Tuesday, 3 May 2011


It is a well-documented fact that Americans use more prescription and illegal narcotic drugs than any other country in the world. In the last decade, prescriptions have risen by two-thirds. With more than 3.5 billion prescriptions per year, the pharmaceutical industry brings more than $250 billion in sales, while 125,000 Americans die from drug reactions, making it the fourth leading cause of death. 

The Western World is following the American trend of "therapism" as it has followed in all other consumerist trends. Therapism has become a cultural trend intended to medicate people in order to suppress natural tendencies including anxiety and stress, sadness and loneliness, shyness and fear of public speaking. etc. After 9/11, The tragedy of therapism is not that it seeks to deprive humans of natural tendencies but that it is extended to children as young as four years of age.
That children from 4 to 18 are over-using prescription drugs unnecessarily should have everyone concerned. Yet, neither the media nor politicians are raising this issue to the level they are discussing gun control, birth control and gay marriages for example. The question is why are politicians and the media relatively silent about the culture of therapism? 

Is it that the pharmaceutical companies have conspired with doctors, clinics and hospitals to over-medicate both adults and children in order to realize greater profits, are people driven by an impulse to over-medicate in order to ‘play it safe’, is it the fault of a culture that believes the answer to health is in a pill, is it the advertising industry or the culture of hedonism that now includes therapism?

In 2000, several lawsuits were filed against the maker of the drug RITALIN and the American Psychiatric Association for recklessly encouraging doctors to prescribe the drug for attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity. A psycho-stimulant that increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, RITALIN has numerous side effects from height and brain function to carcinogenic risks. Was there a conspiracy by the drug makers to push RITALIN, the stimulant methylphenidate, or is it a case of three million school age children taking Ritalin needing to do so for their emotional stability?

In 2002, doctors wrote more than two million prescriptions for Paxil (used to treat anxiety, panic, and depression disorders), most of that drug going to toddlers for ‘behavioral modification’. Antidepressant prescriptions grew by 21%from 2000 t0 2003, while ADHD by 369%. In 2003, behavioral modification drugs for children accounted for 17% of total pharmaceutical spending, compared with 16% for antibiotics and 6% for allergy medications. 

In the first decade of the 21st century, there has been a dramatic rise in children (2 years old to 18) using antipsychotic medication. In the case of children 6 to 12 drug usage has more than doubled in many states across the US. Even more alarming, the children from military families have a much higher incidence of psychological problems, antipsychotic medication use, and suicide. A somewhat similar trend with lower numbers exists in Western Europe where 'therapism' is catching on as fast as hamburgers and hot dogs.

It is understandable that children of military parents would be victims of 'therapism'. Children who have parents die or injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, have suffered a much higher number of suicide and antipsychotic episodes than children of the non-military population. Since 9/11, there has been a 76% rise in psychiatric medications, and a doubling of suicides.  

In general, American children take six times as much anti-psychotic medications than children in the UK where 'therapism' has also taken hold. Whereas hyperactivity, mild depression and autism are of concern to any parent, is therapism the solution to the degree that the child becomes a robot or a vegetable? Drug usage by children for the aforementioned problems has more than doubled in the last twenty years. 

Parents are imposing the culture of 'therapism' on their children, because the parents are themselves part of that culture, given that two thirds of Americans take at least one pill every day for something. Perhaps it is the assumption that medicine is the new god, perhaps it is a fast food mentality, but whatever it is, therapism has caught on. If therapism is the solution, why do we have more cases of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, why do we have children finding it more difficult to cope psychologically in today's techno-therapism society than children growing up in nature-based communities? 

Could it be that drug companies are exerting immense influence in health care through marketing and they have a stake in pushing the culture of therapism to the limit and globally? Do doctors and institutions give drugs to patients unnecessarily? In Massachusetts, 22% of nursing home patients were given anti-psychotic medications they did not need. 

After 9/11, psychiatrists and psychologists were pushing therapy on a largely reluctant New York public, insisting that everyone needed therapy - in reality tharapism with a profit motive behind it. More the psychiatric but also the medical professions have inculcated the culture of therapism into the public, as though medication is candy. In the absence of the academic community, journalists, and politicians bringing this issue into the forefront, therapism for profit will continue to growth bigger and more widespread to the detriment of humanity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Legislation created and passed during the first decade of the 21st century mandated that the professional tier within this field be changed; this field that you refer to as "culture of therapism." RN's supervisory power over those who were Masters in behavioral modification fields increased.

Eyewitness accounts found that while an RN's reports are necessary, they were at once secondary to the Psychologist/Behaviorist report due to the trajectory of their education and knowledge. Now the RN report take precedence in most behavioral health facilities. (Therefore, a criminal who is behaving dangerously could be given a sedative by a scared nurse vs. being observed in a state of escalation by the behaviorist. Forensic interviewing might be skewed and stats could be rendered useless in the court of law--this is just one small example in a vast and growing healthcare system.)

How convenient. The school setting presents another area of concrete debate. Children, whose parents seem to allow medication in order to address what might appear to be a behavioral issue, are immediately categorized per what the teacher said and given chemical altering meds. Either 'that' or the parent is reprimanded.

Categorically, these encompass two different objectives. One might merit a change of the nappy while the other might be indicative of a thyroid issue.

Instead, the school teacher now has the legal avenue to address health issues and this can take legal precedence. (because we all know how well-rounded a teacher's area of specification are under "No Child Left Behind" and the internationization of our educational institutions. I mean, who legally argues with a 'highly qualified' school master? Teachers in primary education know all about nappys and thyroids--right?) In furtherance of the topic of parental rights within a nationalized school district, this encompasses the newer laws of privacy rights for the student; and, that topic is for a different day.

Conclusively, the culture of therapism has been perpetrated upon society via avenues where laws and mandates supersede the natural rules and boundaries that a family might have abided by for generations. Even this is in opposition to better known methods and models pursued by behaviorist and psychologist. Put a dose of methadone with a puff of heroin and you have one dead daddy.

And so it goes.

Again, this is material for a dissertation due to the fact that the culture of therapism rest on a fulcrum. It is once again quintessential to note that the Dr. who takes the Hippocratic Oath decides whether he saves man or he destroys man. If man destroys man, he destroys the children, then you have no man in either case.