When I was young my favorite writers were Ernest Hemmingway and Hunter S. Thompson, and my favorite Thompson novel was his 1971 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Which is why a caller last year who started on a rant about "adrenochrome" caused me to both cut him off the air and go back to my copy of the novel to see if my memory was right.
Sure enough, there it was. Thompson was bemoaning running out of hashish and being almost out of opium when his "fat Samoan" sidekick offered an alternative:
"As your attorney," he said, "I advise you not worry." He nodded toward the bathroom. "Take a hit out of that little brown bottle in my shaving kit."
"What is it?"
"Adrenochrome," he said. "You won't need much. Just a little tiny taste."
I got the bottle and dipped the head of a paper match into it.
"That's about right," he said. "That stuff makes pure mescaline seem like ginger beer. You'll go completely crazy if you take too much."
I licked the end of the match. "Where'd you get this?" I asked. "You can't buy it."
"Never mind," he said. "It's absolutely pure."
I shook my head sadly. "Jesus! What kind of monster client have you picked up this time? There's only one source for this stuff…"
"The adrenaline glands from a living human body," I said. "It's no good if you get it out of a corpse."
When Thompson asks his "attorney" where the adrenochrome came from, the fictional character tells the fictional tale of having once been hired to represent a child molester/murderer who'd presumably extracted it from one of his victims.
"Christ, what could I say?" Thompson's sidekick told him. "Even a goddamn werewolf is entitled to legal counsel. I didn't dare turn the creep down. He might have picked up a letter opener and gone after my pineal gland." Which then led them to a discussion about eating pineal glands to get high…
That little seed, entirely fictional, planted in the national subconscious back in the early '70s, has now blossomed into a full-blown flower of a belief held by literally millions of Americans. As Rightwing Watch documents, uber-Trump cultist and "journalist" Liz Crokin explains in one of her many videos:
"Adrenochrome is a drug that the elites love. It comes from children. The drug is extracted from the pituitary gland of tortured children. It's sold on the black market. It's the drug of the elites. It is their favorite drug. It is beyond evil. It is demonic. It is so sick."
When OMB Director Mick Mulvaney used the word "pizza" in a televised Cabinet Meeting, Crokin laid out how she and all the other Trump cultists were being flagged as to the "reality" of a pizza restaurant in a DC suburb being the place where the children were being held prior to being tortured and having their adrenochrome "harvested":
"President Trump and his staffers are constantly trolling the deep state," she said of Mulvaney's reference as Trump nodded in agreement. "That's President Trump's way of letting you know that Pizzagate is real and it's not fake. He's constantly using their words against them and throwing it in their face and God bless him, it's amazing."
But that was then (2018) and this is now. This week, Matthew Taylor Coleman, a 40-year-old Christian surfing school owner, drove his two children, a 3-year-old boy and a nine-month-old girl, to Mexico where he slaughtered them with a spear-fishing gun.
His children "were going to grow into monsters so he had to kill them," said federal officials handling the investigation. Coleman told police that killing his kids was "the only course of action that would save the world" because they had "lizard DNA" and would grow up to threaten us all.
Federal officials believe he learned this from Qanon/Trump followers, as did Anthony Quinn Warner who died when he blew up his truck outside an AT&T building in Nashville last Christmas Day causing a widespread internet outage in an apparent attempt to cripple the "lizard people" network opposing Trump, which included Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Obamas.
The University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism notes that 68 percent of the open Qanon followers arrested at the US Capitol on January 6th who had also committed crimes before or after that coup attempt "have documented mental health concerns, according to court records and other public sources."
Their psychological issues included "post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Munchausen syndrome by proxy."
The "Qanon Shaman" of so many iconic 1/6 pictures has now pleaded mental illness as his reason for showing up at the Capitol, as have two others who "were found to be mentally unfit to stand trial and were transferred to mental health care facilities."
Of the six women arrested on 1/6 who'd also committed crimes before or after the coup attempt, the researchers note, "all six…have documented mental health concerns."
This should be no surprise: Donald Trump also has well-documented mental illness.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Bandy X. Lee edited a compilation of articles by accredited mental health professionals discussing Trump's issues and their possible impact on America, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Psychiatrist Justin Frank MD wrote Trump on the Couch, a similarly chilling account of Trump's issues and their consequences.
Even Trump's niece, clinical psychologist Mary L. Trump PhD, has repeatedly and convincingly documented Trump's mental illness and its causes deep in his twisted and unhappy childhood with a psychopathic father.
And, it turns out, certain types of mental illness are functionally contagious. People with Trump's malignant narcissism can, essentially, activate or bring out narcissistic tendencies in others, which may explain in part the explosion of air rage among Trump followers infuriated by being told to wear a mask in-flight.
Followers yearning for a parent figure turn to a damaged leader hungry for adulation and create a symbiotic relationship that binds them together, notes Dr. Lee in an interview with Psychology Today.
When it reaches a lot of people, we see a repeat of the Salem Witch Trial-type of mass insanity that ripples through society. This is called shared psychosis.
"When a highly symptomatic individual is placed in an influential position," Dr. Lee notes, "the person's symptoms can spread through the population through emotional bonds, heightening existing pathologies and inducing delusions, paranoia and propensity for violence – even in previously healthy individuals."
We have multiple Republican governors now using the force of law in their states to force teachers and children to expose themselves to a deadly virus. One, Kristi Noem, has invited 700,000 bikers to come, unmasked and many unvaccinated, to her state for a giant superspreader event, which will — like it did last year with 250,000 people — spread disease, disability and death throughout the rest of the country in the coming weeks.
Half of the Republicans in Congress refuse to say if they're vaccinated (although all probably are; outside of Gomert, Greene and Boebert these people are grifters, not idiots), thus modeling behavior that is destroying families and killing people all across the country.
Meanwhile, a clearly delusional pillow salesman promotes a democracy-destroying conspiracy theory that the Senate of the State of Arizona has endorsed and thrown a pile of cash at…while Republican state officials in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania are trying to emulate Arizona's "audit."
If it all seems insane, that's because it is.
There's a very sad and very human aspect to all this.
We're all primed to be a bit gullible when it comes to fantastical ideas. Childhood myths like Santa Claus and most organized religions teach us that things beyond our understanding were both real in the past and will cause events in the future.
We all grew up tiny and helpless, depending on giant magical-seeming adults to take care of our needs, and that little, frightened child who just wants to be protected and loved is still alive and buried deep in the psyche of each of us.
The 918 people who died at Jim Jones' jungle camp in Guyana didn't join the People's Temple because they were suicidal: Jones' own psychosis either infected them or wore them down to a passive compliance.
We're all vulnerable to mass psychosis as a condition of our humanity.
So what do we do as a society when we're confronted with a psychotic former leader who's continuing to inflict and spread contagious forms of mental illness among our nation? How do we handle it, and repair the damage?
Dr. Bandy X. Lee says, "The treatment is removal of exposure."
Stop giving Trump any serious real-time coverage or echoing or amplifying his messages, and instead point out as often and as clearly as possible what a criminal, hustler, con artist and genuinely damaged person he is.
Replace him as the nation's "father figure" with a man of compassion and understanding like President Joe Biden, and make clear how destructive his policies were when he was in office.
Break the bond with his followers by crushing his aura of invincibility: indict and convict him of very ordinary crimes like public corruption, tax fraud, bank fraud, theft and rape.
If we fail to deal with Trump in this way, it'll be extremely difficult to rescue his followers who've fallen deeply into the Qanon/Trump rabbit hole.
And, like so many infamous leaders in history, he'll simply attempt a comeback and further tear apart the psychological and political fabric of our nation.
If we are to save America, we must convict and imprison Trump for his lifetime of very real crimes.