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Sunday, July 05, 2009 rich7791, Community Member, asks

Q: I fear that I might be developing schizophrenia...

Hi, guys. I have such a problem :/. It all started when I had a panic attack while on a halluinogen on spring break. The next week, I learned that my Dad was dying and I said my last goodbyes to him, and I was so emotional for a few days. Then, a few days later, while learning about schizophrenia in my college-level psychology class (I was a senior in high school, just graduated), I had a perceived panic attack thinking about schizophrenia. When I had the attack, I felt sweaty, nervous, shakey, and I told my friends in the class that I felt "really weird". They couldn't relate to the feeling I had, so I panicked and panicked, for about a week. I told myself that what was going on with me was schizophrenia. When I panicked, which lasted for probably about 2 weeks straight, I felt lost, like I couldn't talk, nervous and it was hard for me to function, I couldn't sit still. I felt almost like a chemical was rushing through my body, like I was changing chemically due to all of the panic. I finally confronted my Dad, who was home from the hospital by some miracle. He said I was in no way schizophrenic, he had friends that were schizophrenic and that I was in no way schizophrenic. I calmed down for about a week, I didn't think about it at all and I felt like I had come back down to earth. I felt AWESOME for a week until I was in the shower a week later and I had a thought, out of nowhere, "What if I am crazy?". I instantly panicked about it. And it was worse than before, and this time, it didn't go away. Since it came back, I began to research schizophrenia, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, brain tumors, PTSD, epilepsy, strokes, etc. For each day, I was convinced that I had each of these, and then I got over all of them except for schizophrenia. I was still convinced that, for some reason, I had it, or I was developing it. I seriously convinced myself. I honestly believed it. I knew it was time for help. I went and saw my doctor, and explained everything and he said it was anxiety and he recommended me to a psychologist and prescribed me with an SRRI. The doctor assured me that in no way was I schizophrenic. I went and saw the psychologist and he said it was anxiety, and in no way was I schizophrenic. I also just recently saw a psychiatrist and she thinks that I do not have schizophrenia and that I have OCD, panic disorder, and a bit of depression. I kept on researching the early onset symptoms of schizophrenia, the medications of schizophrenia, videos of people with the disease, why it is developed and etc. I am still convinced that I have schizophrenia. I haven't had any hallucinations whatsoever, but I do have nightmares and vivid dreams. I have had nightmares of doctors telling me that I am schizophrenic. I used to workout 5x/week and now I do not workout at all. I feel like I am truely losing my mind. Althought it has kind of tapered off lately, I went about 3 weeks with checking every sound I heard, checking everything I saw, etc. If I saw a car pass out of the corner of my eye, I would rush to make sure it was a car and not a hallucination. If I heard a cop car flying by, I would ask my Dad if he heard that. I had a memory glitch a couple of weeks ago, and I thought to myself, oh my lord, my memory is going, I'm being schizophrenic. All I can think about lately is telling myself that I feel so stupid lately, my memory is bad lately, I am becoming schizophrenic. Now, my memory is fine, but I continue to tell myself that. Today, I was sorting through the groceries and I thought, okay, these need to go outside, and then I had an intrusive thought, saying, but what is outside? Another recent thing that I CANNOT stop thinking about along with schizophrenia to save my life, is asking myself how humans work. I always ask myself, how do humans work? What attracts us to others? How do I know who I love? What if all of this is just a hallucination? and the thoughts create so much anxiety for me. I get scared because I don't know how to answer them. I also haven't been eating lately because I fear that I might have "pica" which is where people have cravings for unusual things such as glass or feces. I also tell myself that I don't know how to do simple everyday things, even though I do know. I have thoughts telling me that I don't know how to use the restroom, that I don't know how to drive and that I don't know how to manufacture meals for myself. All of this started because of the stupid psychology class, I honestly think that I would be fine if I never learned about it. What do you think this could be guys? I'm so scared that I'm on a one way road that I can't turn around. I've felt so stupid lately and I feel like I have barely enough knowledge to get dressed properly in the morning. Like, sometimes, I will be getting gas and feel retarded like I don't know how to function. I feel like I am losing control and I have to report to college in exactly one month, and play college football. I used to be so social, loving, not worried, level headed and just a great person. I was a football captain, best writer in my class, class clown, and now I feel like I am nothing. Now it seems like I don't even know how to get dressed in the morning, I feel like I am losing control of my brain, I feel so stupid lately, and I believe my memory is depelting. I desperately need advice.

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Answers (12)
Christina Bruni, Health Guide
7/ 6/09 9:16pm

Hello rich7791,


Your question about what is happening I have read carefully and I understand you are possibly under stress with your Dad's health and maybe other things.


At this point I want to tell you in no uncertain terms to stop taking any street drugs.  Street drugs like marijuana, meth and hallucinogens can cause psychosis and the lingering effects of the street drugs can be permanent.


I would if I were you talk to a professional.  I'm not a doctor so I can't diagnose your problem.  However, I can tell you that if you want peace of mind, please talk to a professional before this gets out of control.  You are in college and mentioned doing drugs on spring break so that leads me to believe you are 18 or 19 or in your early twenties, a time of life when illnesses like SZ tend to strike.


If the professional you saw does not think you have SZ, please put your mind at rest.  There are other medical conditions for which SSRIs like Zoloft and Paxil are used, like generalized anxiety disorder as well as depression.


Before I sign off, I will suggest you try your best to remain active in the world, take showers, eat good meals, see your friends, work at a job or volunteer work, join the football team again.  This kind of a personal history, which is technically called a "premorbid functioning" level helps a person greatly should they go on to develop mental health problems in the future.


Not to make light of your situation, but even doctors studying in medical school panic when they learn about diseases and think they could have the condition they're studying about.


If a doctor has given you a diagnosis and you're unsure about it, you can always get a second opinion.  To me it seems you have some kind of anxiety going on.  Yet like I said, I can't diagnose what's going on or prescribe treatment.


When you return to school, you may want to go to the student health center at your college to see about talking with a therapist in a weekly or monthly session.  You are young, going through a lot of changes as you become an adult [as we all did when we were young] and a therapist could give you support for what you feel and what you're going through.


I hope you find some comfort and relief.




David Robbins, Community Member
7/ 5/09 4:01pm

Let me first say that I am not a doctor. What I will tell you is what has happened to me. Since people are different my symptoms might not be the same. I would seek out a professional to diagnose you. Only they can tell you.


In 11th grade I became psychotic. In health class every disease we were taught, I thought I had. Even STD's (even though I was a virgin). I thought I could move objects with my mind. I also believed that I was a reincarnated prophet. Mind reading was another thing I thought I had. I heard voices, that tolds me all that.


I was shortly hospitalized and put on meds. The meds really help. I cannot live without them.


My psychosis is under control through meds, sleeping good, eating healthy, excerise, and support from my wife and various sites.


Seek help.


I wish you the best,



Daleri, Community Member
7/ 6/09 12:23am

A lot of mental illnesses are somewhat related but they express themselves with differing symptoms. They all seem to be fear based but the fears are of different things. Medicine classifies these differently because they have different results. The different expressions of different fears could be genetic. It sounds to me like you are under a lot of pressure but also that some fears have surfaced. Ancient wisdom says, "do not fear, do not anxiously look about you..." It might seem trite to you for me to say not to worry so much but it is good advice. Things will still work out even if you don't achieve all of your goals. You can still be happy and you can still be at peace which also should be your primary objective, like Dave on this site says, "every day is special". Enjoy the moment.

rich7791, Community Member
7/ 7/09 9:49am

I have felt alot better today. I didn't take my zoloft yesterday, or thus far today. But, it seems like I tell myself I have the symptoms that I read about, which, at first, are not true, but after I tell myself I have them, over and over again, I feel like i exhibit the symptoms. For example, I read that schizophrenics have bad memory and I told myself, that my memory is bad over and over again. Another example is how schizophrenics believe someone else is controlling their brain. I didn't feel this way, but I keep telling myself that someone else is controlling it and I hate it because it does not feel this way. What could this be? Also, I keep thinking of myself as a schizophrenic and telling myself that I won't be able to obtain a satisfactory occupational position. It just seems like I have contaminated my brain by learning about schizophrenia. I'm thinking this could be something associated with something in the obsessive area? Like the past couple of days, my obsessive thinking has switched from schizophrenia to questions in my mind such as.. How do we know we exist? What keeps us motivated? What is it that tells us we are hungry/thirsty? What makes us attracted to certain people and not to others? And then when I say something, such as the word hungry, I will have a thought right after I say the word, saying, But what is hungry? I mean I know what it means but why is the feeling of hunger, called hunger? It is all weird lol. Does this sound like it could have anything to do with schizophrenia? Or just an obsession with it that I am causing myself to try to resemble the symptoms of it?

Christina Bruni, Health Guide
7/13/09 8:29am

Hello rich,


You have said in your original post that the psychiatrist suggested you have OCD, panic disorder and depression.  Even with any diagnosis that you may have, I urge you to talk to someone at your college's student mental health center when you return in the fall.  I agree with the other person who posted below.  Endlessly checking things out isn't going to help and won't be healthy.  You can obtain peace of mind in other, more productive ways and seeing a therapist might be one of those ways.




Kingmike3, Community Member
7/13/09 1:11am

well norsehockey, err, rich, i think youre fine. You clearly dont have Schiozphrenia. Quick note of reference, a person with schizophrenia is not a "schizophrenic" just as much as someone with OCD (what you clearly have) is not an obsessive. Psychotic refers to a mind state, not a person. Just be careful what you say, others are dealing with the problems you are afraid to have.


However, it doesnt sound to me like you have any form of psychotic illness. I suffer from bad anxiety and fear sometimes I am going to "lose it" or "go crazy". I have pretty much the same symptoms as you. Somedays they are worse, somedays they are better. However, constantly seeking reassurance on more than one website makes things much much worse. It seems that this is your ritual for ocd, and it needs  to be stopped. If you do have schizophrenia, is  looking up the worst possible scenario going to help your anxiety of it? I am a neurologist (just got my liscense today to be exact) and while I cant diagnose you over the internet, it seems like you have bad OCD/Anxiety. STOP LOOKING UP SYMPTOMS. STOP SEEKING REASSURANCE. Hope you feel better man.



Lynne, Community Member
8/ 3/09 10:58am

I have generalized anxiety disorder and I'm starting to think I could possibly have OCD since I obsess over my fears. I had such a great fear of schizophrenia that I was convincing myself that I was hearing voices. I also was reassuring myself that I wasn't hallucinating by making sure others could see it as well; like the cop sirens for you.


I've been to a therapist, as well as a psychiatrist who all told me that I did not have schizophrenia, and the chances of me getting it are extremely unlikely. But since I have an anxiety disorder, it's very hard to shake the fear.


I have a friend who is mildly schizophrenic and he has also told me that I'm worrying myself. The thing with fear, is that if you're so wrapped up in it; you can convince yourself of anything. Have you ever been in a creepy old house and heard all sorts of bumps and strange noises? It's about the same. You've become hyper-vigilant, so you're in tune to every thought, noise, experience you're having. What you're doing is over-analyzing every task you do and causing anxiety.


This is something that puts my mind at ease. If you were mentally ill, your family or friends would notice first. You yourself would not be afraid because you would be sick. You would not notice your psychosis and delusions. Not all, but a lot of schizophrenics don't realize their illness. They think that they have a special power and that either other people are jealous or are just crazy themselves. To be short, crazy people don't fear insanity....because they're crazy. Wink


Schizophrenics can lead very normal lives with medication and therapy, just as I can with the disorders I have. All individuals who have a mental disorder can all work towards bettings themselves. A person living with schizophrenia does not fear the disease itself. As my doctor once told me "A schizophrenic won't fear it, because they don't have anxiety unless it comes from their delusions".


My friend who has schizophrenia is a wonderful and a usually very stable person. Instead of fretting over fears and our disorders, we should be grateful that help can be achieved and there is always hope if we allow it. I am no doctor, but from what you've said sounds a lot like anxiety. If it makes you feel better, discuss it with a doctor who will assure you that you don't have it.


On another note, I would suggest staying away from any sort of drug that can cause hallucinations or panic. Marijuana can definitely cause panic attacks.

shar26, Community Member
8/27/09 11:02pm

Yeah, i know exactly how you feel, as a matter of fact i've been reserching it myself fearing i may have it as well and everyone says i don't. i suffer from generalized anxiety disorde, panic disorde, ocd, and autophobia. I'm positive it's anxiety. when i start to panic or have anxiety i do breathing exercises, just concentrating on breathing and also if you like baths try an epsom salt bath you can buy it at any store like safeway. 2 cup of epsom salt and 2 tablespoons of baking soda will calm the mind and it's safe to do everyday. the epsom salt contains magnesium and that plays an important role in the nervous system so your body will absorb the manesium as well as detoxing your body. Meditation is helpful as well. do you take vitamins? If not i recomend vitamin B-complex, fishoil, multivitamin, and a magnesium supplement. i have panic attacks for no reason and when i started magnesium it calmed me down so much, it's amazing how it will help your mood. and i heard people with ocd should take fishoil. I say instead of reserching things that make your anxiety worse, reserch these vitamins and give it a shot. From your post though, i feel the exact same way. feel better and remember you're not crazy it's just anxiety.Smile

tedward, Community Member
12/20/09 2:39pm

Dear Rich,


I sympathize with you.  I am 23 and have had fears of going insane for the last year. I had several bad experiences on marijuana that made me think that insanity could be possible.  Also, schizophrenia runs strongly in my family.  While I was high on marijuana, several things happened that sparked my own pervasive fear.  #1, several people told me that I must be crazy because of the way I laughed.  #2, I had visual hallucinations related to death and the process of dying.  #3, these hallucinations continued to recur while I was sober (though not continuously). 


Naturally, having an occasional hallucination in real life has caused me to fear going insane.  The fear of going nuts, I have to say, is far more debilitating than any hallucination for me!  I find that I often think about similar things to you.  What makes me want to write this post?  Am I programed by evolution to be attracted or to behave a certain way right now (to maximize reproductive potential)?  Very complex thoughts, that are probably not relevant to what is going on...  I can't stop thinking about these things, like "could my thoughts be controlled".  I imagine that you have problems too


There are several tips and thoughts I would like to share with you.  


#1.  The Western conception of insanity produces insane people.  In your psych class i doubt they varying mentioned schizophrenia rates across other cultures.  Western individualistic cultures create schizophrenic people... we do not tolerate magical thinking, we do not tolerate "insanity", we value individual resiliance.  Cultures that value social relations, and have a less stigma for the insane have much lower rates of schizophrenia and higher recovery rates. (I recommend hanging out with friends, being social etc..  Also, find really good friends you can talk to about this.  Confide in close friends that are understanding and cool.  You are not alone)


#2.  Marijuana exacerbates schizophrenia.  Marijuana depletes the natural antipsychotic cabinoid.  Long term use is highly correlated with schizophrenia. (I am not sure how other hallucinogens might increase rates of schizophrenia... personally I believe that the western culture makes hallucinogen use a dangerous thing... hallucinogen use itself is not dangerous... It is when there is little social support for intense spiritual thoughts, beyond the repressive binary good and evil doctrine of close minded organized religions, that hallucinogens can have a negative effect on a person's psychi)


#3.  There are natural anti-psychotics.  The neuropeptide oxytocin is a natural antipsychotic.  Guess what causes the release of that neuropeptide?  Hugging people, compassion, love, and trust (see the connection between social cultures and individualistic cultures and how individualistic cultures might create schizophrenia by eliminating its natural antidotes?).  Also aerobic exercise makes a huge difference.  Depression and anxiety are also connected to schizophrenia.  Taking care of general wellbeing will keep delusional thinking at bay.  


It is clear that people like you and I obsess and worry too much about insanity.  One bit of assurance is that we are in control of weather we become insane.  If you know about the antidotes, than any schizophrenic tendencies can be eliminated AT WILL!  Its up to you how much you want to deal with this.  I go back and forth, thinking and worrying about being nuts, and then wanting to not think about these things and eliminating its causes and buffering what keeps it at bay.  I was a very gregarious, fun, intelligent young man before having issues in young adulthood.  Guess what!?  I am still gregarious, fun and intelligent (even though I have bouts of hallucinations, and fears of it)


There's a TED talk by Oliver Sach's that explains the pervasiveness of hallucinations.  He hallucinates geometric shapes quite often... and he's not nuts!  Now if he were less intelligent, and did not question the judgments and values of his culture, then Oliver Sach's would be in a mental institution!  A great thinker, author, and scientist!  Lost!  Now, there's no excuse for people like you and I... we know the antidotes, we know some of the social causes of insanity... if we become insane, what's the worst that could happen?  So we go on an ant-psychotic.  So what?  


I know another person who has become "schizophrenic" after taking drugs (she become schizophrenic after taking X... which doesn't make sense because it is commonly used by schizophrenics to self medicate)... She claims to be nuts, to read minds, to be uber sensitive... all signs of schizophrenia.  At the heart of her condition though is one thing that I can say causes her insanity!  That is an overwhelming sense of victimhood.  Fighting "insanity" and things we cannot control, makes us feel helpless.  You can go crazy just thinking that its horrible that you might go crazy... that is a closeminded, and inherently victim based way of looking at one's state (I find myself in this state often... we naturally get to a state of victim hood when all else seems to fail)...


There is a totally different way of dealing with difficult things like what you and I go through.  It's called meditation.  You do not have to fight fears of insanity, nor do you have to believe them.  You can simply observe them like a TV show.  The chatter of the mind.  


Look up "Mingyur Rinpoche". He is a very skilled mediation instructor and he had panic attacks at the age of 6!  He is the most chill, happy person you could ever imagine, and I suspect he has had similar fears as we do.  He has a lecture on his panic experience, and a 3 day mediation he did that totally eliminated them.


American psychology is infantile compared to the 2500 year tradition of conscious exploration developed in Buddhism.  I would also recommend looking into shamanistic traditions.  There is a whole spiritual world that we live in, it doesn't have to take over your life, that we can harness and not be victims of which are totally natural human experiences... Those kinds of experiences are not accepted in America


I urge you to continue without fearing what might happen.  You are not insane, you might have nutty thoughts but that does not make YOU inherently insane.  You worry about insanity, that's half the battle!  Most totally nuts people don't recognize that they could be nuts... if we had an open enough culture, we might find that those insane people on the street might have real problems (abusive childhoods, intolerance, spiritual experiences, etc.) that we could learn from... but we live in a very self centered society, that will not accept different ways of thinking out of fear...


You are intelligent.  I suspect that is your only problem in life.  Being intelligent and asking the crazy questions gets us in trouble (there are some things human thought cannot ever answer, like what caused this moment etc. why am I here, why do I like this person).  If you can be comfortable with "insanity" you will be completely free from the culture you live in, and can pursue the things you really want to, be the way you want to... genuinely


Don't let yourself become a victim.  If you do, try and get out of victim hood.  If you cannot get out of victim hood, ask for help.  If you cannot ask for help, pray for the strength to ask for help... This world is always changing, we are always changing, nothing is static or permanent.... therefore you always have the ability to direct your future the tiniest bit... and therefore have no fear of becoming nuts


Go nuts a little bit, you'll find it is just as harmless as any other mental activity.  Just be careful and care for yourself in the process (that is number 1)


Best of luck to you, and would like to hear how you are doing later on if you find any of my writing resonates with you


vali nasr senior fellow at kennedy school of government at harvard

tedward, Community Member
12/20/09 3:19pm



HAHAHAH, that is hilarious! I left a note to myself at the bottom of the last post!  I am NOT Farid Zakaria haha, I was just watching his show on CNN and wanted to look up his "book of the week".  Hahahah... HAHAH, I laughed for a minute or so at the irony of leaving that note at the bottom of my post (you might have worried that I have some delusions of grandeur no, hhahahahaha).   


any way, I wanted to leave you with a couple of links


Also... fear of insanity, I believe, can produce exactly what insanity you are afraid of.  It is not that psychology class that screwed you over... Just about anything would have triggered the paranoia and fear you experience.  The hadron collider for instance.  That damn thing has a 1/billiontrillion chance of producing a black hole on earth!  Anyone like you or me will freak out about this to an unreasonable degree.. is it the scientists fault that we are freaking out, or ours?  Don't bash psych so much.  Critical investigation of what you are going through, with a strong dose of self-reflection and compassion will get you through this.  Research in psychology is a part of that process :)


Very best wishes to you again.


Oh and check out  There are two lectures you would like (how schools kill creativity, and the lecture about the internal muse and creativity).   Seriously reply to this post. I would like feedback on if any of this was at all useful, or if it could be more useful

mag, Community Member
5/28/10 8:45am

hey rich

wow, i pretty much have the same things going on in my head. i too had several doctors tell me that in no way i am schizo and that i have anxiety as my main problem. i have this very existential problems where i try to think myself to very core of my being. if i have a thought in my mind i ask myself where it could be located and how i can think that thought e.g. and so forth. you know like everyone has his own "thought voice" - i am afraid of mine bc i think its psychotic - its as if i dont understand being human. then i am afraid of my thought processes, because all of this seems so uncomfortably spritual (and i am actually pretty rational and down to earth) that one day i really might think that i am some kind of prophet person and then just go crazy, like the first guy who answered and told you about his psychosis. this makes me so agitated all the time and i have no place to just relax, for i fight myself with constantly questioning myself. why that is i think is also due to my character. i am reallyreally sensitive (also to drugs, alcohol, bright lights, emotions etc - its like im constantly pms-ing) and have these thought when i am normal and not anxious as well, they just dont worry me and i dont obsess over them. so i think you might be similar - sensitivity to life in general (not meaning youre whiney or soft or anything) mixed with anxiety might lead to the expiriences you have. things that i read on the net, like constant worrying about life situations (and snakes, darkness, car crashes, work, realtionship-problems, feeling guilty, future, yadda yadday) and such is not what worries me at all. i too only have the fear of going crazy/loosing control/and something i call "loosing myself" despite its obnoxious cheeziness. i have this stupid picture in my head where my "ich" as freud calls it just resolves and i disappear into vast nothingness (in reality my physical self is in a mental facility of course). ugh, horrible to a certain degree. and i cant talk about it, cause people usually say things like "wow, thats bad, you should go see a psychiatrist" or "be happy that you can have such interesting spiritual thoughts" - needless to say that this makes me more afraid. as the neurologist said before, what really helps is not reading stuff from the net, especially forums, like this one. people like me just go on verbal diarrheaing about themselves and totally exaggerating. the worst is if you listen/read what actual schizophrenics say, bc of yourse you can at some point relate. this is bc they are people as well and have thoughts/worries/fears like everyone else. they are not constantly blabbing on about aliens and mind invasions.

hm, i would like to say something soothing in the end: exercise, healthy nutrition, good friends, falling in love, sex, summer, ice cream, the sea, sleeping, liking yourself and being nice to others, having a good job youre comfortable with, doing something imoprtant, travelling - all these things sound so obvious and dont seem to help when you are really anxious, but they do. cause once youre anxiety passes you will have the feeling you have wasted truckloads of time. and even if you cant enjoy them as much as you would if you were content, youre basically just living your life and thats what counts in the end. xo - mag

Zoexox, Community Member
12/23/11 2:57pm
Now this question was posted almost three years ago? But I'm going to reply anyway. You're not Schitzophrenic, I garentee. Number one, Schitzophrenia attacks the brain so someone with it doesn't realize heir sick and wouldnt even guess they were, also panic attacks are not related to Schitzophrenia. My honest advice would be to see a psychiatrist, I actually think you have panic disorder. Reply
Alexander, Community Member
3/10/12 4:59am

Hello, it has been a while indeed, I too myself have went through the same episode. The thing that you are going though is much more deeper then what you think. Modern psychology and reason has no understanding of it, I found the answers for my misery through ancient wisdoms and my own exloration that those wisdoms have inspired. 


Here is an example


Incient spiritualy has been around for centuries thus often their widom is build on wistom that is prehistoic. Although devision must be made between spirituality and spiritual comunity (religions organization). There is as much confusion and misery in spiritual comunity then there is in everyother aspect of our society; However, that should not stop one to explore the wisdom of spirituality. 


I hope this helps.

robbycool, Community Member
11/17/12 12:20am

Have you ever considered that psychosis is a mask disorder. Something to avoid diagnosing alot of people with antisocial personality disorder.  The fact is that "good" and "bad"dont exist. People need to accept their own selfishness. You constantly want to be "normal" because people called you crazy while you were high you started to think they might be right. You may simply be having a classic good bad crisis. The best thing to do is stop doing drugs and learn to control your impulses. Check out the Hare psychopathy checklist and answer HONESTLY. Do not treat it as a disorder. Treat your craziness as a tool to achieve what you want.

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By rich7791, Community Member— Last Modified: 11/17/12, First Published: 07/05/09