Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2003 / 18 Shevat, 5763

Bob Tyrrell

Bob Greene
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Of course our kiddies are depressed | From 1987 to 1996, researchers are telling tell us, the number of children and adolescents taking prescribed psychiatric drugs has more than doubled. According to the infelicitously titled medical journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, doctors are prescribing Ritalin for attention deficit disorder as well as several antidepressants with growing frequency.

Somewhat more surprisingly, they are prescribing for America's youth anti-psychotics, which is to say, mood stabilizers for suppressing various manias and aggressions. You can be sure that the weekly news magazines and TV talk shows will be abounding with alarums about all this for weeks to come. Yet is it all that amazing?

If you were a young person today, would you not be a little blue after a day in the classroom? From all I can tell, the American classroom is a dreary place. Little history is taught, and when it is, the history is a tale of man's inhumanity to man, or rather person's inhumanity to person, or is it person's inhumanity to minorities?

At any rate, it is very depressing -- bereft of drama or heroics. Equally depressing is the study of government (read oppression) and literature (read depravity). Then we move on to the really depressing stuff: sex-education, conflict resolution, problem-solving. I know the teachers have more esoteric terms for such studies, but the topics themselves are pretty gruesome.

Then there are the entertainments that our youth have to endure. It begins with popular music and such jarring stuff as rap, hip hop and such vacuous figures as Eminem. Then there are the movies, full of idiot jokes about underpants and belly buttons and all the other aspects of scortatory sensation in these last hours of the sexual revolution, plus instructions on the avoidance of sexually transmitted diseases and babies -- the disadvantageous aspects of good sex.

The movies also feature tremendous explosions across the screen, automobile chases, various slow-motion bloodlettings. The youth of the land watch this stuff. Adult movie critics proclaim their dramatic grandeur. Those young people who rebel and defiantly reach for a good old book are dismissed as nerds or conservatives.

Frankly, it is my judgment that the docs who prescribe psychiatric medications to America's youth are not only fine doctors. They are humanitarians. Now I would suggest they expand their targets for psychiatric medications to include adults, at least those adults who are addicted to popular culture.

I occasionally attend movies, and I can tell you that most of those in the audience should be heavily medicated. Just the other night, I attended "About Schmidt," a movie starring Jack Nicholson that was advertised as a movie that would make me laugh. It turned out to be a tedious regurgitation of all those novels beginning somewhere in the 19th century whose mission it was to lecture us on the mindlessness of middle-class life. Perhaps there is something to it. Perhaps middle-class life is mindless. All of the middle-class members of the audience sat in quiet reverence. I left halfway through. Had I been happily drugged, I might have stayed. Nicholson appeared to be happily drugged.

Of course, there are other reasons that our children and adolescents are in need of psychiatric medication. For one, their homes are often lonely places. No adult is home, not even a grandparent, occasionally not even a foreign-speaking attendant. The rat race that adults so eagerly leap into has left the children without companionship. Readily available divorce has also assisted in making the home a barren place for the young. There was a day when at least a grandparent might be found at home. Now, even the grandparents are out of the house.

Now I may appear to be making light of the frivolousness of modern life, but I have given extended thought to why so many young people seem in need of Ritalin for attention deficit disorder (which is a real condition), and the likes of Prozac and other anti-depressants. Yet I am serious when I say I see a need for these medications. Young people increasingly grow up without the oversight of loving adults. Their lives are sedentary, spent in front of luminous screens, while their energies build and build. These conditions are not conducive to normal growth. A couple of centuries ago, the children would be at home with adults and with household chores. The adolescents would be at work, for adolescence is a modern creation.

No change in the present condition of young people is likely as I see it. So let them take medications. We shall worry about the consequences later.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

01/13/03: Why is it that Official Washington still believes that a tax reduction means a revenue reduction?
01/02/03: Missing Moi
12/27/02: The grizzled and menacing-looking senator in Confederate drag is a Dem
12/24/02: Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land
12/20/02: Under fire, Lott showed an ignobleness that is embarrassing
11/26/02: Bartley's enemies have been routed
11/14/02: Clarence Thomas and the segregationist Mississippi sheriff
11/07/02: I muffed up
10/31/02: Is the American university turning its back on change, on progress?
10/24/02: So why aren't the Dems buoyant?
10/17/02: Mourning the loss of the "yellow-belly"
10/10/02: American politics at its most ignominious
10/03/02: A man above the law, a bully
09/26/02: Is Bob Greene a victim of an anti-Clinton backlash?
09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and
09/12/02: Chickens and poseurs
09/05/02: Sympathizing with the Europols
08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
08/22/02: Public persons frivoling with serious matters
08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
02/21/02: Mike Tyson: Made for Washington?
02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies . Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
01/24/02: Hucksters will move on to make their next marks
01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
08/16/01: They claim to be doing so much good
08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The Godphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate