September 5, 2010

Drugging kids to control them is a safe times practice

This report is 10 years old, but it has great graphs on the rise of ritalin during the '90s after a steady and low level of production and use before then. They even give a specific year, 1991, as the transition point:

Prior to 1991, domestic sales reported by the manufacturers of methylphenidate remained stable at approximately 2,000 kilograms per year. By 1999, domestic sales increased by nearly 500 percent.
Collectively, this data indicates that the number of prescriptions written for ADHD has increased by a factor of five since 1991.

So it was only once the violence rate peaked in '91 or '92 that parents started drugging their kids to bring about more compliant behavior. There are several reasons why parents let their kids run wild during dangerous times and drug them during safe times, as odd as that may sound:

- When the whole society is wild, wildness will not be punished by others, so why bother trying to keep your kid out of trouble that he won't have to pay for? When the society is tame, a rambunctious kid will run into lots of trouble, so you do what you can to dial it down for him.

- Drugging a kid is one way to keep them from going through natural human development, some of which isn't too pleasant for the PTA. In safe times, parents try to keep their kids from growing up -- the world's so safe that they can put off growing up until later without worry. In dangerous times, parents see that life is fleeting and their kids had better hurry the hell up with maturation if they're going to make some grandkids.

- This is just an impression, but it's related to an earlier pattern I detailed where dangerous times breed a greater belief in the supernatural, paranormal, mystical, occult, etc. That is, it looks like safe times see a rise in the hubris of science and particularly social science and social engineering -- even among the public. Even the elites were fairly skeptical of the power of top-down social engineering during the '60s through the '80s, aside from the Great Society programs.

The case of crime control is instructive: everyone, liberal or conservative, had concluded pessimistically by the mid-late 1970s that crime was out of control and there was nothing that technocrats could do about it, even after all we learned through "natural experiments" in policing policy. Contrast that with the New Deal of the low-crime times of the mid-'30s through the late '50s, or with the Clinton-Bush-Obama handling of the housing and finance industries for the greater good.

So, parents will have greater faith in the power of so-called wonder drugs to cure their kid of rambunctiousness without any big side effects. This is one reason why fiction is in decline -- parents are too busy reading books about how to non-genetically engineer their kid into being a genius.

Thank god I got to enjoy all of my pre-pubescent childhood before the Ritalin-pushing helicopter parents took over. I remember at some point in 3rd grade (either '89 or '90), my teacher became worried because I'd stare off into space, daydream, or otherwise get lost in thought when I was supposed to be doing a specific task at one of our "activity stations." As I recall, I was just really bored for those couple of weeks. Fortunately, my parents and my teacher only went so far as asking if there was anything wrong, could I try to focus a little more, etc. Otherwise they just let my boredom run its course, and I turned out better for not having been drugged with Ritalin at such a young age.

It makes you wonder whether or not all these hyper-managed and drugged-up Millennials are going to re-pay their parents when they're taking care of them in retirement.

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