Medicating Childhood-An American Zombie Apocalypse

“When I was a child, I thought as a child,” is an old proverb which at one time was also the philosophy society lived by when rearing children.  This was the golden rule practiced by parents, schools and child development experts in understanding that the childlike behavior of children was an intrinsic fact of life; they are not adults. They were not expected to think like adults, behave like adults nor exhibit rational, acceptable adult social skills, maturity or conduct-they were children and so they were allowed to think and behave like them.Childhood dangers

That has all changed over the past thirty years, change accelerated at an alarming rate as we entered the twenty first century. It has become almost universally accepted by parents, schools, child psychologists and even law enforcement that children are, in fact, simply miniature adults and we demand of them to act accordingly. A child who is unable to conform to this new societal standard of acceptable adult behavior is immediately labeled “mentally ill,” and is either punished, medicated or forced into psychological treatment.

A six year old who kissed a classmate was suspended from school and classified by the district a predator for “sex harassment.”  In Georgia, a female kindergarten student was handcuffed and suspended for a childish temper tantrum. A similar 2012 incident involving a five year old Stockton, California boy resulted in the child’s arrest and a charge of battery to an officer. The boy was then “transported to a hospital for further psychiatric evaluation,” according to local NBC affiliate KCRA.

Virtually every aspect of childhood behavior and mischief has been criminalized using an adult standard, to such an extent that a Chicago thirteen year old now faces multiple adult felonies for a stray snowball.

Most often, however, common childlike behavior doesn’t result in such dramatic overreaction. Instead, they’re medicated. Childhood behavior and diverse personality traits result in diagnoses ranging from everything from Asperger’s Syndrome to Personality Trait Disorder, and the actual figures of children being treated for these vary greatly depending upon the source. While undoubtedly some children do suffer the onset of mental illness at an early age, many if not most, it could be argued, are being treated solely for the disease of normal childhood behavior.

Modern society has made parenting and childhood nearly impossible. Overworked and overstressed parents pressure the schools for assistance, but the schools are overcrowded and overworked with the additional pressure of society’s mad desire for every child to be a super achiever. Schools pawn childhood off to the police who, because they are not child psychologists, can only place childhood misbehavior and mischief into a context they understand-the adult concepts of enforcing law and order.

In the end, coping with childhood lands on the lap of medical professionals who deal with it as they are best educated to do-diagnose, treat and medicate something. Thus, childhood and all behaviors related to childhood are now treated as a disease.

Childhood isn’t a disease, though, so medical science is placed in a position of developing a highly subjective and vague default diagnosis for the mental illness of immaturity. The symptoms required for a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD as it is commonly known, are as broadly defined as the name itself implies.

Marie Hartnell-Walker, ED.D. has over thirty five years experience as a psychologist, family therapist and with parenting education. She’s authored numerous pieces on psychology for Huffington Post, along with an ebook, and is a regular contributor to the highly regarded site Psych Central. In a 2006 article entitled; “How to Drive with Kids without Driving Yourself Crazy,” she describes how common childhood traits can make traveling nearly unbearable;

“Kids have energy. Kids have short attention spans. Kids get wired. Kids—even the nicest sweetest kids—usually tussle with siblings. Kids don’t like to be confined.”

One could assume, as Dr. Hartnell-Walker is a psychologist and not a veterinarian, that the word ‘kids’ is referring to the normal behavior of children and not baby goats.  Also put aside for a moment that all of the traits she lists as intrinsic to a child are exactly the same traits deemed inappropriate and abnormal in a twenty first century classroom.  Instead, consider how her equally respected and qualified collogue Margarita Tarkatovsky, M.S., describes ADHD facts on the very same site;

“Its hallmark symptoms include hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. Children have difficulty concentrating, following instructions, sitting still and interacting with others.”

In other words, virtually, all of the same behaviors Marie Hartnell-Walker, ED.D., classifies as normal, Ms. Tarkatovsky maintains with equal credibility are the symptoms of ADHD, but expressed with far more professional and diagnostic language.

Granted, some children legitimately do suffer from ADHD, and according to the CDC the figure is actually only around 5%.  They go on to point out, however, that over 11% of all American children, and 20% of boys alone, are being treated for the condition. Depending upon the state, the figure is even higher. Over ten years, the number of American children being treated for ADHD is growing at a staggering pace of 48%.

The gap between legitimate, serious ADHD versus children being treated for it demonstrates just how much of birdshot diagnosis this is for any normal childhood behavior deemed inappropriate by adult standards. At some moment of any given day, any child will display the symptoms of ADHD.

Vague and broad spectrum medical diagnoses for normal, everyday human behavior aren’t just confined to children, however. Over the past twenty years, professional organizations such as the Royal College of Psychiatry and American Psychology Association have attached a serious psychological disorder for every known personality trait or eccentricity known to man that may possibly be of annoyance to someone else.

You’re that cranky old man down at Wal-Mart, or the political, overzealous young hipster just waiting for an argument with conservative Uncle Fred at the next family gathering–“Antisocial Personality Disorder.”

Maybe you’re the guy who danced naked on the pool table at the office party, singing ‘We Will Rock You.” Well buster, you are not really the life of the party, after all– “Histrionic Personality Disorder.”

Perhaps you’re the bragging windbag down at Norkies Tavern who hits on girls half your age like you really have any chance at all, and who I thought was just completely full of bullshit. I am so very sorry for laughing you off the barstool, knowing that you suffer- “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

There are now so many diagnosable disorders for the natural, ordinary human condition and behavior, they fill volumes. While doctors, psychiatrists, parents, schools and law enforcement all play a definite destructive role in this, in the end, they are only a symptom, in and of themselves, of a much greater disease.

Americans are the most overmedicated society on earth because by and large, they’re medicating just to survive Capitalism.  Given this culture and modern conditions, one is more likely to be living out the Medicated Capitalist Zombie Apocalypse than the American dream.

Children come home, exasperated, from one overly structured environment to another, and simply want to let down their hair and be children. But parents are equally exasperated from often working two jobs, just trying to survive in an industrialized, modern society which makes it impossible to exist on a single income.  Few parents are afforded the luxury of remaining home and the mobility of modern society necessitates limited, or no, local extended family support system, so parents wish Billy could just sit quietly and watch Spiderman.

Family doctors, child psychologists and psychiatrists are not going around knocking down the doors of schools, colleges and employers, shoving medication down everyone in sight; Americans are demanding it. The vast majority of working class America is overworked and underpaid, bogged down by student loan debt from an education that was supposed to lead straight to financial freedom but instead landed them at the temp service, groveling for whatever income they can.

Further manipulated by corporate interests, who have convinced them that consumerism is the path to true happiness, over fifty percent of Americans are now buried with credit card debt. So convinced by the delusion that good credit equals success, many parents probably spend more time worrying about their credit score than their child’s report card. Survival in an economic Darwinist society takes energy-all of your energy.

Parents are so tired they can’t cope with even the most fundamental of child misbehavior, so they beg the family doctor to medicate them into submission. To add further complication, the job market is now so cannibalistically competitive that even the slightest negative or eccentric personality trait leaves one at a disadvantage, so they seek to medicate their own personalities away, as well.

Legitimate mental illness is serious and obviously needs to be treated, preferably early.  We need to work even harder to diagnose those who are potentially at risk to themselves and to the larger society, without resorting to a mass diagnosis of treatable childhood. Moreover, we need to fearlessly address head-on the conditions of our modern industrial and technological society that has made life so unbearable that the natural human condition must now be medicated.

Above all, we need to protect and comfort our children from today’s adult world and make a conscious decision to end this medical war on childhood. Celebrate and cherish that these are children and not mini-adults. Parents and schools need to recognize that you just can’t schedule or predict a child’s daydreaming or mischief. We must recognize that law enforcement should only be a last resort, under very extreme circumstances. By all means, we must end the criminalization of childhood behavior and mischief.

By removing these expectations from them, children can be free to learn, to play and to squabble like kids again. Our entire adult society needs reflect on the beauty and innocence of childhood and collectively whisper a reminder; “When I was a child, I thought as a child.”

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Biblical Misconception-How Genesis Disproves Scientific Creationists

 

In recent months, much has been made of the divide between Atheists and Christians and between science and creation. Like gladiators locked in a battle to the death, the two sides equally treat this grand mystery of life as if it were some sort of competition.

When the bias of antiquated human doctrine is shed there actually is very little difference. The formation of the earth as described in the opening passages of Genesis is remarkably similar and in complete harmony with what science has proven.

Creationists just can’t seem to see the tree through the forest as science only confirms what the Bible already told you.  If the Bible is indeed, the divine word of God, then the information and science it contains transcends time as measured by humans.

When these doctrinal beliefs were formulated, people didn’t understand the science of the Bible as there weren’t telescopes, geology, physics or any advanced human sciences to confirm or explain it. So they defined it in simple terms that they understood. When human science finally caught up with the scientific knowledge revealed in the Bible, doctrinal myth had become so internalized and part of culture that anything which questioned it was heretical.

Today’s scientific creationist is still preoccupied with defending human defined, mythological doctrine rather than viewing science as further evidence of Biblical truth. Evolution completely aside, science has proven, beyond any doubt or theory, that this is the case. Every effort to present ancient doctrinal myth as fact proves futile.

Likewise, atheists expend a great deal of intellectual energy attempting to disprove the existence of a divine creator when even the most advanced scientific knowledge has not been able to discredit the possibility of a divine God. For this reason, the great philosopher Pascal recommended we play it safe and leave the door of possibility ajar, as any attempt to completely disprove the existence of a creator has always proven equally futile.

Far from diminishing the holiness or authenticity of the Bible, modern science only proves the Bible’s actual version of creation events. Consider Genesis 1-28 through the lens of known, proven science and not human religious doctrine, the author’s order of the sequence of events that constitute the formation of the earth and appearance of life is remarkably accurate.

1)      Dead planet

2)      Earth begins rotating

3)      Earth completely immersed under water

4)      Continents rise and form and the present day oceans defined

5)       Plants appear-creating an atmosphere

6)      Earth orbits sun creating seasonal changes, atmosphere clears, creating climate and conditions suitable for animal life

7)      Aquatic animals appear first

8)      Land animals appear-birds/reptiles/mammals

9)      Humans appear

10)  Primitive civilizations form and humans domesticate certain animals and begin cultivating crops.

While I do not purport to be an academic, scientific scholar, I did pay enough attention in science class to know that science has confirmed beyond a doubt that this accurately describes the order life appeared on our planet.  If creationists were to embrace the proven scientific accuracy of Genesis instead of insisting on the ridiculous argument of what constitutes a day, Christians would have the satisfaction and bragging rights of knowing that their God told Moses in a simple vision, knowledge that took secular science the span of nearly two thousand years to learn completely own their own.

Creationists, however, concentrate on that nagging question of just what constitutes a Biblical ‘day.’ Because a neutral reading of scripture interprets a more sophisticated level of scientific harmony and accuracy in other issues, including the formation of the planet, I ask scientific creationists to open themselves up to just the possibility that their interpretation of a ‘day’ is again doctrinal, not Biblical and may be incorrect.

The whole doctrinal notion of a twenty four day for each phase of creation was again, formulated at a time when there was no science to verify the Bible’s actual claim. There also weren’t the modern units of measurements for centuries and millenniums. How else would the author be able to mark the beginning and end of each creation period, other than; ‘The sun rises-the sun sets.’

Athanasius and other early religious leaders also had absolutely no knowledge of what it takes to form a fossil or how long a planet needs to form, so they based it upon what little they did know-a literal day. It was an acceptable idea for a more primitive and scientifically ignorant society and times. We now know otherwise.

If I were to make the statement: “Back in George Washington’s day,” using scientific creationist logic, then George Washington lived and died within the span of a literal single day.  We all know that is complete and utter nonsense and that rather, this includes a particular stretch of time, measured in the decades in which George Washington lived and died-hence, an era.

I ask scientific creationists to open themselves up to just the possibility, nothing more, that this is what the authors of the bible were actually attempting to indicate. An era-a span of time that they didn’t have the terminology to describe, the actual length of tens of thousands or millions of years, either unspecified or perhaps unknown by the authors, in which each step of the formation and appearance of life occurred.

The Genesis version of life even leaves open the possibility of earthly evolution for Christians, but always through the guiding hand of a divine power. The Bible specifically says Genesis 24 that God, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds.”  In other words, it is perfectly acceptable for a creationist to interpret this to mean that while God created the earth and the seeds of life, he also made the earth itself a living entity with the power to evolve or create, with his oversight, if you will, life forms suitable for habitation upon it. This easily makes perfect sense from a creation perspective.

Many people plant a garden and how often has one planted yellow squash and zucchini squash in too close of proximity? The two cross-pollinate and you wind up with this weird, distorted, yellow squash-zucchini monster like hybrid. The gardener still played a major role and made it possible by planting the seeds and tending the plants, but at the same time, it still would never have occurred without the natural process and intervention of the earth. So it could be with the God/earth relationship in evolution.

Consider God as a general contractor on a major project; The earth, as initially created, wasn’t move in ready anymore than a new home is after the exterior walls are constructed. Construction, like inhabiting a planet, happens in stages and at the right time. Subcontractors install fixtures, toilets and sinks only when the home has progressed to a certain stage. You wouldn’t install a wall switch before the wiring is done, just as earth couldn’t support woodland mammals before the forest and under growth had matured.

God does remind us further into the 24th verse that his guiding hand was with the living earth in the evolution and balance of all animal species, including humans.  Genesis 25 also tells us that God had a partner in the creation of humanity as he doesn’t take singular credit: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”  Given that he already gave earth some say and power in the development of its own suitable life forms and seeing he also makes no reference to ever having had any other sidekick, earth and its divine gift of evolutionary powers seem the likely choice.

Just as the other scientific facts which were revealed by Genesis first, human science is again catching up and  confirming the Biblical possibility of evolution.  But instead of embracing this, foolish creationists cling to a defense of antiquated doctrine and deny God’s own inspired Bible science, as they did a thousand years ago. But science completely supports the sequence of creation events outlined in Genesis, to demand creationism be treated equally in schools sounds absurd and redundant-it already is.

Creationists will now probably raise the question: “If it wasn’t a literal day, why didn’t God spell this out to us, in every minute detail?” The answer is remarkably simple-it just doesn’t matter. Isn’t the miracle of a life from nothing enough for you?  Doesn’t the fact that God gave Moses complex and accurate scientific knowledge of the formation of a living planet, at a time when most people didn’t even read, absolutely leave you in awe?

Are you so unimpressed by the miracle of this beautiful planet that now you must split hairs over whether or not it was a twenty four hour day?  Even the miracle of human birth given to us by God takes nine months. Are you so arrogant, and your faith so weak, that if God didn’t wrap up this entire earth project in six literal days, it isn’t good enough? Does it diminish God, or does it even matter in the least, whether the earth is six thousand years old or six hundred million-do you think you could do better?

Scientific creationists read and interpret the Bible with the sole purpose of proving and confirming human, ancient doctrine, but not for what it really contains.  They will twist scripture this way and that way, defending a doctrinal idea that is as futile and outdated as arguing the world is flat. Moreover, scientific creationists need to come to realize that the Bible doesn’t contradict science-they do.

 

 

 

Don’t Talk To Me about Pope Francis

Don’t talk to me about Pope Francis. I don’t care about his advice on breastfeeding, views on poverty and Gay marriage, or anything else.

First of all, I’m not Roman Catholic, have no desire to be Catholic and no interest in Catholicism, whatsoever. In fact, I believe that if God were to sue for libel, the Roman Catholics would probably be first on his list.  There is little Biblical about Roman Catholicism, and if a church this archaic and this repressive were to be organized in the twenty-first century, it would be considered a repulsive cult.

There is no need to rehash the historic atrocities committed by this church as we’re well acquainted with them, so let’s look at the Catholic Church today under Pope Francis. It continues to endorse repression of women and gays and ignore priestly pedophilia.

Talk is cheap and that’s all we’ve heard from the head of one of the most backwards religions on earth. When the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Catholic organizations regarding contraceptives, Pope Hot Air didn’t intervene on behalf of women’s reproductive rights.  Francis may also prattle on in “personal” support of Gays, but he certainly didn’t offer to conduct the first Gay marriage at the Vatican.

Yet the media, especially liberals, can’t get enough of this bozo in thousand-dollar ruby slippers.  Enter “Pope Francis” into the search engine of major online news outlets, and it’s more like reading an issue of “Catholics Today” than serious journalism.

A blog by Jim Wallis, appearing 12/20/13 in The Huffington Post, went so far as to declare, “Pope Francis: An Imitation of Christ.”  My biblical knowledge of Christ does not include his multi-billion dollar estate, priceless art collection, or armored vehicle.

Christ was a guy who hung out with fisherman and prostitutes, slept on the ground and preached on top of a rock – not an elaborate balcony – waving a jewel-encrusted staff. Christ was a person who spurned wealth and religious pomp. Furthermore, Jesus Christ was not the head of a church which recently came under scathing criticism from the UN for its handling of global sexual abuse.

Until the day Pope Francis sheds his silly hat and monkey suit, disavows his repressive religion, its bloody history and its sexist, homophobic tradition, don’t talk to me about Pope Francis. I don’t care about him selling his Harley Davison. Talk to me when he auctions off the Vatican art collection to aid global poverty or turns the palace into a homeless shelter – then I’ll be all ears.

Come back when he demands justice for the thousands of sexually abused children and calls for every priest offender to face trial. I’ll pay attention when he not only apologizes for sexist church doctrine, but actually changes it to include female ministry and the right of women to choose what’s right for their own bodies without church approval.

The Pope is merely the head of a church; he is not universally holy or important. He should be of as much interest and significance to the larger society as the head of LDS or the Methodist Church. If someone is crazy enough to be Roman Catholic in this day and age, so be it, but don’t talk to me about Pope Francis.