On college campuses, counselors are seeing double the number of depression cases and triple the number of suicidal students. The American Psychological Association reported in 2003 that counselors on the nation’s college campuses were seeing significant increases of these and other “severe psychological problems.” Why are the nation’s brightest young adults flooding the student health centers to overflowing? What has changed since the late 1980s to produce such emotional and psychological devastation among the nation’s college students?
A campus psychiatrist at a major American university has written a book attempting to answer the questions about what has gone wrong. The book, Unprotected, (written anonymously but revealed to be Dr. Miriam Grossman from the student health services of the University of California, Los Angeles) reveals that “radical politics” has replaced “common sense” in the campus health and counseling centers to the detriment of students’ well-being. In short, Dr. Grossman declared that her profession was “hijacked” and that college students are the “casualties” of “radical activism” by the health professionals on college campuses.
The nation’s 17 million college and university students are being denied truth while their risky behavior is condoned by the prevalent social agenda on campus. Dispassionate objectivity and compassionate concern for an individual’s health and well-being have been replaced by social activism. Now, the “polarization” of “opposite” sexes and a “binary gender system” must be replaced by androgyny and “alternative sexualities.” Nobody dares mention that emotionally destructive behavior produces negative consequences. Ideology takes precedence over consequences. In fact, consequences are never mentioned except in the context of smoking, diet, exercise or sleep. Certainly, no one mentions the “fascinating research on the biochemistry of bonding” which reveals that casual sex is hazardous to a woman’s mental health.
When I was an academic dean, I found that there was often (though not always) a relationship problem –– usually a broken romance –– behind a sudden drop in a student’s grades. Dr. Grossman describes story after story of students who came in with academic and psychological problems that, she discovered with a little probing, turned out to coincide with sexual intimacy that produced one-sided attachment. Dr. Grossman quotes a neuropsychologist who described the effect of oxytocin (the attachment hormone that produces bonding and trust): “You first meet him and he is passable. The second time you go out with him, he’s OK. The third time you go out with him, you have sex. And from that point on you can’t imagine what life would be like without him.”
Ironically, Dr. Grossman (who laments political correctness) uses the term, “sexually transmitted infections” (the politically correct designation because “infections” seem less serious than “diseases”) instead of “sexually transmitted diseases.” Today, on and off campus, STDs are considered no big deal. Yet, human papillomavirus (HPV) –– a major cause of cervical cancer –– is so common and so contagious that some doctors recommend that women “assume” that a partner has the infection. Condom use among college students is a joke –– one study revealed that less than half of college students used a condom during their last vaginal intercourse. Discussions about HIV/AIDS are even more off-limits: while definitive information is available about the specific behavioral risk factors, myths spread misinformation –– anybody can get it or AIDS doesn’t discriminate. Dr. Grossman lays out the facts: HIV is spread through anal sex, shared needles or a partner who does those things.
Dr. Grossman reveals, too, that God is not welcomed in college health clinics. In fact, psychologists are almost five times more likely to be agnostic or atheist than the general public. Almost 90 percent of Americans believe in God. Among students, over three-quarters say they pray, and an equal number say that they are “searching for meaning and purpose in life.” In fact, “cultural competency” (respecting the values of inclusion, respect and equality, especially in respect to gender, race, sexual orientation, disability and other identities) is replacing religion, even though evidence reveals that religion protects against drug and alcohol use, early sexual activity and suicide.
While the public generally sees abortion as a “woman’s issue,” Dr. Grossman cites a Los Angeles Times survey indicating that post-abortion men experience more regret and guilt than post-abortion women do. She also reveals that chlamydia is far more serious than generally perceived and that the college years are a good time to address the ramifications effectively; instead the dangers of chlamydia are ignored or profoundly sugarcoated. As a result, untold numbers of women discover too late for intervention that they are infertile.
Another profound misrepresentation takes place on college campuses: by focusing exclusively on career, many women will pass their window of opportunity for finding a husband and having children. After age 30, a woman’s chances of conceiving drop by 75 percent; if she gets pregnant, her chance of miscarriage triples, the rate of stillbirth doubles and the risk of genetic abnormality is six times greater. Sadly, as Unprotected points out, the waiting rooms of infertility centers are crowded with professional women who bought into the myth that they should focus on career and wait to have a husband and children.
The basic message of Unprotected is that today’s women are amazingly misinformed and unprotected.
Casual sex has consequences, and the steady flow of students crowding campus health centers is a clear indication that somebody needs to be telling young women the truth. Dr. Miriam Grossman has begun the enlightenment. Let’s hope that others will follow her lead.