Facepalm

Last weekend at church, an older woman asked whether I know anything about selective mutism. Actually, she first asked me whether I know anything about “selection mutation.” Getting to the actual inquiry took some clarification.

“Not too much,” I replied. “Some. From what I understand it’s a type of anxiety disorder.”

The woman said her granddaughter, in Maine, has selective mutism, and she worries that her daughter isn’t doing enough to treat the condition. Is it like autism? she asked. Martin is making so much progress. Can selective mutism be treated like we treat Martin’s autism?

I answered, “From what I know, many of the disorders we think of as behavioral or psychological have a health component, at least when there isn’t an obvious other cause like abuse or overwhelming life circumstances.” Actually, I probably didn’t say it that pretty, but I made the point. “So I would guess you might be able treat selective mutism biomedically.”

“I knew it!” the woman said. “I knew there must be a medication she could be taking!”

Completely not what I meant, I said, as kindly as I could, and then explained some of the fundamentals of our biomedical approach: the restricted diet, everything organic and homemade; the supplementation; the antimicrobial herbs; the homeopathy; neuroplasticity and home-based therapies.

Though I kept the discussion as simple as possible, the woman’s attention waned with each word I spoke. There were no follow-up questions.

That’s the way we’re headed, as a society: Isn’t there a pill to remedy this? Isn’t there a shot to prevent that?

Easy fixes.

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