Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Scarlet Stigmatization of Society

We live in a world where every single one of us has been stigmatized in one way or another ... even if we don't realize it.  We are judged and categorized accordingly for easy control and manageability.  Based on looks, speech, address, wardrobe, recent past, not-so-recent past, past mistakes, past successes, past addictions, past ailments, past friends .... and the list goes on and on.

This wouldn't be so bad in my opinion, if it were all just you and I trying to compartmentalize our friends.   But this stigmatization is in the daily cracks and crevices of our lives.  For instance, if you have ever had any issue with pain medication and addiction, your Medical Records might as well have a giant red "A" on them.  I've witnessed this and heard the horror stories.  Basically, a person could have their Femur bone sticking out of their thigh, and depending on what their medical records state, if they go to Emerg the first thing the staff will think is "PILL-SEEKER".  It doesn't even matter if you want the pain meds.  The stigma is there.  You are inside that box where you're simply looking for a quick fix or a quick high.  I've heard of people stating very plainly upon entering Triage that they DO NOT want any pain killers. And yet, many medical professionals will simply push them into another even deeper box.  One that says that they're game-playing or that they're in denial of their need for an opiate.

And I'm no fool here Peeps.  I know it happens.  I know about addiction and how deeply those claws can dig in.  I know the lengths that an addiction will go to, to make you feed it what it needs.  And if you don't feed it, those claws feel like they curl, anchoring themselves even more deeply.  I've been addicted to legal medications that don't even give pleasure;  and I've felt addiction for non-legal substances too.  They feel similar if not identical.  Like an urgency in your gut or in your brain.  And what society doesn't seem to realize, is that every single one of us has the potential for addiction.  Addiction does not discriminate.  Not by race, religion, culture, or tax-bracket.  It's about receptors in the brain ... and nothing more.

I want to know this:  if a medical professional can seemingly judge your state of addiction by looking at you, then why the heck aren't they helping people with addiction!?  If you can see the early stages of addiction, then offer assistance, suggest programs, tell them that they don't have to live that way! Rather than assuming that a person wants an opiate, how about you discuss that need that you think they're feeling.  I thought the medical industry as a whole had the "Do No Harm" motto.  Well you're doing harm every single time you prejudge the intentions, the needs, or the addictions of those entering your workplace.  How about you discuss their addiction with them for what it really is .... a disease.  And one that can be managed if not cured.

There are other scarlet letters that are written on our files.  Especially our kids.  This to me is the most appalling.  Soon our children will all have big red letters after their names. The boxes they already had, called SDD's (Specific Development Disorders) recently needed micromanaging.  Some needed to split and create new boxes, new sub-categories.  The age old LD (Learning Disability) was way too big.  I was in there at grade 3 and 4 and it seemed very suffocating to me.  Inside or as addendum to the LD box, we now have a PDD box (Pervasive Development Disorder).  If your child is strong-willed and stubborn, they'll shove her in the ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) box.  If your son has trouble concentrating, interrupts, or has to be doing more than one thing at the same time, we'll shove him into the ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) box or into the newly renovated ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) box.  And finally ... my personal favorite ... EFD (Executive Function Disorder).  Why my fave? Because of all of the labels we throw around, this is the blanket that can cover the majority of us at one time or another ... or for me on the daily. It is the box that adults and children are shoved into when they show a pattern of having problems with organization and keeping schedules.  Ahem.  Yep.

Every single week, I find myself being helped by fully capable adults who, if born today would be shoved into one or more of these boxes.  I wonder, do you think that those people, if labelled would still be the same people today?  Would they still have that job?  Still have that self-image, self-esteem, self-identity?  Or would the Scarlet letters that our society places on us all, marginalize them to the point of discrimination and self-defeat?  I know that some parents accept these labels, stating that without the label they wouldn't get the extra help and assistance.  That's shitty isn't it?  What's shittier is the fact that our schools are given funding for most if not all of the Scarlet labeled children they enroll.  Would that not automatically encourage over-labeling?

Huh ... so labels mean profit.  So in the end, this rant is once again about how much Capitalism sux.