Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Psychopharmacology and Our Kids


For the past six thousand years or so, when a child reacted by throwing tantrums, screaming, hitting, biting, and in other unhealthy behavior-patterns, she was taught selfregulation, selfmonitoring, selfcontrol, and selfmodification techniques.

In other words, she was introduced and exposed to discipline-- a word that means simply "learning." (It is the root of "disciple.") But very recently, during the past twenty years, the entire paradigm of the mental wellness of both children and adults has undergone revolutionary changes.

In older times, having a "bad day" now and again was considered "normal."
In other words, each and every person was expected to have to deal with sadness, anger, anxiety, or depression for short periods during her life.
Indeed, life itself often precipitates these very responses.
So, they serve as "exams" or "tests," "lessons" for the Soul.
They change the mind, even at very deep levels of the Unconscious. (The "Soul-level" is deeper than the personal unconscious.")

But the new paradigm says that if you, or your child, has negative moments, it is due to suffering from a "syndrome." It presents human fabrications and modifications of the chemistry of the supercomplex brain as the solution to every problem. A major difficulty here is that most of the neurological drugs have never been tested on children. And, often, those which have been tested indicate long-term sideffects of the chemicals which are sometimes more damaging than the condition which they are supposed to address.

We must note that some conditions are so severe that they do require neurochemical changes in the brain. These include neurochemical imbalances, or even absences of necessary brain-chemicals.

But regular changes or alterations in mood do not require these approaches, which usually use extremely powerful drugs. So, if a response can be altered by careful training and discipline, this more difficult path should be tried first. Only when this genuinely fails should strong psychopharmacological treatments be tried. In other words, although they are much easier, they should always be a last resort, not the first.

These unnatural agents might cause longterm damage to the brains of children. And this damage might extend well into their adulthood, altering behaviors, capacities, abilities, talents, or skills. The Way of discipline requires patience and regular communication, and perhaps this is why this superior approach has been neglected by so many "modern mommies and daddies." They want to be friends with, and not parents for, their children. But you cannot always be your childrens' "best friend,"
and you are not supposed to be! You are supposed to be her model, guide, teacher, the giver of structure in life. All life, all mind, longs for structure, and discipline is precisely such structure.

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