The Exorcist, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, writer William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin.

I was around ten, big for my age, but not big enough to sneak into the La Scala and watch The Exorcist. The media warned us—don’t go. Rather than see it, there was talk of church boycotts and a spate of suicides. And those that did see it fainted, spewed up, or went insane. But my sister was made of stronger stuff. Jo even smoked and drank vodka. She wasn’t eighteen, but there was a buzz about the film that made it a rite of passage.

We heard, of course, about the highlights. Regan (Linda Blair) poking herself with a crucifix and her head turning back to front like a piegon while spouting green goo. This was a step up from Christopher Lee as Dracula, who hung about open windows, waiting for the lady of the house to arrange her negligee so her big boobs were showing, before inviting him inside to bit her on the neck and leave two pin-prick marks. It wasn’t safe to go to bed without a crucifix. Being Catholics, of course, we’d more crucifixes that the average American had household personal guns. And if my wee brother was sleeping, I could set him out as a tasty snack, with a big arrow pointing to the room next door, where my two sisters were more than a match for Dracula. Just let him try laying a fang on them.

The Devil, of course, was a different matter. Atheists could poo-poo the existence of ghosts, or use logic to prove that God didn’t exist, but you’d need to be mad not to believe in the devil’s existence. Wherever sex was, he was sure to follow. Ironically, the swinging sixties saw a surge in numbers to religious institutions. The Exorcist was a reminder of the good old days when good was good and evil was truly evil, and nobody abused anybody in their beds.

When, for example, Regan’s mother, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) asks Father Karras (Jason Miller) to perform an exorcism on his daughter, he quips, that he could, but he’d have to find a time machine and whisk them both back to the sixteenth century.

Father Karras is having his own Dark Night of the Soul (St. John of The Cross) and doubts if he can continue being a priest. If he believes in God. This is centred on his Italian Mama, who is ill and lives alone. He thinks he should be caring for her in her last days. When she’s taken into hospital, his uncle, her mother’s brother, remonstrates with him there’s nothing they can do. They haven’t got the money for private care. He asks, Who’s going to take care of her? – you?

Father Karras has no answers, but as well as being a priest and psychiatrist, he’s a keen amateur boxer. Lt. Kinderman (Lee J Cobb) buttonholes him on the track. He’s investigating a strange death on a stairway, outside Regan’s window. Chris MacNeil’s boyfriend fell down those stairs, his head turned back to front. Father Karras might know something about that, he hints, some wayward priest with a grudge. After all, there’d also been the desecration of the church.

Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) brings the storylines together. The film begins with his architectural digs and ancient demons. When Father Karras tries to tell him about Regan’s medical history, Merrin tells him none of these things matter. He’s Peter Cushing’s Doctor van Helsing hunting down Dracula to his lair. Instead of a brace of wooden stakes in his hand: a worn  Bible. Father Karras follows the formula: Good versus Evil. God versus the Devil.

The Prodigy (2019) a horror film directed by Nicholas McCarthy, and written by Jeff Buhler gives this formula a twist. A child at birth is inhabited by the soul of a Hungarian born mass murderer, who’d relocated to the United States. The battle for the body is the battle for the soul.

In The Exorcist this is shown graphically with the words ‘help me’ appearing on her abdomen, underneath the skin for her mother to read. Twelve-year-old Regan is innocent, but the devil has taken her.

We all know how it ends in a boxing match. Father Karras knocking the living hell out of twelve-year-old Regan and the devil inside her. ‘Take me,’ his invitation accepted. One for the other. Broken in body (Eucharistic rites: this is my body, broken for you), but time enough for Confession and repentance. The Catholic Church 1—0 Devil nil.

Watching the film, forty years later, you see how run down New York is. This is the Nixon era. There’s rather a corny scene when Chis MacNeil goes up into the attic to investigate what she thinks are rats. She has a torch, which doesn’t work. Instead, she lights a candle. The traps for mice lie empty. The candle flares up and just as suddenly goes out. The real surprise is the caretaker appearing, immediately, with a torch. That’s what you call service. Things were better in those days. Servants could anticipate your every need. They even knew when the devil was going to flare up and stand ready with battery power.

Roe versus Wade, 1973, the year of The Exorcist. Nostalgic religious porn. The rise of the religious right. The election of the demonic moron’s moron backed by the religious right. 2021, the squashing of Roe versus Wade. Peter Cushing or Father Karras,  we need you to put one on the evil ginger quiff and pink-faced one spouting green goo and household cures by injecting common disinfectant? Evil lurks—still.  

Celtic 0—0 Livingston

Livingston’s game-plan at Parkhead doesn’t change. They play with eleven men behind the ball and came to take a point. Celtic dominate and are handed three points in the last minute on the ninety, but don’t take them. Obileye inexplicable swiped at Kyogo. He was sent off for gross stupidity and a penalty awarded. Callum McGregor was the last Celtic player to miss a penalty, which was firmly hit and the keeper going the right way. Josip Juranovic has scored two penalties, missed nil, and looked to be our designated penalty taker.  Max Stryjek had to do little more than lie down to save Giakoumakis’ penalty, which tells you all you need to know. The Greek striker had another chance a minute later.

An enforced change with Tom Rogic—who has been brilliant—injured. Bitton comes in at the base of the midfield, which immediately makes it a more defensive set-up with Callum McGregor playing the number-ten role and replacing the Australian playmaker. This kind of game suits Bitton, carpet-slippers and moving the ball with around eight-five percent possession, he doesn’t need to defend, because he’s not a defender, even though he was pushed there when Carl Starfelt off injured with ten minutes remaining. He found it easy, too easy.

Livingston offered nothing in the first-half and little more in the second. Ralston had one of the few chances just before half-time. David Turnbull after an early header towards goal, played him in. Ralston’s swerving left-foot shot was saved on the line by right-back Fitzwater. And Liel Abada had  the final chance of the half, but Stryjek did not had a save to make. The stand-out of the first half was Jota plucking a wayward Ralston pass out of the air. Ralston had a good case for being man on the match. His four early crosses in behind the Livingtson defence put them under pressure. He linked well with Abada and looked in the mood before it became overly predictable.

The gulf in quality between the teams immense, but it doesn’t show in the only statistic that matters—no goals.  Ange Postecoglou tried shaking it up, bring on Kyogo and Mikey Johnston for the last half-hour. He left the Greek striker on (in retrospect, an understandable mistake). Kyogo played the number-ten role. Bringing on James Forest for Jota in the last few minutes of the ninety was the last throw of the dice. These changes would be seen as positive and have worked, if it wasn’t for the Greek striker missing that penalty. After a positive run of results, five wins in five, with some swashbuckling play, a draw. Terrible penalty and terrible result. At the end of the season, these two lost points could haunt us. Massive downer.

Kate Summerscale (2020) The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story.

Kate Summerscale is the author of the bestselling book The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, which was turned into a telly series. I haven’t read the book or seen the series. But after reading The Haunting of Alma Fielding, I’ll certainly need to add her work to my (growing) reading list.

The beginning, middle and end—part 1, the ghost hunter, part 2, the ghost and part 3, the ghost—brings the reader from the pre-second-world-war offices of the Society for Psychical Research (London) to the offices of the Society for Psychical Research (Oxford) January 2017, which the author Kate Summerscale visits.

She wants to look at their back catalogue, and in particular finds Nandor Fodor. A Jewish-Hungarian émigré and former journalist. His job at the Institute for Psychical Research is to sift through the chaff and provide evidence of supernatural events—that can’t be conventionally explained. He’s the ghost hunter (part 1) investigating claims of supernatural events in the interregnum period between world wars. It’s a competitive field in which Alma and her poltergeist is a prized asset. He has to, for example, steer her away from Harold Chibbett and Harry Price (The Haunting at Borley Rectory. He was later found to have falsified evidence of supernatural events). And C.V.C Herbert a fellow researcher in the Society for Psychical Research.

‘There has not been a greater or truer ghost story than this one for many years,’ Fodor wrote in The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.      

Alma married Les at a Croydon register office in March 1921. He was twenty-one. She was seventeen and pregnant with their son, Don. Les benefits from the house-building boom in southern England, even during the great Depression. A paying lodger, George lives with them when Fodor’s investigation takes place.

Alma claimed to be in constant pain from kidney abscesses and she had a mastectomy.  Fodor’s working hypothesis is that this allows her to transcend her body. Psychic phenomena are interconnected.

In 1929, for example, Alma claimed she went blind, but she could still, for example, ride a bike or play cards. An optician confirmed her blindness and said it was a case for the hospital.

‘I could play cards by the feel of the cards.’

Alma also claimed to have cancer with radium needles implanted in her chest. This coincided with poltergeist activity.

‘My father [who had died of tuberculosis] leant across and drew a cross with his fingers on my breast.’

The next morning, she found a cross-shaped scar on her breast.

Their house suffered from poltergeist activity, banging sounds, mysterious crashes and broken dishes. Fodor linked haunted objects to the emotional disturbances of the living.

Charles Fort, an American writing in the 1930s, identified groups associated with poltergeist activity—with the exception of ‘servants’ remains contemporary.

1) women

2) adolescents

3) servants

4) children.

What he suggested they have in common is a lack of direct power.

Fodor’s associate, Countess Wassolki-Serecki also believed a haunting of the inner world manifested itself in the outer world.

‘Perhaps her [Alma’s] poltergeist was a chunk of herself so damaged that it had been torn off and expelled.’

In other words, poltergeist activity was a manifestation of not only a lack of direct power to influence events, but also the malign in vampirism, for example, where sexual attacks and violence were interchangeable.

5) sexually/physically assaulted with no voice, including incestuous activity.

The celebrated escapologist Harry Houdini suggested ‘it takes a flimflammer to catch a flimflammer’.

But Dick Woodward, for example, who initially convinced Fodor that he could levitate flowers, complained that he’d opened the psychic door and attracted malign presences.

‘Success as a physical medium is like a drug. In my queer mental state I wanted more and more. Having once taken the step of cheating, it became easier and easier.’

Being a medium was part of his identity. In Alma Fielding’s case, it was who she was. Fodor felt a duty of care, not to just abandon her, even though he too had caught her cheating.

‘A traumatised child becomes amoral.’

Not only did Alma seem traumatised, but she her actions seemed dictated not by her conscious self, but unconscious self. She wasn’t cheating. She displayed preternatural survival instincts to give him the type of behaviour he required. She was an expert ghost of herself, both a liar and a victim of lies.

6) Fodor noticed many mediums were bereaved mothers.

Alma had lost a son in childhood.

‘My mummy, my mummy,’ said the spirit child through Alma 17th May 1938.

Fodor took a different viewpoint.

‘The poltergeist is not a spirit, it has no identity, it brings no message from the dead; it is a bundle of projected repressions bent on mischief and destruction because it is born out of rage and frustration.’

Fodor consulted with Sigmund Freud, a fellow refugee from Nazi Austria and living in London about Alma Fielding’s case. Fodor became a successful psychotherapist in New York. Alma Fielding was haunted by herself he concluded. Her assault or assaults had caused a kind of ‘psychic lobotomy’. She wasn’t lying, she just couldn’t find the truth within her without destroying her fragile sense of self that never matured.

Kate Summerscale, A True Ghost Story, is suitably complex to make sense of the senseless. But like many others, I’m still looking over my shoulder for outliers which makes you shiver in recognition, not what I know, but what I don’t know. Read on.   

Hibernian 1—3 Celtic.

Easter Road has been tough for us in the league. No away wins in eight seasons. But not tonight. Celtic totally dominant in the first-half and see out the second-half. For a change, we score from free-kicks, but true to form, concede too. Fourteen-minutes in, Tony Ralston started the party. Free-kick edge of the box. Ralston unmarked at the back post, keeps his head and powers in David Turnbull’s pass. Great header. Great goal.

Our second goal is another free kick. We don’t score enough from corners, considering we average around ten-to-one against most teams we play. Here David Turnbull simply whips it into the box and Carter-Vickers volleys home. Simple. Half an hour in, two set pieces, and two goals.

Giakoumakis drops to the bench, Kyogo plays through the middle (as expected) and scores, as expected from a Jota cutback after 24 minutes to make it 3—0, and it looks like game over. But yet again, we should have had more. Kyogo himself should have had more, squaring when he should be shooting three minutes later.  It’s great to see Mikey Johnston back—and starting. We’re beginning to pick up a bit of momentum, slicing through the Hib’s defence at will.

Winning four games on the bounce, with no goals conceded, until with Hib’s first corner of the game, and with fifteen minutes of the first-half remaining—and some Hibs’ fans leaving the ground—Boyle scores with a free—scuffed—header.

With almost total domination of the ball, it seems Hibs can’t get up the park. But two minutes after Ralston’s opener, Murphy plays in Joe Newell. From six-yards our goalie makes a crucial save.

Hart made an equally crucial save in the second-half. Hibs were dominant, but unconvincing. Doyle-Hayes plays the ball beyond the last man and gets behind the Celtic line with Ralston playing Murphy on. With 15 minutes to go if Murphy scored it could have been tricky. Hart makes himself tall and saves—yet again.

But the home side’s goal gives Hibs a dog’s chance. They should have been out of the game.

Tom Rogic, who had been running the show, unfortunately, got injured just before half-time and was replaced by the more defensive Nir Bitton.

 The focus in the other end of the city is on Walter Smith with a minute’s silence before the start of the game. We certainly hoped Aberdeen would honour his legacy by sitting in deep and Broonie scoring a breakaway winner after a dour defensive display, with their goalkeeper unbeatable.  But before the game we’d have taken a draw.

Dr Jeff Rediger,  Harvard Medical School (2020) Cured: The Remarkable Science and Stories of Spontaneous Healing and Recovery.

Printed on a postcard, My Wife and Mother-in-Law, and distributed as a novelty by an unknown French artist (1888). They are both in the picture; find them? (p254-5). An old woman with a hooked nose, and her chin tucked into her fur coat is in one picture. The elegant young woman in the other. Initially, I couldn’t see the old woman, just the young. I tried rotating it. Blocking out parts of the picture and concentrating on where her long chin was supposed to be, resting on the furs. Then I could see her. I could see both pictures. Switch-shifting attention from one to the other. Miracles are like that. Although Dr Jeff Rediger doesn’t call them that. He was looking at the outliers in conventional medicine. Things that weren’t reported in respected journals because there was no scientific way of explaining spontaneous healing and recovery. It was seen as akin to quackery, and more importantly trying to report it could destroy a research doctor’s career. That’s why underneath the author’s name, in smaller font, are the words: Harvard Medical School.

What Dr Jeff Rediger is saying is hey, I’m one of you, one of the establishment. But also signalling to us outside the establishment, hey, I’m also one of you. If covers of books could wink, that is what he was doing.  There is a checklist and a story attached that reads like a Greek saying: ‘Live each moment of your life as if it were your last’ (331).

So what’s the science and what’s the hoo-ha? I’m old enough to remember the cure for cancer was carrot juice and coffee enemas. And those that died were the unpure, the unbelievers that didn’t believe enough or purge enough. Only the virtuous survived.

Rediger begins with some self-help philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard: ‘There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true. The other is to refuse to believe what is true.’

Bad guys and good guys. Everything’s connected. The head rules the heart. The heart rules the head. Our stomach rules the heart, rules the head. Rediger is a medical doctor, but he also trained as a theologian. He visits healing centres in rural Brazil because he hears of miraculous cures of killer diseases.

Bad guys. Inflexibility. Not being willing to change. Takes you on the same old path of least resistance that’s killing you.

Good guys. ‘I accept your diagnosis, but not your prognosis.’

Scepticism is a cousin of inflexibility. It’s part of the medical condition. Don’t prove me right, but try and prove me wrong. If nothing can be done, nothing will be done.

In Oprah speak, ‘When we know better, we do better.’ (p343).

But certain ways of thinking can be addictive. Thought patterns, habits, ways of behaving.

Bad guys, a dismissal of spiritualism.

Good guys, an active seeking of meaning in your life. A strong will to live. Embracing your new vision of a new life.

Case study, Opening the lines of communication: How to talk to your immune system.

26-year-old Daniel, embryonic cell cancer or the testicles. Prognosis, ‘Weeks’ to live.

Therapist asked him what he wanted to do before he died?

‘I want to get ordained and married.’

You know what happened next. Documented case of spontaneous remission. He embraced his new vision of life.

‘We know that the nervous system and the immune system are, in fact, intricately interwoven… Neuroreceptors were believed to be limited to the brain and nervous system until Candice Pert, often called ‘the mother of psychoimmunology,’ discovered the presence of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides in the walls of cells of both the immune system and the brain… they’re a way for the nervous system of communicating cell to cell… meaning whatever’s going on in your mind is being broadcast directly into your immune system… Our emotions talk to our immune system’ (p53).

‘Good’ bacteria. 100 trillion bacteria that live in your body, each with their own DNA.

80% of your immune system cells are in your gut.

Antibiotics wipe out ‘bad’ bacteria. Can impact your gut bacteria for up to a year. (pp55-56).

The secret to health, killing the germ? Destroy the microbe. From Silver Bullets to Superbugs.

Preparing the soil (yourself) for spontaneous healing.

Case Study, Clare Haster, pancreatic cancer, went home and began to prepare to die.

Changed her diet, gradually, from foods that left her fatigued, with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, to more plant-based foods.

Something shifts that allows the immune system to do its work.

‘Everything we put in our bodies affects our terrain.

The strength of your team of natural killer cells and other disease-fighting cells within your immune system are linked not only to what you eat, how you exercise, and other lifestyle choices but also how you manage stress, relationships, old traumas, what you believe, and how you see and understand yourself’ (p65). 

Hippocrates (Do No Harm) but also ‘All disease begins in the gut’ (p75).

Eat to Heal (chapter 3)

The person who takes medicine most recover twice. Once from the disease and once from the medicine William Oder, M.D.

‘Every day we are bombarded with conflicting messages about what we should eat’ (p75).

Michael Pollan, In Defence of Food (2008): ‘Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants’(p76).

He meant the kind of food your grandmother would have recognised. That rots. Not processed foods that looks and tastes the same a decade later. No sugar. Very little salt.

What we eat is deeply ingrained. Like any other of our addictions.

Anti-cancer diet takes out processed and salty foods. Gravitates towards whole-foods.

Case study. Tom: ‘I ate more Burgher King than anybody alive’ (p81).

Type-2 diabetes. Insulin, saved millions of lives, but causes weight gain, which worsens insulin resistance. Spiral continues  (p82).

Dr Joel Fuhromon, The End of Diabetes.    Eat highly nutritional food, loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, but low in calories.

Notice how Tom uses the language of addiction, ‘I don’t feel the need…The cravings were gone’ (p87)  Burger King was gone.

‘Detox from years of accumulated toxins’ (p87).

‘Claire has made it a rule not to share the specific menu she followed after her diagnosis. Obviously, what worked for me didn’t work for [everybody]

I believe each of us responds to and needs different things…I don’t believe there is any silver bullet out there for everyone. We need to find out what works for us individually’ (p90).

‘A study with mice at Georgia State University established a disturbing correlation between emulsifiers and cancer. Emulsifiers are ubiquitously present in everything from mayonnaise to ice cream…added to extend shelf life and ‘improve the mouthfeed’ [taste]

FDA limits how much of an emulsifier can go in a product, but companies dodge this by using different kinds of emulsifiers.

The Georgia study suggests disrupted the microbiome and triggering chronic inflammation, emulsifiers may contribute to weight gain, inflammatory illnesses, autoimmune disorder and even cancer’ (p91).

T. Colin Campbell, The China Study (2005) link between diet and disease. Western diet, rich in meat and dairy, disease-creating diet (p94).

‘Individual nutrients matter less than the overall diet. Occasionally eating a bit of dairy didn’t seem to increase disease risk in the Chinese population, but they truly did eat only a very small amount. Mere ounces of pork to flavour soup…’(p95).

Case study, Pablo, Stage IV tumour, glioblastoma. Ketogenic diet. Most people find the keto diet difficult to adhere to because it’s extremely specific and limiting.

‘He started with a few days of fasting, a quick way to achieve ketosis—a metabolic state where the body deprived of glucose (which cancer cells feed on) begins to break down its own fats. Once he achieved ketosis, he switched to the standard ketogenic diet. He maintained ketosis for the next three years’ (p101).

Chapter 4, Shut down the disease superhighway.

Hippocrates: Before you heal someone, ask if he’s willing to give up those things that make him sick (p111).

‘In the short-term, there’s nothing wrong with treating symptoms.’

‘The so-called lifestyle illnesses—cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and diabetes—are the top causes of death and disability in the United States, and they account for 75 percent of all health-care spending’ (p116).

Death due to dementia more than doubled from 2000 to 2015. And there’s depression, announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017 as the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people worldwide are living with depression, according to WHO estimates, and that represents an increase of more than 18 percent between 2005 and 2015. People who are depressed have less robust immune systems and are vulnerable to more illness in general and poorer recoveries (p116).

Chronic inflammation comes from how we think, how we feel, how we live (p217).

Case study: Juniper Stein, ‘a picture of health’ (pp117-

Her back started bothering her.

Incurable, autoimmune disease.  Over a 100 autoimmune disorders. Characterised as ‘inflammatory disorders’ (p125).

When your immune system is your own worst enemy. (p124).

Link between chronic stress and inflammation. Study found alter genes of immune system, which help determine a cell’s function. (p126).

1) Get rid of processed foods and sugar which fuel the inflammatory response.

2) Look at personal stress triggers.

3) Larger life overhaul.

‘I accepted the diagnosis,’ she say, ‘but not the prognosis’ (p130).  

‘But there were a lot of wrong turns,’ (p135).

‘An anti-inflammatory lifestyle is ultimately based on changing your relationship with your body’ (p136).

Chapter 5, Activate Healing Mode.

‘We can either change the complexities of life—and unlikely event, for they are likely to increase—or to develop ways which enable us to cope more effectively.’ Herbert Benson, (p139).

  Fight or flight?

Benson suggested stress the invisible killer in heart disease (in all disease?)

Case study, Jan Shaw (p143-

The woman in the photograph was overweight and obviously ill.

Sick as a teenager…aged 25 ruptured a disc in her back.  Aged 28, diagnosed with dry nerve root.

Jaw implant…that didn’t work.

Misdiagnosed for decades. Nothing worked. Lupus progressed to her brain. Renal failure. Multiple organ failure.

‘Spiritual healing?’ A centre in Brazil.

‘I poo-pooed it,’ she says ‘It sounded crazy.’ (p147).

Within ten days she was off the drugs she’d been taking for decades (p149).

Mediation and relaxation breaking the fight/flight response

‘We now know that mediation can literally change the shape of the brain’ (p151).

The stress conundrum, can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Autonomy and how you perceive stress. More autonomy of job/life/ relationships the less flooding of body with stress hormones, less inflammation and wear and tear, less heart disease.

Jan Shaw: ‘I’m a different person now.’ (p171).

Chapter 6, The Healing Heart.

‘The body is the instrument of the mind…the mind is the instrument of the heart’ Hazrat Inyat Khan (p173).

‘You can teach yourself how to shift into parasympathetic mode by managing stress, eliminating stress, or changing your lens on stress’ (p174).

Case study: Matt. Glioblastoma multiform, the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

‘Matt first turned to diet as Pablo Kelly had. He read Beating Cancer with Nutrition and learned that one in five cancer patients don’t actually die from cancer—they die from malnutrition.’ (p177).  

‘It was love that healed me,’ he says with conviction. ‘To me that’s what God is, that’s what life is. That’s what getting better is, it’s love.’ (p182.).

‘Our narrow concept of love could be making us sick. In her book on the topic, Fredrickson makes the bold claim that our fixation on the ideas of love as something that can only be shared in long-term, intimate romantic relationships shows “a worldwide collapse of imagination”.’  (p186).

Survival of the fittest or the kindest? (p189).

Social connection, a more evolved strategy than fight or flight. (p193).


Something we talk about metaphorically; we don’t actually believe our heart can break like a dropped vase.

Case study: Joanie Simpson (p197).

Heart attack. Doctors expected to find blocked arteries that they would have to prop open with a stent, but they were crystal clear.

An intense flood of stress hormones, stun the heart. (p197).

(p.199) we know the vagus nerve is activated by compassion for others, compassion for the self…love.

Chapter 7. Faith Healing and Heating Faith.

‘It is better to believe than to disbelieve; in so doing you bring everything to the realm of possibility.’ Albert Einstein. (p205).

Case Study: Dr Nemeh (faith healer).

‘Dr Nemeh has detractors, people who believe he is a false prophet, peddling a fantasy. But when you witness the sheer number that flock to be treated by him and listen to their stories of hope and recovery…There’s a down-to-earth practicality about him that, as a doctor myself I find refreshing; though he believes fervently in the power of prayer, he also advises those to come to him to continue seeking mainstream medical treatment.’ (p207).

‘Gallup polls, nine in ten Americans say they engage in prayer, and three out of four pray daily.’ (p208.)

Leanard DeBenedictus whose bones were literally dissolving after working for decades with toxic chemicals. Many of his co-workers had died.

“God wants you healed.”’  (p209-210).

(p214)’ Dr Nemeh’s patients believed their healing came from God and that Dr Nemeh was their conduit.’

‘Faith the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (p219).

Chapter 8. The Power of Placebo.

‘In the theory of relativity there is no unique absolute time, but instead each individual has own personal measure of time that depends on where he is and how he is moving.’  Stephen Hawkins. (p228).

Placebo>L> ‘I shall please’.

Case study. During World War II, Doctor Henry Beecher.

A field surgeon he ran out of morphine. He didn’t want to tell men in excruciating pain that he couldn’t help them. In a remote battlefield surgery tent, he rigged up an IV of saline solution, hooked it up for his suffering patients and told them it was morphine.’ (p230).

‘40 percent of the men reported a ‘significant’ decrease in pain.

Today, going into any kind of research study on the efficacy of a drug, the expectation is that a full 35 percent of participants will experience a strong placebo response. (p230).

And it’s important to remember that 35 is the average. The range is actually between 10 and 90 percent depending on the specific illness and the particular medical treatment being tested.’ (p230).

Case study. Knee arthroscopy in the United States makes up $4 billion of health-care spending.

But when researchers ran studies to compare the outcomes between an arthroscopy and a faux arthroscopy (in which the surgeon makes an incision during ‘surgery’ but repairs nothing so the patient only believes he’s had surgery) it was revealed that there was no difference between the actual surgery and the sham surgery [to reduce pain and increase the client’s range of knee movements] (p230-231).

Case study. Mr Wright (1957) The Wonder Drug that Wasn’t. (p237).

Cancer patient, end stage. He struggled to breathe.  He’d read about a new miracle drug and begged his doctor to try it.

As soon as his hospital received a shipment he got a first injection.

Three days later, his doctor returned to work on Monday morning to find him out of bed, breathing easily, walking around the ward, joking with the nurses.

A written report noted his tumours had ‘melted like snowballs on a hot stove.’ (p232).

He was sent home.

A couple of months later, some stories hit the news about Krebiozen not being an anticancer miracle drug…but a fake quack remedy.

When Wright read this he suffered an immediate relapse.

His doctor told him on his deathbed, the report was false and he’d received a new, retooled, ‘double-strength’ version of the serum.

After one injection the tumour melted away again. But this time, Wright’s doctor hadn’t even injected him with actual medication…it was water.

Mr Wright enjoyed two months of robust good health. He went back to his life. And then he read another report in the news. Krebiozen was debunked, definitely, as a cancer treatment.

He relapsed immediately. He died within days.’ (pp292-293).

Beyond Placebo (p237).

Case study: Stephen Dunne (2011)  multiple melanoma, multiple remission. (pp237-240).

The Quantum Physics of the Body. (p241).

Quantum physics is essentially the study of the building blocks of matter. (p242).

Some reserachers are asking if MRI technology can do more than imaging?


A placebo-controlled study found that people who were exposed to particular MRI experience marked improvements in mood (p243).

Dr Michael Rosen using MRI as a treatment for depression.

{but} more questions than answers. (p244).

The Observer Effect.

Richard Feynman’s observation. ‘If you think you understand quantum physics, then you don’t understand it.’ (p248).

Case study: the double-split experiment. (pp245-247).

Picture a tennis court. Enclosed with fences. Two open doorways equally apart.

You start throwing tennis balls at the wall in the middle, with the doorways in it. Some of them are going to miss the doors and bounce off the walls (or miss the walls and bounce off the doors).

Others will go through and hit the fence.

The double-slit experiment did the same thing, but with an electronic beam gun. It fired (single) electrons at a wall with two slits in it.

But the particles didn’t bounce off the wall like tennis balls at predictable angles (as the laws of physics and motion would suggest).

Instead, they took on properties of a wave between the slats. (no beginning, no middle, no bounce).

Physicists placed a ‘camera’ to film this response.

Particles stopped their wave-like behaviour and ‘bounced’ again and hit the fence in predictable ways.

‘It was like they knew they were being watched.’

‘The observer effect suggests, perhaps, that we are each the observer for our ongoing experiment… create the reality we see and touch’. (p247). 

When Belief Runs Deep. (p250).

A placebo works even when you don’t believe it will.

Paul Tilich: ‘Everyone has an ‘ultimate concern’ around which we organise our entire lives.’ (p251).

When we receive a pill that we know is a placebo and therefore chemically powerless to therefore help us—we nevertheless feel better when we take it. Why? Because we feel cared for…It might be everything from the doctor in the white coat dispensing the pill to the sensory experience of the being in the doctor’s office (p251).

Michael Polayni, the chemist turned philosopher called this ‘tacit knowledge’, very distinct from explicit or conscious knowledge. (p251).

When it comes to belief and its role in healing, the most important question may be: What do we believe about ourselves?   (p253)

[who are we? What are we?]

Chapter 9, Healing Your Identity.

‘Guilt results from unused life, from the unlived in us.’ Ernest Becker (p254).

Case study, Mirae, Too Busy to Be Sick. (p259)

Looking back, always sick, never healthy. Chronic Lyme disease from a tick bite.

Metastatic melanoma.  

(p264) primary site, where the mutation starts, somewhere cutaneous on the skin. You might notice an unusual skin lesion or mole.

‘the cancer that kills you be millimetres,’ (p265).

Before her diagnosis time had seemed infinite—like an ocean. You could scoop up a bucketful and there was always more (p268).

‘What hit me hardest,’ Mirae says, ‘was that I was out of time to rewrite things.’ (p268).

The Importance of Your Story.

The black box of spontaneous healing.

The black box I’m talking about isn’t just a metaphor. It’s real.

A more scientific name is your default mode network (DMN).

‘The DMN is basically a collection of loosely connected regions of the brain, both older structures deep in the brain and newer ones in the cerebral cortex, which are activated, or light up, when you engage in certain categories of thinking.. (p269-270

The DMN is more active when you’re not focussing on elements of the outside world but instead are turning on a more introspective mode. It yearns for narrative, helping us compose our story of who we are by linking the past with the present and what we consider possible or likely for the future.’

The idea of the DMN is relatively new in neuroscience.

Any definition should include the prefrontal cortex (locus of planning, decision-making and behaviour regulation.

The cingulate cortex (part of the limbic system, tasked with emotion and memory function).

Inferior parietal lobe  ( in charge of interpreting those formed emotions and processing language and sensory information).

Your person>reality< personality?

The me network.

It’s who you are (p270). 

How much did you weigh when you were sexually active? [Freudian slip of the tongue]

Professor Vincent Felitti, Preventative Medicine [what’s in your black box?] (p271…]

People were dropping out of the weight-loss clinic not because they were losing weight, but because of it.

‘Overweight is overlooked and that’s the way I want to be.’ (p272)

Felitti and Richard Anda, a leading epidemiologist, identified ten types of childhood stress.

Adverse childhood experiences (ACE). > disrupted neurodevelopment> Disease causing behaviour (correlation does not equal causation).

Strong links between childhood traumas and present-day illnesses existed across multiple types of experiences and multiple categories of disease (p272).

Best treatment, early intervention (p275).

Getting Out of Your Default Network. (p277).

Healing is less about what happens on the outside. (p280).

Some people use meditation or yoga to get out of their default network [some people get pissed]

Chapter 10. You are Not Your Illness.

‘Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’  Albert Einstein.

The power of perception.

cf. McGurg effect. What you taste and hear. (p282).

Taking off the mask of illness. (p304)

A central paradox of the whole situation is you can’t force a ground shift to occur.

We can’t force these flashes of insight. (any more than we can force ourselves to see the hag or elegant young women in the same postcard).

Chapter 11 Healing death. (p309).

‘Physician heal thyself.’ Luke 4: 23.

Why was I still alive?

Facing death can be a pivotal moment in life. (p312).

The denial of death is programmed into us at every level.

Refusing to die on schedule.

Case study, Lula Wang’s grandmother, feisty matriarch. (p316

Three months, maybe less to live.

The family refused to tell her. Stage IV lung cancer.

The family expected her to decline quickly and pass away. But she just…didn’t.

A year after her ‘expiration date’. She refused to go for her medical. Another year, and when she went to the doctor the diagnosis was the same, three months to live. (p317). 

The years went by and nothing changed. Her body, it seemed, hadn’t got the message she was supposed to get sicker, so she didn’t.

There’s no real consensus that emerges from research on withholding diagnoses (blissful ignorance or defence of ignorance). (p318).

(p321) How running for death runs us down.

It might not come as a shock to find that hospice care can extend life.

The earlier you enter the hospice the more it can extend your life. (p323).

Every story has an ending. Spontaneous remission doesn’t mean cured forever. (p324).

Chapter 12. Burn Your Boat.

‘I had the feeling there would be no harm, no shame, no judgement if I wanted to be done. But also that if I wanted to, if I chose life, it would be hard work.’ Mirae Bunnell metastatic melanoma. (p332).

Cunnigham’s (2002) study. Those that survived longer.

1) willingness to radically change habits, routines and

2) even the larger scaffolding of their lives (p338).

‘get up and go’ might be related to survival or remission.

Conditions associated with poor survival outcomes.

1) Inflexibility associated with low self-esteem or fixed world view.

2) Scepticism about self-help techniques, or a limited ability to apply them.

3) Other activities seemed more immediately appealing.  

4) Meaning was habitually sought outside the individual from some external source.

5) Strong, contrary views about the validity of spiritual ideas.

Conditions associated with longer survival:

1) Strong will to live.

2) Actual changes in habit of thought and activity.

3) Relaxation practices, meditation, mental imaging, cognitive monitoring.

4) Becoming involved for a search for meaning in one’s life. (pp340-341).

They fill the hole in the soul

You can too be Cured. The Remarkable Science.

Celtic 2—0 St Johnstone

Josip Juranovic comes into the problematic left-back spot, he handled so well at Ibrox. After Callum McGregor’s midweek miss from the penalty spot, it was Juranovic who once again picked up the ball, held his nerve, and sent Clark the wrong way with the second goal in 80 minutes that calmed nerves.

Another clean sheet and another victory. Joe Hart didn’t have a save to make. Celtic dominated the game. St Johnstone had pockets of possession in the first five minutes of each half, without threatening the Celtic goal.

  But the real thrill comes in seeing the Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis starting— flanked by Kyogo and Jota. Makes me think back to Celtic’s Three Amigos of the Tommy Burns’ era—Van Hooidjdonk, Cadette, and Di Canio—but hopefully, with a happier ending.

Our new number seven got us and himself off the mark. Jota’s shot is blocked. The ball loops into the air. Callum Booth ball watches allowing Tony Ralston to get the other side of him and fire the ball across goal. It’s taken thirty-four minutes for Giakoumakis to find himself unmarked in front of goal. He finishes with aplomb with a volley.

St Johnstone rely on free-kicks, corners and throw-ins to get them back into the match—it’s worked for them in the past—but even here they fail. Celtic’s defence is a match for them.

Ambrose and Bryson are booked to prevent Celtic breakaways. But bizarrely, the referee books Carter Vickers and Chris Kane, when the latter is clearly seen booting into the Celtic defender when he’s lying on the ground and the ball away from both of them. He should have been off.

Attack against defence, as it often is when teams come to Parkhead and put ten men behind the ball. The difference here was we had so many attacking options. With the game at 1—0 we could take out goal scorer off, Giakoumakis, at the start of the second half and bring on Mikey Johnstone. He was unlucky not to score, hitting the post with almost the last kick of the ball. But it also allowed us to push our icon, Kyogo, through the middle, and it was the Japanese star who won the penalty, being floored in the box.  We can even take him off with a few minutes reaming and the game secured and bring on Abada, who hit the ground running when he first came to the club, with a few well-taken goals. Sympathy vote?  Ajeti for Jota. Attack had by that time created so many chances it was just a matter of how many. We settled for 2—0, clean sheet and next up Hibs away on Wednesday night. Another away win would be nice.

The Trick, BBC 1, BBC iPlayer, Writer Owen Sheers and Director Pip Broughton

A drama based on a true story has to be factual—with lots of room for interpretation—for script writer Owen Sheers and Director Pip Broughton.

Man-made climate change brought about by burning fossil fuels is simpler and more complex. We are reliant on experts to interpret the world for us. We are reliant on scientists. But it’s a simple yes or no answer, like does gravity exist?

Let’s try a different question. Do you want your children and grandchildren to live?

COP 26 is in Glasgow this November. The 26th meeting of world leaders to discuss climate change and do nothing about it, but prevaricate and lie. Or as the modern Jeremiah, Greta Thunberg declared at a rally in London on October 2018, ‘Almost everything is Black and White.’ Britain, where the Industrial Revolution begun has one of the largest global debts and burned more fossil fuels than most other countries, but continually lie about how we are meeting our targets by the creative accounting we’ve become familiar with.  

The ‘Climategate’ scandal in 2009 was something conspiracy theorists could get their teeth into. Professor Phil Jones (Jason Watkins) suffers from a meltdown when he finds he and his team of climatologists at the University of East Anglia emails have been hacked by climate-change deniers. Their contents cherry-picked. Jones, using a kind of short-hand, asks one colleague in an email exchange to manipulate historical date using ‘the trick’.  

Let’s jump ahead to when the data used by climatologists at the University of East Anglia was released and audited by climate-change deniers in California, including a maverick who had targeted Professor Jones and his team, bombarding them with Freedom of Information requests. The University of California published findings where consistent with Jones and his teams. Climate change does exist and is progressing the way described by leading climatologists and NASA scientists in the 1970s. Climate change deniers have slunk away to fight other battles where science is less robust.

Greta Thunberg believes ‘No One is Too Small to Make A Difference’ and if nations work together, we can make the Paris Agreement work and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees centigrade. I see no evidence for her assertion. I believe your children and grandchildren will die in their tens of millions, certainly in numbers exceeding the first and second world wars combined. She remains optimistic. I’m pessimistic. But I’m older, more conservative in these matters, and have less life in front of me.

‘What happens Phil for our children and their children?’

No numbers, just the consequences.

Well, by 2100, dustbowl conditions across North America and Africa, Asia, too. Sooner than that. A massive reduction in agricultural production. Access to drinking water. Migration in huge numbers. Bushfires on a massive scale, in Australia and the West Coast. Melting at the Poles. West Antarctica ice-sheets, because of that a global sea-level rise of meters.

What does that all mean for people? Make me see it, Phil.

In the worst-case scenario, 70 percent of the habitable world will no longer be able to sustain life anymore.  Coastal and delta cites underwater. If methane on sea bed and polar frost is released—the climate will collapse. And the world as we know it will be gone.


3.30pm kick-off on a Thursday afternoon seems a time for school-football matches or reserve-team fixtures, but an almost full Parkhead showed how much we love European competitions. We’re in the second tier and whoever wins the head-to-head between both teams is likely to drop into the third-tier of European competition. Adam Montgomery came in for Bolingoli, the only change in the team that won at Motherwell. Celtic had similar possession here in the first-half, with two-thirds possession, but with far fewer chances. Jota came closest, with almost twenty minutes gone, with an angled drive Dibuzo tipped over the bar. Stacks of corners. But here’s the rub, we don’t look like scoring from corners, but we look like conceding.  Ferencvaros created a chance of their own, with a little help from Montgomery. The defence backed off and Montgomery gave Uzuni a chance to shoot from inside the box. Joe Hart made a decent save. It was a warning.

Samy Mmaee and Tony Ralston were both booked when the former kicked out at Kyogo. He didn’t kick him hard enough to get sent off. Sutton argued ‘a kick is a kick’ meaning a red card, but it was yellow.

The Japanese icon opened the scoring for us, fourteen minutes into the second half. Jota created it with a sweeping pass from the Celtic half. An exquisite first touch, a look up, and he dinked it in past the keeper and near the right-hand post.

We’ve had a couple of clean sheets recently, but were at our Keystone Cops best here as we almost conceded an equaliser immediately. Uzuni whips a dangerous ball into the six-yard box. Carl Starfelt is standing off Mmaee as he looks ready for the tap-in. But Ralston slides in to clear. Joe Hart also bailed him out when he dithered and made a back pass picked up by Uzuni. 2—0 up by then and there was more room for these kind of errors we’ve come to expect from Starfelt.

  Montgomery got us a penalty when he was brought down just inside the area by Wingo. Despite Celtic’s dominance, he too, didn’t have a great game. He’d earlier been booked after being on the wrong side of a winger, and his passing was erratic. When he limped off to be replaced by Liam Scales, it wasn’t a bad substitution.

Callum McGregor misses from the spot, or the keeper makes a good save? Either way, mid-way through the second-half, Celtic miss a glorious opportunity to put themselves out of the away team’s reach. His next pass went to the opposition. But Cameron Carter-Vickers does enough to prevent the counter-attack.

Most Celtic managers choose to substitute Tom Rogic after around 70 minutes, especially when we’re protecting a lead. Nir Bitton seems to be the man chosen for the job now. James McCarthy seems simply to have disappeared. But we also had a big substitution in us—Giorgos Giakoumakis. He replaced Liel Abada, who worked hard (that’s the minimal).  Giakoumakis gives us physical presence. Hart also took to pinging some balls from his goal mouth.

The Greek striker showed what he’s all about with a chest down in the box, holding off a defender and a shot that ballooned over the bar. He’ll score goals. Lots of goals.

With fifteen minutes remaining, with Giakoumakis lurking, David Turnbull scored after going to hit the ball with his right foot, the ball hitting his left foot. The keeper coming out of the goal and he’s tackled by a Ferencvaros defender and the ball ends up in the net. After his wonder goal at Fir Park, this was the antithesis. Not that it matters.

Turnbull should have scored another. Jota played him in. He’s one-on-one with the keeper, but slides it past the post.

Kyogo goes off and Mikey Johnston comes on, and he looked lively. With the game going to added time he played in Jota. But the Portuguese winger hit the side netting, when he should have scored.   

Fine margins. Celtic deserved to win and they did. Certainly we’ll go to Hungary next Thursday and attack. Kyogo will start through the middle, but there is a case for Giakoumakis. Jota is first pick, but Abada is going to feel the pressure of Mikey Johnston, or a tactical switch with Kyogo moving wide. We await Christopher Julien’s return. Starfelt looks the obvious candidate to go, but Carter-Vickers isn’t a loan signing I’d particularly want to keep.   

Motherwell 0—2 Celtic.

Celtic slick and sloppy. Joe Hart nearly gifted the home team a start in the first five minutes. His Cruyff-turn away from an attacker to try and play another pass out of defence rather than boot it up the park doesn’t inspire confidence. David Turnbull’s wonder goals always help our team to be more of the former rather than the latter. Boli Bolingoli returns to the team during a period of games that sees us, bizarrely, playing a European game on a Tuesday afternoon in the coming week. Rogic replaced Nir Bitton from the team that defeated Aberdeen at Pittodrie, but in role reversal the Australian was subbed for the Israeli after his usual 70 minutes. The nomadic ex-Celt Tony Watt was causing a few problems to our central defence pairing. After ten minutes he whipped a ball across goal after holding Starfelt off on the edge of the box. No takers

Jota hardly had a hit of the ball before he scored in 17 minutes. Celtic stole the ball away from the Motherwell midfield. In a slick breakaway attack, Rogic split the defence. The Portuguese winger, who scored the winner against Aberdeen, continued where he left off. He took the ball in his stride and blasted it in the left-hand side of the goal.

Ange’s Plan A to attack and Plan B to attack even more, is always made easier when we score first. We looked more dangerous when Motherwell attack and left space for the midfield and forwards to work.

Just before half-time we had what seemed a lengthy delay for referee Willie Collum to sub himself—there’s a masonic joke there somewhere.

The second-half had Jota failing to connect properly from a great cross from Tony Ralston. When we play quality teams, I usually say if we get a second we’ve got a fifty-fifty chance of snatching a draw, but usually I’m wrong. In that I’m consistent.

For goal of the season, it’s got to be Turnbull at his old stomping ground. Over 25 yards out, he cut in from the left and let fly. The ball zipped into the top right-hand corner. It’s one of those strikes you see played on computer games. Liam Kelly, in the Motherwell goal, could only turn his head to watch, like the rest of us. Turnbull showed class by refusing to celebrate. But he did crack a smile. He’s not being playing at his best recently, but was neat and tidy here, with a bit of spectacular thrown in.

Celtic looked the team more likely to score, but midway through the second-half, the referee waved away an appeal for a Motherwell penalty after the ball seemed to have struck Bolingoli’s hand in the box. Would Willie Collum have given it? Discuss.

Giorgos Giakoumakis replaced Liel Abada with twenty minutes to shine. The Greek striker had one half chance were he went for the spectacular overhead kick, but was nowhere near scoring. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect was with five minutes remaining was the way he plucked a ball from the air and held off a defender with ease, forcing him to foul. That’s something our attack has been missing. Physicality.

Kyogo went out to the left wing. He was replaced by Mikey Johnstone for the last ten minutes. I like Mikey. And like the Celtic team, he sometimes looks like a world beater or a Keystone Cop wearing someone else’s boots. He was unlucky not to score in the last few minutes. A free header at the back post which sailed over the bar the most noticeable chance for Motherwell.  But the home team looked most dangerous when we gifted them the ball in our half of the park. We had a rub of the green today, long may it continue. Two goals. Two away wins and counting.

Storyville: Raising a School shooter, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer. Series editor Mandy Chang.

Since 1970, 1677 school shootings in the US, ranging from pre-school to high schools. 528 deaths and 1626 injuries.

Sue Klebold (Colorado)

Tom, there’s a shooting going on at Columbine. They think that Dylan may be one of the shooters. I heard through the window them saying that there was 25 dead. And if Dylan was hurting people, in the way I thought he was, I prayed he would die (his mother).

It’s hard to talk about the funeral. I think in the room there were only 12 people. I wanted to have the body cremated before I left the premises because I didn’t want anyone to hurt or take him. I remember looking up at windows. Sure that the media were trying to snap pictures of Dylan in his casket or pictures of us (grieving).

He was just there in a cardboard box and they allowed each of us to have a few minutes with him. So my husband, my son and I, each had time with him, alone—to say goodbye.

I wanted to crawl in that casket to be beside him. To keep him warm. I said, ‘Darling, help me understand.’

And I didn’t realise that did become my life’s mission.

That’s what I’ve been seeking for 20 years understanding.

I prayed to him to understand so I could find some path to get through to cope with this.

And I can know what he never said to me.

I do belief that has happened over time.

Jeff Williams (Ohio)

[Jeff William’s partner (after the shooting)] I helped Jeffrey to get out of Ohio and move to San Diego.

Monday morning March 5th, I get up around 6 o’clock. Staff Sargent said there was a shooting at school. I called Andy and it went onto voicemail. Two girls from the apartment complex were there and I said ‘I’m so glad to see you,’ and asked, ‘Where’s Andy?’

They said, ‘he did it.’

It didn’t sink in. I went up to a Sheriff’s deputy. Tapped him on the back and said, ‘I think I’m the shooter’s father’.

On the radio it comes out that 2 people were killed and 13 injured.

On March 5th 2001, 15-year old Andy Williams opened fire with a .22 calibre revolver at Santana High School in California.

Andy was about 4-years old when I separated from his mum. Andy stayed with me. We did a lot of things together. He was like my best friend.

I go to the Public Defender’s Office and they bring Andy in. And we were both hurting. Both crying and I felt so bad. That’s the first time I can remember telling him I loved him, that day.

Once Andy got a bit older, we got separated a little bit. His grades started falling. I’d get occasional phone calls. Things like he was late for class. That kinda ended it. Then I found out Andy was getting home early and erasing them.

Andy had his two buddies he hung about with. One of them was in his late twenties and he’d provide them with booze and marijuana. He’d come home with bruising on his neck and he’d claim they were from skateboarding accidents. I told him over and over I didn’t like those kids. But he stayed with them no matter how badly he was treated by them.

These other two boys, they were supposed to have participated, but backed out. Andy was in that mind-set if I back out, I’ll get picked on even more. It determined him to go in and do the school shooting.

Round me he was pretty much light-hearted. Happy-going kid.

The bullying at school was terrible. The school was supposed to put out a report about it and racism, but when it was published, they blamed everything on Andy.  

He did something terrible. But he’s my only son. And I offered him unconditional love. Your job is to support your son, no matter what. I didn’t lose a son that day. I still get to talk to him, and hug  him. And get to laugh with him. I don’t know how I’d feel if I didn’t have that chance.

Andy Williams received a 50 year-to-life prison sentence. Reduced on appeal to 25 years minimum.

He is eligible for parole in 2025. 

Sue Klebold

Late in the afternoon, one of the police said yes he is (your son, Dylan, is dead). For months I was in denial. Not only that they killed those people. But they said awful, racist things. I shut that out of my mind. I said, Dylan would not say anything like that. They got so much wrong about the family. I settled into the belief system, they were wrong what Dylan did.

It took 6 months for the sheriff to make a report. He made a presentation. And for the first time, I got it. I saw it was planned. Video tapes they had made. I saw Dylan in a way I’d never seen him before. They were talking about what they were going to do. I saw him with weapons. It was horrifying to see him in that mode.

On 20th April 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fire at Columbine High School in Colorado.

It was one of the worst school shootings in US history.

I’d been grieving for this lost precious child. Everything died in my world. God died. My belief in truth. My belief in what our family was. My belief in who Dylan was. Everything was torn apart. The person I thought I was no longer existed. I thought I was a good mom. Who had raised responsible kids. Kind and loving and charitable.

Dylan 17 and Eric 18 went to Columbine with the intention of killing everyone and destroying the school. And if there’s any gratitude in this whole process is they failed to do that. But they killed 12 students and a teacher, before taking their own lives. They injured more than 20 other people. I’d say 24 people were injured and I try to use the broader definition (serious injures such as head wounds, spinal cord).

Everybody was suing everybody else. To hold them responsible. The governor went on national television to say it was the fault of the parents. It was open season on us. Everywhere I went, I was exposed to all the horrible things that people believed. Somehow we were lesser human beings. We were evil people. That did not know how to raise children. There was a world of people that hated us.

Connie Sanders reached out to me. Her father was killed by Dylan.

He went to the prom and had been accepted for University. But the police found in his writing: ‘I’m in agony and I want to die’. He had this hidden life, he wasn’t sharing with us.

While this was happening, I prayed that he would die. I’ve met many parents with incarcerated children and I think, they’re luck –  at least they can talk to their child.

I felt guilty for having lost a connection with Dylan, for not knowing that he was suffering.

-let us listen to our heart?

Our job as parents is not to make them feel better, but to make them feel…

To listen, and I didn’t do that.

I’ll never stop wishing, I could have those years (childhood years) again. Never.

If I saw Dylan, face to face, I’d ask him for forgiveness, for not being the mother he could come to, to talk to. For him to come to me and put his arms around me and say, ‘It’s OK’.

I can still see the helicopters. I can still see the ambulances. I tell you, that was the worst day of my life. I tell you it takes a long time to get over a shock like this.

School shootings going to happen again, but let’s do our best to stop them. He’s my son the school shooter and it’s going to stay that way.

Everywhere I went I didn’t know what to do, whether I should identify myself. For a while I went by a different name. I thought I should just leave. But I knew if I’d left I’d be some stranger somewhere and they’d be saying that the woman whose son killed all these people.

I decided to keep my name and stop hiding.

When you have periods of time, maybe thirty minutes when you feel almost normal. You might have days when you forget who you are. And what’s happened to you. Then you feel guilty.

Because as soon as you feel happy (alright) you begin to hate yourself.

How can I feel happy when this horrible thing has happened? How can I feel joy when I know that suffering is going on? I feel somehow it’s unjust for me to be happy.

In the beginning I was trying to understand, our community was trying to understand what happened. I understand now, it was never just one thing. For a variety of things going wrong and coming together. I’ll never understand how or why he did it. But there’s another issue that’s still relevant, how to dehumanise people.

I see it occurring all the time. I see it in politics. I hear on the news. I hear it when people reduce people and bring them down in size. Reducing them down to some aspect of themselves. Focussing anger, hatred and judgement on that. That frightens me because that’s how human beings are cruel to each other.

We’ve got to connect with each other. We’ve got to listen to each other, better.

Dylan Klebold’s ashes lie in an unmarked place.

Clarence Elliot (Virginia)

Nicholas was born in California. Everybody we knew was a mixed community. And we always kept our eyes out on each other’s kids. Our mother and I got divorced. He was snatched out of California. California to Virginia, it was a culture shock.

On 16th December 1988, Nicholas Elliot carried out an attack on The Atlantic Shore Christian School in Virginia. He shot one of his teachers.

He was armed with 3 firebombs, a semi-automatic pistol and 200 rounds of ammunition.

He killed one teacher and wounded another.   

I figured because of his age and the situation (bullying). He’d get 5 or 10 years. But the judge gave him 110 years plus 14.

I’m 79-years-old and he’s been incarcerated for 31 years.

Nicholas Elliot was sentence to life-plus-114-years in prison. He has been incarcerated since 1989, and has applied for parole six times. Unsuccessful.