Is Ritalin the new “Mother’s little helper”?

5 05 2013


IN the 1960s and 1970s, Valium (and associated benzodiazepines – benzos) were known as “Mother’s Little Helper”- a drug prescribed to stay at home mothers to help them deal with their lives – fundamentally, a way of sedating them so they would accept a life they were unhappy or bored with.

What a drag it is getting old
Kids are different today,
I hear ev’ry mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she’s not really ill
Theres a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

(Mother’s Little Helper, Rolling Stones)

By all accounts, it was an epidemic of medico-sanctioned drug abuse. A generation of women rendered passive, incapable of dealing with their dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Stepford wives.

Fast forward to the 1990s and 2000s. the drug de jour is Ritalin and other uppers to deal with ADD. ADHD, adult ADHD, etc.

Now I am not saying these syndromes do not exist. Nor that the drugs don’t work for some people. But then the Valium worked pretty well for women in the 1960s and 1970s.

But the explosion of diagnoses, and of prescriptions makes me suspicious. Are we waiting for someone to write a song about how we medicated our difficult children? What cost will they pay in their adult lives, when they haven’t learned to deal with their concentration, focus and behaviour without medication? What physiological effect will the drugs have one them?

And whose “illness” are we medicating?

For the full Rolling Stones Song, click here: Rolling Stones: Mother’s Little Helper

Stalker-net part II

8 10 2011

In this strange world of both increased and almost paranoid privacy, and the open sharing of all manner of things online, the concept of stalker-net is one I have visited in the past. The context then was the check-in feature of Facebook which fulfills the following three useful functions:

1. Alerts potential robbers to when you are not home

UPDATE 5/11/11: See here for a great infographic about burglers using social media to identify when people aren’t home.

2. Alerts potential stalkers to your current location (and who you are with)

3. For check-ins at home (in bed, eating breakfast etc – we’ve all seen them), alerts potential stalkers to your home address, when you are actually there, and helpfully, provides a little map.

OK – so maybe my paranoia is slightly higher than most, since a really large number of my friends seem to use this function and to my knowledge (and I guess to their knowledge) none of them has been broken into or is being stalked.

I can’t say the new Facebook “subscribe” option made me feel any better about controlling what information I have out there – but then I can’t seem to get LinkedIn to let me block certain people from viewing my account either. Not that there is anything on there that is incorrect or in any way damaging, I just find it creepy that I have a couple of lurkers who refuse to make contact but check out my profile regularly. Yes, paranoia again.

So thanks to Saucy Social Media for the following graphic, which combines three of my major interests – social media, psychology and humour.

And you know what they say – the best jokes contain that grain of truth. I do not however suggest you use this as a diagnostic tool.

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Spongebob, sponge-brain

17 09 2011

I’ll start by declaring my inbuilt bias up-front. I have never been a fan of SpongeBob Squarepants. To me it seem like the height of laziness to have a cartoon character who was essentially a cube. I am much more of a Warner Brothers person, if I have to pick a cartoon genre.

So the latest news that SpongeBob was bad for kids’ brains fell on a receptive mind.

So to give you the background, a study published in Pediatrics, have found that watching SpongeBob Squarepants turns preschoolers’ brains to mush. Their attention span drops, as compared to say, children watching another type of cartoon.

The study randomly divided a fairly narrowly selected group of 4 year old children into three groups who then were shown either 90 minutes of SpongeBob, 90 minutes of a more realistic cartoon about a child, or told to draw pictures.

Afterwards their ability to “stay on task” was measured. Those who had been drawing or watching the realistic cartoon scored about the same. Those who watched SpongeBob scored significantly worse.

Nickelodeon’s response is that the cartoon is designed of 6 to 9 year olds, not 4 year olds. Kinda misses the mark I think, as we all know the little kids want to do what the older kids do, and all children are attracted to shiny objects, fast action visuals and noises.

The study concludes that it is not just how much TV children watch, but also what they watch that can be detrimental. Yes, yes, but just turn the d@#n thing off.

The next step is to see how long the effects last for.

For more information see here.

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