAYS!

The hallways of academia (the leaders of their communities) are riddled with cats, dogs, and pigs. It is important to know which one we are and why.
According to Winston Churchill, I am a pig: I have to—I choose to—look at all things and everyone as equals, despite knowing that—due to personal history and societal measurements—we are not equal.

At any one point in time in my life I have been “labeled” as all three. But their labels have not stuck. I have been fluid in my social and academic standing. I have been a pauper; I have been a peasant; I have been a commoner; I have been a knight; and I have been a Lord. I have no wish to be a King.

Return to Argument:
People—including professors, academicians, and politicians—who have failed in their developmental task to find themselves a place within civil society; to know and understand their function (not to be confused with their place); seek only the survival of themselves alone. NOT the survival of others. Thus, they become fearful, lonely, and at the most extreme hateful.

It is in this hatred that I believe feeds the worst cancer: those who have every opportunity to make their lives better, but do not take; those who have been given a great education, but choose protest over progression; those who believe in nothing when there is everything around them.

The Wall Street Occupiers have nothing left to believe in. Society has exiled them to the point where they think, “Society Owes Me.” Having nothing left but high debts and poor job market statistics, they flee from the Internet to the streets and lash out. Even if it has no purpose.

It is in this purposelessness where I think Atheists fail. Because when there is nothing left for them to believe in, they have nothing left to believe. Even when that lack of belief serves no purpose—good or bad. It is simply there. Accomplishing nothing, doing nothing, but protesting the very theory that someone else is wrong.

For me, I am simply happy to be an American and a Christian.

When my wife and I had nothing left but $8.00 in the bank in Houston, Texas, in 1988—the first year of our marriage—we didn’t get food stamps. We didn’t go on welfare. We didn’t seek public housing, and we certainly didn’t lash out in the streets against society chanting: “You Owe Me!” It wasn’t like we didn’t have our debts either, me with a Masters in Science; your mother getting her degree in Optometry.

But the biggest difference between now and then?

We didn’t give up.

While my wife slept before a big exam, I stayed up all night crying, feeling sorry for our plight. But by morning, God ordered me out the door: I had to help myself. Not to handouts, but to hard work. I had to help my bride by being strong. And with the courage to go out and look for whatever work was necessary, I saw that it was “ok” to walk into an all girls placement agency called Kelly Girl and seek my fortune (to pay the bills). And I couldn’t stop there. I landed a second job at Shell Oil (to pay the government). And then got a third job waiting tables at Chili’s (to pay for food).

My wife finished Optometry School. I finished my Masters in Public Health degree. And we both went on to medical school from there!

I paid no attention to Lack-Of-Sleep or Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. I did it the old Marine Corps way (what I say is the Gospel way): slept when I could and when I should—that’s it!

Going out of your way to accomplish your dreams: that is the God-Driven American Way.

“For God! For Family! For Country! And, yes, For the United States Marine Corps! Oooorah!!!”

When we built this country, we did so to make sure the aspirations of individual liberty would never be tarnished. No matter how much suffering someone had to endure to achieve them. The freedom to choose one’s own path is true liberty; not just the freedom to live.

If God let your mother and I suffer, He allowed it so that our children would not have to suffer poverty the way we did.

This is a beautiful thing.

Thus, we are at the unfortunate place in American History where we have to label things. In society and in research, labeling has become the norm. Without labels nothing exists. Nothing is allowed to exist. Nothing else is allowed to thrive—although in the final analysis many unlabeled things do exist, and do thrive, and it is up to us, the thinkers of sound mind, to find them and to nurture them and to accept them and to introduce them for what they truly are.

Natures things. Unexplainable things. God’s things.

I believe these days most of today’s university academicians are agnostics. They teach by omission or commission. If they are not agnostic, they are atheist. Thus, research and learning are devoted to explain things, label things, without the plausibility of “that’s just the ways things are:” This man is not a beautiful, tall, handsome man, but he could still capture the attentions of a beautiful woman like his wife. Because that’s just the way things are.


A Devoted Dad, Husband, and Reader

One thought on “Letter to the Editor

  1. Having stumbled upon this during my studies, I found this to be an interesting read; however, I also found this particular post in need of a response. While the main story of “rags to riches,” so to speak, is fantastically presented, the lesser side-comments lead me to exclaim the word cat, as opposed to a pig the author likens himself to. On statements focusing so much on the use of logic to drive the actions of the author, I found the blatant, and somewhat unexpected, statements on atheism in need of defense.By questioning the very basic knowledge that humans hold, such as the existence of a God, greatness truly arises.
    I must be sure to point out that I am in no way attempting to disprove God (thousands of years of philosophical debate have certainly shown me that). I definitely have not defense to the ontological argument developed by Anselm, as there must eventually be something of which nothing is greater. If this is what God is, then so be it, but this does not reflect the manner in which the term “God” is used in modern culture. Regardless of how the argument develops, I don’t thank God for giving me a good life with so many opportunities, I thank my mother for that. For her perseverence and power of will.
    I would also like to comment on the obsession with labels that is seemingly plaguing the nation. In general, I think it acts to provide people with comfort and a sense of safety, something that even drives the discussion on God. Some find comfort in attributing events to God, others find comfort in science; either way, people fear the unknown. Labels help people face that unknown with confidence. I have also noticed that people tend to have quite the obsession with categorization, which most certainly only adds to the problem. While this may only be my interpretation of what you have said, but I definitely agree with you that society’s obsession with money is the root of this problem. When the field of medicine grows in the capitalistic state such as our own, it is inevitable for such things to happen. When people want to research anything, they need heaps of money. This necessity leads to the creation of labels, which seemingly serve no useful purpose. These labels, however, then lead to predation, where issues such as self image are used to turn medicine into something it should never be: a business. Then doctors are faced with the situation of patients coming to ask for pills to enlarge body parts in an attempt to satisfy a constantly inflating social standard of beauty. I suppose that these medicinal labels are merely a bi-product of the ultimate capitalistic venture to have money be at the source of everything, even the well-being of people.
    In the end, I think being a pig in Churchill’s terms is an incredibly difficult thing to do. To truly consider others equal seems to be almost an imposibility, but nevertheless a great goal to strive for. In these concluding words, I must also admit my own futility in explaining that things are not just the way they are; with my inclusion of philosophical priniciples, I have to include the modern ideas of free will. Regardless of whether one adheres to the idea of determinism or indeterminism, the fact remains that I, logically speaking, have absolutely no control over what happens. I do not know if Schrodinger’s cat is alive or dead, but one outcome will happen and there is nothing anyone can do about it. In any case, if someone calls me a pig in the future, I will be sure to thank them for the compliment.

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