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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/8/14

Medicating Childhood-An American Zombie Apocalypse

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You're that cranky old man down at Wal-Mart, or the political, overzealous young hipster just waiting for an argument with conservative Uncle Fred at the next family gathering--"Antisocial Personality Disorder."

Maybe you're the guy who danced naked on the pool table at the office party, singing 'We Will Rock You." Well buster, you are not really the life of the party, after all-- "Histrionic Personality Disorder." 

Perhaps you're the bragging windbag down at Norkies Tavern who hits on girls half your age like you really have any chance at all, and who I thought was just completely full of bullshit. I am so very sorry for laughing you off the barstool, knowing that you suffer- "Narcissistic Personality Disorder."

There are now so many diagnosable disorders for the natural, ordinary human condition and behavior, they fill volumes. While doctors, psychiatrists, parents, schools and law enforcement all play a definite destructive role in this, in the end, they are only a symptom, in and of themselves, of a much greater disease.

Americans are the most overmedicated society on earth because by and large, they're medicating just to survive Capitalism.  Given this culture and modern conditions, one is more likely to be living out the Medicated Capitalist Zombie Apocalypse than the American dream.

Children come home, exasperated, from one overly structured environment to another, and simply want to let down their hair and be children. But parents are equally exasperated from often working two jobs, just trying to survive in an industrialized, modern society which makes it impossible to exist on a single income.  Few parents are afforded the luxury of remaining home and the mobility of modern society necessitates limited, or no, local extended family support system, so parents wish Billy could just sit quietly and watch Spiderman.

Family doctors, child psychologists and psychiatrists are not going around knocking down the doors of schools, colleges and employers, shoving medication down everyone in sight; Americans are demanding it. The vast majority of working class America is overworked and underpaid, bogged down by student loan debt from an education that was supposed to lead straight to financial freedom but instead landed them at the temp service, groveling for whatever income they can.

Further manipulated by corporate interests, who have convinced them that consumerism is the path to true happiness, over fifty percent of Americans are now buried with credit card debt. So convinced by the delusion that good credit equals success, many parents probably spend more time worrying about their credit score than their child's report card. Survival in an economic Darwinist society takes energy-all of your energy.

Parents are so tired they can't cope with even the most fundamental of child misbehavior, so they beg the family doctor to medicate them into submission. To add further complication, the job market is now so cannibalistically competitive that even the slightest negative or eccentric personality trait leaves one at a disadvantage, so they seek to medicate their own personalities away, as well.

Legitimate mental illness is serious and obviously needs to be treated, preferably early.  We need to work even harder to diagnose those who are potentially at risk to themselves and to the larger society, without resorting to a mass diagnosis of treatable childhood. Moreover, we need to fearlessly address head-on the conditions of our modern industrial and technological society that has made life so unbearable that the natural human condition must now be medicated.

Above all, we need to protect and comfort our children from today's adult world and make a conscious decision to end this medical war on childhood. Celebrate and cherish that these are children and not mini-adults. Parents and schools need to recognize that you just can't schedule or predict a child's daydreaming or mischief. We must recognize that law enforcement should only be a last resort, under very extreme circumstances. By all means, we must end the criminalization of childhood behavior and mischief.

By removing these expectations from them, children can be free to learn, to play and to squabble like kids again. Our entire adult society needs reflect on the beauty and innocence of childhood and collectively whisper a reminder; "When I was a child, I thought as a child." 

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Jamie Wendland is respected for well-researched political and cultural analysis. A contributor to Russian Pravda.RU and Oped News his articles and commentary also appear in a variety of international publications and journals. Feel free to email (more...)
 

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