The Edmond Sun


November 9, 2012

Coping with bad electoral memories

EDMOND — A friend of mine, let’s call him “Twitchy,” is having a hard time coping with the outcome of the presidential election. He keeps going over the pre-election polls trying to figure out how he could be so wrong. He relives the debates in a futile effort to figure out how the outcome might have changed if different or better points were scored. And don’t start him talking about Hurricane Sandy.

He is caught in an almost schizophrenic love/hate relationship with the news. He can’t stand to watch post-election coverage, but he can’t go 20 minutes without checking his smart phone to see if the headlines are refreshed.

Twitchy obviously needs help but since I’m no mental health expert, the only advice I have is this: Take a vacation, go someplace peaceful, leave the smart phone home, don’t turn on the TV, enjoy a cool drink with an umbrella in it (or two), and “chill.” For some reason, this year, the always reliable, all purpose, advice of “wait till next time” just isn’t working. He simply can’t see a silver lining.

Twitchy is cursed with a formidable emotional double whammy; he’s an uncontrolled news junky and his addiction is complicated by the fact he’s a sore loser.

Since the election, he hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep or a decent meal. Dark circles are forming under his eyes and he thinks he’s losing his hair.

Several of us were considering an intervention when I got an excited late night call from my friend Twitchy. “Hey Hink, there may be a treatment for my post-election disappointment syndrome and it doesn’t have anything to do with brain transplants, parallel universes or time travel.”

“Twitchy, I’m all ears.”

He took a deep breath and launched into a summary of an article appearing in the Nov. 17 issue of Science News. Evidently, Dr. Asya Rolls, a postdoctoral research fellow in psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University, just released a study suggesting there may be a way — chemically — to control the negative effects of bad memories.

Dr. Rolls and her colleagues conditioned laboratory mice to associate the smell of jasmine with painful shocks to their feet. Afterward, the researchers would waft the jasmine smell into the mice’s cages as they slept on the assumption this would strengthen the scary link between the jasmine smell and the pain. The next day, the subject mice often froze with fear when they detected the jasmine odor — even though their surroundings were completely different.

At this point, I interrupted, “So these mice exhibited the rodent equivalent to your post-election disappointment syndrome.”

“Right, except they didn’t lose their hair.”

“Go on.”

The researchers selected some of these sick mice and shot anisomycin into their tiny amygdalas before exposing them to the jasmine smell in their sleep.

“Two questions: What’s anisomycin and what’s a tiny amygdala?”

“I was getting to that. Anisomycin is an antifungal antibiotic and the amygdala is part of the brain that has something to do with memory storage. Mice have tiny amygdalas because — well, they have tiny brains.

“Anyway, these mice that got anisomycin injected into their amygdalas before they slept didn’t freeze in terror as often as the other mice. Dr. Asya and her colleagues think this might lead to a treatment in humans that would reduce — or even eliminate — the negative emotional consequences of bad memories.”

I caught his drift. “So you’re saying, if we squirt some anti-fungal medicine into your brain after this bad election outcome, it might make it easier for you to deal with the fact Romney lost?”

“Nope, too late. The treatment has to be administered before you sleep and I’ve nodded off a time or two since Tuesday.”

“You’ve lost me. How is this going to help?”

“It won’t this time, but in 2014, for the mid-terms, I’ll be ready. We’ll have some asinomycin in a syringe ready while we watch the returns. If the Republicans don’t re-take the Senate or (perish the thought) we lose ground in the House, you just shoot this antifungal into my amygdala before I go to sleep and ‘presto,’ I’ll be fine. What do you think?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him what I really thought. “Sounds great, Twitchy. But how will you handle your post-election disappointment syndrome between now and 2014?”

“I’ll find someone to put me into suspended animation until then. They’ll wake me up just in time to vote in the mid-terms. I’ll be fine. Thank God for wonders of modern medicine.”

Good plan, Twitchy. Maybe you’ll get a better night’s sleep tonight. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is an Edmond resident and retired attorney.

Text Only
  • Bangladesh’s sweatshops — a boycott is not the answer

    One year ago this week, the eight-story Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka, killing 1,129 people. The building’s top floors had been added illegally, and their weight caused the lower stories to buckle. Many of the victims were young women who had been sewing low-priced clothes for Western brands, earning a minimum wage of about $9 a week. It was the worst disaster in garment industry history.

    April 24, 2014

  • Loosening constraints on campaign donations and spending doesn’t destroy democracy

    Campaign finance reformers are worried about the future. They contend that two Supreme Court rulings — the McCutcheon decision in March and the 2010 Citizens United decision — will magnify inequality in U.S. politics.
    In both cases, the court majority relaxed constraints on how money can be spent on or donated to political campaigns. By allowing more private money to flow to campaigns, the critics maintain, the court has allowed the rich an unfair advantage in shaping political outcomes and made “one dollar, one vote” (in one formulation) the measure of our corrupted democracy.
    This argument misses the mark for at least four reasons.

    April 23, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 23, 2014

  • Free trade on steroids: The threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids — can at last be concluded.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Chicago Tribune: If Walgreen Co. moves its HQ to Europe, blame Washington’s tax failure

    The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield, Ill.
    Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.
    A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes.
    If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

    April 21, 2014

  • Sulphur a future major tourist destination?

    Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone,” in the 1932 film “Grand Hotel.” That MGM film starred Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and a young actress from Lawton named Joan Crawford. It told the stories of several different people who were staying at an exclusive hotel of that name in Berlin Germany.
    It was critically well received and it inspired more recent films such as “Gosford Park” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” in that it detailed the relationship between powerful and wealthy people and those who served them. The film opened amidst much fanfare and it received the Oscar for best picture in the year of its release.

    April 21, 2014

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014


Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

     View Results