I'm getting a little tired of hearing and reading about all these "syndromes" lately. RLS, ADD, ADHD, Aspergers (which always makes me chuckle, because it sounds like Ass Burgers), etc. My cousin Erica says that her 13 year old daughter thinks she has Restless Legs Syndrome. Gee, wonder what put that idea into her head?
Please don't get me wrong. I know that these are all legitimate disorders. What bothers me is that instead of a practical solution, it seems that our society demands a pharmaceutical solution to every little thing. Again, don't get me wrong--I'm a microbiologist, so I understand the importance of antibiotics and antivirals for the treatment of infection and disease. I'm sure there are certainly times when medication is needed for treating some of these disorders. But sometimes, I think there are simpler solutions. Restless Leg Syndrome? Get up, stretch, walk around. Attention Deficit Disorder? Make 'em sit their ass down. Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity? Make 'em run around like maniacs to burn off some energy, then make 'em sit their ass down. (This is just my opinion, but I think Ritalin could be the Thalidomide of the late 20th century. Okay, probably not that bad, but it could be the most over-prescribed drug in recent history.) Aspergers Syndrome? Who among us doesn't feel some anxiety in social situations? A little coaching from a parent or friend can help. I'm very disturbed by our compulsion to take a pill for everything that ails us, and our assumption that it will "fix" us. Sometimes there is a little work involved, whether it's discipline, hard work, determination, or maybe just a little soul-searching. Not every problem we have requires medication! That should go without saying, but it sure doesn't seem that way lately.
I believe this calls for a new syndrome. I will call it Multiple Excessive Syndromes Syndrome, or MESS. Symptoms include reading more than is warranted into normal feelings experienced by most humans; compulsion to seek a simple solution, such as a drug; and a total lack of interest is finding out what the real problem is and working on it.
It sure seems like things were simpler when I was growing up. My cousins and I rode our bikes everywhere, on rural roads, and we didn't wear helmets. I can recall a time or two when I got knee scrapes, and my Mom put Merthiolate on my cuts. My cousins and I stayed out all day long, playing and exploring, making "forts" in the woods, and there were times when our parents didn't know where we were, but they knew we were safe. That's right, we were not always in direct contact with our parents. Hard to believe, eh? There were times when I was all by myself, and I would go out in the back yard and lay in the grass and read a book. Sometimes, we went out at night, and we'd lay in the grass and look at the stars. Somehow, we survived our terrible, unprotected childhood. And we managed to do it without major medication.
Sadly, this makes me realize that I suffer from OFS, or Old Fogey Syndrome. I'm not the only one...I know many who have the same symptoms: excessive nostalgia for their childhoods; a belief that things have changed drastically--and not for the better--since they were kids; and a sense of melancholy for children today, because it seems that Ken and I and others our age had the last truly carefree generation. When did it become so difficult to be a child and navigate the process of growing up? It wasn't a walk in the park when I was a kid--I had all kinds of emotions and social problems and questions about life, and I know that will never go away for kids, or even for adults--but I always had the certainty that I was going to be okay, that my parents and my family were solid and smart and doing their best to guide me onto the right path.
Bottom line, I hope our society can get away from easy, immediate solutions, and start focusing on the true problem and a true solution. A pill, while sometimes warranted and even necessary, is not the first thing to look at. God help us if we continue to expect a pill, or any kind of quick fix, to solve our problems.
Gotta go--I need to start working on a telethon for OFS.