Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Results to Come in Six to Seven Years

Not only do I love a good list, I really love a useless study. Or better yet, a study that could have been informative and had some value and merit, but for one reason or another ("another" being "lots of reasons instead of just one") it just lost some of that oomph that it might have started out with. And without oomph? That's right, you're oomph-less. And that's no way to go through life.

Over there at Fox News (where I prefer to get all of my horrible reporting for the day, as they rarely disappoint), I was greeted with this headline: "1 in 5 Young Adults Have Personality Disorder, Study Finds." So, twenty percent of young adults (as opposed to old adults, I'm assuming) have a personality which is in disorder? That's interesting, but I don't know if I'm surprised. Have you looked around lately? People are not well. Not well at all. I usually chalk it up to stupidity rather than a psychiatric issue, but I can see how the two are easily confused.

But after that, it all goes downhill for me as far as the usefulness of the study. The study "was based on interviews with 5,092 young adults....ages 19 to 25 ." That's a large number to survey. That's good. "....in 2001 and 2002." Wait. WTF?
Between six and seven (almost seven and eight) years ago these questions or whatever were asked to more than five thousand 19-25 year olds and now they're letting us know how that went? How does this help me other than to learn that six or seven years ago, this is how it was? Is there anything that the study can point to that would lead me to believe that it is the same today as it was then? Oh, nothing? Shocking. I guess I'm right back to "So what?"

Of course, the headline is the 1 in 5 young people having a personality disorder. The headline doesn't mention that the personality disorders are the second most common problem. Not the first, the second. Will it shock you to learn that drug or alcohol abuse was first? Of course it won't. It shouldn't! These are college age folks we're talking about here. Oh, that might come as another shock to you that sometimes there are drugs and alcohol on college campuses. I know! I couldn't believe it myself when I first heard about it (when I was IN college)!

Needing to try and trick people into believing that there may be some disagreement over the results, Fox threw in, "One expert said personality disorders may be overdiagnosed. But others said the results were not surprising since previous, less rigorous evidence has suggested mental problems are common on college campuses and elsewhere." Of course, there's no reasoning behind the one (probably incompetent) expert who surmises that there may be an overdiagnosis of personality disorders. It's not like there aren't a bazillion kids in this country that are diagnosed with ADHD and on some type of Ritalin-esque medication. Nooooo, that never happens. So there's no reason to think that other groups of people would be overdiagnosed also, right? Spare me.

The study's authors stated, "For many, young adulthood is characterized by the pursuit of greater educational opportunities and employment prospects, development of personal relationships, and for some, parenthood....These circumstances can result in stress that triggers the start or recurrence of psychiatric problems." Uh-huh. You know what else those circumstances can trigger? Stress! Just stress! Just because you're stressed, it does not mean that you have psychiatric problems. It could mean that you do, but it could just be stress! Not everything has to have a diagnosis and an official name! "Stress, it makes people nuts." That could be the motto for at least half of the country.

The article also quoted a one Dr. Sharon Hirsch, a psychiatrist at the University of Chicago who was not involved in the study, as saying, "The results highlight the need for mental health services to be housed with other medical services on college campuses, to erase the stigma and make it more likely that people will seek help." Well, she's in luck, as I have a few suggestions for the areas that she focused on. First, let me help you out with all of the stigma erasing. Try this: Stop saying things like "mental problems", "mental illness", "psychiatric disorder" and other terms that are less than fashionable. "Mental" is just one of those words that will not likely ever find itself on the positive or the acceptable end of the vocabulary spectrum. You're probably going to have to treat the word "mental" as the word "retard" has been treated, and that is to banish it into the land of politically incorrect and socially unacceptable utterances for these trying, modern times.

As far as that "need for mental health services" on college campuses, who is going to pay for them? Do you want to know the biggest obstacle that is making it difficult for anyone to seek, find and receive some type of psychiatric counseling or services? It's expensive. And insurance companies are less than generous with their coverage for psychiatric services. But the difference between not having adequate insurance coverage for psychiatric issues and not having adequate insurance coverage for medical issues is that with medical issues, if you are in dire straits or there is an emergency, you can do something about that! The most obvious and basic solution is that you can go to the hospital. You can't really do that if you just need someone to talk to once a week or so for about an hour. (Well, you can, but they start to look at you funny when you do it every week. Sometimes they just ask you to leave. Other times, they just don't even let you in the door. So I've heard.)

Now that I've made it this far, something just occurred to me after reading this: "The study authors noted that recent tragedies such as fatal shootings at Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech have raised awareness about the prevalence of mental illness on college campuses." It seems to imply that the "mental illness" among young people is a "problem". But is it? I mean, if those are their examples, two college shootings in 6-7 years, I'm all for chalking that up to "sh*t happens." Shouldn't there be more dysfunction if this is really a problem? And if there isn't more dysfunction, wouldn't that seem to indicate that maybe a lot of it is just stress and not the "personality disorders" that they imply are so rampant? And let's not forget, this is only the second biggest problem because alcohol and drug issues were first.

You know, if only 1 in 5 people were nuts, I think I'd probably be OK with that. Of course, this study doesn't imply that I should be OK with that. No, it implies I should run for cover. Lord only knows what they'd think I should do if I told them that I think at least half of people anywhere, at any given time, are cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. But I do know this: Regardless as to what they thought about my non-scientific assessment, they probably wouldn't get back to me for at least 6-7 years.

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1 comment:

Alice Amplified said...

awww, where you got that Lucy cartoon?

I just stole it from ya. too cute