By Kenneth Justice
~ Have you ever read “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley? In Huxley’s Dystopian future, sadness and depression no longer exist because the New World Order mandates that everyone must take a pill (called Soma) periodically throughout the day; Soma produces a type of euphoric response in the brain’s neurotransmitters and with all the members of society in a constant state of ‘being high’……everyone appears to be happy.
When I first read Brave New World in my youth I didn’t think too much about it……but by the time I picked it up for a second time it was the 1990’s and “popping pills” in the United States had now become a massive trend.
If you’re a little bit skeptical of our culture’s trend toward pill popping, consider the following statistics;
—) In 2010 the Center For Disease Control reported 48% of persons to be on a prescription drug and 10% of people to be taking at least 5 prescription drugs.
—) We’re now in the year 2013 and a recent study by The Mayo Clinic has now found 70% of Americans to be on at least one prescription drug and half of adults are taking 2!
In less than 5 years we went from half of America being on a prescription drug to 70%! If you need a little perspective on what 70% constitutes, there are about 30 other people sitting in the café where I’m at; this means statistically 21 of the people here are on some type of prescription drug!
I realize I risk upsetting people in merely mentioning the subject of ‘brain candy’ because the simple fact of the matter is statistically 7 out of every 10 readers are on some type of prescription drug. But before you start thinking that I’m going to try and make you feel guilty for taking drugs……keep reading.
My background is psychology and for many years I had to study cognitive disorders and I understand the technical side of the argument when it comes to taking prescription drugs. But, let’s not forget that there are many other ways to change the chemical balance of our brains;
—-) Exercise can release neurotransmitters (like Dopamine) which contribute to us feeling happier
—-) Lack of sunlight, a bad diet, not enough time spent in ‘nature’ can all have major effects on the neurotransmitters in our brain which can lead us to feeling depressed, anxious, and suffering from all different types of ‘mental disorders’
Brain candy has been an easy way for Medical Doctors to change a patient’s mood without needing to make sure the patient changes their behavior.
Have you read my blog before? Have you ever noticed that the overwhelming majority of my articles are challenging the way we think about culture? After nearly 10 years of combined study, college, and work in the human service field I’ve become convinced that the major reason 70% of adults are taking prescription drugs is not because everybody is suffering from a mental disorder…..but because everyone is suffering from a cultural disorder.
—) Western Culture has become too individualistic and it’s led to people feeling lonely, sad, and depressed
—) Lack of community has led people to spending too much time in front of the television (40 hours a week watching TV DOES NOT make you feel happy
—) Working in a career that you find to be miserable does not make you feel happy
—) Churches (which used to be a wellspring of joy for our culture) have become less concerned with real needs (the poor, orphans, widows, helping people, etc) and too concerned with bible studies, meetings, and other activities that involve a lot of busyness……busyness that ends up making people feel disconnected.
I’ve gotten more negative mail from Christians this past week so let me add; before you start telling me that the ‘Church is wonderful and everything is peachy keen’….don’t forget that 70% of the people at your church are on prescription drugs as well!
People are sad, people feel disconnected, people feel lonely……people feel overwhelmed, they feel too busy…..we keep trying to fill our lives with more material possessions, more meetings, more activities…..and all that we do only frustrates us all the more.
70% of people are on some type of prescription drug. We are taking brain candy because our bodies are telling us there is something wrong with us…..
But it’s not necessarily something wrong about us…..there is something wrong about our culture. Until we truly face the real issue; that we’ve designed a culture which has had a negative impact on our psychological health…..then all that the future holds is more and more brain candy for everyone.
Do some people suffer from genetic disorders and might need prescription drugs? Until we change our cultural situation we can’t truly know what percentage of people really need drugs. Unless we begin looking at the way the culture is negatively impacting our lives and we begin contributing to a positive change in our society…..we can’t truly know what place brain candy should have in our culture.
Look, I’m not saying that all drugs are bad. I’m not saying that we need to ban any type of drug that effects our brain…….but I am saying that if we don’t begin having an open and honest dialogue on the subject than I fear we are entering into a brave new world
If you don’t like the way caffeine affects you, than you can always order a decaf this morning. As for me, it’s time for another coffee
Categories: Culture & Society