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Mailbag - Spring 2012
The article (“We Are Addicts,” Winter 2011, p. 20) gave me a real out-of-body perspective on all the addictions I have and share with others in my life. I felt it easy to continually make poor choices, live as a victim of circumstance and give my power away. I have already been on this journey, but something in your article made everything just click. It might have been my favorite line, “Bad choices compromise our very ability to make choices.”
My 26-year-old nephew is an alcoholic. He briefly tried treatment that was court ordered but is still drinking and in a complete downward spiral. I am hoping he decides on his own he needs treatment. This is a heartbreaking disease.
Maribeth Bersani MS ’78
“We Are Addicts” is an excellent and well-written article. I learned a lot. Is it possible to be addicted to good articles like this?
David Schlosberg MA ’07
SANTA MONICA, CA
Has addiction been studied as an allergy or sensitivity? If we are allergic or sensitive to some environmental things, such as grasses, weeds, etc., can addictive substances contain similar compounds that could be tested for sensitivity? Just as we test for allergens, can we test for addiction to certain substances, such as alcohol?
[Has] any research been done on the effects of music therapy on addiction? Since the insula seems to function as an emotional control/perceptual center with regard to music, as well as with regard to addiction issues/substances, I am wondering if the use of music therapy in addiction might be helpful. Thank you for this wonderful article.
USC professor Antoine Bechara replies: It is generally agreed that nonconventional methods [of controlling addiction] have a way of boosting the neural systems involved in self-control. In the case of music therapy, the reward from music could help substitute for the reward from drugs by engaging the same neural systems, including the insula. Some people have done it with success, but this method has not really been addressed seriously from a scientific perspective.
Erika L. Roth DPT ’00
SANTA ANA, CA
There is a factual error in the sidebar of the addiction article. vermectin is commonly used in veterinary medicine as the main ingredient in oral heartworm preventatives, such as Heartgard. Medications commonly applied topically to the backs of cats and dogs, such as Frontline and Advantage, contain pesticides, such as fipronil and imidacloprid. They do not contain ivermectin.
David Sogg MM ’82
My mom was an active sober member of AA for about 50 years until her death. She always said that “alcoholism is a disease,” and “you are never cured” but always “in recovery.” I went to many AA meetings with her and met people from all walks of life – none wanted to be addicted. I hope and pray that researchers in this expanding field can help those in need avoid the terrible social outcomes for addicts, their families and society.
Bob Whitney MA ’66
Troy Camp Love
Your story on Otis Healy (“For the Love of Troy Camp,” Winter 2011, p. 16) inspired me to donate to USC for the first time, not just monetarily but with my time as well. He truly embodies the five attributes of an ideal Trojan.
Arin Nazarian ’05
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Lost in Translation
I was disturbed by Liz Segal’s mention of international student Dilyara Kenzhegaliyeva’s “pretty, moon-shaped face” (“Gained in Translation,” Winter 2011, p. 26). Ms. Kenzhegaliyeva deserved to be discussed in the context of her learning experience at USC, not identified as “a walking advertisement for her native Kazakhstan” through her beauty and tendency to dress fashionably. Although Segal contrasts this against Kenzhegaliyeva’s ironic donning of “a greasy hard hat” while in the field, the author still contextualizes her subject against her appearance, which would be bizarre and unacceptable if she were male.
Liz Willis-Tropea MA ’03, PhD ’07
SANTA MONICA, CA
Politics Left and Right
While Edward G. Robinson (“Little Caesar and the McCarthyist Mob,” Autumn 2011, p. 16) did everything he could to get the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to “clear” him – claiming that he had been “duped and used” by the Communists – it is clear from his autobiography that he didn’t think he had done anything wrong. To state that the government drove Robinson out of the business is a misrepresentation. It was private individuals and groups who were responsible for the attacks on Robinson. It was HUAC that cleared him. Of course, he had to admit that he had been wrong.
Jimmie Hicks MA ’63
LOS ANGELES, CA
Pats & Pans
Thank you for referencing John Waters’ “Odorama” idea (Trojan Beat, “Divine Trash,” Winter 2011, p. 8). The scratch-and-sniff cards for Polyester were a definite improvement over earlier attempts to provide audiences with a whiff of the “real thing” on the screen. USC visiting professor Arthur Mayer regaled his cinema students with stories about his 1933 attempts to deliver odors at his New York (Paramount’s) Rialto Theatre. The problem was that said smells lingered for days afterward.