There’s a popular expression saying you should think outside the box. It has always had a positive meaning. The question is how realistic is it? You’d think that the ability to think outside the box, to be unique is something we value, but it isn’t actually as sought after in the business world as you might think.
Business is mostly about group processes, and it is not easy to get through with an idea that the others might perceive as completely wild. Many follow the person they think has the best idea or the person who is the most dominant. Group/project-work is so important that we learn it from a very young age in school. We are not prepared for a life as an individual; it is not the way our society is organized. There is no room for alternative thinking. This can still result in the best ideas winning, but not necessarily.
I have written previously about research that tries to create a connection between autism and violent behavior. Now we see another attempt to declare people that are a little different as mentally ill. If we are to take the American diagnostic tool DSM 5 seriously that is precisely what has happened. DSM 5 defines Oppositional Defiant Disorder/ODD as an “Ongoing pattern of anger guided disobedience, hostility defiant behavior toward authority figures that goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behavior” (a rather vague term and what if there are grounds for defiance?).
DSM 5 has organized the ODD-symptoms in three categories: Angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior and vindictive. This could mean losing your temper, feeling irritable, touchy, arguing with officials, refusing to follow rules and regulations, tendency to blames others etc.
It’s a little scary to think that you only need four symptoms to put this label on children. What is normal behavior for a child? Is it allowed at all to be irritated and angry in cases where that is a perfectly normal response? ODD is incidentally placed under personality disorders.
This tool also speaks of arrogance, cynicism, above average creativity and antisocial behavior as mental illness. I have written extensively about child protection. This tendency to define normal behavior as mental illness can be a motivation that drives employees in child protection. Perhaps they are so desperate to separate children and parents that they use this diagnostic system deliberately?
A possible motivation for child care staff, psychologists and psychiatrists to recommend that children be removed, can be to provoke the children to respond with anger and indignation. Thus, they can give them the label mentally ill. They can also use the same strategy against parents. If parents claim that the child is sick they can easily be accused of both making the child sick (aka Munchausen) and of not providing enough care.
I wonder if many of the great names in history had accomplished what they did if they had lived in a time that wants to put a label on all of us. Great composers like Mozart and Beethoven struggled with sickness, Isaac Newton probably had autism. Abraham Lincoln struggled with depression his whole life. There are some who believe that Winston Churchill was bipolar. In modern times Winona Ryder and J.K. Rowling have battled with anxiety and depression (it’s interesting by the way how vividly the latter described the dementors in Harry Potter). This still didn’t prevent these people from accomplishing great things.
What do you think had become of them if we gave them a diagnosis, shoved heavy medications into them and forced them through all sorts of treatment? It is perhaps what happens when there are increasing numbers of children with a diagnosis. How far does this go?
I have no doubt that this is relevant to child protection, but it might be a much greater problem. I reacted like most people the first time I heard someone rant about world government and a small global elite planning to rule over a great mass of common people. Now we are talking about serious conspiracy theories. I’ve never really seen them as anything but amusing stories, but I’m not so sure anymore.
It seems there are a lot of things happening at the same time intending to restrict our personal freedoms.