Welcome to PTSD Nation

DonClarkinStudioI got my first serious dose of PTSD in 1968 when I was yanked out of my high school class and taken to the principal’s office, where I found Bugsy already seated, looking somewhat grim-faced. The week before, Bugsy had been charged with a bunch of crimes, including selling a bowl-full of opium, a serious felony. Many months earlier, I’d introduced Bugsy to Don Clark (left), who worked as news editor for a local radio station. After Doug Blair dropped out of college and took a job at that station as a hip new deejay, he was courted by Clark, who claimed he wanted to meet and mix with the emerging hippie culture, of which Doug and I were trailblazing members.

I guess everyone else at the station probably knew Don Clark was moonlighting with the States Narcotics Office as an undercover informant, but Doug and I swallowed his story and introduced this very straight-looking dude to our culture. I forget how many people were eventually arrested due to this operation, but it was considerable. I had escaped the carnage, fortunately, or so I thought.

Suddenly, the door flew open and two or three States Narcotics Agents entered and one began reading our Miranda rights. We were handcuffed and taken out of school, fingerprinted and arraigned in swift order. I remember Bugsy’s mom coming to the arraignment and screaming at the judge. She was furious he’d been taken out of school and arrested twice in the same week, and this time just to add on another misdemeanor? I was blown away that she had the guts and intelligence to realize our crimes were being blown way out of proportion and something super fishy was going on.

The whole episode provides a window on 1967, when that special task force was launched following the criminalization of LSD. But it was only after the initial round of arrests were made that the prosecutor discovered a key target (me) was still walking around free. See, I’d founded a high school underground newspaper, probably the only one in Illinois, if not the country, and that paper had quickly expanded to being distributed in four high schools, so every narcotics officer in the area probably had my picture on his wall. But I wasn’t a drug dealer and numerous attempts to entrap me had only resulted in me being present one time when Bugsy sold one hit of LSD to an agent in a motel room for $15. After that encounter, neither of us wanted anything to do with Don Clark or his friends again as that episode freaked us both out. The vibes on these dudes was creepy. People who engage in violence carry a special aura. They could be Hell’s Angels or cops or spooks, but they’re not exactly like other people and they instantly recognize each other no matter which club they belong to. You know right away these dudes are not to be fucked around with. A year or so later, all those serious dudes in that motel room would re-emerge as State Narcotics officers as they arrested and terrorized many of my closest friends.

To say they threw the book at me is putting it mildly. My crime was witnessing the sale and not reporting it to the police, which made me guilty of sale? They also wanted to try me as an adult, even though I was 15 at the time of the incident and it had happened within days of LSD being made illegal. Of course, they were willing to promise probation provided I turned State’s Evidence against my friends. This offer was put on the table over and over, but I never accepted it. I was looking at four years in jail for witnessing the sale of a hit of LSD. It all seemed surreal at the time.

This was actually the second time I got terrorized enough to pick up a case of PTSD. The first happened when my grandmother gave me a beating while I was in nursery school and that incident caused me to stutter through most of my childhood. It was only after I discovered marijuana and LSD that I was able to cure myself of that case and my stuttering stopped, although it can erupt in super high-stress moments.

After my arrest, I cut my hair and stopped illegal drug use for years until the case was finally dropped by the prosecutor, who probably never had any intention of taking this ridiculous case to court. My underground newspaper was long gone anyway. After two members of the staff tried to engineer a coup at a staff meeting to get control over the paper, I walked away from my creation even though they didn’t summon the votes to succeed. Somehow, that betrayal took all the fun out of the project for me. It was kind of like the way Jim Cole just walked away from the Finchley Boys at their peak powers. Making grand gestures like that was in vogue, I guess, even though they made no sense economically speaking. I think LSD killed some of our ego energy for a while. The staff managed to get out one issue of the paper without me. I never saw or read that one. And then The Tin Whistle was dead.

But that operation to disband the counterculture using drug laws? That was very successful and I think you’ll find similar narcotics operations targeting every other underground newspaper at the time. All it took was a little terror to get most people like me running for the hills.

And I think that’s why there’s so much violence in our culture and why the TV news plays the violence over and over. Anybody who watches the news is on PTSD at this point. Events like 9/11 and the Boston Bombing are engineered to amp up PTSD. See, once you have been effectively terrorized, you lose the ability to think and function clearly and can be more easily disarmed, hoodwinked and/or controlled.

Some conspiracy sites will try to make you think all random acts of violence (like Sandy Hook) are manufactured incidents, when, in fact, there’s no need to do that and probably not sufficient funds in the black budgets after the skim is taken out. Half the country is on violence-inducing drugs already (alcohol, SSRI’s) and armed to the teeth, and already suffering from PTSD, so expect violence to increase. The media’s role is to amplify this as much as possible.

So what is the solution? Once embedded into you, terror needs a release. Most often this happens when you do terror to others, and so the chain reaction continues forever. But if you engineer the right ceremonies, you can empty that violence out of your being without affecting others negatively. And that’s really what my Rainbow Menorah is all about and why I found it so useful.

I learned a lot about spirituality from attending Rainbow Family Gatherings, and the major ceremony is always held on July 4th. This is the best anti-PTSD ceremony I know of. So if you are having an issue with stress, please consider taking a trip to Montana soon. The event is free to attend and all you will need is a sleeping bag, cup and spoon. I promise it will completely clear the TV news from your head.


Author: Steven Hager

I'm a writer, journalist, filmmaker and event producer.

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