These thoughts occurred to me while walking the 4 miles that separate American Airlines arrival gates and baggage claim at Miami International Airport. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences to the one I describe below when in public spaces.

Ahead of me was a man of about 40 who was talking loudly and gesticulating with intense animation. His speech was so rapid that he only paused for brief breaths. Up until a short time ago a 911 call would have been made and he would have been gathered up by the police or some other public agents and taken to a place of psychiatric detention. But the black object attached to his right ear gave him immunity from incarceration.

I have no way of knowing if the Bluetooth device plastered against the side of his head was real or a sham, but it did grant its wearer a lunacy pass. The ubiquity of people seemingly talking to themselves has made me wonder if my psychiatric colleagues have come upon a new stratagem for treating psychoses. Rather than expose their patients to the considerable side effects of anti-psychotic medications, they may be placing cardboard cutouts of Bluetooth devices on their patients’ heads and then telling them that they can communicate at will with whomever or whatever they wish. Furthermore, they can do so without fear of being thought odd or unbalanced.

Knowing that modern science has established beyond doubt that north of 90% of human speech is about nothing beyond gossip, it is possible that most of the putative Bluetooth wearers really have an active device attached to the sides of their heads. But I can’t really believe that there are that many people walking through airports, parking lots, shopping malls, and the like whose mental equilibrium is balanced and who nevertheless are making monkey faces at no one in particular while screaming way  above 100 decibels about their cat’s litter box. So I’ve settled on the psychotic palliative explanation for this phenomenon. In other words, many Bluetooth wearers or sham Bluetooth wearers are just following doctors orders. Whether their device is connected to a phone carrier is  immaterial. It’s attached for psychic protection.

But medicine progresses like a bureaucracy in quest of more tax revenue. So at least one additional explanation seems, to me at least, to be reasonable. The Bluetooths (should I say Blueteeth?) on the ear have resulted in a new syndrome or are the result of a new syndrome. By the time DSM VI makes its appearance the psychiatrists will likely have classified and subdivided the syndrome(s).

The syndrome is Bluetooth temporal lobe-inhibitory release disorder. The proximity of a radio wave receiver and transmitter plastered for hour against a human skull in close proximity to the temporal lobe places its wear at risk of a host of syndromes including anomic aphasia, prosopagnosia, Klüver–Bucy syndrome, and Pick’s disease. Of course, these may present as a forme fruste of the full fledged disorder.

Ironically, the headset may cause the same disorder that the mock headset was designed to disguise. Thus, Bluetooth in the ear may may both result from and lead to goofy behavior. Is there a solution? Ear muffs won’t work. The wearer would look even more odd than usual. Using the device in a phone booth might work if there were any phone booths left. Morse code would work if we could resurrect it. Joining The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance would work though many might find this solution excessive.

I think it enough to have defined the problem without necessarily solving it. While a word to the wise is sufficient, 600 to the telephonically possessed should also suffice.