When did food allergies, such as an allergic reaction to peanuts, become a recognized condition as opposed to being viewed as something "idiosyncratic"? Even now, perhaps because we seem to have an outbreak of food allergies, don't we place someone with food allergies in the "they're just allergic to everything" category. By doing this, don't we tend to close a certain door? Our dirty little secret is that we place the onus of the allergic condition more on the person and not the condition. We stigmatize the person as being "one of those folks".

 

This article states that the journey from a controversial diagnosis to an accepted standard not only affects the general public, but also has it's roots within the medical community. Case in point, prior to the 1990's, it was very difficult to find any medical or popular literature reference to peanut allergies. As the article states, even the process of diagnosis tended towards a rather dismissive point of view. How far we've come from that attitude compared to the present, almost Kafka-esque treatment for protecting classrooms of children from nuts. Big Brother practically patrols the hallways in search of those rebellious peanut outcasts, those off-the-grid neanderthals who DARE to wave their mom-made PB&J's victoriously in the air. A victory for Peter Pan, a defeat for closely-regulated food sensitivities. What was once a controversy, has now become an epidemic. 

 

Hyperactivity, (you'll gain more street cred saying "ADHD") has now become part of our daily linguistic routine. What son or daughter doesn't have it? And what's wrong with them if they don't? Seemingly, we place the blame for every "fault" our children may have on something. Ritalin seems to provide a wonderful bailout. It a deliciously simple solution, and parents can feel practically guilt-free---why? Because ADHD is now accepted. Unfortunately, it's a badge we wear a little too easily, and a little too proudly.

 

Alonzo Lamont

alonzo@jhmi.edu



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