Feds Probe Overuse of Antipsychotics in Children

Kermit Cole
42
74

Amid concern about side effects as well as the growing off-label use of antipsychotics to treat violent and aggressive behavior, the inspector general’s office of the Department of Health and Human Services has announced a review of the drugs’ use by Medicaid recipients age 17 and under. “The medications tend to be the stopgap measure,” says the head of the HHS agency that oversees foster children, “We are making significant investments in medication that have limited evidence of effectiveness and rarely address the issues of trauma.” 

Article →

Previous articleChallenges and Visions for the “Mental Heatlh” System
Next article“Bursting the Neuro-Utopian Bubble”
Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

42 COMMENTS

  1. This is the tip of the iceberg. Dr. Julie Zito, of the University of Md, reported in 2008 that foster children were 16 times more likely to be prescribed psych. drugs than other children receiving M A. I ran a treatment foster care program in Md. for 9 years; I wrote a policy requiring our social workers and foster parents to do everything possible to limit the use of these drugs. sometimes we were successful, but for the most part, the machine ground on, handing out psych. drugs like candy, with virtually no informed consent from social workers or foster parents – primarily to dull kids out so they would be easier to handle. The standard of psychiatric practice with foster children is vastly worse than for others – much of the time the psychiatrists have no idea of the child’s history, his/her medical history, or the trauma and stresses that are effecting the child and his/her foster family. I could fill a book about this. And everyone just goes along with it.

    It is heartening to see some questions raised – but how much can we really expect from this review, when the cases of drugging will be assessed by pediatric psychiatrists, whose bias in favor of these and other psych. drugs is palpable?

    I urge others with concerns about this issue to communicate with the writer of the Wall Street Journal article, and with those who are conducting and will be evaluating the review,

  2. ‘says the head of the HHS agency that oversees foster children, “We are making significant investments in medication that have limited evidence of effectiveness and rarely address the issues of trauma.” ‘

    Yeah that’s right, major tranquilizer rugs ‘only rarely’ address the issues of trauma, according to the government agency person….

    Reminds me of that one guy I knew, he was traumatized, and we all know trauma is a dopamine disease, so those drugs knocked his trauma right out. He must have been one of those ‘rare’ cases where the drugs ‘rarely addressed the issues of trauma’.

    The government doesn’t even know how to say the word ‘never’. The truth is, these drugs NEVER address trauma, how could they? Trauma isn’t a biological disease.

    In any dispute with the government, it is the government itself that decides if the government itself is wrong. So you’re always at a disadvantage in any dispute with government.

    Therefore, I hold out little hope for anything changing. Since 2008 I’ve seen Senators etc. musing on this foster care child chemical lobotomy epidemic. Half a decade turns into a decade, a decade turns into two…

    Tranquilizing people deemed problem people has been so ‘effective’ at shutting people up and controlling them since the 1950s, expect the bottom of society to be doped up in the year 2050 too.

    When the group being ‘helped by the government’ is a group nobody cares to listen to when they complain, it’ll plow on.

    To be thrown into foster ‘care’ is to be taking out of the fire and into the frying pan. The authorities have about as much for the inside of these kids’ bodies as a pimp would have.

  3. Sure, as if anybody’s actually going to put a stop to it.

    “Federal health officials are reviewing antipsychotic drug use on children in the Medicaid system”

    How many more of these Transparent Distractions are the American People going to subjected to?

    The Feds have been “Looking Into This” for how long now?

    http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/jj-feds-reach-deal-one-risperdal-charge/2011-08-10

    Meanwhile, there are the feds’ civil investigations; J&J says it’s in negotiations to settle those, too. The probes involve sales of Risperdal and Invega, a follow-up antipsychotic drug. Almost a dozen state attorneys general have sued for deceptive marketing or misleading claims about the drug. And AGs in 40 more states are considering joining the fray.

    J&J bought their way out of it for a lousy $181M, and they’re still wrangling over the $2.2 Billion they owe at the Fed Level because paying it might subject them to a rash of gynecomastia suits.

    Enough! of these window dressing put offs.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/848

    • Don’t forget the reminder by a Big Pharma rep: the FDA has approved the use of this multibillion dollar child poisoning scam!

      Just think what those billions could do to help those in poverty and other life crises in their youth known to cause trauma and other severe emotional distress including millions of children going hungry in this wealthy country.

      This is simply evil and obscene and there is no excuse whatever to justify it given the known lethal effects of these poison drugs on adults never mind children!

      As some wise and justly cynical posters have noted here, this is just the typical whitewash by corrupt government/corporate cronyism to give the pretense of concern while they perpetrate their latest massive eugenics, euthanasia agenda on the poor, vulnerable and least powerful members of society: our children. You can’t sink any lower than that!

      • Donna;

        If you or I pulled one Percent of the shennanigans PhRMA pulls we’d be in the Federal No Key Hotel quicker than you could say “Crippled or Dead Consumer”.

        But then you and I don’t put Millions of Dollars into the FDA’s coffers to buy ourselves protection.

        http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/UserFees/PrescriptionDrugUserFee/ucm152775.htm

        When and If some reporter actually corners Senator Foghorn or Representative Blowhard and asks them what’s being done, IF they even know there’s problem in the first place, they blow it off with another “We’re looking into it.”

        At the rate they’re going they’ll still be “Looking into it when Hell freezes over.

        I haven’t yet seen a real answer from FDA’s Margaret Hamburg on what J&J’s ex exec Leona Brenner-Gati was doing at FDA.

        Have you?

        http://psychroaches.blogspot.com/2013/05/fdas-directorates-for-globalization.html

        With all the hot water J&J’s in, Hamburg gets away with telling Congress that Brenner-Gati did some good work for FDA but Hamburg can’t say specifically what that good work was?

          • Interesting, the feds continue to appoint U.S. attorneys to help state A.G.’s re-coup their losses from these drugs….

            Always the same result: success in recovering hundred of millions (in some cases, over a billion)of dollars; crimes are always *misdemeanors*, with no charges for injury or death to citizens of the state… only recovery of taxpayer money, back to the state coffers….

            Duane

          • And if the states recover their money…

            If politicians are able to continue to count on re-election funds from Pharma…

            If a huge portion of our economy continues to thrive…

            If NAMI mommies feel like they’ve done more good for “mentally ill” children”…

            If Johnny stops chewing gum and learns to sits on his hands in class….

            If foster programs are able to get additional federal assistance…

            If doctors keep getting referrals, and mental health workers continue to get case assignments…

            Then everyone’s happy.

            Or not.

            Duane

          • 8/8/13: IRS Agent: Tax Agency Is Still Targeting Tea Party Groups

            http://washingtonexaminer.com/irs-agent-tax-agency-is-still-targeting-tea-party-groups/article/2534044

            You’re not alone in decrying the ethics of our current Attorney General. Read the comments:

            http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3052582/posts

            Justice Dept In Hot Seat After Declining To Prosecute Alleged IRS Abuse.

            http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/07/16/treasury-department-admits-scrutiny-candidate-donor-tax-records/

            To understand the very ‘Ideation’ of ‘Mental Illness’ one must cover Politics. Can’t escape it.

            Since most mental illnesses aren’t medical until After some lying prescriber/shocker has Caused actual medical damage, they must originate in inter personal or societal relations which involve FRAUD/LIES of one sort or another.

            Where do most marriages run aground? It’s not the bedroom but the checkbook, and Nowhere do we find people causing more problems over money than in Govt.

            Eric Holder Has Billed Taxpayers For More Than $4 Million In Travel Expenses In 4 Years.

            http://weaselzippers.us/2013/08/05/documents-eric-holder-has-billed-taxpayers-for-more-than-4-million-in-travel-in-less-than-4-years/

            The fox isn’t just guarding the hen house Duane, Snidely Whiplash foreclosed on the Constitution. We have suffered a Coup de Main, and what easier way of controlling the serfs is there than to officially declare as many of them as they can, as Incurably, Junk Science, Defectives?

            The worst crime the overwhelming majority of those Diagnosed as ‘Mentally Ill’ have committed is they’ve Offended someone, or they pose the perceived Threat of Offending Someone.

            And the 1st Amendment guarantees No One a ‘Right’ to be protected from being Offended.

          • dbunker,

            Snidley Whiplash?

            Haven’t heard that name in years…

            Flashback to the 1960s.
            That was a good series, with Dudley Do-Right and the Canadian Mounties.

            Used to watch it after throwing my paper route when I was a kid.

            Duane

        • dbunker,

          I check out your web site from time to time and I appreciate your keeping us informed of such debacles in the FDA and government.

          I’m not up on the latest specifics like you, but I think it is all too clear that the foxes have been guarding the hen house for far too long.

          Actually, it is Congress that gutted the FDA’s responsible, ethical people with some actually threatened and intimidated if they told the truth. From what I’ve read, Congress has also made it clear to the FDA that their job is to get new drugs out quickly.

          I understand that most if not all members of Congress get very wealthy while “serving” us and it’s been known as a proving ground to qualify for lucrative jobs with Big Pharma/business with many great perks.

          The great Texas Medical Algorithm scandal with Dr. Allen Francis, editor of the DSM IV, on the dole to create the so called prescribing standards for J&J’s neuroleptic for adults is one of many of J&J’s sordid marketing practices.

          http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a2mpCNBojB2I&refer=healthcare

          Dr. Francis paved the way for the infamous Dr. Joseph Biederman to push the same J&J neuroleptic for children and toddlers no less while promising positive government grant study results of efficacy and safety while secretly making millions with his cohorts under the table. I’m sure most people here are all too familiar with Biederman who compared himself to God in a deposition.

          I must say that J&J used to be regarded as an excellent company with its handling of the Tylenol disaster and this case was used as a case study for MBA students.

          Thus, given psychiatry’s sordid history, it is hard to say who corrupted whom. It does seem that the whole industry has gotten a number of black eyes since it bought out psychiatry in the 1980’s.

    • re: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/848

      Now I see why Dorothy Rowe (a supposed “genius” – no joke, she’s on the list of “living geniuses”) has concluded in her belief:

      “believes that depression is a result of beliefs which do not enable a person to live comfortably with themselves or the world. Most notably it is the belief in a “Just World” (that the bad are punished and the good rewarded) that exacerbates feelings of fear and anxiety if disaster strikes.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Rowe

      Hold Up. Wait a minute. Depressed people are depressed because they believe in JUSTICE? And they’ll feel better if they justly “let it go”, “get over it”, “suck it up soldier” and “move on” (the lack of Justice in their own lives? In the world?).

      INJURY & INJUSTICE are very closely related words.

      I read somewhere around here, MIA, recently, “science is not your enemy”

      Is JUSTICE YOUR enemy, science?

      Is it depressing to know that Justice is DISCOURAGED of individuals and citizens – because we know the level of RESOURCES it would require to PURSUE THAT HAPPINESS in life.?

      Dorothy Rowe is a “genius” for telling people to “get over it” and “let it go” in a very beautiful way.

      • mjk,

        If Dorothy Rowe interpreted the “just world theory” the way you say, I think she misunderstood it.

        The so called just world theory is all too common for the majority of people mostly used to blame the victims of horrible events and situations, so it’s not unique to just depressed people. In fact, people subjecting victims of rape and other crimes to this great theory by acting like the victim asked for it or deserved it can make a person pretty depressed and disgusted with people in general. This is all part of the trauma and retraumatization process described very well by Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis in the great book, I Can’t Get Over it, about such trauma and its nasty consequences. The legal and other systems are part of this demolition enterprise along with the so called health system.

        Notice in the article below, those in the so called mental health system are the most apt to use the just world theory to treat their so called clients with contempt, blaming and scapegoating.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis

        • My eye honed in on exactly this: “Most notably it is the belief in a “Just World” (that the bad are punished and the good rewarded)”

          I applied it in a very literal sense (since so much of what a person’s problem is – Man, what’s your problem! You need help! – is that something is wrong and they need and want to make it right).

          Justice isn’t wrong.

          People DISCOURAGE people from pursuing Justice ( “let it go”, “get over it”, “suck it up soldier” and “move on”).

          I don’t really care about a “just world hypothesis” (but thanks for the 411).

          I care about police cars and ambulances that scream down the road, and court rooms in psych wards.

          $$$$$$ $$$$$$ $$$$$$

          If I had THAT voice (those dollar signs) things might be different. Is that an erroneous thought, Dorothy? Because I had a social worker tell me that my poverty had nothing to do with my situation (and it took a LOT OF STRENGTH to keep from bashing that liar’s teeth right out of her head).

      • MJK;

        Aha, . . . Dorothy Rowe, I’m smelling the same rotting compost from Ms Rowe that I winded exuding from Marsha Linehan.

        http://psychroaches.blogspot.com/2011/10/san-franciscos-dbt-communism-swallow-it.html

        Defeatism. Bobby McFerrin/Buddhist “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” No matter WHAT some Violent, Multiple, Un-idicted Felon inflicts on you, just laugh it off.

        Justice is a great word. Unfortunately it’s not something our Judiciary or Legal System concern themselves with. We’ve got to stop concerning ourselves with the amorphous concept of Justice, and concern ourselves with Law instead.

        http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/18C95.txt

        Sections 1956, 1957, 1958, and 1959. Just look through the way this scam moves money around, and what they actually Do get busted for. Numerous violations which in the main go completely ignored.

        Find the violations and post them. If we Don’t, the Web Search Results will continue to display the NAMI/PhRMA/APA picture and the war for the public’s opinion will remain in NAMI/PhRMA/APA’s vest pocket.

        The jpg in my post explaining Hegel’s Dialectic is worth its weight in gold. And the most thickly infested with Psychiatrists City in America has built its entire Mental Health Scam upon Linehan’s incorporation of Hegel’s Totalitarian, Self Defeating Oxymoron.

        Undoing this mess is going to take a Lot more than even an opposition Party win in 2014 and 2016 since we’re no longer al 2 party system. With the very rare exception of people like Ted Cruz, we’ve devolved into the Stalinist concept of “THE Party”, and everyone in it is afraid to cross the gargantuan Bureaucracies that previous incarnations of THE Party have built.

        Cleaning up Govt. collectivization of every aspect of everyone’s every moment, thought, and mood is going to require a Constitutionally Literate Electorate, which we are not going to achieve so long as DC continues to allow the Federal Dept. of Education/Indoctrination to exist.

        You want Justice? Nothing this Industry does is even Legal!

        Call them on it!

        • “Pretty slick form of Thieving Bullshit, isn’t it?”

          Slithering.

          Supposedly, America has the highest population of incarcerated individuals. Am I supposed to see that as Justice? I’d write more but there are some worker people messing with the power lines of my house-to-the-pole. I have to go outside and ask them questions. lol. Knocked my wifi signal out but now it’s back. Whew.

          I think the injustice in the world, and it’s effects on individual people’s lives, deserves the fire and the outrage.

      • I have noticed that my belief that the world should be improved and made more just and equitable definitely associates with me feeling more depressed. However, I don’t take that as a problem with me – I view it as a sense that I am not OK with the world being the way it is! I’m sure a lot of enslaved Africans felt pretty damned depressed living on plantations and being ordered about and beaten and raped and separated from their families and their homes and their culture. Were they “mentally ill” for feeling that way?

        I believe a craving for justice is fundamental to healthy human life. It is the very fact that we have lost so much control over the injustices that are happening all over our country and the world which I believe drives many to despair and other extreme emotional states. Absent this drive for justice, we end up with a lot of sociopaths and the remainder of society living a dull and apathetic existence. It is HEALTHY to be displeased about injustice, and it is UNHEALTHY to feel OK about others being mistreated. Only the twisted nature of our society leads us to feel better when we stop caring about our fellow man/woman.

        —- Steve

          • Right you are! You reinforced my point even more dramatically. I guess it was OK for slaves to be as depressed as they wanted to, as long as they did as they were told and didn’t complain. But running away, that caused trouble! Obviously something must be wrong with them for objecting to the status quo and making things difficult for the Masters.

            Sounds like a very sound analogy for today’s “mental health” industry. If you’re not completely happy with today’s industrial-corporate-capitalist-government bureaucracy, you’d better keep it to yourself. If you act out in any way that interferes with the ongoing efficiency of the money-making, soul-draining machine, you will be dealt with by disabling your brain. “Successful treatment” will return you to an appropriate state of docility such that while you may not be contributing to the machine, at least you’re not in the way.

            A lot of parallels to slavery…

            —- Steve

          • Exactly. I’ve mentioned Chorover’s book From Genesis to Genocide before, but I’ll do it once more. Published in 1979 and tracing the history and methods of sociobiology and behaviour control, the book somehow widened my thinking about the current state of psychiatry. I increasingly started to see current diagnosis systems, psych disclines, drugs, claims of biological determinism, claims of genetic or brain disease origin of mental illness, etc, as quite strictly following this historical tradition. There’s still this group of people claiming other group of people are inferior by birth and they are thus entitled to control the behaviour of this other group. Their claims about the mechanism change over time but the general idea stays the same.

            I’ll type some quotes from the book:

            “Measurements of facial angle were not White’s sole interest, however. He reported, and later measurements would subsequently confirm, that Africans have coarser and larger-caliber hair than Europeans. The fact the caliber of hair taken from African apes was closer in diameter to that of blacks than of whites led White to the familiar conclusion that blacks were “closer to apes”. That this is intended to mean, of course, is that blacks are, on the average, “behind” or “below” whites in terms of their biological, intellectual, and moral development.

            It is worth noting, in connection with this argument, that it is not necessary to emply explicitly perjorative stereotypes as a means of formulating questions about superior and inferior classes of human beings. All that is required is a system of measurement and an uncritical acceptance of the concept of biological hierarchy.

            In 1850, for example, Dr. Samuel A. Cartwrith, a respected physician who . . . to investigate and report upon “the diseases and physical pecularities of the negro race” . . . It begins by claiming that the biological and medical status of blacks “has not been the subject of much scientific investigation, and is almost entirely unnoticed in medical books and schools”. Cartwright proposed to remedy this lack with an ingenious psychobiological theory in which the “defective … atmospherization of the blood, conjoined with a deficiency of cerebral matter in the cranium,” was put forward as “the true cause of that debasement of mind, which has rendered the people of Africa unable to take care of themselves.”

            . . . Cartwright concluded by claiming to have demonstrated “… that there is a radical, internal, or physical difference between the two races, so great in kind as to make what is wholesome and beneficial for the white man … not only unsuitable to the negro race, but actually poisonous to its happiness.”

    • J&J got popped for 1.1 billion dollars in my state for off label use where Medicare and Medicaid paid for the presecriptions. A great many of the fines were from use in the so-called “foster care” system. But of course, they immediately filed for a stay so that they could come up with some kind of hocum so they won’t have to pay.

      This will only stop when we begin putting CEO’s of these companies in prison. But that’s not ever going to happen either.

  4. Stopgap was yesterday’s word of the day on thefreedictionary

    Amazing.

    ““We are making significant investments in medication that have limited evidence of effectiveness and rarely address the issues of trauma.””

    I have near-zero faith in Humanity.

    • I don’t know if anybody read it or not, but the article says that INFANTS are being given these God-Damned psych drugs (something about “prescribed to help with discomfort”).

      Vile evil. Absolutely vile.

      vile
      /vīl/
      Adjective

      Extremely unpleasant.
      Morally bad; wicked: “as vile a rogue as ever lived”.

      Synonyms
      mean – base – villainous – nasty – foul – scurvy – sordid

      • mjk,

        From the article:

        “Texas said about five children under the age of 1 had been prescribed antipsychotics during the time period of the probe, including two who were five months old.”

        I actually heard some of these type numbers while testifying in a Texas senate committee hearing on the use of these drugs in Medicaid with my friend, Dr. John Breeding.

        The senate committee chair listed the numbers of children: under 6, under 5, under 4… under 1.

        I felt *ill*… wanted to throw up. On the other side, pushing to continue to allow the drugging of children, unregulated, without oversight… NAMI.

        Which is why I like to say, “Friends don’t let friends join NAMI.”

        Duane

        • An entire generation of people is being destroyed right in front of our eyes! Kids are being condemned to a life of existing on SSI and psych drugs, through absolutely no fault of their own. More people who will learn the lesson of helplessness, through no fault of their own. An entire generation of people who will never be able to work and make a living for themselves or have families of their own. This is assuming that they don’t die immediately from the damned drugs. What have we come to when you have to be so careful with all medications that you give to babies but it’s perfectly okay to drug them with the so-called anti-psychotics?!!!!

      • UCSF has a Division of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychiatry

        http://psych.ucsf.edu/sfgh.aspx?id=468

        “Services provide by Child and Adolescent Services include:”

        “Psychiatric Assessment/Medication Evaluation”

        If they’re ‘Medication Evaluating” them, They’re drugging them.

        How ‘Incurably Insane’ can an Infant be?

        And BTW, mjk, I don’t refer to J&J owned, 4016% Increase in Drug-able Bipolar Toddlers as “Doctor” Biederman.

        To me, he’s “That Son of a Biederman.”

    • mjk,

      I must say that I give the person who admitted that despite the significant investments in these horrible drugs, they have little effectiveness and rarely address the issues of trauma, which is one of many of the real causes of the severe emotional distress suffered by these poor children.

      That gives me faith that there are still some decent, honest people in the world still fighting for what’s right despite probable severe consequences.

      So try to keep the faith!

  5. Anonymous,

    Here’s another copy of the above book review of Pseudoscience in Biopsychiatry with a link to the main page of this great web site. I just copied it from the web site and you could probably copy it from here too:

    Book Review:

    Pseudoscience in Biological Psychiatry

    by Colin A. Ross, M.D., & Alvin Pam, Ph.D., et al.
    (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1995)

    reviewed by Douglas A. Smith

    “Biological psychiatry” is everything in psychiatry that is based on alleged biological abnormality in the body of the “patient” rather than events in the “patient’s” life or the patient’s unfulfilled psychological needs. While Pseudoscience in Biological Psychiatry is far from a comprehensive critique of biological psychiatry – for example, it includes very little about the harm done by psychiatric drugs or electroshock – it is one of the best books I have read attacking the alleged scientific foundations of biological psychiatry. The authors convincingly show that biological psychiatry is pseudoscience, or in other words, nonsense.
    Unlike most books with more than one author, most chapters are written by a single author. The authors of the largest parts of the book are Colin Ross, M.D., who is director of the Dissociative Disorders Unit at Charter Hospital of Dallas, and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Southwest Medical Center in Dallas, Texas – and Alvin Pam, Ph.D., Director of Internship Training at the Bronx Psychiatric Center, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
    In the Introduction, Dr. Pam says “The purpose of this book is to show that biological psychiatry – presently the dominant force within the discipline of psychiatry – is dominated by a reductionist ideology that distorts and misrepresents much of its research” (pp. 1-2). In later chapters he says “biological psychiatry cannot fulfill its mission properly because in the current state it has more the accoutrement of a scientific discipline than the substance. … the methodology of biological psychiatry is sufficiently flawed as to call into doubt the preponderance of its accepted findings” (p. 8). Dr. Pam concludes that “The history of biological psychiatry can be depicted as a tale of ‘promising’ leads, closure on slender evidence, hyperbole as initial reception to new work, and ultimately unproductive results. … following about a century of effort, a harsh assessment would be that no substantive results have been tendered for the pathogenesis of any major psychiatric disorder” (p. 42). He says “biological psychiatry does not come close to meeting scientific standards” (p. 69). In chapters he wrote, Dr. Ross, a psychiatrist, says “psychiatry has not acquired even a tiny fraction of the scientific foundation of internal medicine” (p. 88), that “At the present time, there is no proof that biology causes schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, or any other functional mental disorder” (p. 90), and “The ideology of bioreductionist psychiatry is that depression, schizophrenia, and other illnesses are biomedically distinct and genetically driven. Decades of fishing for supporting data have yielded nothing of substance, however” (p. 140). Dr. Ross says “Biological psychiatry has not made a single discovery of clinical relevance in the past 10 years, despite hundreds of millions of dollars of research funding” (p. 116)
    Dr. Pam, a psychologist, alleges that virtually all so-called psychiatric disorders are caused by life experience rather than the theoretical biological abnormalities that biologically oriented psychiatrists say are the causes. Dr. Pam says “biological psychiatry tends to ‘blame the body’ for disturbed behavior, rather than the family or society. This perspective lets the social surround escape unscathed from any blame or responsibility, no matter how much psychological disorder is in its midst” that is in fact caused by the so-called patient’s experiences in that family or society (p. 3). He says “Biological factors enter into all behavior, including symptoms, but only rarely are the cause and significance of a patient’s behavior primarily biologically driven” (p. 4). He says “the biomedical model ignores the social conditions that give rise to psychopathology” (p. 6). Dr. Ross, a psychiatrist, expresses a similar view.
    The book includes long, detailed critiques by both Dr. Pam and Dr. Ross of genetic (inheritance) theories of supposed mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and alcoholism. I’ve made the following argument for years: Religion runs in families, but does anyone suspect the existence of Roman Catholic or Baptist genes? No, nobody even suspects religion runs in families because of genetic inheritance. So why does anybody look for genes for so-called mental illnesses that also run in families? Dr. Ross argues: “Scientifically, the only conclusion that can be reached from studying the pattern of occurrence of a disorder in a pedigree [in a family] is an inversion of biological psychiatry’s logical error: If there is no familial pattern, one can rule out an inherited cause. If there is a pattern of family transmission, on the other hand, there may be a purely inherited cause, a purely environmental cause, or a mixture of the two” (p. 89, italics in original). This fact does not however prevent pseudoscientific, biologically oriented, politically correct psychiatrists and others from talking about family patterns of so-called psychiatric “disorders” as evidence of genetic (biological) causation.
    Belief that alcoholism is inherited or is biologically caused (is a “disease”) is widespread today. A recovered alcoholic whose father was also alcoholic told me, “I inherited daddy’s disease.” A Connecticut lawyer who told me he as privately retained counsel had successfully prosecuted five civil commitments on behalf of families who wanted to involuntarily commit other family members, loudly told me my not believing alcoholism is a disease proves I am “ignorant.” In a section titled ALCOHOLISM IS A DISEASE, Dr. Ross says “This doctrine [alcoholism is a disease] has been adopted throughout the chemical dependency field including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), despite the fact that it has no scientific foundation and is logically incorrect. … The idea that alcoholism is genetic is the leading example of the effective marketing of pseudoscience by biological psychiatry. … There cannot be a gene for alcoholism, and alcoholism cannot be a biomedical illness, for logical reasons…” (p. 96.) In Dr. Pam’s discussion of genetic theories of alcoholism, he says “American researchers typically ignore the work of Robin Murray, the leading British expert in the genetics of alcoholism; Murray found no difference in rates of alcoholism for MZ [mono-zygotic, or identical] and DZ [di-zygotic, or non-identical] twins, effectively ruling out a genetic hypothesis if these results are replicated by other researchers” (p. 52).
    In a chapter by Harry Wiener, M.D., he asks “What is the nature of the predisposition to schizophrenia?” (p. 199). He concludes: “The results of these 80 years of research are clear and indisputable: nothing has come of it to date except utter confusion” (p. 200). He mocks biological psychiatry saying: “The belief that schizophrenia is a specific organic disease or a group of organic brain diseases has never been confirmed. We have been on the verge of confirming it since the dawn of modern psychiatry, and we are still on the verge” (pp. 193-194). He makes fun of genetic theories of mental illness by proposing the idea that impoliteness might be genetically transmitted and using the illogic of biological psychiatry to “prove” the hypothesis that impoliteness runs in families for genetic reasons. (pp. 194-197).
    Among the most poignant insights in the book is Dr. Ross’ argument against biological testing for “mental” illnesses. He says: “The dream of biological psychiatrists is that an ‘objective’ laboratory test for one of the major mental illnesses will be discovered. … This dream is logically unsound and can never be realized. Although biological psychiatrists speak of external validation of psychiatric diagnoses by laboratory findings and specific markers, this can never happen. Why?” (p. 101): Suppose psychiatrists decided that people become depressed because of too much or too little of a particular chemical or enzyme in the body as shown by an examination of cerebrospinal fluid or a blood test or urine test or whatever. Suppose further that you tested positive for depression on this test but that you felt perfectly fine, cheerful, and happy? Would you nevertheless start taking (supposedly) anti-depressant drugs or electroshock therapy as treatment for the depression you were not experiencing? Similarly, suppose there were some kind of biological test for schizophrenia – however defined? Despite many other definitions that have been popular in previous decades, today schizophrenia is usually thought of as psychosis, i.e., hallucinations or delusions. Suppose psychiatrists concluded “schizophrenia” is caused by some biological factor the presence of which could be determined by X-ray or MRI or PET scan of the brain. In Dr. Ross’ words: “According to this logic, it would be possible to be diagnosed and treated successfully for schizophrenia without ever having had any psychiatric symptoms” (p. 102). If you were a physician or other therapist and had a patient whose X-ray of the brain or MRI or PET brain scan showed the presence of schizophrenia, but who had no behavioral or perceptual symptoms of schizophrenia – i.e., no abnormal thinking, no hallucinations, and no delusions – would you start treating the patient for schizophrenia? The conclusion is obvious: A mental or behavioral “illness” can not be diagnosed with a biological test. It’s not even theoretically possible.
    Biological psychiatry is criticized from a sociological, political, and human rights standpoint in a chapter by Ellen M. Borges, Ph.D., a sociologist and faculty member at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. In her chapter she examines “the relation of psychiatry to oppression” (p. 231). She says “Biological psychiatry redefines social deviance as a medical problem. By doing so, it transforms social norms, which are subjective and political, into medical norms, presumed to be objective and scientific. … Medicalization of social deviance allows us a pretense of humanitarianism” for coercive measures against people whose behavior “deviates from expectations based on the dominant social class’s ideology and viewpoint” (pp. 213, 217). She says “Psychiatry redefines a great deal of normal human behavior as medically deviant by pathologizing people who are socially marginal in any way” (p. 228). Among those she gives as examples of “socially marginal” people who have been oppressed by psychiatry are (1) homosexuals (when homosexuality was defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder, which was prior to 1974), (2) slaves who tried to run away to freedom when there was negro slavery in America (whose desire for freedom was supposedly caused by a mental illness called drapetomania; see also Drapetomania – A Disease Called Freedom), and (3) political dissidents (such as those in the Soviet Union who were defined as schizophrenic because they opposed Communism). She says “Whereas discrimination and censorship are illegal methods of containing and controlling diversity, in this country [the U.S.A.] ‘inappropriate behaviors,’ including speech, can be attributed to biological misfortune and treated with drugs [involuntarily, of course – or with involuntary commitment]” (p. 228). Like Doctors Ross and Pam, Dr. Borges accuses biological psychiatry of ignoring the real causes of the supposed illnesses it is called upon to treat. In a discussion of racism she says: “A treatment bias in psychiatry is the tendency to assume a biological basis for symptoms that are caused by social-racial factors” (p. 225).
    Among the gems in this book are the following observations by two psychiatrists. Dr. Ross says during his training to become a psychiatrist, when the “cognitive errors pervading clinical psychiatry [were] unwittingly demonstrated to me by my residency supervisors” he learned that not only medical students but even “psychiatrists rarely do the critical reading” that would make the nonsense they learn in their psychiatric training apparent for what it is (pp. 85, 87 – emphasis added). In a chapter by Susan S. Kemker, M.D., staff psychiatrist at North Central Bronx Hospital in New York City, she says “most of us [psychiatrists] have been taught to believe [that] biology is the science of psychiatry. That fact that I believed this dogma made Pam’s (1990) critique of biological psychiatry especially unsettling. When I read his work, I felt that my entire education as a psychiatrist was subject to question” (p. 241). Speaking of herself and other psychiatrists, she says “our understanding of our own field remains naive” (p. 242 – italics in original). Statements like these from board-certified psychiatrists make me wonder if just by reading a book like Pseudoscience in Biological Psychiatry – or even just this book review – you know more about the “cognitive errors” that pervade modern biological psychiatry than many or even most psychiatrists.
    Although Dr. Ross’s criticisms of biological psychiatry are excellent and perceptive, he makes a completely erroneous statement in support of the so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or “serotonin blocker” drugs, the first and most popular of which is Prozac but which also includes Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox and Celexa. He says: “The new serotonin reuptake blockers are a major and highly beneficial development for psychiatric patients, and I prescribe them regularly – for dissociative identity disorder patients, among others. There is no disputing the fact that these medications are more effective than placebo” (p. 118). In his book Talking Back to Prozac, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., says: “Despite the current enthusiasm for Prozac, the FDA studies underscored the drug’s lack of effectiveness, and recent analyses of literature indicate that antidepressants in general are no better than placebo” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1994, p. 57). In the 1999 updates to Psychiatric Drugs: Cure or Quackery?, found on this web site, you will find a link to an article by journalist Thomas J. Moore, author of outstanding books such as Heart Failure and Prescription for Disaster, titled No prescription for happiness. In that article Mr. Moore reviews the studies the FDA required for approval of Prozac: “Lilly [manufacturer of Prozac] had conducted 10 such clinical trials for Prozac, according to FDA records. However, in six of these trials no measurable overall difference could be detected between those treated with Prozac and those who got the placebo. … Failure to produce a measurable effect is a routine event in the testing of drugs for depression.” It is also interesting to note that Dr. Ross says he prescribes serotonin reuptake blockers for dissociative identity disorder, because drugs in this group are approved as and advertised as anti-depressants. Like almost every psychiatric drug, Prozac and other “serotonin blockers” are used for almost every supposed psychiatric “illness.” This should make any thoughtful person doubt the assertion that psychiatric drugs are specific treatments for any supposed psychiatric “illness.”
    This review would not be complete without mentioning something about this book that is truly amazing, and that is the price I paid for it: $95.00 (ninety five dollars). That is an unusual and very high price for a book of 294 pages (including the indexes). With sales tax I paid $102.84 for this book. Thinking the price tag had to be a mistake, before I made the purchase I asked a book store clerk to verify the price for me. After a few minutes she returned and told me that not only was the price of $95 correct, but that in the time since the store had purchased the book, the price had risen to $115.00 (not including sales tax). To me the book was worth $102.84 because I can afford it and have a vital interest in the subject and wanted to write this review of the book for this web site. You’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s worth that much to you. If you don’t mind the price or can find the book in a library, I highly recommend it.

    You can by this book from –
    Amazon.com ($85) or Barnes & Noble ($115)
    (prices as of March 18, 2001)

    ————————————–
    [ Antipsychiatry Coalition Main Page | Reading List ]

    http://www.antipsychiatry.org/index.htm

LEAVE A REPLY