Produced and directed by
Lynn Cunningham and Wendy Ractliffe
One in five Americans is on some kind of psychiatric drug. The typical experience with psychiatric drugs starts with stress caused by work, war, school, family or watching too much TV news. This video follows several specific cases—some ex-military, some average working people and some children or teenagers.
Most people do not enjoy stress and make good targets for companies and professions that claim to have an easy fix. These fixes go by names like Zoloft, benzodiazepines and other really weird names. Many “work” quickly. . . for a while. The perfect sales scam is a quick benefit to distract customers from considering the long term. “Open a new bank account and get a free toaster.” Never mind constant ridiculous fees and low interest rates—you get a free toaster! “Buy this car and you get free floor mats!” Yeah, the car may be on the wrong end of a tow truck in six months, but you got free floor mats.
These pharmaceutical magic bullets may seem to work great at first, and many of the people in this video felt much better for about a month. After that, things go seriously wrong. Depression, suicidal thoughts and homicidal tendencies often come next. Once customers find out what the long-term ride is like, they usually wish they had never taken that first pill. Discontinuing these drugs is always difficult and sometimes deadly. That information is usually not included in your psychiatrist’s sales pitch.
I’ve mentioned before that some of my favorite sources of information are retired experts or professors who can spill the beans without worrying about what it might do to their careers. Allen Frances, chairman of the psychiatry department (emeritus) at Duke University is one such person. He and other experts explain the prevailing theory that chemical imbalances in the brain lead to depression and mental illness, but they point out that this theory has one critical flaw: it has no actual scientific basis.SUMMER 2020 Wise Traditions 80
We live on a planet that will stress you out sometimes, maybe often. I grew up in a primitive era known as the twentieth century. I had a pretty easy childhood. I don’t remember any exceptional traumas that now keep me awake at night, but when I think about it, there are things I had to deal with that created stress. After being cooped up in school all day, many kids like me liked to break out and run home. “School is over, so we can run now, right?” Oh no; safety patrols yelled at us to walk. Give me a break. Kids have energy and need to run. That’s what they do. Now healthy kids with energy are considered hyperactive, and that is a medical condition requiring drugs.
College students get stressed out trying to maintain high grades with a heavy course load being taught by dry professors who couldn’t teach chickens to cluck. People who work for a living sometimes end up working for someone who makes Scrooge look like Santa Claus. And then there are those who serve in the military. America has been in a state of open war for almost twenty years. You know. . . war. A front-row seat in hell. Apparently that stresses some people out. The video features a sergeant whose life has been pretty wrecked by war. She just won an F-bomb contest. That’s not my thing (most of the time), but I get why many people are pushed to that point. No question, it can be a tough world to live in. And of course, there are earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanos, lions, tigers and bears. Oh my.
Back in the twentieth century, we had a quaint, old-fashioned word for stress caused by the challenges of living on this planet. The word was normal. Yes, you may need help, but this was not a medical condition requiring pills. You got help from family or friends, your church or a bartender. Things certainly weren’t perfect, but when you look at where we are going in the twenty-first century, it’s the wrong direction.
Just one more excursion into editorializing. The film does not say a lot about solutions, but good nutrition—starting with a high-fat diet that keeps your blood sugar stable—will give you a better chance of standing up to the physical and emotional beating the world can dish out. Animals can also be very therapeutic, whether it is just a dog or contact with farm animals. Try helping out on a farm doing what we were meant to do—something more life-affirming. I’ll bet there is a farm within driving distance of you that needs help. The thumb is UP.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2020