About a year ago, I wrote an article titled, Diseases Disorders and Syndromes OH MY, where I borrowed a little Wizard of Oz jingle to drive home my disdain for the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders).
The DSM-5 has been widely referred to as the Psychiatrist’s Bible and is the greatest marketing tool ever created. Marketing is all about convincing people they’re lacking in some way and there is no worse area of life to be lacking in than one’s health.
Like most of men’s creations it’s likely that its original intent was to bring relief to pain and suffering in the world but, once mixed with the air in the land of opportunity, its greatest value came to those who define success solely by their bank accounts. Ironically, this usually leads to more pain and suffering rather than less.
The DSM-5 takes all of man’s self-inflicted wounds that aren’t visible to the naked eye and categorizes them as either diseases, disorders, or syndromes. This provides the illusion that we now have something tangible to work with as we continue to feed the machine with fiat currency by purchasing the latest prescription.
One of the more recent “syndromes” I’ve seen popping up in my newsfeeds is called Failure to Launch Syndrome which I suspect will occupy a full page in the DSM-6 when it gets published. Then it will provide a greater revenue stream and job security to the segment within the psychiatric industry who pose as healers while serving as sales reps for the pharmaceutical companies.
Let me be clear that I’m not bashing the field of mental health providers but only the segment which places a healthy bank account over a healthy client. The ones I like to call psychotheracapitalists.
As I see it, Failure to Launch Syndrome or the Couch Potato as it’s referred to by us more common folk, is yet another by-product of a culture-gone-south. If you’ll humor me for a few minutes and read on, I’d like to share a little personal story that explains what I mean.
Back in the 1980’s I remember sitting in the break room having a deep conversation with a friend. Deep conversations were usually a side-effect from the 8 balls I was snorting in order to stay awake during the 16 to 20-hour shifts at my union job. Our union was pretty strong which meant we were being grossly overpaid for the value we were providing and there was always plenty of overtime available.
My friend, Louie didn’t do drugs. He was a first generation immigrant from Portugal with a strong work ethic and didn’t believe in them. I, on the other hand, saw great value in the comfort they provided me. I first discovered them at age 9 when a predator was nice enough to turn me on to them while he had his way with me. It brought instant relief from the physical pain of that time and continued to do so for the emotional pain left in its wake many years later. I guess that’s another story, though.
Louie and I both had young children at home so we felt good about the fact that we were spending so much time at our jobs and “providing a better life” for them. After all, that’s what good men do, right?
He told me a story about growing up as a young boy in Portugal where he lived on a farm and worked at his father’s side throughout his entire childhood. He described how times were much tougher back then and if they didn’t work, they didn’t eat. I thought to myself, Man it sucked to be Louie.
He started to light up as he continued with his story of a hard life back in “the old country.” He told of herding cattle with his dad, milking cows with his dad, feeding the chickens with his dad, sitting on the tailgate of an old truck, exhausted after a long, hard day with his dad. He talked about the years when the crops didn’t do so well and they all had to make sacrifices for each other. The youngest got fed first and sometimes there wasn’t anything left so dad went without. Eventually, he wrapped up his story with coming to America and bringing his parents to live with him.
I remember feeling like I just finished listening to a fairy tale like the ones my mom would read to me at bedtime. It had all the elements of innocence, struggle, and triumph and ended with a strong moral. In this case it would have been something along the lines of love and a strong family bond overcoming all obstacles.
The difference is that the fairy tales never ended with the young hero going to the land of opportunity where he could make all kinds of money and rarely see his family ever again. I guess the tidy little ending, “they all lived happily ever after” sounds better than the actual effect that is caused by an absent father.
I remember visiting Louie at his home and meeting his parents sometime after that. In hindsight, I think they both had undiagnosed failure to launch syndrome because they seemed more like part of the furniture than the heroic parents he described in his story.
I’m not a psychotheracapitalist but if I was, I probably wouldn’t diagnose them with FTL syndrome, though because they did actually launch when they were younger. Maybe they had acute depressive disorder, clinical depression or something else that Big Pharma has a pill for today.
Hell, if they can’t figure it out, they can always call it fibromyalgia.
Looking back through the eyes of a 58-year-old man it’s very clear to me what made Louie’s story so beautiful.
It was all the sentences that ended in “with his dad.”
Since the dawn of the Industrial Era when men began leaving their sons’ sides in exchange for a bill of goods that promised a better life for all, we fathers have succeeded in providing so much more for our families. I never remember missing a meal because there was no food in the house.
The only thing we had to give up providing them with was our prescence which included guiding our sons through their rites of passage to manhood.
But, what the hell… There must be a pill for that.
Perhaps, as we begin to depart from this era, men will work from home again. Then they can be more present for their sons and things will shift once again.
Who knows, maybe psychiatrists will even get together and create a new Bible that works like bibles are intended. One that will guide us to a healthy, happy life instead of naming a bunch of disorders. If and when that happens, I’d like to be the first to enter a new syndrome.
It’s called TWD or Time with Dad Syndrome.
It’s caused by a father spending exorbitant amounts of time with his son throughout his childhood and instilling a sense of purpose in him as they walk through fire together, then releasing him to the world as a strong, confident, loving man.
Side effects may include hard work, a sense of honor and respect for all things, excessive accomplishment, and chronic fatigue for 8 hours a night followed by high energy, vitality, and enthusiasm during the day.
I’d love to see Big Pharma try to twist that one into a TV commercial for a new pill.
Until then Dad, while you’re out burning the midnight oil, 40 year old Junior will be home sitting on the couch, eating doritos while watching TV commercials of animated bladders holding paper cut-outs of happy faces.
Previously published on Life Beyond Clean