Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

The proliferation of Atypical minds and the Ivory Tower of Education

phenoms's picture

Has anyone ever heard the song Frontier Psychiatrist by the Avalanches? (Here it is Now, I'm not going to pretend to understand this song or video, but It played while I was listening to my Ratatat station on Pandora, and the opening bit seemed to connect with what I was reading in Price's "Mad at School." It goes,

"Is Dexter ill today, Mr Kirk, Dexter's in school
I'm afraid he's not, Miss Fishpaw
Dexter's truancy problem is way out of hand
The Baltimore County school board have decided to expel
Dexter from the entire public school system
Oh Mr Kirk, I'm as upset as you to learn of Dexter's truancy
But surely, expulsion is not the answer!
I'm afraid expulsion is the only answer
It's the opinion of the entire staff that Dexter is criminally insane
That boy needs therapy, psychosomatic"

This touches on the systematic connection between a child (for whatever reason) not working well within institutionalized education, and mental disease.  If one is true, then the other must be also.

Price states that "atypical minds are entering academe in unprecedented numbers...or simply being noticed more often" (7). She spins this as a positive turn, an upswing. But I'm not sure it's so unambiguously good. Isn't the reason more students are open about depression and attention deficit disorder because more students are being treated for these "diseases." Is over prescribing and medicating the way to embrace these atypical minds?

Price later analyzes the uncomfortable connection between the DSM and our market economy. Isn't this connection the similar? Are pharmaceutical companies simply capitalizing on mental disorders in order to turn a profit? I would argue that the proliferation of "out" students with atypical minds is more a result of the pharmaceutical companies trying to cure them, than acceptance from the Ivory tower.