Deceased front man of the musical group Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, greatest accomplishment, was to bring his daughter, into this world.
His daughter Frances will be the one who suffers the most from his death. Because there will always be another "rock star", but Frances cannot get another father. His death has left his child, his widow, and a legion of fans searching for resolution.
Kurt's troubled life was like a shooting star. It burned brightly for too short of a time, it impressed all who cared to admire it. Finally he fell to earth.
Kurt's early life and trials
Kurt Donald Cobain was born on the 20th of February 1967 Grays Harbor Community Hospital in the logging town of Aberdeen Washington. (1)
As an Infant Kurt was described as bubbly, charismatic, funny, bright. Kurt came from a musical family. Kurt's uncle Chuck was in a band called the "Beachcombers", his aunt Mari played guitar, and his great uncle Delbert was an Irish tenor and even appeared in the movie King of Jazz. (2)
Kurt's early life and trials
Kurt witnessed domestic violence towards his mother by her boyfriends at an early age. How could this impact Kurt's psyche? Children who witness violence exhibit more depression, and anxiety and low self esteem. 32% are afraid something bad would happen to them, 61% were worried something bad would happen to them, and one fifth wished they were dead.(3)
On April 4th 1994 Kurt died the way several others in his family had died; he committed suicide. Does suicide have a genetic link?
"Taking into account suicide by a friend or second-degree family member, it was found that 72% of suicide victims had a history of suicidal behavior in close relationships." (4)
"A family history of suicide was associated with a history of a violent suicide attempt." (5)
Kurt was also a victim of bullying. Though his classmates don't remember this happening (6). This doesn't mean it didn't happen. Kurt insistence, of this happening makes me think something happened. Even if it wasn't continual, or noticeable to others this doesn't mean it wouldn't have an impact.
What is the impact of bullying?
One in ten children are bullied in school the majority are males.
Bullying can cause depression in elementary school children, anxiety, a fear of going to school, low self esteem. Bullying can manifest its self physically in children they are more likely to wet the bed, suffer insomnia, suffer headaches and abdominal pain. Depression and severe suicidal ideation are strongly linked to bullying for both the victim and the assailant. Even infrequent bullying can cause depression and suicidal ideation. Victims of bullying are more likely to be delinquent, misuse alcohol, violence in the adulthood and criminal behavior.(7)
Research published in the British Medical Journal in August of 1999 also affirmed that bullying could cause both psychological and psychosomatic symptoms.(8)
Child Abuse and Neglect also noted psychiatric problems of children involved in bullying have psychiatric problems and are disturbed.(9)
A separate study published by the British Medical Journal showed youths who are bullied are at increased risk for depression and suicidal ideation.(10)
A survey of 3 American midwestern schools showed that victims of bullying A third wanted a transfer to another school, and fifteen and considered suicide.(11)
Research showed that children who live in an apathetic or tolerant atmosphere of bullying and are bullied are at higher level of suicidal ideation. It also said "feelings of public disgrace and public disparagement may shatter a youngsters health sense of narcissism and sense of identity".(12)
Do victims of bullying "get over it"? Do they out grow past Trauma? Researchers Dr Ken Rigby from the University of South Australia, and Dr Phillip Slee, of Flinders University, surveyed a group of students who where victims of bullies in previous years.
They discovered a link between being persistently bullied and health problems such as headaches, fainting and vomiting. These illnesses were do to the stress of previous bullying episodes, rather than the assaults. Dr Rigby said "What this new study suggests is that the health effects of being frequently victimised could for some students be long-lasting," (13)
Gabrielle Maxwell noted that bullied children could carry emotional scares for the rest of their lives. She also said "A lot of people say it's something that just happens. That under- estimates how damaging it can be for children,".(14)
Kurt's Depression and addiction issues
During Kurt's life he also battled depression and also drug addiction. Could there have been factors that pushed him toward addiction and suicide? The answer maybe yes.
Factors possibly related to addiction.
In second grade Kurt was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and was place on Ritalin. It was disputed whether this sort term treatment help or harmed Kurt. (15)
Nearly three quarters of children who have been diagnosed with alcohol dependence by the age 14 had been diagnosed with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at an earlier age. 9 out of ten cases alcohol use preceded street dug use.(16)
Did Ritalin help or hurt? Kurt feelings on the matter can be found in this quote "When you're a kid and you get this drug that makes you feel that feeling, where else are you going to turn to when you're an adult?" His wife Courtney Love was also prescribed the drug and said "It was euphoric when you were a child-isn't that memory going to stick with you?"(17)
A failed intervention
In an attempt to end Kurt's erratic drug use, business associates tried an "intervention" so Kurt's family, friends, and business associates could confront Kurt, and end his drug use. The intervention was held. Did it help or did it hurt? Some evidence suggests that it didn't help and probably hurt
Do interventions halt substance abuse? Evidence suggests that no, in fact interventions may harm some substance abusers.
Researchers Klee and Reid did a feasibility study on using interventions to offset youth drug use in this research they said, "The interventions would have to be small scale, not too ambitious, with realistic goals." Klee and Reid work suggest that interventions might not prevent current substance abuse, but might prevent progression to a more "dangerous drugs, or more dangerous types of drug use, ie IV drug use.(18)
Another study showed that people who went through interventions had a higher relapse during treatment than 3 of the other 4 substance abuse intervention methods studied.(19)
Accepting a person addiction is primary to the goal of interventions. But accepting the "addicted" label isn't always the first step to ending substance abuse, and can be counter productive, and detrimental. To a persons recovery.(20)
A 1998 issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment reported drug users who described more psychological symptoms, and problems with social/family relationships in the past 30 days were less likely to enter treatment. A more severe drug problem, and greater family pressure could weaken the person resolve to get treatment.
A 1998 issue of Addictive Behaviors said "There is some evidence that pressure from family and friends may actually undermine the persons motivation to receive treatment."
What could be the effect additional pressure via intervention on a person like Kurt who has a history of depression and suicide?
A study of "encounter groups" published the Archives of General Psychiatry in 1971 show a 44 percent psychiatric casualty rate for leaders who had a "get tough attitude". The Journal Psychiatry in 1984 noted that two of the therapists with the highest casualty rates in the study were the 1960's drug treatment programs Synanon. Psychiatric casualties included crippling anxiety attacks, severe depression, and disruption of self-esteem.
An April 1990 issue of Psychiatric Annals said, "The effectiveness of thought reform programs did not depend on prison settings, physical abuse or death threats.
Programs used the organization and application of intense guilt/shame/anxiety manipulation, combination with the production of strong emotional arousal where people did not leave because of social and psychological pressures or because of enforced confinement." Either accepting the system or adopting behaviors of the people in the thought reform program could only reduce these pressures.
Psychological reactions to thought reform programs in people with no history of mental illness include Self-mutilation, phobias, and suicide. Many of these "tough love" drug rehabilitation programs mirror the thought reform programs mentioned in this study
In a world of tough love, and no mercy, some of use lose our way, and never make it back. Such appears to be the case with Kurt Cobain.
To my cites
Cobain death information;