The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Today's "Pearls Before Swine" strip is a good one, and thought-provoking to boot. The idea of Mozart, Miles Davis and Paul McCartney being diagnosed as Ritalin candidates is funny enough; the musical end result is even funnier.

The humor derives, naturally, from the element of truth in the joke. The big selling point used by the doctors, counselors and (ultimately) pharmaceutical companies that push behavior-modification drugs is the desirability of conformity. It plays on a parent's worries about raising a child right, and so hits the highly vulnerable side of a person. I'm not saying that every little spazoid out there is a budding artist or outside-the-box genius; but surely, this knee-jerk prescribing of medication at the first sign of atypical behavior isn't the answer.

It's pretty disturbing how much reliance the average person puts in drugs to make it all better. Don't want your kid to fall behind in school? Give him this pill. Depressed all the time? Take this pill. Not getting hard on a regular basis? Take this pill.

Side effects? None that we've seen yet, and if there are, I'm sure we'll have a pill for that too.

One of my kookier irrational attitudes is that toward the continuing legal drugging-up of America. My view is that doctors are pushing this crap on their patients way too readily, and placing way too much trust in the pharmaceutical companies to guard against adverse effects--which I'm sure they're not. I have no doubt that, 10 to 20 years from now, we'll be seeing all kinds of reports of how fucked up people will be as a result of growing up in a constantly-medicated state.

And obviously, there's something screwy about a society that, on the one hand, is so accepting of a non-effective "war on drugs", and on the other readily pops a pill that's been approved by any old quack. Quite the contradictory message: "Always remember, kids, Don't Do Drugsā„¢. Now take your Ritalin and go take a nap."