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Call me old-fashioned but...A pill for everything

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Opinion | April 12th, 2010

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
Too fat? Too thin? Too stressed? Too lethargic? Too happy? Too sad? Too moody? Too mellow? Irrespective of your problem, society's got a cure…at least that's what the “medicalization model” tells us. There's a drug for everything.

While I'd be a fool to argue that all advances in health care technology are bad, but there's something to be said about modern society's obsession with the “quick fix” and the medical community's response, “Well, we'll devise a diagnosis and just invent another drug for that.” I'd even go so far as to argue that some of these so-called diseases that have reached recent scary degrees of prevalence have, quite frankly, been made up. Take ADHD, for example.

While I'm sure there are some people who truly have been or are afflicted with what was once known as “hyperkinesis,” its rate of diagnosis in contemporary society has reached such epidemic proportions that it has made me seriously question exactly what it is we are trying to “drug” and therefore control. After all, that is the purpose of medicalization: social control.

Last time I checked, childhood was a time of innocence. Moreover, running about, getting into mischief, having seemingly endless energy, in my view, during one's formative years is quite “normal;” after all, said time in one's life is characterized by a lack of responsibility. And yet, somehow we've convinced ourselves that children who possess these traits are acting up, and are problematic to deal with. Well, if children do have excessive amounts of energy, problems maintaining focus, or are not responding to authority figures as well as they used to, I'd like to propose it's not because of any kind of “new” psychological disorder. No, it's because of the structure of modern society itself.

It's virtually impossible these days for a couple to substantiate themselves with one only partner working. Therefore, you end up with situations wherein if a couple has kids, parental supervision is limited. This is commonly dealt with via one or two means: 1. The children are left to be raised by the TV, their video games and computer systems or two. The parents outsource the task of raising their kids to daycare services or babysitters. In either case, the kid's real folks, because they can't be around as much as they'd like, feel guilty and so they try to “befriend” their children. The result? A generation who has no respect for authority figures. You may think it's harsh of me to say, but it is a good thing for children to live under a certain amount of fear.

Further adding to this dilemma, as discussed last week, is the over-processed and questionable foodstuff that the vast majority of us are consuming. Think about it — is it really so shocking that children have an excess in energy when everything you're feeding them is full of sugar, hormones, additives, and god knows what else?

Finally, because parents are so busy trying to make ends meet, kids aren't participating in as many active recreational activities as in the past. Instead of being out there in the sunshine kicking the can, playing ball, or even skipping double dutch — pastimes that at one point were rather common — instead they'd rather remain IV-ed to their video games, and television screens for their taste of entertainment. And seriously, we wonder why they have so much energy? Hmm...makes perfect sense to me: lack of adequate supervision/discipline + unhealthy sugar-filled foods + the inability to expend one's vigor? What do you get? Apparently ADHD!

That's the thing with the “medicalization model” though. Instead of acknowledging that perhaps there's a problem with the way in which society is structured, it takes all pathology right back down to the individual level. What few people realize is that the “discovery” of the above mentioned socalled “psychological” disorder now found so commonly among our youth, coincided with both a growing interest in child psychiatry and the pharmaceutical revolution. Personally I'd like to see kids just be allowed to be kids!

While modern medicine has allowed us to control and monitor the severity of physical ailments, because we've now gotten a handle on said conditions, we've become increasingly focused on attempting to do the same thing with psychological maladies. The problem with this, of course, is that even neurologists, who specialize in the field, admit that there is still a great deal UNKNOWN about the brain and its functions. Further, in societies like North America, where we have access to the basics like fresh water, food, education, work, not to mention a shitload of other unnecessary luxuries, the diagnosis of psychological disorders is disproportionately concentrated.

Maybe if we started making more informed decisions about our lives, and reworked our definitions of health to mean “optimal functioning” as opposed to “symptom- free, but on your third double double of the day,” maybe, just maybe we'd start to see where we're going wrong. In sum, call me crazy, but it seems to me, that we CREATE as many diseases and disorders, these days, as we CURE.

I remember being a high energy obnoxious little brat of a kid. Guess what my parents did to counteract that? I was in every sport imaginable, my TV viewing was rationed depending upon the chores I completed each day, and I certainly wasn't chugging down Pepsi or Coke by the freakin' case. I think I turned out quite fine if I do say so myself, and no believe it or not, I was never put on Ritalin.
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