Genetics, Brain Structure, and Behavior Presentation Evaluation
December 24, 2012
Genetics, Brain Structure, and Behavior Presentation Evaluation
When someone mentions the song ???Georgia??? they instantly think of the famous musician Ray Charles. His talent was unparalleled to anyone else of his time. He if famously knows for being a blind musician that made hit records. This paper will discuss the cause of his blindness as well as the theory as to how Ray Charles lost his vision.
Born Ray Charles Robinson September 23, 1930 in Albany, GA during the great depression. Ray Charles didnt start to loose his sight until he was seven years old. The theory was that he started to loose his sight after witnessing the accidental drowning death of his younger brother in their mothers portable laundry tub according the Legends of American Music History site. ((Legends of American Music History,? 2004). However, also based on the site there was no official cause of his blindness. There was one theory that his blindness was caused by untreated Glaucoma not from the tragic sudden death of his younger brother.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the eyes optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness according to the National Eye Institute. (National Eye Institute, N.D). This could explain how Ray Charless deteriorating vision happened over a period of years instead of instantly. The optic nerve is a collection of millions of nerve fibers from the eyes retina to the brain. The front part of the eye where fluid builds is the anterior chamber. In this chamber the fluid is used to lubricate nearby tissue. The fluid leaves this chamber at an open angle to meet the cornea and iris. As the fluids reach this section of the eye it flows to a drainage system that leaves the eye. If the drainage does not happen rather quickly it can cause pressure on the optic nerve. The increased pressure from the fluid on the optic nerve can cause blindness. Thus, this could have caused Ray Charles blindness. As with anyone that looses a sense, he had behavioral problems that affected other parts of his life.
Behavioral and Functional Issues
Based on the guilt that Ray felt at the sight of his brother??™s death had a major affect on him as well as his behavior. This guilt would later cause him struggles with his emotions, addiction and his journey to confront his issues. According to? Brief Addiction Science Information Source (BASIS)? (2005),? Ray Charles suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD) – like symptoms from the death of his brother. In addition to those factors, the poverty he grew up with added to his behavioral problems that followed him into his adulthood. ???Poverty that Charles experienced during his childhood and young adulthood might have increased his vulnerability to engaging in drug-related behavior.??? (Boardman, Finch, Ellison, Williams, & Jackson, 2001).
Ray Chares drug use became more evident as his musical career became more successful. As his career began to take off, while on the road he would later be consumed by the illicit drug of heroin. Heroin use was common in the jazz music genre of that era. Due to the use of the drug he often had flashbacks of his darkest fears. ???Charles decision to take drugs was likely an attempt to numb his emotional pain.??? (Khantzian, 1997). This behavior would have made him desensitized to the feelings of others as well as his own. Charles felt that the drug was a comfort to the pain he was feeling; thus causing him to live a reckless life and destroying other lives around him as he was on a downward spiral out of control.
The 2005 motion picture ???Ray??? depicts these actions in detail as to how many relationships Ray Charles had some day ended based on his drug use. A scene in the movie shows Ray choosing the relief of the drugs effects over the cries of his family to seek treatment.??? When I walk out that door I walk out alone in the dark… I can??™t do it if I??™m alone everywhere I go.??? This type of thinking was Ray??™s rationalized way of thinking to believe that his drug use was his only comfort in life. It wasn??™t until he was arrested by Federal officials and forced him into treatment.
During his treatment, he had to face the demons of his past as well as his present. Even though he did not let his blindness hinder him in becoming a successful musician, it left him emotional seeking comfort and relief by the use of drugs. According to? Heroin.net: The Original Network of Resources on Heroin? (N.D),? There are two types of rehab treatments; residential or outpatient. The treatment was mainly for the drug addiction not for his blindness. The blindness may have caused the use of addiction. Being that the blindness came on gradually as a child, there was no real treatment for it at that time. Since there was no solid reason as to how and why he lost his sight; there was no real way to seek a treatment plan. In the case of it being Glaucoma, treatment plans would involve:
Alpha Agonist: Medications to decrease fluid production and increase drainage.
Beta Blockers: Medications to decrease intraocular fluid.
Inhibitors (CAI??™s): Medications to help reduce eye pressure and fluid; as well as many others including eye drops and possible surgery.
Theses medications are practices of the past; paving the way for new medications and new treatments. New treatment drugs such as ???Rho kinase inhibitors, promise to act specifically on the eye??™s drainage canals, called the trabecular meshwork, a main outflow and blockage site in glaucoma.??? (Glaucoma Research Foundation,? N.D). Along with new medications, the option of laser or conventional surgery will still be open for those that seek it if medications do not work.
With each passing generation there are new and innovative ways of treating ???alignments of the old??? in new ways. In the case of Mr. Ray Charles Robinson, these may not have been options to utlitlze to prevent his blindness. If there was a definitive diagnoses of the cause of his blindness then that could have allowed him the chance to seek proper treatment to prevent vision loss. If the theory is true, that he lost his vision based on witnessing his brothers??™ accidental drowning death; that would not have been any real treatment other then psychological treatments to help with the psychological blame and guilt he was feeling for not saving him. In the case of glaucoma, treatments of medications, eye drops and possible surgery could have prevented total blindness. However, we will never know what caused the blindness of a great music legend we will only remember him by his stellar career and unique soulful sound.
I was not able to read the presentation presented by Team D; however, I was able to use what I could read to write this informative paper on Ray Charles??™ blindness.
Brief Addiction Science Information Source (BASIS).? (2050).? Addiction and Humanities,
Volume 1 (10) – Hard Times of Ra Charles Review of Ray.? Retrieved from
Boardman, J. D., Finch, B. K., Ellison, C. G., Williams, D. R., & Jackson, J. S. (2001). Neighborhood disadvantage, stress, and drug use among adults. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42(2), 151-165.
Khantzian, E. J. (1997). The self-medication hypothesis of substance use disorders: A
Reconsideration and recent applications. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 4(5), 231-244.
National Eye Institute.? (N.D).? Glaucoma.? Retrieved from http://www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma/content/english/know.asp
Ray Charles.? (2004).? Retrieved from http://www.swingmusic.net/Ray_Charles_Biography.html