Weekend reading…media madness

Collected articles of interest from the last few days:

  • BBC News – Louis Theroux looks at America’s prescription cultureIn the US, an increasing number of parents are turning to psychoactive medication to help them cope with the challenging behaviour of their children. So is this an understandable path to take, or a worrying shortcut, asks Louis Theroux.

  • Anti-parenting for beginners | Psychology Today — In a culture that construes pregnancy as an illness, it is perhaps unsurprising that the outcomes of those pregnancies—babies and toddlers—are viewed as problems that have to be solved. I haven’t had such a smooth passage through parenthood that I can’t appreciate how difficult it can sometimes be. But even through the sleepless nights and the tantrums, I have wanted to see my children as something more than forces to be tamed.

  • Botox may diminish the experience of emotion : Neurophilosophy — This continues to be interesting. A year or two ago they were talking about Botox’s antidepressant qualities due to the fact that one cannot frown. I’d rather feel my emotions! Seems now they’ve found Botox can blunt all emotion. Botox, which is used by millions of people every year to reduce wrinkles and frown lines on the forehead, works by paralyzing the muscles involved in producing facial expressions. A study due to be published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that by doing so, it impairs the ability to process the emotional content of language, and may diminish the quality of emotional experiences.

  • Paul Popenoe, eugenics, and marriage counseling : The New Yorker — Popenoe is a minor character in Davis’s book, but, before he became “the man who saves marriages,” he was a leader in the campaign to sterilize the insane and the weak of mind. The American Institute of Family Relations was funded by E. S. Gosney, the president of the Human Betterment Foundation (for which Popenoe served as secretary). For Popenoe, marriage counselling was the flip side of compulsory vasectomy and tubal ligation: sterilize the unfit; urge the fit to marry. But what if the fit got divorced? “I began to realize that if we were to promote a sound population,” he wrote, “we would not only have to get the right kind of people married, but we would have to keep them married.” Popenoe opened the clinic in 1930, in order “to bring all the resources of science to bear on the promotion of successful family life”—that science being eugenics. He didn’t much mind if the marriages of people of inferior stock fell apart: “Divorcees are on the whole biologically inferior to the happily married.” By saving the marriages of the biologically superior, though, Popenoe hoped to save the race.

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