Friday, April 15, 2011

Lazar Greenfield's Cure for Depression

Lazar Greenfield is one of the truly pre-eminent, almost legendary figures in modern general surgery. He has mentored countless academic surgeons over the years at the University of Michigan. He is the eponymous originator of the IVC filter used to protect high risk patients from potential pulmonary embolisms. He is the editor in chief of Surgery News, the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). And recently he won election as the new President of ACS. That's a hell of a resume'.

And then old Dr Greenfield had to cap off a sterling career by writing a bizarre op-ed piece in Surgery News this past February wherein he makes the argument that women would be a whole lot happier if they, um, absorbed a little more semen into their bloodstreams. Yeah, unfortunately, I'm dead serious. Semen. As in man sauce. Based on exhaustive research into fruit fly mating habits, apparently. Or something like that.
It’s been known since the 1990s that heterosexual women living together synchronize their menstrual cycles because of pheromones, but when a study of lesbians showed that they do not synchronize, the researchers suspected that semen played a role. In fact, they found ingredients in semen that include mood enhancers like estrone, cortisol, prolactin, oxytocin, and serotonin; a sleep enhancer, melatonin; and of course, sperm, which makes up only 1%-5%. Delivering these compounds into the richly vascularized vagina also turns out to have major salutary effects for the recipient. Female college students having unprotected sex were significantly less depressed than were those whose partners used condoms (Arch. Sex. Behav. 2002;31:289-93). Their better moods were not just a feature of promiscuity, because women using condoms were just as depressed as those practicing total abstinence. The benefits of semen contact also were seen in fewer suicide attempts and better performance on cognition tests.

So there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.

I can only hope that Dr Greenfield just has an awful sense of humor and that he truly thought he was writing a witty, seasonally-appropriate op ed for the Valentine's Day holiday. It isn't far fetched--- academic surgeons aren't exactly known for being Louis CK clones in the doctor's lounge. (Although, precisely because they are academic hot shots, they invariably are feted with guaranteed, disingenuous forced laughter after every awful joke they make by obsequious residents and med students who seek glowing personalized recommendations from them when the rotation is over, and so they never pick up on the fact they what they are saying truly isn't funny, in the standard meaning of the term.)

Anyway, he stepped down as editor of the paper and his status as incoming President of ACS is still TBD. He's sort of a creepy looking chap in that picture isn't he?

UPDATE:

Dr Greenfield has officially resigned as incoming President of the American College of Surgeons. There will be plenty of people who denounce this controversy as an "overreaction". Certainly we all have the right to say whatever the hell we want. But the 1st Amendment doesn't protect any of us from the societal consequences of our speech. Dr Greenfield isn't going to jail here. He simply lost his elected position as the primary representative of American surgeons. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me. His op-ed could have focused on something benign and non-controversial, along the lines of "sex makes for happier surgeons". But no, he had to concentrate on semen. And how women need to augment their intake of the creamy white paste. I mean, this wasn't some off hand comment made at a Michigan Surgical Society banquet, after one too many martinis. This was an op ed in a monthly newspaper for God's sakes, which lends an air of premeditation to everything. One mistake doesn't negate an entire career, however. Dr Greenfield ought not to be judged solely on the basis of an asinine editorial but unfortunately, in the modern internet era, you can't hide from a single indiscretion. The internet will find you.

32 comments:

SurgeryChick said...

Now THAT was hilarious. I hardly ever read the "Surgery News" Probably because it is so freakin big. How did the editors decide it was ok to print this crap? OH WAIT Greenfield IS the editor in chief... This just shows that sexism and homophobia in Surgery is alive and well.

Anonymous said...

With uber usually comes creepy - btw where's Frank?

A little over-played Dr. G. FYI, to make it onto the nurses "List" of "To Do" you gotta be HOT as well as RICH (smart? not so much, we like 'em humble and sweet).

-SCRN

Anonymous said...

Nice work--your piece made the Ethiopian Review.

http://www.ethiopianreview.com/index/20111/author/jeffrey-parks-md

Dr. Richard Goezinu said...

Most physicians that I've met are not funny. Most docs never understand this becuase they have a great narcissistic complex. I wonder what it must be like to always be right and perfect. Legends of one's mind.

Frank Drackman said...

Umm Buckeye, you'll find out in a few years, but Women's menstrual cycles DO synchronize, at least they do with the 3 Uteruses(Uteri?)in my Household, thats why one week every month I leave em alone and do something fun, like knockdown that Hornet Nest in the back yard...
and y'all Yankees sure have some Geeky lookin Surgeons, seriously, you look up "Pencil Necked Perv" in the dictionary and you see this guy's picture.
at MY School Surgery residents were chosen based on Board Scores, Evaluations, and Looks.
Seriously, if you had Long Hair/Glasses/under 6 ft you could be friggin Harry Halstead-Whipple reincarnated and they wouldn't rank you.
And since I had long hair(in the back, business up front)Hubble thick Buddy Holly Specks, and was only 5-9(OK, 5-8)I got to play with the Nitrous...

Frank

Anonymous said...

Ahh frank...the andy kaufmann of medicine. Sometimes funny...sometimes not.....always weird. Brain tumor induced?

Dr. Richard Goezinu said...

Speaking of weird and stepping into the twilight zone, Dr. Drackman what happened to your Frankie's hideout blog? I assumed it was too many comments from Dr. Lazar Greenfield and the blog went the way of the lemming? Or maybe it was your speaking in tongues that brought you closer to the lord? Give Dr. Goezinu a call sometime. You'll appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Just got word that Dr G got canned. Fitting end to this fiasco. Hopefully the College will move on.

Sid Schwab said...

I'd just heard from a friend about Dr Greenfield's firing, and, not having heard of this bruhaha, I googled it. And your article came up. Thanks for the info and the links, and for the opportunity to say hello after a very long absence.

Hello.

Dr. John Baldwin,FACS..Combat Surgeon, VietNam, UCSF said...

The whole thing is so over the top, overblown, and please, people, get some sense of humor. Lazar G is/was an icon, and we shared residency...he was true blue, honest to the core, and dedicated his life to surgery, his patients, and his intact family. A Julius Jacobson Distinguished Award winner, he was taken out by the establishment at American College of Surgeons on Palm Sunday, at an "emergency meeting". He took the death sentence as Editor and President Elect (the Vice President, a WOMAN) moves into president elect, took it quietly...I would have fired back. What he wrote is not "offensive", OK, his wife should have read it and said, "Um...Lazar, this is inappropriate for you"....but no, he printed it. It is not sexist, racist, homophobic, unnatural or really weird...it is under the cover kidding, but backed up by REAL articles in REAL journals. So...up he goes on the Cross...
and I for one will speak up before the cock crows at dawn. I have written him and my FACS pals.

Attorney Andy said...

The picture looks a lot like a gray-haired Roy Scheider. I keep waiting for that smirk to turn serious and for him to start screaming for everyone to get out of the water.

Dr. Goezinu (or can I call you Dick), I was going to take your comment seriously until I discovered that you actually read Drackman's blog. Based on the comments he leaves here, I'm sure it is well-written, coherent, and enlightening.

On a more serious note, it is always disturbing when people overreact to a single statement, op-ed, etc. and ruin the reputation of someone with an otherwise distinguished career. Look what happened to poor Charlie Sheen.

Health Train Express said...

Hey Buckeye, Was this study done with oral sex as well?? I am sure Sid and Frank want to know as well.

Randy said...

All I can offer is the e-mail that I just sent to Dr. Greenfield:

Dr. Greenfield,

This morning I read with tremendous regret about the action by the College Board of Regents which occurred over the weekend. Evidently I had not been paying attention and had no idea such a tempest was brewing. I had missed the now infamous editorial in the News and requested a copy through Dr. Pellegrini but was refused. In order to learn what the fuss was about, I had to resort to the internet and was eventually successful in my search for the document. Actually, it didn't take long but I had hoped for more help from those whom I thought to be my colleagues.

Let me first say what many others are afraid to admit. The essay was quite humorous and I had no problem getting the joke. That said, I also understand that the climate of political correctness that currently surrounds us simply will not tolerate any humor that even approaches the fringe of offensiveness. Because of that reality, I understand that you had no choice but to resign in order to put the better interest of the College above your own. You are to be admired for not allowing (or helping) the insanity to grow any larger than it has already.

The thought that I'd like to offer you today is simply that the College will be a lesser institution in your absence. And those who attacked you and even those who failed to defend you missed a great opportunity to elevate their own stature. Though I have never met you, I have read many of your publications, heard you speak on numerous occasions and been acquainted with a number surgeons who were proud to have learned under your mentorship. In the end, these, among others will be the accomplishments by which you are ultimately judged.

I can't help but think that a society paralyzed by correctness is a society in deep trouble. Who will the censors silence next? John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemmingway, J.D. Salinger, D.H. Lawrence, Jack London...and now Lazar Greenfield...you, sir, are in good company.

Sincerely,

Randall G. Cook, MD, FACS

Buckeye Surgeon said...

Dr Cook-
Are you serious? Greenfield as a persecuted James Joycean figure, censored by tyrannical PC police?? I'm sorry but Dr Greenfield is no JD Salinger. He's not even Dane Cook in the humor category. Jokes where the punch line involves keywords like "semen" and "richly vascularized vagina" are DOOMED to the sound of crickets, unless you're like 13 years old. I mean come on, man. He published this puerile junk in the official newspaper of the ACS. That's just.....awful.

Your letter, by the way, almost sounds like a parody of blinded sycophancy. No one has any problem with Dr Greenfield's contribution to the field of vascular surgery and academic surgery in general. His life's work and accomplishments remain untainted. But he used the bully pulpit of a national editorial forum to crack a few jokes about the Zoloftian prowess of SEMEN. I mean it's only a matter of time until Trojan starts to market a new brand of condom...the Greenfield Filter. Am i right am i right????

Anonymous said...

I heard that Dr. Greenfield knew of five of his residents who got free tattos but didn't report it, and this is the real reason the ACS is firing him.

Anonymous said...

It is so ridiculous that this surgeon felt pressured to resign after making a tongue-in-cheek reference to a serious scientific study. I do not find his bias to be "macho", as quoted in another article, when he is simply postulating on a possible scientific link between absorbing chemicals in semen and an improvement in women's mood. What if it turns out to be true? Does this then absolve the doctor of his "unfeminist" comments?

This is another example of feminists beating their old dead horse, "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle". Perhaps there are myriad and magnificent complementary links between men and women owing to our co-evolution or our miraculous creation.

A woman commentator

Anonymous said...

Oh God, the floodgates are opening. This is getting really great. I'll pop the popcorn (awesome).

-SCRN

Anonymous said...

From my experiences, a deep calm and satisfaction with the world is expressed by women after following the euphoric sensation of being satisfied by me and being filled with my ejaculate... By men too for that matter... Maybe what the critics of the doctor need is a dose of his medicine

Orac said...

Hmmm. I wonder where Buckeye's post has been posted to bring the trolls out?

BTW, thanks for reminding me of this story...

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/04/cluelessness_and_sexism_in_the_american.php

:-)

Anonymous said...

As a non-surgeon, my main question is: what does semen have to do with surgery? Follow-up: why would one write a Valentine's Day editorial for a surgical news weekly? Did he do one on witches for Halloween too? Oops, that would be condescending to women as well.

Must have been his cyclical spell of testosterone poisoning...

HappyBooker
MN Librarian

tom e said...

So when can we expect an article on the new gender specific, organic serotonin enhancer that requires no presecription?

Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

I wonder if an editor vetted his piece.

Anonymous said...

Hey Orac,
For such a bright guy, why do you resort to name calling?

Anonymous said...

For years, underlying feminist thought, was the notion that femininity held magical/superior powers to the masculine... That the all the power of Gaia was to be found in the pussy. Now, when scientific evidence suggests (rightly or wrongly) that the masculine holds some power not to be found in the feminine, all hell breaks loose. I can hear the calls already of the politically correct - 'hang 'em high!'

Outsider said...

Land of the Free, eh?

I mean, you Americans are so pathetic with your PC nonsense. (not to mention that you spend about two*three times as much per patient on medicine, yet have mostly worse health outcomes)

Sure, the editorial wasn't funny, but I'd be willing to bet good money semen actually may have those properties. Pointing out that lesbians miss out, how is that homophobic?

And it's actually a very old hat, this research...

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=an-ode-to-the-many-evolved-virtues-2010-09-22

Orac said...

"For such a bright guy, why do you resort to name calling?"

Uh, because I didn't, at least not in my post. My post analyzes the affair, discusses why Dr. Greenfield's post was sexist and tone deaf, and even dissects the study he cites as support. (Hint: It's not a very good study.)

As for referring to the likes of you as "trolls," well, that's just calling it the way I see it.

But, hey, if you didn't like my first post, you'll really hate my second one:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/04/dr_greenfield_digs_himself_in_deeper.php

Anonymous said...

If Dr. Greenfield's surgical resident had written the moronic editorial, the resident would have been asked by Dr. Greenfield "Are you stupid or do you just not care?"

Anonymous said...

Actually Orac...I did read your post. Rather than discussing the ambiguity underlying the problem to which your piece addresses, I thought it would be fairer to focus on your 'troll' comment. After all, if Greenfield could be skewered for a bad joke, then you should be skewered for your name-calling. What does it matter what your post said when I can judge you by your off-the-cuff attack on me. Ironically, unlike Greenfield, you intended to offend, bully, and exclude. Don't worry, I won't be calling for your resignation, or try to destroy your hard- earned reputation. Just let me call it as I see it - you are a pompous fraud. Perhaps you should think deeper about what purpose your attacks serve.

Anonymous said...

Oh Orac?...
By the way, I forgive you for your thoughtless comment. Perhaps we should all show more forgiveness towards each other. Will you forgive me? How about Greenfield?

Anonymous said...

Greenfield's contribution to the literature was nothing compared to another "leader" in surgery...American College of Surgery Regent Rene Lafrienere. Gosh plagiarizing an article on ethics tops them all.

Manipleman said...

Did Greenfield say exactly where the best place to deposit this semen actually is? Mouth, anus or vagina for best effects?

Anonymous said...

Here's Mark Steyn's take on the hounding of a remarkable man by hysterical females - and males. You should be ashemed of yourselves.

http://www.steynonline.com/content/view/4089/28/