Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It has been cold the last few mornings, and woodsmoke has scented the air. Today's high temperature is only 48°. I like it cold. I can go out into the woods and walk and walk and walk among the deep autumn shadows, my boots swishing through the leaf-fall.

Last week the foliage was at its vibrant peak. Then the wind came and, whoosh!, all the leaves came down. The woods are barer now, but no less beautiful.

It is widely accepted that  'beauty is in the eye of the beholder', but I believe that beauty is the reflection of Truth. As Fyodor Dostoevsky famously put it, "Beauty will save the world!".

Fr. Timothy S. Reid explains how this happens one soul at a time:
"Beauty reveals or is a reflection of goodness, perfection, clarity, and simplicity. It is objectively attractive by its very nature. Beauty draws us out of ourselves toward something other. Most importantly, beauty is not something we consume, but it is something that must be contemplated in order to be enjoyed. In other words, we must receive it and allow it to shape us...Beauty is our portal to the interior life of our soul."
The other day I started reading the book, The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country, by Helen Russell. It's a fun, light read, thanks to Russell's companionable voice and British wit.

I looked up the United Nation's Happiness Report and noticed that the happiest countries have a few things in common: they are small (less than 10 million people), prosperous nations, with a fairly homogeneous population. It makes sense that people are happier when they feel kinship with, and support from, their communities (trust), and when there is a narrow gap between the richest and poorest incomes. Diversity appears to be an impediment to happiness. The most culturally diverse countries in the world rank the lowest in happiness (e.g. Tanzania).

Did you know that 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD? By high school approximately 20% of all boys in the U.S. will have been diagnosed with ADHD --a 37% increase since 2003 (from "The Drugging of the American Boy", by Ryan D'Agostino). Think about that for a minute: 6.4 million is more than the entire populations of most of the happiest countries in the world!

The standard treatment for ADHD is stimulant drugs that are classified as "Schedule II", which are defined as "having a high potential for abuse" and  "with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence."  Besides the drugs used to treat ADHD, other drugs that belong to this class are: cocaine, methamphetamine, Demerol, and OxyContin. These drugs are serious, addictive, and can come with some potent side effects. Scary stuff. Stimulants are basically a performance enhancing drug for the mind. They work in helping kids whose immature brains1 (or disordered brains) can't attend to the tedium of academic tasks. These drugs do work; but does that mean we should use them? What do you think?

This article from PBS Frontline lays out both sides of the argument:  Does ADHD exsit?

ADHD is considered a neuro-biological disorder.  But there is no lab test to determine if a patient has it. There is a questionnaire. There are academic and cognitive evaluations. If your child is more than a grade level behind his age mates, expect a diagnosis of ADHD and a treatment plan that consists of a prescription for a Schedule II stimulant and possibly special education.

Throughout history there has always been  "no room at the inn" for anyone who doesn't fit neatly into society's standards and norms (witch hunts, asylums, The Final Solution, etc.). We think that by eliminating differences, we will all be happier. And, maybe we will. But, we will also miss the opportunity to see beauty in the other and realize the life of our own souls.

1 More than a third of children diagnosed with ADHD "outgrow" their symptoms.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Mine is apparently the 8th happiest country in the world, despite having a great deal of cultural diversity (and one of the highest rates of child abuse). Sometimes I wonder who they asked when collating such lists!

    I used to say I don't believe in ADHD, but then I got angry mothers growling at me. So I've toned down my opinion to say that I believe many, many cases of ADHD are infact kids who can't fit comfortably into the current mode of education. They need to move, explore, think widely, flit from one wonder to the next ... in days gone by, their way of being would have been valued, but now we want all young people sitting at desks, reading textbooks, listening quietly. No wonder vast swathes of children find it difficult.

    That isn't to say people with ADHD don't have a "different" way of being in the world. Just that I wonder why its considered bad.

    I also wonder at the climbing rates of autism and Aspergers. Again, definitely not saying they're not real, just curious as to what is going on with this generation of young people.

    It shocks me at how doctors are always prescribing powerful drugs as their first reaction to anything outside of "normal". Maybe the happiness = lack of diversity is because humans don't like "different", and the modern way of dealing with that is to stigmatise, medicalise, drug, restrain, diminish, anyone who is not "normal" as "normal" is seen by a particular community.

    A few decades ago there was a push to get doctors making "green prescriptions" - ie, walks in nature, fresh foods, community connections, etc. But that never really seemed to take off. I love the way many "third world" and native peoples have of bringing lost souls and broken hearts back into the compassionate fold of the community, back into peace. There is much dancing, singing, feasting, togetherness, involved in the process. How I wish it was like that in the so-called superior first world.

    1. Sarah, thank you so much for your comment!♥ I really appreciate everything you wrote. It occurs to me that education has changed a great deal in the last thirty years, which is the same time period that we've seen an exponential increase in children with attention problems (both with and without hyperactivity), and yet doctors and educators insist that there is something wrong with these children...that it is "neurobiological", even though the diagnosis is based on questionnaires and evaluations of performance, and is wholly subjective.

      In the article I linked "Does ADHD exist?" Harold Koplewicz (the Vice Chairman of Psychiatry at New York University) said, "I think that the most important part is that when you're able to systematically study what these kids look like long term, you start to recognize that without treatment, these children lose out on a normal life. They can't get the joy of getting decent grades. They can't get the joy of being picked to be on a team. They get very demoralized. They don't necessarily get depressed, but life becomes a very demoralizing place." --I think his thoughts serve to underscore the real problem behind ADHD. Why on earth should every child find her joy in getting good grades??? Or of ranking on a sports team??? There is so much more to life than competition!

      I like what you wrote about indigenous cultures and the idea of "green prescriptions" very much.

  3. Susan, thank you for commenting! I've missed you, and have been wondering... xo

    1. Hi Lisa, thank you for sharing your email with me. I will send you a message soon.♥

  4. Beautiful, Beautiful October Forests! How Pretty!
    ADHD! Well - along with so many of the "rising diseases" of our time - I'm not convinced we're not doing a lot of it to ourselves. Drugs are wonderful things, and I believe the knowledge of pharmaceuticals is a gift of healing from God.
    But on the other hand, especially with all these behavioral issues, I'm pretty convinced there are a lot of other things that should be tried first. A cleansing and purging of clutter in our spaces. A cleansing of junk from our diets. A slowing down of life in general. Don't get me wrong - I'm the first one to reach for the asprin bottle, but these intense drugs are frightening. I don't think they should be our first line of defense - ESPECIALLY for children.
    But do we leave ourselves any better options? It's almost impossible to clean our diet and environment these days. We're bombarded by chemicals and noise and electrical energies all the time.
    I don't know the answer for us - except to keep trying the best we can and maybe find a better solution to determining just what IS a disease. I agree with Sarah, too - that sometimes these kids might just not fit the mold. Classrooms aren't for everyone. I think a walk among your beautiful trees sometimes might be more effective.