Mental institutions, where “mad” people are locked away, did not exist in Europe until the late 17th century.
William Dufty tells us in Sugar Blues that such places appeared “after sugar made the transition from apothecary’s prescription to candy maker’s confection.”
Sure, there were mad people before that. But only the odd few. Their numbers rose sharply, Dufty notes, “after sugar consumption in Britain had zoomed in two hundred years from a pinch or two in a barrel of beer here and there to more than two million pounds per year.”
Is this just a coincidence?
Is it a coincidence that Adolf Hitler, probably one of the maddest man in history, was a sugar junkie?
He could never get enough of his favourite whipped-cream cake. There was always a box of candy near him. He could not drink wine unless he put sugar in it. (And, he had very badly decayed teeth.)
Is it also a coincidence that almost all the people involved in building the atom bomb were also sugar addicts?
- Leo Szilard, the physicist who first came up with the idea of harnessing nuclear energy, was said to prefer “fatty or over-sweet delicatessen fare.”
- General Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project (which developed the A-bomb) had an office safe full of boxes of chocolate, which his staff were expected to keep replenished.
- J Robert Oppenheimer, director of the team of scientists who built the first uranium and plutonium bombs, was said to be “an insatiable sugarholic”.
- Edward Teller, who earned the title “Father of the Hydrogen Bomb” had an addiction to chocolates that was described as “legendary”.
More such “coincidences” are compiled by J I Rodale, ex-editor of Prevention Magazine, in his book, Natural Health, Sugar and the Criminal Mind:
- “Mrs Spinelli ate ice cream and pie the night before she died.
- “Mrs Peete nibbled candy and offered a box of it to reporters and photographers the day before she was executed.
- “Barbara Graham‘s last meal was a hot fudge sundae.
- “Mrs Duncan, throughout her trial, was munching on life-savers and peppermints.”
A 16-year-old boy shot dead a 76-year-old man. Before the shooting, the boy had been given two dollars to buy shoes. Instead, he bought candy.
A bakery apprentice embezzled money to buy sweets. Sometimes he gobbled down three boxes of chocolate. He said his craving was stronger than his rationality and good will.
Sugar does seem to have a strong effect on our rationality and good will, sometimes making us behave “mad”.
“Mental illness is a myth”
Dufty writes: “Today, pioneers of orthomolecular psychiatry such as Dr A Hoffer, Dr Allan Cott and Dr A Cherkin, as well as Dr Linus Pauling, have confirmed that mental illness is a myth and that emotional disturbances can be merely the first symptom of the obvious inability of the human system to handle the stress of sugar dependency.”
Dr Cott’s study of hyperactive and psychotic children, as well as those with brain injuries and learning difficulties, showed that often, the parents and grandparents had diabetes while the children themselves had hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Both conditions indicate that the body has difficulty handling sugar.
“Inquiry into the dietary history of patients diagnosed as schizophrenic reveals the diet of their choice is rich in sweets, candy, cakes, coffee, caffeinated beverages, and foods prepared with sugar,” Dr Cott writes.
“These foods, which stimulate the adrenals, should be eliminated or severely restricted,” he advised.
It is not often that we get the chance to see what happens when a schizophrenic or “mentally ill” person gives up sugar.
But many in Singapore had that opportunity in 1996 when they attended seminars given by David Briscoe.
David grew up with paranoid schizophrenia. He loved sweets when he was young. One of his favourite foods was a huge bowl of vanilla ice-cream topped with half a box of brown sugar.
David eventually recovered from his mental illness by adopting a macrobiotic diet of mainly whole grains and vegetables, and no sugar. He is convinced that no one can recover from schizophrenia unless he or she completely stops taking sugar.
David’s case is unique. But he demonstrates that the right foods can, indeed, cure mental illness.
You can read more about David Briscoe in his book, A Personal Peace and also from his website, Macrobiotics America at www.macroamerica.com
More common, however, are the many cases of hyperactive and “naughty” children whose behaviour improved markedly when sugar, chemical food additives and other offending substances were removed from their diet.
I have personally witnessed one such child. He was by himself, quiet and well behaved. A few minutes after he ate some white bread – which contains white sugar – he started acting up and could not keep still.
Sceptics will dismiss such incidents as anecdotal and “not scientific”. But a number of scientific studies have been done.
Notable among them were studies in the 1980s by Stephen Schoenthaler, a criminologist.
He found vast improvements in the behaviour of prison inmates when they were taken off highly-sugared junk foods. Incidences of violence, vandalism and attempted escapes dropped sharply.
Still, the majority of doctors remain unconvinced that sugar has any effect on human behaviour and thinking.
They continue to prescribe cough mixtures, antibiotics and other medicines in the form of sticky, sugary (and brightly, artificially coloured) syrups.
Many of these medicines are 50 to 70 percent sugar. Thorazine, the drug David Briscoe took as a schizophrenic, is 84 percent sugar in syrup form.
One reason for doctors’ scepticism is the lack of “conclusive” evidence. While some studies show close links between sugar and behaviour problems, others show no links at all.
A reason for the lack of conclusive evidence could be that researchers studying sugar often ignore what else, besides sugar, a person is eating. They may be eating plenty of other foods – refined flour products, fruits and artificial sweeteners – that produce similar effects.
Dr William Manahan, writing as president of the American Holistic Health Association, suggests yet another reason for doctors’ scepticism: most doctors are themselves “sugarholics”.
In Eat for Health, Manahan writes: “If we admit that sugar causes health problems, we doctors will have to look at our own sugar consumption and we just don’t want to do that.”
We are all “mad”
Manahan lists the following symptoms possibly caused by sugar:
- depression and crying bouts
- memory loss
- moodiness and mood swings
- poor concentration
- pre-menstrual syndrome.
These symptoms have become so common that we regard them as normal. We think it is normal to be anxious, moody, depressed and so on. But these are all signs of emotional imbalances.
Writes Dr Thomas Szasz in The Manufacture of Madness:
“I have never known a clinical psychologist to report, on the basis of a projective test, that the subject is a normal, mentally healthy person. There is no behaviour or person that a modern psychiatrist cannot plausibly diagnose as abnormal or ill.”
Put simply, Dr Szasz is saying that we are all “mad”.