Emotional Illiteracy in “The Medication Generation”


Katharine Sharpe, author of “Coming of Age on Zoloft,” writes for the Wall Street Journal about the particular problems of young people learning about their identities while being told that their troubles are biologically-based. The article includes a videotaped interview.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. In this article Katherine Sharpe describes antidepressants as pills that definitely work and have no side-effects. Looking for a pill to solve our problems is very much “In” in this day and age when people keep rushing around, wantig it all “NOW!” the easy way, thinking that happiness is an entitlement. The younger generations are missing out when it comes to character building, resilience, patience etc. Parents are a lot to blame, they don’t have time for their kids, easier to give them a pill. Their job comes first, career is more important. We want things and because we can’t always get what we want, we get depressed and reach for the pill. What happened to self-discipline, persevierance?Students often think that they are immortal, they carry on day and night and are surprised afterwards that they break-down, get panic attacks or sink into depression: nobody has told them that the body will only take so much. They need pills to get better exam results and to improve their concentration etc.etc.

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  2. I think she’s also commenting on the negative message that the “chemical imbalance” talk has on kids: it says “your emotions are meaningless. You’re a bunch of chemical reactions, and nothing you say or do can impact those reactions. You don’t control your emotions and they are unrelated to your life.” I suppose the other message is that emotions are annoyances that prevent us from doing what we’re supposed to do. In reality, emotions are survival mechanisms that we all need in order to navigate our world. In many ways, emotions are what drive us to survive and thrive in the world. Trying to delete those that are inconvenient sends kids a very odd message, indeed.

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