Rant of the Week


According to two studies, the National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program (1980-85), and the National Co-morbidity Survey (1990-92), about 30% of all Americans will experience mental or addictive disorders in a given year and 50% will need mental health services in their lifetimes.

According to the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, those numbers are too high.  What a relief to find that out!  The "correct" number of people who experience mental or addictive disorders in a given year should be about 18.5%.  I didn't see a corrected number for the second piece of data.

So if you ever thought that most people are nuts, you're not too far off.  The professionals agree with you. 

Makes me wonder what would happen if the plumbers did a study showing that 50% of all homes need some plumbing.  Would you rush out and hire a plumber to come in to check your house to see if it was one of the 50%?  How likely do you think it would be that your house, indeed, was one of the needy homes, if you asked a plumber to check it?

Some car repair shops urge you to come in for free brake inspections.   You bite.  You bring your car in and wait twenty minutes while a repairman inspects your car.   The repairman should probably be working on someone else's vehicle up there on another lift, but he stops his work to look at your car.  The impatient owner of the other car is reading three-month-old newsmagazines and drinking stale coffee in the waiting room.  But they already have his car on the lift, so you get priority.  Now imagine, if you can, that the mechanic comes back into the office and walks up to you and says, "everything looks hunky-dory down there."  Right. 

Now you may believe that unlike car repair shops, psychologists and social workers aren't after your money.  They work in those professions because they want to help people.  Right.  And pop stars are in it for the love of music.  And politicians because people begged them to lead.  And lawyers because they love justice.  I'm not saying they're not.  Necessarily.  Just that their perspectives on the necessity of their professions might be influenced every so slightly by their pecuniary interests. 

But psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers are not plumbers.   They do not work with fixed physical properties of objects.  They work with your mind.  They would like to believe that theirs is a "science", beyond argument, and demonstrable with evidence and proofs.  The assumption is that personal spiritual or philosophical values are secondary to the eternal and scientifically grounded principles of psychology and sociology.  You can be manipulated.  Fixed.

If about 20% of the population really does have a disorder, you would think that someone would realize that there is a serious problem in our society that needs to be fixed.  There are too many casualties.  If 20% of all airplane trips crashed or 20% of all ships sank, you can bet that all travel would be suspended until the problem was found out and solved.

The other possibility, of course, is that 80% of our society is nuts and 20% fully comprehend our predicament.  Our predicament is that we have built a society that, in order to gratify the voracious appetites of the rich and powerful, has driven itself into a pathological system of destructive obsessive behaviors.  The 20% understand that and have opted out and carry their belongings in shopping bags and fervently wish for a happy meal tomorrow.  Beyond that, who knows? 

The rest of us can just keep taking our medications.


All Contents Copyright Bill Van Dyk
 2002 All Rights Reserved