1996-07-09 - Re: [RANT] Giving Mind Control Drugs to Children

Header Data

From: mpd@netcom.com (Mike Duvos)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 0508f5bbd82006dc6248dddbcd0daa5ed231c6afc32beefc38a75a0eaa4648c9
Message ID: <199607090706.AAA03569@netcom14.netcom.com>
Reply To: <199607090604.CAA11704@jekyll.piermont.com>
UTC Datetime: 1996-07-09 10:50:18 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 9 Jul 1996 18:50:18 +0800

Raw message

From: mpd@netcom.com (Mike Duvos)
Date: Tue, 9 Jul 1996 18:50:18 +0800
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: [RANT] Giving Mind Control Drugs to Children
In-Reply-To: <199607090604.CAA11704@jekyll.piermont.com>
Message-ID: <199607090706.AAA03569@netcom14.netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

"Perry E. Metzger" <perry@piermont.com> writes:

 > Fine, lets say that you are right, and that some number of
 > children could use Ritalin. Is it your opinion that Tim May
 > is qualified to diagnose children who do and don't need it?
 > He appears to be claiming that he can.

I believe he is claiming that children are being overmedicated
for the purposes of controlling their behavior, and that the hard
scientific justification for this practice is lacking.

 > I will note, of course, that your contention about
 > percentages and the likelyhood that something is a disease
 > doesn't really wash very well. By your lights, then, heart
 > disease couldn't be a "real" illness given that a lot more
 > than 10% of the population suffers from it to one extent or
 > another. Of course, we could simply redefine dying of a
 > heart attack as "normal" and then we could be done.

Again, I said that one should NEVER define a disease solely by
percentages and subjective behavioral observations.  Not that 10%
was some sort of dividing point in doing so.

Again, no one would try and define heart disease by the
subjective observations of suddenly dropping dead, or of claiming
chest pain.  You would be lumping lots of diseases into one and
learning nothing about their etiology.


 > How about giving people with hypertension blood pressure
 > medication? I mean, they are just "out of the norm", right?
 > I mean, there is a continuum of blood presures, yes? Why
 > should we give the people at the top of the spectrum
 > medications, just because high blood pressures are
 > associated with vascular accidents?

Sorry, Perry.  It is perfectly normal for blood pressure to vary
all over the range for which medication is given.  Some people
need medication, others are just hyper because they hate going to
the doctor, or because the elevator was broken and they just ran
up several flights of stairs.

Some of these people have vascular damage.  Others do not.

Again, we don't simply measure blood pressure and give pills to
the people who fall in the top X%.  Pressure anomalies have many
many causes, and doctors do complete workups and a differential
diagnosis, based on the best models of disease processes they
have available, before prescribing medication.

 > I suppose you don't understand what it might be like for
 > someone to be unable to do their work no matter how heavy
 > the threat against them if they don't, and no matter how
 > easy it is.

Such people may need to find more interesting work.  There is
such a thing as being bored out of ones skull, you know.

 > There are people out there who can't get themselves to pay a
 > phone bill or throw out the newspapers for months on end --
 > they just can't get themselves to dance around into the task
 > no matter how hard they try, no matter how great the threat
 > (job loss, etc) to them is.

 > Many such people, given a small dose of Ritalin,
 > miraculously recover from their "crazyness", or their
 > "faking" or whatever it is. They start paying their bills,
 > writing the overdue reports at the office, listening in
 > school, etc.

Some people would make the same claim for small doses of opiates.
Or small doses of benzodiazepines, or phenothiazines, or ethanol.

Ritalin was developed because there were political problems with
medicating people for performance-related problems with
methamphetamines while trying to conduct a loud and noisy War on

 > They cease to play incessantly with fidget toys and they get
 > on with their lives. Maybe you would prefer to "help" them
 > by not letting them get medication. Maybe its "unnatural".
 > Could you explain to me, however, how you are making their
 > lives better by not giving them their meds? I mean, what
 > concretely is better about their lives?

If someone has some sort of cognitive disability which can be
diagnosed and for which treatment with medication is appropriate,
I have no problem with that.  But vague claims that "Johnny won't
sit still" hardly constitute such a workup.

 > You miss the point. You spoke of involuntarily medicated
 > kids. Most of the kids aren't involuntarily medicated.

Let's see.  At the beginning of this message, you were
questioning Tim's qualifications to suggest kids were
overmedicated.  Now you are telling us that the kids are
qualified to give informed consent to the very same thing.

Hardly consistant, even for you Perry.

 > Ritalin does not induce a zombie-like trance, as the
 > numerous people on this mailing list who take it can tell
 > you.

I think you need to cut your dose in half. :)

Seriously, though, the really dumb thing in all of this is the
constant pretending that drugs both do and don't have the ability
to enhance performance.  We vascilate between "Drugs are never
the solution" and "Take this pill twice a day with a glass of
water."  This is a very mixed message indeed.

One of the brightest guys I ever knew was a PhD Computer
Scientist who was flying on cocaine 24 hours a day.  His output
was phenomenal, but I doubt he will be reading this message. He
looked like a concentration camp inmate 10 years ago, and I doubt
that he is alive today.