Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Ordinary People

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Lyamaree saysL

>>>In other news, I too was really puzzled by Jane’s description of teachers, nurses and social workers as not “everyday people.”  To me, it doesn’t get more everyday than those professions. Trust me, it’s not those people keeping the theraputic culture going, as they benefit from it no more than anyone else subjected to it, and may suffer more than the rest of us. It’s not so much the teacher who wants to deal with medicated students, it’s the administrator who ends up with troublesome kids in their office.  Sure, some teachers may see medicating students as an easy way to to an obedient class, but most of them do not. Layers of professionals are required to deal with testing, diagnosing and treating so-called ADD or ADHD kids, and they’re the ones who are directly benefiting from keeping that theraputic meme going.

If nurses spend more time dealing with fake “syndromes” they have less time to do real nursing. And there is no shortage of work for nurses, it’s not like they’re creating work to keep themselves busy. But therapists, mental health professionals, people who run addiction treatment programs (which as Jane points out essentially don’t work) and talk show hosts sure do benefit from keeping us all on the edge of “addiction” to something, real or not.

I quoted that whole thing because it makes a bunch of assumptions I want to address.

First, when I said “ordinary people” I meant “people without a professional connection,” and I  should have been more specific.

But the simple fact is this: all the categories of people I mentioned are required to go through state and often federally mandated training of specific kinds related to things like ADHD, child abuse and neglect, and addiction, and all of it is firmly anchored in the assumptions of the therapeutic culture.

Such therapeutic assumptions are now the very definition of “good social work practice,” and the training given to social workers–as well as that given to  people with degrees in “educational psychology”–is unlikely to even indicate that some of these assumptions are factually challenged or have no real scientific basis. 

Teachers and nurses, on the other hand, get their training in this sort of thing largely from “workshops” required to teach them to recognize “red flags” for various “problems,” and if you looked at the checklist given by the CDC for ADHD, you can tell that those checklists are broad, often described behavior you and I would consider perfectly normal, and vague enough to make a “diagnosis” possible with the least indication of any actual abnormality.

Referrals for ADHD almost always come from teachers, who are encouraged to see sending the kid to the school psychologist for a Ritalin prescription (or referral to a specialist for a Ritalin prescription) as “helping” a child “at risk” for God only knows what.

As to nurses–nurses in hospitals may indeed be too busy to bother with most of these things, but nurses in school are not.   In fact, they often have very little to do on a day to day basis.  Being the point person for discovering children “at risk” and funnelling them into “counseling” so that they “get help” for their “problems” makes the job a lot more interesting, and can lead to a significant power base that would be otherwise inaccessible to someone in that position.

The will to power, and need to fuel a fantasy of oneself as the Brave Heroic Crusader who Helps Children, are both motivations I don’t think most of you take seriously enough, but they may indicate why all–absolutely all–the truly awful cases of this sort of thing I’ve run across, the ones that resulted in monumental lawsuits, where parents were threatened with the loss of their children if they didn’t agree to Ritalin prescriptions or to having that child branded psychotic and placed on psychotropic drugs and in a “program”–absolutely all of them started with school nurses.

And I’ve beenlooking up these cases for months now.  What scares me is that there are probably a lot more of them, where the parents didn’t know enough to know they could fight, or where the parents found not fighting convenient, or where the parents had bought into the therapeutic culture themselves and therefore bought “diagnoses” that were completely cracked and damaging to the child.

Adults, of course, can do a lot more for themselves, and there is SCOTUS precedent that says they cannot be treated against their wills.  Children have no such protections.

But if the therapeutic culture was just a matter of big drug abuse programs and companies that made psychotropic drugs, we’d have a lot less of it and it wouldn’t be impingingon our lives so much. 

And it is impinging on our lives, whether we realize it consciously or not.

Written by janeh

May 30th, 2009 at 10:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses to 'Ordinary People'

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  1. no kids, no grandkids, no contact with kids, therefore NO Comment,


    30 May 09 at 5:16 pm

  2. I hope Jane will forgive me for a post that has nothing to do with what she’s written. I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal


    Could someone please explain why US Democrats are opposed to school choice?


    30 May 09 at 10:24 pm

  3. Well, if you say so, señor. Having shepherded two count’em two kids through public school, I knew of exactly *one* child in their classes/friendship groups that was medicated. I could see just from spending time with him that he had serious attention problems.

    When asked how it made him feel after the medication took hold, he told me (and this is a ten-year-old, previously failing school), “I like it because I can concentrate now. I never could before.” His other remarks made it clear he was proud of his new achievements in school.

    So…no nightmare tales from other parents or students, perhaps my perceptions are skewed.

    However, I also know personally just how far people are trending to see abuse, syndromes, or *something* that needs to be treated all around them. Try taking a kid who has tried to see how Mom’s razor sharp fabric cutter works on his pajama pants (while he was wearing them, with predictable results on the leg inside) to an ER. Please note this kid had never touched one of my tools before, and yes it was out of his easy reach.

    I’ve never seen so many people try to get out of a crying, bloody 5-year-old that his mother did/did not do this to him. Sheesh. I know somebody has to ask…but *everybody*? Couldn’t one person ask and then write it on the chart?

    And I’ve had the police show up at my door because a Salvation Army worker at my home to pick up a donation heard:
    A. Me crying (working through some therapy issues at the time) and
    B. My husband swear (not happy at being interrupted while he tried to comfort me).

    Try standing in the hallway (still crying) and telling the nice officers (why are they always 12 feet tall?) “No, my husband doesn’t beat me.” Grrr. So now there’s a police report of possible domestic violence in a home where no one commits any sort of violence. Great.

    So yeah, I get it. I’m just not ready to blame all teachers or nurses for it. Those are two types who have done great good in my life.


    31 May 09 at 12:42 am

  4. Friends had a similar experience, but I think only one or two people insist on questioning the child in private. The girl was a bit older than your son at the time, and had been horsing around on her bed with her sister. She fell against a reading lamp which had been on, and burned her leg in some weird location – on the back, almost at the knee, I think – on the shade. Her parents took her to the local children’s hospital ER, where the possibility that someone had done it to her was investigated. I think staff have to ask the questions – problems arise when they don’t, and a child really has been beaten up by the parents, or they do, but act on too little evidence.

    I haven’t seen much use of drugs for hyperactivity myself, but it’s out there and probably increasing. I haven’t heard of any abuses of the process (unless you count parents or other relatives stealing the drugs to use themselves or sell on the street, which definitely happens). I tend to suspect that some of the boys who are given drugs tend to be children of parents who do not teach their children good behaviour and who do not or cannot give them opportunities to learn ways of working off their excess energy such as family outings involving hiking or other activities, or sports. But I don’t have any evidence for this. Schools, especially at the primary and elementary levels, tend to attempt to be quiet, too. There was a time when people wrote papers claiming that regular physical activity for all students at every grade improved behaviour and academic acheivement all round, but nowadays the emphasis seems to be on academics and saving money by reducing ‘frills’.

    I can’t seem to get the WSJ with this Internet connection, so I can’t comment on John’s article. Some people oppose school choice because it’s seen as reducing the unity among a population by enabling various subgroups to all go to different schools, which in turn will mean that they not only don’t know anyone of a subgroup other than their own, they may well suffer some loss if their school system is worse than the others.


    31 May 09 at 6:05 am

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