Friday, October 02, 2009

And another thing...

Anyone who has ever suffered clinical depression will see Broun as a person who is beyond contempt; who deserves nothing less than our damnation. Does he have the slightest clue what clinical depression is? What does he expect an emergency room worker to do for someone with clinical depression? Slap them and shout, "snap out of it! Other people have worse problems that you do!" Maybe he thinks they can hand out magic happy pills without a proper interview and no follow up. Since he puts depression and chronic illness in the same comment, does he think a lifelong mental conditions can, or should, be treated by a simple visit to the emergency room? If he does, he is painfully wrong. You cannot tell a depressed person that all they need is to put aside their painful inertia and go to a noisy, brightly lit place to say a few words to someone who is rushed and keeping one eye on the line behind them and everything will be fine. It would be much kinder and more effective to go with the slap and shout treatment.

Treating this as the outrage du jour will not help depression sufferers. Nor will treating any other medical condition as a rhetorical volleyball help people with those conditions. I'm not sure what the answer is. Bringing in people to be used as visual aids during speeches is a cliche that no one pays attention to any more. Calling hearings makes the sufferers feel good for a moment, but rarely results in change. Camping out on a Senator's doorstep doesn't make them more sensitive to your issues. And so it goes through protests and petitions and rallies and the whole repertoire of political theater. It's just theater. Consciousness raising spectacles almost never raise consciousness and rarely plucks consciences. We need something that will break through the shells that movers, shakers, and even spectators build around themselves and find a way to actually get their attention and make them feel, at a gut level, the pain and desperation that real people feel.

Of course, if I could figure that one out, I'd have the holy grail that all activists seek (at least liberal ones). In a moment, I would become the most sought after consultant in the land and I'd be rich enough that I would never have to worry about healthcare.

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