Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why I don’t like mind-control drugs

As I said in the last post, I’d rather deal with the occasional nightmare than not have dreams at all

One of the problems with American attitudes toward medicine is the eagerness of people to say, “Oh, let’s find a pill you can take to fix it.” Yes, if you have a bacterial infection, it makes sense to take a round of pills and get rid of it. But now, it seems that so many other conditions that weren’t considered serious problems now are – toenail fungus, male performance issues, and a host of mental conditions.

Yes, some cases are severe, but it’s only been recently that such things as extreme shyness were seen as pathological conditions to be fixed with a pill. Many children, especially boys, are diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder and put on medications to get them under control, when the behavior that is now seen as pathological would just have been “boys being boys” a generation ago and treated with stern discipline. Among the younger students I see in the college courses I teach, I often get one who says, “I have ADD. Therefore I’m not capable of behaving myself.” What I have discovered is that these students are indeed capable of behaving themselves if they’re engaged in challenging coursework that they find meaningful. The trick is getting them out of the mindset that they’re doomed by brain chemistry to misbehave.

In my own case, I spent some years on anti-depressants, and those were the worst years of my life. Sure, the drugs got rid of the lows. But they also got rid of the highs. I wasn’t crying, but I couldn’t laugh either. I didn’t have nightmares, but I didn’t have dreams either.

This morning I had not one, but two dreams that made me glad I could have them.

The second one was influenced by the very wet weather we have had lately. I was in Los Alamos, and needed to drive to Pojoaque along with some family members, and there had been so much rain that Cochiti Lake was overfilled and flooded the road between Los Alamos and Pojoaque, so we had to take a detour. Then at Pojoaque, we arrived at the sparkling-new international airport (no, in real life, Pojoaque doesn’t have an airport), apparently built to complement the casino. It was a spectacular airport, beautifully designed, with art of all sorts, soft lighting, and just a wonderfully pleasant atmosphere, much like a fine restaurant.

The security checkpoint had all sorts of fancy electronic devices and gates to go through, courtesy of the scientific lab at Los Alamos. The attendant looked up at me and said, “I remember you from last year. You’re going to Geneva, aren’t you?”

“No,” I said. “Lucerne, actually.” After getting through security, I went to the boarding gate, which really resembled a nice restaurant, with candlelit tables and everything. There was even a pastry cart, and I selected some sort of blueberry-covered cake. Then when I got my cake, I discovered it wasn’t cake, but rather something like marzipan, and it was a Native American sculpture of a blue horse.

The earlier dream had a Star Wars theme to it. I was camped out in the desert on Tatooine, in a pop-up tent trailer, much bigger than the one that I had borrowed to camp in for dockmaster duty. I went sailing, which seemed odd, because who ever heard of sailing in the desert? How could there possibly be sailing on Tatooine? Then I returned to the camper, and I discovered that I would need to seek out a great Jedi master.

The Jedi master lived in a rock outcropping a ways across the desert. I traveled via speeder to the outcropping, and then to get into the rocks, I needed to go up stairs, through tunnels, up elevators and escalators, on a levitating sailboat, and around rocky paths. Some jawas showed up to help lead me. Finally, I reached the entrance to the Jedi master’s cave, and as I looked in, I saw a mother cat and two kittens walking across the front part of the cave. I recognized the cat and immediately knew who the master was, even before I heard the jawa behind me say, “Oh, the master always has cats.”

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