Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Abnormal Psychology

College of Southern Idaho

Professor Nancy Kneeland

Two Troublesome Things

By Jim Banholzer

A. Activating event

Although, arrowhead hunting is one of my favorite hobbies, sometimes I hold trepidation of running into rattlesnakes, while searching for Indian points amongst the sacred Picabo desert sagebrush. Rattlers have stuck at me four times. Once with the snake biting the crease in my blue jeans at the side of my knee.

B. Beliefs

Upon my return from my first arrowhead discovery there, I ran over a wealthy landowner’s cherished Labrador retriever in his driveway, killing it. This led me to believe that I was cursed, since I had drunkenly removed the arrowhead from the same grounds where my ancestors committed genocide, thoughtlessly killing multitudes of Native Americans.

Snakes karmatically guard the territory, if I put out bad vibes, they will bite me.

If snakes bite me, I will become extremely sick and possible die.

C. Emotional, Behavior reaction & remedy

Actually, I think that the danger is part of the attraction. For one thing intersecting with rattlers is always an awakening encounter! Ten years ago, a friend and I were riding mountain bikes down there and had a rattler snap lightning-like at both of our bike spokes. Had nothing of the sort happened that day, it would not have been as memorable. Nonetheless, sometimes my imagination runs wild and I begin to think of things like; what if one bit me, and then I keeled over unconscious, meanwhile crushing my cell phone into a large obsidian rock, so that it became inoperable upon my painful reawakening. Mostly though, I try to send out good vibes to the serpent kingdom, wear thick lumberjack boots, two pairs of pants, avoid leaning my exposed shoulder too close into hills and caves and keep a first aid kit handy. In addition, I try to visualize that if I actually did become snake-bit that I would then need to become a cool cat. Becoming frenzied about the situation, will only make my blood circulate faster, resulting in quicker toxicity to my internal organs. Therefore, if such an occasion arises, I will need to make a sustained effort to mediate on peaceful cooling thoughts.

Recently I employed a specific ritual, as a remedy to “get past” my bad juju superstition. My friend Tony, who is Native American, hit two perfect bull’s-eyes on a tiny target with his crossbow. This I saw as an occasion to reward him ceremoniously with another arrowhead I had discovered in the same region as the cursed point. The point I gave Tony had the sharpest point of any I have so far discovered. We even joked to be careful, because it looked so fresh that it might still have frog poison dipped on it. Superstition, placebo effect, call it what you may, since rewarding Tony with the “returned” arrowhead, I feel as though my travails and trepidations in Snaky territory, will now shift to the better. I will travel through Picabo Desert with hopes of emanating vibes positive enough that snakes will sense my good intentions. Maybe, I’ll even become friends with one. After all, snakes need a good scruff behind the head and belly rub too, don’t they?

~ ~ ~

A. Fear of driving over the Perrine Bridge (worse fear of walking over it)

The bridge could fall, taking me with it. Ice is not nice. Terrorists might choose to explode it the moment I am traveling over it. (It was heavily guarded in the weeks immediately following 9-11.) A tractor-trailer, Meth head, or someone suffering from a stroke could suddenly veer out of control or not hold enough respect for the dangerous area, resulting in a disastrous crash.

Avoid thinking about bridges and tall places. I tried this for a while, but the fear eventually returns. Ultimately, I decided to confront the fear head on by writing about it. This led to this letter published in the Times-News:

Story published at on Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Last modified on
Monday, November 13, 2006 11:55 PM MST

Perrine BASE jumping invites more suicides


If you are a smart shopper and travel to Twin Falls, then by now you’ve been distracted seeing jumpers purposely plummet off the 486-foot-tall Perrine Bridge, then spiral safely to banks of the majestic Snake River. While this towering bridge attracts sportspersons, brimming full of life, hardly able to contain their energies, its low railing design also tempts those of an opposite polarity. Sometimes people in the process of despair, jump off bridges without parachutes.

One of the world’s top suicide magnets is the
Golden Gate Bridge, with no obstruction to prevent death leaps. Since 1937, an estimated 1,500-plus people have ended their lives by jumping off this San Francisco inducement. Thanks in part to an in depth series: “SFGate’s: Lethal Beauty,” officials there are conducting a study for constructing a suicide prevention barrier with funds gathered from government groups and private donors.

Idaho’s population increases, the Perrine Bridge is apt to become more of a fatal attraction for the distraught if no barrier is constructed. In the “Lethal Beauty” series, it’s shown that “in the late 1970s, two scientific studies concluded those survivors of suicide attempts from the Golden Gate Bridge do not ‘just go someplace else.’” It would be wise to start a similar feasibility study now for constructing a suicide barrier and/or installing crisis hotline telephones on the bridge ends before more terrible tragedies occur.

Obviously, there is a challenge to redesigning or improving any bridge that will continue allowing BASE-jumpers to utilize it. Still, there are certainly ways to improve protocols of bridge jumping for legitimate sportsmen along with the construction of an improved barrier.

I urge those that are concerned and those with further constructive ideas about this to contact local newspapers and The Idaho Transportation and Health and Welfare departments.

This in turn, led to this thank you note from an Idaho Public affairs specialist:

Dear Mr. Banholzer,
Thank you for your email in concern to suicide prevention measures being taken on the
Perrine Bridge. I have passed your letter onto our District Engineer and other staff. We greatly appreciate you sharing your concern and taking the time to offer solutions to improve the bridge to prevent tragedies. It is always nice to hear from members of the community who are looking out for their fellow motorists, pedestrians, BASE-jumping enthusiasts and those in great despair. We need more voices like yours. Thank you again and feel free to contact us anytime. Have a great day.

Amy Lierman
Public Affairs Specialist
Idaho Transportation Department
P.O. Box 2A
Shoshone, ID 83352

886-7828 (office)
316-0897 (cell)

Travel Smart. Travel Safe. Dial 511.

During the process of writing about something as daunting as suicide prevention, I discovered that it was actually very cathartic. When I received the heartfelt note posted above, it felt especially rewarding.

1 comment:

R Phillips said...

Thanks for the e-mail. Glad you were able to put it to good use.

Sounds like you have better rattlesnake stories than I do, and frankly, that's one contest I don't want to win.

Roger Phillips

Outdoor reporter

Idaho Statesman