Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A thought. about medical labels..

I was having a look about bbc iplayer earlier, and since i've watched the latest Doctor Who and Nevermind the Buzzcocks at this point, thought i'd find a documentary to watch or something similar. I've only seen two Louis Theroux documentaries before, one of which was 'The City addicted to Crystal Meth' which was just...really bizzare and the other was about Fundamental Christian's in America being as strange as they can be I suppose. This one is 'America's medicated kids' not something I'd choose to watch because I'd feel it's...over-exposing? Maybe quite biased? Not that the other one's aren't but when it's something medical I get put off for some reason, same with any hospital progammes.
Anyway, I noticed something which I can kind of relate to, and which also tied in with this term's design studies, our assignments when we were interviewing the public.
So in certain parts of the programme Theroux sits in on doctors/psychiatrists talking to very young children aged from about 6 to 12 or so who are on medication for whatever reason. From ADHD, to Bi-Polar disorder (I had no idea children so young could be diagnosed with that and given pills for it...:s) and to other conditions I've never heard of. I paid particular attention to the questions they were being asked in their checks ups with the doctor. 'Do you feel times when you just feel like you have so much energy you're going to burst?' Do you feel very very angry sometimes?' and the replies were usually if not always a yes... The way they asked the questions seemed very directed to me. The child could be going along with what the doctor wants to hear, parents want to hear, or lying to perhaps feel special. (one child did infact admit that he liked the fact that he was labeled Bi-polar, that he takes numerous pills, and he feels special because of this).
It just struck me that these doctors and parents obviously want to make their children better, but could this just be an easy way out to calm them down with pills? Should children this young be on that amount of medication if at all? Are the questions they're asking their children really that well thought out enough to give an honest answer? Could they perhaps ask instead: So how did you feel on this day? What do you normally do at break time in school? Do you go and play with friends after school? If so why not?
I don't obviously understand the full force of it, as I have never come across a child who is just too much to handle everyday of the week like these parents. Maybe these questions are asked and this programme is just making it out that these particular people are more narrow-minded than they really are, but if they want to help these children I think they should ask more and listen more rather than giving a 6 year old medication for three different 'conditions' that they very well may, or may not have.
The only way I could relate to this documentary otherwise which I thought of, was that I have a friend who was told years ago by a doctor that said person had OCD, once they were told this, the OCD became 'worse', it seemed because they had been told this they automatically thought, right, I have this, I'm going to think about it more...and proceeded to be more worrysome, sort things into orders, etc. They had been labeled. I'm not saying that it wasn't there before at all, as there were tendencies, but once given the label it was like they were now acting on it more.
If a teen could become like this by being told they have OCD, a child would probably get into it even more-so and carry it with them throughout their life.
It was strange how one minute I was watching this and then the next minute thinking, they shouldn't be doing this, questions worded in a different way would give them much better answers from these kids..the interview techniques have sort of stuck with me a bit. It's made me think different about all sorts of things now that I've noticed. Design is coming into everyyyything...

1 comment:

  1. Great observations! I was a bit shocked at how "childish" behaviour (temper tantrums, fidgeting, being a bit of a handful) were diagnosed as social problems. Admitted the documentary didn't show us the "before" picture so we can't really judge but you're right, the questions were particularly leading. I'm sure being on TV didn't affect their answers at all! ("Wanna be on TV? Make sure they think you're worth filming!)

    I recommend the DVD box set of Louis Theroux documentaries - some really funny ones and a couple that are a bit disturbing.