Moose, Isle Royale National Park
National Park Service Photo,
presumed to be in public domain
Sometimes I am talking to people about how they feel about taking
psychiatric medication. Commonly, they say something like
this: “I would rather be able to do it myself,” or, “I don’t like being
dependent on something.”
Indeed, in American culture (and many others, presumably) independence
is highly valued. It is romanticized. It is
considered to be one of the nobler of virtues. It is
something to boast about.
“I don’t need anyone” is a common refrain among the boastful.
National Park is an island in href="http://www.isle.royale.national-park.com/map.htm">Lake
Superior, between Michigan and Canada. It
encompasses 850 square miles of minimally-developed forest, marsh, and
swampland. Living in a fragile ecosystem, there are moose,
wolves, beavers, mink, loons, eagles, and ospreys. It is a
United States href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_Reserve" rel="tag">Biosphere
The wolf population was threatened several years ago by an outbreak of
parvovirus. For that reason, pets are not allowed anywhere on or near
So, sometimes I hear people say they want to be independent.
Every once in a while, depending on a quiet intuition (that
may or may
not be valid), I will tell the following story:
Imagine going up to Isle Royale, after all traces of human intervention
have been removed. You take off all your clothes, then step
out of the boat and wade to shore. The boat leaves.
You are alone.
Now, you have your independence. No tools, no shelter, no
companionship. You can build a shelter, and forage or hunt
for food. It is going to be dark soon, and it is going to be
cold in the winter.
Is that really want you wanted?