Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hey, you're human, right? So take drugs!

On "Good Morning, America" today, comedian/game show host Howie Mandel was all about recommending that everyone should get help, because everyone needs support, whether they are OCD or ADD or whatever.

He trumpeted the fact, "Hey, I'm medicated. My medication was just doubled, so I'm twice as happy as I should be! We just have to get rid of the stigma. I mean, you take care of your dental health -- why not take care of your mental health?"

Well guess what Howie, getting a tooth filled is a much, much clearer risk/benefit proposition than trying to feel better or trying to fix another person's behavior with psychotropic drugs. Pretending otherwise is socially irresponsible in the extreme. The "stigma" connected with mental illness could only be as irrational and unfair as people pretend it is if mental illness were as easily cured as cavities, and if Prozac and Zyprexa were as benign as toothpaste.

The "stigma" is first of all about the fact that almost every shooter since Columbine has been taking these drugs. Unexplained random violence and psychotropic drugs are new phenomena that appeared on our social scene pretty much together, so people wonder if maybe they have something to do with each other. That's the biggest "stigma" these days -- nobody wants to get shot when they're least expecting it.

The "stigma" is also about the fact that people don't like being lied to. Drug companies have paid billions in fines recently for improperly selling psychotropic drugs to cure everything that ails us. Psychiatrists like Joseph Biederman insist that every kindergarden kid with a problem will be happier on speed, and then we discover they say that because the drug companies pay them to. The National Alliance on Mental Illness claims to be there to educate families, but wait -- three quarters of their budget comes from Big Pharma!

I work in state institutions for clients who are forced to take psychotropic drugs because they committed violent acts and then convinced criminal courts the real cause was madness, not badness. I know about "stigma" from that rather extreme perspective. Anyone who behaves really, really badly (for example, by strangling his girlfriend with a clothesline or stabbing his father to death) will be stigmatized. And if they make effective amends and actually learn to behave better, that stigma might eventually go away. Who's the victim, and who's responsible?

If mental illness is disease just like tooth decay, my client murderers were never bad guys.

I'm all for people helping and supporting each other. But Howie Mandel isn't doing that by saying drugs will solve our problems in life, make us happy, stop us from killing each other. He's helping and supporting the drug companies.  He's defrauding us.  We need to understand that, and say so.

1 comment:

  1. I saw that piece. It was very disappointing to say the least.
    I don't think Howie is at all thinking that far and wide and folks just
    don't want to know or see.
    There is no connection there. I suppose that is why it is important for you to educate me/us.