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tv   Sanjay Gupta MD  CNN  November 13, 2011 7:30am-8:00am EST

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your new progresso rich & hearty steak burger soup. [ dad ] i love this new soup. it's his two favorite things in one... burgers and soup. did you hear him honey? burgers and soup. love you. they're cute. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. hello, welcome to the program. i'm dr. sanjay gupta. on tap this morning, thinking outside the box. what does it really mean? i'll tell you the key to get your creative juices flowing is learning how to let go. i'll explain that. plus, when you first see kyle maynard, you might first think how limited his life may be. once you meet him you will realize there's nothing he can't do. first, my investigation of a situation i found unacceptable. you might be surprised to learn that on any given night in this
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country more than 100,000 veterans, men and women who fought for their country, are literally sleeping on the streets. more than 8,000 in los angeles alone. what surprised me more is that there's a plot of land, nearly 400 acres, that was donated -- it's free just to build a home for vets. it would have been a lifesaver for one vet i met in los angeles. >> you are young. how old are you? >> 22. almost 23. >> almost 23. you are from this area originally? >> san fernando valley. just up over the hill. >> fresh out of high school, robert signed up to fight for his country. what makes an 18-year-old join the army? >> i wanted to go to college, make something of myself. the army said they would pay for it. >> there's a contract. i will serve my country but then my country will serve me. >> that's kind of what i was hoping for, yeah. >> where did it fall apart? it began to fall apart in iraq. you saw things that i know you don't want to talk about.
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>> no, i don't. >> you probably never want to talk about. >> no. >> the war was winding down. robert's unit was busy with patrols. then a close friend died in a bridge collapse. >> i got back from iraq, i was having a lot of psychological issues. i guess you could say. >> post-traumatic stress. >> post-traumatic stress disorder. >> back home at ft. carson in colorado, he started feeling like people were out to get him. a few months later, someone discovered robert's illegal sawed-off shotgun hidden in his barracks. according to army papers, robert told investigators he was suicidal. at one point he spent a full day drinking then sat on the side of the bed with the end of the gun in his mouth. >> i wish sometimes that i had died in iraq. so that my life would have meant something, you know?
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>> forced to quit the army, robert ended up homeless. >> i went through some pretty bad times when i first got out. i was doing a lot of methamphetamines, my drug of choice. i was smoking a lot of dope. i was getting in with some rough crowds. >> and many of those rough crowds were made up of people just like robert. returning veterans. as many as 1 in 3 soldiers returning from iraq or afghanistan suffer some traumatic brain injury, severe depression, substance abuse or ptsd. >> i was dealing with other people that weren't so nice. >> is that weird for you to hear? >> yeah, that's uncomfortable, actually. >> what happens when you hear a noise like that? >> it startles me a bit, but -- i know it's a truck. >> you see it everywhere you
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look. ex-soldiers like robert are desperate for steady care and for stable housing. so i was stunned to hear about a piece of property in west los angeles, set aside for this very purpose, for veterans, for long-term housing, and it's literally across the street from the v.a. hospital. the story here actually dates back all the way to the 1880s. back then the government wanted to create facilities for aging veterans of the civil war. former senator john p. jones, and his friend, a glamorous heiress, decided that all of this land would be donated. back then it was mostly ranchland. but today, just few miles from the pacific ocean, it's some of the most valuable real estate in all of north america. >> it was solely an act of good will.
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an act of trying to take care of the veterans they had from the spanish american war and the civil war. >> caroline is an heiress who made this gift, and she's part of a lawsuit filed against the v.a. by the american civil liberties union. the original deed includes a condition that the land be used to establish and maintain a branch of a national home for disabled vets. and a permanent home for houses is exactly what it was. >> they had their post office. they had a trolley system that went all the way down to the beach. everything was provided for them. they had special uniforms. it was a marvelous place to live. the grounds were gorgeous. i mean, they were just gorgeous. >> mark rosenbaum is the lead attorney for the aclu. >> at one point this campus housed as many as 4,000 veterans, but the beginning of the vietnam era, vets were
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kicked out. literally kicked out. >> around 200 veterans live on the property today, but none of them in permanent housing. alongside them, empty buildings, a public golf course, a variety of private businesses like a theater and a bus depot. >> this land has been utilized for enterprise rental call, for ucla baseball, they know what this land is about. >> i wanted answers from men like robert. dr. dean norman is the v.a. chief of staff in los angeles. >> we've added 700 emergency housing and transitional housing beds. they have mental health programs, substance abuse programs and medical programs. >> and they also have something else -- they're known as rent vouchers. >> which enable us to put veterans in permanent housing. >> in los angeles, each vouch every, just for veterans, is worth more than $1,100 a month.
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this year dr. norman says the los angeles v.a. has given out 2,000. of course that's 2,000 vouchers for more than 8,000 homeless veterans. doing the math, there's not enough vouchers. if they all called you the day after this airs -- >> it would be shocking. it would be wonderful. we will figure out a way to give them emergency and transitional housing. if they're hearing you now what would be their next step? >> the easiest thing is to show up. >> just show up at the front door? >> if you have any questions at los angeles, it's 310-268-3284. >> of course i did wonder, how many of the homeless vets are, in fact, seeing this? how many could even find a phone? there's been a lot made of this property just about a block away from here, that's around 400
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acres that was designed for veterans. it was to provide housing for veterans. people have said, look that property is not being used for that purpose. what of that? is that a legitimate beef? >> well, i'm speaking for the agency and you know that's under litigation right now. so i can't even comment on that. >> the va will say we will end homelessness by 2015. >> well, they've been saying that for decades. the most interesting thing is that the lawyer for the v.a. walked into a federal courtroom and said we think this case should be thrown out of court. we don't think there's a basis for the va to have to provide housing. >> this is the lawyers on the va side. they're the ones raising the flag saying, look, we're not sure this is possible as a starting point. >> again, i can't comment on the litigation. i wish i could, but i can't. >> you think it's possible? >> i think we have the resources with the community to end homelessness of veterans in los angeles.
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that, we do. >> robert, who is not part of the lawsuit, says he hopes it gets resolved before his housing placement runs out and he's back out on the street. you want a new life. >> i want to get a degree. i want to graduate from college. i want to get a good-paying job. buy a house, you know? the right things. >> i can tell you that the judge is taking this lawsuit very seriously. he's appointed a mediator to work on a solution. the lawyers are all going to be back in court next month. we'll tell you what happens with them and, of course, with robert as well. up next, a mountain climber who has no arms and no legs, yet he has got his sights set on summiting mt. kiliminjaro. okay-y... okay??? i've been eating progresso and now my favorite old jeans...fit. okay is there a woman i can talk to? [ male announcer ] progresso. 40 soups 100 calories or less.
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this morning i want to introduce to you kyle maynard. he was born 25 years ago with no arms or legs. you might think that would slow him down, but i tell you what, you would be wrong. kyle maynard is climb together top of georgia's stone mountain.
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bear crawling, almost 1,000 feet. maynard is a congenital quadruple amputee. he was born without arms or legs. his parents knew the world wasn't set up for him. but they weren't going to let his disabilities set him apart. >> they raised me with the attitude they weren't going treat me differently. >> so like any other little kid, maynard played sports. even joining the football team in sixth great. -- sixth grade. >> i loved it. >> he took up wrestling when football became too intense and stuck with it. even after losing his first 35 matches. after high school, he became an accomplished mixed martial arts fighter. he also wrote a book, the best-selling memoir "no excuses." but a whirlwind book tour left him feeling exhausted and low. >> it got to a point where i was ready to quit speaking. >> then a chance encounter with two disabled veterans who were wounded in iraq changed his mind. >> they made a suicide pact with
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one another. they said they -- when they -- the day they did that, they happened to see my story on hbo, that got them to stop. >> reporter: he regrets never getting their names. but says those veterans reenergized him. instead of quitting, he continued, crisscrossing the country, sharing his story again and again. >> i know it's going to be tough. >> they inspired him to try for another milestone, scaling africa's mt. kilimanjaro. >> why kilimanjaro, exactly because it's the opposite end of the spectrum. >> maynard will hike with a team that includes two other disabled veterans. their goal -- to show the world that no obstacle is too hard to overcome. today's hike up stone mountain is part of the training. despite his rudimentary equipment, it only takes him an hour and a half from the bottom to the top. >> when people see me, they might think a guy born without arms and legs, that must be the worst thing that ever happened to him. i think that's the greatest gift i've ever been given.
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>> and that is why kyle maynard is a human factor. keep him in your mind as you go through tough times in life. give you a lot of perspective. kyle and his mission kilimanjaro team start their 16-day trek this january. we will follow them to the summit. you can see it right here. up next this morning, creativity and your brain. fascinated by this. the key to breaking through is learning to let go. what's this? it's progresso's new loaded potato with bacon. it's good. honey, i love you... oh my gosh, oh my gosh.. look at these big pieces of potato. ♪ what's that? big piece of potato. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
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we are back with sgmd. here's a question, what do you get when you put a freestyle rapper and a jazz musician into a functional mri machine? this is not a joke. what you might get is a glimpse at the brain at the neural bases of creativity.
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we're taking a close look at creativity this morning, and we go to baltimore and john's hopkins university. ♪ all that jazz. ♪ it's improvisation. ♪ nearly constant reinvention. ♪ and those syncopated sounds are providing clues about what creativity looks like in the brain. ♪ >> so you just came up with that? >> yeah. that's why it was so bad. >> no, it was good. really good. dr. charles limm is an ear, nose and throat surgeon at john's hopkins hospital in baltimore. >> i didn't expect the guitars and music in an office. his love of jazz spilled over into his work. you were listening to jazz and
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said i wonder what's going on inside that guy's brain now. >> exactly the question i had. ♪ >> the next question, how to measure creativity in the brain. so dr. limm took jazz musicians like david them into an mri machine and let them improvise. >> play melody. >> reporter: while looking to see what parts of the brain activate. >> stop. >> reporter: he then expanded his study to an unorthodox group of improvisimprovisers. >> reporter: on the screen over here, the a-class, he is a freestyle rapper. he's rapping freestyle right now. and while that's happening they're doing an mri of his brain, functional mri, to find out what lights up and what
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doesn't. so jazz musicians, freestyle rappers as a model for creativity. >> exactly. >> reporter: and what have you found? >> this is showing areas of the brain that are active during musical performance and playing a piano. when you switch to improvisation, you've got this area that's shutting down. you've got this area that's turning on. >> reporter: so could that be the center for creativity? >> it gets really interesting when you start thinking about what those things do. this area that went on tends to be thought of as a self-ref rengs, auto biographical area. this area that's shut off tends to be involved in a lot of things but among those things is self-inhibition and conscious self-monitoring. >> you're inhibiting one part which may be the part that would normally prevent you from expressing yourself and you're amping up the self-expression. >> on a very basic level, i do think that's what's happening. >> reporter: before the brain can amp up self-expression it must have a foundation. after that, says lin, it's about
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letting go. similar to how your brain functions in a dream, or in a meditative state. >> i view this as a neurological description of letting go. >> reporter: i like that. you need to let go to be creative. >> i think it helps quite a bit. you can't let go 100% because you're still playing an instrument, but to really, really in a way turn yourself off so that you can just trust in these creative impulses and not shut them down. >> reporter: but can this be taught? >> i think that creativity, children have it, in an untrained form and you're almost -- it is innate. when you see an infant being creative, no one taught them how to do that. >> reporter: there is a lot to learn about. bo bronson, author of "nurture shock," new thinking about
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children. i found working on that piece fascinating. you heard me talk with drb lin. you can tell i sort of seized on this idea of letting go. first of all, as a start of point, are kids better an that than adults because they're just younger? >> the neuro systems of inhibition are ones that wire up in kids. so i wouldn't say they're good at letting themselves go. they're born letting themselves go. they learn to inhibit themselves and then they have to re-learn to disinhibit. they have to learn to let go. just to be clear, creativity is both the production of new ideas and that are novel and that are valuable to a given social context. you have to critique your ideas at the same time so you have to go through these blender pulses of letting go and then evag valuating, letting go, and then evaluating. >> say you're sort of wiring up, as you say. then you get to the point where you want to let go, not censor
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yourself so much. you have the content, it is a good one. how do you let go then? how do you disinhibit, if you will, to some extent? >> let's talk about it just in the home. you were talking about kids. so, you know, i'm here in san francisco. when kids here drive across the golden gate bridge, they ask their parents, mom, dad, how come the bridge -- the golden gate bridge, is orange? and a lot of parents could answer that question. but as parents what we need to do to encourage their creativity, to sort of wire up these neuro networks is use that as a learning moment to force them to generate lots of ideas, to turn it back into that back seat and say, come up with as many ideas as you can as to why it might be orange rather than golden colored. and then evaluate those, what do they think is the best idea? >> my kids -- quick question. they talk about imaginary
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friends sometimes, or they obviously watch a lot of things that create their own imaginary worlds. is that valuable? >> wow, sanjay. you've got some good kids. those are good signs. one of the most interesting works is on what's called pericosms, sort of these alternative worlds that kids create. the pericosm idea peaks at around age 9 or 10. another thing for young kids, when they are free playing, if they can do a lot of role playing, that helps their creativity because they learn to sort of see something from multiple perspectives. and the other thing with young kids, when they're doing their free play that you see -- we're talking now again 4 to 7 years old -- is they might actually look angry. they're going to show a lot of what's called negative emotions in their free play. and it is because play is the only safe harbor for these sort of challenging and threatening and hostile thoughts that they
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don't know what to do with when they're out there in the real world in which they have to inhibit themselves. >> just hearing you talk, i see exactly what you're describing. i bet you a lot of other people listening see the same thing in their kids as well. makes a lot more sense. it is a fascinating topic, po. the book is great. "nurture shock." thanks so much for joining us. really appreciate it. >> thank you, sanjay. it is great to be with you. >> all right. we'll be right back. copd makes it hard to breathe,
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