Cosmetic psychiatry, art and humanity

Every one is unhappy at times. Some most of the times. Haven’t you seen people who never is able to set it off in a social situation or is always in ‘angst?’

Peter Kramer, a psychiatrist noticed that by prescribing flouxetine (an antidepressant) to people who doesnt have a well established depressive syndrome but nevertheless has ‘discontent’ improve drastically in their unhappiness. Kramer noted that “low self-worth, competitiveness, jealousy, poor interpersonal skills, shyness, fear of intimacy—the usual causes of social awkwardness” were transformed into “confidence, self-assurance and social comfort. ”

He proposes that why not use medications to improve the personality and well being? Why limit psychopharmacology to treat mental illness only? He argues that this ‘existential angst’, ‘melancholy,’ ‘gloominess,’ ‘pathos,’ ‘brooding;’ all of which has been associated with the transcedental nature of human beings may be due to some mild biological abnormalities in the brain. ‘Drugs, which are biological agents, appear to solve the difficulties of the discontent; therefore these difficulties must be biological in nature’.
An obivious counterargument is that most of the great contributions to humanity was by melancholic and choleric personalities. Their temperaments had produced things that are of a transcedental nature. Shubert’s brooding melancholy, Beethoven’s irascibility, Dostoevsky’s moral gravity, Lincoln’s sadness, Hopkins’ terrible pathos, Kierkegaard’s angst, or Pascal’s sense of vulnerability… If we make every one happy and in turn every one homogenous, growth of humanity would come to a standstill.

Another problem as Kramer himself worried is that once a transforming drug is available, people might be forced to take on new personalities,not by a totalitarian state, but by the benign coercion that pervades all mass societies- the subtly coercive power of convention.

But the question I have is that if an individual decides that he wants to remain happy like everyone else rather than suffer and contribute a work of art to humanity, does any one has the right to deny that happiness to him?
Does the medical profession/ state has the right to say ”though we have a remedy for your unhappiness, we wont give it to you because you should suffer as you may contribute some thing valuable to humanity?”

Photo by Nellie Vin


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