Nature, Interrupted

Oct 7, 2013 by

We’d like to introduce Liza Rendon, an old friend from the great North West.  Liza is a second year student in the Master in Counseling Psychology program at Saint Martin’s University. Looking forward to working with veterans, active service members, and military families as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Undergrad is from The Evergreen State College, where a lot of her focus was on health and healing.  She is also a practicing therapeutic herbalist for over a decade, who attended the California School of Herbal Studies in 1999.

“The way one labels a human dilemma can crystallize a problem and make it chronic.”

-Jay Haley, Problem Solving Therapy, (1976)

In Robert Whitaker’s Four Stories, found in his text, Anatomy of an Epidemic, 2010, (pp. 15-30), I noted how each person in the case study were diagnosed and prescribed psychiatric medications during Erik Erickson’s “Intimacy versus Isolation,” psychosocial crisis stage, seen between 18 – 40 years of age.  Although this is a broad age range, most of the individuals in the case study were diagnosed by his/her health care provider during his/her early “college years.”  I noticed the same age theme, of mental changes in the fictional and non-fictional characters, in films Girl Interrupted (Kaysen, Susanna & Mangold, James, 1999), Prozac Nation (Wurtzel, Elizabeth et al., 2001), and Shine (Sardi, Jan & Hicks, Scott, 1996) – all portrayals, seemed to be impacted around the same, “college years” age range.

After reading the 2007 featured article, The Media and the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Depression, by Jonathan Leo and Jeffrey R. Lacasse, it occurred to me, there has been a lack of recognition with credence, toward any natural process or cyclic movement in the human brain, and the impacts of such on the mental being.  The article noted that even psychopharmacology pioneer, Joseph J. Schildkraut (1934–2006), acknowledged, it remains to be seen if naturally occurring flux in our neurotransmitter levels are such a reason for the wax and wane in one’s temperament (Leo & Lacasse). Adding fuel to this fire, what I was struck with the most from this article was how pharmaceutical drugs such as Prozac or Paxil, were accepted and manufactured based on, “deductive reasoning” (Leo & Lacasse):

“…it had been known for several years that, at least in some people, the drug reserpine could lead to a depressed state.  Subsequent studies in rabbits showed that that reserpine causes reductions in serotonin.  Thus, putting the two facts together, deductive reasoning suggested that depression could be the result of too little serotonin.”

The shocking result, in my opinion, is prescribing providers could be interrupting natural responses, anMasturbatoryd although there is true goodness in people, I can not help but think how our society continues to push out what Ibelieve to be innate changes that must, or are suppose to occur.  Instead, entrusted prescribers are, “remedying the [unfounded] chemical imbalance that caused depression,” with such drugs as Zoloft, Paxil, etc. (Leo & Lacasse).  In other words, what if during certain periods of our life, such as the “college years,” we are supposed to be isolated, journal, create art, explore nature, a craft or skill, welcome the anima and animus, and or “release the shadow,” as Susanna Kaysen (Winona Ryder’s character) spoke of in the 1999 film, Girl Interrupted? What if Lisa, from the same film is right, that our neurotransmitter ebbs, are “gifts, that let us see the truth,” (Kaysen & Mangold, Girl Interrupted, 1999)?  What if it was okay, to be allowed to be sad, and with other options other than pharmaceuticals?

In argument, I believe some pharmaceuticals have historically shown to be beneficial, and have a place in medicine. More so, I believe so do protective behaviors such as, shyness, grief, or the act of sleeping for repair and recovery has a significant place in medicine (maybe this means redefining what “medicine” is).  Better put from required reading, Will Hall’s, Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, (p.14), “They [psychiatric medications] are best understood as tools…that sometimes [italics added] alleviate symptoms…and, [have the possibility to] pave the way for change – but with significant risks for anyone who takes them” (p. 14).

mentalTo conclude, we (our Western society) have been taught and shown via medical professionals, media, marketing, etc., that we can have a mental illness; and what our culture has not been taught is, “illness” could be founded in natural life changes, as part of our growth.

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