Sunday, October 15, 2017

Week 4 Reflection

I can't remember why I didn't post the last reflection in a timely manner, but I remember all too well why I did not post this particular reflection after I composed it and shared it with my professor: It was the first time I received any kind of criticism from my professor on any of my reflections. I have always been rather "sensitive" when it comes to any kind of criticism about any kind of work I produce but it seems since my depression diagnosis that this sensitivity has been heightened to the highest possible level, and every time I receive any kind of criticism, instead of hearing what the person is saying, which is generally something along the lines of "this work needs some improvement," I hear "you, as a person, are bad and need some improvement." This generally leads to a sort of self-imposed shame spiral and makes it difficult for me to continue with that work/course/etc.
My professor said that I did not provide enough context from the text to really allow him to understand my thought process(es), which I think you will agree with if you read the reflection below. He was able to ultimately figure out what I was trying to convey and he picked up on a common struggle I have with my writing: being able to explicitly articulate a thought rather than simply describe it and essentially dance around it in the hope/belief that those who read my writing will be able to easily decipher what I am truly trying to say. Anyways, what I'm really trying to get at in this reflection is: Do we have a need for an altered state (i.e. depression)?
Let me know what you think!

Reinventing Depression (Continued)
            Does Huxley think depression and/or anxiety are the result of American culture? American culture being: “Mass Production, Standardization, Capitalization, Individualism, Consumerism” (Callahan 104). How has globalization affected depression rates and vice versa? Did Huxley get the inspiration for his drug, “soma,” from Peyote? The text states he was inspired by “Native American folklore” (Callahan 104). At this time, (early/mid-20th century), people were “…. using hallucinogens as a pathway to greater perception and insight (Callahan 104). If hallucinogens are used, does that eliminate the need for/replace psychotherapy? How much insight can one gain into one’s own identity, being, etc. without another person present – no matter what chemical (or other) influences he or she may be under? Is this currently considered the benefit of various psychoactive drugs (MDMA, LSD, etc.) that are currently being researched to treat mental illness? Is it possible to extract the chemical compounds from these drugs that are considered beneficial while avoiding any compounds that cause negative side effects like hallucinating? Right now, this is a “hot” issue with cannabis. The text also refers to an “opium of the masses” and says this issue has been “an age-old concern” (Callahan 104). Does this mean that some, if not all, people think humanity needs to experience in an altered mental state in order to function on a regular basis? Could this be a reference to alternate realities? Is the cure to depression a “break” from reality? Does “reality” cause depression? Exactly what aspects of reality could cause depression? Does the rate of depression increase during wars? There seems to be a strong correlation/causation between anxiety and depression, yet these two diseases are always characterized as “looking back into the past” (depression) and “looking into the future” (anxiety); how can two these two phenomena occur simultaneously when they are so different/antagonistic? Do/can they occur simultaneously or do they just occur (at least sometimes) very close to one another?
            Is psychopharmacology trying to dull all senses, like anesthesia, but to a lesser degree? When on an antidepressant, a patient no longer experiences extreme lows but also no longer experiences extreme highs. They are simply “stable.” This sounds more like a robot than a human. Is the “problem” (in mental illness) an over-active mind? Is that why so many “geniuses” experience depression and/or anxiety? What about the other side of the spectrum – individuals with an under-active/under-developed mind? Do they experience something just as difficult but aren’t able to convey to others what they are experiencing or do not know it’s not “normal”?
            What exactly makes an antidepressant an antidepressant, versus a hypnotic or tranquilizer? Can hypnotics or tranquilizers be antidepressants? There is a “lack of replicability” when it comes to psychopharmacology research (Callahan 107). Is this “lack of replicability” referring to the fact that no two minds/brains are exactly similar?

            According to Callahan, “Anglo-American[s]” were the main prescribers of “Miltown,” which was sort of the first Prozac in terms of its popularity and its status as a cultural phenomenon (Callahan 108, 106). Why were White Americans the main prescribers? Was it because of culture – they were more accepting of taking pills to lessen their daily stresses? Did they simply have better access (SES)? Was it “cool/popular” to have one of these prescriptions? Was something wrong with you if you didn’t have a prescription? Drugs like Miltown, known as minor tranquilizers, came to be known as “mother’s little helper” (Callahan 108). This highlights the gender bias for mental illness but also creates a sense of normalcy around the use of prescription drugs. Patients who were prescribed these minor tranquilizers were considered to not have a “severe mental illness,” yet the drugs were extremely popular (Callahan 109). Does this mean that the majority of the population has a “minor” mental illness and that the stigma surrounding mental illness is not simply its presence, but rather, its severity?

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