Dr. Douglas Berger in Tokyo Comments on “Of Flash Mobs and Four Loko” by Jason G. Goldman

Tokyo psychiatrist, Dr. Douglas Berger, comments on “Of Flash Mobs and Four Loko” by Jason G. Goldman, November 1, 2011, Scientific American:

The November issue's "Of Flash Mobs and Four Loko" suggests that psychologist Shepard Siegel's opinion that the caffeine in the alcoholic drink Four Loko was not responsible for a series of hospitalizations of the drink, but the likely culprit was that alcohol is known to be more potent if taken in an unusual context- “a Pavlovian conditioning”. I had a hard time accepting that drinking context could hospitalize someone and found that Four Loko sold in a 23.5-ounce can had an alcohol content of 12% and 135 mg of caffeine (not to mention the stimulants guarana and taurine). That’s an equivalent amount of alcohol in 4-5 beers and the caffeine content of a Red Bull plus an espresso shot. Would anyone be surprised to find that the caffeine subdues your feeling intoxicated leading you to drink a second one? Now you have drank the amount of alcohol in 9-10 beers in only 47 ounces of fluid. Anyone can get some of the now decaf-mandated Four Loko and some caffeine pills at the right dose and do an unblinded cross-over study on themselves (at their own risk), poor Pavlov.

Douglas M. Berger, M.D., Ph.D.

U.S. Board-Certified Psychiatrist

Tokyo, Japan

Note that all posts have been entered onto one page here: The Tokyo Counseling Service page.

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