I was very shy and quiet growing up, and somewhat lived in the shadow of my older brother. Yet, when I turned 15, I began to learn more about Christian Science. I learned that I didn’t have to feel insignificant, because God created me unique and special in my own way. I recognized that life was not meant for me to hide away, but to add my voice to the moment.
I also began to love my fellow high school students instead of being intimidated by them. I began to outwardly express a sense of humor that I had kept to myself. This new view of my life was such a freeing experience! “Carpe diem!” best describes how I began to feel. Having a popular older brother or being short for my age was no longer a deterrent to enjoying being myself.
Soon, I became more socially active and was cast in the senior play. I had changed so much that some fellow students who had never noticed me before thought I had recently transferred to our school! I’ve never been shy since and I credit this change to Christian Science.
According to a recent CNN article, “How to brand a disease – and sell a cure,” shyness is now considered the third most common form of mental illness. It’s now called being allergic to people, or “social anxiety disorder.” The pharmaceutical industry has launched a very successful PR campaign to urge people to begin taking a certain antidepressant to manage the condition. This drug carries a black box warning for suicide in children and adolescents and is known to cause dependence.
The article notes, “Just as Bernays sold pianos by selling the music room, pharmaceutical marketers now sell drugs by selling the diseases that they treat. The buzzword is “disease branding.”
To brand a disease is to shape its public perception in order to make it more palatable to potential patients. Panic disorder, reflux disease, erectile dysfunction, restless legs syndrome, bipolar disorder, overactive bladder, ADHD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, even clinical depression: All these conditions were once regarded as rare until a marketing campaign transformed the brand.
Once a branded disease has achieved a degree of cultural legitimacy, there is no need to convince anyone that a drug to treat it is necessary. It will come to him as his own idea.”
The CNN article rightly questions if this is in the public’s best interest. A few years ago, The Seattle Times raised similar concerns in an article titled, “Disease expands via Marketing and Machines.”
This seems a good opportunity to address this issue in relation to the three questions in the title of this blog:
Christian Science, What it is: As my experience indicates, permanent healing of “social anxiety disorder” is possible without drugs, through Christian Science. Also, for me, it’s being alert to avoid television commercials that describe symptoms of disease and encourage dependence on drugs. It’s being grateful for the mute button.
Christian Science, How it is misunderstood: It is often rumored that Christian Scientists are not allowed to take drugs and are against doctors. Not true. I make my own healthcare decisions; my church does not make them for me. So, why would I rely on prescription drugs if I don’t need them? Relying on God for my health also results in spiritual growth that I consider priceless. And having designed healthcare facilities as an architect, I’ve known dozens of doctors. I respect their dedication to bring comfort and help to people.
Christian Science, Why it matters: Millions of Americans are seeking affordable health care. Christian Science provides a reliable system of healing that anyone can learn and practice (without drugs). And spiritual healing brings the added benefit of a better understanding of God.
Last week, my colleague in London, Tony Lobl wrote a commentary on the same CNN article titled, “From 50 media mentions to a billion in just two years. A PR success, but at what cost to health?” I recommend it; Tony brings further insight to this important issue.