Monday, July 23, 2007

Not a wise counsel at all

Listening to Wise Counsel with Dr. Fleming, the latest podcast from mental Help Net, came as a bit of an unpleasant surprise. Fleming has written a book about preventing drug addiction with kids and gives a lot of advice to parents as to how to raise and educate them such that addiction will not occur. I think the advice is not efficacious, not justified and some of the worst even harmful. It is my opinion that the podcast should have been posted with a disclaimer lest the approach receive the odium of legitimacy by virtue of being exposed on a bona fide mental health website.

I am skeptic in general about his analysis of addiction. I strongly disagree with the methods he proposes for addiction prevention. I think he is a bit to keen on emphasizing how it is completely incurable, as this serves to justify the frighteningly repressive prevention measures he proposes. They go against all I know from my criminology studies and I assume there are many studies that differ from his theories.

Therefore I have written a comment at Mental Help Net:

There are two things I agree on with Dr. Fleming: addiction is a trap that is extremely hard, if not near impossible to get out of. Therefore the best way to handle addiction is to prevent it. Second, in the light of that, parents cannot afford to be naive in any way about their children's exposure to addictive substances and consequent chances of turning addictive.

Other than that I am rather skeptic on his analysis of addiction in its entirety and I disapprove of the methods for prevention. I think they are too heavy handed and thus are not justified as being disproportionate. I doubt the efficacy and on the example of using a Breathalyzer for your child in his puberty, I think this is even harmful and counterproductive.

Insisting on letting your child do a drug test (either Breathalyzer or urine sampling) gives off the wrong signal ("I do not trust you anyway. You are considered a liar a priori") pushes for more dangerous evasive behavior, flight to worse substances or addiction to non-substance stuff like gambling, gaming, pornography etc, and to an atmosphere of distrust while the parents lure themselves into a false sense of safety on account of the tests.


I am happy to report the reply from Mental Help Net:

Editor's Note: Neither Dr. Van Nuys or myself (Dr. Dombeck) particularly agrees with Dr. Fleming's recommendations, ourselves finding them heavy-handed and potentially counterproductive. At least I believe that (not having consulted Dr. Van Nuys directly before posting my comment here). I think I can speak for Dr. Van Nuys on the basis of having listened to his scepticism during the interview. We both felt that he has delivered them in a reasonable enough way and that his biases are on the table for examination to listeners of the podcast who are intelligent enough to draw their own conclusions. There is room for a variety of approaches within the field, and there may very well be some instances where this advice may prove profitable, however few instances that may be.


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