Emotional Justice

Photo Credit: freeimages

Photo Credit: freeimages

Storing anger is self-defeating. A lack of acceptance of your own vulnerability can be a major contributor to the accumulation of anger. Stored anger has not been dealt with. It’s a refusal to express yourself; a denial of the right to do so. But do we know how bad this emotional retraction is for our health?

There have been studies that look at the connection between emotional health and diseases such as cancer. A lot of this is due to the fact that unhealthy emotional tension leads to stress, which has been proven to cause a lot of illnesses.

Often times, when we think about improving our health, we think about getting more exercise and proper nutrition. What we may not think about is the importance of mental clearing—a necessary step, I think, for emotional release and harmony. The restoration of a healthy, happy state of being can be achieved on a much higher level if we learn to clear our minds of garbage. A part of this is learning how to exercise proper release mechanisms, and maintaining an honest, introspective internal dialogue, which reveals your reflexive relationship with the universe.

Photo credit: freeimages

Photo credit: freeimages

I used to take it upon myself to try to always be the “neutral one”; the one whose presence does not create any interfering social dynamic. I don’t know why I was like that—it must have been a thought-complex that I picked up at a young age. There’s a lot of ingrained behaviours that we acquire while growing up, and it makes sense because this is the age where we start to become socially conscious of ourselves, and observant of our place amongst others.

This is the first time I’ve been able to articulate this idiosyncrasy of mine. For a long time, in my later youth, I had the constant frustration of not being able to express what I thought. In a nervous effort to avoid conflict, not reacting (being a doormat) became an obsession. I hated tension. I was also self-deprecating in the sense that I internalized a lot of resentment and anger that could have been resolved through self-expression.

I can’t stress enough how negative and damaging it is to hold things in. It never worked anyway—I constantly felt alienated from myself. My efforts to be “inhuman” in my relations with others amounted to self-defeat. You simply cannot always be in control and at ease. Eventually, I would erupt—an involuntary volcanic reaction to built-up anger and resentment over my unmet needs.

Nothing can truly be isolated in its being. A central problem with the ego is that it fights to deny this fact, which can translate into guilt, resentment, and depression. By virtue of being alive in the world, we cannot help but be involved. Underneath it all, life is a series of relational processes.


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Blair scott

Blair Scott is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College, who loves writing poetry. In recent times, she has become interested in the analysis of various sources of health literature, and how consumers come to terms with this multitude of information. Blair currently works at a health food store, but aspires to become a freelance contract writer and editor. 


When Thoughts Don't Know Best

One wise piece of advice that’s been given to me is: If you want to change, start with your behaviour; your thoughts will follow in time. Although we cannot change our thoughts and feelings right away, we can modify our behaviour. This will kick-start the process of re-wiring your brain towards healthier reactions to situations. You may not feel convinced at first; you may itch to act on an impulse, or revert to old habits that feel comforting and imprisoning at the same time. But by doing what you know is right, despite the contrary state of your internal climate, you will change yourself for the better. A large part of happiness is striking that harmonious balance between feeling in control and feeling free.

Getting Control, by Lee Baer, tells all about the desperation and desire for control in life. This book covers a range of behavioural disorders that fall into the “obsessive/tic” category. But Baer's main focus is on individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder  (OCD); helping them understand their condition, and rediscover themselves—their control—through a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy, active reinforcements, and family/friend support.

It can be hard to understand the true damage of the disease (which varies in the degree of severity and in type). Why can’t these people just relax—stop worrying about what’s not there? To an individual without OCD, the prospect of the house burning down if the kettle is left plugged in is less convincing than worrying about being struck by lightning. However, to an individual with OCD, just the idea alone creates great anxiety—an anxiety that the individual cannot separate from an actual threat. The house will burn down. I must check (and several times at that—perhaps some random number that arbitrarily provides a sense of relief). I am a bad person if I don’t check…terrible things will happen to me, or to my family…

People with OCD cannot control the thoughts and images that come into their head. Their brains are on permanent disc-skipping mode. The gratification that a taste of control brings often breeds ritualistic compulsions, like checking and washing. These compulsions are damaging, and reinforce the validity of the false messages assaulting the brain.

When control is gone, you crave it, and often find it in ways that are self-destructive. These forms of control trap you in a cycle of compromise. A genuine sense of control gives way to freedom. Paradoxically, in order for people with OCD to get there, they have to give up the “control” they have been clinging too, and open up to the idea that you can’t control much in life. In order to be happy, we need to accept things as they are. We must try the best we can.   


Blair Scott

Blair Scott is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College, who loves writing poetry. In recent times, she has become interested in the analysis of various sources of health literature, and how consumers come to terms with this multitude of information. Blair currently works at a health food store, but aspires to become a freelance contract writer and editor. 

A Generation of Kids on Ritalin

photo credit: freeimages

photo credit: freeimages

Why are so many kids these days being diagnosed with ADHD?

Health professionals, concerned about the over-medication of our kids, have been investigating this issue. Is this rapid increase in diagnoses due to an increase in environmental factors that cause ADHD? Or, have we just gotten better at diagnosing ADHD, reflecting improvements in scientific measuring techniques and research? Wherever your beliefs fall, controversy surrounds the prevalence of this relatively new disorder.

One of the most concerning aspects of ADHD diagnoses is the proposed treatment method: stimulant prescription drugs. The proliferation of these drugs—a list which includes Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta—amongst children is highly contested. Many of these drugs fall under the same umbrella category of drugs as amphetamines; they share similar side effects, such as reducing appetite and raising blood pressure, and can have negative effects on the heart. Furthermore, abuse of prescription drugs amongst youth is fairly common, which puts into question the widespread increase in their accessibility. Put bluntly, it is not difficult to make the “symptoms cut-off list” required for a medical diagnosis of ADHD.

Dr. David A. Sousa, perhaps, puts forward the best question for society: are we judging kids’ behaviours too quick to give them a medical diagnosis—instead of looking at other factors in the environment that could be causing ADHD-like behaviour?

photo credit: freeimages

photo credit: freeimages

Sousa does not dismiss the disorder altogether; however, he feels that too many kids who do not have the disorder are mistakenly and negligently diagnosed with it. It makes one wonder about what values and ideas we are teaching our kids, whose developing minds are increasingly being confronted by a fast-paced, conveniently-packaged environment.

Let’s recap some of the fine creations of modernity in the past half-century or so: constant stimulation via technology’s vast empire of luxury and entertainment devices; corporate advertising selling our children garbage-food and inactive lifestyles; candy-bar machines everywhere; foods oozing with preservatives and other chemicals foreign to the body; the stranglehold of soft drinks and energy drinks on our kids’ palates—drinks loaded with levels of caffeine that are deemed tolerable for adults, and worse for the growing brains and little bodies of the children who consume them.

Souse cites a host of environmental factors that contribute to ADHD-like symptoms. Diet is one of the major ones, but other factors include sleep deprivation, stress, the spread of technology, and heavy metals in the environment. What I found most interesting was his proposal of school-induced ADHD. He believes that our twenty-first century children, who crave an interactive learning environment, are being held back by a 20th-century school system, where the mantra is “sit down, listen, and record.” He argues that this style of teaching wears out the attention spans of these kids, who do not feel engaged with their learning environment.

I stand on the side of over-diagnosis, and even fictitious social constructionism at times. I do not deny the existence of ADHD, but I do think that the majority of kids being diagnosed are the subjects of an unnecessary diagnosis. Schools, parents, and doctors are ignoring the societal recipe that has created attention-strained, hyper-active kids. 


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Blair Scott

Blair Scott is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College, who loves writing poetry. In recent times, she has become interested in the analysis of various sources of health literature, and how consumers come to terms with this multitude of information. Blair currently works at a health food store, but aspires to become a freelance contract writer and editor. 

Is Natural Fundamentally Better?

Over the years, many people have righteously challenged Big Pharma, arguing that it causes more problems than it solves, and is ultimately concerned with profit. Our current conventional medical system prioritizes symptom diagnosis and maintenance over prevention and cure, and thereby supports the mass dissemination of the pharmaceutical industry’s products. This contrasts with alternative forms of medicine, which focus on a holistic overview of the individual, and healing the root causes of illness. Herbalism and naturopathy are examples of this second approach. These approaches believe that such ailments as anxiety, depression, and digestive disorders can be treated with herbal supplements, diet, and relaxation techniques, as opposed to medication.

Although they are well-intended in their advocacy against dependence on Big Pharma’s medication, I have found through my own experience of working in the natural health industry that many of their arguments fall short, and cannot be generalized to people facing significant health challenges. Some of the spokesmen for this industry make it very clear that conventional medicine has its place in emergencies and more serious interventions; however, others have allowed their own personal, pragmatic biases to oversimplify the beneficial results that natural remedies can have for people.

When I was younger, I leaned towards anything dubbed "natural," as I was highly skeptical of Big Pharma’s symptom-prescription philosophy. However, over the years, I realized that the statement, "between a rock and a hard place," is highly applicable to many health situations. I’ve met people with life-crippling anxiety disorders—people who cannot even fathom the idea of eating, let alone, "eating a proper diet." People do not explicitly sign up for the negative side effects of prescription medications; they weigh it as a cost worth the management of their symptoms. And for many people suffering from anxiety, the fear of facing another panic attack creates a desperation that cannot be quenched by taking vitamins, sedative herbal supplements, meditation, or breathing exercises.

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Through my months of working at a health food store, I attended trainings about natural health products, and listened to various company representatives rave about how these products are safer and more effective than pharmaceutical medications, such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), and benzodiazepines. A deep question arose within me: What makes a natural health product fundamentally better than a prescribed medication? We must investigate products—dig deeper, and find out where the facts are coming from.


Blair Scott

Blair Scott is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College, who loves writing poetry. In recent times, she has become interested in the analysis of various sources of health literature, and how consumers come to terms with this multitude of information. Blair currently works at a health food store, but aspires to become a freelance contract writer and editor. 

 



2 Comments

Katerina Glowienka

20 year old geek; having grown up with a computer software salesman for a father, I've been playing video games since I was 4. Currently in college for technical & business writing. I haven't noticed too many female bloggers in the technology & video game world - thus prompting me to create my own blog & review website.

The Business of Health: Pathological Propaganda

Would you trust a drug if you knew how much marketing effort was behind it—how much even doctors have been influenced through business tactics that have little to do with science?

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You’re watching TV. Your eyes are engorged with bright images of happy people running through fields of flowers. For a moment, you feel frozen in a box of seductive intrigue—the life you wish you had, perhaps… Then names like these surface on the screen: PAXIL. VIAGRA. PROZAC. LUNESTA. Sometimes, old drugs are even re-marketed to satisfy the latest pathologized craze…Prozac re-packaged as “Sarafem,” for instance, to treat the alleged female ailment, “PMDD.” 

Many disorders seem to be based on a vague collection of symptoms; behaviours that were not seen as abnormal in the past have become studies in pathology. For instance, a collection of “restless symptoms” have come to characterize Adult ADD; the trait of “extreme shyness” has been the hallmark of a potential Social Anxiety Disorder diagnosis.

I came across some good examples of the power of pathologizing while watching the documentary, Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease and Pushing Drugs, released in 2006. It explores the influential interplay between drug company sales representatives, doctors, and consumer advertising. It exposes the power of Big Pharma’s wealth, and the angles at which they approach marketing.

What I learned from watching this film is that health ideas shift with profit. Some of the guest speakers discussed the re-marketing of old drugs for new conditions (drugs that otherwise would lose their value due to patent laws). It is surprisingly common practice in the pharmaceutical industry to re-engineer the look and name of an old product, as well as its promise of efficacy. The consumer pays a premium for these supposedly “new and improved products.” This was the case with the drug, Sarafem, in the re-marketing of the antidepressant, Prozac. Not only was drug company, Eli Lilly, able to retain its patent—they found a whole new market that had not even existed, as “PMDD” was previously unheard of.

An even better example—that more explicitly illuminates the blurry line between the invention of new disorders, and the creation of “new drugs”—is with the antidepressant, Paxil, and its use in treating Social Anxiety Disorder. Here is a quote from Barry Brand, a product director of Paxil:

“Every marketer’s dream is to find an unidentified or unknown market and develop it. That’s what we were able to do with Social Anxiety Disorder.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAzh28nEoWU: Time slot 23:00, Big Bucks, Big Pharma: Marketing Disease and Pushing Drugs, 2006)


blair scott

Blair Scott is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College, who loves writing poetry. In recent times, she has become interested in the analysis of various sources of health literature, and how consumers come to terms with this multitude of information. Blair currently works at a health food store, but aspires to become a freelance contract writer and editor.