Diagnosis: Human | by Ted Gup | America’s Pathologizing and Overmedicating

Ted Gup – an author and fellow of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University – published this story in the New York Times April 2, 2013. He discusses a personal story about his own son, stating that 11 percent of school-age children now receive a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — some 6.4 million….and that when his son was a child, he was also categorized this way. He was put on Ritalin, then Adderall, and other drugs that were said to be helpful in combating the condition.

His son was found dead at the age of 21 less than two years ago through a combination of drugs and alcohol, which the author claims is no doubt due to the fact that all his life he was prescribed something, that drugs have continually been there to pacify and self medicate.


“Ours is an age in which the airwaves and media are one large drug emporium that claims to fix everything from sleep to sex. I fear that being human is itself fast becoming a condition. It’s as if we are trying to contain grief, and the absolute pain of a loss like mine. We have become increasingly disassociated and estranged from the patterns of life and death, uncomfortable with the messiness of our own humanity, aging and, ultimately, mortality.

Challenge and hardship have become pathologized and monetized. Instead of enhancing our coping skills, we undermine them and seek shortcuts where there are none, eroding the resilience upon which each of us, at some point in our lives, must rely.

The D.S.M. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) would do well to recognize that a broken heart is not a medical condition, and that medication is ill-suited to repair some tears. Time does not heal all wounds, closure is a fiction, and so too is the notion that God never asks of us more than we can bear. Enduring the unbearable is sometimes exactly what life asks of us.”

I absolutely agree with his points and believe that it is well worth the read!

About carolkeiter
Aspiring writer, artist, musician and composer who was born and raised in the United States and has resided in several European countries. Communication is my forte; both through using various tools and in approaching people of divers backgrounds to gather information. Speak conversational - advanced intermediate - French, German and Spanish. Love interacting with people in cultural centers as much as going to remote places to learn more about the different creatures that share our planet. Love of the outdoors and of a variety of outdoor sports. Driven to learn and expand my own consciousness and understanding through curiosity and love of life. Creative skills merge with analytical ones, leading to an interest in a myriad of topics; ranging from politics, economics, science to environmental. Motivated to use my art, music and writing to support and educate people towards humane practices that support and respect all of life, including practices supporting a healthy planet.

2 Responses to Diagnosis: Human | by Ted Gup | America’s Pathologizing and Overmedicating

  1. I would like to converse with Ted Gup about my our experiance with the death of our 22 yr old grandson due to similar circumstances.

    • carolkeiter says:

      Sandra, I don’t remember whether I responded to your comment already. I am so sorry to hear about your grandson. Certainly, the human condition presents a lot of challenges. I do not know the author of the article I was paraphrasing, Ted Gup. I had read the article in the New York Times I believe. I’m sure that if you click on the link to the article itself or google “Ted Gup” you will find a means of contacting him. The article resonated with me, more so, because I am the only one of my siblings and some nieces and nephews (not all) who chooses to steer away from the path of medicating my ‘condition’. I have chosen to use my high energetic nature to do a lot of different activities. I balance my energy with sports activities and have been living a life which fits well with my inquisitive nature. I have valued gaining ‘experiences’ over ‘material acquisitions’. I have been challenged recently by some of my siblings for having the characteristics of what they label as a ‘disorder’, when in fact, I have lived my life honestly and genuinely. Though I have had made some unwise choices in relationships, I have learned that it is ‘I’ who made the choices to remain engaged with people who were critical of me. It was pointed out through a co-dependency therapist for example, that when a person points the finger at someone (talking about all the mean things a partner does for example) the other three fingers are pointing back! We don’t choose our families, but do choose our friends and work etc. I have learned that a person must accept responsibility for their choices. During difficult times, I have sought out and found information from various sources that have been helpful, for insights and guidance that resonated with my particular obstacle at the time. I believe that the biggest challenge in life, is more to find happiness through having a good attitude. It is not the circumstances, but how one interprets and deals with the circumstances; i.e. by finding humor and recognizing that we are not alone. It is often easier for human beings to emphasize what they are lacking, than to seek out the positive aspects of events. I have learned and continue to remind myself, that it’s important to find joy and to focus on the positive. Not so easy when one is faced with a tremendous sorrow, I’m certain. Yet it is a good habit to develop to find what one can appreciate in life, rather than focusing on what one perceives that they lack. I hope that in this lapse of time since you wrote this response, you have found a group of people to talk to who are supportive and who have shared a similar loss as yours, so that you and your family can find solace. Carol

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