From: Dale Berkley, Attorney at Law, NIH
Subject: Cease and Desist (retraction)
This whole satire thing has become tiresome. So I would like to be completely serious for a moment. I hereby retract my “Cease and Desist” letter regarding your satirical posts on our NIH Scientists. It was blatantly unconstitutional and a chilling infringement on your First Amendment rights. I blush just to think about it. You would think I’d know better, as a Senior Attorney at a prestigious government institution. But here’s the problem. You see, I am an alcoholic. There I said it. It started with just two drinks at night, and I thought everything was fine. But the thing is, the drinks started as regular sized cups, and before I knew it, it was 2 full bottles of gin. Every night. But in my own mind I was justifying it as “Just 2 drinks”.
I’ve spoken with Koob and White, and they explained it to me. This is the normal progression of alcoholism. It’s a very insidious disease and it gets out of hand quickly. Like most people, I didn’t realize I was in trouble until it was too late. They also explained that it can happen to anyone, including a prestigious lawyer like myself, and I have nothing to be ashamed of. I learned that it’s a physical abnormality in the brain, and not because I was just feeling increasingly sexually frustrated, as I had naively assumed. Also, we may have a genetic predisposition that is activated by childhood drinking. Well I can remember my father letting me taste his beer when I was a teenager. White said that could have been the trigger.
Most alcoholics will go out and have sex with fat chicks or smash bar chairs over others’ heads. Basically they do things they shouldn’t do and wouldn’t want to do when sober. Well, to be honest those things have little interest for me. But the booze brings out the mischief in me. And that’s why I did it. I directed the letter to you because I was trying to satirize your absurd theory that the government turns its citizens into zombies and then tries to silence anyone who points it out. I certainly didn’t think everyone would be so dense and so easily deceived and misled by my little joke. I mean the letter was transparently stupid! I guess I’m just not that great at satire when I’m drunk. Also, to be honest I was blacked out the whole time I wrote and emailed the letter, and had absolutely no recollection of it until Koob reminded me that I called him in the middle of the night asking if I should send it. Of course, he told me not to, but I did anyway. First I laughed when he told me (someone saw it on popehat), but I started piecing together my memories of the night, and I saw he wasn’t laughing. Then I realized: OOPS!
Well if that doesn’t demonstrate the true power of the cunning and baffling disease known as alcoholism, then I don’t know what does. Aaron is actually going to use my experience as an example of a blackout in his next paper. It turns out that alcohol is surprisingly specific in the cognitive functions that it impairs, as shown by our own research and the research that we fund.
Fortunately Obamacare now includes alcoholism treatment as an “Essential Benefit” so I am covered (unless our waiver request is granted). Plus, since I work at the NIH, I can get cutting edge treatment. Koob and White created a giant gerbil wheel for me to run in daily. They say it works great for the rats in reducing their compulsion to drink. And I also will be participating in play therapy with tin cans and garbage, which is expected to be incredibly effective based on extrapolation from animal studies. Also the therapy works great for meth and coke, in case I should ever get mixed up with those as well, and get addicted, and do something stupid. Again. Turns out my brain is wired in such a way that makes me particularly susceptible to this pattern of behavior.
And of course, I am focusing on bolstering my spiritual life, because I understand that that will also help protect me from my own deadly urges, against which I must remain eternally vigilant. As White explained, stopping was the easy part, but bad habits are hard to break. Now comes the hard part – not picking up again. Because if I do, it could easily turn into two bottles a night. Again. Without even realizing it. Or even worse: realizing it but being completely unable to stop myself; powerless to my own cravings. Can you imagine! But I’m not worried about that, because now I know that every day is a blessing full of awe, and I meditate on that thought daily. I take it one day at a time.
Also I need to create a support network for when I think I might be getting into trouble, so if you can send me your number that would be great. (Yes of course I already have it, but I thought it might be a little spooky if I just cold-called you.)
Despite all that, I’ve also learned that relapses are normal and expected. So please don’t be disappointed if and when I send you another nasty letter alleging something else like cyberstalking our personnel (which I did not allude to in the first sentence of this letter, even if it may seem like it to the unsophisticated layman). Or even myself, for that matter (but please feel free to call any time!). Many of us are regular AA attendees where we learned that one is expected to relapse at least 7 times, which has also been corroborated in animal experiments performed right here at NIAAA. So you can safely ignore threatening letters from the government at this point. Remember, we are not zombies, even if we act like it sometimes. It’s just our disease acting up.
As my Higher Power Thomas McLellan, former senior drug official in the Obama administration explains, “Let’s face it: People with addictions do bad things. Nora’s work has shown that they’re bad because the brain structures and functions that are specifically targeted by abuse screw up motivation, reward and learning.”
Again, I would like to apologize for my ridiculous behavior. Can we just acknowledge each other’s work as lame attempts at satire and call it even? I would also like to make amends: we’ve decided to name our next treatment for alcoholism after you. We call it the AddictionMyth pill, and it turns out to be more effective than any other treatment we’ve discovered here (granted, not saying much). Though for some reason you always have to explain it: “We are now giving you the AddictionMyth pill, which we have to call it as our amends to some idiot ass who insists your drinking is just cover for your mischief.” I found out it’s actually just made out of sugar. Don’t tell anyone.
P.S. When Barack heard about the letter, he flipped his lid! Turns out he’s an expert in the Constitution. He made me write, “I will not infringe on our citizens’ Freedom of Speech” 100 times!
P.P.S. I have been demoted to “Junior Attorney at Law” for one week starting today, a reprimand I sheepishly accept. Please note: my office cannot be responsible for incorrectly addressed correspondence.
P.P.P.S. We are not medicalizing demon possession. But I respect your right to say that, and even ridicule us for it if that’s what you really believe.