You can’t believe whatever you wish but in this brief article of yours there is nothing to back up your position. While I understand you have a PhD and many years of experience in the field but that alone is not enough without any studies or empirical evidence to corroborate your position. In any case I, like you also had a strong suspicion about the merits of mental illness and its currently accepted treatment practices. While not yet a teenager, I witnessed firsthand Americas new obsession with doling out strong stimulant and anti depressive medications. As a kid I was always told by my parents that severe mental illness and depression ran strong in my family. Now even though I was young, I still concluded that what I was told had no firm relation to myself personally and that gong to see the “doctor” and quickly being medicated was not the answer. From what you wrote I conclude you infer that most peoples mental illness is the result of there environment and is just a strong emotional feeling. I too once would have agreed with you and in many cases I still do. If you take me for example in relation to my first encounter with a psych doctor at age twelve. I was recommended by a couple of teachers because I was constantly drowsy, inattentive, and constantly off task and not paying attention. My mom believed what they were preaching and also was concerned about my drowsiness and lack of interest in school in general. While I didn’t mention to her how I actually felt about it as I saw no means to an end with that conversation so I just went along for the ride. Now by this point I had about 3 good friends that I always seemed to hang around with and it seemed they too were having the same issues. After a brief doctor visit I came home with my new ritalin script and at first I decided I would not take it and just toss it. Eventually though I tried it and was amazed how much energy I had along with a fairly overall sense of well being. I would have my friends over for a sleep over and for the two of my special friends there moms dropped off there prozac and adderall for in the morning. Eventually my grades did improve and I would pay more attention in school. I also tried a little bit harder to be on task and get better grades the later more so I wanted to please my mom and not have heard called in to talk to my teachers. In a way I guess I could say the medicine worked for me but more or less for quite the superficial reason. In reality the reason I was constantly drowsy at school was because I would stay up building computers, reading video game and computer related magazine, and not to mention I had just gotten this thing called the internet! My poor grades were merely the result of a disinterest in the curriculum being taught as I went to a catholic school and had to subject hours everyday about religion! In truth, I could have probably fixed all of these deficiencies if someone had just ever asked me what my problem was. Instead my parent was talked to and told by some uninformed worrisome teacher that she feared I might have ADHD. To me what was worrisome was how haphazardly I was given powerful mind altering amphetamines with little to no counseling or discussion. But again, I never voiced this concern as I saw the pills as a benefit in that I could now stay up way late pursuing my hobbies and still feel good the next day. Eventually however I could not keep up the routine of the strong uppers. Eventually one day I woke up and went to class but upon arriving I started to feel very strange with a terrible brain fog type feeling along with a dissociation of body sensation. It was more than terrible and caused very panicky symptoms for me as I had no idea what was going on. I eventually went home sick and totally crashed sleeping for some 30 hours straight. When I awoke I had the same symptoms as before and was very scared and they persisted like that for about a week. I will say this was one of the worst experiences in my life and am still not sure what happened to me from a medical standpoint as I never increased my dose of ritalin. In any regard I vowed I would never to use any stimulant medication like that again. Looking back at this time of my life I conclude that if that psychiatrist I initially saw had spent more than 20 minutes talking to me he would have just given me a mild anti-anxiety medication as I mentioned to him specifically that I did have fairly bad anxiety at times but somehow he decided it best to give me the opposite of that? The anxiety I mentioned at that time was fairly minor and mostly just a general overall feeling of being uneasy and tense. I eventually developed some strange behaviors and fears for instance I often felt as if there was something stuck in my throat causing me to have a hard time swallowing. Situations or places that I lacked a sense of control over seemed to exacerbate the issue such as being on the school bus or on an airplane. I realized there was no getting around this as avoiding situations where I didn’t have control was not going to change anytime soon. Unsure of how to remedy the issue, I started to carry a small water bottle with me everywhere I went as this would help me swallow if I started feeling anxious. With the water bottle by my side along with being placed in many panicky situations I eventually started to conclude that my whole issue was not real and nothing was actually psychically wrong with my throat even though it felt strange. I concluded that I was not going to ever die from not being able to swallow or breathe. Along with this I started reading about calming methods to use in these situations. After awhile I almost never had this issue again. While I still had quite a high level of overall anxiety I had at least managed to curtail it with my methods and probably stopped myself from developing other strange behaviors. I thought back at what my mother had said about hereditary depression and at the time concluded that she was wrong about me and perhaps I just got the anxiety portion of it. However I now know I was the one who was wrong as even then I had symptoms of early depression however I had not yet experienced any strong symptoms. As a child I would always just tell everyone that I was ok and most people concluded that meant I was good and never cared or had time to dive deeper into my response. What I meant was that indeed I was just ok, not happy but also not sad. I also did not seem to have any true feelings either? I could have been riding my bike with bottle rockets shooting out the sides and wouldn’t have felt happy, but as mentioned I never felt down or sad either. I was a little concerned about my lack of any feeling, emotion, or empathy but just concluded that was normal for everyone. Later on in life I would learn that this was not normal at all. Sometimes you hear people say “Find a hobby” Well that saying definitely has merit as engrossing myself in things that I enjoyed, I was able to feel more calm and was able to forget about my constant racing thoughts of anxiety. With this I was able to get through high school and eventually college where I did quite well. It turns out if your allowed to choose something your interested in people will pay close attention. After graduating I found a good job and bought a house and eventually got married. In addition to that my anxiety had all but faded away. It seemed I no longer even had the time to worry about anything as I was constantly busy and things seemed great for a while. Eventually however I started to having just an overall feeling of unhappiness.It was very strange to me however as I had never really felt unhappy, sad, down, or whatever anyone wants to call it. I once again tried to come up with ways to overcome this on my own and tried making time for my personal hobbies along with dedicating at least one hour a day to get some exercise preferably outside in the sun as from what I researched also mentioned the importance of sunlight on peoples moods. I went this routine for a while but my thoughts worsened and eventually I decided to go back to the doctor. From there I was put on an antidepressant medication and as a few more months rolled by I felt no better and actually I felt things had worsened. This dance continued in this fashion over the course of three years with me trying what seemed almost the entire list of modern antidepressants. I was still having an overall sense of dread for no apparent reason as there was nothing wrong with my environment. I thought back to when I was first perscibed the ritalin and thought why cant these stupid antidepressant meds work like that did even if it provided some superficial benefit. I thought for instance perhaps I could find a drug that could turn my brain off? While obviously not the answer, this would help me not have negative thoughts? Frustrated by the lack of results I cancelled my next doctors visit and flushed my suitcase of antidepressants down the toilet. Eventually I went back to my mom and asked her about these issues and she also has them. She said she too and many others in the family seemed to have there depression start in there late 20’s early 30’s. I explained that I had run out of ideas on what to do. Things have gotten perpetually worse and now I have no coping mechanism or outside solution. I went a few more years without doing anything and at that time just tried to engross myself in work as it was the only thing that seemed to distract my mind. As I let this issue get worse I also no longer seemed to have any interest in much of anything. My hobbies no longer seemed to interest me any longer. Everyday, it was getting harder and harder for me to even get out of bed in the morning and eventually I hit my breaking point. I had let these terrible consume me for far too long and with that I started to convince myself that I should just be done with it. I had let this diseased thoughts win and now my logical conclusion was there was no way to repair or even block them. And with that I look at your article again just to see your unsupported opinion once more and see perhaps your somewhat right that these are just bad feelings all along and for some reason I left the baseline and can now experiences highs and lows. Perhaps from all these years of not feeling I have become a selfish person and my thoughts and feelings are from my own undoing of not being able to understand or actually feel? Before reading your article I actually came to that conclusion as well. I mus say you are dead wrong though on your belief that our environment is a factor however I also had that same conclusion at one point as well and deiced one day on a whim to take my 4 weeks of vacation time that I had built up and try to find a new passion or hobby. I found myself scuba diving, big game fishing and doing all sorts of totally awesome things but again they were all minor distractions and at the end of each day I still felt empty. Discouraged that everything I tried led me nowhere I started writing in a journal about my thoughts each day to try to build some sort of correlation. In my experience it seems everyone in the USA wants quick answers and a quick fix and mostly my frustration was that I was looking for the opposite. I put in the effort to try the methods such as exercising everyday instead of popping a pill as a first resort and this wore me down the most and nearly pushed me over the edge. I have always been fairly cynical but am also quick witted and always joked around about my issues and used comedy to not make such a big deal about things. However by this point I had let the cynical take over and no longer joked about anything let alone talk to anyone as everything seemed pointless. Then one day at work I went to lunch and walked over to the Qdoba nearby. As I walked in I saw a man who asked me if I could give him some coins. I walked in and pretended to ignore him as I have always done it the past to beggars. For some reason I felt sorry for the dog and that’s when I decided to buy him some shredded pork to put in a bowl. As my order was being made I came to the conclusion that this man outside would feel awful if I said the meat was for his dog and I went to the counter again and bought a 2nd burrito and soda. I put all the food in a booth and took the meat and also a cardboard bowl of water out to the dog and told the man I had a burrito if he was hungry. From this I was strarting to realize for the first time that even though I was having feelings albeit bad ones constantly I could now empathize with people which was all but foreign to me. I asked the man to come inside and eat with me and we tied his dog up and let him eat and drink.At first I think the guy thought I was kind of strange or something which is indeed an apt conclusion on his part based on my mindset the past few years. We talked for a bit but just kept it fairly mild as I think he still thought there was some ulterior motive or at least I was looking for pity points. At the end he finally asked me why I did this and at first I just said I didn’t know. After think a little more I finally just said “I just had to do something good so I could clear my mind”. As I went back to work that day I noticed that for a brief moment I no longer was worrying about myself and being consumed by my own thoughts. With being able to feel I for once actually understand. Prior to this I had never done one nice thing in my life and it hit me that I could do this again in some other capacity and feel some form of enjoyment. I have helped others at work or I have always been a good friend and helped them if asked but this seemed different in that I did it for no reason whatsoever. I am still a cynical, logical, skeptical person however I actually try to use that to my advantage now to help others. 2 years ago when I was FEELING terribly depressed I was talking with my family members who I decided to talk to one by one to see how they were able to feel happy. When I was talking to my aunt about it one day she went on and on about church and thats what saved her. I felt like I was transported back to catholic school all over again and nearly feel asleep in her lazy boy. On the way out she took my hand and said “son, you need to find jesus” I quickly replied that I almost met him a couple of months ago and she gave me a nasty look and said she would pray for me. I still have not found the lord I think she was right in a way [Happiness is fleeting] Definitely wise words as I have yet to find it and perhaps I never will, but until then I can continue living on the small amounts of satisfaction I get in helping some else.