Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Teenage Rebellion as Mental Illness?

I read an article yesterday by Bruce Levine, a clinical psychologist and author who is critical of current trends where big pharmaceutical companies dictate how to treat what he regards as natural responses to what he calls our ''institutional society''. He advocates looking at the causes of mental illness -- going to the source, rather than medicating and numbing people to more or less hold 'em down.

In his article at AlterNet, he discusses how this generation's teenagers are being diagnosed with a multitude of new ''conditions'' and administered various drugs for quick fixes (no doubt thanks to their parents' nice insurance plans). One of the new categories of disorders he mentions is oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Wikipedia lists some of its diagnostic criteria as: deliberately annoying people, blaming others for own mistakes, easily annoyed, angry and resentful, and spiteful / vengeful. Any kid meeting just four of these qualifies as being afflicted. Not to be flippant, but these criteria describe most kids I knew in high school (and many adults I've known since).

To load the issue even further, Wikipedia states that, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatic Assocation, if this ODD is left ''untreated'', about a quarter of the kids who develop it will eventually develop the much worse ''conduct disorder'' which entails behaviours such as lying, truancy, vandalism and cruelty towards animals.

In his article, Levine describes the medicating of teenagers diagnosed with conditions falling into the ODD category as a systematic way of ''subduing defiance''. It's usually foisted upon teenagers by men (or women) in nice white coats who've spent anywhere from 8-10 years, themselves, bowing to authority while training to become professionals, all the while accepting handouts from pharma. It's an interesting piece and worth a read, if anything to gain some insight into how the pharmaceutical giants are (more or less) shaping society.

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