Future Busters – The Indiscriminate Use of Pharmaceuticals

“Our relationship to our future is revealed in our relationship to the unknown and to cooperate with our future’s longing for us we need to befriend the unknown.

—Dr. Susan P. Plummer

Author Dr. Susan P. Plummer, calls indiscriminate pharmaceutical use a “future-buster.” She says, “With our entire culture on the brink of Deep Change, the widespread prescription of medications for people suffering from anxiety or depression symptoms is aborting the emergence of new futures, new worlds we desperately need.”

Although she agrees that medications for anxiety and depression have a place in our culture, her concern is that they are being prescribed without considering why now is this person depressed? She reflects that while there can be an obvious life-crisis such as a death, illness, or loss, often cultural deep change also contributes to the experience commonly pathologized as anxiety or depression—and when it does, it plays a role too valuable to be sedated.

Being in the “throes” of deep change means that we are being called to a future we long for but cannot yet imagine. To cope with the attendant symptoms, we need a psychology of the future, not drugs or the customary psychology of the past. Our relationship to our future, Dr. Plummer asserts, is revealed in our relationship to the unknown and to cooperate with our future’s longing for us we need to befriend the unknown.

“A retired teacher attended one of my recent presentations and afterwards told me that he had been battling ‘depression’ for most of his adult life. He had been taking antidepressants, which had somewhat succeeded in warding off the depressive symptoms yet left him feeling emotionally flat and unengaged with life. He explained that he had never been encouraged to express his experiences associated with depression. I suggested that he find a therapist in his community who would support a gradual weaning from the antidepressants and allow for an exploration of his experiences with depression.

“A year later he attended a retreat I was facilitating and I barely recognized him. He was passionately immersed in his life, and open to new possibilities. He said that being able to feel his depressive ‘symptoms’ with the support of professional guidance eventually opened him to a new depth in himself. As a result, he now appreciated his authenticity and felt a more profound connection with himself and the world.”

By embracing the cultural picture of deep change, it becomes possible to see and trust that challenging threshold experiences are actually bellwethers of important change. Dr. Plummer believes that medicating individuals on such thresholds of change can deprive them of their birthright to grow into a new future by robbing them of a deeper experience of their authenticity, freedom, and inherent sense of belonging.