Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Don’t Medicalize Sadness

Sadness should not be synonymous with sickness.  There is no diagnosis for every disappointment or a pill for every problem.  Life’s difficulties—divorce, illness, job loss, financial troubles, interpersonal conflicts—can’t be legislated away.  And our natural reactions to them—sadness, dissatisfaction, and discouragement—shouldn’t all be medicalized as mental disorder or treated with a pill.  We are usually resilient, lick our wounds, mobilize our resources and our friends, and get on with it.  Our capacity to feel emotional pain has great adaptive value equivalent in its purpose to physical pain—a signal that something has gone wrong.  We can’t convert all emotional pain into mental disorder without radically changing who we are, dulling the palette of our experience.  If we can’t tolerate sadness, we can’t experience joy.  Huxley’s dystopian Brave New World shows how quickly pain-free translates into brain-dead.

Allen Frances, M.D, "Saving Normal," pg.141-142

No comments: