Science and medicine have so successfully rationalized and justified our society’s most devastating and pervasive form of child abuse that it remains almost wholly unacknowledged, though it is known to every sentient adult and to most children. Probably every adult and half-grown child in America knows and can identify at least one child who is the victim of this abuse. Those who teach, coach, minister to or otherwise serve children may know dozens or even hundreds of children who are victims of the new child abuse. Our society’s particular form of child abuse is the psychiatric diagnosing and drugging of our children.
Despite the public relations campaign aimed at “de-stigmatizing mental illness,” scores of permanent, stereotyping labels are assigned to what are basically annoying habits: clicking a pen repeatedly (anxiety), talking fast (hysteria), repeating a favorite song over and over (obsessive-compulsive disorder), wiggling in a chair (hyperactive). Even crazes like text-messaging are not immune from diagnosis. Attitudes that may be in bad taste or out-of-fashion, but certainly not “dangerous” or “wrong,” are also viewed with suspicion and sometimes criminalized.
Is there anything wrong with diagnosing ourselves or even accepting the mental health diagnoses of psychiatrists, family doctors, psychotherapists and other health professionals? Psychiatric diagnoses are seductive. They seem to give us important information about ourselves and our emotional ills. They provide a key to what psychiatric drug we may need. It seems rational and scientific. In reality, psychiatric diagnosing is a kind of spiritual profiling that can destroy lives and frequently does.
Spend just a few minutes watching prime time television with its endless pageant of commercials for antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds and you start to wonder if USA really means the United States of Affliction. Such “direct to consumer” drug advertising ties into one of the most far-reaching criticisms in revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders…
The first step to marketing new stimulants is, of course, thinking of something that makes people tired normally and then turning it into a medical condition. Enter jet lag disorder. Sleep specialists say that while not exactly a disease, it is a condition that can be dangerous.