Friday, September 21, 2018

No More Peanut Galleries

The Peanut Gallery c. 1949
Remember chronic fatigue syndrome? It's a well documented condition but there was a time when everyone seemed to be suffering from it. You don't hear about it as much these days. And then there was the whole repressed memory fiasco culminating in the McMartin preschool case. No one had apparently ever heard of the seduction theory or the fact that Freud famously repudiated it. Of course there are people who suffer from fatigue that is the result of everything from depression to mononucleosis. And there are people who have suffered all manner of childhood sexual abuse and suggesting it hasn't happened can be as much a form of indoctrination as suggesting it has. But there are times when the epidemic of suggestion appears to be both viral and epidemic. It turns out to be a myth ulcers were caused by stress. Saying that symptoms contain an element of fantasy is not the equivalent of Holocaust denial. Lately, there are many airlines who will not serve peanuts or even allow them on the plane, in the event that someone has an allergy that will produce an anaphylactic reaction. No one is disputing the reality of the symptoms or the need for people who suffer from such conditions to carry epipens. But why has this suddenly burst on the scene as a point of alarm? Baby Boomers will remember a TV show called Howdy Doody with its famous “peanut gallery”—a venue that would be off limits to kids today. One theory has it that the phobia about peanuts is such that it creates a situation where adults who haven’t been exposed to peanuts as children will develop reactions. Bipolar is the psychiatric disorder du jour and people leap on the diagnosis, possibly because it provides a label that explains symptoms and potentially offers a cure—by way of medication. In fact, the human mind is a complex thing and the proud declaration of bipolarity, while it may confer membership in a support group comprised of other suffers, may be more useful for providing a DSM code for insurers than anything else. There’s probably a new and insidious threat on the horizon, some undreamt of ailment, that will enrich the pharmaceutical industry while providing patients an explanation for their misery. People sometimes cheer themselves on for having found membership in a minority whose suffering and victimhood is attributable to a cause, without sometimes examining the dubiety of the evidence.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.