Friday, February 6, 2009

Rare With a Side of PCP Please

The Legend:  Use of PCP can turn people into cannibals.

Status:  False


This is a good example of how make-believe crime shows are shaping the minds of our youth. You know that CSI isn't real, right? You know that West Wing is fiction, that Jimmy Smits isn't a politician in Washington and that Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn't go to your school, right? Right?

Well, not everyone is as smart as you are. They see something on TV and assume it is real. It doesn't help that some of the current crime shows will have disclaimers suggesting that story lines are based on real or true events but names have been changed to protect the innocent. This is the case with a 2002 episode of CSI where a cheerleader, high on PCP, ends up killing and snacking on another cheerleader.

There was one real PCP/cannibalism case in 2002 where rapper Big Lurch (Antron Singleton) was found to have eviscerated and then chewed on his roommate's organs. At the trial, the defense claimed that Mr. Lurch was insane from PCP use at the time of the flesh smorgasbord. The jury didn't buy it and he is currently serving a life sentence.

There are many stories about PCP causing violence, often gory violence like eye-gouging and fetus killing. All of these stories make one think that there must be some truth behind the notion that PCP can trigger horribly violent acts, including cannibalism. A review of the research shows that there is one drug connected to more violent acts than any other, but that drug is alcohol, not PCP, (Hoakin & Stewart, 2003).

Can PCP use trigger violent acts? At this time, the best research says no, that there is no association between PCP and violence, (Fauman & Fauman, 1979). A person's response to PCP, or any drug, may differ as a function of personality characteristics rather than the physiological effects of the drug. (McCardle & Fishbein, 1989).

As for cannibalism, it seems to be acceptable if it's spiders or chickens eating their own, or even plane crash survivors, but it is one of the most intolerable things we can imagine one human being doing to another. Medical literature includes cases of cannibalism, but all instances were associated with mental illness, not drug use, (Medina, et. al. 2006). The common denominator in each case of human cannibalism seems to be people who were unstable to begin with and didn't need much of a push to lose control of their eating habits.