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Forced Medication; Violence on Screen; Playing Through the Pain

Aired July 2, 2011 - 07:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Hey there. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Coming up on today's program:

Supreme Court weighed on violent video games this week. But as a dad, I was curious. Would you let your kids play something that looks like this? I'm going to talk to experts.

I also want to show you something you may have never seen before -- Death Race. It's a nearly 48-hour endurance challenge really like no other. It is very extreme. I'm going to show it to you and also give you some thoughts.

We all know the rock band KISS. But did you know that founding band mate Paul Stanley was actually born deaf in one ear. We'll hear his story about overcoming the odds.

But we begin with an interesting turn in the case against Jared Loughner, the young man charged with shooting Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, along with nearly two dozen others in a Tucson supermarket back in January.

Now, in jail, he's been receiving anti-psychotic medication. He doesn't want to take it. And his lawyers asked the federal judge to stop forcing him to take it.

It's a fascinating situation.

Joining me from New York is CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffery Toobin.

Jeff, thanks for joining us.

We've been talking about this a little bit in the past. The judge seems to say that this is in the hands of his doctors, primarily.

So, how does it work? I mean, can prison doctors literally hold Loughner down and force this medication into him?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: See, you know, the important thing you have to recognize the background here. The defense has one goal. It's to keep Jared Loughner from getting executed. That's their only goal here.

And at the moment, he has been found not fit to stand trial. And as long as you're not fit to stand trial, you're not getting executed. So, the status quo is actually pretty satisfactory to the defense.

The problem here is that the medical authorities are trying to get Loughner better.

GUPTA: Right.

TOOBIN: So, they are giving him drugs. They are treating him the way any severely mentally ill patient would be treated. That may get him sane enough for trial and thus, execution.

So, the defense is trying to keep the status quo not get him cured so he doesn't get executed.

GUPTA: Jeff, thanks so much.

And for the psychological aspect of this story, we turn to clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere, who's also in New York and following this story along.

Jeff, let me start with your expertise on this. What is wrong specifically with Loughner? And what medication do you think he's taking? Will it make him competent do you think to stand trial?

DR. JEFF GARDERE, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, specifically, Dr. Gupta, what we do know is that he was examined by two psychologists and a psychiatrist in May. And they found that he has schizophrenia, full- blown schizophrenia. In other words, hallucinations, delusions, a total break from reality.

I'm not quite sure what medication they may be giving him. But it is some sort of anti-psychotic medication. I'm not sure whether it's an oral medication or whether it's an injectable psychotropic medication.

GUPTA: And you've done work with the Bureau of Prisons, my understanding is. People have been talking about this idea of forcibly medicating him.


GUPTA: What does that entail? I mean, is that literally strapping him down and forcing him to either swallow something or injecting him?

GARDERE: Well, normally, what they do is that they will try to convince him to take oral medications. That will be the first step, if he does take them, they will make sure that he swallowed the medications. Now, if he refuses to take the oral medications, then they will give him the injectable anti-psychotic medications.

However, they will use a minimum amount of force in order to hold him down so that he is not a danger to himself or others as he is being injected with this anti-psychotic medication.

GUPTA: Jeff, I don't know if this has been happening to you, but a lot of people in the health care field have been asking me and talking about this issue because it is a sort of a dual-loyalty issue. You know, you are treating him to make him better, but he's going to stand trial ultimately and may get the death penalty as a result.

Is this -- is this a conflict, do you think, for these doctors who are treating him?

GARDERE: Well, I think the doctors that are treating him in Springfield, Missouri, at the federal facility, medical facility there, they're not thinking at this point about trying to get him well to stand trial. What they are doing is just making sure now that he's been deemed to be a danger to himself because he did have administrative hearing back in June, I believe around June 14th, and began medicating him, forced medicating him around June 21st.

They just want him to be more stable and less of a danger to himself and a danger to others because he is homicidal.

GUPTA: Well, it's fascinating. And there have been some precedence for this sort of thing. But, obviously, a lot of people following along.

Jeff Gardere, thanks so much always great to have you on.

We got an update now in the Food and Drug Administration meeting about Avastin. This is a drug for advanced breast cancer.


PATRICIA HOWARD, BREAST CANCER PATIENT: I never thought in the United States, I would have to beg for a drug that is keeping me and many others alive. Please approve Avastin as a treatment for my disease. What if I was your wife, your mother, your sister, your friend? And what if I was your granny?


GUPTA: You know, it's just such emotional testimony that was heard there. Despite all that, the advisory panel gave Avastin a thumb's down. They said the study it does not make women live longer and the benefits are not worth the side effects.

Now, this vote isn't binding incidentally. The final decision still lies with the FDA commissioner.

Avastin is also approved to treat other type of cancers. And that won't be affected whatever the FDA commissioner decides.

Now, I want you to look at the graphic video games. Here's a question: would you ever let your kid play something that looked like this? Would you even know if they were? There are permanent effects of video games on your child's brain? We'll talk about it.


GUPTA: We are back.

This week, the Supreme Court struck down a California law banning the sale of violent video games to children. This is a case that sort of balances free speech rights with consumer protection. Lots of questions about this.

Joining me now are two women who have different opinions overall on this ruling in San Francisco: Jane McGonigal, she's a games designer. She's also the author of "Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World."

And in Los Angeles is Wendy Walsh, doctor of psychology who's been on the show before, works a lot with children.

Thanks to both of you for joining us.

Wendy, let me start with you right now. I know that you disagree with this ruling. You say the video games can be harmful and we need to protect our kids. From what, exactly are we protecting our kids?

WENDY WALSH, HUMAN BEHAVIOR EXPERT: Well, I think, in some ways, you know, video gaming for adults can be an active of catharsis, you know? We're not out in the middle age, clubbing people we hate, we can do it quietly in our homes now in a safe manner.

But for adolescents and the developing brain, it's a whole different matter. Think of it, Sanjay. How do we shape behavior? Through repetition and role playing.

So, now, these children and the studies are showing that the average number of hours that an adolescent boy plays games is 13 hours a week, a girl about five hours a week. And those kids tend to have more complex with their teachers, more aggression at school, and lower grades.

We're actually training aggression through these games with the developing brain.

GUPTA: There are so many studies on this and Supreme Court, frankly, cited a lot of these studies as well.

But, Jane, let me -- you got a different take. Simply starting, do you think these games can be harmful?

JANE MCGONICAL, PHD, AUTHOR, "REALITY IS BROKEN": Well, I do think the research shows that if kids are playing games more than 20 hours a week, there can be negative impacts. But the most important thing for parents to understand is that fewer than 20 hours a week or less than three hours a day has been shown to have a host of positive impacts on confidence, optimism, problem-solve abilities.

And most importantly, if they are playing games with their parents, improving relationships. More often communication, they are happier and they have fewer behavior problems.

GUPTA: Does the type of game seem to matter, Wendy? I mean, because some of these games that we've been showing some images throughout the show -- they are pretty violent. Does it make a difference?

WALSH: Of course, it makes a difference, Sanjay. And this is really about the gaming industry looking for a younger market. The average age of a gamer, they're getting up in years, little long in the tot, is 37 now. So, giving mature content to teens gets them addicted early.

Sanjay, let me say this -- right now in America, a 13-year-old boy cannot legally purchase a picture of a topless woman. Oh, but he can become a character who kidnaps or gags or tortures her and murders her as long as she's not topless.

Does this make sense to you as a father?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's funny, because I have three young children. So, I think I'm thinking about this more than ever before. But what do you say about that, Jane, in terms of the type of game?

You say, in general, it could have some benefits. But does the type matter?

MCGONIGAL: Yes. The type does matter, but what I would encourage, Wendy and parents to look at, is research showing the benefits for young people, adolescents in particular, playing scary or violent games. Not games that are rated "M" for mature. Not the really gory ones. Not the really ones. But violent games like "Halo" or "Call of Duty."

The benefits seem to be a lot of release of stress and depression and hostile moods. There was a great study from Texas A&M --

WALSH: But these games have always been available. These games have always been available.


WALSH: What the Supreme Court decided to do is let mature content be available to minors. That's a whole different ball park. That's what we're talking about.

MCGONIGAL: Well, mature content -- mature content has always been available if parents choose to allow that in their home. And what I would like -- if you allow me to finish about the positive benefits, because I think it's important that parents understand the importance of allowing young people to have safe spaces to learn how to master and deal with feelings like anxiety and anger, which the study at Texas A&M showed.

There's also a great study that came out of Massachusetts General Hospital, more than 1,200 young people playing games. And they showed that there can be significant positive impacts to playing games with scary themes or violent because it allows young people a chance to become masters of these emotions. And we know that young people have extreme emotions.

GUPTA: Right.

MCGONIGAL: And it's better to have them dealing with them and learning how to cope with them in a game than out in the real world having reckless behavior, trying drugs. You know, this is -- video game is a really safe space to become masters of these emotions.

GUPTA: Stay tuned. Supreme Court weighed but we'll talk much more about this in the future.

Jane, Wendy, thanks so much for joining us.

From virtual violence to real life pain and suffering, by choice. This is a fascinating thing. I've been really into this extreme challenge of physical and psychological stamina. Don't put yourself to the test, but we're going to take to the Death Race.


GUPTA: As you may know, I'm trying for the New York City triathlon next month. It's part of our Fit Nation challenge.

Now, you know, I've been pretty proud that I've made this change in my life. I started doing this when I turned 40 last year.

But then I heard about this thing called the Death Race challenge. Now, as a starting point for this extreme obstacle course, they say your time doesn't even matter. You simply have to make it to the finish line.


GUPTA (voice-over): Bruce Allentuck is a landscape contractor in Clarksburg, Maryland. But he's not putting these logs in anyone's yard. Bruce is 46, an accomplished triathlete. And now, he's training for something called the Death Race.

BRUCE ALLENTUCK, DEATH RACE PARTICIPANT: When I started out, I was carrying a log to the woods for as long as I could, sometimes, you know six hours, six miles, whatever, carried truck tires through creeks, packs of sand -- 30, 40, 50 pounds of sand.

JOE DESENA, DEATH RACE ORGANIZER: They say pay attention to the way you're using the river.

GUPTA: Joe Desena created the Death Race. For one weekend every summer, he and Andy Weinberg (ph) transformed the serene Vermont countryside into a true test of will power.

DESENA: A lot of people dream, they think they could have been a Navy SEAL, they could have been in the Tour de France, they could have do this, they could have do that. Here's your chance.

GUPTA: It's an extreme test and can last 30 hours or more.

You also have to think quick on your feet. In past races, competitors learned Greek phrases, split wood and crawled under barbed wire. Year to year, it's never the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand that there is a certain serious risk of possible death associated with this sports event?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And understand these serious risks, you still want to participate in this event?


GUPTA: And with those words, and whatever Bruce can fit in his pack, including the mandatory axe, the first task of the race begins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, every person has to lift each rock 150 times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The task one is to lift 100,000 pounds. So, they're broken to teams to 13. They are each individually lifting rocks, rotating to the left.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you're talking 14, let's say 15 loops an hour. That's 10 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going a little slow.

GUPTA: Seven hours in, only one person has dropped -- 144 men and 10 women are still lifting rocks in the middle of the night. But after 75 loops, Bruce isn't sure how much longer he can go on.

ALLENTUCK: Honestly, I'm not sure I will get through the other half. I did not count on all of this repetitive lifting. It is not my strength. These rocks are over half my weight.

DESENA: We are all meeting right where I am after you clean up your pile, put it around your pipe and your hay bail and we're headed out.

ALLENTUCK: There's a raging river and we had to walk upstream. It was complete dark. There was no moon that night. In fact, it rained pretty much from the beginning of the race.

GUPTA: Almost three hours later, Bruce reappears.

ALLENTUCK: And when I saw what was next, I knew that pretty much right away that my day was done. I would have trouble with that next challenge.

I'm done.

The task was to pull yourself across on a rope, still carrying your pack, come out of the pond, go up a 50-degree slope, muddy at this point.

GUPTA: For the next two days, through rain and sun, the stronger persevered. Ultimately, 45 hours after it all began, 35 athletes were left standing. By then, Bruce was already back home in Maryland, but he doesn't see defeat.

ALLENTUCK: I would love to have gone further, I would have loved to have finished. But I was proud of where I got to, I was proud of getting to the race and being there.

GUPTA: He lives to race again.


GUPTA: Now Bruce says he'd like to head back to Vermont next year and give it another go. Would you do that? Yikes.

Good luck, Bruce.

And take a look at this guy over here. You recognize him without the makeup? That's Paul Stanley, born deaf in one year, but also part of the one of the most successful instantly recognizable bands on the planet, KISS. How did he do it and what do kids think of him nowadays?


GUPTA: You know, it may sound like the ultimate oxymoron -- a musician, famous one, who can't hear, at least out of one of his ears. But that's been the reality for rock star Paul Stanley since the day he was born. The KISS front man was inspired to overcome his own disability in part by helping others.


PAUL STANLEY, KISS: Come on and clap your hands!

GUPTA (voice-over): To rock and roll all night, and party every day. That's always been Paul Stanley's dream.

STANLEY: If somebody had told me at 58, 59, I'd be running around on stage without a shirt, you know, and tights and high heels, I would have said, you know, what drug are you taking?

Come on and love me!

GUPTA: But the road to rock stardom as the front man for KISS was difficult. Few people know it, but Stanley was born with a condition that should have steered him away from music.

STANLEY: I had a physical deformity called a microtia.

GUPTA: One of Stanley's inner ears, the air canal, which convey sound to the brain, never developed. Figuring out the direction of sound was particularly challenging and he was also born with an underdeveloped outer ear.

(on camera): Did you get teased a lot? Tough comments?

STANLEY: It was horrible. You know, I have to say that childhood was not fun.

GUPTA: You decided to grow your hair out. I mean, and that's become such a signature look of you and the band. Was that in part because of wanting to hide your ears?

STANLEY: Absolutely.

GUPTA: You grew your hair out to do that?

STANLEY: Absolutely.

GUPTA (voice-over): Strength, and a bit of defiance, got Stanley through the taunting.

STANLEY: Something told me inside that I could do music and, interestingly, being deaf in one ear, was not something that I saw as a hardship or something that was a hindrance at all.

GUPTA: But eventually off stage, hearing loss did become a hindrance. So, Stanley had surgery.

STANLEY: Basically, you take a power drill and aim into the head.

GUPTA: Surgery was successful, but it does not equal self- acceptance. That, Stanley learned over time, and by working with kids.

(on camera): You talk to kids who have microtia, so they're, right now, they're like, Mr. Stanley, I'm the one getting teased on the playground, I'm not the rock star.

STANLEY: And how cool it is for them to hear somebody say, I was there and look what I did. You can get through this and you'll find out how much something means to you by how hard you're willing to work to overcome it.


GUPTA: You know, when Joaquin Brignoni became a part of our Fit Nation six-pack, he told us he wanted to get back to the basics, want to change his life, he wanted to become fit and his inspiration was his son and three young daughters. They inspired him to kick his habit of soda and fast food and do something big, start training for the Nautica at New York City triathlon.

Well, today, he's leaner, he's faster and he's healthier than he's ever been before and he joins us now from outside his home in Orlando.

Joaquin, good to see you again. You look great. We've got a chance to catch up a few times. Knowing how close you are to your kids, it's amazing that one of the biggest breakthroughs you experienced in this entire challenge happened on Father's Day.

So, tell us what happened, specifically.

FATHER BRIGNONI, CNN FIT NATION TRIATHLETE: Yes. On Father's Day weekend, I entered a duathlon, which essentially, for viewers, that don't know what that is, it's kind of like a triathlon except limited to two sports. So, it's a run, a bike and a run at the end. And it was an amazing experience because it was the first time I got to really test myself with all the training I had done and I learned a lot.

GUPTA: One of the things I've talked about and talked about with you and others, is when I decided to do a triathlon, it completely changed my life in ways that I could not have imagined, not just in terms of fitness or health, but in other ways as well.

What has all this training and this commitment done for you?

BRIGNONI: I mean, that's a tough question to answer right now in this limited time. It's done so much for me. But I'd have to say, you know, the major -- one of the major things it's done is really to make me feel good about the example I'm setting for my kids because they take a big interest in what I'm doing. They ask me about my training and really, it's helped me feel positive about all aspects of life from work to home to, you know, just really helps mentally a lot.

GUPTA: Joaquin, I'm proud of you. You're doing a good job. I can't wait to cross that finish line with you coming up pretty quickly. Thanks so much.

BRIGNONI: Thanks. I look forward to it.

GUPTA: If you want to follow along with me, Joaquin, or any of the members of the six-pack, somebody you can relate to just about anybody on this team, logon to, you get much more there on our Fit Nation challenge.

Thanks to all of you for being with us this morning.

Time now to get you back to the CNN NEWSROOM for a quick check of your top stories that are making news right now.