Suffer the little children

This post was written by Dr Irene Campbell-Taylor, a former Clinical Neuroscientist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

This phrase means, of course, to allow the little children but today I want to write about children who are suffering in the other sense. The word “patient” comes from the Latin patire, to suffer or to endure. The children I write of here are suffering what I can only call medical abuse. Anyone interested however marginally in controlling what Big Pharma is doing should watch the PBS program “The Medicated Child”.

We become outraged at the actions of pharmaceutical manufacturers that negatively affect young adults, the middle aged and the elderly but when one sees the pharmaceutical abuse of children, outrage takes on a whole new meaning.

they “make me more like I’m supposed to be.” 

The most striking thing about this program is, of course, the number of antidepressants and antipsychotics these children are given, often from toddler age. It is deeply disturbing to hear parents declare that they have become convinced that their child needs to be constantly drugged and will probably continue to need these medications for life. When one mother expresses concern about the effect these may be having on her child’s development, she is, politely but definitely, dismissed. It is even more distressing to hear a thirteen year old say that she has to take several medications because they “make me more like I’m supposed to be.” Who decides how she’s “supposed to be”? It is to weep.

Having worked for many years with children and adults who have developmental and/or cognitive impairments, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the physical signs and behavioural aspects that, in this film, are repeatedly missed by pediatricians and psychiatrists. In several of the children in the program, I would want to investigate the possibility of a genetic condition, the physical aspects are so clear.

The parents are brainwashed.

The parents are, in a word, brainwashed. Over and over we hear that “if we stop the medications his behaviour returns, sometimes worse.” Have none of these physicians ever heard of withdrawal syndrome? To illustrate just how far this propaganda has spread, we hear that the schoolteachers are suggesting medications. And being listened to by parents.

The “tantrums”, aggression and self-harm that lead to this appalling medication cascade don’t seem to be examined for what they might actually represent. There are genetic conditions in which these are prevalent behaviours and require specific approaches, depending on the particular disorder. But let’s imagine we are three years old again and are afraid of something real or anticipate fear or feel pain that we can’t express. What are we going to do to get the message across? What if you’re three years old and have been abused? How might you react? I’m not suggesting that this is the case with any of the children in the program but I have seen a sufficient number of children who have been physically and sexually abused, at ages you probably wouldn’t believe, to keep it in the forefront as a possible explanation for behaviours that have been described as “oppositional”, “aggressive”, “violent” and so on but now are…BIPOLAR.

I hardly know where to begin. Bipolar disorder in adults is extremely rare and to have the arrogance to assert, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, that it is common in children is staggering. It is probably possible to do as Dr Biedermann has done, to take the signs of several disorders, overlap them, pick out those that occur in common and create a whole new disease.

Biederman and the Drug Companies

It is important to note that Massachusetts General Hospital disclosed sanctions against Drs. Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens for violating hospital ethics guidelines by failing to adequately report, internally, seven-figure payments they received from drug companies. The disciplinary actions include:

• They must refrain from “all industry-sponsored outside activities” for one year.

• For two years after the ban ends, they must obtain permission from Mass. General and Harvard Medical School before engaging in any industry-sponsored, paid outside activities and then must report back afterward.

• They must undergo certain training (type not specified).

• They face delays before being considered for “promotion or advancement.”

Each disclosed previously undeclared payments of over $1M each from pharmaceutical companies. It is inevitable that the integrity of their work has become, at best, questionable yet many psychiatrists and other physicians cling to the conviction that juvenile bipolar disorder is a real disorder probably because it gives them something to do about it – treat it with the same drugs they give to adults.

this is medical battery

To proceed, with no supporting evidence, to prescribe ever-increasing dosages of powerful  drugs, never intended for children is, in my opinion, malpractice including medical battery because who is capable of giving informed consent? Certainly not the child and the parents are not told that there’s no scientific evidence for any of this and we really don’t know what we’re doing. Informed consent is, I submit, impossible.

I am not even going to touch the theories around “abnormal amygdala”. It may very well be the case that there is an influence but even if there is, we are far from knowing what it means. Courchesne, many years ago, identified children who have what I insist on calling “true autism” as opposed to the “autistic spectrum disorders” now prevalent. He found that they were born with a part of the brain called the cerebellum smaller than normal. Similarly, persons with Down syndrome have abnormally sized parts of the cerebellum, but in different areas than in the person with autism. This is all very well but so far hasn’t led to effective treatment although in the future we may have some sort of breakthrough based on these initial findings.

There is, however, a growing reliance on MRI and PET scanning as though these were diagnostic instead of mere tools to aid in diagnosis. This month, in the American Journal of Psychiatry, we find a chilling report of the evaluation of “92 children who were at high risk for developing autism, because they had older siblings with the disorder. At age six months, the children underwent (MRI) imaging. Additional imaging data was obtained from most of the children at 12 months and/or 24 months old. Behavioral assessments were also performed at 24 months. Twenty-eight of the 92 children met the criteria for autism spectrum disorders at 24 months.” There are literally dozens of genetic abnormalities that carry the label of “susceptibility to autism” but from this report, I can’t see that any genetic investigation was conducted. The researchers apparently made the assumption that if an older sibling had one of the “autistic spectrum disorders”, the infant was at risk and, lo and behold, by age two, they were so diagnosed. Well, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like nail and, if you can increase the numbers of MRIs and, in turn, massively increase the probability of selling drugs on a scale never seen before, so much the better – except for the children, of course.

Now, let’s consider lithium as a treatment for bipolar disorder. When swallowed, lithium becomes widely distributed in the central nervous system and interacts with a number of substances. Lithium is known to be responsible for significant amounts of weight gain as do several of the antipsychotics such as olanzapine. Lithium also increases water output into the urine, a condition called nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. It increases appetite and thirst, and reduces the activity of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism). And we give this to children. The recent discussion about mercury and arsenic as medications seems somehow connected. I hope that one day soon we will come to regard lithium given to children as a treatment with same disbelief that we now consider mercury, white lead and arsenic.

Can we talk about Jacob

The adverse reactions to antipsychotics, antidepressants and similar medications are very clear in the young fellow called Jacob in the program. By age nine he was showing an unusual neck and head movement. The narrator refers to these movement disorders as “tics” and, while not accurate, serves as well as anything to describe abnormal muscle movement as a result of the drugs he was taking. In Jacob, the neck muscles are the ones most involved in that involuntary contraction of the muscles at the side, back and front of his neck cause his head to roll. Apparently, no-one has introduced a simple method of controlling this when it starts and that is to touch the chin or the back of the head gently when it is about to happen. This breaks the cycle. Of course, it should never have occurred in the first place and is entirely due to the antipsychotics he is ingesting like candy. The other effect the medications have had, is on his speech. He is dysarthric, that is unclear in articulation, a common side effect of antipsychotic medications. He is at increased risk of choking because of disruption of the muscles used for speaking and swallowing and this is something I find patients and parents are never told.

Why go to see a doctor?

Fewer and fewer health professionals seem to learn about the multiplicity of ways in which one can identify and treat the behaviours that are identified in these children as “pathologic”. No-one seems to care about treating the child and not the “disease” or getting entire families into programs that will examine what factors, environmental, familial or genetic may be causing or maintaining the perceived problems. But, of course, as one pediatrician says,” When you see a new child every fifteen minutes….” We have allowed a very wrong turn in the assessment and treatment of all of us, at all ages for conditions that are too often misidentified and then, for want of knowing about anything else, dismissed with drugs that have unknown and untold effects on DNA, physical functioning and mood.

The prescription pad is the only thing doctors now have. As the little fellow in the film, asked why he is going to see Dr X, reply gleefully and accurately, “To get medicine!”


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You and your meds. Give the real story. Get the real story.

Pharmageddon

Pharmaceutical companies have hijacked healthcare in America, and the results are life-threatening.

 

Dr. David Healy documents a riveting and terrifying story that affects us all.

 

University of California Press (2012)

 

Available on Amazon.com

 

Comments

  1. I am now convinced that the entire world is standing on its head. Published today:
    “Antipsychotic use in the United States is growing significantly faster among children and adolescents than among adults, a new study shows.
    The study also showed that only a small proportion of children (6%) and adolescents (13%) who were prescribed an antipsychotic had diagnoses for which these medications have a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved indication.
    In a “substantial majority” of office visits in which children are prescribed antipsychotic medications, the prescriptions are for treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other disruptive behavior disorders, lead author Mark Olfson, MD, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and research psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, told Medscape Medical News.
    The study was published online August 6 in Archives of General Psychiatry.
    Risky Business?
    “These national trends,” Dr. Olfson said, “underscore the substantial and growing extent to which children are being treated with antipsychotic medications for conditions for which there is no strong evidence of treatment efficacy.
    “Although antipsychotic medications can deliver rapid improvement in children with severe conduct problems and aggressive behaviors, it is not clear whether they are helpful for the larger group of children with ADHD.
    “There are also uncertainties over the long-term effects of antipsychotic medications on the social, cognitive, and physical development of children,” he added.”
    Well, of course they show effects in severe conduct problems-they are so powerfully sedating that they’re used for much the same reasons in the elderly in nursing homes. Drug them up and keep them quiet.

  2. Some good news posted on madinamerica.com … The British Journal of Psychiatry has actually run an article and an editorial calling for a re-assessment of the benefits vs. risks of antipsychotic drugs. More than that, they call for honestly discussing this with patients, and possibly even (gasp) honoring patients’ choices not to use them.

    Best of all: They are asking for our opinions. Both health care professionals and especially patients, former patients et al. This should DEFINITELY include any parent or other concerned grownup who can speak for the experiences of a child like the ones Irene describes in her article.

    This link summarizes the article:
    http://www.madinamerica.com/2012/08/antipsychotics-and-patient-choice-in-the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/

    And here’s the link to send them a letter, 500 words maximum. Let’s give them an earful!
    http://bjp.rcpsych.org/letters/submit/bjprcpsych;201/2/83

  3. Anonymous says:

    When our eldest daughter had anxiety issues at age 7, the first recommendation of the counselor we took her to was: anti-anxiety meds. I dragged my feet. I just wasn’t comfortable. I was not the least bit aware of all that I know now about pharma & drugs, but I am so glad that we felt enough doubt and skepticism about putting a child on drugs to prevent us from taking this path. I intuitively felt that this would have unknown effects on her biochemistry and development. Thank goodness.

  4. There are not words strong enough to condemn Beidermann; he truly deserves a special place in hell. His minions were after my son.

    At age four, my son was diagnosed as having “high functioning” autism after a long, slow regression. We accepted the diagnosis at the time, though in hindsight it was obviously wrong. Like many autistic children, my son was spacy and withdrawn, didn’t socialize, lacked empathy, had communication difficulties, yet he did not display any obsessive tendencies or repetitive behavior. We accepted the diagnosis and a referral to behavioral therapy. At the time, we knew little about autism and trusted the advice of the professionals. That all changed when the professionals suggest we try to modulate his behavior with psychotropics. Again he was only four.

    I never thought I’d be grateful for my degree in “street pharmacology” and subsequent drug rehab at age 23, but it saved us from the parental brainwashing. Despite being sober two decades, I remember exactly how those drugs made me feel, and more importantly how hard it was to stop. I told my son’s doctor (and special ed teacher who had brought it up previously) that mind-altering drugs were out of the question. The doctor asked me about my past and I explained my teenage drug use and first-hand experience. To my amazement, she argued that this was further proof that my son needed drugs. It seemed I suffered from the same condition as my son and had self-medicated in an attempt at treatment. He had inherited it from me, and now I was denying him help. Funny thing, I had thought I was just a miserable drunk and speed freak with no self-control. Following her logic to its conclusion, my twenty years sobriety, and subsequent happy marriage and professional accomplishments were the anomaly, not my years of partying down. We left and have not been back since.

    The obvious incompetence (in my opinion) of the medical community motivated me to learn everything I could about autism. I became convinced he didn’t have true autism as the protracted regression and lack of repetitive behavior just didn’t make sense. His diagnosis had been made without a single metabolic test or even simple bloodwork. Working with a holistic physician, we ran every biomedical we could think of, most paid for out of pocket. We found lots of strange things, but the most striking was that his plasma essential amino acids were very low, roughly tenth percentile across the board for his age. As he ate plenty of high protein foods, we came to the conclusion he wasn’t properly digesting his meals. His chronic bad breath and foul stools furthered this suspicion.

    He recently turned eight and today he is fine, one of the brightest kids in his class with many friends. No drugs, but digestive enzymes, a special easily-digested diet, a daily elemental nutritional formula (Neocate Junior), and simple vitamin/mineral supplements changed his life. His bllodwork and nutritional status has normalized. He had literally suffered from malnutrition, starving despite eating plenty of food. His mental condition had slowly deteriorated as his body was drained of the essential amino acids that form the basis of life. His muscles were gradually catabolized in a desperate attempt to supply required nutrients. I’m convinced his maldigestion resulted in kwashiorkor, a disease seen in developing countries where children’s diets lack adequate protein. His mental symptoms were classic kwashiorkor: apathy, spaciness, irritability, and prone to tantrums. He didn’t suffer from a Ritalin or Risperidone deficiency.

    We’ve ruled out the classic causes of maldigestion, such as cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis, and celiac disease (although we did take him off wheat and his stools improved tremendously). I suspect it’s some sort of small intestine autoimmune disorder similar to celiac despite the lack of anti-gliadin and anti-tTG antibodies. We’re still working on figuring out the root cause, but we’ve been able to devise a regimen to ensure he gets the nutrition he needs in the meantime. He continues to thrive and makes me proud every day. His recovery has been nothing short of amazing.

    How many other kids are there like my son? How many kids are sitting in special ed classes, drugged into oblivion when they actually suffer a metabolic disorder? I can’t believe my son is the only one.

  5. What a wonderful and encouraging story and congratulations for sticking to your guns. As I have said repeatedly, both children and adults should have a physical examination to rule out medical causes of mood disorders before resorting to psychotropics. BTW, celiac disease in various presentations appears to be more common than we have previously thought.

  6. Katie Higgins RN says:

    IF psychiatrists insist upon promoting themselves as practitioners of medicine, scientific minded healers, then I would like to propose that a simple problem oriented documentation format– taught as: S.(subjective) O.(objective) A (assessment) P. (plan) be implemented– SOAP notes begin with a statement that captures the perspective/experience of the patient… followed by thoughtful observation of the circumstances and contributing factors that are impacting the patient’s experience… assessing the NEED for a better understanding of the environmental and interpersonal dynamics that a patient is responding to… and a plan that realistically addresses behavior “in context”… THAT is a problem oriented medical review of a patient seeking medical treatment…

    “The Medicated Child” exposes the fundamental flaw in child psychiatry in the U.S. — IT proposes diagnosis and treatment without any consideration for the child as a human being. This documentary also illuminates the root of the problem; that society views children as either assets or liabilities— for families, schools, community and eventually society— or rather, one cannot help but notice how children are “taken to the shop in hopes of receiving news that a cheap repair is all that is needed”.

    There was plenty of evidence in 2008 to question and reveal the corrupt research practices of PHARMA, and the MYTH of *no fault brain disease”. Without this crucial background information— anyone can throw together a “let’s take a look at this … issue” documentary, and present what seems like a reasonable topic for discussion and debate.

    Frontline, exhibited symptoms of “Attention Deficit”— paying no attention whatsoever to the crucial elements of investigative journalism (discovering and exposing the truth of the matter)…

    Could we be seeing the early stages of Bipolar disorder in American educational media ?

  7. Thank you Irene. Can one have a severe gluten reaction but still have normal anti-gliadin and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody levels? It makes me wonder as my son’s titers were unremarkable but there is no question that removing wheat helped (though unlike celiac disease it didn’t cause the full recovery, elemental nutrition did). I also have a sister with celiac.

    Here is a fascinating 2010 paper from the Journal of Child Neurology written by a couple of clinicians in Alberta. It’s a case study on a 5 year old “autistic” boy actually found to have celiac disease. He made a full recovery with wheat removal and nutrient supplementation. Although his specific deficiencies were different from my son’s, his story is very similar.

    http://surefoodsliving.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/114.pdf

    There are medical professionals willing to help our kids; unfortunately few of them appear to be pediatricians, pediatric neurologists, or psychiatrists. We discovered that looking for a biomedical cause of autism, ADHD, disruptive behavior, or developmental delays is considered controversial in mainstream American medicine. It’s far safer in a professional sense to reach for the prescription pad, that keeps the doctor’s “unions” (aka the AAP, AMA and APA) and state medical boards happy. We found help from a naturopathic physician who I’m sure is considered a quack by those who wanted to put my 4 year old on psychotropic drugs.

  8. Katie Higgins RN says:

    Jeff & Irene,

    Attempting an explanation for the inadequacies you both readily identify in psychiatric evaluations of children, I hope to clarify the fundamental flaw in defining psychiatry as a biological/medical practice. Even while noting that the brain is a mysteriously complex and vastly unfathomable organ, these child psychiatrists have thought little of conducting in vitro experiments on vulnerable kids, whose parents are entranced by pseudo scientific jargon. My point here is that the *patient*, the human being— the focus and locus of concern, is completely left out of the equation by child psychiatrists. A problem is immediately attributed to THAT which is the least known and perhaps the most crucial to the child’s healthy development. Of course, the focus on the *brain* and willingness to tinker with it is — or should be viewed as way off base. the combination of :little substantial knowledge and toxic substances is enough for most of us to employ simple common sense and say: “Wait a minute!”…BUT… there is even more to consider when one views what is NOT being done by child psychiatrist… so-called “medical/brain/mind” specialists. they seem to have forgotten that the child is a human organism… with many complex systems that are fueling the child’s growth and development, in addition to the child’s own perceptions, awareness, concerns about himself and his surroundings. In other words modern “medical” psychiatry started out discounting the *human* being, the patient, in favor of attention on the vastly unknown, uncharted, unfathomable realm of the brain and the mind. There is no reason for anyone to expect that THIS would turn out well.

    Bells, whistles and loud sirens are needed to put the brakes on this fatal divergence from the art and science of medical practice. Dr. Healy tells the story in Pharmageddon. I have lived it as an RN for the past 38 years! Yet, only in the last decade is their clear evidence of criminal behavior as opposed to negligent malpractice. In the field of child psychiatry the criminality is : fraud, breech of public trust– causing HARM for financial gain.

    And to me, there is no excuse for Frontline’s failure to expose both the myth of brain disorders causing behavior problems for children and the unscrupulous way in which psychotropic drugs have been marketed in this country. No mention of the REAL concerns about “industry funded research”— the corrupt, unethical and immoral research practices— the FACT that the doctors (Biederman, Wilens and Spencer) are NOT being held accountable. Actually, the crime, itself remains in the category of a mysterious complexity… to all but a few of us who have dared to question the *experts* knowledge base and claim to authority.

    All that is lacking here, especially moral outrage and a call for action, is connected to a perverse perception of the terms, authority, expert. Ultimately, the trust we as a society have placed in the medical profession is compounded by our lack of competence in challenging medical authority. Yet, on the issues raised in The Medicated child, the case is so clear. the doctors ADMIT they are uncertain; that drugs have serious sife effects… the rational conclusion is that THEY CANNOT MAKE THESE DIAGNOSES, much less PRESCRIBE THESE DRUGS FOR CHILDREN… UNLESS they are asking us to help them use our kids for experimentation purposes… sacrifice a generation of youth to the role of*lab rat* for biomedical psychiatry!
    IF and ONLY if a child psychiatrist explains his eval and treatment plan to parents in THIS language, are we rightly informed. the prerequisite for *informed consent* rests with the truthful disclosure from the doctor…

    So, I urge everyone to ask your doctor (child psychiatrist):

    Is this practice of yours legal?, moral?, ethical??? AND what will your role be IF something goes terribly wrong?

    • If I’ve understood Pharmageddon correctly, it is even worse than using children as guinea pigs. Whatever actually does happen to these children will be dismissed as anecdote, so far down the evidence hierarchy that it won’t make a blip.

  9. Jeff
    Celiac disease affects people differently. It certainly appears to be familial.The length of time a person was breastfed, the age a person started eating gluten-containing foods, and the amount of gluten-containing foods consumed are three factors thought to play a role in when and how celiac disease appears. Some studies have shown, for example, that the longer a person was breastfed, the later the symptoms of celiac disease appear. Symptoms also vary depending on age and the degree of damage to the small intestine. General agreement is that the only treatment is a gluten free diet but gluten exists in many substances that are ingested, including many medications as part of the drug matrix. Label reading becomes mandatory. It is also present in many personal items such as lip balm, sunscreen, shampoos, soaps, cosmetics, skin lotions, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Household products such as cleaning solutions, detergents, even bar soap may contain gluten. Not-so-obvious terms on labels signal gluten, like malt, graham, spelt, kamut. If you pick up a jar of chili powder it may or may not contain wheat flour which can be added to keep it from clumping—but even if it does you likely won’t find wheat listed on the label. There are foods that you think are 100% pure, but when you examine the label, other ingredients have been added, like tomato paste. Some tomato paste is made from 100% tomatoes, while other brands add additional ingredients. If you are buying a jar of spaghetti sauce, the ingredients list ‘tomato paste’ but the manufacturer has not been required to tell you what ingredients may have been added to the tomato paste. Rice syrup may use barley enzymes. Yeast may be grown or dried on wheat flour. Coleman’s mustard has undeclared wheat in it. While the wrapper on a chocolate bar lists all gluten-free ingredients, the conveyor belt may have been dusted with wheat flour to keep the candy from sticking. The same holds true for chewing gum, which is often dusted with flour (Food manufacturers are not currently required to list ingredients used in ‘packaging’).
    I know I haven’t answered your question but I can only suggest that at various times your son ay have ingested some of the “hidden” glutens and reacted to them.

  10. The American Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry produces a series of pamphlets entitled “Facts for Families”. Some are helpful and accurate BUT, how many psychiatrists/paediatricians do you think either know of or follow these:
    “Informed consent is an important part of the doctor patient relationship. It occurs when the benefits and risks of a procedure are explained to a patient or guardian and then they give permission for a medical procedure to take place. Patients have the right to either give informed consent or to refuse. In situations where the state feels that the parents’ decision to refuse treatment is not in the best interest of the child, the state can challenge the parents’ decision in court.”
    AND
    “Medication can be an important part of treatment for some psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents. Psychiatric medication should only be used as one part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Ongoing evaluation and monitoring by a physician is essential. Parents and guardians should be provided with complete information when psychiatric medication is recommended as part of their child’s treatment plan. Children and adolescents should be included in the discussion about medications, using words they understand. By asking the following questions, children, adolescents, and their parents will gain a better understanding of psychiatric medications:
    1. What is the name of the medication? Is it known by other names?
    2. What is known about its helpfulness with other children who have a similar condition to my child?
    3. How will the medication help my child? How long before I see improvement? When will it work?
    4. What are the side effects which commonly occur with this medication?
    5. Is this medication addictive? Can it be abused?
    6. What is the recommended dosage? How often will the medication be taken?
    7. Are there any laboratory tests (e.g. heart tests, blood test, etc.) which need to be done before my child begins taking the medication? Will any tests need to be done while my child is taking the medication?
    8. Will a child and adolescent psychiatrist be monitoring my child’s response to medication and make dosage changes if necessary? How often will progress be checked and by whom?
    9. Are there any other medications or foods which my child should avoid while taking the medication?
    10. Are there interactions between this medication and other medications (prescription and/or over-the-counter) my child is taking?
    11. Are there any activities that my child should avoid while taking the medication? Are any precautions recommended for other activities?
    12. How long will my child need to take this medication? How will the decision be made to stop this medication?
    13. What do I do if a problem develops (e.g. if my child becomes ill, doses are missed, or side effects develop)?
    14. What is the cost of the medication (generic vs. brand name)?
    15. Does my child’s school nurse need to be informed about this medication?”
    I have yet to meet a parent who knows that these exist.

  11. Katie Higgins RN says:

    You are so right, Irene. And on the other side , where the perpetrator of this crime sits, what is known about the child? or, rather, how well does the prescribing Doc know the child he is drugging?

    This documentary is quite revealing regarding the *doctor- patient relationship* that does NOT exist in this paradigm of *harm*. We see the doctor gathering information ABOUT the child that is limited to how the child is disrupting both home and school environments. We see doctors and other mental health professionals interviewing children in a manner that reflects their lacking in understanding of the child’s cognitive development. I watched this film and wondered, how is it possible that these child-centered professionals have no working knowledge of child development? I am not only referring to ignorance regarding how context influences behavior, but that young children are only beginning to form concepts of of their relationship to others and their world. They don’t reflect on their feelings as adults do, or think about their own thinking (mentalization-). Why? because they have not developed the neurological underpinnings for abstract processing and self awareness. Young kids are concrete thinkers, seeking information that creates rule bound logic. They are developing their competence in sorting out the inconsistencies of their operational thinking. The behavior that becomes the *symptom* to medicate, is the signal that the child has reached his level of incompetence in a given situation or environment. To determine what the child needs to be successful requires a connection with the child, a means for seeing the world as he sees it and establishing a therapeutic bond of trust that encourages the child to believe he can master his challenges.

    This documentary demonstrates very clearly why medicated children become increasingly angry, withdrawn and destructive. The message, or the *new rule* they have learned through their experience as a patient is, you are not worthy of special attention to your individual needs. They learn that they are defective, damaged and grossly different from their peers whom they will naturally gravitate towards during adolescence— only to confront their next level of incompetence— that will again bee medicated.

    Looking closely at most professional mental health settings a distressed child will
    encounter, you have to notice that there is no time permitted developing the relationship that is crucial to helping the child. In fact, nearly ALL of these settings, even the most expensive, acute inpatient treatment, is rule bound for time management. Time is money. The child learns this rule, too: YOU are not worth the cost of discovering what you really need.

    I think child psychiatrists, child psychologists, clinical social workers must be held accountable for a working knowledge of child development. Rather than spewing scientific rhetoric about the brain and behavior; that which they know little about, because little is known, they should be well versed in the physiological and cognitive development stages that reflect an age appropriate approach to discovering the child’s problem. They aren’t demonstrating that they even know HOW to address a young, distressed child!

    As for informed consent. Selling the parent or care givers is the mainstay, the forte of the brand of mental health professionals shown in this film. Though legally underage to consent to their medical treatment, the child’s assent, agreement with his care is the foundation for therapeutic relationships. Without bothering to find out how the child views his predicament, or what skills he is having trouble developing — there will be no trust, no therapeutic relationship. In my 22 years of experience, I have seen the child go through latency following the rules for the most part and then de-compensating in adolescence, and grieving the loss of his potential as he reaches young adulthood.

    Within the ranks of the professionals I call associates, there are the few kids with whom we have been able to connect— whose course is dramatically altered. When it all comes down to using knowledge to better understand and connect with distressed kids, and spending the time it takes to become a partner with them in achieving their goals, one cannot logically explain what is happening to kids in the mental health system without using words like, “criminal” and “child abuse”. Every parent who shares a success story has followed the same path of knowledge seeking and partnership building with their child. It is a rock solid formula, and the natural humanistic course of development for adults and kids alike.
    SO? When do we appropriately address the crimes committed against our children by mental health professionals?

  12. Fighting City Hall is difficult enough but taking on the Federal government of the US is infinitely more frustrating. The National Institute for Mental Health in Washington has published a brochure on medications for “mental disorders” that clearly shows the extent of brain washing that has occurred. Under Children and Adolescents it states: “Most medications used to treat young people with mental illness are safe and effective . However, many medications have not been studied or approved for use with children . Researchers are not sure how these medications affect a child’s growing body . Still, a doctor can give a young person an FDA-approved medication on an “off label” basis . This means that the doctor prescribes the medication to help the patient even though the
    medicine is not approved for the specific mental disorder or age .”
    If that isn’t bad enough, it lists FDA approved medications for bipolar disorder in children, thereby giving legitimacy to a disorder that doesn’t exist.
    I have recently been trying to make this point with a psychiatrist in a particular case and it’s like talking to a wall. Documents such as this NIMH brochure are taken as holy writ and nothing will dissuade someone convinced of the authority of the FDA.
    I have a spot marked on my kitchen wall with a sign saying, “Bang head here!”

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