John Colson: Hit and Run | AspenTimes.com
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John Colson: Hit and Run

John ColsonAspen Times WeeklyAspen, CO Colorado

I read a novel theory the other day, about how our national addiction to anti-depressants, pain medication and other happy pills might have had some kind of causal effect in the ongoing national and international financial meltdown.That’s right. You don’t need to check you eyewear for smudges or grease spots. I’m talking about how the drugs we take waaay too much of might have lead us down a primrose path to fiscal adventurism.Now, I suppose some of you might be wondering just which little happy pill I might have swallowed recently, but I assure you, I am as straight as an arrow, sober as an earnest recovering alcoholic at an AA meeting.Okay, I’ve had a cup of English Breakfast tea, but that’s it, the only drugs affecting my sensibilities are caffeine and oxygen.Anyways, the theory earned a small mention in an article published by The Sun magazine, a pearl of a periodical that comes out each month from Chapel Hill, N.C.The article was a Q&A with a professor, author and researcher named Christopher Lane, titled, “What’s Wrong With Modern Psychiatry.”With a headline like that, I might have passed it by, but I’ve learned that The Sun is fully capable of surprising the hell out of me in a soft-spoken, deadly serious way.It is Lane’s thesis that psychiatrists and doctors in general have, over the course of the past half-century or so, been coming up with ever-more general lists of mood disorders, mental-health aberrations and other diseases of the mind, heart and soul afflicting humans.At the same time, and in seeming collusion with the medicos, the pharmaceutical industry (known as Big Pharma) has created an ever-widening array of pills to treat the symptoms of those diseases.The main target of Lane’s research was something called the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” or DSM, which is a kind of bible for the psychiatric profession.This book first was published in 1952, and contained 106 “disorders,” according to Lane. A fifth edition is due out in 2013, with about three times that number of mental maladies.Over the same period of time, shrinks of all stripes have moved away from such things as “talk therapy” and “behavioral modification therapy” to the rampant use of pills to solve all our health questions.And the industry, not content with the usual method of selling their wares, have taken to using massive ad campaigns to convince us all that we suffer from maladies we don’t even recognize.Lane reports that GlaxoSmithKline spent $92 million on advertising for a single drug, Paxil, in 2000 – and reaped revenues approaching $1 billion in return. This use of drugs manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry has gotten so prevalent, the stuff is turning up in our water supplies in increasing concentration.The alarming thing about all this is that it may well be a deliberate part of the “dumbing down of America,” as it is known.Get us all so doped up our senses are dulled and our capacity for critical thinking atrophies away, and we’ll buy any stupid product that shows up in a television ad, whether or not we need it, trust it or even want it.Plus, we’ll buy whatever harebrained political line of bull that is shoved at us from that same demonic instrument, the television. This device, we have long been warned, was poised to replace our brain as the instrument with which we assess and judge the world, and which alert us to dangers of all sorts.So, the theory goes, we were too zoned out to recognize the danger signs that were there before the housing bubble burst in 2008. Oh, some people recognized them, and there were occasional shouts of warning from those few.But those shouts were not heeded, and as a result the world plunged off a precipice, and we’re still falling.jcolson@aspentimes.com


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