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Could ADHD drugs like Adderall be accurately described as strengthening a person

Could ADHD drugs like Adderall be accurately described as strengthening a person's will?

We tend to regard the will as something that is marked off from the rest of the person, because, somehow, it is a direct manifestation of the person's being. So an ADHD drug could not be described as "strengthening people's will", because it if were described in this way it could not then be said to be be their own will that was being strengthened; they would be having it down for them.

Similarly, one might think, you can do my work for me, but not my thinking, because then it would not be my thinking that was being done. (Still, in that sense you would not be doing my work - my working - and it is just as impossible for you to do my work as it is for you to think my thoughts or even perhaps to wear my boots, taken to be the ones I am wearing ("Look, his boots (borrowed boots) have mud on them")).

One might on the other hand regard the will as the energy or strength to carry something through. Or one might regard it as determination, though here too the paradox shows through. If my determination is bolstered by a drug, is it really determination? But one can surely lack psychic energy or strength for just the sort of reason (anaemia, say) that one lacks physical energy. In such a case, one could well speak of "strengthening a person's will" or ability to carry through.

It seems to me possible by the way that one could learn from a drug, as Peter Kramer seems to imply can happen with Prozac, in his 1993 book Listening to Prozac. So the possibility seems to exist that the drug can actually teach someone who lacks it what strength of will is, and perhaps then they could do more easily "on their own" later.

Your problem is very interesting and difficult.

We tend to regard the will as something that is marked off from the rest of the person, because, somehow, it is a direct manifestation of the person's being. So an ADHD drug could not be described as "strengthening people's will", because it if were described in this way it could not then be said to be be their own will that was being strengthened; they would be having it down for them. Similarly, one might think, you can do my work for me, but not my thinking, because then it would not be my thinking that was being done. (Still, in that sense you would not be doing my work - my working - and it is just as impossible for you to do my work as it is for you to think my thoughts or even perhaps to wear my boots, taken to be the ones I am wearing ("Look, his boots (borrowed boots) have mud on them")). One might on the other hand regard the will as the energy or strength to carry something through. Or one might regard it as determination, though here too the paradox shows through. If my...

As someone who is clinically depressed, I have often wondered: philosophically

As someone who is clinically depressed, I have often wondered: philosophically speaking, is trying to treat depression wrong? People are depressed for a reason, possibly because life's pretty damned depressing once you get down to it. It seems to me that in plenty of cases, depression is a logical reaction to this planet, a rather depressing thought in and of itself. Despite the wars and the plagues and the genocides and the poverty and the seemingly countless other reasons for one to be depressed, people treat depression like a disease when it seems more like a perfectly acceptable reaction to the human condition. Treating depression like this appears to me as a rather unsubtle way of trying to trick people into believing everything is going to be okay when reality seems to contradict this. Any thoughts?

Depression used to be classified in two forms: endogenous ("originating from within") and reactive. There was an obvious point to this way of classifying things, but a different way has been suggested recently. The newer way is to distinguish between cases in which depression, the medical condition, is present, with its bodily neurophysiological causes, and cases in which only symptoms of depression are present, and which lack the underlying neurophysiological cause. The symptoms might however be produced by some environmental cause, a depressing incident, a personal loss or a major setback in life, without the marked and persisting change in the biochemistry of the brain which is believed to underly the medical condition. The significant difference between the two kinds of condition seems to be that changes in the environment typically don’t touch the medical condition. That may even be a defining characteristic of the condition, as well the usual things doctors look for, such as failure of concentration, changes in eating habits, sleep disturbances, and so on. (Grief, perhaps, can be severe enough to be a borderline case, or develop into real depression.)

Whether to treat with medication should be based on this distinction, or one like it. When the condition is serious enough to block the happy and satisfying life that we could otherwise reasonably expect, then we should perhaps be thinking about treating it with medication. If we see a friend or family member going through the darkness and dangers of severe depression, we will want to do what we can, and we all have an obligation to help, especially if we are medical professionals.

There is by the way also some interesting empirical evidence that people suffering from depression are actually more accurate in their judgments of situations with possible negative outcomes than people without the condition. From this point of view it might look as though the depression is the result of the more accurate perception! On the other hand, depression causes inaccurate and falsely negative mis-readings of facial expressions.

The world situation is disturbing. But if someone has real depression, can’t work, can’t sleep properly, can’t form ideas or concentrate, then this may have to do with an organic problem. What is being removed by medication is this very clear and noticeable condition, with all its miseries. It would be a trick and a tricky philosophical proposition if treatment just removed the perceptions and judgments of the world situation. But they may not actually be the cause of the distress, though it can seem as though they are. The situation is rather that proper medication may be able to prevent irrelevant and unnecessary distress, and even to make it possible to act on the view one has of the world situation.

Depression used to be classified in two forms: endogenous ("originating from within") and reactive. There was an obvious point to this way of classifying things, but a different way has been suggested recently. The newer way is to distinguish between cases in which depression, the medical condition, is present, with its bodily neurophysiological causes, and cases in which only symptoms of depression are present, and which lack the underlying neurophysiological cause. The symptoms might however be produced by some environmental cause, a depressing incident, a personal loss or a major setback in life, without the marked and persisting change in the biochemistry of the brain which is believed to underly the medical condition. The significant difference between the two kinds of condition seems to be that changes in the environment typically don’t touch the medical condition. That may even be a defining characteristic of the condition, as well the usual things doctors look for, such as failure of concentration...