The problem with medication is, of course, that it is the province of psychiatrists. This is what I think of the accumulated wisdom of psychiatrists and other so-called autism experts: If I can get a heap of it delivered to my back gate, I'll shovel it onto my garden and grow some nice big juicy tomatoes.
It's not that I have any religious or philosophical objections to altering the natural state of the brain. (A couple of beers can do that, after all.) But our society treats the psychs like infallible wizard-kings who have a divine right to wave a magic diagnostic wand and instantly transmute millions of healthy and productive citizens into disordered mental lepers, banished to the fringes of civilization unto eternity.
Nobody should ever have that sort of power. Ever.
But what if psychiatrists occupied a social niche similar to that of plastic surgeons, other providers of cosmetic procedures, and bartenders? What if their medications, instead of being coercive implements of social control and rigid conformity, were designed to enable their clients to express whatever cognitive and personality traits the clients felt like expressing at a particular time?
Let's fast-forward a few decades to a time when all medications are individually compounded, after thorough genetic testing and metabolic profiles, and have few or no side effects. (I firmly believe that the people of the not-so-distant future will be aghast that we ever did anything as primitive and dangerous as using mass-market pharmaceuticals.) A geeky guy may want to take a dose of a drug that enhances social behavior, so that he can become more gregarious for a few hours and enjoy going to a nightclub with friends. Meanwhile, another guy who is usually a "party animal" may choose to take a drug that temporarily suppresses his social inclinations and enables him to focus intently on a project that he needs to finish for work or school. These prescriptions are not based on a diagnosis of a mental disorder; in this world, diversity of brain structure is considered as normal as any other form of diversity. Psychiatric drugs are viewed as temporary enhancements, not as treatments for illnesses or defects.
One of the arguments I've seen against allowing brain-altering drugs to be used without a diagnosed mental disorder is that there would be rampant "cheating" at school and in the workplace. Our current standardized tests would be useless if all test-takers could pop a few pills and instantly have perfect recall and excellent concentration. Hiring managers couldn't get an accurate snapshot of an applicant's personality in an interview if all job-seekers could take drugs to improve their conversational performance.
And to that I say: It's about damn time.
What eugenics-spewing Industrial Age robber barons were responsible for indoctrinating us with the idea that we should be in constant competition to pass tests and impress the corporate bosses, anyway? Until quite recently, education and work were not dependent on how closely one's cognitive characteristics matched those of the ruling class. Instead, parents taught their children at home, placed them in one-room schoolhouses where they could progress at their own natural pace, or apprenticed them to master craftsmen. Skilled workers were hired on the basis of their portfolios and reputations, not how glibly they could chatter.
I'm not suggesting that all children should be homeschooled or that we should return to a medieval apprenticeship system, but our schools need to focus on actually educating students, rather than churning out compliant test drones and job-interview monkeys.
Yes, I know that's a hard concept to get through the dense skulls of our conformity-driven school officials and the shamelessly pandering politicians who pull their strings.
Maybe they all need a new drug.