11 07 2010

A couple of non-related, but related, stories have come to my attention lately. On the surface, they might seem to have little in common.  One deals with psychiatry, the other with pre-natal medicine, but taken together they raise a red flag for the future of diversity in mainstream culture.

The first story came from England’s Manchester Guardian, and here’s how it begins:

Healthy food obsession sparks rise in new eating disorder

Fixation with healthy eating can be sign of serious psychological disorder

Eating disorder charities are reporting a rise in the number of people suffering from a serious psychological condition characterised by an obsession with healthy eating.

The condition, orthorexia nervosa, affects equal numbers of men and women, but sufferers tend to be aged over 30, middle-class and well-educated.

Some of the natural health writers I follow started freaking out about this. Well, I thought, obsessive-compulsive disorder can take all kinds of forms. Then a friend sent me a short checklist of the symptoms, and I discovered that, according to the criteria of a private treatment center that stands to make a lot of money “curing” those diagnosed with eating disorders, that I do indeed “suffer” from the dread “orthorexia Nervosa.”

On one hand, we have dietitians and nutritionists telling us the American diet is the root cause of many health problems.  On the other, we have psychiatrists telling us there’s something wrong with having a strong aversion to junk food.

The other story that got my attention started with a headline from my favorite sex and relationship columnist, Dan Savage:

Doctor Treating Pregnant Women With Experimental Drug To Prevent Lesbianism

A female doctor, Maria New, is concerned with preventing “congenital adrenal hyperplasia, ” or CAH, a condition which can, in extreme cases, give women slightly to seriously “masculinized” genitals (hairy tits, big clits, oh my, oh my!), and in lesser cases, to quote another researcher on the subject,

“CAH women as a group have a lower interest than controls in getting married and performing the traditional child-care/housewife role. As children, they show an unusually low interest in engaging in maternal play with baby dolls, and their interest in caring for infants, the frequency of daydreams or fantasies of pregnancy and motherhood, or the expressed wish of experiencing pregnancy and having children of their own appear to be relatively low in all age groups.”

Dr. New, who is one of the first women scientist/M.D.s in her field, apparently does not find it ironic that in some ways, she herself is a textbook example of what she is trying to prevent by treating women with a drug that has not been carefully tested for the use to which she is putting it, and which has, according to other researchers, tremendous potential for disastrous side effects.  Hey, whatever it takes to avoid bringing more uppity women into the world, right?
In the interest of accuracy, I think it is important to point out that many members of the medical community think that Dr. New and her colleagues have gone off the deep end with this, and there is a movement afoot to ban the treatment that she has been pushing. Her name is  “Dr. New”?!  Who’s writing this script?
There are a couple of things that join these two stories for me, and the links, in turn, are also related.  One link that joins them is that they are both results of the medical/insurance/pharmaceutical  bubble, which is about the only financial bubble that has yet to burst.  Orthorexia and the specter of pre-natal treatment for “excessive” masculinity in women are both the results of there being too much money sloshing around in the wrong place.
The other, deeper, darker significance of these examples is what I call “the Brave New World syndrome”:  psychiatry and medicine working to preserve corporate, conformist,  anthill culture,  drawing a circle around what they consider “normal” behavior and appearance, and defining everything outside that circle as pathological.
Marijuana use  has become “drug addiction.” Questioning the status quo has been turned into “oppositional deviant disorder.”  Now distaste for junk food is “Orthorexia,” and girl babies can be drugged before birth to insure that they will become good, subservient, willing wives and mothers.
O brave new world!   How long will it be until science divides us into Alphas, Betas, Deltas, and Epsilons?  Well, the whole thing will probably come crashing down before that happens.
(sorry about the crowded format here…I’m not sure why, but I can’t create a line break between paragraphs in the bottom of this post!)
music:  French Frith Kaiser Thompson:  March of the Cosmetic Surgeons



4 responses

11 07 2010
What You Need To Know Of The Side Effects Of Prostate Cancer | Life.Means.Health


11 07 2010
Mental Disorders 101


I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

18 07 2010

Did The Farm get around to making peace with homosexuality and loosening its rather strict approach to conventional male/female roles?

20 07 2010

Kind of…several people came out after the end of the theocracy, but being gay there is like being black or intellectual or intensely spiritual there–not much support or people who are on your wavelength, and so most of them left for more congenial climes. I know of one openly gay dude there now. At ragweed, he gets into drag and dances on stage, and everybody cheers…also know of three MTFs in the Farm diaspora…

The whole male-female role thing there was another sad example of our early, inspired vision (in this case, of the yogic use and expression of polarity) being turned into “rules.” I think there is a lot of virtue in having men’s and women’s circles and spheres, places where we do not have to be self-conscious about how we appear to “the opposite sex,” but I think that needs to be entered into consciously and consensually…..David Deida has written some very good work on the male-female thing…but that’s about all I want to say about that now…

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