Medicating children

joanna bujes joanna.bujes at
Thu May 24 09:54:22 PDT 2001

At 10:03 PM 05/23/2001 -0400, you wrote:
>What is so unreasonable in my posting? Are you suggesting that there are
>no children throwing tantrums? I am not saying that every child does that,
>most of them probably do not, but the problem of "hyperactive" out of
>control children is quite real in this country.

Here's the thing.

1) We live in an industrialized/fragile environment which makes it almost impossible for children to be have energy and to expend their energy. If you have a dog, you give it a yard and a walk every day. A lot of children don't even get that. They're in school behind a desk all day long and then they come to their tastefully furnished house where one or more overworked adults want to relax rather than deal with "hyperkinetic" children.

2) Consider the life of a lot of adults: sit in the car, sit at work, sit at home. Normal life is pretty hyperkinetic compared to that. So, when we decide that kids are hyperactive, what exactly are we using as a norm?

3) We make kids sit all day, all the while feeding them chemicals and sugar. I've had lunch with my daughter's second grade class; I'm not making this up. Then we're surprised they're full of restless energy.

This is all to say that there are many factors in what we call children's "hyperactivity" and only a small amount that has anything to do with abnormal physiology. A friend of mine with a "hyperactive" child controlled the situation basically by controlling the sugar/chemicals in his diet.

To give you a gross example: in the nineteenth and twentieth century women were forced to or sometimes volunteered to have their clitoris surgically removed in order to control their "excessive" sexuality. As you know, this practice continues to this day in some parts of Africa. My question is "excessive" to whom?

I sometimes think that the main effect of school is to make children fear their own energy--since, in the kind of environment that school is, to have physical energy, to want/need to move is experienced as torture. So, most of us learn to turn the volume down, to repress, to contain, etc. But I do not conclude from this that human energy is the problem.

Joanna Bujes

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