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Author Topic: Neurodiversity  (Read 886 times)

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Offline SerephinoTopic starter

Neurodiversity
« on: June 26, 2010, 02:04:33 PM »
http://www.alternet.org/story/147107/


This is a very long article, but I found it interesting.  I've always said normal is relative.  I don't relate well to people much, and I only barely scraped by in Mathematics.  I have trouble remembering things I read, but I remember all sorts of trivial facts that I hear on news or science shows.  In fact, the only time I ever did well in class was when the teacher verbally went over lessons.  I always aced those tests, while failing the ones where the teacher just told us to read the chapter.

However, I always excelled at English and French.  I actually once got penalized on an assignment where we had to write a short story that had certain things in it.  The teacher commented that while wildly creative and interesting, it wasn't what she was looking for.  That pissed me off.  It had every requirement in it, it was just outside the box.  Why in the hell should I have failed the assignment for that?

I've avoided taking the medication everyone wants to shove down my throat for a very long time.  It made me feel weird and not myself.  While there are parts of myself I don't like, there are parts I happen to like a lot.  I enjoy my uniqueness.  I only turned to medication when I was having trouble functioning in daily life, and only to treat that one annoying symptom. 

My boyfriend was diagnosed with ADHD, but really, I think he just has trouble concentrating on stuff that doesn't interest him.  I've seen him sit and write a hack for an online game.  If something goes wrong with my computer, he can usually fix it.  When he was working as a landscaper his boss had trouble keeping him busy because his inability to sit still and do absolutely nothing made him finish his work in half the time it would've taken anyone else.  Isn't that the definition of a good worker?

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the issue.     

Offline Asuras

Re: Neurodiversity
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2010, 08:37:19 PM »
I do think that with things like ADHD and depression probably shouldn't be thought of as illnesses in the way that say cancer is thought of as an illness. It may be better to think of it just as a condition - a fact - which can sometimes be changed through certain medical options. Often drugs. It's not inherently unreasonable for someone to refuse medical advice when they're diagnosed with one of these conditions since like you say...it can change who you are and maybe you don't want that.

Fine, you have that right and that right should be respected. But you also must accept the consequences. Typically these disorders are treated as disorders because they imply a lower level of functioning in one area or another which society has deemed important and society will penalize you for performing less well in those areas, so...like I said, there will be consequences.

I personally take meds for ADHD and depression, and I associate them with a dramatic improvement in my level of achievement. Mental illness tends to run in my family - my mother and her father both had clinical, violent, paranoid schizophrenia (which goes beyond the threshold of what I can call "neurodiverse"), and my brother was diagnosed with ADHD and an anxiety disorder. My brother refuses medication. I think that I am where I am right now largely because I take my medication, while my brother - who's 23, living with our parents, and struggling through community college - doesn't.

But he has the right, at least as long as my parents oblige him.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Neurodiversity
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2010, 09:20:49 PM »
I think 'condition' is a better word also.  And frankly, from what I've seen with people who are 'neurodiverse' (I'm guessing at the meaning being 'something outside of the standard definition of normalcy in regards to thought processes',) the treatment of that condition is a very subjective thing.  My sister-in-law is an example of 'better living through chemistry'.  Another friend of mine functions just fine without meds, despite having a condition that normally makes the shrinks rub their hands with glee and get visions of research papers dancing through their heads.

Although - the fact that he does function so well, might be a paper in and of itself... Hm.

Treat the bits that bother you, skip the rest of the cocktail.

Offline SerephinoTopic starter

Re: Neurodiversity
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2010, 09:23:59 PM »
I also think these things are over-diagnosed.  I mean the author said something like 1 in 4 Americans have been diagnosed with something, usually depression or ADHD.  When I was first diagnosed I was an outcast teenager that was constantly picked on with a dead father.  I had a reason to not be chipper.  My grandpa was in a nursing home while recovering from a surgery.  Being 90 years old he wasn't recovering very fast, and up until that point he was very independent.  So of course he was frustrated and a little down in the dumps.  But a psychiatrist that was sent in to see him wanted to put him on anti-depressants, like a pill is the solution for anything and everything.

You are right in the fact that there are consequences for not following medical advice though.  My school years might have been better had I not been socially awkward.  I can't work a normal job, and therefore must live on a very fixed income.  And there have been other issues I have had to learn how to deal with.  But it was either that or become an artificially happy zombie.  If medication works for you that's great, but nothing has really worked for me so far. 

I agree with the author that it's very sad that if you don't fit into a cookie cutter image of what's considered normal then something is wrong with you that must be fixed by a pill.  Kids that just have a lot of energy are being diagnosed with ADHD and given medication to make them calm and compliant.  I didn't want to sit still when I was a little kid.  I acted out in Kindergarten out of frustration and boredom and they thought there was something wrong with me.  Forgive me for already knowing how to count and working ahead in my math book so I would have it done ahead of time.  I got in trouble for that too. 

Offline Oniya

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Re: Neurodiversity
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2010, 09:47:02 PM »
The little Oni has issues with sitting still, and her third grade teacher had this amazing thing they put on the seats of the fidgety kids.  It's a sort of loosely-inflated textured cushion thing, that lets them sort of wobble on their chairs instead of doing things like tipping them back or scootching them around.

Edit:  Found the thing!  http://www.therapro.com/Disc-O-Sit-and-Disc-O-Sit-Jr-P4224C307863.aspx
« Last Edit: June 26, 2010, 09:48:08 PM by Oniya »

Offline cassia

Re: Neurodiversity
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2010, 05:26:04 PM »
When someone has a condition that doesn't cause him or her much distress and does not get in the way of essential functioning, then it is not a disorder and doesn't need treatment, even if other people think the person would be easier to get along with - which usually translates as "easier to control" - etc. without the condition. When s/he is very distressed or can't perform basic functions, like obeying sensible laws, taking care of himself/herself, and keeping a job if s/he needs one, this is when treatment is warranted. There are too many people in the first group who are told they're in the second over and over until they believe it and submit to unnecessary interventions, and too often the first line of treatment is a pill. Some people need pharmaceuticals, and some people who don't will still need a form of therapy, but far fewer than doctors would like us to believe.

Offline Asuras

Re: Neurodiversity
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2010, 10:22:34 PM »
Quote from: Seraphino
I agree with the author that it's very sad that if you don't fit into a cookie cutter image of what's considered normal then something is wrong with you that must be fixed by a pill.

The psychiatrists will say that you should accept treatment because they get paid to say that, so who cares.

Your friends and family will say this to you because they don't want to see you on a fixed income. Or at least that's why I advise my brother to take his meds.

Quote from: Seraphino
Forgive me for already knowing how to count and working ahead in my math book so I would have it done ahead of time.  I got in trouble for that too. 

The problem is that to do significant things - in most professions - requires working with people. Sometimes you may know more than they do. Sometimes the procedures may be stupid. Other times you may not know as much as you think you do, and sometimes the procedures might be justified for reasons you don't see. But if you don't participate your talent won't be applied at all, and that's (in my view) a damn shame...which is why I'm disappointed in my brother because he has very limited capacity for brooking disagreement and adapting to procedure.

Quote from: cassia
When someone has a condition that doesn't cause him or her much distress and does not get in the way of essential functioning, then it is not a disorder and doesn't need treatment, even if other people think the person would be easier to get along with - which usually translates as "easier to control" - etc. without the condition.

Right, but if the treatment makes the condition better - even if the condition doesn't impair "essential functioning" - why not? If I can work harder and be happier taking a drug, without short- or long-term side effects, why not?

Offline Jude

Re: Neurodiversity
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2010, 11:39:15 PM »
Comments on the Article:

The article starts out as crap in my opinion.  In the beginning I was wondering if the guy who wrote it has ever actually read the DSM-IV.  Yes, abnormality is one of the criteria that can suggest that there is a psychological problem, but it's certainly not the only component or even the most important.  Abnormal behavior certainly includes mentally ill behavior, but they're not the same thing--in fact mentally ill behavior can be the norm in certain societies if you use Western definitions to analyze them.  Whether or not the behavior is causing yourself or other people harm or is causing you serious psychological distress is far more important than the "normality" of the behavior when it comes to determining if that behavior is a disorder or not.

However, the last page I thought was fairly redeeming.  He kind of admitted that he was attempting to rebrand things in order to turn around the way that people look at those disorders, and that there are still drawbacks to those disorders.  His suggestions on attending to the needs of a child with mental disorders by supplementing the weaknesses and allowing them to practice their strengths is a very good idea, if not sort of obvious.  As far as I could tell, he's generally avoided saying that people of disease x shouldn't take medicine for it, so I can't really find much fault with what he wrote overall, just the first few pages.

He did say that about 1/4 of people in the US could be diagnosed with a mental disorder, but what he failed to mention in giving that statistic is that addiction is considered to be a mental disorder.  Given the high prevalence of smoking, alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction, etc... well, it messes with the numbers.  I remember discussing that specifically in my abnormal psychology class.

About the concept of Neurodiversity from a philosophical viewpoint:

"Normal" in any society is simply a style of behavioral human adaption which (in theory) promotes success on an individual or societal basis.  In most situations, conforming to the norm is in the advantage of the individual in question, but that does not necessarily mean that such conformity should be promoted.  For example, my life in the United States would be far easier at times if I was to become a Christian instead of remaining Agnostic.

While that conversion would be beneficial, it is not in line with who I am, thus would require me to behave contrary to my nature and be someone who I am not; of course there are many other reasons, but that's the part that's key to the concept of Neurodiversity, I think.  I'm sure we can all agree that requiring someone to behavior in a certain way that causes them dysphoria because it's out of touch with who they are is generally wrong.  But there are certainly exceptions to the rule.

If you're going to argue that when a biological predisposition (e.g. Autism) strongly encourages the individual to behave in a certain way (such as exhibiting Autistic traits) we should accept that behavior because it is not a choice, then you have to be OK with sociopaths committing murder.  Obviously individual behaviors need to be analyzed on their own merit.  Example:  homosexuality is obviously not normal, but there is certainly no harm being done, so it should not be discouraged.  As long as the individual acting is hurting no one but themself, I don't see what gives society a right to intervene.

But here's where things get gray yet again:  by my logic given in the above paragraph, suicide should be accepted as a legitimate behavior if someone makes that decision, because they're only hurting themself.  There's an easy way to argue out of that, by claiming that they are hurting other people (such as their family) by taking their own life.  But when you bring that into the fold things become far more complicated overall.

When you start to consider the emotional impact of certain behaviors--beyond the basic, most immediate, and obvious outcomes--the list of behaviors that can damage other people emotionally is definitely much more expansive.  Any birth defect or genetic disorder, such as Autism, causes a certain amount of emotional strain on the family of the person affected, not to mention the people who regularly interact with them.  I had a friend for awhile who was diagnosed with Aspergers (an Autism spectrum disorder), and his abnormal behavior regularly caused problems in our circle of friends.  Being unable to walk is clearly a disability, why shouldn't being largely unable to empathize with other people be labeled as such as well considering how important social skills are to function in any society?

The bottom line is, none of this matters that much really in my opinion (which is probably making you roll your eyes if you read this far).  This is all a matter of nomenclature more than an actual attempt to change the structure of our laws or society.  In our society, parents are allowed to make the choice about whether or not they want to treat their children with mental disorders for those disorders, and that isn't going away anytime soon.

I think the neurodiversity movement is a subtle push at changing societal paradigms, which is a worthy cause.  Anyone who is "mentally ill" has a very large stigma against them which is rarely justified.  Society as a whole forgets that people who smoke are mentally ill, as are those who do anything compulsively (such as play video games or even post on E in a way that interferes with their responsibilities systematically--though media addiction is still a gray area to psychological professions).  There's too much fear and not enough understanding of difference in the United States, and this is just another symptom of that.

Offline cassia

Re: Neurodiversity
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2010, 09:07:38 PM »
If the condition bothers a person enough that he or she would seek out medication for it, then that person does have a problem that is worth addressing. Whether a pill is the best first option or not will depend on those unique circumstances. The ones who are functional and fine with their level of functioning, even if it could be higher with medication, are the ones who need no intervention and should not be pressured in any way. Many problems in today's society stem from a basic inability to live and let live even when the actions of others do no significant harm. The overmedication of individuals to treat minor deviances from what is arbitrarily deemed normal behavior is one of them.

Offline SerephinoTopic starter

Re: Neurodiversity
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2010, 11:06:45 PM »
I never said people with serious problems shouldn't seek help.  The topic of the discussion is the people who are borderline, or those that are labeled with a disorder when their minds just work a little differently.  Diagnoses of mental disorders are thrown about carelessly sometimes I think.

Yes, if I could work, I could earn more money.  That I won't argue.  After all, I was going to school to be a radiology tech when I had my first meltdown.  They make good money so I was told.  But I think I would also be miserable.  Like I said, medication turned me into a zombie.  Things that I've always enjoyed I suddenly got no pleasure out of.  I was existing, not living.  I hated it.

My eccentricities make me who I am.  I think it would be safe to say that everyone here has at least one little quirk.  If you like to keep the towels in your bathroom straight and well organized, well, that's compulsive behavior.  Should you be given OCD medication?  If you weren't wasting so much time straightening your towels you'd get a lot more important stuff done right? 

Right now I'm a writer.  Nothing could come of it, or I could write a best seller.  One never knows.  Or I could invent something useful.  You wouldn't believe half the shit that pops into my head at any given moment...  The world needs creative people.