By Christopher Kent, D.C., J.D.
An article titled “Retail Therapy1” caught my attention. It described the results of a study where “compulsive shoppers” were treated with either the drug Citalopram or a placebo. The lead researcher was thrilled with the results, “Patients said to me: ‘I go to the shopping mall with my friends and I don’t buy anything.’” Well, this patient at least bought something -- the notion that excessive shopping is a disease to be treated with medication.
What constitutes excessive shopping? The article states that one of the subjects “owned 55 cameras.” I once collected cameras. Perhaps that makes me a “victim” of this disease. By the way, the treatment came with a price -- “some side effects, which include loss of sexual desire and sleepiness.” The study further admits, “It is not known why Citalopram is effective for treating compulsive shoppers.” With big pharma seeking new markets for existing drugs, and developing drugs in search of diseases, it is not surprising that many of life’s challenges are no longer considered legitimate components of the human experience, but are now medical conditions amenable to treatment.
The Definition of a Medicalized Society
Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary 2 defines “medicalize” as follows: “To handle or accept as deserving of or appropriate for medical treatment.”
Sato3 offers a more specific definition for medicalization: “A process or a tendency whereby the phenomena which had belonged to other fields like education, law, religion, and so on have been redefined as medical phenomena.”
Examples abound in psychiatry’s code book for psychiatric disorders and “conditions or problems ... which may be a focus of clinical attention and require appropriate coding ...” This remarkable tome is DSM-IV4. DSM-1 was first published in 1952, titled Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
My journey into DSM-IV made me think I had fallen into Alice’s rabbit hole.
Normal Human Experience Now Masqueraded as “Disorders”
Do you have difficulty sleeping after drinking coffee? The problem isn’t a product of your poor judgment in guzzling java immediately before retiring. You are a victim of 292.89 -- Caffeine-Induced Sleep Disorder F15.8. If you reflect on your shyness while tossing and turning, the problem could be the epidemic of 300.23 -- Social Phobia F40.1. Don’t worry. Drug treatment is available.
Unfortunately, if you’re thinking about your place in the cosmos or spiritual issues, you’ve got V62.89 -- Religious or Spiritual Problem Z71.8, and I couldn’t locate a drug for that.
Bad parenting is about to become a thing of the past. It’s not your fault, or your child’s fault. Besides the ubiquitous pandemic of ADHD, there are other disorders you may not be aware of.
Your ill-behaving child may be suffering from 313.81 -- Oppositional Defiant Disorder F91.3. If your child often argues with adults, loses their temper, deliberately annoys people, etc., you’re dealing with ODD. Of course, this must be differentiated from 312.8 -- Conduct Disorder F91.8, and 312.9 -- Disruptive Behavior Disorder Not Otherwise Specified F91.9.
Should the problem be getting along with a brother or sister, the condition is V61.8 -- Sibling Relational Problem F93.3. And should you argue with your spouse about whether the child should be grounded or drugged, you might be looking down the barrel of V61.1 -- Partner Relational Problem Z63.0.
If math homework is a challenge, be sure to check for 315.1 -- Mathematics Disorder F81.2. You must be careful not to confuse this with a V62.3 -- Academic Problem Z55.8. If things are OK in the math department, but you have a teen experiencing uncertainty about life goals, career preferences, values, loyalties, etc., you’re dealing with 313.82 Identity Problem F93.8. This has been downgraded from a “disorder” in DSM-III-R, to a mere “problem” in DSM-IV. I’ll bet that makes you feel better.
A Pill for Every Issue You Don’t Want to Face
A plethora of sexual issues are described as “disorders.” We are all familiar with Bob Dole making erectile dysfunction a household word, with the blue pill offering a solution. But that’s just the tip of the, um, iceberg. If the target of your libidinal interest is ignoring you, the problem may be 302.71 Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder F52.2.
Lest anyone be offended, I will not address the other disorders codified in Chapter 20. Simply be happy that there are solutions that do not require you to address issues in your relationship.
Men can obtain testosterone cream if a doctor determines that it’s “right for you.” The stuff is said to work well. According to an ad in JAMA5, “Sexual enjoyment and satisfaction with erection duration were improved vs. baseline, but these improvements were not significant compared to placebo.” The ad shows a couple dancing, a couple riding a motorcycle, and two pictures of men swinging golf clubs (alone) and smiling.
Perhaps the next version of DSM will have a category for “golf disorders.”
- Wood H: Retail therapy. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2003;4:700.
- Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary. Barnes and Noble. New York. 1996.
- Reed WH, Wise MG: DSM-IV Training Guide. Brunner/Mazel, Inc. Philadelphia, PA. 1995.
- JAMA 2003;290(11):1427.
First, I want to thank Dr. Kent for this article. He is a good friend, and one of the leaders in the chiropractic profession. He runs the Chiropractic Leadership Alliance along with another good friend of mine, Dr. Patrick Gentempo who is one of the leading chiropractic educators in the US today. Patrick and I regularly spend time together and enjoy a brotherly relationship in that we are both aligned in our mission to transform this fatally flawed medical paradigm.
ADHD – The Poster Child of Over-Medication
Dr. Kent is one of the wittiest and brightest medical teachers I know of. His article is a masterful collection of just how much conventional medicine has been able to get away with in creating labels that justify the use of even more unnecessary drugs.
It’s unfortunate that so many get stuck on the issues of ADD/ADHD, and feel singled out when they read about unnecessary drugging, and the over-diagnosing of people’s problems, because the fact remains that a vast majority of these new “disorders” and “dysfunctions” are NORMAL life occurrences, NOT signs of disease that require drug interventions.
ADHD, for example, is a significant and real problem that some people are challenged with. However, the symptoms for diagnosis are so broad and vague that you’re hard-pressed to find a child who doesn’t fit the highly non-specific profile. This of course is used to justify the use of highly toxic and dangerous pharmaceuticals. It is the rare clinician who will address this with simple dietary changes.
About 10 percent of all school age children are “diagnosed” with ADHD. Production of Adderall and Dexedrine, just two of the drugs used to treat ADHD, has risen 2,000 percent in nine years.
And, according to the study Trends in the Prescribing of Psychotropic Medications to Preschoolers, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last February, psychotropic medication use tripled in preschool children ages two to four over a five-year span.
Something about these equations just doesn’t add up.
I just don’t buy the idea that that many of U.S. children are in need of amphetamines to function “normally.” It also strikes me as truly bizarre that our society condemns street-drug amphetamine use, yet has no qualms about giving it in massive doses -- under legalized brand names -- to two-year-olds who are in their prime physical- and mental developmental years.
How Does Disease Mongering Work?
One of the key strategies that make medicalization of society work, is by targeting your news media with stories designed to create fears about the condition or disease, and draw attention to the latest treatment. This has led to problems on several key levels:
- People with benign, normal symptoms end up taking dangerous drugs. Once you’re convinced that natural signs of aging and common conditions are diseases or treatable symptoms, you take drugs for such things as balding, anxiety, mild bone loss and indigestion, which puts your health at risk over issues that were not true illnesses or risks in the first place.
- People who are tested regularly end up undergoing unnecessary treatments with drugs and invasive surgery. Very few people after middle age can pass tests without being told that they have some sort of "risk." This risk is then turned into a pseudo-disease leading to such things as dangerous breast and colon surgery and "preventative" medications.
- As a result of "disease mongering," the more the medical industry influences a nation, the sicker that nation "considers itself to be." It eats away at your self-confidence and teaches you that you're weak and incapable of staying well, and that all signs and symptoms are potentially dangerous conditions and diseases. Truly, this sort of marketing has blurred the lines of what drugs and surgery you really need to save your life, and which you don't.
Rather than focusing more time and attention on your health as you age, or as you see degeneration setting in, you might settle for a “diagnosis” and the latest medications. The only winners are the ones who profit financially.
Worst of all, many now seek passive medical intervention for both physical and mental wellbeing, rather than actively participating in it.
When symptoms arrive as a result of how poorly you've neglected your body and mind, rather than taking personal responsibility for your own wellness (restoring wholeness) and trusting in the God-given recuperative powers of your body, many seek those who are now only too willing take on this role for you.
As a result of handing over the full authority of your life over to the industry of medicine, the pharmaceutical and medical establishments have become so bloated, profitable and powerful, we're now witnessing it getting completely out of control.
The harm that the present health care delivery system causes now outweighs the good. It's time that balance gets restored -- taking the good of medicine and replacing the bad with new ways of thinking and more appropriate ways of taking care of your body.
How Can You Help Restore Balance?
Dr. Bruce Lipton offers encouraging and enlightening advice on how to do this, and reminds us that conventional medicine is in fact referred to as “the central dogma” in medical schools. And dogma literally means, “A belief based on religious persuasion and not scientific fact.”
How ironic is that?!
We are currently experiencing a parallel view of biological medicine, aptly similar to what happened in 1925 when Newtonian physics -- the concept that a material universe rules the world – was discovered to be completely incorrect; that we do not live in a universe based on matter, but actually a universe based on energy -- because atoms are not made out of “atom,” they’re made out of energy.
Hence, EVERYTHING that is material is made, or created out of energy.
The “new biology” (it’s actually been around for 20 years, but it takes time to turn the tide of brainwashed beliefs) has proven that our current view of biology is just as incorrect as our pre-1925 view that we live in a material universe.
Whereas the current medical dogma states that you are ruled by your genes, and therefore you are at “risk,” you are a victim of your genetic makeup. But the new biology has already dispelled this idea as a myth, a belief that is not based on scientific fact. In truth, your genes do not predispose you to any ONE particular fate. Something else, which you have total control over, rules over your genetic expression!
What is that thing?
As Dr. Lipton said in my recent interview with him, “… the new biology is going to take us from a world today of crisis and ill health, and a failing environment and world, and take us to another level of masterful control, where we -- in our consciousness and our experiences of life -- will actually have power over our own lives and not be the victims that we were programmed to be.”
You’re in control. All you need to do is to “get with the times,” and accept it.