Here's the latest from our pal Pete:
ATTENTION ALL PARENTS! This is a disaster that is already in the making for your kids! Beware of teachers and medical professionals who want to diagnose your child as having a “social anxiety disorder” — a so-called affliction of children and adolescents that, such dubious clinicians argue, is spreading.
Right. Read this piece in today's NY Times on the subject and BE SCARED! As I've said before, psychiatric medications for children are first and foremost about money, and secondly about convenience. I have worked with school-aged children for years and seen far too many young people's emotional lives nullified for the sake of conformity and arbitrary measures of performance. PLEASE read on.
Here's some shocking truths from the Times piece by Lane: "Levels of the stress hormone cortisol are consistently LOWER in shy children than in their more extroverted peers. This discovery upends the common wisdom among psychiatrists that shyness causes youngsters extreme stress."
Woah! What does this mean? It means that children who aren't overtly aggressive, who observe first rather than act, and who have active INNER lives are actually kids with LOWER amounts of stress. Yet, this is unacceptable to those who believe that children should be pushed to outperform their peers, gratify the ego needs of their competitive parents and prepare to meet the economic needs of the corporate world.
Okay, check out how the medical profession, the pharmaceutical companies and the educational professionals have colluded to create a new epidemic: "In 1987, the revised third edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (the Bible of psychiatric diagnoses) expanded the list of symptoms for social anxiety disorder by adding anticipated concern about saying the wrong thing (a trait known to just about everyone on the planet.). The diagnostic bar was set so low that even a preschooler could trip over it. Self-help books and magazine articles further widened the definition of social anxiety disorder to include symptoms like test anxiety, aversion to writing on the blackboard and shunning of team sports. These ridiculously loose criteria led to more diagnoses, until social anxiety disorder in children began to look as if it were spreading like the common cold among second graders."
Now, here it comes, parents, and if this doesn't alarm you, you should really reconsider your worthiness to be a parent: "Then, having alerted the masses to their worrisome avoidance of public restrooms, the psychiatrists needed a remedy. Right on cue, GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Paxil, declared in the late 1990s that its antidepressant could also treat social anxiety and, presumably, self-consciousness in restaurants. Nudged along by a public-awareness campaign (“Imagine Being Allergic to People”) that cost the drug maker more than $92 million in advertising in one year alone ($3 million more than Pfizer spent that year promoting Viagra), social anxiety quickly became the THIRD MOST DIAGNOSED MENTAL ILLNESS in the nation, behind only depression and alcoholism. This diagnosis was frequently made irresponsibly, and it also had human costs. After being prescribed Paxil or Zoloft for their shyness and public-speaking anxiety, a disturbingly large number of children, studies found, began to contemplate suicide and to suffer a host of other chronic side effects. This class of antidepressants, known as S.S.R.I.’s, had never been tested on children. Belatedly, the Food and Drug Administration agreed to require a “black box” warning on the drug label, cautioning doctors and parents that the drugs may be linked to suicide risk in young people. You might think the specter of children on suicide watch from taking remedies for shyness would end any impulse to overprescribe them. Yet the tendency to use potent drugs to treat run-of-the-mill behaviors persists, and several psychiatrists have already started to challenge the F.D.A. warning."
The real epidemic here, and the unconscionably tragic effects of it, is greed. Pure, unadulterated, psychopathic greed. It's time for today's parents to give up on their childhood fantasies about kind-hearted doctors like Marcus Welby, M.D., who only want to make children well and feel better, or super-dedicated teachers like Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier's character in "To Sir With Love") whose lives revolve around guiding their charges to higher wisdom, no matter how difficult the student's behavior may be. No, folks. Wake up! Today's doctor's specialize less and less in family practices, where person to person contact and genuine human concern might be expected of them, and instead specialize more and more in cosmetic surgery because that's where the big money is. And teachers? It's become all about control and about meeting the criteria of standardized testing, not about finding and bringing out the hidden jewels in an otherwise "shy" student. "Who has time for that?" I have heard teachers say. "How sad is that?" I say. How very sad is that.