This place matters

This place matters

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

They're coming to take me away

This week, Facebook suggested that I might like an article called Nonconformity and Freethinking Now Considered Mental Illnesses. But Facebook also thought I might enjoy 40,000 Farmville requests from that old lady that came to my church that much, so clearly they're not nearly as good at data gathering as everyone says.
The article says that the latest edition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) had identified a new mental illness, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Well first of all, the latest edition of the DSM is the DSM-V, not the DSM-IV, and ODD was first identified in the DSM III circa 1980, but who wants to split hairs?
We're going to set aside the outlandish hubris of the very term freethinking for now and focus on this new mental illness that will have doctors dragging all Vampire Weekend fans off in chains. 

ODD is "a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least six months," according to the DSM V. And while moodiness, defiance, and arguing are also common symptoms of childhood, ODD symptoms go way beyond what's normal for other kids - even "freethinking" ones.
You know how headaches can be a sign of brain cancer but they can also be a sign you stared at the computer screen too long? Mental illness kinda works the same way. Just as oncologists aren't going to force brain surgery on you if you admit you have a headache, therapy ninjas aren't going show up and force medicate your child for thinking too freely. 
And  you don't take your kid to therapy just because they refuse to drink their apple juice.
People go to therapy, people take their children to therapy, because they're suffering. They take their child to therapy because their child is about to be expelled from school for having a screaming melt down every single time she's told to take out her math book. They take their child to therapy because he is so cruel and vindictive at home that his siblings are going bald from stress. 
Untreated oppositional defiant disorder puts kids at greater risk of school failure and trouble with the law later in life. It can progress into conduct disorder, which is characterized by violence. But special parenting classes, therapy, social skills training, and extra academic help have been shown to head off those outcomes.
I know there are a lot of stereotypes about power mad child psychologists zombifying the genius out of kids, but take it from a lady who knows - it's hard to be a genius with a head full of hornets. People think of child psychology as a way to subdue unruly children and crush their individuality. But the goal of child psychology is to help troubled kids regulate their emotions and behavior so that they can succeed in school and stay off drugs and have a happy home life. 
I'm gonna level with ya. If they'd have had the psychiatric interventions when I was a kid as they do now, I'd probably jump on that, even if it meant that I wouldn't grow up to be a genius blogger. I wouldn't mind knowing what would have happened if I'd been able to shut up, sit down, and learn something in school. Sobbing and self-injury seriously cut into homework time.
As long as we're ending things on a down note.

1 comment:

bob said...

I wonder how I would have turned out if my parents had known about my abuse, by an older brother, and got me help. Maybe I wouldn't have been suicidal and needed years of therapy.