Friday, May 1, 2009

A Writers Memo

This blog was an interesting experience.   I have never done anything like this before, so it was tricky getting it all pulled together.  It is meant to be read from the bottom posts to the top.  I could not figure out how to change that, seeing as I’m not that tech savvy I figured that would be ok.  The development of this blog was actually a lot of fun.  I liked formatting it and I think it was a lot more fun to put together than an actual paper.  Reading Brave New World, I had a hard time getting into the book, but I was very interested in the fact that they all took this drug soma.  I decided to make this the focus of my paper.  From there, I began comparing soma to drugs in our society that have similar effects.  When I started doing this I came to the conclusion that all of these drugs are negative in our society, so it fascinated me how they were government force in Huxley’s fictional society.  This actually scared me, when thinking about where the future could take us.  I hope to provide the reader with a subject that they find interesting, because I was very interested when doing the research and writing the paper.  My final blog has a word count of 1928 words.

The Conclusion About Drugs

The characters in Brave New World took soma blindly with out knowing that the government was actually controlling them with soma intake.  The drugs that we have now that are similar to soma have some advantages, like the things effects soma had, but they are also incredibly dangerous.  These drugs are not supported for use by the masses because of all the side effects they have.  If these drugs were taken as the people in Huxley’s world took soma, they would have serious psychological and physical defects.  Drugs should not be the answer for all of or problems.  If people want to relax, they should take a break or create schedules for themselves so that they do not become stressed by their overwhelming workloads.  To concentrate, one should remove themselves form situations where they know they cannot concentrate.  If you get distracted studying in the library, then go to a study room in the library.  And for the sense of confidence, you should work on building up self-esteem.  Drugs do not provide the answers to problems, they create false senses of identity that hide how your brain is telling you how to behave and feel.

PCP and Soma Create False Self Confidence

The last drug that mimics the effects of soma is Phencyclidine, which is more commonly referred to as PCP.  PCP was developed to be an anesthetic, but because of its side effects, it was discontinued for human use.  It has since become available on the illicit drug market.  The dangerous side effects of the drug includes causing users to become detached giving them a false, overwhelming sense of ability and confidence; numbness of the extremities; slurred speech and loss of coordination; and involuntary eye movements.  The most dangerous side effect has to be the false sense of confidence and invulnerability.  This is the side affect, however, that makes it the most similar to soma.  When people take soma, they gain confidence in situations they were originally apprehensive about.  When Bernard feels unsure of his status because of his size, he takes soma to give him his confidence.  The PCP also has dangerous side effects on the body as well as the mind.  People who take PCP often have an increase in blood pressure and pulse rate (Stafford).  PCP is also commonly known as the most dangerous drug to take.  It can cause violence and hostility, and produces a psychoses that is indistinguishable from schizophrenia.  With the false sense of confidence users feel, they often put themselves into dangerous situations. 

Adderall Forces Conformity

In today’s world more and more people are being diagnosed with ADD and ADHA.  These are attention deficit disorders.  People that suffer from ADD and ADHA often have difficulty concentrating on tasks and have little impulse control ADD and ADHA medication is used to help people concentrate and focus, like the drug soma can be used for. The most common medication that is prescribed by doctors today to help people that have difficulty concentrating is Adderall.  Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant that affects the chemicals in the brains and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control.  Children today, very early, are being diagnosed with this disorder.  Critics of medicating children argue that all children have problems concentrating on work and it is not something that they need to be medicated for (Diller).  Others argue that if medications like Adderall have the ability to help one focus, why shouldn’t they be readily available for everyone to take in situations where they need extra concentration.  Adderall can also be used to treat narcolepsy, because it is a stimulant (Diller).   Adderall is a legal drug, but many people still use it with out a prescription.  Students who want to stay awake and gain extra focus when studying for exams and writing research papers commonly take it.  Like athletes use performance enhancing steroids to gain advantages on the field, students feel like adderall can give them an extra advantage academically.  While students take it thinking that it is good, it can have a number of bad side effects.  Taking Adderall affects the body like taking speed.  Heart rate and breathing increase, there is a loss of appetite, and dehydration commonly occurs.  Many college campuses have problems with students abusing adderall.  This drug could probably be the most commonly related to soma used in Brave New World.  The drug is legalized by the government, and asserts control over the personality of an individual (McInnis).   While soma is intended to execute this control, there is no actual link to our government doing this with ADHD medication, but many people believe there is a link.  McInnis believes that doctors, as a product of society, have a “take this” approach to telling people to take drugs to stop them from experiencing normal emotions.  She believes that the government wants to stop people from being politically minded and instead is moving people towards being heavily medicated.  This might seem like a bit they will become more focused and begin to behave with control.  This medication puts them into the mold that society finds acceptable about how someone should behave.

Marijuana Today Relaxes Like Soma Then (In the Future?)

Marijuana is a commonly used street drug and is now being used for medical purposes.  It comes from the hemp plan cannabis sativa and its main active ingredient is tetra-hydro-cannabinol (Stafford).   Marijuana is used to affect mood and to relax, which is one of the effects the soma has on the takers. While some people see marijuana as harmless, and some note the positive medical uses it has, there are quite a few negative aspects to marijuana.  There are many signs that show when one has uses this drug, such as red eyes, lethargy, and very uncoordinated body movements.  Also when people use this drug to get “high” they can abuse it to the point where everyday tasks like talking and moving their limbs are difficult for them to do.  Long-term effects of marijuana use can include a decrease in motivation.  With this decrease in motivation, tasks one originally wanted just to be relaxed to perform they now no longer even feel the urge to do.  There are commonly anti-drug commercials on television today that warn teenagers against doing drugs like this because things that were at one time important to them will no longer be priorities in their life because of the decrease in motivation marijuana causes.  Other negative side effects are seen in the brain, heart, lungs and reproductive system (Tracy & Acker).  People who smoke marijuana can develop cancer, and the longer you smoke the more likely you are.  While marijuana is shown to cause cancer, cancer patients are also using it legally.  Chemotherapy causes patients to be nauseous, and lose weight.  By using marijuana, the patients are able to reduce their nausea and keep their weight up.  It also helps provide relief from pain.  For these people state governments have began to legalize marijuana. So far Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, requiring a doctor to prescribe patients to get a card allowing them access to medical marijuana (Tracy & Acker).  There are also people who just think that marijuana should just be legal for everyone to use, other than that is obviously has positive medical attributes.  One of the many reasons for this is would stop the product from being abused by teenagers.  The drug, some people think, could be used like soma, in small does to relax people and not purely as an illegal drug that is abused like it is today.  Another reason to legalize it would be the money would be used in the American economy.  Today, when people illegally purchase drugs money is supporting gangs, drug groups, and other types of criminals.  By legalizing marijuana, this flow of money to criminal organizations would stop.  People arguing that marijuana should be legal also sight the fact that it would save our justice system time and money.  Law enforcement arrests 750,000 individuals a year on possession charges and justice systems have to spend time and money prosecuting these individuals.  This money and time could be better served on people who commit violent crimes.  These are all valid reasons.  Soma has the same relaxation effect on the users in Brave New World that marijuana has on its users.  The only difference between the two is that soma is supported by the government.  The United States seems to be moving towards legalizing marijuana though, and the 4/20 movement is finding many more supporters.  Huxley could have predicted the future in his writing that some day we might always use a drug to relax when faced with difficult or intimidating situations.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brave New World Background and Connection

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, was published in 1932 but it anticipates what the future will be like.  Huxley describes the future in London in 632 AF (after Ford) as a society totally based on control.  The novel is based on the ideas of futurism, and in this fictional society nothing is how we know it in our world today.  In this society there is no natural birth, and people are conditioned into social status classes.  In this world, to escape their day-to-day lives the characters take a drug called soma.  Soma is a dream-inducing drug that puts the taker into a state of relaxation.  The characters in the novel take soma in many different situations.  Some times to relax themselves, sometimes to increase their concentration, and other times to give themselves confidence.  In the novel, when John Savage causes a riot to break out, the crowd is sprayed with a soma spray to cause them all to become relaxed and to stop feelings animosity.  Also the drug can also produce happiness, and when taken in extreme dosages like how Lenina uses the drug, can incapacitates the user.  The drug is available to everyone, and the Government uses it to control the people living in the world Huxley created.  By taking the soma, the people are put in a drugged out state that makes them not question where there feelings come from.  The drug soma is not like a drug we have available today, but instead mixes the effects of many of today’s drugs.  Drugs that soma is similar to in today’s society are marijuana, ADHD medications like Adderall, and Phencyclidine (PCP).  These drugs, when taken give some of the effects the soma produces.  Unlike in Huxley’s world however, our society has still not accepted drug use and it is not acceptable to take drugs.  Even ADHA medications still have a negative stigma attached to them.  In this world these drugs are accepted and used is forced by the government, but this is a far cry from the War on Drugs our government has created.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Annotated Bibliography

Courtwright, David T. Dark paradise: opiate addiction in America before 1940. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1982.

This source is a 270 page book. It will be a very important source because it documents a side of drug use different from the drug use of Brave New World. It highlights all of the negative effects of drugs, especially opiates, where as in Brave New World the people take drugs to give them positive effects. It also explains how people use drugs for the feelings they produce, like how people in Brave New World take soma because of the calming results it produces. Soma and opiates are very closely related, today, there is even a pain killer called soma.

Diller, Lawrence H. The last normal child : essays on the intersection of kids, culture, and psychiatric drugs. Westport: Praeger, 2006.

This source is a 150 page book that is composed of essays detailing prescription drugs being used in children. It takes the approach that giving children drugs for things such as ADD and ADHD is not good. The author takes the side that normal children are the children who do not take these drugs. Like the people in Brave New World become dependent on soma the author puts together essays that show the fear of people, especially children, becoming dependent on these drugs that people survived without for many years.

McInnis, Sasha C. "The political is personal--or why have a revolution when you could be medicated." Off Our Backs 30 (2000): 10.

This source is a journal article, and is an opinion piece. The main focus of this article is how in today's society we are pushing the use of psychotropic medications to deal with everyday life problems. This article even contains a quote from Brave New World: "And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there's always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there's always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long suffering..[S[wallow two or three half-gram tablets and there you are." The author of the article is arguing that this drug use is not good for our society. She is a feminist who thinks male dominated industries are creating these drugs to make women behave how the men feel they should.

Stafford, Peter. Psychedelics encyclopedia. Berkekey: Ronin, 1992. This source is a book that acts as an encyclopedia of psychedelic drugs.

It explains how psychedelic drugs alter the mind; it even contains a chapter about soma. This source will help with my blog because it will allow me to explain how people's minds are altered by drug use, just like how the people in Brave New World had soma to escape from their problems. The entries in the book also explain the negative effects of drugs on the brain, and how the drugs begin to enslave the drug users. This reminded me of when John Savage encourages the people to break free of the enslavement of soma so this connects very easily to the text.

Tracy, Sarah W., and Caroline J. Acker, eds. Altering American consciousness: the history of alcohol and drug use in the United States, 1800-2000. Amherst: University of Massachusetts P, 2004.

This source is a 414 page book. It details the history of drug use in the United States- discussing both legal drugs and illegal drugs. This sauce is very valuable because it provides background information on why drugs are beneficial, how they became abused, and why drugs are used.