X-Message-Number: 3730
Date: 23 Jan 95 04:02:57 EST
From: "Clifton  G. Clue Jr" <>
Subject: CRYONICS Problems in cryonics

This message if fromMike Darwin (please ignore header).

Actually, Bob and I are in very close agreement, believe it or not!  I 
think we are just looking at the problem differently.  Bob has perhaps not 
spent many hours on the phone with relatives or patients who are 
experiencing distress as  a result of cryonics.  Nor, perhaps has Bob seen 
marriages and long term relationships torn apart because of cryonics.  The 
fact that these thing happen is NOT (and it has never been my stated 
position to argue that they DO) constitute a reason NOT to do cryonics.

*Rather, what I am am saying now and have said in the past is that I 
believe the FACT that these things happen should be acknowleged SO THAT WE 
CAN MAKE CRYONICS BETTER!  They are not an argument AGAINST cryonics.  
Bob's position seems to be a little (and only a little) analogous to 
pharmaceutical manufacturer who has marketed a GOOD drug (i.e., good 
therapeutic/negative effects ratio) objecting strenuously and responding 
defensively when some serious side effects are brought up -- along with a 
plea to find ways to adresss them, so that the patient population using the 
drug can benefit more, or so that the benefitting patient population can 

Obviously, I believe cryonics offers a net good in many cases.  But it has 
caused and continues to cause some real harm both to some  patients and 
families of patients.  I believe much of this harm is avoidable and in my 
book on Standby I spend  most of my time talking about ways to decrease 
this harm or prevent in it some cases. A major error some cryonicists make 
is in prosletyzing their families and in the APPROACH they take to 
negotiatioing cryonics into their family lives.  Providing good, 
non-threatening and nonadvocating video materials to EDUCATE and help 
restore some sense of control to the next of kin (and relieve or reduce 
their anxieties)  is a critical first step.

Bob points out the positive risk/benefit ratio of cryonics: a chance at 
immortality vs. certain oblivion.  Generally I agree with this assessment.  
But a lot of people don't.  Including moi on bad days!  Clearly the several 
people in cryonics who have comitted suicide, some in very brain 
compromising ways found themselves (however momentarily and perhaps 
incorrectly) no longer agreeing that even being ALIVE is worthwhile.  This 
is what depression is all about.

I found Stodolsky's commentsabout depressives seeing reality more 
accurately of great interest.  I read a summary of the first study in  that 
series about 6-10 years ago in PSYCHOLOGY TODAY and have followed 
subsequent work.  It DOES appear that depressed people view realiy more 
realistically and more negatively than nondepressed people.  What natural 
selection seems to have decided is if you want success you have tol lie and 
sell the sizzle!; something any salesman could told us anyway...  So the 
real question is (at least on somedays for me) Why go on living?  Which 
brain state: optimistic or hopeless is the REAL one?????  This a place 
where reason can guide us, and compassionate friends, and where Bob himself 
has done so much good with his positive views of life as expressed in both 
his books and in his many other writings.

Still, I think there is a place for people who DO see a serious problem and 
work to fix it.  I see myself in that catergory.  Yes, I am no longer 
overwhelmed with the pure goodness of cryonics as I was when younger.  But 
on the other hand I am more motivated to try IMPROVING the product both in 
terms of ultimate technology and the immediate short-term problems I 
perceive.  I think Bob would agree that BOTH of those things are worthwhile 

And yes, I am aware that presenting cryonics as "less than perfect" in 
terms of its short-term or immediate effects exposes us to the risk of more 
*effective* outside criticism.  So be it.  I don't think we deal with 
problems by sweeping them under the rug.

Finally Cosenza says I violate patient patient confidences.  I do not.  
That is ONE of the functions of CASE ID #'s.  As to the future, if Cosenza 
is implying that there be NO discussion of case histories because it 
violates  (or could) violate the privacy of revived patients, then he is 
mistaken.  The ability to discuss case histories by reliable identifiers is 
critical and, in the Alcor Consent For Cryonic Suspension the patient not 
only acknowledges that such will be done, s/he further agrees to take on 
the risk of far more invasive risks and losses of privacy which may occur 
as a result of cryopreservation.  

Also, I fail to see how the "tragic deaths" of two Alcor patients are being 
exploited by me.  I have discussed similar "tragedies" such as suicide, 
homicide and HIV in similar contexts not involving Alcor.  Any cryonics 
organization that operates for long will have it share of such cases.  
There is no shame in this (and as my Mother used to say in reference to 
being poor "no great pride either.")  It is just a fact of life.  Frankly, 
I do not see a depressed person killing themselves as any more tragic than 
someone who dies of cancer.  Both represent end-stages of disease processes 
which both now and in the future (obviously to a greater extent in the 
future) will be interruptable and reversible.

As to Cosenza's point abot the 5 members who listed serious psychiatric 
illness or depression; my point was that MOST DID NOT!!!!!  Those five 
people are to be commemded for their honestly and their understanding of 
mental illness: being no more ashamed of it than say a bum leg or kidney 
disease.  In fact, if more people thought of and reacted to mental illness 
in that way (all kinds, not just depression) the world would be a better 
place, and there would be a hell of a lot fewer ragged people in misery on 
the streets -- or for that matters in prisons:prisons which  (in this 
country at least) contained countless people who are ILL rather than evil.

And, to set matters straight:  I know of people in ACS, CryoCare and in the 
UK cryonics groups who suffer from mental illness.  My point was NOT to 
point the finger at Alcor, but rather to point out that this is a common, 
serious and underreported problem and one not at all historically well 
dealt with in cryonis groups.

I would also point out that ANY issue of PERFUSION LIFE or Amsect's 
technical magazine contains a large ad EVERY MONTH offering Amsect (the 
perfusionists professional organization) sponsored, 24-hour a day, 
365-day-a year psychiatric/crisis help to any member perfusionist who needs 
it.  Why?  Because Amsect realized a long time ago that perfusion was a job 
with high burnout, depression, and suicide rates.  They DID something about 
it and my off the cuff understanding is that they cut their rate of serious 
psychiatric events (including major depressive episodes, divorce, and 
suicides) by better than 70%.

No cryonics organization is being "fingered here."  

Finally, I did not get and have been unable to download Mike Riskin's first 
message which I would very much like to see.  That part of my Cryonet file 
is missing along with the tail-end of the preceding message.

I would also say I agree with Riskin's assessment in his second message: 
about lithium and about almost everything else he had to say.  In fact, I 
put the number of people in the US suffering from some kind of psychiatric 
disorder (most leaving them "functional") at better than half.  Considering 
how complex the brain is, the abusive and inappropriate ways many people 
are raised, and the kooky ideas they are often programmed with: this number 
if it isaccurate is astonishingly low!  

Mike Darwin

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