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Old 04-27-2007, 02:55 PM   #1
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Medicate To Normalcy?

I've been watching this documentary called "The Trap" on google video that covers how freedom is illusionary; it's the usual clip cutting propaganda that misrepresents things like game theory, selfish gene theory and monetarism but it does raise quite a bit on the DSM-IV criteria being objectively misrepresenting of individuals conditions and concequently medication is actually enabling people to be socially controlled under the guise of normality.

It mainly looks at those borderline and ambiguous conditions like anxiety disorders and social phobias and not the full blown psychosis (which you would have to be Tom Cruise to deny) but it certainly is thought provoking. Has there been overprescription, are societies becoming more narrow and making eccentricities the sorts of behaviours that have to be medicated away and is there a cost from this.

Im personally in favour of people doing what they want with their minds and think that there is a place for psychadellic drugs, individualism and not pining for the social acceptance of others ~ but then im a few standard deviations from the mean; using mind altering drugs to conform to social expectations seems to be a poor reason - people should live with ennui and focus on the distractions that makes it go away; there may well be the added benefit of those few crazy geniuses who make world changing discoveries.

Again this isn't to do with severe mental illness which is debilitating and I have seen how difficult it is to find and maintain a stable drug regiment on somebody who could off themselves before it is achieved, this is not to do with that, it is to do with the quest for normalcy and if it's worthwhile.
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Old 04-27-2007, 05:19 PM   #2
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I was actually thinking about this a few days ago with reference to all the national hand-wringing over here in the wake of the VT killings...all these people wondering, How many seriously ill people are we allowing to slip through the cracks--because of privacy laws, fear of lawsuits, poor screening, poor followup of people already known to have serious problems, and just more generally failure of people, period, to distinguish the 50-ft. neon warning signs from the more garden-variety oddness, depression, moodiness and so on. Because there's a strange paradox here--on the one hand we've got record-breaking numbers of folks, especially male children, being medicated for conditions where the necessity of that is highly debatable, and could be argued to be a net loss for their future ability to recognize and moderate their own behavior; on the other hand, you get situations like Cho Seung-Hui's (and granted he's an "isolated case", but I'm afraid problems like this are nonetheless all too common) where his own roommates could listen to him talk about how he spent the weekend hanging out with Vladimir Putin and shrug it all off as Eh, there he goes being weird again.

To me it's not so much a "freedom" issue as one of what's the best balance to strike between keeping people from hurting themselves or others (which might include not being able to hold down a job, etc.) on the one hand, and on the other maximizing the opportunities for individuals' unique human potential to unfold on its own schedule and under their own increasing control, rather than panicking and rushing in to "save" them at the first sign of failure to perform just as everyone else does. I think these issues are probably thorniest with minors because of the ease of compelling them to undergo therapy, and the pressure on therapists in turn to "fix the problem quick" by taking drastic measures to bring the person into line with standard expectations--more for the convenience of others than because it actually teaches them anything about how to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and work with and on those in a productive fashion. To that extent, I think the "fix me Doc" attitude towards therapists is as much of a problem as any potential for over-regulating the natural psychological diversity of people inherent in the profession itself (or in its tools, such as the DSM-IV).
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Old 04-28-2007, 03:14 PM   #3
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A_Wanderer, I'd be interested in seeing this. Do you have a link?

You bring up some very thought-provoking questions. From my limited experience, I would say that when looking at your garden-variety anxiety disorders and social phobias, one of the main questions to ask when determining treatment, or even if there is a need to treat at all, is the degree to which the condition is preventing the person from actively pursuing the life they want to lead, and how distressing the person finds the limitations that this may be causing. It's highly doubtful that any ethical caregiver, whether it be a psychiatrist/physician, or a psychologist/therapist would insist on treatment of such an individual if they had adapted to their circumstance, and were perfectly content. In saying this, I'm thinking of someone who might have a social phobia, but has gone through their life finding ways of compensating for this - a person who doesn't really feel the need to interact with many people, has developed their own interests, and is essentially happy being a loner. So, in essence, whether or not the behaviour is looked upon as a delightful quirk or a condition that's in need of fixing is in the eye of the beholder.

Yolland, there are no easy answers, are there? It would seem that striking a balance, as you say, is impossible, unfortunately. Is it better now, when people can and often do slip through the cracks, or was it better decades ago when the mentally ill had few rights, and even healthy people could be committed just on the word of someone who held some degree of authority over them (commonly, a husband and his wife, or a parent and child)?
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Old 04-28-2007, 03:34 PM   #4
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Well thats the thing, do individuals get conditioned that they have to feel the right way and elect to find treatment. It's not a case of forced medication but this idea that people are supposed to be happy or content with themselves and will go down the medication route for that sort of outcome.

The emerging links between our genes, our development and the ways that our brains work is really some of the most interesting research today. While it may seem to be biologically deterministic it could be a powerful diagnostic tool.


Episode 1 - part 1 here (its got 7 parts, click the links)
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Old 04-28-2007, 03:58 PM   #5
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Ah yes - societal pressure to conform to the norm. It becomes a matter of whether the person embraces their individualism and takes a "I'm different from others, but dammit, I like who I am, I'm content and see no reason to change" approach, or if they buy into societal and cultural ideas of normality, and feel inadequate because they deviate from the norm. I suppose a third scenario could be "I'm not exactly content, but I'm okay with that, I'll muddle through on my own, the best I can." I think that one takes a large degree of ego strength to attain.

You're right about the research possibilities. Sometimes I wish I were a little more hard-science oriented, and could have entered into biological fields. Still, the most interesting theories are the ones that address interactions between bio-psycho-social and evolutionary factors.

Thanks for the links, I'll check them out.
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Old 04-28-2007, 11:37 PM   #6
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Never underestimate the power or longing for an end and the apathy towards other people that gets generated in that pursuit; acheivement at cost - now that is truly self-perpetuating behaviour and becomes a different kind of normal with it's own sort of gratification.

I also wonder how much difference there is between the sexes with this sort of thing, it certainly encompasses a range of social issues where there significant differences are recognised; for instance the benefit of high IQ for male mating success long term versus that for women where it is statistically a disadvantage (not to do with social phobias or any mental condition so much as the expectations either needed or expected for a woman to be successful - but that goes back to how those outside the normal get treated by others and how it effects them).
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