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Category Archives: Medical Issues

Sonny Liston: Cause and Manner of Death

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Former Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston is best remembered from his two losses—first to Cassius Clay, then Muhammad Ali. Ali changed his name between the two fights. But Sonny was a tough guy. He ruled the heavyweight division with an iron hand. Until Ali burst of the scene anyway.

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But Sonny was no match for the needle. The cause of his death is easy—-a heroin OD. But, the manner of death isn’t so apparent. A situation not uncommon in drug OD deaths.

The cause of death is what actually killed the person while then manner of death is the by whom and why. It basically comes down to—-by whose hand and for what purpose did the death occur?

The four (plus one) manners of death are: Natural, Accidental, Suicidal, Homicidal, and Undertermined—-the latter a fancy way of saying “I don’t have a clue.”

A heroin OD is not natural but can it be accidental, or suicidal, or homicidal? You bet. And it’s not always possible to determine the manner in heroin-related deaths.

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FROM FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES:

Uncovering the four manners of death

The manner of death is the root cause of the sequence of events that leads to death. In other words, it answers these questions:

# How and why did these events take place?

# Who or what initiated the events and with what intention?

# Was the death caused by the victim, another person, an unfortunate occurrence, or Mother Nature?

The four manners of death are

Natural: Natural deaths are the workings of Mother Nature in that death results from a natural disease process. Heart attacks, cancers, pneumonias, and strokes are common natural causes of death. Natural death is by far the largest category of death that the ME sees, making up over half of the cases investigated.

Accidental: Accidental deaths result from an unplanned and unforeseeable sequence of events. Falls, automobile accidents, and in‐home electrocutions are examples of accidental deaths.

Suicidal: Suicides are deaths caused by the dead person’s own hand. Intentional, self‐inflicted gunshot wounds, drug overdoses, and self‐ hangings are suicidal deaths.

Homicidal: Homicides are deaths that occur by the hand of someone other than the dead person.

Undetermined or unclassified: These are deaths in which the ME can’t accurately determine the appropriate category.

Just as causes of death can lead to many different mechanisms of death, any cause of death can have several different manners of death. A gunshot wound to the head can’t be a natural death, but it can be deemed homicidal, suicidal, or accidental.

Though the ME can usually determine the manner of death, it’s not always easy, or even possible. For example, the manner of death of a drug abuser who overdoses is most likely to be either accidental or suicidal (it also could be homicidal, but it’s never natural). When the cause of death is a drug overdose, autopsy and laboratory findings are the same regardless of the victim’s or another’s intent. That is, the ME’s findings are the same whether the victim miscalculated the dose (accidental), intentionally took too much (suicidal), or was given a lethal dose (homicidal). For example, perhaps the victim’s dealer, thinking the user had snitched to the police, gave the victim a purer form of heroin than he was accustomed to receiving, so that his “usual” injection contained four or five times more drug than the unfortunate soul expected. Simply put, no certain way exists for determining whether the person overdosed accidentally, purposefully, or as the result of another’s actions. For these reasons, such deaths are often listed as Undetermined.

So was Sonny’s death an accident? A suicide? Or did the hand of another intervene and murder Sonny? We may never know.

Was Sonny Liston Murdered?: http://theundefeated.com/features/was-sonny-liston-murdered/

 

Dr. Frankenstein Lives. Sort of.

Dr. Sergio Canavero wants to be the modern-day Victor Frankenstein. Create a human from parts. Two parts anyway. A head and a body. Yes, he wants to do a head transplant. His proof that it works? Stimulating the nerves of the spinal cord to test his efforts.

Remember high school biology? That poor frog with his head cut off? Yet applying a current to its spinal cord made the legs jump. It’s what nerves and muscles do when stimulated. It’s not life; it’s a parlor trick—-for lack of a better word.

So, could Dr. Canavero’s experiment work? This head transplant? Maybe, anything is possible. But smart money is on not a chance.

What of the original Frankenstein? Art and life often intertwine and had it not been for a volcanic eruption on the other side of the world Marry Shelly’s classic might never have been written.

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I’ve blogged about this before:

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/frankenstein-and-creativity/

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/more-decapitation-and-reanimating-the-dead/

 
 

One Big Kid: World’s Tallest Teenager

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There are “giants” in this world. The NBA is living proof. But most non-NBA members have Pituitary Gigantism, which occurs when the pituitary gland secretes too much Growth Hormone (somatotropin or HGH). This makes the person’s growth increase exponentially. If this occurs before the growth plates close in the late teens to early twenties, gigantism occurs; if later in life the person suffers from acromegaly.

The wrestler Andre’ the Giant is famous example. He eventually reached 7’4” and 550 pounds.

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But a less common form of giantism is Sotos-Dodge Syndrome. This is not related to a pituitary problem or any other glandular dysfunction. It is a genetic disorder where the victim grows, and grows, and grows. It’s also often associated the a form of autism, muscle weakness, poor coordination, cognitive dysfunction, and the many orthopedic problems that all giants suffer.

Such is the case with 19-year-old Broc Brown, the world’s tallest teenager. He currently stands 7’8” and is still growing. But he lost his Guinness crown when he turned 19 as the tallest teen category is for those 18 and below. He seems to be a pleasant young man dealing with an uncomfortable situation with grace and style. Watch the video and I think you’ll agree.

Good luck, Broc.

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The Telegraph News: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/21/worlds-tallest-teenager-with-genetic-disorder-cant-stop-growing/

Wikipedia: Gigantism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gigantism

Wikipedia: Sotos Syndrome: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sotos_syndrome

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Medical Issues

 

Guest Blogger: Forensic Psychologist Stefanie Stolinsky, PhD: Problem Gambling

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Problem gambling is actually an obsessive-compulsive mental disorder. And although many people gamble without its becoming a problem, addicted gamblers find an excitement in gambling that they find nowhere else in their lives.  It is often referred to as a “high” or a “rush,” akin to taking a drug.  The partial reinforcement inherent in obsessive gambling is the fault of sometimes winning big, sometimes losing big and never knowing what’s going to happen next.  An animal will continue to press a lever if food comes down the pipe sometimes.

Getting help for someone who has a destructive gambling habit can be difficult.  Gamblers rarely want therapy on their own, though they may agree to it under family pressure.  Sometimes when a chronic gambler is sentenced for illegalities stemming from gambling debts, a judge makes therapy a condition of probation.  In a structured environment such as a rehab center, there is the advantage of starting therapy in a setting that removes the gambler from temptation.

But the best approach to therapy is a combination of behavioral techniques, focused on stopping gambling, and supportive therapy to help the gambler deal with the chaos gambling has brought to their life.  Therapy may be long-term and there are usually some relapses, but that does not mean that therapy is a failure if the gambler uses the slip as an opportunity to learn how to resist temptation.

S. A. Stolinsky
Author HOT SHOT
http://stefaniestolinskyphd.com
FierySeas Publishers

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Stefanie Stolinsky is a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist.  She is the author of the acclaimed non-fiction book, ACT IT OUT: 25 Expressive Ways to Heal from Childhood Abuse, published by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. in 2002 and currently in its second edition with Praeclarus Press.  Dr. Stolinsky has written for over twenty years, having finished five mystery novels, numerous short stories (published in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine) and two well-received plays.  She has worked extensively with abuse and trauma survivors privately and from the military.  She also works with those suffering from gambling addiction.  She has a private psychology practice in Beverly Hills and lives with her husband in Los Angeles.

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Posted by on October 13, 2016 in Guest Blogger, Medical Issues

 

Lewy Bodies and Robin Williams

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Older folks suffer from dementia. That’s a fact of life. Just like the heart, lungs, and joints get old and rickety, so does the brain. Often this dementia is classified as senile dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But not rarely the loss of brain function is due to something you’ve probably never heard of – –Lewy Body Disease, or LBD. This form of dementia results from the accumulation of abnormal structures within the brain that are called Lewy Bodies. This accumulation interferes with brain function and lead to a host of symptoms including: problems with movement and balance, confusion, loss of memory, abnormal alertness, an alteration of attention span, and even hallucinations that at times are paranoid in nature. The disease is usually not diagnosed until after death when the brain can be examined but it is often suspected by the symptoms the person displays. It is often confused with the Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.

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Lewy Bodies in the Brain

It turns out that Robin Williams suffered from LBD. In a wonderfully written article “The Terrorist Inside My Husband’s Brain” on neurology.org, Susan Schneider Williams tells of her husband’s ordeal. It is a look inside this terrible disease and what happened to one of the greatest comedians that ever lived.

The Terrorist Inside My Husband’s Head: http://www.neurology.org/content/87/13/1308.full

Medline Plus: https://medlineplus.gov/lewybodydisease.html#cat92

Lewy Body Disease Association: https://www.lbda.org/content/symptoms

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Medical Issues

 

Father’s Unborn Twin Is the Genetic “Father” of His Son

A couple of years ago a happy couple in Washington welcomed a new baby boy. All was good until a paternity test showed that the father was not the father. Uh-oh. Well, it’s not really that bad. Turns out that genetic testing revealed the father was a chimera and the genetic testing was confused by his unborn twin’s DNA, which the father had absorbed in utero. Chimerism is an odd and interesting medical entity.

 

Greek Chimera

In Greek Mythology, the Chimera was a fire-breathing female that was part lion, part goat, and part dragon. Fortunately, human chimeras, which result from the combining of two or more human embryos in utero, are typically normal in every way—-except for that DNA stuff.

I’ve blogged and had Guest Bloggers comment on chimeras before:

Q&A: How Could My Sleuth Recognize a Chimera?

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/qa-how-could-my-sleuth-recognize-a-chimera/

Guest Blogger: EE Giorgi: I Am My Mother’s Chimera. Chances Are, So Are You

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/guest-blogger-ee-giorgi-i-am-my-mothers-chimera-chances-are-so-are-you/

Guest Blogger: Human Chimerism: Mindboggling DNA Tests Gone Wrong

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/human-chimerism-mindboggling-dna-tests-gone-wrong-guest-blogger/

http://www.people.com/article/man-fails-paternity-test-twins-genes

 

Laughter Is Good Medicine

Originally posted on Mystery Fanfare:

http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2016/06/laughter-is-good-medicine-by-dp-lyle.html

Laughter Is Good Medicine

I love to laugh. Bet you do too.

It’s good for you. It relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and might even boost your immune system and make you healthier, definitely happier. I use it every day in my practice. With virtually every patient I see, after going through all the medical stuff, the last thing I say to them as they leave the office is: “Laugh a lot.” It’s that important.

I grew up with humor. My mom could turn anything into a party and always seemed to find the funny in everything. Dad had a drier sense of humor, but a sense of humor none the less. My sisters, cousins, and friends each had great wit.

In my early teens, as I began reading novels, I was captured by the usual suspects—Hemingway, Steinbeck, Verne—but also by the great humorists Mark Twain and Will Rogers. Later I dug into more modern humor writers like Carl Hiaasen and Tim Maleeny. I admired how each employed humor and downright knee-slapping funny in their essays and works of fiction.

Most of my early work is harsher—darker stuff with very bad guys—but I always included splashes of humor. I couldn’t help myself. Besides, humor is a great way to diffuse tension and humanize characters. But I had long wanted to write a more comedic thriller. And finally, I did.

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DEEP SIX is a humorous thriller starring Jake Longly, ex professional baseball player, Gulf Coast bar/restaurant owner, and someone who’d rather run his dive and chase bikinis than do “honest work.” At least that was his father Ray’s take. Ray has a gray past, being involved in government secret ops of some kind—Jake never knew and Ray never shared—but is now a P.I. He wants Jake to work for him. Not a chance.

But, Ray does talk Jake into doing a bit of surveillance work—watching the house of a suspected adulteress. Of course, the woman gets murdered practically under Jake’s nose. And the story is off and running.

Jake, and his latest girlfriend Nicole Jemison. turn out to be fairly effective P.I.s—though Jake is reluctant to wear that mantel. But they can’t seem to stay out of trouble, and out of the crosshairs of the ruthless Victor Bookoff and his minions. Throw in Jake’s ex Tammy and her new husband and attorney Walter, who it turns out was having an affair with the deceased woman and naturally becomes the primary suspect, along with a couple of thugs and cartel hitmen, and well—-the pot boils.

After I finished DEEP SIX, I loved it. But would others? I mean, humor is hard to judge. One person’s funny is another’s ho hum. Very tricky stuff. Turned out my agent Kimberley Cameron and publishers Bob and Pat Gussin at Oceanview did indeed love it.

Now that makes me laugh.

As Lee Child said: “We all know Lyle’s erudition and expertise—-but who knew he was this funny?”

Certainly not my cat, who sees all this as annoying and not about him—the prerequisite for him to find anything interesting. Well, you can’t make everyone laugh.

DEEP SIX is available July 5, 2016.

More Information and to Pre-order a copy:

http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/deep-six/

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Medical Issues, Writing

 
 
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