Friday, March 9, 2012

Film Review 4: Generation RX

What is the main thesis of this film?

There is actually a propaganda going on that many people, especially parents, are not aware of. Our pharmaceutical companies persuade physicians and teachers to prescribe drugs such as Ritalin or Prozac in order to fight ADHD or depression because suddenly "children need it". In fact, these are all false claims. As a result, we now have a large amount of young children getting drugged one generation after another, hence, “generation rx”.

What were the main arguments in support of the thesis?

The autism epidemic is actually a false claim, used by the government and pharmaceutical companies, in order to reap large profits when these companies discovered a new drug. These profits are benefited from children who might be unnecessary misdiagnosed with this mental illness, which is a grave error because not only it may delay or damage their small & on-going developing brain, these drugs may actually cause suicidal thoughts and depression.

How does the thesis of this film relate to the course?

Once an individual has been labeled as autistic or some sort of other medical label, it is hard to detach oneself from this label, or even to grow out from it. As Rosenhan’s study “Being Sane in Insane Places” (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010) has explained, whether you are sane or not, once you have been defined as mentally ill, there is no turning back. Doctors, nurses, and others will be wearing colored lenses and view you as forever crazy or sick. With this said, drugging and misdiagnosing our children could cause them grave mental harm socially and psychologically. This could turn a healthy active child into a depressed or crazy child (with children actually believing that they might be actually sick) because of our nation’s value on capitalism.

Additionally, disorders are socially constructed (and turned into a bible for psychology: the DSM), which is no surprise that some experts can’t even explain what is a mental disorder since knowledge is learned and discovered (so are medical labels and diagnoses). Even the film has shown a clip of a FDA conference between journalists and psychiatrists/physicians who were unable to determine the exact symptoms of ADHD and were very vague about it, saying that symptoms may vary. With these unconvincing ideas, the FDA continues to defend their position that children still need to continue taking Prozac or Retalin in order to succeed in school. However, many scholars have proven that this is wrong. An animated video of these ideas and arguments is on Youtube, "RSA Animation: Changing Education Paradigms".

Interestingly, since these medical labels are socially constructed, the definition of ADHD as expanded from children to adults being diagnosed of this disorder. An increase of self-diagnosing, as explained from the reading “The Emergence of Hyperactive Adults as Abnormal” (as cited in Thio, Calhoun, and Conyers, 2010), continues to describe the whole social process of a label, the plasticity of medical definitions, and drug dependency due to life failures.

Which arguments/points did you find the most convincing?

Every part of the film was convincing, especially the segment about these drugs causing depression and increasing suicide rates. The drawing of a 5th grader jumping off a building was extremely disturbing. I believe it shouldn’t be that hard to find the correlation between these factors, and many scholars have proven that the problem is very obvious, present, and persistent. Unfortunately, corporate companies and the state has turned a blind eye towards this issue because this very issue is profitable to them.

Which arguments/points did you find the least convincing?

I usually look for some sort of criticism about every film if I can’t find any arguments that were not convincing. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately, meaning the film was really great), I cannot think of any arguments or criticism.

Choose one argument, point or question that most stands out for you. How would you study this point? Briefly design a research study around that point.

The amount of children showing signs of continuing depression and rise of suicidal thoughts is very distressing. If the child was originally happy, these symptoms should be very obvious to the public.

Since the FDA keeps denying the fact that their drugs to treat ADHD or autism have no side effects, I would love to prove them wrong by conducting two studies. First, I would try to find children who are currently being treated and on medication for these disorders. Finding clues whether their disorder has improved or worsened should not be difficult by looking at cues such as drawings (or any other forms of art), language, and facial expressions. Second, I would then continue this study into a longitudinal one. How are these adolescents/adults feeling today, as children who were diagnosed with ADHD? Do they really feel happier, as the commercials have promised, or do they feel worse? If the study results are convincing, I might be able to turn the game around (only if!).


Thio, Alex, Thomas C. Calhoun, and Addrain Conyers. 2010. Readings in Deviant Behavior. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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