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Adam suffers the first of several full-blown panic attacks




It’s Chicago. April. 1965. The Panflicks — Adam, Ganya and the two kids — are settled in at 2422 North Orchard. Adam has sometimes wondered why they have had seven residences in the five years of their marriage, but the idea of remaining nomadic seems far-fetched. They are more settled now than ever.

Night falls.

Adam is lying in bed reading TIME. He and Ganya playfully fight over who gets first read. Adam flips to the religion section to see if he is quoted this week. In the 1960s “Protestant” and “establishment” are synonymous. Despite the late JFK. Yes, there Adam is in a TIME story on urban churches. Don Benedict is quoted too.

A recent lunch at Jacques French Restaurant. Some pearls of wisdom passed to TIME’s Miriam Rumwell. Her notebook. Then this.

Time to sleep.

Ganya is still reading Joseph Campbell. She raises the name of John Dee, a genius of yore. Adam knows where this is going. He is not interested.

“Night.”

He lies there. Suddenly he feels a constriction in his chest. His heart? Oh.

He is filled with fright. Pressure in his chest. His heart is racing. That would scare anyone. The rate feels double what’s needed for an aerobic effect. This is desperate.

Adam feels everything slipping away. Everything. Vacancy beyond. Ending. Going away.

He felt some of this in Birmingham in ’63 climbing the hill to Mountain View. The girl at the counter where he stopped in the middle of it said he needed to pay a dime for a cup of water. That bit of reality cured him on the spot.

Adam knows nothing of “fight or flight”. That elucidation of panic attacks will become common knowledge as more and more episodes register on the national radar. In 1965, Americans are not as saturated by drugs as they will be. Angst is not yet the default body language. Speech has not morphed into incomprehensibility.

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