I came across this article in the New York Times Magazine:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/magazine/10psyche-t.html?pagewanted=1&emc=eta1

The diversity of mental illness from nation to nation is dynamic.  Not, only do we hear the different types of illness happening in our own country, but through the new and rising forms of media outlets, others from across the world can too.

The article states, “For more than a generation now, we in the West have aggressively spread our modern knowledge of mental illness around the world. We have done this in the name of science…  There is now good evidence to suggest that in the process of teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we’ve been exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” as well. That is, we’ve been changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental illness in other cultures. Indeed, a handful of mental-health disorders — depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia among them — now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases…”

Not only are other countries and cultures being exposed to Western mental illness, but I think any American would be lying if they say that they too have not been experiencing the mass waves of rising medication, illness research fields, and pharmaceutical businesses that are gaining heavy dominance.  As our bodies experience changes physically, emotionally, and psychologically, many of us our trained to rely on mass news, popular culture, and stories we’ve heard to understand what is happening to us.

Recently, I have been experiencing INTENSE procrastination and have been abnormally distracted this past month.  I can’t seem to focus on anything and my body and mind feel constraint when I concentrate on something too long.  My first instinct was to surf google and see “what was wrong with me”.  I spent hours on the internet trying to find symptoms, a name for what I was feeling, others who had similar stories, medical websites to see if there was anything I could take to help my mind settle.  Is this normal?

In the article, Dr. Sing Lee focused on the huge rise of eating disorders across the world.  He says, “When there is a cultural atmosphere in which professionals, the media, schools, doctors, psychologists all recognize and endorse and talk about and publicize eating disorders, then people can be triggered to consciously or unconsciously pick eating-disorder pathology as a way to express that conflict.”

I have talked about the awareness of eating disorders in school, have heard stories of it causing death in the news, and yet know many many beautiful women and close friends who have this problem.  Lee points out the mere awareness and legitimization of eating disorders as a disease by professionals can trigger that psychological pathway in the observer.  These eating disorders don’t only take the form of bulimia or anorexia.  I have  a friend who is almost 110 pounds and taking diet pills daily.  Maybe the same people trying to save us from our mental illness are creating a few of their own…

The most provoking statement in the article was, “Western drug companies dole out large sums for research and spend billions marketing medications for mental illnesses.”

Who benefits from our mental illness?  Our mass consumption of pills?  Our beliefs that there is something wrong with us?  …Scary, huh?

I work in an elementary school classroom with 1st graders.  I see them twice a week and spend a lot of time with the individual students.  I look at them and see nothing, but normal year old children… talkative, silly, sensitive, with a couple of those sneaky ones and their mischievous smiles.  Like the growing number of young people in the U.S., many of these kids are on medication.  They range from medication for anxiety disorders, hyperactivity disorders, learning disorders, attention-deficit disorders… probably more.  How about this, is this normal? Mind you, these children are 6 and 7 year old and started their first year at an elementary school.  Is it really that strange for kids of this age to be distracted and having trouble learning?  Is it okay for 1st graders to be taking more medicine than my 76 year old grandma?

The fields of study in science and medicine are continually growing at a rapid pace.  Natural remedies are quickly being forgotten and Western medicine is slowly taking over the world.  What do you think?

“Most men die of their remedies, not of their illnesses.”

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