The hair test

Unlike most psychiatrists who will judge you insane just by looking at you, Dr. Gregory House is perhaps too willing to run tests on his patients. Overlooking the fact that he is the fictional MD star of the eponymously named hit television series, I don’t want House anywhere near my son. Dr. House will run a battery of invasive tests, drill into your skull and perhaps harvest your spleen before he finally figures out what your real problem is. No thank you! There are better, less invasive ways of getting a snapshot of your underlying health problems.

An alternative to muscle testing is hair tissue analysis. Hair tissue analysis is known to the general public in the context of forensic science, but what is not so well known is that it is often used for people with mental illness and other health concerns to discover and correct underlying problems in metabolic rate, energy levels, sugar and carbohydrate tolerance, stage of stress, immune system, and glandular activity. Tests can be ordered through your family physician.

Hair tissue mineral analysis is a relatively cheap, accurate method of testing for the presence of minerals and toxic metals that can be symptomatic of body chemistry imbalances. For example, excess quantities of copper found in the body are associated with various health concerns, from fatigue and anorexia to depression and schizophrenia. Persons with too much copper in their system might tend to be creative, dreamy, and inattentive. A test involves simply snipping a small amount of hair near the base of the scalp and sending it in the mail to a laboratory such as Analytical Research Labs in Phoenix, Arizona, or the Great Plains Laboratory in Lenexa, Kansas. These laboratories analyze the hair sample and send back a printout of the test results, along with a recommended diet plan and protocol of supplements to address the revealed deficiencies and imbalances.

My youngest son, Taylor, was a bright but dreamy and woefully underachieving student throughout his entire elementary and high school studies, right up until I got him a hair test. His test results showed that he was off the charts in terms of his high copper levels. Excess copper made him an excellent artist but a poor academic performer. He had trouble focusing and with attempting to solve complex problems. He all too often just gave up. The turn-around in him in the second half of his penultimate year in high school was astonishing. He graduated in the top 10% of his high school class, and has kept up the pace in his first year of college. Many people would say this pattern is typical of boys, who often pull up their socks academically in their last year of high school. I strongly believe (but cannot prove) that Taylor would not have done so well without the increased focus that the vitamin support provided.

The humor of schizophrenia

Okay, so people in the trenches don’t find schizophrenia so funny. Anybody who thinks it’s funny must be really sick, right? My minister, for example, cringes when I use the term “loony bin” to talk about Chris’s recent incarceration. I also like the words “bin” and “nuts”. They help me keep things in perspective.

The humor doesn’t come from the situation, as such, but from what takes place all around it. Take Chris’s psychiatrists. The male ones. I have had a huge crush on all of them. Me, a happily married woman pushing sixty who could be their mother. I think this is hysterical, especially since they all seem so personally dull. The attraction of their supposed power over someone’s mind is a turn-on for me!

Then there’s Dr. House. There is an episode in the eponymous television series where Dr House thinks a woman is genuinely schizophrenic. Although she isn’t his patient, he shows up at her bedside to read from William Butler Yeats’ poetry, and hangs onto her every utterance because he believes that she, like most schizophrenics, is really profound. He drops her like a hot potatoe when it turns out she has Wilson’s disease, and therefore isn’t “really” schizophrenic in his opinion. Now that’s funny! (Side note: Wilson’s disease is caused from dangerously high levels of copper in the body.)

Recently my husband and I had to plead our case that Chris needed to be committed to the loony bin. He was becoming quite paranoid, especially with regard to people of a darker hue and people affiliated with certain religious groups. We didn’t commit him because he was paranoid. We committed him because we were exhausted by his ups and downs. “I don’t like you much,” he said to the dark skinned intake psychiatrist. “Well, given that you don’t even know me, what exactly is it that you don’t like about me?” he pointedly asked Chris, knowing, of course, what was really at the heart of Chris’s statement. The psychiatrist whipped out a pink form, ticking all the necessary boxes: “Danger to himself and others”, “obvious symptoms” and “not able to be accommodated elsewhere”. He handed the form to Chris with a satisfied grin on his face. I thought that was very funny even at the time.

Chris has a good one. A young man was brought to the asylum where Chris is currently a patron. He was not only nuts, he had also committed a crime. After a day in the bin, he was offered a choice, prison or the bin. He chose prison. Now that’s funny!