Strangest Book of the Week #22 – Clinical Symposia, 1962: Survival in Nuclear Warfare

My own TL;DR: Don’t expect to. Good god. But back in 1962, it was a much more pressing fear, and this kind of research could potentially  have needed to be put to use at a moment’s notice. Puts our current worries in perspective, doesn’t it? …not that nuclear warfare is impossible these days. Anyway.

Clinical Symposia Volume 14, Number 1: Survival in Nuclear Warfare

CIBA. January – March, 1962. By Captain E. Richard King, MC, USN – then Chairman, Division of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine, Department of Raditaion Therapy, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond 19, Virginia.

Selection from the beginning of the article:

“Except for burns of skin and eyes, even a 100 megaton detonation will produce severe damage over an area of less than 1,300 square miles, having a 20-mile radius.  Such an area, though large, is relatively insignificant compared with the 3,000,000 square miles of our total geographic area. Obviously, therefore, many such 100 megaton bombs would be required to paralyze our country if destruction were limited only to the direct effects of the explosion.”

He goes on to say “The purpose of this article is to provide our first line of civilian defense, the members of the medical profession, with data that will enable them to estimate the potential dangers…” Illustrations, diagrams, graphs, and so forth included – see below. Sections include:

  • Variables
  • Power of the Bomb
  • Immediate Effects
  • Delayed Effects
  • Protection Provided by Shelter
  • Essential Contents of a Shelter
  • Estimation of Radioactivity
  • Estimation of Safe Interval for Leaving Shelter
  • Biologic Effects of Fallout
  • Treatment

I should mention quickly that we have a box full of these Clinical Symposias, from the 1960s-1990s, or thereabouts. Also:

From this issue, though, the other fun things to look into are the advertised drugs. First and foremost, Ritalin! According to Wikipedia, it was patented by CIBA, and licensed by the FDA in 1955. Medical use began in 1960, so by the time of issue Ritalin had only been prescribed for two years. Not much more to say, Ritalin has certainly been a popular drug since then and has a pretty public history.

I knew nothing about Doriden (Glutethimide). Unlike Ritalin, which is here advertised with images of rats in graphs, here we have a pretty lady getting a good night’s sleep. And that’s what it is – a sleeping aid. This issue of Clinica Symposia also contains a booklet about all of the advertised drugs. One of the things it says about Doriden is that it had been used in suicides, and that the effects of it are severely amplified if the patient is also taking barbiturates or drinking alcohol. The drug was introduced by Ciba in 1955, and according to Wikipedia: “Before long, however, it had become clear that glutethimide was just as likely to cause addiction and caused similarly severe withdrawal symptoms. This is in comparison to barbiturates.

…Turns out, Doriden became super popular when people discovered they could mix it with codeine and have crazy trippy euphoria! Because of this, and several deaths thereby, it was discontinued in the US in 1993. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about recreational use:

“Glutethimide is a CYP2D6 enzyme inducer. When taken with codeine,”hits”, “cibas and codeine “, it enables the body to convert higher amounts of the codeine (higher than the average 5 – 10%) to morphine. The general sedative effect also adds to the effect of the combination. It produces an intense euphoria similar to IV heroin use. The effect was also used clinically, including some research in the 1970s in various countries of using it under carefully monitored circumstances as a form of oral opioid agonist substitution therapy, e.g. as a Substitutionmittel that may be a useful alternative to methadone. The demand for this combination in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Newark, NYC, Boston, Baltimore, and surrounding areas of other states and perhaps elsewhere, has led to small-scale clandestine synthesis of glutethimide since 1984, a process that is, like methaqualone (Quaalude) synthesis, somewhat difficult and fraught with potential bad outcomes when less-than-gifted chemists are doing the deed with industrial-grade precursors without adequate quality control.”

I also found an enlightening and amusing forum discussion – Whatever happened to Doriden? You get the basic information, and then you get the advocates… One guy says finding Doriden “would be like finding the holy Grail, pure bliss is a way I would describe it.”

The Doriden Girl.

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