lariam dreams: malaria or madness?

words john m. edwards & illustration marguerite dabaie 


In Nairobi, Kenya, a man from Philadelphia loses it and leaps from a hotel’s second-story window…

He is now a paraplegic.

At a Waldenbooks store, an ex–Peace Corps worker becomes psychotic and methodically destroys the paperback romance section…

He is institutionalized.

In Southeast Asia, a traveler develops the delusion that a microchip has been planted in his brain so he can read minds…

He undergoes extensive psychiatric treatment.

All of these stories, culled from the Internet, have one thing in common.

 In London, England, a barrister suffers months of mental anguish after an East African trip…

He commits suicide.

In Tanzania, a woman becomes convinced that she has committed some heinous crime and flies to Israel to hide out, destroying her American passport…

The crime was imaginary.

In Afghanistan, an American serviceman opens fire on civilians in a village, killing sixteen people…

He is tried for war crimes.

The list goes on and on, with a series of class-action lawsuits in the making.

What I am talking about is that all of the people mentioned above took the world’s most powerful antimalarial drug, Lariam ™, generically known as “mefloquine,” invented by Hoffman-La Roche of Switzerland and approved as a malaria prophylactic in 1989, the same company that brought us, in collaboration with the U.S. Army, LSD.

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