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When Did Teenage Schizophrenia Become A Coupon?
September 13, 2006
by Tony Zizza

If you want any more evidence that our popular culture is slipping away, just pick up a copy of your local Sunday paper. Put aside the editorial page and the sports page for a moment. Also, put aside the business page. This is not the biggest problem. Perhaps the latest problem with the "big" paper on Sundays can now be found with the -- coupons.

No, the problem isn't the fact that only three percent of the millions and millions of coupons found in your Sunday paper are ever redeemed. The problem is that of all things, mental illness is now being marketed right next to your favorite cereal coupon. I'm not making this up. I'm serious. Yikes.

Today, teenage schizophrenia is a coupon. How far down the toilet is the medical profession as a whole going to go before admitting something is not right here? Now, even the Sunday paper is not safe from lies and marketing surrounding mental illness. We have reached a low point where every single segment of our population is used to sell mental illness, no matter what the alleged mental illness happens to be. Everything and everyone is used to make "teenage schizophrenia" look like something we all suffer from. Again, you can find it in the coupon section of your Sunday paper.

A full page ad/coupon of sorts ran in today's Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper. The Teenage Schizophrenia Clinical Research Study invites you to CLIP & CALL by visiting http://www.teenhealthstudy.com and calling a toll free number, 866 652 6934. We then learn that when it comes to schizophrenia, "When the child hurts, the family feels the pain." This sounds very similar to Eli Lilly's "Where Does Depression Hurt?" television commercials. Unbelievable.

What I find shocking is that children between the ages of 13-17 are now being marketed to parents clipping coupons to have their children participate in clinical research studies in which investigational "drugs for schizophrenia" are used. Equally shocking is, again, the sheer marketing of it all. The ad/coupon I am refering to shows a black teen staring off into the distance, with his mother and father looking on in a very curious manner. Appears to be an intact family, and they are all neatly presented.

This ad/coupon lists some of the symptoms surrounding schizophrenia such as:

  • Seeing or hearing things that are not real
  • Vivid and bizarre thoughts and ideas
  • Unusual speech that is disorganized
  • Lack of motivation and emotional expression

Seems to me, these symptoms can often define what it means at times to be a teenager. We are all too quick to drug both children and adults. What is the end result of this? A mental disorder for every American. All you have to do is watch television for fifteen minutes, and you will learn that supposedly half of all Americans suffer from insomnia. Drug companies are using the likeness of Abe Lincoln to sell sleeping pills, or to be politically correct, sleep aids.

So, it's not surprising to see even schizophrenia for teens as young as 13 being advertised and showcased in of all innocent places - the coupon section of your Sunday paper. As I look at this family presented on the Teenage Schizophrenia Clinical Research Study ad/coupon, I wonder how many parents will actually CLIP & CALL to get their teen daughter or son tested and drugged. What kind of conversation will ensue before this happens? Or will the teen even be consulted?

You don't need a medical degree to be concerned about what is happening to our culture. Our reliance on subjective mental health labels and drugs to supposedly cure us of every ill big or small, can be misguided. We need to look within ourselves to make our own personality changes. We are being told everything from depression to schizophrenia to ADHD -- are genetic. This is odd, because no one really knows what causes these things. The drugs are real. The marketing campaigns are real. The target audience is getting younger and younger, and they are being found in the strangest places these days. Is there no shame?

There's no doubt we live in a dynamic culture that can be very challenging and competitive. Pressure abounds, as does stress. We need to find alternatives to deal with a host of subjective symptoms that come our way. We need to do this, because we must be careful who we let evaluate us. What is the agenda? What is the angle? What is the proposed end result?

Think long and hard about this. After all, you and your teenage children are now being sold schizophrenia and its drugs in the form of a -- coupon.

Zizza is a freelance writer who resides in Atlanta, Georgia. He writes frequently about mental health issues.

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