Contented Reader

just point me toward the nearest library

Your personality is not a pathology.

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It starts with the drug company.  They develop a drug which makes people more extroverted, let’s say.  Or that makes people calmer.  Or that makes people more focused.  The drug company executive would like to sell drugs, and make money, so she can buy a boat and send her children to private school and buy hardcover books.

So how will she sell the drug?  She will start by looking at people who have a psychological problem that needs to be solved.  The person who is so shy she can’t form friendships, and rarely leaves her house- that person’s life may be much improved with a drug to make her more extroverted.  The kid who isn’t learning in school because he can’t sit still for longer than thirty seconds will learn more with a drug to make him calmer.

But that isn’t really very many people, is it?  Maybe not even enough people to make back the money the drug company spent on scientists and tests and rent on the laboratory and beakers.  That isn’t going to pay for a boat for the drug company executive.  It might not even pay for hardcover books.  You can’t expect her to get books at the library and send her children to public school, can you?

So, the drug company needs to find a way to sell the drug to more people than the ones who have real pathologies.  It’s time to start advertising.  The drug company needs to convince people that their personality is a serious disorder that needs to be medicated.

And soon, the ordinary introvert, who prefers a few close friends to a crowded party, and likes spending time alone, is persuaded that she has ‘social anxiety disorder’ and ought to be more extroverted.  She was content with her personality, before the drug company convinced her that her personality was a disorder.

And soon, the high-energy person, who doesn’t like to sit still for long and enjoys doing two or three things at once, is persuaded that she has ‘attention deficit disorder’ and ought to be more focused.  She was content with his personality, before the drug company convinced her that her personality was a disorder.

And soon, the person in mourning, who experiences the natural sleeplessness and loss of appetite and tears that accompany the death of a loved one, is persuaded that she has ‘depression.’  She thought that it was natural to grieve for her loss, before the drug company convinced her that her grief was a disorder.

Reader, if you can live a happy and healthy life with your personality, your personality is not a disorder.  If you are in circumstances that make you feel sad or anxious, those circumstances are the problem, and you do not have a disorder.

I am not for a moment denying that some people do have very serious psychological problems, and benefit from the medicines that are available.

But for many of you, I invite you to relax and accept your personality as a natural variation.  You don’t have to fix your personality.  You don’t have to medicate yourself into a different personality.  You can relax and learn to live in a way that works for you.  Instead of changing yourself to fit your circumstances, you can take action to change your circumstances, to make a life that works with your own ways of being happy.  If your job is making you anxious and depressed, don’t take antidepressants- find a new job.  If large crowds make you feel anxious, politely decline the party invitation, and have dinner with two or three people instead.

Your personality is not a pathology.  You are allowed to enjoy who you are.

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Written by Contented Reader

August 3, 2011 at 9:51 am

Posted in Opinions

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