SCT — The new attention disorder

A friend alerted me to a recent NYT article about what promises to become the next pediatric psychiatric diagnosis du jour: sluggish cognitive tempo disorder.

Dr. Russell Barkley, a clinical psychologist on faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina, has hailed SCT as “the new attention disorder,” manifested in the inattentive child who tends to daydream in class, seemingly unable to quickly process academic tasks at hand. Strict criteria for diagnosis have not been formulated as yet; but rest assured, they won’t be long in coming. Researchers estimate that close to 2 million children might qualify for the diagnosis.

[Disclaimer: According to the NYT article, Dr. Barkley, a perennial proponent of ADHD, has gleaned over $118,000 in consultant fees from Big Pharma in a three-year stretch between 2009 and 2012.]

The next procedural step will be formulation of recommendations for pharmacologic treatment. The most likely classes of drugs already exist. All that will be necessary is to market the diagnosis to the medical community, disseminate the possibility to the public at large through the news media outlets, and educate practicing clinicians on “appropriate treatment.”

The upshot will be an exponential number of new prescriptions written for psychoactive pharmaceutical medications dispensed to one of the most vulnerable segments in our modern success-driven society, young children.

Along with the closely related ADHD diagnosis, the beauty of such a condition is its chronicity. Once established, such neurobiological diagnoses insure the continual flow of stimulant medication through the lucrative pharmaceutical pipeline — more Soma for the masses, as Aldous Huxley might have couched it.

I shudder when I think of the sheer numbers of young brains bathed daily in the latest pharmacopeia. Millions of children are now being treated with psychotropic medication at younger and younger ages.

And if they aren’t exposed to a panacea of pharmacologic substances, most (if not all) are being bombarded with electronic media in its various forms throughout their entire day.

I wonder what the human species will look like in the next several generations.

Perhaps our grandchildren will live in some sort of virtual reality from womb to tomb, their minds pharmacologically altered to ensure a sort of peaceful compliant existence.

Orwell and Huxley were ahead of their time, but not by much.