Blog RSS Blog.

Author Archive: September Williams, MD

About September Williams, MD

03/05/2017

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN

My Love Affair With the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond (clip) from Luna Productions on Vimeo.

TV Screenings and Viewing options for  MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN: 

SOME TV SCREENINGS:
My Love Affair with the Brain will screen in the San Francisco Bay Area On TV,  
March 22, Wed., 8 pm on KQED9 Plus the following7 other times (note that KQED9 is a different channel than KQED WORLD, etc.)·  
KQED World: Fri, Mar 10, 2017 -- 6:00am ·  
KQED World: Fri, Mar 10, 2017 -- 12:00pm ·  
KQED 9: Thu, Mar 23, 2017 -- 2:00am ·  
KQED Plus: Fri, Mar 24, 2017 -- 3:00pm ·  
KQED World: Sun, Mar 26, 2017 -- 2:00pm ·  
KQED Life: Tue, Mar 28, 2017 -- 9:00pm·  
KQED Life: Wed, Mar 29, 2017 -- 3:00am

PURCHASE: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN  is  available for ACADEMIC PURCHASE (Libraries, Colleges, Schools.) http://lunaproductions.com/buy-love-affair-brain-marian-diamond/individuals: http://lunaproductions.com/personal-use-dvd-my-love-affair-with-the-brain/

Full Article

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by September Williams, MD. Bookmark the permalink.

03/05/2017

Part I: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN Bioethics, Neuroplasticity and Whimsy

Marian Diamond portraits, 1984, photos by Ed Kash

Dr. Marian Diamond, photo courtesy of Luna Productions

Dr. Marian Diamond, photo courtesy of Luna Productions

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN is an award winning documentary about the life and work of Dr. Marian Cleeves Diamond, PhD, neuroanatomist, researcher and educator. Filmmakers Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg (Luna Productions) make an argument which by all reasonable standards would support Diamond’s candidacy for a Nobel Prize, not only in science but also for peace. 

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN shows Marian Diamond is a filmmakers dream. She is fluid and animated as anyone who routinely spends hours of her day on a stage before a judging audience of hundreds of students ought to be—but often are not. The camera loves her. With aesthetic wisdom the film not only focuses on Marian but on others sharing the territory she inhabits. It is a broad domain of geography, mind and family tradition. She is a catalyst for laughter fueled intelligence.

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN has established an iconic visual representation of Dr. Diamond’s vantage. It is the long view and the long shot. In Diamond’s mind the brain is always at the forefront, the seat of human intelligence and humanity. It is this view that Luna Production’s camera reflects in the film. We see Diamond watch the brain, from a distance but in sharp focus. Then we see the audience, and the world, watch her. The  filmmakers take the opportunity to not only show us her but the joyous reactions of others ignited in the wake of her whimsy. 

The lightness of Marian Diamond’s ‘being,’ is even reflected in Ryan and Weinberg’s choice of narrator for MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN,  Mayim Bialik. Bialik holds a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA but also plays a neuroscientist on TV’s BIG BANG THEORY. 

Marian Diamond is a scientist who is also a woman. She came up through a period when women did not teach in academia. Well qualified and well suited to lecturing she may have never have found that passion were it not for the persecution of her employer and mentor while working at Cornell University. That professor was fired during the rise of the witch-hunt of McCarthyism in the 1950s. However, the professor’s parting shot was to recommend the only person he knew could, and should, take his lectern— a woman, Marian Diamond,PhD. And so, at that University, Diamond became the first woman science lecturer in its history. 

Marian Diamond did not mean to dismantle archaic science with new truths, she’s just made that way—a fact to which she is not oblivious. Her youth and adult life has been filled with brilliant scientist husbands, mother, father and free thinking siblings first then her own children. She did not only study dead brains as specimens, but watched the living ones around her. They were all collaborators and conspirators in her quest to understand.

Dr. Marian Diamond’s major scientific contributions are generally divided into three: discovery of the impact of the environment on brain development; differences between the cerebral cortex of male and female rats independent of sex hormones; and the likely link between positive thinking—or happiness—in maintaining individuals immunological health reflected in brain tissue and function. Rigorous scientific inquiry often divides domains of investigation of a single entity. But Dr. Marian Diamond’s hallmark is: that which others might think static she suspects is mobile, multifaceted, unified though plastic—and when needs be— able to be remodeled.


Full Article

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by September Williams, MD. Bookmark the permalink.

03/05/2017

PART II: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN Bioethics and Meaning Derived from Science


Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg’s documentary film MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN shows Dr. Marian Cleeves Diamond, PhD is not only a theoretical scientist but also an applied one. The Nuremberg Code—the rules for research conduct arising from the Nuremberg trials—has ten points. The second of those ten is that: Experiments should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature. Dr. Diamond’s scientific integrity at the work bench has yielded a change in how we view human capacity. 

Luna Productions film shows a field clinic on brain growth, Diamond’s project, Enrichment in Action. It uses findings of the doctor’s brain enrichment research to directly benefit impoverished, orphaned children. In Cambodia a group of children are provided with an environment fortified with supplementary vitamins, language skills, computer lessons, and promotion of the children’s wider social acceptance. She has been facilitating, watching and documenting those children’s growth over years. 

There are multiple other clinical applications to the insights of brain malleability derived from Marian Diamond’s work. In the not too distant past, medical students were routinely taught that only a tenth of the cerebral cortex (the heaviest part of the brain) was actively used. The implication was that if brain cells were lost that portion of the brain’s function was permanently diminished. The observation that nurture, as well as abuse, can alter brain function through structural change—is among neuroanatomist Marian Diamond’s major contributions to scientific history. That truth defines a choice to be made, by humanity, about how we can proceed, as individuals and a group. We either promote brain health or we do not. 

The idea of the mind-body complex evolved in western culture more slowly than in others. After time in China, Kenya and Australia, Dr. Diamond’s paradigm expanded even the Mind-Body complex to include the significance of the brain as a switching station—validating a Mind-Brain-Body complex as it were. Science at its best over turns old beliefs with new information. There are many applied applications to Diamond’s science. Clinicians now see their tasks as recruiting brain cells and promoting their growth and function within the window of best opportunity to promote neuro-plasticity, or brain flexibility. This is as important in maximizing function after any neurological insult like stroke or traumatic brain injury, dementia or aging—as it is in early childhood development. 

Those recently experiencing the birth of a baby in a hospital may notice that policy has shifted so that mothers and babies are no longer easily separated in the first moments after delivery. We now know that immediate breast feeding is essential for best growth and development of infants brains, and also prevention of chronic disease later in life for children and their mothers. These phenomena are in part nutritional but also the effect of early bonding—nurture. 

There is a story told by a friend who was sitting for days to become a Buddhist Priest. It was arduous. On her brief breaks she would light a stick of incense at the window. Doubting that she may have chosen the wrong direction for her existence she asked the universe for a sign. Just then a magnificent shooting star crossed her eye-line. Then she wondered, ‘But what does it mean?’ This is the quandary of both life and science.  

Marian Diamond has written, “The greatest thrill in my life up to that moment was when I held my first newborn child in my arms against my breast. I knew why I existed.” That child was born in immediate proximity  to Dr. Diamond’s completion of her PhD, in 1953. Though her life’s work was set at that time it would take decades to realize its meaning. 

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN spreads the word not only about what Dr. Diamond’s research has been but what it means. Diamond has summarized her take home lessons from her 60 years in brain research. She believes all the signs lead to the idea that brain health is dependent on five things, diet, exercise, challenge, newness, and love.


References:








Full Article

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by September Williams, MD. Bookmark the permalink.

03/05/2017

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN

My Love Affair With the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond (clip) from Luna Productions on Vimeo.

TV Screenings and Viewing options for  MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN: 

SOME TV SCREENINGS:
My Love Affair with the Brain will screen in the San Francisco Bay Area On TV,  
March 22, Wed., 8 pm on KQED9 Plus the following7 other times (note that KQED9 is a different channel than KQED WORLD, etc.)·  
KQED World: Fri, Mar 10, 2017 -- 6:00am ·  
KQED World: Fri, Mar 10, 2017 -- 12:00pm ·  
KQED 9: Thu, Mar 23, 2017 -- 2:00am ·  
KQED Plus: Fri, Mar 24, 2017 -- 3:00pm ·  
KQED World: Sun, Mar 26, 2017 -- 2:00pm ·  
KQED Life: Tue, Mar 28, 2017 -- 9:00pm·  
KQED Life: Wed, Mar 29, 2017 -- 3:00am

PURCHASE: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN  is  available for ACADEMIC PURCHASE (Libraries, Colleges, Schools.) http://lunaproductions.com/buy-love-affair-brain-marian-diamond/individuals: http://lunaproductions.com/personal-use-dvd-my-love-affair-with-the-brain/

Full Article

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by September Williams, MD. Bookmark the permalink.

03/05/2017

Part I: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN Bioethics, Neuroplasticity and Whimsy

Marian Diamond portraits, 1984, photos by Ed Kash

Dr. Marian Diamond, photo courtesy of Luna Productions

Dr. Marian Diamond, photo courtesy of Luna Productions

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN is an award winning documentary about the life and work of Dr. Marian Cleeves Diamond, PhD, neuroanatomist, researcher and educator. Filmmakers Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg (Luna Productions) make an argument which by all reasonable standards would support Diamond’s candidacy for a Nobel Prize, not only in science but also for peace. 

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN shows Marian Diamond is a filmmakers dream. She is fluid and animated as anyone who routinely spends hours of her day on a stage before a judging audience of hundreds of students ought to be—but often are not. The camera loves her. With aesthetic wisdom the film not only focuses on Marian but on others sharing the territory she inhabits. It is a broad domain of geography, mind and family tradition. She is a catalyst for laughter fueled intelligence.

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN has established an iconic visual representation of Dr. Diamond’s vantage. It is the long view and the long shot. In Diamond’s mind the brain is always at the forefront, the seat of human intelligence and humanity. It is this view that Luna Production’s camera reflects in the film. We see Diamond watch the brain, from a distance but in sharp focus. Then we see the audience, and the world, watch her. The  filmmakers take the opportunity to not only show us her but the joyous reactions of others ignited in the wake of her whimsy. 

The lightness of Marian Diamond’s ‘being,’ is even reflected in Ryan and Weinberg’s choice of narrator for MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN,  Mayim Bialik. Bialik holds a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA but also plays a neuroscientist on TV’s BIG BANG THEORY. 

Marian Diamond is a scientist who is also a woman. She came up through a period when women did not teach in academia. Well qualified and well suited to lecturing she may have never have found that passion were it not for the persecution of her employer and mentor while working at Cornell University. That professor was fired during the rise of the witch-hunt of McCarthyism in the 1950s. However, the professor’s parting shot was to recommend the only person he knew could, and should, take his lectern— a woman, Marian Diamond,PhD. And so, at that University, Diamond became the first woman science lecturer in its history. 

Marian Diamond did not mean to dismantle archaic science with new truths, she’s just made that way—a fact to which she is not oblivious. Her youth and adult life has been filled with brilliant scientist husbands, mother, father and free thinking siblings first then her own children. She did not only study dead brains as specimens, but watched the living ones around her. They were all collaborators and conspirators in her quest to understand.

Dr. Marian Diamond’s major scientific contributions are generally divided into three: discovery of the impact of the environment on brain development; differences between the cerebral cortex of male and female rats independent of sex hormones; and the likely link between positive thinking—or happiness—in maintaining individuals immunological health reflected in brain tissue and function. Rigorous scientific inquiry often divides domains of investigation of a single entity. But Dr. Marian Diamond’s hallmark is: that which others might think static she suspects is mobile, multifaceted, unified though plastic—and when needs be— able to be remodeled.


Full Article

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by September Williams, MD. Bookmark the permalink.

03/05/2017

PART II: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN Bioethics and Meaning Derived from Science


Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg’s documentary film MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN shows Dr. Marian Cleeves Diamond, PhD is not only a theoretical scientist but also an applied one. The Nuremberg Code—the rules for research conduct arising from the Nuremberg trials—has ten points. The second of those ten is that: Experiments should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature. Dr. Diamond’s scientific integrity at the work bench has yielded a change in how we view human capacity. 

Luna Productions film shows a field clinic on brain growth, Diamond’s project, Enrichment in Action. It uses findings of the doctor’s brain enrichment research to directly benefit impoverished, orphaned children. In Cambodia a group of children are provided with an environment fortified with supplementary vitamins, language skills, computer lessons, and promotion of the children’s wider social acceptance. She has been facilitating, watching and documenting those children’s growth over years. 

There are multiple other clinical applications to the insights of brain malleability derived from Marian Diamond’s work. In the not too distant past, medical students were routinely taught that only a tenth of the cerebral cortex (the heaviest part of the brain) was actively used. The implication was that if brain cells were lost that portion of the brain’s function was permanently diminished. The observation that nurture, as well as abuse, can alter brain function through structural change—is among neuroanatomist Marian Diamond’s major contributions to scientific history. That truth defines a choice to be made, by humanity, about how we can proceed, as individuals and a group. We either promote brain health or we do not. 

The idea of the mind-body complex evolved in western culture more slowly than in others. After time in China, Kenya and Australia, Dr. Diamond’s paradigm expanded even the Mind-Body complex to include the significance of the brain as a switching station—validating a Mind-Brain-Body complex as it were. Science at its best over turns old beliefs with new information. There are many applied applications to Diamond’s science. Clinicians now see their tasks as recruiting brain cells and promoting their growth and function within the window of best opportunity to promote neuro-plasticity, or brain flexibility. This is as important in maximizing function after any neurological insult like stroke or traumatic brain injury, dementia or aging—as it is in early childhood development. 

Those recently experiencing the birth of a baby in a hospital may notice that policy has shifted so that mothers and babies are no longer easily separated in the first moments after delivery. We now know that immediate breast feeding is essential for best growth and development of infants brains, and also prevention of chronic disease later in life for children and their mothers. These phenomena are in part nutritional but also the effect of early bonding—nurture. 

There is a story told by a friend who was sitting for days to become a Buddhist Priest. It was arduous. On her brief breaks she would light a stick of incense at the window. Doubting that she may have chosen the wrong direction for her existence she asked the universe for a sign. Just then a magnificent shooting star crossed her eye-line. Then she wondered, ‘But what does it mean?’ This is the quandary of both life and science.  

Marian Diamond has written, “The greatest thrill in my life up to that moment was when I held my first newborn child in my arms against my breast. I knew why I existed.” That child was born in immediate proximity  to Dr. Diamond’s completion of her PhD, in 1953. Though her life’s work was set at that time it would take decades to realize its meaning. 

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN spreads the word not only about what Dr. Diamond’s research has been but what it means. Diamond has summarized her take home lessons from her 60 years in brain research. She believes all the signs lead to the idea that brain health is dependent on five things, diet, exercise, challenge, newness, and love.


References:








Full Article

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by September Williams, MD. Bookmark the permalink.

02/17/2017

Part I: LOVING and Bioethics The Right to Marry

LOVING - Official Trailer from Mill Valley Film Festival on Vimeo.

Courtesy Focus Films

LOVING was the closing night film of the 39th Mill Valley Film Festival. Jeff Nichols is its writer/director. At 38 years old, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Nichols is a master at breaking stereotypes about cultures, especially those below the Mason Dixon Line.  

LOVING is based on the lives of Mildred  and Richard Loving. The portrayals by Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in the title roles is an exquisitely intimate, internal portrait. The main characters met young, fell in love in a poor rural neighbor of Virginia where races interacted socially. The love aspect of the story is prominent but the underclass nature of interracial life in the region is equally as strong. In 1958, the couple were forbidden to marry because their state was among many with anti-miscegenation laws.  

Nichols’ LOVING is as much about class— working poor—as it is about race. As long as Mildred and Richard kept within the constraints of the geo-social ‘Bottoms’ the state powers would not care. They weren’t so much jailed because Mildred was Black while Richard White but because they dared want their love and children legitimated. Anti-miscegenation laws stemmed, above all else not from morality but economics—controlling who could own property, historically determined by parentage. The law they violated was a vestige of slavery in their state.

LOVING, the feature length fictional film, evolved from director Nichols’ admiration for a documentary made years before. Nichols LOVING defies the Hollywood Film industries tendency to make heroism only a characteristic of overtly  “charismatic people.” LOVING is a work that celebrates that every day, ordinary people do the impossible. 

The Lovings were interested in living their lives. Referred by Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s office to the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) at Mrs. Loving’s initiation, the couple left the lawyers to the legal job. While the Loving’s tended their own work, raising a family.


The ACLU fought and won Loving V Virginia in the supreme court in 1967 — near ten years after the birth of the couple’s first child. The case was won based  on Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law  being in violation of the  Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which, provides equal protection under the law — including the right to marry. 

The Fourteenth Amendment was one of the Restoration amendments after the US Civil war. The Restoration Amendments among other things legally dismantled the economic system of slavery. The Loving case was fought  nearly 100 years after the slavery emancipation proclamation.

Loving v Virginia was proceeded and followed by many other legal presidencies adjudicated by the supreme court and supported by The Fourteenth Amendment including, Brown v. Board of Education (1954) regarding racial school segregation, Roe v. Wade (1973) about abortion, Bush v. Gore (2000) regarding the 2000 presidential election, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) regarding same-sex marriage.The foot prints of the Fourteen Amendment are also solidly ensconced in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its 16th Article —The right to marriage and Family.

Why is this film important to Bioethics?  The Lovings predicament is a cautionary tell about historical abuse of scientific process in supporting anti-miscegenation practices. LOVING also identifies a victory for the strength of persistent struggle — particularly one having an influence on the understanding not only of humanity but the moral obligations of scientist to do good work, and to monitor its moral implications. 

LOVING is a gentle film—not designed to be a blockbuster but one which will stand the test of time.  


Loving (2016) Trailer:  https://youtu.be/9QYEwlzpa9A

Loving V. Virgina  Interacial and Mixed  documentary HBO Trailer  https://youtu.be/h62ZBiHNJoM trailer

The Constitution of the United States http://constitutionus.com


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/declaration-human-rights/ 

Full Article

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by September Williams, MD. Bookmark the permalink.

02/17/2017

Part II: LOVING, Bioethics and How Miscegenation became a ‘thing’

Photo Courtesy of Mill Valley Film Festival

Long Before Jeff Nichols, writer/director, chose to make the film LOVING (2016),  about a heroic couple of modest means striking a blow for the maintenance of humanity—by ending anti-miscegenation laws in the USA—The field of Eugenics had to be born and the term  ‘miscegenation’ coined. Miscegenation laws were present in many states  of the USA into the 1960s, in defiance of the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution and  the Declaration of Human Rights. 
Modern “bioethics” emerged from the documentation of the atrocities associated with both WWI and WWII, and the manipulation of science and technology to serve ‘evil’ rather than beneficence, autonomy and justice. The film Loving speaks to the need to carefully consider the obligations of science. There is no evil science, just bad science and immoral applications. In particular, scientist, and physicians (who are all ultimately researchers) should at least read the Nuremberg Code. The document is a page long with only ten points. 

How did Anti- miscegenation laws come about? Let’s be clear, they were an economic mechanism to oppress slaves and other underclass people and prevent their owning property. This begs the question of how miscegenation became ‘a thing.’

Philosophy and the applied sciences used to be one school—and still were in the 1800s. Philosophy, was not separated from maths, astronomy, medicine and engineering. The footsteps of philosophy still drive scientific method —theory, hypothesis, proof and argument. Francis Galton was born into that time of interface and development of knowledge. Oddly Galton,  a  latter day Renaissance thinker in the  model of Da’Vinci, is attributed with coining the words miscegenation and eugenics. And yes, Galton started out in Medicine, circa 1838. 

In agriculture miscegenation was defined as the “interbreeding of two different species.” Galton’s Cousin Charles Darwin had published the Origin of the Species in the 1850s. Gregor Mendel an Austrian monk had observed variation in pea plants during the same period. Most biology students learned that Mendel is considered the father of genetics. From those works came Galton’s leap implying that human beings’ external appearance could make them different species. 

Galton was a Sociologist, Psychologist, Scientist, Geographer, and Statistician. He looked for proof of the patterns of his cousin and the monk in other aspects of the world — looking for a primary pattern in nature which was repeated. That is what good science does. When you think of Galton, think—regression from the mean — that was among his many contributions or to some of us—tortures. The mathematical models of Mendel for peas and other plants were being extrapolated and converted into statistics applied to human beings.

What came first, racism or the science?  The essence of scientific integrity is not only honesty in hypothesizing, recording and reporting but coming to unbiased conclusions. Galton began considering ‘lessor social' attributes to be apparent in people who looked one way and not another. The espousing that conclusion, for a statistician, had to be an unfounded extrapolation. But he likely knew that even then. 

In 1863, the science of separation, and its conclusions espoused by Galton, was rejected by some as a political tool deciding who should receive the benefits of a society. The difference between animals and people was thought to be decided by humanist to be  “the soul.”  Perhaps the soul is a more nebulous concept than that ‘a scientific certainty’—but also one less likely to bastardize the scientific process. Nonetheless, it was the soul which  ended slavery in the USA and many other parts of the world.  

The post civil war Reconstruction Amendments to the United States Constitution, codified the belief that all “men” were created equal. That was adjusted in the 1900's to include women. The devil remains in the detail. However, it was the 14th amendment, which  applied to the winning of Loving v. the State of Virginia, and the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This was generations after Galton, Mendel and Darwin.

What is the lesson? Bioethical conflicts often coincide with historically poor scientific understanding, or abuses. However, they coexist with equal and opposite reactions — leaps of moral and scientific process.  Thinking  about how the film LOVING,  based on the lives of Mildred and Richard Loving,end of Anti-miscegenation laws in the United States. Remember, LOVING is a film  not only about law, but about the debunking of archaic, if ever valid, science.




Galton Memories of My Life, https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Galton+Memories+of+My+Life+(London:+Methuen,+1908),+pp.+22+-+47.&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

Full Article

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by September Williams, MD. Bookmark the permalink.

02/17/2017

Part I: LOVING and Bioethics The Right to Marry

LOVING - Official Trailer from Mill Valley Film Festival on Vimeo.

Courtesy Focus Films

LOVING was the closing night film of the 39th Mill Valley Film Festival. Jeff Nichols is its writer/director. At 38 years old, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Nichols is a master at breaking stereotypes about cultures, especially those below the Mason Dixon Line.  

LOVING is based on the lives of Mildred  and Richard Loving. The portrayals by Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in the title roles is an exquisitely intimate, internal portrait. The main characters met young, fell in love in a poor rural neighbor of Virginia where races interacted socially. The love aspect of the story is prominent but the underclass nature of interracial life in the region is equally as strong. In 1958, the couple were forbidden to marry because their state was among many with anti-miscegenation laws.  

Nichols’ LOVING is as much about class— working poor—as it is about race. As long as Mildred and Richard kept within the constraints of the geo-social ‘Bottoms’ the state powers would not care. They weren’t so much jailed because Mildred was Black while Richard White but because they dared want their love and children legitimated. Anti-miscegenation laws stemmed, above all else not from morality but economics—controlling who could own property, historically determined by parentage. The law they violated was a vestige of slavery in their state.

LOVING, the feature length fictional film, evolved from director Nichols’ admiration for a documentary made years before. Nichols LOVING defies the Hollywood Film industries tendency to make heroism only a characteristic of overtly  “charismatic people.” LOVING is a work that celebrates that every day, ordinary people do the impossible. 

The Lovings were interested in living their lives. Referred by Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s office to the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) at Mrs. Loving’s initiation, the couple left the lawyers to the legal job. While the Loving’s tended their own work, raising a family.


The ACLU fought and won Loving V Virginia in the supreme court in 1967 — near ten years after the birth of the couple’s first child. The case was won based  on Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law  being in violation of the  Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which, provides equal protection under the law — including the right to marry. 

The Fourteenth Amendment was one of the Restoration amendments after the US Civil war. The Restoration Amendments among other things legally dismantled the economic system of slavery. The Loving case was fought  nearly 100 years after the slavery emancipation proclamation.

Loving v Virginia was proceeded and followed by many other legal presidencies adjudicated by the supreme court and supported by The Fourteenth Amendment including, Brown v. Board of Education (1954) regarding racial school segregation, Roe v. Wade (1973) about abortion, Bush v. Gore (2000) regarding the 2000 presidential election, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) regarding same-sex marriage.The foot prints of the Fourteen Amendment are also solidly ensconced in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its 16th Article —The right to marriage and Family.

Why is this film important to Bioethics?  The Lovings predicament is a cautionary tell about historical abuse of scientific process in supporting anti-miscegenation practices. LOVING also identifies a victory for the strength of persistent struggle — particularly one having an influence on the understanding not only of humanity but the moral obligations of scientist to do good work, and to monitor its moral implications. 

LOVING is a gentle film—not designed to be a blockbuster but one which will stand the test of time.  


Loving (2016) Trailer:  https://youtu.be/9QYEwlzpa9A

Loving V. Virgina  Interacial and Mixed  documentary HBO Trailer  https://youtu.be/h62ZBiHNJoM trailer

The Constitution of the United States http://constitutionus.com


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/declaration-human-rights/ 

Full Article

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by September Williams, MD. Bookmark the permalink.

02/17/2017

Part II: LOVING, Bioethics and How Miscegenation became a ‘thing’

Photo Courtesy of Mill Valley Film Festival

Long Before Jeff Nichols, writer/director, chose to make the film LOVING (2016),  about a heroic couple of modest means striking a blow for the maintenance of humanity—by ending anti-miscegenation laws in the USA—The field of Eugenics had to be born and the term  ‘miscegenation’ coined. Miscegenation laws were present in many states  of the USA into the 1960s, in defiance of the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution and  the Declaration of Human Rights. 
Modern “bioethics” emerged from the documentation of the atrocities associated with both WWI and WWII, and the manipulation of science and technology to serve ‘evil’ rather than beneficence, autonomy and justice. The film Loving speaks to the need to carefully consider the obligations of science. There is no evil science, just bad science and immoral applications. In particular, scientist, and physicians (who are all ultimately researchers) should at least read the Nuremberg Code. The document is a page long with only ten points. 

How did Anti- miscegenation laws come about? Let’s be clear, they were an economic mechanism to oppress slaves and other underclass people and prevent their owning property. This begs the question of how miscegenation became ‘a thing.’

Philosophy and the applied sciences used to be one school—and still were in the 1800s. Philosophy, was not separated from maths, astronomy, medicine and engineering. The footsteps of philosophy still drive scientific method —theory, hypothesis, proof and argument. Francis Galton was born into that time of interface and development of knowledge. Oddly Galton,  a  latter day Renaissance thinker in the  model of Da’Vinci, is attributed with coining the words miscegenation and eugenics. And yes, Galton started out in Medicine, circa 1838. 

In agriculture miscegenation was defined as the “interbreeding of two different species.” Galton’s Cousin Charles Darwin had published the Origin of the Species in the 1850s. Gregor Mendel an Austrian monk had observed variation in pea plants during the same period. Most biology students learned that Mendel is considered the father of genetics. From those works came Galton’s leap implying that human beings’ external appearance could make them different species. 

Galton was a Sociologist, Psychologist, Scientist, Geographer, and Statistician. He looked for proof of the patterns of his cousin and the monk in other aspects of the world — looking for a primary pattern in nature which was repeated. That is what good science does. When you think of Galton, think—regression from the mean — that was among his many contributions or to some of us—tortures. The mathematical models of Mendel for peas and other plants were being extrapolated and converted into statistics applied to human beings.

What came first, racism or the science?  The essence of scientific integrity is not only honesty in hypothesizing, recording and reporting but coming to unbiased conclusions. Galton began considering ‘lessor social' attributes to be apparent in people who looked one way and not another. The espousing that conclusion, for a statistician, had to be an unfounded extrapolation. But he likely knew that even then. 

In 1863, the science of separation, and its conclusions espoused by Galton, was rejected by some as a political tool deciding who should receive the benefits of a society. The difference between animals and people was thought to be decided by humanist to be  “the soul.”  Perhaps the soul is a more nebulous concept than that ‘a scientific certainty’—but also one less likely to bastardize the scientific process. Nonetheless, it was the soul which  ended slavery in the USA and many other parts of the world.  

The post civil war Reconstruction Amendments to the United States Constitution, codified the belief that all “men” were created equal. That was adjusted in the 1900's to include women. The devil remains in the detail. However, it was the 14th amendment, which  applied to the winning of Loving v. the State of Virginia, and the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This was generations after Galton, Mendel and Darwin.

What is the lesson? Bioethical conflicts often coincide with historically poor scientific understanding, or abuses. However, they coexist with equal and opposite reactions — leaps of moral and scientific process.  Thinking  about how the film LOVING,  based on the lives of Mildred and Richard Loving,end of Anti-miscegenation laws in the United States. Remember, LOVING is a film  not only about law, but about the debunking of archaic, if ever valid, science.




Galton Memories of My Life, https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Galton+Memories+of+My+Life+(London:+Methuen,+1908),+pp.+22+-+47.&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

Full Article

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by September Williams, MD. Bookmark the permalink.