The Brave New World of “Mental Health Disorders”.
If Albert Einstein was a youth today, there’s a good chance he would be saddled with an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis, possibly even Opposition Defiant Disorder (ODD) as well. He ignored his teachers, failed college entrance examinations several times and was hard-pressed in holding down a job.
In ‘Einstein: The Life and Times‘, biographer Ronald Clark argues that Einstein’s problem wasn’t attention deficits at all, but rather a hatred of authoritarian, Prussian influences in school. “The teachers in the elementary school appeared to me like sergeants and in the gymnasium the teachers were like lieutenants,” Einstein once remarked. The fact that he read Kant’s difficult Critique of Pure Reason for pleasure is quite revealing. He also refused to prepare for college admissions out of rebellion to his father’s “unbearable” path of “practical profession.” When he did gain entrance to college, one of his professors chided Einstein, “You have one fault; one can’t tell you anything.” The very characteristics that troubled authorities, were exactly the ones which helped him to excel.
Considering Einstein’s life history, it makes one wonder about the rampant use of ADHD and ODD diagnosis that are plaguing our children and teenagers today. According to the statistical research by Russell Barkley, Ph.D., on average for every 30 children, 1-3 have ADHD. Of these children, 65% have issues with defiance, non-compliance and problems with authority figures, which can manifest as verbal hostility and temper tantrums. It’s estimated that between 1-16% of all American children have ODD. The real question, however, is not how many diagnosis there have been, but rather should we be looking at ADHD and ODD as a mental illness in the first place?
The age of excessive diagnosis, conformity and over-medication.
No other time in history has the public had such access to pharmaceuticals for alleged mental illness. Once reserved for extreme cases of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mania and suicidal depression, today we have a veritable free-for-all in diagnosis — and subsequent drugging — of any mental state we find the least bit inconvenient.
Take ADHD. For these children, sitting still in a classroom — under fluorescent lighting and being bombarded with EMFs from cell phones and wi-fi — completely removed from the natural world and pumped full of preservatives, artificial additives, GMOs, pesticides and sugar, is simply impossible. Their sensitive bodies and minds cannot take the onslaught. Instead of extending outdoor time and cleaning up the diet, recess has been slashed and poor quality food remains the norm. Worse, they are drugged into submission with the likes of Evekeo, Adderall, Concerta and Ritalin — several of which are amphetamines. (For more on this topic, please see: The Fictions Surrounding ADHD and the “Chemical Imbalance” Theory of Mental Illness.)
Writes Bruce Levine, Ph.D., in ‘Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill‘:
A 2009 Psychiatric Times article titled “ADHD & ODD: Confronting the Challenges of Disruptive Behavior” reports that “disruptive disorders,” which include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and opposition defiant disorder (ODD), are the most common mental health problem of children and teenagers. ADHD is defined by poor attention and distractibility, poor self-control and impulsivity, and hyperactivity. ODD is defined as a “a pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior without the more serious violations of the basic rights of others that are seen in conduct disorder”; and ODD symptoms include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules” and “often argues with adults.”
One of the leading mainstream mental health’s authorities on ADHD, psychologist Russell Barkley believes that those afflicted with ADHD are deficient in what he classifies as “rule-governed behavior,” since they are less open to established authorities and not as responsive to positive or negative consequences. Those with ODD also have these so-called deficits. Because of this, it’s exceptionally common for young people to be diagnosed with both ADHD and ODD.
But as Levine rightly observes, “Do we really want to diagnose and medicate everyone with “deficits in rule-governed behavior”?
Some of our greatest freethinkers throughout history were non-conformists and challenged authority. At what point do we simply become a nation of zombies, drugged out on pharmaceuticals, unable to think for ourselves? Americans have become increasingly socialized to associate inattention, anger, anxiety and paralyzing despair with a medical condition, and subsequently rely on medical intervention instead of political remedies. “What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society,” said Levine. He believes Americans desperately need anti-authoritarians to question, test and oppose illegitimate authorities and regain trust in their own common sense.
And yet, we’re moving into deeper authoritarian waters by the day. A good example is the newest addition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). ODD is actually a new label in the manual, defined as “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” where symptoms include negativity, questioning authority, argumentativeness and irritability. ODD joins the ranks of other, newly created mental illnesses —‘disorders’ like arrogance, narcissism, exceptional creativity, cynicism and antisocial tendencies. Keep in mind that over the last 50 years, the manual has been prolific in creating new afflictions, with the total number of ‘mental illness’ classifications rising from 130 to 357.
Also remember that each ‘mental illness’ has a pharmaceutical counterpart used in ‘treatment.’ But at what cost to the soul of humanity?
George F. Will provides a possible answer in an article for Washington Post, ‘Handbook suggests that deviations from ‘normality’ are disorders‘:
Another danger is that childhood eccentricities, sometimes inextricable from creativity, might be labeled “disorders” to be “cured.” If 7-year-old Mozart tried composing his concertos today, he might be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and medicated into barren normality.
In the face of such bizarre and chilling authoritarian mental illness classifications, the famous quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti comes to mind:
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.