Re: DSM: The right to live as one pleases

From: Christopher Weeks (
Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 20:42:13 EST

Hi all,

I agreed with most of this, so I'm trimming out the majority...

"Ardeshir Mehta, N.D." wrote:

> > I believe that children, if given freedom from the early years, will
> > use that freedom to find their way, and will not absolve themselves
> > from responsibility when adult.
> So do I. But if they *do* absolve themselves of responsibility,
> then should the freedom given to them in the past be judged a
> bad thing? Surely not.

Never? What if we ended up deciding that this kind of freedom that we
all value so highly actually does present a serious risk of such an
absolution of responsibility? What if so many people followed in the
path of her uncle that as a whole, humanity began to slip toward
barbarism instead of the stars? IF such a far-fetched scenario were
reality, then I would question the value of this freedom. But I'm not
sure that everyone would. Many people think right is right regardless
of the consequences.
> At age five, I agree, however, that this is a tough choice. She *might*
> know better than you, for after all, she may know her own body best;
> but on the other hand she might be just *borderline* too young to
> know her own body best.
> Maybe at this stage it would be best to consult the experts. And
> if they disagree even among themselves, then trust in the LORD
> (or, if you are an atheist, then trust in the *vis medcatrix naturae*
> (i.e., "healing force of nature").

I'm an atheist, and in that case, I'd just trust my kids. If serious
medical professionals disagree about the adversity of activity X then
it's not likely to be immediately and immutably detrimental.

> > I don't see any difference in allowing children to eat a whole bunch
> > of candy, for it will affect their mood, their happiness, their
> > immune system, their relations to others, etc., for it acts like a
> > drug.
> Yes, it does, but we take drugs all the time: they are called "medi-
> cines"! My son Cyrus eats tons of chocolates: it calms him down.
> What's wrong with that?

Agreed. I favor a release of the present restrictions we have placed on
the ability to self medicate. Doctors should be our skilled
consultants, not our wardens. Of all the drugs that we take for myriad
reasons, they all boil down to making us feel better, why should someone
else decide if we should feel better?
> > Unless, of course, you would allow your 5-year-old to do heroine.
> > :-)
> Personally I'd say, No: one should not allow some things which can
> have such serious consequences that one's entire life is adversely af-
> fected forever afterwards. But this is no different from insisting on hold-
> ing a toddler's hand when crossing the road.

> > There are limits on the freedoms adults can give children, and each
> > person has their own idea of it.
> True. But I think we can have an objective standard also. An ob-
> jective standard which seems to me reasonable is to give as much
> freedom as is compatible with no *direct* harm *definitely* arising
> as a result of an action performed freely by the child. (But "harm
> *might* arise indirectly" is not, however, a sufficient excuse to take
> away freedom.)

In keeping with these two paragraphs, at what age should one be able to
experiment with heroine? Also, what about tobacco use or exposure to
the sun's UV radiation? With all of these activities, there is an
accompanied increase in the chance of some serious detriment. The truth
is that the likelihood of deleterious effects with heroine use is
greater in degree but not kind than that of smoking tobacco. How do we
draw the line in some objective way? I know at least one person who
took heroine more than once who is not a junkie. I have known several
people who used cocaine and never became addicted.

I'm not suggesting the use of any of these chemicals...I haven't chosen
to try them. But I am illustrating that their use is not a *definite*
case of *direct* harm.

Christopher Weeks
New Jersey, USA


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