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Well, West Virginia has come up Number One again! A study has found that we rate that
lofty position as we are the most mentally challenged in the nation. Doesn’t that appear
crazy to you?
Don’t remember who did the study or when, but it may have been made during a
legislative session. But who voted those rascals in?
West Virginia has been rooted in first place in several studies. In he past we were pretty
competitive with Louisiana and Mississippi but recently we have had the honors all to
We are fat, we smoke too much, and we ain’t too educated. Wouldn’t all that negative
talk take one a little off the center lane?
I may have skewed, or screwed, the study with my own case which I have mentioned
several times: I spent 20 years in the state’s largest mental institution in a city just south
of the Pennsylvania line but far out from West Virginia. Far out! As we once said in the
Bob Weaver often mentions his fight with alcohol addition, not ashamed of discussing
the toll it took on his life. I have been hesitant to discuss mine, but maybe I should come
out of the attic and let it float down. After all, all of you who read this column are above
average and have no part in those cited studies. Alas, however, many of you may be out
Mine was a rare disease, so rare it hadn’t been named. Only later I was able to find it
listed in a psychology journal. The name for the dreaded affliction is academentia and its
root cause is too much higher education overfilling a brain with limited capacity, causing
an overflow which damages the nervous system. That is the simple description minus the
For 20 long years I suffered while the medical establishment sought a remedy for a
unique disease. I can’t complain too much about the administration of the institution
where I was sheltered. I was provided therapy of a sort, given a title of editor for the
purpose of personal exultation, and allowed to cut and paste pages of what were called
As I had attended journalism school, considerable study has been conducted indicating
that that could have been the beginning of the disease. As much of the “research”
consisted of the uses of chicken waste I was often referred to as the chicken excrement
editor, academically speaking, a title not helpful for self esteem.
I found that the authors of the “research” suffered also. They were under a mandate to
publish or perish; fortunately I didn’t need to publish, I had only to perish!
I finally exhausted the patience of those running the institution as my problem persisted
with no remedy in sight. I was finally given a pass to the outside world and told not to let
the door hit me on my pass through it.
But suddenly as I exited, being careful of the door, I felt relief. I felt my mind draining,
drawing off the noxious fumes over filling the limited neurons in the brain region. I bid
farewell to those most helpful to my medical problem: the women of the office who
treated me with hot coffee and ribald jokes.
The Herald has been most helpful in my recovery. I attribute it to the compassion of Bob
Weaver who is never hesitant to speak of his ordeals. This column has been a great help in gaining a place in the real world, but at the same time I may have been cursed with
another disorder of the brain: delusions of grandeur that I am a writer.
There you have it the best I can confess to you. You are helping a victim, who was once
institutionally confined, by reading this column and understanding the circumstances
under which it is written. What that does to your mind is your own business.
But you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that if you a lack a college degree, or failed
to attend graduate school, there but the blessing of a higher power, not associated with
higher education, go I.