Disease

I quite frankly couldn’t think of a good title for this post.  Shush.

So, here’s what I was thinking about yesterday: how many kids diagnosed with ADD/ADHD/Asberger’s actually have it?  Before the shitstorm begins, yes I do acknowledge that they are real diseases.  Part of the problem is that the symptoms are hard to track, particularly with Asberger’s. 

  • Not pick up on social cues and lack inborn social skills, such as being able to read others’ body language, start or maintain a conversation, and take turns talking.
  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Talk a lot, usually about a favorite subject. One-sided conversations are common. Internal thoughts are often verbalized. (www.webmd.com)
  • Hoshi- that sounds like half the teenagers I know!  Call a doctor, they must have something wrong with them!

    Although I admit, the teenager thing is much more rampant with diagnosing ADD.  The symptoms are so common in people, that really diagnosing it is hard.

    • Procrastination; difficulty getting started on projects
    • Excessive disorganization and messiness
    • Inability to prioritize tasks
    • Underestimating the time needed to finish a task
    • Easily bored
    • Low tolerance for frustration and stress
    • Unstable, unpredictable moods
    • Quick temper
    • Constant worrying (www.helpguide.org)

    Hmm, does that sound like a teenager you know?  Does it sound like all the teenagers you know?  Yes.  Yes it does, and you know it.  That’s why we’ve seen an increase in ADD diagnoses over the last few years.  “The results: a 500% increase in the number of children labeled and medicated with Ritalin for ADD-ADHD from 1990-1995.” (www.add-adhd.org)  Why does it seem unlikely to me that even a majority of those cases were authentic?

    Part of the problem is that parents nowadays are pushing for their kids to be medicated when anything happens.  “My kid’s moody because I grounded them?  They must be bipolar!  They need medication!”  “Oh no, little Johnny’s grade went down from an A to a B?  He must have ADD!  Give him drugs!”  Et cetera.  That needs to stop.  Like, now.  Medicating your teenager will not solve all their problems, and may in fact make them worse.  Just because they don’t conform to your idea of “your perfect angel son/daughter” doesn’t mean they need drugs shoved down their throats.  Oftentimes, the drugs A) don’t work.  B) do more harm than good.  C) aren’t proven in people under the age of 18.

    Look at Prozac, for example.  They’ve proven that it doesn’t work.  It has no more power than a placebo effect.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/feb/26/mentalhealth.medicalresearch  It’s used by more than 40 million people around the world, and it doesn’t work on the majority of them.  That’s what I call an enforced placebo.  We’re told it works by people we trust, and we naturally assume it does.  But they were told the same thing.  So we think it works, and we feel our symptoms going away.  Well, it may not be the best thing for depression, but it works inadvertently at least.  Placebos can be better than nothing.

    Another factor is that among teenagers, it’s become “fashionable” to have certain disorders, in order to get pity and attention.  Depression, bipolar, Asberger’s, Tourette’s, and the like.  It kind of disgusts me, quite frankly.  Not only are they lying/attention-whoring/uneducated twats, but they don’t actually know what it’s like to have said diseases.  It gets to the point where it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth and who isn’t.  the only really good indicator I’ve found is that those who genuinely have it, won’t brag about it.  Those who don’t, will never shut up about it so they can form a massive hugbox for themselves.

    Another possibility (although it’s more likely with difficult to diagnose physical diseases as opposed to mental ones) is the idea of a socially contagious disease.  http://www.slate.com/id/2171214/  Here’s a news article that addresses it pretty well.  The theory is hard for me to explain in my own words, but there’s a good example in So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (one of these days I’ll stop quoting him and put things in my own words, but not today).

    “There was a garment factory in South America back in 1962.  One Friday one of the workers there got sick and said she’d been bitten by bugs while handling cloth from England.  Then two more workers had to be hospitalized with fainting and hives.  By the next Wednesday, it was an epidemic.  Sixty workers on the morning shift fell ill, and the federal government sent in a team of doctors and bug specialists.  They discovered the following:

    1. There were no poisonous bugs, from England or anywhere else.

    2. The workers’ various symptoms matched no known illness.

    3. The sickness hadn’t affected everyone on the morning shift, only workers who knew each other personally.  It spread through social groups rather than among people who had worked with the suspect cloth.

    It looked like a scam, but the victims weren’t faking.  The disease was sociogenic, the result of a panic.  As the rumors of illness spread, people thought they felt bugs biting them, then a few hours later they developed symptoms.  It really works.  Watch this: Bugs on your leg…bugs on your back…bugs crawling through your hair…bugs, bugs, bugs.  Okay, do you feel the bugs now?”

    It happened again with a well-known episode of Pokemon.  I think you know what I’m talking about.  The episode that happened to hit the right sequence of flashing lights and colors to cause seizures.  The first time the episode was showed, only a few kids actually had seizures.  Of course, the next day, they told all their friends on the playground about what happened, so when they saw the clip on the evening news, they had seizures as well.  A sociogenic epidemic.

    Have I given you enough to think about yet?  Nope, I don’t think I have.

    Do you know why it was almost all children that were affected by the show?  Yes, it was a children’s show.  But there were a lot of parents watching right alongside their kids.  It’s because the younger the mind is, the more easily rewired it is.  Some people retain this, oh…rewireability throughout their lives.  Paka-paka, as the sequence of colors that causes the seizures is called, has a much higher chance of working on minds that aren’t fully developed yet.  So therefore, more children were affected by the show.  I think I’ve mentioned before that it doesn’t take a hell of a lot to rewire me.  I’m hoping it stays that way.  It’s a good thing.