The Norming of America

A post from Wired on the over-medication of America. It dovetails nicely with another observation at Furious Seasons. The Furious Seasons post may be a flat-out rant, but it’s rant worth reading. Excerpts from both. First Wired:

Sometime in the 1990s, the concept of better living through chemistry turned a corner, thanks to drug companies’ efforts to synthesize antidotes for every possible mood swing. So writes Yale lecturer Charles Barber in his new book, Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation. An OCD sufferer himself, Barber spent a decade working in places like New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. He knew something was wrong when he discovered that his colleagues’ perfectly functional, $300-an-hour Upper West Side clients were taking the same potent pills as his own schizoid, homeless, crackhead patients.

And here from Furious Seasons:

If this strikes you as unimportant, perhaps you don’t understand how all the dots connect around bipolar disorder the last few years. Zyprexa, Rebecca Riley, the bipolar child controversy, Seroquel declared the bipolar pill, class action lawsuits, multi-billion dollar settlements, researchers cooking research, black box warnings, calls for more outpatient commitment and so on. All of those bits connect with bipolar disorder in our culture and are evidence of the weaknesses–and dangers–of current treatment paradigms for bipolar disorder. And yet we have researchers, one cabinet level department (HHS), two private foundations and many pharmaceutical companies who would like to double or triple the number of Americans who must be convinced they have bipolar disorder, be instructed that it is a lifetime illness and be pressured to take medications that have a less than 50 percent chance of doing much for you and anywhere from a 30 percent to 50 percent chance of causing you an injury (I’m done with sugar coating it by calling injuries “side effects”). Forget about the usual criticism that this is all a naked land grab by pharma companies and researchers looking to line their pockets.

“It’s darker than that. What we’ve got going on here is the norming of America–a big happy party wherein Americans are forced to have their behaviors, thoughts, impulses and expressions grouped around a carefully-controlled norm.”

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.


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Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

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