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Friday, August 8, 2008

Why there's a market for these drugs: Obsessive-compulsive disorder

From James Vlahos' article about the pet owners' use of mood-altering drugs for their pets:

At the end of the day, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, leaning back in his chair, launched into a story about a human obsessive-compulsive-disorder sufferer he had met – a man who repeatedly tugged at his beard. Dr. Dodman asked him if he had ever stopped, and the man said he did during a hitchhiking trip across Canada. Dodman thought he knew why: "He went back to being a human being. He was watching out for real dangers. He was trying to go real places. He was concerned about his next meal. He was thinking about where he was going to sleep. And he wasn't concerned about the stupid beard-pulling, because now he had a real life. When did the problem start again? The minute he sat back in front of a flickering computer screen."

His theory, essentially, is that the causes of mood disorders and obsessions in humans and our pets aren't so different – faulty genetics, dreary environments. Whether cubicle- or cage-bound, we get too little exercise; we don't hunt, run or play enough to produce naturally mood-elevating neurochemicals. Strangely enough, I had already heard this theory – from a pharmaceutical company executive who, for obvious business reasons, didn't want to be named. "All of the behavioral issues that we have created in ourselves, we are now creating in our pets because they live in the same unhealthy environments that we do. That’s why there's a market for these drugs."

Advice: Being in natural surroundings can help people heal.

Thanks to James Vlahos for the source article in the New York Times Magazine of July 13.

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