Everyone’s Got Their Doctorate Now

10 Comments

Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”Before I continue, I’d like to thank Tia (not sure who she is, but she likes my blog) for nominating me for the Best Education Blog in the 2007 Weblog Awards. If you’d like to drop by and hit the little plus button next to her comment, that’d be dope. If not, keep reading anyways. The best is yet to come.

The best way to turn me off from any argument is to magically introduce some mental condition. Ever since I was in college, I found myself very critical of the increasing amount of mental / developmental disorders, especially in an age where the more conditions you can come up with, the more money you can get for your “exclusive” research.

Studies have shown that there’s been a huge increase of mental disorders and chronic diseases in the United States, and the first two factors commonly associated with this are 1) the ability to see the symptoms and treat them early on and 2) the higher risk behaviors people are taking on at a much younger age. Of course, it also stems from the other, and more understood factors like birth conditions, environment, dietary habits, family situations, and genetics.

But the not-so-secret secret for these treatments has a lot to do with people’s self-interest. If you can make someone’s adjustments to society’s ills into a mental disease, then you can look like you’re doing something about it.

Case 1:

When inner-city teachers who have detrimental classroom management or have a negative outlook on the children they teach get fed up with their most extreme cases of misbehavior, they turn to the psychiatrists in the building and say “He / she’s got ADHD, and I can’t take it anymore!” I personally have referred a few children here and there, with much reluctance and after serious discussions with them and their parents. I don’t pull the trigger unless I know something is severely wrong or the kid asks me to refer him. Yet some teachers just want to point and scream ADHD like it’s a witch hunt. I mean, with some of the living conditions these kids have, it’s no wonder why they would go crazy.

Case 2:

The drug market is at an all-time high. There’s a pill for any and every disease, condition, problem, and quandary. Drug companies profit off of commercials that exacerbate the problems in your life (Do you feel depressed? Lonely? Out of sorts?). People in America are working harder than ever at lesser wages with less sleep, less family time, and everything from gas and food to health care and housing become more expensive. So when we sit down to watch our favorite TV shows, go on the Web, or read our afternoon paper, we see these ads telling us how their drug will miraculously cure us of what ails us. Then, they give the drug a fancy new name so it sells better because a name with all those x’s, y’s, and h’s won’t do well. What’s more, many of the drugs that we end up intaking actually have chemicals that keep us dependent on them, so what does that say? Mind control through chemicals isn’t far fetched …

Case 3:

Understanding Case 1 and 2, we can see how people are quick to find new ways to disorder and prognosticate our entire realities. If you’re having problems with math, it’s not that you haven’t been shown how to do it, it’s that you have a mental disease called Mathematical Anxiety Disorder (MAD). If you’ve experienced a series of oppressive events and still live in a rather dismal existence, the policies that keep that sort of environment together isn’t the problem, it’s a mental condition called Poverty Induced Trauma (PIT). If you have an inordinate prejudice against someone else because of a combination of culture, ethnicity, and skin color, then you’re not a racist. You have a mental condition called Ridiculous Assumptions Causing Extremism (RACE).

And I hate to be the one to point these things out, because I’d be offending those who believe something different than me (ha), but everything we’ve done since the dawn of our existence has been about translating our realities for our own minds. We have the opportunity to redefine our existences, but we also have to outline the obstacles and act upon the forces preventing us from making those changes.

The Miseducation of the NegroWhen we happened upon this Earth, everything we understood and felt about the world was told to us. Blue was blue, and there was no denying that. 1+1=2 and that was that. We accept a lot of things as fact and the rationales we assume come from the many experts and authorities we have in our lives, yet when we grow up, we start to see the cracks in the authorities’ assumptions and make our own wedges within them. Contrary to what some of you believe, ADHD isn’t endemic to Black and Latino children, poverty does affect the supposed opportunities we have, and race exists, and a big of its existence is mental, something we can’t undermine.

Like Dr. Carter G. Woodson, one of the greatest authors I’ve ever read, said in his seminal work The Mis-Education of the Negro,

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

jose, who might be crazy himself …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonEveryone’s Got Their Doctorate Now

Comments 10

  1. Bam

    *stands in solitary applause.

    I could never have worded it better myself… By the way I have ADD – Authority Defiance Disorder, wonder when they’ll gimmie a pill for that?

    Love.

  2. Post
    Author
    Jose

    @ Bam:

    Do you have the following symptoms?

    - Uncontrollable itching around authority figures
    - Twitchy eyes
    - Hot fever
    - inexplicable speech
    - random cursing
    - uncalled-for defiance

    If so, then you may be suffering from Authority Defiance Disorder. Please see your doctor for your treatment. Make sure you consult with your doctor before taking any treatments.

  3. Frumteacher

    You’ve got my vote!
    You are so right. Since I started teaching I have been wondering where all these different syndroms and ‘defects’ came from. During my times in high school, some children couldn’t learn maths, others were bad at gymnastics, and yet others had a hard time learning a new language. Nowadays, when a child has a hard time learning a certain subject, he suffers from dyscalculy, adhd or pdd-nos. Don’t get me wrong. I realize that there certainly are children with learning difficulties and autistic tendencies, but I am afraid that today’s world cannot accept the fact that some children have different talents than others. Besides, I am really curious to find out as to what the influence of food, sleep and family circumstances is on the developement on e.g. ADHD.

  4. Post
    Author
    Jose

    @ Harm: HA!!

    @ Frum: Thanks. I’m sure there is a positive correlation between all the things you’ve mentioned and ADHD, but that’s simply hypothesis, and something that needs to be researched … i.e. put in Google and hope for the best.

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  6. Hugh O'Donnell aka Repairman

    Funny thing happens when all the kids go to computer lab. Total engagement. You cannot tell who from whomever with regard to whatever!

    You got a vote from me. I’m easy. Last week I voted for Frumteacher. Apparently we can vote once for everyone, but only once for anyone. ;)

  7. Catherine Johnson

    Do you have a copy of the Galen Alessi study?

    If I can find your email, I’ll send.

    Diagnosis Diagnosed: A Systemic Reaction
    Galen Alessi
    Professional School Psychology 3(2), 145-151
    1988

    Here’s Engelmann’s write-up:

    “Galen Alessi wrote an article in 1988 in which he diagnosed diagnosis. He asked 50 school psychologists to indicate how many cases they referred during the year. The average was about 100 per psychologist; so the group provided information on about 5000 kids. Alessi next tried to determine the different causes of the kid’s learning problems. How many of the kids had the learning problem because of inappropriate curriculum? How many had learning problems because of poor teaching, or because of school administration problems? How many kids had problems because of home problems, or because there was some defect in the kid?

    The percentages came out something like this:

    • The curriculum caused 0% of the referred problems:
    • The teaching practices caused 0% of the referred problems;
    • The school administration caused 0% of the referred problems;
    • The home environment caused 10-20% of the referred problems;
    • The child caused 100% of the referred problems.”

    Source: War Against the Schools’ Academic Child Abuse by Siegfried Engelmann, page 65

    further:

    Alessi specified that children could fail in school in two ways: they could fail to learn, and/or they could fail to behave.

    Here’s a passage from his article:

    “First, the psychologists were asked whether all agreed that each of the just-mentioned, five factors may play a primary role in a given school learning or behavior problem. They almost always agreed.”

    “Diagnosis Diagnosed” isn’t available online, but Dr. Alessi will send copies to people who request them, I believe.

  8. Post
    Author
    Jose

    @ Hugh, thanks for the vote

    @ Catherine; You’ve been wonderful. The information you’ve provided has been absolutely scalding hot. And I’m on it.

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