Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

atheism, Books, conversion, faith, Happiness, health, Old Testament, peace, St Benedict, Virtues, Work

Therapy: Bad, Good Or None?

Therapy: Bad, Good Or None?
Therapy: Bad, good or none?

Therapy: bad, good or none?

Abigail Schrier’s new book, Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren’t Growing Up, peels back the multlayered onion of America’s obsession with health. In this case, that of our kids. The author notes at the beginning of the book that there are kids, a small percentage, with real psychiatric problems. But this book isn’t about them. Rather, it’s about cowed, confused and over-educated parents. One of the many stark realities she reveals is poorly understood: Our doctors know nothing about health, that of kids or adults. How could they since they are trained in the diagnosis of disease? To them, and truthfully, to us, health is boring.

Surprised, even dubious about my “stark reality?” Research it for yourself: starting here.

Over six million American kids, between the ages of 0-17 are on psychoactive drugs, of the six million, over 400,000, are five or younger. Take a few minutes to scan the  IQVia Total Patient Tracker Database for Year 2020. It’s appalling. For example, over 20,000 children three and under are on anti-depressants. And 16,000 kids aged three and under are on ADHD drugs. But then again, maybe it isn’t so shocking if we dig a little.

In 2016, Scientific American reported that one out of every six American adults is on at least one psychiatric drug with twice as many women as men taking the drugs. We can safely guess the number hasn’t dropped but risen in the last eight years. So if mommy needs meds to make it through the day then so does her kid.

It gets worse. Author Schrier shares Atlantic Magazine’s editor, Franklin Foer‘s public musing about his decision to let his fourteen-year-old daughter skip school to attend a climate change protest inspired by activist Greta Thunberg. “I long to build a seawall to protect her from her fears. But her example and Thunberg’s doomsaying have made me realize that my parental desire to calm is the stuff of childish fantasy; anxiety is the mature response. To protect our children, we need to embrace their despair.” Online searching reveals that “eco-anxiety, ecological grief…” are indeed things.

Sin makes us stupid

I’ve been there—that self-absorbed sponge of useless melancholy. All too easily, I can recall my early-twenties-atheist-self listening to La Boeheme with my dad. Crying, because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

“Can you understand, Dad? All that work and energy getting my degree and now I have even less of an idea of who I am or supposed to be!”

My father, a man who never completed the seventh grade because he had to go work in the cotton fields of Connecticut to support his family, looked sadly at his whining, self-pitying daughter and said, “Honey, no, I don’t. I was always too busy working to put food on the table.”

And there we have it, don’t we?

The combination of affluence in the sense of having enough of everything, and godlessness can lead us to one destination only: stupidity.

The arrogant delight in their arrogance,

and fools hate knowledge.

Because you disdained all my counsel,

and my reproof you ignored—

in my turn, will laugh at your doom;

will mock when terror overtakes you;

When terror comes upon you like a storm,

and your doom approaches like a whirlwind;

when distress and anguish befall you.’

Then they will call me, but I will not answer;

they will seek me, but will not find me,

Because they hated knowledge,

and the fear of the LORD they did not choose.

They ignored my counsel,

they spurned all my reproof;

Well, then, they shall eat the fruit of their own way,


Against or for the young?

We know what kids need—it’s not all that different from what everyone needs regardless of age need: work, discipline and virtue.

Chapter forty-eight of the Rule of Benedict begins with this jarring statement: Idleness is an enemy of the soul. King David lived the truth of this when he chose to stay home while his troops went to battle.

The tragically inane anecdote about Franklin Foer and his daughter reverberates in Foer’s Jewish ancestry and must call out to long ago patriarchs with real grief. They would understand and applaud the daughter’s attraction to causes far greater than herself, but know there’s only One who is worthy. She and her father suffer from a crisis of meaning. An emptiness of souls which cry out to God and can be filled only with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Another Jew from another century transformed his existential despair into the magnificent Fifth–Resurrection– Symphony. Gustav Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony fills our souls with—awe.

All of which calls to mind a favorite Israeli writer of mine. Favorite because he is Jewish not just ethnically, but in his heart, mind and soul. Recently Leil Leibowitz wrote an article about his attendance at an ecumenical seminar for priests, ministers, rabbis and inmans. In response to the handwringing about what to do about the vast numbers of young who are absent from their houses of worship, Leibowitz writes this:

Rising to my feet, I delivered my pronouncement clearly, loudly, and succinctly: The young suck.

Against the Young

Asked to elaborate he did so.

Let’s offer a serious, demanding admissions process into the faith,

one that is as eminently forgiving of failure as it is uncompromising about effort. To those who want to grow and change and flourish, let’s offer everything we can. To those in the market for yet another facile lifestyle affectation, let’s show the door.

What will happen if we do? At first, nothing. All of us need hard work, devotion, and repentance, but not all of us are willing to put in the work required. We can turn our churches and our synagogues and our mosques into austere academies and push our youth to the limit, and the pews will continue to be empty for a little while longer. But then, as the serious young people we’ve instructed grow up, as they settle down and start families and deepen their commitment to the faith and its teachings, we’ll begin to see something miraculous, something that everyone, from teachers to farmers to CEOs, values above all else—real, organic growth.

We haven’t a moment to spare. It’s time to stop coddling our young and pretending that their frivolous nonsense merits acknowledgment. It’s time, as the kids say, for us “to adult.” We need to accept responsibility for those who depend on us and guide them to virtue. It’s time to proclaim that we’re neither cool nor hip nor conversant in the thin gruel that passes for culture these days. We’ve something else to offer, something far more precious, something eternal, without which none of us, old or young, can thrive.

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bad therapy, books, leil leibowitz, proverbs, stupidity, therapy

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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