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What science is not?

I happened to stumble upon this press release  in MarketWatchNew Essay Offers Hope to Public’s Growing Disenchantment with Science. One really has to beware of any press release with a sensational build up of the sort we are given in this item.

The World Transformation Movement today published a ground-breaking essay titled What is science? by Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith that offers hope to the public’s growing disenchantment with science, by revealing that science will be the saviour of the human race.

Now where have I come across ‘savior’ before? Hmmm, I wonder?  We have heard much about the separation of politics and religion. I was never aware that science and religion made such great bed mates. Do they!?

The What is science? essay cites a 2011 Australian Academy of Science report that found a ‘staggering’ 43 percent drop over the last 20 years in the number of Australian Year 11 and 12 students studying science from 94 percent to 51 percent (reference:1).

One thing that is not science as well is the subject of the afore mentioned essay. I read it, and I encourage others to do the same, although not for scientific reasons, for critical and philosophical reasons. I suggest that the essay stands as a good introduction for a student interested in pursuing a career in the priesthood, or in psychiatry. To illustrate….

On this greatest of all breakthroughs in science, Professor Harry Prosen, a former president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, is quoted in the essay saying: “I have no doubt this biological explanation of the human condition is the holy grail of insight we have sought for the psychological rehabilitation of the human race.”

Speak of the devil! The human race is “sick” and needs to be psychologically rehabilitated. After their downfall following exile from the garden of Eden, of course!

Just in case you were wondering, this essay speaks often of a human condition while not mentioning a hedgehog condition, or a cockroach condition, let’s say, once.  A fact I find fascinating. Science is perceived as being “in denial” concerning this human condition. Funny thing, no mention was made of a green house effect in this essay at all, nor was any mention made of any denial of such an effect.

I left the following comment regarding this essay under the Merriam-Webster definition of Metaphysical.

I was reading an essay that claimed to be about science. I had to look up the definition of science to tackle that one. There seemed to be a great deal of metaphysical speculation in this essay. As science is  about the study of the natural, physical, and material world, my conclusion was that the essay was not scientific. Metaphysical matters, being imperceptible to the senses, are not accessible to scientific investigation by definition.

That definition is as follows…

1 : of or relating to metaphysics.

2 a : of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses

b : supernatural.

3:  highly abstract or abstruse; also : theoretical.

4 often capitalized : of or relating to poetry especially of the early 17th century that is highly intellectual and philosophical and marked by unconventional imagery.

Alright, if anybody should choose to write an essay about the nature of science I suggest they begin by searching Merriam-Webster or any other source  for the definition, always a good thing to have, first.

Dumb Teens Make Stupid DVD

You gotta wonder what they’re teaching kids these days. Here, for example, is an article with the heading, Teens make DVD about mental illness [http://www.courant.com/health/fl-hk-teen-mental-illness-20110823,0,6169683.story]. I don’t intend to view it, but given a little bit of imagination you can come up with your own distressing scenarios. Guess what we learned in school today, Mom? We learned I have a serious mental illness.

“My hope is that one day we talk about mental illness as much as we talk about cancer, as a disease,” said Haylee Becker, 17, a 2011 graduate of Atlantic High School in Delray Beach who has been diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. “It’s too late for the school system to do things for me that would have made me healthier, but I hope they can start intercepting other kids at a younger age.”

I’ve got news for you, Haylee. Cancer is an illness; mental illness is a semantically incorrect mishmash. Talking about cancer may not make the cancer go away, but talking about mental illness is definitely not going to make the delusions go away. Maybe the schools ought to start “intercepting” a few fewer kids at younger and younger ages than they do now.

Puberty and adolescent rebellion hit almost simultaneously, and the next thing you know, this girl is ‘off her meds’. At 15, not only does she have fewer rights as a child, but she has even fewer rights as a result of psychiatric labeling and oppression.

When she turned 13, Becker said, she started hating school and began skipping it. At 15 and 16, therapists ordered her into institutions because she was not taking her medications and had lengthy episodes of crying and refusing to get out of bed.

Where mom and dad were at this time, who knows? As the medical model propaganda tells us, they couldn’t have been at all responsible.

Given counseling and psychiatric drugs, Haylee Becker, reports that she has learned to accept her disability. Great lesson, kid! This business of accepting the suggestion made that you have a disability. Uh, or do I mean excepting? Now, do you have any abilities to report as well?

The real clincher is right here…

Mental illness among teens is more common than many people realize. One in 10 children and teens is depressed at any moment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Almost 5 percent have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and another 5 percent Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or hostility to authority figures. Eating disorders affect about 2 percent of teens, while conduct disorders touch up to 4 percent.

They’re selling psychiatric drugs, and they can’t sell psychiatric drugs without selling mental illness. One of the fastest growing markets for psychiatric drugs today is among children and adolescents. These teens have, unwittingly perhaps, jumped onto the drug manufacturer’s band wagon.

If it weren’t for multiple labels, so called co-occurring disorders, these percentages would add up to an incredible 26 %. Some psychiatrists like to make people look really messed up by claiming they have more than one disorder. This also gives them the opportunity to resort to the very ineffective, but potentially very damaging, practice of polypharmacy, or putting people on mixed psychiatric drug cocktails.

The problem, as it stands, is that Miss Becker and the other teens involved in this project will probably be continuing to receive “help”. For many teenagers with “mental illness” labels, in fact, there is a possibility that this “help” will extend to the end of their days. Given this reality, I feel like I must give my thumbs up to teens that have a completely different message to convey.

May Is Out And Out Bullshit Month

May isn’t Mental Health Month, judging from the literature, May is actually Out And Out Bullshit Month. Here’s where the obediently compliant mental health consumer, who has had his or her backbone extracted, comes out and talks about the wonders of treatment. It’s the wonders of treatment versus “disease”. The treatment is pharmaceutical. The disease is a “broken brain”. This brain is broken by genetics. This is biological psychiatry which explains itself in the most un-biological of terms, the circuitry in this or that brain isn’t working the way it should work. Psychiatric drugs, it’s supposed, allow these individuals afflicted with “broken brains” to manage in society. They…”fix it”.

I’ve read about a movie featuring 3 of what are described as people with schizophrenia paid for by a pharmaceutical company. Now when a pharmaceutical company makes a movie, it’s going to feature relatively treatment compliant people. Despite any disclaimers, and there are those, too, we’ve got a blatant instance of conflict of interest going on here. I would not think that the directors of this movie had a small pool of potential people to draw their 3 “winners” from. By “winner”, in this instance, we mean brown nose, or kiss ass. There are many more persons who are not being showcased as blue ribbon mental cases. You will probably be crossing paths with a few of them every now and then.

There is also the matter of the ex-politician member of one of America’s leading families who is doing his part to promote this sort of invalidism. This man recently stated that he empathized with the Tuscon shooter whom he felt was in need of treatment. I think you could say the same thing for the recently “treated” Osama bin Laden. This ex-politician is busy promoting brain research for the sake of a better understanding of non-existent and future “brain diseases”. He himself was given a “bipolar” label early on, but he says this label was recently switched for another label. He is chiefly known for his substance abuse issues that got him into hot water with the police and his constituency. The “mental illness” excuse for scrapping self-control, moral integrity, and responsibility is not an excuse which I choose to honor.

If you want the truth about so called “mental illness” you will have to wait until Mad Pride is celebrated in July. Bullshit is bullshit, but Mad Pride celebrants, at least, are honest about it. The maddest people in the world are those purporting to be most sane. These are the presumed reasonable people who run our countries, ruin our economies, and get us into wars. When you lock up a man or woman thought to be mad, in most cases, you’re locking up the wrong person. These people don’t have power, means, money, or position. They aren’t going to lead our nations down a path that leads to nothing but death and destruction. In fact, they are much less likely to do so than the powers that be. The value of life still cries out to be affirmed, and the victim of your mental health/illness system is not the one who is doing everything in his or her power to diminish that value.

Fixating on “mental illness” is just another way of avoiding insight into the damage wreaked by just such a fixation. The “mental illness” label is another term for lack of power, privilege, and means. “Mental illness”is an expression that means “bad luck”, lack of good circumstances, or “absence of opportunity”. Power disparities, and the situation of the human scapegoat, are not determined by biology, and there is no need to pretend that this is the case. You change the circumstances a person lives and works under, and you’ve changed everything. This is a matter of taking people who have been maneuvered onto a failure track, and redirecting them back onto a success track. When this realization is reached, “medication management” and “stigma reduction” ceases to be the aim and end all of mental health treatment. Full and complete mental health recovery again becomes the objective, and the result, of such treatment.

Erica Jong Gets It Wrong

Erica Jong, the author, has posted to her Huffington blog an entry with the heading Guns and Madness.

So sad that the corporate media does not know what paranoid schizophrenic thinking is. I know because my college boyfriend and 1st husband had a paranoid schizophrenic breakdown.

As if Erica Jong, leading members of the APA, or anybody else knew exactly what “paranoid schizophrenic thinking is”. They simply don’t. Not only that, but she has joined this large body of people endeavoring to get Jared Lee Loughner off in multiple murder charges on a Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity plea. If unhappy, disgruntled, and suspicious equals “paranoid schizophrenic”, then there are a very large number of “paranoid schizophrenics” in the world that have not been caught and “treated” yet. We can only pray that their complaints about the hardships they face don’t drive them to go out, buy guns, and start shooting.

He thought his brain was controlled by a giant computer run by the government. He thought he could fly off the roofs of buildings. He thought he could walk on water. Fortunately, he did not have a gun — or I wouldn’t be alive today.

Jared apparently subscribed to views expounded by some of the conspiracy theorists current in today’s world. That’s a far cry from having a brain controlled by government computers, or possessing super or miraculous powers. Had he had thought he had super or divine powers, maybe he wouldn’t have needed his Glock 19.

My first love was treated with anti-psychotic drugs and later, much later, was able to have a fairly normal life — if he stayed on his medications. His story is not a tragedy like Jared Loughner’s.

Neuroleptic, better known by the misnomer anti-psychotic, drugs seldom prevent tragedies. More often neuroleptic drugs are the source of tragedy.

I suggest Erica Jong do a You Tube search for Tardive Dyskinesia, and while she’s at it, she should look for any You Tube video on psychiatric drugs featuring psychiatric survivor, Leonard Roy Frank, or psychologist, Dr. John Breeding. She also might pick up copies of investigative journalist Robert Whitaker’s Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic. Her knowledge on the subject is very limited.

Erica Jong is very hard on people who have been labeled by psychiatry when she calls Jared Lee Loughner a “paranoid schizophrenic”. She doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that the vast majority of people who have had any experience with the mental health/illness system are neither a danger to themselves nor a danger to others.

I think it would be a good idea for Ms. Jong, and other people of a prejudiced mindset like her’s, to make the acquaintance of a few more people who have been labeled by the mental health/illness system. She might even consider looking for examples of people who have fully recovered from a “serious mental illness” label. (They are out there. Believe me.) I feel certain that if she did so she wouldn’t have such negative feelings about them as she apparently still harbors towards her ex-lover.

Darts For The Self-Identified “Bipolar” Author

In the litter-y world kiss ass praise keeps the balloon of the ego afloat. Anybody got a spare safety pin? I’d like to puncture a few of those balloons that have met with a little more turbulence than usual every now and then.

NPR just released a story on the debate raging over the next DSM with the heading What’s A Mental Disorder? Even Experts Can’t Agree. This post has nothing to do with that article but everything to do with that heading that, frankly, says it all.

Mark Vonnegut, the son of Kurt, has a new book out. Oregonlive.com published a review of this book recently Nonfiction Review: ‘Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So’ by Mark Vonnegut.

“What did you say?” Yes, that’s probably the right reaction to have to this sort of thing. This title reminds me a little of Through The Looking Glass but, of course, that book would have targeted children as it’s primary readership.

The relationship between creativity and bipolar disorder is real and has been the subject of many books, Kay Redfield Jamison’s “Touched with Fire” being one of best. Mark Vonnegut embraces it and defends it in a few eloquent sentences:

“If you don’t have flights of ideas, why bother to think at all? I don’t see how people without loose associations and flights of ideas get much done.”

Kay Redfield Jamison is another one of my favorite errant self-proclaimed mad author targets of derision. She’s a shrink, too, to further confuse matters, and just in case you didn’t know. (No, I don’t consider Lord George Gordon Byron a classical bipolar disorder sufferer. I tend to think of him rather as a romantic era poet instead.)

I understand when kids have problems that result in doctors getting carried away in the labeling department. Smart ass, wise guy, juvenile delinquent, wacko, ADHD, etc., it goes on and on. It mushrooms.

The transition from adolescence to adulthood can be rocky, and it can come at a price, if it comes at all. I imagine when this transition gets rockier than it does at other times and places, when doctors are called in, it can leave some young adults with labels like “bipolar” or “schizophrenic” that can be as hard to shake off as scraps of paper wet with superglue.

What am I trying to say here? I am trying to say that after 20-30 years of a sickness in the head charade, it gets stale, not to mention boring. Get over it! “Get over it” is another way of saying recover. Once you recover, it’s past tense, as in recovered. (Oriented as opposed to disoriented.) Others have done so, and it’s not such a difficult thing to pull off really. I got over my early troubles and turmoil. Now get over your’s, and no excuses. The “mental illness” excuse doesn’t work with me.

Undiagnosing Childhood As A Mental Disorder

You don’t have to read the article if you read the first, and at this point only, comment in response to it. The article is called It’s more than just a movie, and purported the subject of the article is–go figure–Reactive Attachment Disorder.

RAD children, according to the article, are apparently kind of like Stepford Wives, only they’re children.

“They’re like boarders in a boardinghouse. They sleep in your home and eat at your table, but you never really know who they are.”

From the article we also get this:

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, RAD is a complex psychiatric illness characterized by difficulties in developing emotional attachments with others, including parents.

Enough nonsense, now let’s cut to the response.

From reading both of Jane Ryan’s books, it is my opinion that she is most likely a proponent of the scientifically-unvalidated pop psychotherapy called “Attachment Therapy” (which goes by several names, such as Holding Therapy, Rage Reduction, etc.). In 2006, a task force convened by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children published its report on Attachment Therapy, its parenting methods (aka Nancy Thomas parenting), and use of the unrecognized diagnosis “Attachment Disorder.” This task force condemned these practices as abusive and advised child welfare workers to investigate any of these practices as “suspected abuse.” The APSAC task force findings and recommendations were adopted by the American Psychological Association’s Division on Child Maltreatment.

Apparently the proponents of this Attachment Therapy are finding it convenient to blur the distinction between what the commenter sees as the “legitimate” DSM classification and their “bogus” “disorder”. Perhaps this kind of confusion will work to their advantage in the long run. How distant, after all, can any “reactive attachment disorder” be from an “attachment disorder”…linguistically speaking anyway?

“Attachment Disorder” (AD) is a bogus diagnosis ONLY used by Attachment Therapists, bears no resemblance to Reactive Attachment Disorder, as defined in the official DSM-IV. RAD is characterized by a child being either extremely withdrawn or overly friendly with unfamiliar persons. There are NO aggressive features associated with RAD. On the other hand, AD has a long laundry list of signs; it is a catch-all diagnosis, so that any child taken to an Attachment Therapist is likely to receive this “diagnosis.” (Even good behavior is interpreted as “stalking prey.”) It gets confusing because proponents of Attachment Therapy often conflate AD with RAD. The important point here is that an accurate diagnosis is needed to get effective and safe care. That isn’t possible with Attachment Therapists.

I wouldn’t say AD is a bogus diagnosis ONLY used by Attachment Therapists. I would think that many of the more nebulous and relatively minor “disorders” in the current DSM could be attributed to improper or incomplete weaning, and therefore, by extension anyway, are fundamentally attachment “disorders”.

Peggy Thatcher, the writer of the above comment, goes on to add.

Attachment Therapy and its parenting methods have been associated with numerous high-profile criminal child abuse and death cases.

Nanny state policies, and not necessarily pop nannies, are in large measure much of what lies behind the problem here. The future and adult independence of the child should be of foremost concern in child rearing. Children are very astute, and they can often detect when affection and caring in a family context is pretentious and unreal. I suggest that this—Jane Ryan might call it trauma—is what results in these Stepford children. These Stepford children in some ways are essientially, like children in foster care situations, throw away children. Child rearing should be managed by parents, and it should not be left up to mental health workers, pop or otherwise, if you don’t want situations to develop like the ones described.

The problem with people who write about haunted asylums

A writing professor has a Psychology Today blog, and she’s using it in her practice of bringing psychology into literature. Okay. I don’t suppose there’s a lot wrong with that endeavor in and of itself, but my view is that its better have your fiction grounded in historical fact rather than getting lost in the bog of material you have absolutely no knowledge about. This is the problem with Carolyn Kaufman’s The Problem With Haunted Asylums blog post.

She is reacting to NAMI campaigning against such exploitation.

“Haunted” places are popular Halloween attractions, but seasonal haunted asylums in particular draw fire from mental health advocacy groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI argues that such attractions “contribute to the stigma by encouraging false stereotypes and barricading the path toward an educated society” and asks the sites to remove the displays.

The reasons why a person wouldn’t exploit an abandoned asylum for crass commercial purposes have been boiled down to a couple of lame platitudes. She throws out those overused clichés, stereotype and stigma. These clichés have become ways of not seeing what’s right before your own eyes.

Let’s look at both sides.

On the one hand, asking a highly popular, entertainment-oriented, money-making attraction that’s already in full swing to tear it all down in hopes that people will realize that the depictions were unrealistic may be overly optimistic, at least for this year.

On the other hand, haunted asylums do play up scary stereotypes: that the clinical staff uses patients for ugly experiments; and that people who need to be hospitalized are radically different from everyone else, completely out of control, and savagely dangerous.

Dr. Kaufman apparently needs a lesson straight from the horse’s mouth.

One of the worst periods of times when it came to mental health treatment in this nation was in the early part of the twentieth century. The practices of shock treatment and lobotomy, in fact, came out of this dismal period in our mental institutes. People labeled “mentally ill” were being sterilized as people who were deemed unfit to breed. It was feared that having “mentally defective” peoples breed would have an unfavorable effect on the survival capacity of the species. This practice, begun in the USA, was readily adopted by the Nazi Reich in Germany. Sterilizing gave way to exterminating, and the German Reich had found the population to practice on in preparation for going after the Jews. This process of deleting certain targeted segments of the population from the gene pool in a misguided attempt to “improve” the species, with all its pseudo-scientific pretensions, was referred to as Eugenics.

The facts shouldn’t be glossed over. The Victorian monstrosity of the mental hospital was and remains a place where many bad things took place. The community treatment that comes of deinstitutionalization is a vast improvement over those bad things. The mental hospital is, after all, the rug that certain people get swept under when other people don’t want to deal with them. You need go no further than the state hospital cemetery to see how this is the case. What will you find there? If there is any marker, it’s going to bear a number rather than a name and dates. Why? Because it would reflect poorly on the family for folks to find out that one of their members was out of his or her head, and that he or she had died in an institution. I certainly don’t think that the fact that a person had a corporeal existence should become a matter requiring utmost confidentiality. The patient is not being protected by having led an existence only as a hidden and secret record.

Mental asylums should be remembered the way concentration camps are remembered. Nobody would dare make Halloween entertainment out of Auschwitz. For people who have been there, for people who have done time in a state hospital against their will and wishes, for psychiatric survivors like myself, the state hospital system is to be remembered as our holocaust. We want the mental hospital to become a relic of the past. It would be better to make museums out of them, so that people would never forget, than it would to make a child’s diversion of them. Horrible things went on in these institutions. Some of these things are still going on. Let’s do things differently in the future. We need to show people the absurd kind of therapeutic treatments being used in the past. We need to show people that we are above resorting to these tortures today. We don’t want people to ever forget, for if they do, it could happen again.

Psycho-Myth Number One: Mental Illness Is, Like, Brain Disease

Ever wonder where all this misinformation on “mental illness” labeling comes from you encounter at nearly every mental health website you visit these days? I will give you a clue:

NARSAD, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, is a nonprofit agency devoted to providing funding for research that helps us learn more about mental illness. In 2001, NARSAD surveyed mental health professionals in the United States and assembled a list of the most common myths about mental illness. Here are the top 10 myths about mental illness as listed by NARSAD.

~from Top Ten Myths About Schizophrenia

Before we get to any of these myths, let me tackle a little problem with this vote in the “mental illness” myth business. Just because it’s popular doesn’t make it true. All these flat earth type “mental illness” experts have their fallibilities. Psychiatrists aren’t trained in logic, if they were, they might approach the matter from a different direction rather than going for the popularity contest. The fact of the matter is that the truth isn’t going to come out of a popularity contest. The truth, in this instance, would not come from survey results, no, the literal truth would come out of rigorous scientific investigation.

This scientific investigation demands lucidity, and blurring your terms in order confuse gullible people is not being lucid.

In the field of logic this is what is known as a false analogy. One logic text explains:

An argument from analogy draws a conclusion about something on the basis of an analogy with or resemblance to some other thing. The assumption is that if two or more things are alike in some respects, they are alike in some other respect.

In regard to a false analogy the text says:

To recognize the fallacy of false analogy, look for an argument that draws a conclusion about one thing, event, or practice on the basis of its analogy or resemblance to others. The fallacy occurs when the analogy or resemblance is not sufficient to warrant the conclusion, as when, for example, the resemblance is not relevant to the possession of the inferred feature or there are relevant dissimilarities.

In the medical model physical symptoms are caused by some pathogenic agent. For example, a fever may be caused by viruses; remove the pathogenic agent and you remove the symptom. Or, a person may have a broken leg; set the leg properly and the leg will heal. We have confidence in the medical model because it has worked well in the treatment of physical ailments. With the easy transfer of the model from medicine to psychotherapy, many people believe that mental problems can be thought of in the same way as physical problems.

In plain English then it could be put like this.

Psychotherapy deals with thoughts, emotions, and behavior, but not with the brain itself. Psychotherapy does not deal with the biology of the brain, but with the activity of the mind and the social behavior of the individual. In medicine we understand what a diseased body is, but what is a parallel in psychotherapy? It is obvious that in psychotherapy mental illness does not mean brain disease. If brain disease were the case, the person would be a medical patient, not a mental patient.

~Is There A Difference?

We know this “mental illness” equals brain disease formula to be a false analogy because by definition psychiatrists treat people with “mental disorders” whereas neurologists, doctors trained in a different branch of medicine altogether, treat people with brain disorders.

What is the first of NARSAD’s top ten myths?

Myth 1. Psychiatric disorders are not true medical illnesses.

Fact: Brain disorders, like heart disease and diabetes, are legitimate medical illnesses. Research shows there are genetic and biological causes for psychiatric disorders, and they can be treated effectively.

~NARSAD: The Mental Health Research Association; Top 10 Myths About Mental Illness

Wrong. Psychiatric disorders are not synonymous with brain disorders. Right away we’re dealing with a false analogy, and therefore, a fallacy. Funny thing, if your fact is a myth, maybe the myth you had meant to expose was actually fact.

In Scorn Of Chemical “Enhancements”

Drugs have never had a better rap in this country than they have today. If some drugs are illegal, what bother, there are prescription drugs, too, and you can always get some of those if you think yourself “needy”. A very Brave New World type of idea is that of using drugs as “performance enhancers”. On the big think website, it is the month of going mental (I have known of people who would object to that description), and for this “going mental” month, we get a blog post bearing the heading ADHD and Stimulants: Brain Boost or Drug Abuse?

I think, uh, right. You go up into the stratosphere, and you come down with a kaboom. Ever wonder why they call it crashing? Some people, let it be pointed out, aren’t even able to limp away.

The narrative of personal improvement is as American as baseball—almost as American as a fondness for illegal and prescription drugs. From steroids and human growth hormones on the baseball diamond to amphetamines in college libraries and quadrangles, performance enhancing drugs combine a desire for productivity and success with drug abuse in a way that is uniquely American. And the statistics confirm their growing demand: the journal Addiction reports that on certain college campuses, especially competitive Northeastern colleges, up to 25 percent of students admitted to having misused ADHD medication in the past year. Yet despite their prevalence, these drugs, and the disorder they treat, are highly misunderstood.

Due to the fact that the percentage of people taking antidepressants is approaching 10% in the USA, and that the USA is a world leader in the taking of such substances, with the entire world following suit, at its varying paces, as new markets open up for drug companies to exploit, I think it may help to look into this Brave New World scenario a little further.

In Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World, Soma is a popular dream-inducing, hallucinogenic drug. It provides an easy escape from the hassles of daily life and is employed by the government as a method of control through pleasure. It is ubiquitous and ordinary among the culture of the novel and everyone is shown to use it at some point, in various situations: sex, relaxation, concentration, confidence. It is seemingly a single-chemical combination of many of today’s drugs’ effects, giving its users the full hedonistic spectrum depending on dosage.

~from Soma – Wikipedia

As I said, very Brave New World. Consider the following, and if that doesn’t sound like an antidepressant (or maybe cannabis) to you, maybe you have found some other kind of fascinating diversion to keep yourself permanently preoccupied.

“I don’t understand anything,” she said with decision, determined to preserve her incomprehension intact. “Nothing. Least of all,” she continued in another tone “why you don’t take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You’d forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you’d be jolly. So jolly.”

~from Soma In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

This big mind post even drags in a psychiatrist to make the highly dubious argument (just think about it) that the stimulants kids take for ADHD affect those kids differently than they would affect any kid who hadn’t been slapped with an ADHD tag. How so? Why, of course, through the magic of shrink-speak. Dr. Simon, in other words, says ‘take your meds’, and therefore it must be true, otherwise, of course, Dr. Simon wouldn’t have demanded you do so. You only get a turn to play drug company exe Simon for the doctor when it’s a game, and it isn’t a game. No, it’s the very serious business of receiving psychiatric “help”. The scary aspect of all this is that some people believe that hokum.

At the heart of this debate lies a much larger question, one that will become even more relevant in the future: Is all human enhancement ethically wrong? Transhumanists like Ray Kurzweil and Julian Savulescu are squarely in favor of enhancement but there is still a sense among many that there is something morally dubious about improving something with chemicals that isn’t broken.

I think you are much more likely to enhance performance through selective breeding than you are ever likely to do through the ingesting of chemical compounds. When, and if, performance is enhanced through the use of a pill, it would usually be of a short duration, and we don’t know what the long term consequence of the persistant taking of any performance changing drugs would be. It might ultimately result in a deterioration of that performance quality it had initially enhanced.

There are of course ethical concerns that must be addressed, including the the fairness of access to these drugs and the long-term safety of their non-pharmaceutical use, something about which many remain skeptical. In fact, recent studies claim that these drugs stunt growth and causes hallucinations; others link them to suicide and sudden death. Greely urges more long-term, evidence-based studies on the effects of ADHD drugs, but pharmaceutical industries have proven resistant to this idea. A report from pharmaceutical giant Novartis, on behalf of a consortium of drugmakers, nixed the idea of further long-term studies in 2009. The reason, they cited: comorbidity. “It is well established that ADHD co-occurs with other psychiatric disorders, including disruptive behavioral disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder; and mood disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders,” the report states. In other words, negative effects measured in the study might result from co-existing mental disorders which would require other forms of treatment.

Somebody has to do a little reading between the lines here. Notice where it says recent studies claim these drugs stunt grown and cause hallucinations, not to mention, suicide and early death. Drug companies are pleading “comorbidity” as a reason as to why long-term studies shouldn’t be conducted. Hallucinations are symptoms of a disorder beyond ADHD for which another drug would be given. A botched suicide attempt means a certain “mental illness” diagnosis, and that certain diagnosis would probably be something besides ADHD. If we pretend these conditions were always there, no hassle, right. If we think that maybe the ADHD caused a problem, then we have to think detox, and the drug companies lose dough. “Comorbidity” is the best possible answer for these drug companies as it means nothing to them but increased profit. Let me tell you, the same companies that make drugs to treat ADHD make drugs to treat psychosis, mania, and depression, too.

There is a solution, yes, and it’s a solution that was pointed to in the novel Brave New World, but it’s a solution that I expect will remain more personal than popular.

“Don’t you want to be free and men? Don’t you even understand what manhood and freedom are?” Rage was making him fluent; the words came easily, in a rush. “Don’t you?” he repeated, but got no answer to his question. “Very well then,” he went on grimly. “I’ll teach you; I’ll make you be free whether you want to or not.” And pushing open a window that looked on to the inner court of the Hospital, he began to throw the little pill-boxes of soma tablets in handfuls out into the area.”

For a moment the khaki mob was silent, petrified, at the spectacle of this wanton sacrilege, with amazement and horror.”

~from Soma In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

“Good” doesn’t always mean good. Freedom is under threat, and people are not cognizant of that threat. There is always the “drug” defense, and it works much like the “mental illness” defense (we’ve got courts for both), “drugs made me do it”. Another person may say, “my ‘mental illness’ made me do it.” What there isn’t here is any acceptance of the responsibility for one’s own actions that freedom entails and requires. Instead we have an excuse. I don’t need to practice self-control if I’ve got the control that comes from a pill bottle. I don’t have to be good if a mind-altering substance can do my performing for me. I tend to think of adulthood as a matter of getting over such excuses.

Theatre As Therapy Is Not Therapy As Theatre

Just as there are better roles in life to play than that of loser or victim, there are also better roles in life to play than that of mental patient. Duh! “Gee. I could be an ex-patient, too, if I really wanted to do so.” Some consumers of mental health services can be pretty dense, and it may take them a long time to get it. We have a word for putting the mental patient experience behind a person, and that word is recovery.

I just came across an article on using theater as therapy on the MSN health section, Taking to the Stage to Battle Mental Illness. It is very important to note that this heading isn’t Taking to the Stage to Battle For Mental Illness.

Again, sometimes it takes some people a little longer than it takes other people to figure out that there are other roles in life to play beside the one a person is presently playing. Usually such a realization involves a job (or game or script if you prefer) search.

“Theater arts can really give patients a very valuable additional opportunity to piece their lives back together,” said David A. Faigin, department of psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio. He believes the approach works by “focusing on the same things that standard interventions focus on: community reintegration and social reintegration.”

“Community reintegration and social reintegration”, should one use one’s noggin, are answers to social withdrawal, social isolation, and the mental health ghetto itself–aspects of contemporary existence we have come to associate with the “mental illness” label. Theater is a very social endeavor, and in so being, it is at odds with withdrawal and isolation. The development of so called “social skills” can help achieve the kind of gainful employment that will get a person out of the mental health ghetto. “Social skills” are, hey, acceptable ways of acting in public.

It just takes a little insight to realize that you don’t have to act crazy if you can act rationally and responsibly. Hmmm. Responsibility and rationality are acts, too.

Stars of Light has had a 15-year partnership with the Wattles Center, putting on productions using amateur actors diagnosed with a wide range of mental health problems. Faigin described the effort as “an exciting exemplar of a grass-roots, community-based theater setting devoted to involving and helping people with psychiatric disabilities.”

I have a little problem with this approach, but it’s only a little problem. Acting can be fun. Amateur actors don’t have to be mental health consumers, and mental health consumers don’t have to be amateur actors. We could say the same thing about professional actors only you seldom find a large number of psychiatrically labeled professional actors sharing the same stage. I figure it’s an ego thing.

He estimates there are about 20 similar groups scattered across the country in places like Chicago, Memphis and Connecticut. In these programs, artistic directors work with mental health staff to help bring structure to an environment where patients are free to generate the artistic content necessary to stage theatrical productions. That means everything from script development (often involving autobiographical content) to final performances at churches and community centers.

Just think…part of acting “well” might come with the realization that you don’t have to act “sick”.

I find the approach a little worrisome; there is that matter of “community reintegration and social reintegration” after all. I’m thinking it would really be interesting to put together a theatre troupe comprised of 50% mental health consumers, and 50% non-patients. The members of such a troupe might keep their audience guessing long after the curtain has come down.

A lot of non-patients could use a little therapy. Heck! Let me rephrase that statement as nobody needs the kind of therapy I have received. Everybody could use a little TLC.