Friday, March 5, 2010

I Know This Sounds Crazy, But. . .

Crushed, the very plateau upon which so many depend. Recent studies seem to demonstrate that prescription antidepressant medications fail to work any better on minimally or moderately depressed people than placebos. But if one reflects an extremely deep depression, that's when they might provide some benefit. I guess that's a reasonable connection -- that the power of the mind can influence the, um, power of the mind, and a little ol' sugar pill can sometimes work wonders. Apparently.

Research also emphasizes a heightened risk of suicidal thoughts -- the very desires these pharmaceutical miracles were intended to obliterate -- for patients on antidepressants. Maybe gonna be a few professional mind adjustors hanging up their credentials and learning how to sell flowers on street corners, once this gets around. Good thing somebody invented "sex addiction" and other conveniences to keep the chain letter going. Some of those emotional excavation folks won't be happy until everybody on the planet has a DSM (medical diagnosis) code number stamped on our foreheads.
But forget the patients. I'm more concerned about uncounted members constituting the mental health community itself who secretly take such medications in order to conquer their own depression. I mean, they must, after listening to and absorbing everybody's head clutter day after day after agonizing day. Knowing, now, how such drugs can betray both patients and doctors, will we see psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals turning violent? Road-rage directed toward the couch? Will they fly airplanes into the FDA and corporate pharmaceutical buildings, realizing now that they've been self-ingesting and treating patients with medications equivalent to thin air? Or maybe, like a birthday sweater destined not to fit, it really is just the thought that counts. The cure. Yeah, it's a stress-filled world, with the abnormal poised to assume normalcy, as presumably conventional societal pressure-relief valves collapse like prison cells of cotton candy.

Quick, nurse, a round of Thorazine (ol' reliable) for everybody, and order a few million cans of aerosolized road-rage inhibitor, available by prescription only, side-effects to be determined later. Oh well, if all else fails, I guess there's always Scientology.
So, just whom on this troubled planet WOULDN'T require a 12-step program to overcome the psycho-malady of the month? According to a relatively dated, yet nevertheless important, 1993 study -- UFO observers.

The November, 1993 issue of The Journal of Abnormal Psychology featured some interesting results of a study conducted by four psychology researchers affiliated with Carleton University in Ottawa. 49 people claiming UFO encounters were studied -- along with other willing participants -- and evaluated using standard psychological tests to measure participants' intelligence and capacity for various mental disorders. The UFO witnesses were found to be "normal" and, in fact, UFO observers were determined to be somewhat more intelligent than others in the study who indicated no UFO experiences.
Researchers attempted to explore the possibility that UFO sightings might be associated with epilepsy, outright fantasies or some yet unknown abnormality of the brain's temporal lobe, but instead found normal subjects without mental baggage.

Still, while I'm generally comfortable accepting these results, I was concerned that the project solicited participants through newspaper advertisements -- essentially, the same approach taken by Dr. Susan Clancy in way of conjuring her "sleep paralysis" diagnosis for those who believe they were abducted by UFO entities. And, like Clancy, the Ottawa researchers also latched onto the sleep paralysis theory, believing it "most probably" responsible for a quarter of the participants' alleged UFO experiences. Most probably? How convenient. What about the other 75 percent? And what about the ads? I guess my fantasy research team's newspaper ad would read, "Captured by a UFO? Bothered by aliens in the night? Besieged by visions of Phil Klass in your dreams? Call this number. . ." Somehow, I question the scientific validity of dealing with folks drawn to a UFO study via newspaper advertisements. But the Canadian project apparently stumbled upon something worthwhile in this arena.

Canadian researcher Patricia Cross, accomplishing the study as her master's degree thesis, concluded: "Our findings clearly contradict the previously held notions that people who seemingly had bizarre experiences, such as missing time and communicating with aliens, have wild imaginations and are easily swayed into believing the unbelievable."
A UFO encounter group apparently conducting lives drenched in normal mental functions? Pity. Otherwise, they'd have been shovel-ready for antidepressants. Here, open up and swallow this. . .

PANIC IN THE STREETS: If anybody needs antidepressants this week, it's the FAA and members of the hysterical public currently pointing fingers and darned nearly fainting because an air traffic controller at JFK Airport in NY allowed his children to accompany him to work and actually give instructions to pilots. Pilots themselves apparently had no problems with This Serious Infraction Of The Rules, and there was obviously a cuteness factor involved as they laughed off the occasion. Airport flights were never in danger because the veteran controllers were right there, listening to every word the kids said and, by the way, those children's voices demonstrated infinitely more clarity than anything you get from speakers outside of fast food establishments, where you can't really be sure whether somebody asked if you wanted fries or flies with "that." So. . .
So, to an anal-retentive society, increasingly intent upon elimination of personal risk, while simultaneously putting a lock and key on everything we enjoy, I say -- good for you, kids, and congratulations, air traffic controller dad -- you gave your kids an experience most will never have, and maybe the thrill of being in the middle of the action will profoundly influence their future. As for my government -- hey, that wasn't exactly the Taliban in the tower -- cut dad and the kids some slack and concentrate instead on protecting national borders, where the real danger lurks.