1 October 2018          home | subject timeline

Brett Kavanaugh, Booze and Memory Loss

To better understand possibilities regarding the Judge Brett Kavanaugh controversy we need to understand boozing and memory loss. Kavanaugh was asked by Rachel Mitchell if he had ever passed out from drinking, and he answered:

I’ve gone to sleep, but I’ve never blacked out. That’s the allegation? That’s wrong.

Studies of the kind of drinking that Kavanaugh did while a teenager would dismiss Kavanaugh's certainty as misguided.

In her NY Times article about the Kavanaugh controversy, Sarah Hepola describes fragmentary blackouts, "where slivers of the night [of drinking] are missing", and drinking buddies the next day remembering details of the night before. Someone might mention going to a bar, and someone else might ask, "Wait, we went to a BAR?" She writes that "It wasn’t until this century that scientists really understood blackouts."

Dr Christine Blasey Ford, a psychologist knows something about blackouts. To the Senate committee she spoke of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a central role in memory formation and his disrupted by a blackout. Unknown to the drinker, the hippocampus stops placing information in long-term storage. He doesn't see blackness while a block of memory is being wiped out.


Sarah Hepola is the author of the best-selling memoir "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget." The New York Times article by Sarah Hepola is here.


October 5

As statement by Charles Ludington, Lynne Brookes and Elizabeth Swisher appears in this morning's Washington Post, which reads:

We each asserted that Brett lied to the Senate by stating, under oath, that he never drank to the point of forgetting what he was doing. We said, unequivocally, that each of us, on numerous occasions, had seen Brett stumbling drunk to the point that it would be impossible for him to state with any degree of certainty that he remembered everything that he did when drunk.

Some women are claiming with certainty that Christine Blasey Ford's accusation against Kavanaugh was a lie. That's their assumption. I don't think she was lying. I don't know with certainty what happened. But I have a bias. I appreciate the efforts of justices at making decisions with objectivity, but I don't think they are free of socio-political biases, that they simply call balls and strikes, and I am against Kavanaugh getting a seat on the Supreme Court.

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