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Ask the Rock Doc: 
Sound Advice for a Song 
By psychologist Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT 
Rock Doc Theme Song

Phatom Tollbooth Visitors: 

Hear Hugs, not Drugs the retro shrink rap one-song "soundtrack" to the following advice column and learn about an exciting new rap contest via this link to my Muse blog (you don't have to be from my home town to challenge the reigning rap king in this contest): 

***Details and implied method of inquiry may be altered in the following correspondence to protect the confidentiality of the inquiring party and to emphasize certain aspects involved in the maintenance of good mental and spiritual health habits. 

Dear Dr. BLT: 

I am the 53-year-old single mother of an only child, a 17-year-old Korn wannabe from Kern County.  Heís in a band called Serial Thriller and heís ďrehearsing with the band,Ē almost every night.  I am concerned that my son may be using methamphetamines because he is irritable and he can go for several nights without sleeping.  Then, for several days in a row, heíll sleep most of the time.  He also throws frequent temper tantrums.  I took him to a psychiatrist a few years ago, right after his father left.  He reported to me that he felt depressed all the time, and I noticed that he was losing a lot of weight.  The doctor told him to cut down on junk food, exercise regularly and consider psychotherapy.  He refused psychotherapy, but he did seem to cut down on fast food and kept a daily exercise routine going for a couple of weeks.  The doctor prescribed him an antidepressant called Paroxetine.  At first the drugs seemed to improve his mood and increase his energy level.  Then he experienced an energy crash and began to get depressed again.  He started sleeping and all the time and he started forgetting things.  His mind was not as sharp as it once was.  So the doctor increased his Paroxetine from 20 mg to 40 mg.  The increased dose produced the positive results that occurred when he first began taking the medication, but they soon went away and he turned into his old depressed self.   He finally stopped taking the pills altogether, complaining that he was still depressed most of the time, and that the pills only made him feel drowsy and depressed at the same time.  At that time, I asked him if he was using street drugs and he said he was not, but did admit that he was smoking 1 pack or more of cigarettes every day and drinking a lot of coffee.  Iím so confused.  I know that his father had a history of bipolar disorder, so Iím asking you, is my son a meth head or is he really suffering from a psychiatric condition?  On the other hand, Iím a recovering meth head myself, though Iíve been clean and sober for going on nine years, thanks to Jesus and a Christian group for addicts that I go to on a regular basis.  Iím beginning to think that heís just a meth head, and that heís been leading me on a wild goose chase.  Or maybe itís that music heís listening to thatís causing him to loose his mind. 

Meth Head Mom of Korn-fed Son 
Dear Meth Head Mom of Korn-fed Son: 

First of all, congratulations on your continuing recovery from the throes of methamphetamine addiction.  If you can survive, recover, and thrive, so can your son, if he is, in fact, addicted to meth. 

Youíve created a dichotomy for yourself, in which you son must either be a ďmeth headĒ or suffering from a mental health disorder such as Bipolar disorder.  Actually, with the addition of his music as a factor, you may have created a ďtrichotomy.Ē   Itís important to realize that all of these forces may be at work, or, less likely, none of them.  There could also be any of a number of even less likely explanations.  Perhaps two are at work.  This will all need to be sorted out before any progress can be made.  As you may be aware, most drug addicts deny their drug addiction.  Then again, most people who are not using, when confronted about the prospect, deny using or abusing drugs.  Your experience as an addict should come in handy for ruling out drugs as a factor.  Reflect on your behaviors while on the influence of methamphetamine, and then observe your son to determine if there is a match.  Ask your son more questions, and be a detective.  Rely upon friends and professionals to assist you in making this determination if you need to, but I urge you to make the determination as soon as possible.  The outcome will dictate an appropriate course of treatment. 

I never make a definitive diagnosis on anyone without first assessing them in a face-to-face professional situation so I will reserve judgment on diagnosis.  I will say that the effects of methamphetamine, manifested at various stages in the abuse cycle, abuse often mimic a Bipolar or, occasionally Major Depressive condition.  If a person is already depressed, manic, or both, methamphetamine abuse will invariably exacerbate, or intensify his/her pre-existing condition.  Adding, cigarettes, coffee and/or alcohol to the mix further complicates the outcome. 

I cannot give you any medication advice, because I am a psychologist, not a psychiatrist. If it can be established that your son suffers from Bipolar Disorder, and he is not abusing drugs, then I wouldnít be surprised if the psychiatrist adds lithium to the treatment regimen, to see if the addition of this prescription produces more positive results.   That is an expectation---not a recommendation, so please donít quote me on that. 

The effects of music on the mind is complex, but I would recommend that you read my latest article on Korn to further understand their music and its potential effects.  It is important to realize that individuals respond differently to the same stimuli, depending upon such factors as personal histories, mental/emotional stability, identity, and genetics.  I can tell you this however: As I mentioned in my article, Kornís lyrics and dark sound are not a reflection of a healthy mind and a happy heart.  They are not positive or uplifting.  They are not nourishing to the soul, unless one assumes there is some type of vicarious catharsis that takes place.  I would recommend that your son check out the music and story of Brian "Head" Welch, who turned to Christ, gave up meth and left the band to seek higher ground, both musically and otherwise.  Here's the link to Head's website, Head to Christ: 

Whatever the nature of your sonís problems may be, remember that this is also a family problem.  I would recommend family therapy and individual therapy for your son as an adjunct to any drug abuse treatment or medication regimen he may be receiving.  A comprehensive treatment strategy will cover all bases. This could also involve a pastor, who could be instrumental in your sonís recovery, and in the restoration of your family, by emphasizing the need for you, your son, and you and your son as a family unit, to nurture a perspective grounded in prayer, scripture and faith. 

Like a great baseball team, you need to cover all bases.  A home run may still be an eternity away, but at least you will have increased the odds of such a victorious outcome significantly. 

May God richly bless you and keep you strong.  May he be there in your time of greatest need. Email me about any ongoing developments, or if you have any further questions.

*** If you are a musician in distress, or a parent, sibling or peer of one, feel free to write Dr. BLT, The Rock Doc at one of the new email addresses: 
And feel free to visit my website at the new address: 

Dr. BLT, aka Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, is a Christ-centered licensed clinical psychologist and university instructor who specializes in the psychology of modern music.  He uses his original songs as well as those of other artists to address the problems of his patients, including his biggest, sickest, most challenging patient--society.

His face and name recognition, particularly with teens, comes from his short part on a long Cake music video--the Cake video for ďShort Skirt/Long JacketĒ that earned the band a nomination for Ground Breaking Music Video of the Year on the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. 



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