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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Anatomy of an Anxiety Attack

My son told me this the other day. I Loved it.

What does fear mean?


Using all the tricks in my arsenal to combat this anxiety. I'm making some headway. I can always hypnotize myself with the Coue method but sometimes I don't have the 20 minutes to devote to it at the proper time.

Like yesterday. I met my daughter for lunch and had to keep dropping my shoulders because the anxiety was high and I kept "getting my back up." I managed to have short periods of time when I calmed down but once during that time I noticed that my chest was packed full of pain, solid. So when I noticed that I was able to do deep breathing and concentrate on my breath for a few minutes and was surprised that worked so well. In a few minutes I noticed all that chest pain was gone. Good for me.

I had errands to run and before I got home it was after 6pm and my husband was already home. I didn't want to take the time out to do a hypnosis and I was still pretty anxious. We watched the news but I had no appetite for dinner. Before the news program was up the anxiety had risen and now my head was "into it." I tried a hypnosis but should have gone upstairs instead of remaining in the family room. My husband was bustling around in the kitchen and I couldn't "get into" a real good session. I started screaming in my head--I can't stand anymore, I'm going crazy." I immediately told myself that anybody can go crazy if they insist on thinking those kinds of thoughts. I did a little brainswitching using "Yes, we have no bananas."I stopped thinking the crazy thoughts.

Then I told my husband I was going to take a walk outside and then go upstairs to "do a hypnosis."

I started walking in the yard and pulled a few weeds which I could barely see in the fading light.

As I walked I thought of Claire Weeks and her definition of the sensitization of nerves that was my problem. I had blamed it on the drugs I had taken for pain but I learned from her that any operation, accident, or illness can cause the sympathetic nervous system to become sensitized and overreact to stimuli. That explained the fact that all of a sudden I could not bear the sound of the timer on the microwave and that I told my massage therapist that "please talk more softly, you are hurting my ears." My other symptoms, racing, thumping heart, constant tension in my shoulder muscles, fearful feelings, dry mouth, aversion to food for lack of appetite, weakness, shallow breathing, etc.

I told myself that I could not think thoughts like "I'm going crazy, I can't stand this." I was able to not think them. I remembered Weeks's definition of the anxiety attack I was now suffering--"unusual physical symptoms having no medical significance maintained by tension and fear and bewilderment. The fear being divided into two fears, the first physical fear of the nerves suddenly reaction to some sound, sight, or "instant replay flashback" and then the second fear "oh no not again, I can't stand it." She says to accept the physical symptoms and kind of "float" through them and they will soon cease because the stress chemical only effect certain organs and have a life span of little duration unless you keep on with fearful thinking.

Brainswitching helps somewhat but it is difficult to override the anxiety with changing your thoughts. I am getting better and better at it as I persist.  I can see that  we have to "love our fear" and it is the hating of it that prolongs the chemical reaction causing the symptoms. It helps sometimes to lower my awareness into my heart area.

Then I walked down the street and saw the most beautiful sunset. I was actually able to see the beauty in it. My anxiety lifted a little. I was grateful and thanked God for my respite. I walked on and looked around at the trees. I stopped and talked briefly to a neighbor. I was cheerful. At least I can remain cheerful which is a great help because it takes some rational thinking to do that. As I walked back to the house I realized that I was quite calm and in a nice, peaceful place and I didn't need to do the hypnosis after all. I had a lovely rest of the evening.

I am getting better and better at "floating" through the anxiety and continuing in some activity so I "loose" the fascination with my "pain." . I'm still able to do my work well and have started writing my children's novel and listening to a audio course on story structure. I bought some tomato plants and will make a small garden with help of a garden helper on Saturday. A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Link for Emile Coue's Autosuggestion Book--Read Free on Line

Dear Ms Curtiss

I found listening to music helps to lessen the pain but I do not know if there is a better solution. I Bought the book you advised me to read and hope finding better solutions.

I cannot stay around many people for long like meetings because of the pain and fear.


Dear R

The book "Hope and Help for your Nerves" should help a lot. The daughter of one of my friends, who herself was a professor in college, had a nervous breakdown in college and rather than put her daughter with a psychiatrist my combed the library and got this book by Claire Weeks and used that to cure her daughter. She stayed with her daughter constantly and even accompanied her to her classes for two weeks and finally her daughter said, "I'm okay now, you don't have to stay with me anymore." Her daughter never relapsed and that was almost twenty years ago.

When you add Emile Coue's book about autosuggestion, which you can read free on line, here is the link, you can find your way out of any nervous condition.

Link for reading book online: 

A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

About Creating Yourself at Every Waking Moment

Dear A.B. Curtiss,

After reading the summary of your book depression is a choice, I came  across many things that I had discovered personally.  Although I have no scientific knowledge of depression or manic depression, I know what its  like to "Snap" from the neocortex to the subcortex.  In reading the summary of your book, I was reassured, in a sense, that what I have been going through is valid.  I have found to beat the cycle of depression, it  is about creating yourself at every waking moment, completely giving up any preconceived notion of yourself, and ultimately shutting off the past.  I understand this may be hard for those who are traumatized by deaths in the family, ptsd etc., however I believe with these techniques  depression merely turns into a thing of the past; a phrase that is  commonly used to fuel the booming pharmaceutical economy. I am glad that I have found someone that sees past all of the medication and modern-treatment that most of the "depressed" consider. In summary, I really enjoyed reading the summary on your book and i plan to purchase it soon!  Thank you for your time, and may God be with you. TN

Dear TN,

Thanks for your letter. I sent it on to someone I thought could learn something from it (without your name) and she said that this sentence was very helpful “I have found a way to beat the cycle of depression, it is about creating yourself at every waking moment, completely giving up any preconceived notion of yourself, and ultimately shutting off the past.” A. B. Curtiss

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm Angry with my Daughter

Dear A. B.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my last question, especially in light of your back pain. 

My question today is: Should just my husband and I attend our daughter's college graduation or should we bring the whole family? 

Background: Our reasons for it just being us is it is expensive to take this trip with everyone because we'd need to take 2 cars & 2 hotel rooms, etc. It is 7 hours away We are just getting by financially as it is.  Our daughter wants all of us b/c "everyone else has more people coming."  Yet last year she went didn't come home for her brother's high school graduation, and instead took time off of work to road trip with her boyfriend. My experience was that only my parents came to my grad, I didn't go to my siblings graduations and same w/ my husband and his family.

I am annoyed, if not angry with this daughter, and don't necessarily want that to cloud a decision I might later regret. Her plans to drive home w/her boyfriend after graduation and they would then take a road trip together. I told her she needs to take immediate steps to get a job and become financially independent.   She took a cruise w/ friends over spring break "because she was never on a cruise". She did this w/ her own money, but I think she should have saved it as a cushion for after she graduates. We have no money to give her.   

Thanks,  L

Dear L,

I would do what is financially responsible for you to do. Your daughter probably won't even notice if you keep complimenting her on her accomplishments and bring flowers and balloons.

Your daughter should be on her own now. I think your relationship would be better if you stopped trying to run her life about getting a job and let her make her own mistakes. You can tell her the facts of life that you have no money to give her and she needs to not count on you to bail her out and that you are glad and happy for her that she has graduated from collge. Not everyone has that opportunity.

But your communication will remain stronger if it is more loving, if you are more positive, that you know she will do well, and find a good job, instead of always lecturing as to what she should do in order to allay your own fear. She will call you more often for encouragement and affirmation, she will avoid calling you to get your lectures. 

And congratulate yourself that you have gotten a child through college. Not so easy these days.
A. B. Curtiss

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stress Chemicals

Dear Ms Curtiss 

According to my email last time that I felt much better after I discovered that getting red of the saliva that was accumulated in the top of my head and which was the main cause of the severe pain and depression I was experienced. 

I am much better now and my depression changed. The only thing that causes me anxious and worried is the physical pain when I feel physically the neurons becomes hard and walking is one way to lessen the pain.    

I need to know if any one went through this before 


Dear Ms Curtiss 

I feel all this on the top of my head. Is there any solution for this because this my my main issue. Does a hospital has thing to do with this? R.

Dear R.

What happens sometimes is that constant tension causes muscles to tighten and that can cause pain. Sometimes fascia,  a connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, binding those structures together, can connect muscles together than shouldn't be connected, kind of like adhesions after surgery. Which is why they like for people to walk right away so that fascia doesn't form where it's not supposed to. Massage therapy does wonders for this problem. A. B. Curtiss

Thanks  R

Yes, exactly thats what I feel on the top of my head and around my mouth. Thats why I feel negative and fear sometimes. I think these muscles, blood vessels, and nerves were active since I was child but it became stronger by the time. Same thing my brothers. and it might be my child too.

IS this why people get depressed or it has no relation with depression. ? 

Dear R, 

 Some of what you describe could easily be caused by anxiety, which is fearful thinking that causes stress chemicals to dump into the system. One of the body's normal reaction to stress chemicals is a feeling of tightness in the head--some describe it as a band of iron around the scalp. Read Claire Weeks book "Hope and Help for your Nerves" for more about the body's natural reaction to stress chemicals. A. B. Curtiss

Dear Ms Curtiss 
I strongly appreciate your help this info helped me alot  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sometimes You Have to Use All the Tricks you Have

Thanks so much, A.B.

My problem is: There are some times when I simply cannot get out of a depressive rut. My recent setback was due to an old friend that I used to work with; finding out she committed suicide. I believe she had been suffering from depression for many years before she finally took her own life. When I hear things like this, I begin to think: Could this happen to me? What makes this person different than I? Now, I'm rational and I know there may have been different circumstances in her life compared to mine (I'm married with kids, she was a loner that lived with her parents), but the obsessive part of my mind needs answers. Why is this? I've discussed this with many therapists, all of which tell me, "why does it matter? Let it go". I have a very difficult time "letting go" of this for some odd reason.

One therapist suggested that because my own father attempted suicide while in a drunken rage may have something to do with it. Once Dad sobered up, he lived to the ripe old age of 86, full of life to his last breath. So in that respect, I can see his alcoholism as being the reason for his suicide attempt.

Anyway, I was wondering if I could get your take on this. I've had to break out "Depression is a Choice" and go over my high lighted points to help me through this recent funk. Any additional advice from the author herself would definitely help.

Dear TL,

Your problem, as I see it, is that you have self-hypnotised yourself to be afraid, now you have to self-hypnotise yourself out of it. Every time you think of it say to yourself,  "I can do this, I can free myself from this constant fear/depression, I can do it and I am going to do it. I have the power and I will use my mind to redirect my imagination.

 As I pointed out in an earlier blog, in a fight between your will and imagination, imagination will win everytime. Due to my recent illness I have struggled for several weeks with unreasonable fear brought about by my imagination, "suppose this gets worse," suppose I never get better," "will I always be in pain," etc and etc. One time it escalated into a panic attack and rather than admit defeat I took myself in hand and did deep breathing exercises for about twenty minutes and got myself out of it. I do recommend belly breathing for panic attacks. You can look it up in the Brainswitch book

It isn't easy to get ourselves out of fear, the emotion is so high. After all, fear is our only psychological defense mechanism. However we can do it.

Use all the tricks you have:

Use cognitive behavior when the fear isn't too bad and reframe your fear by telling yourself that the fear is irrational and you are going to do everything in your power to free yourself from it. Repetitively insisting that the fear is irrational will ultimately have a good effect.

 Use hypnosis by way of repetition: Hypnosis is the way we force our imagination to imagine what we want rather than what we fear. There are basically three ways to immediately get your Imagination or Your Unconscious or Subconscious mind to accept an idea. Once your Subconscious (or you could call it your other-than-conscious mind) accepts an idea, it becomes your new reality.

Here are the three ways to immediately get the Unconscious to accept an idea:

1. High emotion, fear, (you have already self-hypnotised yourself to fear your depression by allowing the news about your friend to shock you). This is why faith healers push the person backwards (stationing someone behind the patient to catch them) and says "You are healed."

2. Repetition--over and over again thinking the thought, saying it to others, saying it to yourself. I am getting better thoughts all the times, etc. I am freeing myself from this irrational fear, etc.

3. Lower your brainwaves from beta to alpha and tell yourself the problem is solving itself and soon you will be free from the fear of your depression overwhelming you.. Read my blog about Will and Imagination and the last couple of blogs about Emile Coue.

You can go to a hypnotist and learn how to do this, you can read Emile Coue's method, which is excellent, you can take a course in transcendental meditation or a Silva Mind Control Course. Coue calls his method autosuggestion .  I would suggest the book by C. Harry Brooks, The Practice of Autosuggestion: by the Method of Emile Coue published by Dodd, Mead and Co in 1922 or a recent imprint since this book is now in public domain.

You can't insist, as an act of will, to think a good thought if  your body fear and tension are already high. When you are not too bad you can look for things to be grateful about, small things, think about other people and wish them well mentally, and so get in the habit of harboring good and loving thoughts. Above all notice how you judge other people because any thought you have that is pessimistic or negative about someone else will weaken you to the exact extent that you think it about others.

Even if highly agitated, you can learn to relax your body as an act of will, lower your brainwaves and in this way directly impact your imagination (which is accessible to suggestion at the alpha level) to do what you want. Read the entries in my blog since March 12 about Coue and hypnosis. Also there are people who do biofeedback and have the neuroimaging machines that you can learn to lower your brainwaves and learn how to RELAX.

We are all vulnerable to the negativity and bad experiences of others. It is best to know this so we can arm and protect ourselves with good, healthy thoughts when we are being bombarded by negative, unhealthy ones.
A. B. Curtiss

Thanks so much for your reply, A.B.

I'm into old school psychology, and I'm surprised I missed out on Emile Coue. I especially liked the book by Harry Brooks - it was free domain and I took to reading it during my lunch break. Regarding my friends suicide, a phrase in the book stood out: "We human beings have a certain resemblance to sheep, and involuntarily we are irresistibly compelled to follow other peoples' examples, imagining that we cannot do otherwise".

So, by habit, (or self hypnosis), I have crystallized this fear of suicide. Fear fuels the depression, the depression fuels the fear.

The simple answer is to not fear the thought. Unfortunately, as you mention in Depression Is A Choice, it may sound simple, but it is not easy. If you need to lose weight, you must diet and exercise. Sounds simple, but it is not easy to do.

This is where you are right: You have to use all the tricks you have in your arsenal. I have several books that I read from that offer great advice.

1. Anything written by Claire Weekes. Her books state you must face the fear, accept those feelings, float through those feelings (while trying your best to be as fearless as possible), and simply letting time pass in order for your frayed nerves to heal.

2. Abraham Low wrote a book called "Mental Health Through Will Training" - its also written in the 40's jargon of that day, but its an amazing book. There is no talk of "depression" - this term is translated into "lowered feelings" - sounds less scary. Also, if panicking, it is simply the "harmless outpouring of a nervous imbalance". Harmless...imagine that? But its true. Scary obsessive thoughts are rephrased as "have the thought, but don't make an issue out of it". And the biggest one of all - "movement of the muscles retrains the brain". Basically get moving and DO something. But do it not to avoid the fear - this only adds to the fear if you go about it in a hectic pace.

3. Dale Carnegie wrote a book called "How To Stop Worrying And Start Living" - he dedicates an entire chapter to crowding worry out of your mind by becoming preoccupied doing lots of physical or mental work - or doing your "duty", meaning responsibility for others instead of for yourself.

4. Of course, Depression Is A Choice. (Its nice to study my depression/anxiety, but sometimes I get a little too obsessed with it).

In hindsight, my depression disappeared for a long time a while ago. This coincided with a new job - the new situation, the new people, the new customers, the new-ness of it all. My mind was so distracted away from itself that I literally forgot about being depressed. My identification with it was severed. Green frog x infinity you might say.

I actually had an interesting experience today. For many years I drove a truck in the big city. I knew the ins and outs of miles of roads, small side streets, avenues, etc. Those roads were firmly ingrained in my head. I have since moved out to the country and my route has changed. I haven't been in the city for 10 years. Today I got the opportunity to run a route in the city. I thought, "wow, this will be a nice change". But when there, it "looked" familiar, but it wasn't. Time had passed and the old memories have faded. My point is: This is similar to depression. We may think we can't forget it - and maybe we can't at the time - but over time, we actually can change our thought patterns enough so new memories replace old ones. I believe Jeffrey Schwartz wrote about this in his book "Brain Lock" - about the neuroplasticity of the brain and how new neuron paths can be created - not through medication, but through behavior modification.

I've been practicing some meditation the last few nights and I can already feel the black cloud lifting. That glimpse relieves the anxiety and fear, thus bringing back hope, which in turn leads to more motivation to improve my mental health.

Many thanks for your books and advice - and now your blog. I'm sure it helps many more people than you think.

Dear TL
You are most welcome and thank you for the overview of your “arsenal” which I’m sure will be helpful to many. A. B.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Depression has Lifted, Now I Need Advice on Mania

Dear A. B. 

Thank you for your email.

I started doing tasks here, one at a time, even before I got your message, doing my mantras at the same time.

Then I had to go out to return a book to the library and talked to some people there.

On the way home, I noticed I wasn't in my funk anymore.

In gratitude,
Hello again A. B.

I wanted to ask you for suggestions on  “mania" as that has also added to my stress lately.
Feeling in a rut, I had gone to visit a friend in the city and while there I went to buy a new lipstick. I decided to get a "Makeover" as there is no charge as long as you buy $50 worth of products. I told the make-up artist that I wanted to look pretty again, so that maybe I could attract a man. Well, she got me looking so good, I got high and spent way over $50 buying most of the items she had used on me. Then feeling so good and determined to get over my previous mate who had dumped me for the younger woman, I went to a bookstore and spent a fortune on self -help books, CD's etc.

The rush was short lived, for when I got back to my island, I realized how much money I had spent and now am worried about getting thru the summer months when there will be no paychecks.

Before reading your books,I was either manic or depressed, and the depressions resulted in hospitalizations as I would slash myself, or do other destructive things to myself.

I was so impressed with  your techniques that I worked hard at them in the beginning, not letting up on my little song, until I had changed the depressive thought.'

I have never  had to be hospitalized since.

I think I then got lazy with the brain switching, thinking I was cured.

Now I'm realizing I have to start the brain switching as soon as a depressive thought comes, but wondered what to do about the manic tendencies that seem to be surfacing again.

I don't mind your writing me on your blog, if  I sign "M". I'm only writing you this way as I was having difficulty setting up an account. I think it's helpful for us all to share this stuff. I'm realizing that if  one's brain has been wired into depressive thinking, since childhood, that it can take diligence and hard work to break out of the cycle. If we stop doing the techniques, as I did, when challenges are presented to us, the old habits seem to surface.

It's almost like we don't want to stop the thoughts, to do the song, or rhyme or whatever we use. I noticed that on my walk today. I found myself composing letters I'd like to write to my ex (but won't of course), telling him of the pain he caused me. I kept going on in my head trying to convince him that it had been wrong for his younger woman to offer him sex after his heart attack, when I was nursing him. When I found myself doing this, I started my little song, but didn't stick at it, as then a better argument came into my head and I started following it. So I realized it can be hard at times to even want to stop the thinking, which is why I want to encourage others on your blog of the necessity to work at it diligently, even if we have to keep doing it several times a day, and to stick with it, until our brain has switched out of the depressive thinking.

Yet, now I'm concerned about my mania, as I always thought I had control of that, as for years now, I haven't done the rash things I used to. I know my shopping spree was only minor, but still I was on a high. If I had of recognized it before I started the shopping, I could have made a list of the priority items I needed that fit my budget and stuck to that. 

So how can one intercept the manic bout.

Many thanks,

Dear M,
When you decide that you have a particular problem and want to improve yourself, be it mania, or not being able to say 'No' to people, or overeating, or lying. or controlling, or obsessiveness, or exaggerating or bragging, or whatever, the first way you see what you are doing is always in hindsight.

It might be you might recognize mania several months later, long after an episode has passed. Then it might lessen to several weeks later. Then last week, then yesterday. It is a progression until finally you "catch yourself in the act" and have the power to withdraw from your habitual reaction right there and then.

Remember that the habitual mind does not like to change from the "known" (your problem) in which you have so far "survived," to the "unknown" which the mind cannot "get a handle on" due to it's false sense of security in knowing that you have "survived" in the "known." no matter how awful that "known" might be and your mind can’t predict your “survival” in the new situation, no matter how much an improvement that might be over the “status quo” (your  problem).

If you are earnest in your desire to apprehend yourself,  you will wear down the defenses of the mind and sooner or later "see" yourself in action where you have the opportunity to make changes. A. B. Curtiss

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Need Advice on Getting Organized

Dear A. B.

I have been reading the answer you wrote to "T" and have concerns myself.

First though, I want to thank you for what you wrote about yourself at the beginning. I have been doing the "every day,in every way, I'm getting better and better" but I hadn't been adding stuff like you did, as to what's getting better. so I sat down and wrote one out for myself, dealing with my own situation, and am using that today.

Like "T" I get discouraged that my bouts of depression  are returning.

I just returned from visiting a friend in the city (I live on an island) and during my last night there, I experienced constant urination during the night, making trips to the bathroom less than an hour apart, all night. No pain, (I hadn't had much liquid before bed).

The next day, during my trip home, I was fine, but then last night when reading before bed, it started again. So I got out my health books, went on the internet and found they have a name for this, starts with an "N" ( I guess for nocturnal). They said this can occur in "older" people (I"m  in my sixties) and is a sign of something more serious going on. They suggested lung cancer, and I've had a cough this past while, but thought that was due to a bug I got from school where I'm still teaching.

My thoughts started to get out of control. My house is near the ocean and I started thinking that perhaps now is the time for me to just walk down there and end my life now. (When I was younger I've been hospitalized for suicide attempts, but once discovering your books, I had stopped that).

Instead I went to your blog and read the advice you gave to T.

Yet, I've been spending so much time on the internet reading past blogs that I'm getting nothing accomplished, in regards to all the chores I have to do here,as our spring break from school is almost over. This has been a pattern with me for a while now. My organizing skills are poor. I am alone now, kids live in a different places, was dumped by my man for a much younger woman. So , not knowing how to keep up with my house, I've let so many maintenance issues slide and  I keep getting bouts of depression that I'll loose my house, won't be able to sell it for much etc. Then when I recognize how I'm thinking depressive thoughts, I'll work at getting out of them, go to your website and before you know it, a good chunk of the day is gone.
I used to tell myself "one day at a time. start with one thing". Then I'd feel better that I got one thing done,but really I'm getting nowhere.

I think that's why last night, when I started thinking I might have serious health problems that the thought of walking into the ocean came.

I will return to the advice you gave to "T" and work on that.

Yet, I wondered if you could comment on how I can get better organized with my house. I had a bad fire a few years ago, and the insurance co. had to remove everything from the house because of the water damage. Many things were returned to me ,in boxes, that they had cleaned up. I still have so many of those boxes sitting here as I haven't been able to find a place to put them. Many are boxes of books that I need so I just keep them in those boxes. This all sounds so much like self-pity.

It's expensive to get to the city by ferry to buy bookshelves. I tried but then there was a big delivery charge as I couldn't fit them in my small car. I was able to get the bigger furniture bought and the insurance co. paid for that delivery as it was large items.

I feel my disorganization is fueling my depressions. Last night, when I thought of ending my life now, I felt so bad for my own children who would have to come and clean up all the clutter her.
At the end of the day, when I realize I've wasted yet another one, without getting much done, I used to tell myself that it was "OK" as at least I hadn't tried suicide that day.

I'm not teaching full time as our kindergarten has only been half days, yet they are changing that next year. However,  I'm usually exhausted when I get home from work as the  25, five year olds, wear me out.

So my income is not big enough to afford a housecleaner. I'm starting to wonder if I should try and re-mortgage my house and use some equity from it, to hire one of those "clutter cleaners" to help me get organized.

Thank you again for all your blogs and hope you can advise me on the about.
Kind regards,
Dear M

Just do the next thing. Look around and do what is close at hand, the next thing will already be making itself clear. Things that seem impossible can be accomplished by breaking  them down into baby steps. Since you are a beginner at being organized, take the baby steps and begin.

Think about what you are doing and not about what you are feeling. You might even stop and try to feel some gratitude for a small job accomplished, even take joy in something small. Give it a try.

You can substitute nonsense verses for your self-focus on your feelings and move in the affirmation of Every day in every way I'm getting better and better.

Also you need to find a community of like-minded people-by attending some church or doing some local volunteering or even by going to the library to re-engage with life that's ongoing

A. B. Curtiss