Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Prominent Psychologist Faces Whippits Charges

A prominent psychologist who specializes in eating disorders faces criminal charges after she inhaled propellant from whipped cream cans and collapsed on a supermarket floor in May, police say.

Full Story

Considering she thinks dieting is ineffective at weight loss, and wants "Truth in dieting" laws passed, isn't this just a stunt to get "harmful" products removed from store shelves? All she'll get is a slap on the wrist, but she hopes the publicity will lead to bans on products containing N2O.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger Nicolas Martin said...

The article says,

"Lisa G. Berzins, 49, of 9 Talcott Glen Road in Farmington, was charged in a warrant Friday with possession of a restricted substance, third-degree criminal mischief and creating a public disturbance."

The "restricted substance" was the nitrous oxide in Reddi-wip? Is everyone in possession of Reddi-wip now subject to arrest?

Looking forward, will Dr. Berzins lead a nationwide crusade against nitrous oxide abuse, pushing for "Lisa laws" in the 50 states? Will the food industry become the scapegoat for inducing helpless people to abuse propellents? Will the Ad Council fund a "Just say no to topping" campaign?

Only psychiatric experts can determine why Dr. Berzins might have been led to such self-destructive, aisle clogging behavior, of course. One of the reasons might have been her frustration at inadequate insurance payouts for her invaluable work with patients with eating disorders. She vents her frustration here.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Lee Killough said...

The "restricted substance" was the nitrous oxide in Reddi-wip? Is everyone in possession of reddi-wip now subject to arrest?

Everyone found to be in "public intoxication" of N2O, probably, yes. Anyone found "abusing" it publicly, yes. Any kids found with it in their possession, probably yes (unless an adult can prove it's for dessert).

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Lee Killough said...

From the article:

Based on a witness account and evidence collected in supermarket aisles, police said, Berzins apparently had been inhaling from three cans of Reddi-wip brand whipped cream. The cans contained nitrous oxide, a restricted substance commonly known as laughing gas, the warrant says.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Nicolas Martin said...

Reddi-wip is explicitely mentioned in a 1997 report by by the Commission on Substance Abuse Among America's Adolescents.

At that time Reddi-wip was not considered a gateway topping, nor Jello an enabler. But due to the heroic effort of Dr. Berzins this may now change.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Lee Killough said...

Read Berzins' APA-co-sponsored statement on dieting

And check out this VITALITY Quiz

VITALITY is apparently all about feeling good about yourself, or vital strokes.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Mira de Vries said...

If I were going to buy such a product, I would sniff it first to check it for freshness. Particularly in the summer, you cannot tell by the "sell by" date whether it has been properly refridgerated.

I read that 3.1% of the total adult population of the United States, or one in every 32 adults, is either in prison or jail, on parole or on probation

The US must be the least free place in the world. You can even be arrested for checking out the freshness of whipping cream.

Not that my country is so much more free. Here you're not even allowed to live in your own home without a permit, or paint your front door any color you wish. However, at least we don't go to jail for such transgressions. We only pay stiff fines, or are turned homeless.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Lee Killough said...

The US must be the least free place in the world. You can even be arrested for checking out the freshness of whipping cream.

She is alleged to have sniffed 3 cans, and collapsed on the floor.

Given her background, I cannot believe that this was an accident caused by lack of knowledge of the ingredients. Even if it were, why would it require sniffing 3 cans?

And these products are not products to which such "freshness" applies -- they might be dated, but they are designed for long shelf-life. They are not "fresh" or "perishable" products. They have a 2-5 year lifespan, and do not require refrigeration.

And search Google for "whippits n2o", and you'll find hundreds of articles on "getting high" through whipped cream cans. There's also that government report Nicholas mentioned.

No, given her background crusading against dieting, and coming up with new ways of treating prisoners with psychiatry (I don't have the paper link handy but it blames deinstitutionalization for the growth of the mentally ill in prisons and proposes ways of treatment which practically medicalize prisons), ... I have to believe this was a stunt to try to get N2O products off shelves.

There have been many copycat stunts of this kind in the U.S. lately, either for political ends, or to extort money of out people -- take the "finger chili" and "fingernail salad" cases, for example.

In the U.S., in some communities, you cannot paint your door or do the things you want without permission either. And like you say, you'll be fined or homeless, not jailed. However, it's more "privatized" because the government is not the one who enforces it.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Mira de Vries said...

Lee said:

" I have to believe this was a stunt to try to get N2O products off shelves."

I deeply believe that we can never know for sure what motivates people to do whatever they do. We can agree or disagree, approve or disapprove, feel benefitted or harmed, or we can be apathetic and not care. But we cannot know.

Some people criticize psychiatrists not for claiming to know what caused other people to behave the way they did, but for having an opinion on the matter which is different from the speaker's. I criticize both for claiming to know something they cannot know.


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