FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON. I recently tracked down a copy of the Scholastic Book anthology Night in Funland to refresh my memory about a short story involving a chess game on a train. That story is "Exchange of Men" by Nemerov and Johnson. The book also includes "The Most Dangerous Game," the best campfire story ever. Then there's "Flowers for Algernon" which provides the storyline for a 1968 movie, Charly, which I recall as being popular with some of the hippyish types in my high school.

The storyline involved a medical therapy that turned a retarded man into a genius. In fact, the therapy gave the man such cognitive powers that he was able to figure out that the therapy would depreciate, and he would revert to form. His doctors were not able to see it.

I'm wondering if our campus shooter doesn't pose a Charly-like problem to mental health professionals. Medications might have sufficiently tamed his inner demons that he could demonstrate his potential as a scholar, or perhaps as a superintendent of corrections. On the other hand (everything involving tradeoffs) they might have had side effects, or effects that depreciated. Thus for the practitioners and ethicists, and thus also for that fine line between genius and madness.

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