Morris Berman (www.MorrisBerman.blogspot.com) recently published a blog (“Fork in the Road”) on his site about the phenomenon of Big Pharma, i.e., the pharmaceutical industry. In case you don’t know, Big Pharma (or perhaps I should refer to them as “B.P.” Hmm… Interesting acronymous statement, don’t you think?) is making a lot of money (some might say a “killing”) by getting a large number of Americans (including small children and sometimes animals!) addicted to its prescription drugs. Berman suggests that that the brain damage resulting from years of taking these drugs might be one of the causes of the docile, complacent and blind obedience displayed by the American people these days.
In fact, this is Business 101, folks. Those of you who have run your own businesses, I’m sure, are aware that one way to succeed is to get steady customers who must keep coming back for your product. This is why most American companies make everything “to break.” To manufacture long-lasting, high quality products is to risk losing returning customers. Once they’ve bought your product, they need not come back to buy another–if it was made to last forever. But wait…we can manufacture that cell phone, TV, computer, or whatever, to last only for a year, a few months or in some cases, a few minutes. Then the customer will return to buy another, and you will have a steady customer base. Brainwash customers to believe that newer, technologically-advanced products are more desirable than the “old” ones they’ve been using for the past year, and they’ll be happy to just keep buying a new one every year. (Yep, I’ve purchased products that didn’t work to begin with, from the moment of purchase. My guess is that some manufacturers expect that we just won’t bother to return the item, that we’ll just keep buying other brands without complaining…while they continue to sell us junk…)
How sad, though, that our for-profit health care system now makes human beings to break for the same reason. Doctors want regular patients. So are they purposely “breaking” us so that we’ll keep coming back for more drugs, more procedures, more testing? I’ve always been amazed by how my friends who have health insurance and more spending money than I do receive completely different health care when they visit their doctors. Usually, they are offered prescription drugs, surgical procedures, testing, etc., that I am not offered when I see doctors for the exact same maladies. While I am told, “It’s nothing serious and will go away by itself. Nothing’s wrong, you’re fine,” my wealthy friends are told, “You must take this pill, let us operate and remove that or insert this, allow us to conduct a series of tests, etc., because this could be serious.” So my question is, are they receiving needless treatment because their doctors know they can bill the insurance companies and make thousands of dollars? Or am I just not receiving the treatment I should be receiving?
Either way, my sad conclusion is this: doctors cannot be trusted. Doctors value money over people. The Hippocratic Oath is really a Hypocritical Oath recited by wealthy medical businessmen/women who call themselves “doctors.” Sorry, but if you’re a doctor, I don’t trust you. I’d sooner trust a tarot card reading from a gypsy shaman with bad teeth. Nope, I don’t have health insurance, but is that a bad thing? Do I want unnecessary treatment? From someone who prescribes treatment, not based on what I need in order to get better, but based on how much money I have to spend? To get addicted to their drugs and their diagnoses? Their delusion of grandeur?
What really fascinates me about all this is how the drugging of people with emotional or psychiatric problems creates problems for all of us who must interact with such people who’ve been discouraged from addressing their own problems, to just rely on medical sedation. I’m talking about the failure of mental health practitioners to show the “mentally ill” how to make changes in themselves or their environment so that the underlying cause of the “illness” is eliminated or properly coped with. Inevitably, the unresolved issues that are only superficially covered up by the drugs cause problems for our society as a whole. Yes, psychiatric drugs can “dumb people down,” and sedate people into submission. But, more important, problems in general–whether they are politically, socially, environmentally or internally created–remain unsolved. If a person is depressed because of financial problems, we’re conditioned to blame the individual, medicate him/her, rather than address the sagging economy and its inevitable affect on people. Problem “solved.” Now we can ignore the real and growing problem that an increasing number of Americans are suffering from anxiety, depression, alcohol or drug addictions, and that these problems tend to increase with poverty. We don’t need to ask why this is. We don’t need to address the problem of poverty, unemployment, the uninsured, or the lack of social safety nets. We don’t need to do anything.
And what of the people who are “mentally ill” as a result of internal conflicts that need to be attended to? Poor communication, assertiveness, coping, or anger management skills, for example? What of the people who need to learn to talk back to negative, irrational thoughts that float around in their heads as a result of years of abuse? To resolve a traumatic event that continues to haunt them? What of the people who need to learn to build up their self esteem? To create healthy relationships with others? To parent their kids more effectively? To deal with abusive family members? To express their anger constructively rather than destructively? To address serious character flaws within themselves that may have resulted from years of abuse or faulty upbringing? To recognize their own maladaptive behaviors and learn new, healthy behaviors? Those people who truly are mentally ill (not just diagnosed so that medical B.P. and psychiatrists can earn a living) are not going to learn new skills, new behaviors, new, improved ways of living, coping and interacting because the focus is on medicating rather than solving problems.
Similarly, people with mental health issues left only treated with drugs can continue to wreak havoc on their environment. And the people in their community who suffer as a result will just be diagnosed and drugged themselves. Here’s an example of what I mean: A family I know of who are consistently abusive toward their children. All of their children have been diagnosed with mental illness–all of them, and from the ripe-old age of four! Small children imbibing drugs such as Ritalin or other drugs because they’re not concentrating, because they aren’t learning to walk and talk at the normal age, because they are easily startled, because (again, at the age of four!) they are depressed and suicidal. Yet this doesn’t tip off the authorities in social services, the teachers, the school psychologists or the surrounding community that the parents are somehow being ineffective (to say the least.) The children are simply being drugged into submission. What is sad, heartbreaking really, is that the parents continue to abuse these poor, innocent children–not physically, but psychologically. Several times a day, the children are screamed at, told they are worthless, stupid, that everyone hates them, etc. The screaming is so loud and startling that it is difficult for adults to remain in the presence of these people. But only friends, family and neighbors are aware of the screaming and abuse. These same parents are quiet and unassuming when confronted with teachers or other members of the outside community. These children are beginning life with serious neuroses and probably character flaws that will impact the world around them. Most likely, they will abuse their own children and possibly their future spouses, drugs or alcohol. They may develop serious mental illnesses or criminal behavior. The abusive behavior will “be fruitful and multiply” perpetuating itself from generation to generation, as the underlying problem was never addressed. Were the parents unhappily married? Unhappy with their lives? Dissatisfied at work? As far as I can see as an outside observer, none of the above questions is being asked. The children are “mentally ill” and being medicated. End of story.
Psychologists spend much of their time evaluating “patients” to see what types of pills or diagnoses they should receive instead of studying better counseling methods. And so psychologists become incompetent and ineffective, as more and more psychologists fail to study ways to interact better with their clients, ways to better understand and show empathy for their clients and to teach clients methods for dealing with life’s challenges, for making internal changes when necessary, for handling conflicts and personal tragedies, etc. When the focus is on the pill, we don’t see the myriad of other possible solutions. I read once that brain chemistry changes along with one’s emotions. Neurons and synapses form in response to human experience. But this fact was discovered accidentally. Psychologists were so focused on finding biochemical causes for mental disorders that this unexpected information came to them by mistake, as the researchers were biased in favor of emotions being caused by changes in brain chemistry–not the other way around. If it weren’t for an error, the researchers would not have discovered this as this fact went against what they wanted to believe (even though scientists claim to remain unbiased.)
This suggests that we can change our own brain chemistry by controlling our own thoughts and emotions. Who knew? Actually, lots of psychologists knew but they continue to emphasize the pharmaceuticals. When there is money to be made, facts just go out the window, replaced with what Stephen Colbert refers to as “truthiness.”
Not everyone in the mental health industry agrees with the medical model of “mental illness” and not all of its detractors are scientologists. Back in the 1990s, Paula J. Caplan (www.PaulaJCaplan.net) wrote a book called “They Say You’re Crazy: How the World’s Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who’s Normal.” She exposed the of the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.) The writers of the DSM (a manual used by medical professionals to diagnose patients with mental illnesses) decide what personality characteristics or behaviors constitute mental illness. As the DSM authors are mostly conservative white males, their definition of mental illness is biased and arbitrary. For example, homosexuality was once listed as a mental illness until the writers of the DSM changed their minds and decided it wasn’t. Just like that, millions of homosexuals were cured of “mental illness” by the fickleness of a DSM author’s pen (or perhaps keystroke.)
Psychologist Bruce Levine (www.BruceLevine.net) has also been decrying the mental health system’s emphasis on medicating rather than assisting people in solving their problems.
Unfortunately, such whistleblowers appear to be a minority. The majority of psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists are, like most of us, afraid of losing their jobs. Even more disturbing is that many of them are just as unable to think for themselves and to recognize flaws in the system on their own. Perhaps we need a psychologist to analyze the psychologists, to find out why so many of them are addicted to conformity.