Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why Anti-Authoritarians Are Diagnosed As Mentally Ill

A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about the medicalization of anti-authoritarian sentiment.  It's an important piece and well worth a read.

The author, Bruce Levine, PhD (psychology), asserts that to succeed in the medical profession or in academia one must subit to plenty of arbitrary authority.  By the time these professionals are in a position to practice in their fields, they're used to obeying, and people who don't make them nervous.  There must be something "wrong" with them, right?

And what about the anti-authoritarians?  Is it always invalid to diagnose us with mental, learning, and behavior problems?  Sadly, it's not.

When we try to make a good life for ourselves, we struggle to fit in, but our deficits are apparent -- look, it's ADD!  It's a learning disability!  But why do I have to be good at math, or for that matter any other academic subject?  Why do I have to pretend to be interested in math?  Who decides which subjects are "important" enough to be taught in school?  I come to this example again and again -- if I have LD in math, why don't other people have LD in art or music?  As for the attentional issues, isn't there something kind of coercive about deciding that any person must focus their attention in a direction not of their choosing?

This isn't fair.  It pathologizes a legitimate difference in my brain. Yet, I have to try to fit in if I want anything like a life for myself.  My choice is between medicating myself and having no life.

Levine's concern is that too many social critics are diagnosed and medicated before they come to political consciousness.  I count myself lucky that I'm not one of these people.  For that matter, there's a great discussion of social class and access to ADHD treatment going on at ADD Forums.  Check it out.  And be sure to check out Levine's article too.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What are your thoughts? Talk amongst yourselves!