Monday, August 31, 2015

Quoted: Alice Flaherty on the medicalization of normal traits

A second reason why people fear thinking of problems with creativity as neurobiological problems is that they disapprove of what they see as medical attempts to enhance or pathologize normal traits. This argument, which groups medical treatment of writer's block with Ritalin for rowdy boys and nose for girls depends on the definition of "normal." In this context, normal certainly has nothing to do with actual population averages. For instance, many upper-middle class parents panic if their child performs at the school's average level. They demand every educational resource available to them. That they are eager to enhance their child's normal performance through education, even though they might fear doing so with a pill, shows that a fear of enhancement is to an extent not a fear of manipulating normal traits, but primarily a fear of medical technology. People who have no objection to using education, meditation, exercise, megavitamins, even "herbal"" drugs to enhance normal characteristics are often horrified to take a pill approved by the Food and Drug Administration. -- Alice Flahtery from The Midnight Disease
In the next paragraph, she compared the side-effects of  behavioral work (using an example of an liberal arts student who inadvertently picks up the values of a stockbroker) with the actual physical side-effects from psychotropic medication, which I thought was a little irresponsible and odd. Liver toxicity isn't exactly the same as a sudden interest in Keynesian economics. I appreciate that she did, at least, give a nod to class, and how it factors into what's deemed "normal." I do like this book, and wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone suffering from writer's block. It's quite "thinky" instead of "feely," which I also appreciate. My greatest reservation -- and this goes for any exploration into the link between genius and madness -- is the danger of confusing sickness with talent. Genius may be touched with madness, but the inverse isn't usually true.