Neuroleptics for Children:
Harvard’s Shame

Philip Hickey, PhD
28
171

In December 2012, Mark Olfson, MD, et al, published an article in the Archives of General Psychiatry.  The title is National Trends in the Office-Based Treatment of Children, Adolescents, and Adults with AntipsychoticsThe authors collected data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys for the period 1993-2009, and looked for trends in antipsychotic prescribing for children, adolescents, and adults in outpatient visits.  Here are the results:

Age Increase in no. of antipsychotic prescriptions per 100 population (1993-2009)
0-13 0.24-1.83 (almost 8-fold)
14-20 0.78-3.76 (almost 5-fold)
21+ 3.25-6.18 (almost 2-fold)

 

The authors provide a breakdown of the diagnoses assigned to the children and adolescents during the antipsychotic visits.

Diagnosis Visits %
Children
(0-13)
Adolescents
(14-20)
Schrizophrenia 6.0 8.1
Bipolar 12.2 28.8
Depression 11.2 20.9
Anxiety 15.9 14.4
Dev Disorders 13.1 5.0
Disruptive Behavior Disorders 63.0 33.7
Other Dx’s 18.0 16.8

 

Percentages do not total 100, because some individuals were assigned more than one diagnosis.

It is clear that disruptive behavior disorders are the most common diagnoses used in antipsychotic visits for both children and adolescents.

Thirty years ago, the prescription of neuroleptic drugs to children under 14 years of age was almost unheard of.  It was rare in adolescents, and even in adults was largely confined to individuals who had been given the label schizophrenic or bipolar.

By 1993, the first year of the Olfson et al study, about a quarter of 1% of the national childhood population were receiving antipsychotic prescriptions during office visits.  The percentage for adolescents was about three quarters of 1%.  By 2009, these figures had increased to 1.83% and 3.76% respectively.

The devastating effects of these neurotoxic drugs are well known, and it is natural to wonder what forces might be driving this trend.  The authors suggest that:

“Increasing clinical acceptance of antipsychotics for problematic aggression in disruptive behavior disorders may have increased the number of children and adolescents (especially male youths and ethnic/racial minorities) being prescribed antipsychotics.  The increase in the number of clinical diagnoses of bipolar disorder and autistic spectrum disorders among children and adolescents may have further increased antipsychotic use by youths, particularly by boys.”

They also note that:

“The trend in the prescribing of antipsychotics to youths occurred within the context of a dramatic increase in the clinical diagnoses of bipolar disorder among young people.”

The notion that the increase in the prescription of neuroleptics for children is driven by increased use of the bipolar diagnosis is supported by another study:  Most Frequent Conditions in U.S. Hospitals, 2010,  by Plunter et al, January 2013, published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services).  This study, which analyzed hospital admission data from 1997 to 2010, found that mood disorder, which in 1997 had been in the fourth place (behind asthma, pneumonia, and appendicitis) was by 2010 the most common diagnosis for children aged 1-17.  In the 13-year period admissions for mood disorders had increased 80%, while admissions for asthma and pneumonia had decreased by 30% and 16% respectively.

Most of the increase in mood disorder frequency was for bipolar disorder.  In the period studied, admissions for children for depression rose 12%, but admissions for bipolar disorder rose 434% (from 1.5 per 100,000 population to 8.2).  For children in the age group 5-9, the increase was 696%! – a seven-fold increase.

So, over the last decade or two, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of children being hospitalized for bipolar disorder and in the number of children being prescribed neuroleptics in office visits.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

Neuroleptics are probably the most damaging drugs used in psychiatry.  The adverse effects, including permanent and extensive brain damage, are devastating, and occur in virtually all of cases where use is prolonged (Breggin, 2011, p 197).  In former decades, their use was confined mainly to adults who had been labeled schizophrenic or bipolar.  It was routinely claimed by psychiatrists that their benefits outweighed the risks, though this contention is not standing up to the increasing scrutiny that has occurred in the past decade or so.

The increase in the prescription of neuroleptic drugs for children is a direct consequence of the increased use of the bipolar label in that population.  And most of the responsibility for that increase can, in my view, be laid at the door of one person:  Joseph Biederman, MD, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.  Dr. Biederman will go down in history as the inventor of pediatric bipolar disorder.

DSM-III-R was published in 1987.  It makes no reference to the existence of childhood bipolar disorder.  The total entry under Prevalence is:

“It is estimated that 0.4% to 1.2% of the adult population have had bipolar disorder.” [emphasis added]

DSM-IV, published in 1994, greatly expanded the concept of bipolar disorder, essentially by removing the requirement of a manic episode or a mixed (manic-depressive) episode.  References to age are vague – e.g.:

“Approximately 10%-15% of adolescents with recurrent Major Depressive Episodes will go on to develop Bipolar I disorder.”

It is not clear whether this “development” might occur in late adolescence or in adulthood. There is no suggestion that bipolar disorder can occur in a pre-adolescent child.

By 1996, however, Dr. Biederman and his colleagues at Harvard were promoting childhood bipolar disorder as an accepted psychiatric diagnosis that needed to be treated with pharmaceutical products, including neuroleptics.  This was accomplished primarily by selling the notion that childhood temper tantrums could legitimately be regarded as symptoms of mania.  This blatant distortion of the traditional concept of mania was facilitated by the “not otherwise specified” (NOS) qualifier which has been a component of almost all diagnostic categories since DSM-III.  The purpose of the NOS diagnoses is to enable psychiatrists to assign the diagnosis in question to an individual even though he doesn’t actually meet the criteria.  The fact that this renders the criteria somewhat pointless is generally lost on psychiatrists, but that’s a different story.

What the Bipolar Disorder NOS diagnosis enabled Dr. Biederman and his colleagues to say was essentially this:

We know that temper tantrums aren’t really an integral component of bipolar disorder as it is traditionally conceived.  But we believe that that’s how bipolar disorder presents itself in young children, and so that’s what we’re going to call it.

This is on a par with dermatologists deciding that pattern baldness is a symptom of psoriasis!  In real medicine, this isn’t how it’s done, but in psychiatry it’s the norm.  The “diagnoses” are fictitious.  They can be created, modified, and eliminated with strokes of a pen.  This is what Dr. Biederman and his Harvard colleagues did, and American psychiatry followed.  The neuroleptics-for-children spigot was opened, and is running freely to this day.

The creation and promotion of pediatric bipolar disorder has been described and critiqued by several writers.  Joanna Moncrieff, an English psychiatrist, provides an excellent account in her book The Bitterest Pills (2013 , p 200-205).  Here are some quotes:

“Although it is the adult market that accounts for the bulk of sales of atypical antipsychotics, it is the use of these drugs in children alongside the emergence of the diagnosis of paediatric bipolar disorder that best illustrated the way in which a severe mental disorder can be morphed into a label for common or garden difficulties, as well as the role that money plays in this process.”

“Moreover, by locating the problem in the brain of the child, it seemingly detaches it from the situation within the family.”

“Academic psychiatry fuelled this craze, with added financial incentive from the pharmaceutical industry…”

“In the 1990s, a group led by child psychiatrist Joseph Biederman, who was based at Massachusetts General Hospital and the prestigious Harvard Medical School, started to suggest that children could manifest ‘mania’ or bipolar disorder, but that it was frequently missed because it was often co-existent with other childhood problems like ADHD and ‘antisocial’ behaviour…  In a paper published in 1996 the group suggested that 21% of children attending their clinics with ADHD also exhibited ‘mania’, which was diagnosed on the basis of symptoms such as over-activity, irritability and sleep difficulties…  A year later the group were referring to bipolar disorder in children as if it were a regular, undisputed condition, and emphasized the need for ‘an aggressive medication regime’ for children with the diagnosis…”

“Neither Harvard nor Massachusetts General Hospital nor any other psychiatric or medical institution has commented on the fact that prominent academics were found to be enriching themselves to the tune of millions of dollars through researching and promoting the use of dangerous and unlicensed drugs in children and young people.  Although some individual psychiatrists have expressed misgivings…academic papers continue to discuss the diagnosis, treatment and outcome of bipolar disorder in children as if no controversy existed, with more than 100 papers on the subject published in Medline-listed journals between 2010 and 2012.  Notwithstanding…the disgrace of Joseph Biederman, the practice of diagnosing children with bipolar disorder and treating them with antipsychotics remains alive and kicking.”

The spurious creation of childhood bipolar disorder has been critiqued also by Mickey Nardo, MD, a retired psychiatrist who blogs under the name 1 Boring Old Man (which, incidentally, he isn’t).  On July 2, 2011, he published a post called bipolar kids: an all too familiar lingo…  Here are some quotes:

“What happened in that second half of the 1990s is that they created a new diagnosis – Pediatric Bipolar Disorder. Looking at these articles…or at the COBY Study [started right around this time], Bipolar Disorder in children was becoming a common diagnostic term, but the diagnostic criteria bore little resemblance to the familiar symptom complexes from the Manic Depressive Illness of old. It was something new masquerading as something old [or vice versa]. These kids weren’t euphoric, they were irritable.”

“…the Biederman-led movement to broaden the category to call all kinds of difficult and disruptive children Bipolar had little to no scientific basis. It felt like a rationalization to use the new atypical antipsychotics to control difficult behavior-disordered kids – a trick.”

“And even without knowing what we know today about what happened, at the turn of the last century there was plenty of reason to smell a rat [named pharma]. The articles had all the tell-tale phrases – “urgent public health problem” “emerging new treatments” “need for more research” – an all too familiar lingo that pointed down a well-traveled yellow brick road. And this time it didn’t lead to Oz, it lead to Harvard University. And the guy behind the curtain was Joseph Biederman …”

Ultimately Dr. Biederman was disgraced – not for the spurious expansion of a diagnostic category.  Diagnostic expansion has been psychiatry’s primary agenda for the past 60 years.  A small minority of psychiatrists might have had reservations concerning Dr. Biederman’s work, but the mainstream psychiatry-pharma alliance embraced the new development with their customary zeal and self-serving enthusiasm.

Nor was Dr. Biederman disgraced because he had deliberately encouraged the exposure of thousands of children to neurotoxic chemicals.  Again, that’s just business as usual.  And in fact, he received awards and accolades for drawing attention to the plight of these tragically “underserved” children.  Here are some of the awards and honors he has received since his ground-breaking work on childhood bipolar disorder:

  • NAMI Exemplary Psychiatrist Award
  • NARSAD Senior Investigator Award
  • ADHD Chair of World Psychiatric Association
  • Outstanding Psychiatrist Award, Massachusetts Psychiatric Society
  • Excellence in Research Award, New England Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Mentorship Award, Psychiatry Department, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • William A. Schonfeld Award for outstanding achievement and dedication
  • Distinguished Service Award, MGH/McLean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency

He was disgraced for under-reporting to his employers at MGH and Harvard the amount of money he was receiving from the pharmaceutical industry for conducting research that was used to promote their products.  Here again, there was nothing particularly unusual in this.  The so-called Key Opinion Leaders (KOL’s) in psychiatry have been awash in pharma money for decades.  But Dr. Biederman’s take ($1.6 million) was on the high side, and came to light at a time when the corrupt psychiatry-pharma alliance was being exposed nationally, largely through the efforts of Iowa Senator Charles Grassley.

Dr. Biederman was also criticized for promising Johnson & Johnson a positive result for their neuroleptic drug risperidone in pre-school children before he had actually conducted the research.  Obviously this makes a mockery of the research, but psychiatric research was hijacked by pharma marketing decades ago.  It has long since ceased to be a source of genuine scientific information, and much of it instead is little more than marketing material bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry.  Dr. Biederman’s error in this area was that he committed his promises to writing (in the form of slides that he presented to Johnson & Johnson executives), and these slides and other correspondence came to light during lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson for fraudulent marketing of their products.  These are the same lawsuits that Johnson & Johnson recently settled for $2.2 billion.

The great irony with regard to Dr. Biederman’s premature promise of a positive result for Johnson & Johnson is that he was absolutely correct!  If you give a neuroleptic drug to a misbehaved child, the incidence of misbehavior will indeed decrease.  If you give him enough, he’ll go to sleep and won’t misbehave at all!  That’s why these drugs used to be called major tranquilizers.  Dr. Biederman could accurately predict this result in advance because that’s what major tranquilizers do.  If you conduct a study to see if alcohol will make people drunk you’ll get a positive result.  If you conduct a study to see if major tranquilizers subdue childhood temper tantrums, you’ll get a positive result.  Dr. Biederman couldn’t use this defense, however, because he, like psychiatrists in general, has to play along with the big fiction:  that childhood temper tantrums are a symptom of an illness, and that the drugs are medicines targeting specific faults in neural circuitry or chemical imbalances or whatever.  Dr. Biederman’s proposed study would have produced a positive results for Risperdal in the same way that most industry-sponsored studies obtain positive results:  by limiting outcome criteria to the known effects of the drug, by keeping follow-up times short, and by ignoring adverse effects.

Dr. Biederman’s ethical lapses were thoroughly investigated (for three years) by his bosses at MGH and Harvard, and in 2011 they gave him and two of his colleagues (Thomas Spencer – total take:  $1.0 M, and Timothy Wilens – total take:  $1.6 M) very, very severe slaps on the wrists.  The Boston Globe covered this story.  Here’s a quote:

“The three psychiatrists apologized in their letter for the ‘unfavorable attention that this matter has brought to these two institutions.’  They called their mistakes ‘honest ones’ but said they ‘now recognize that we should have devoted more time and attention to the detailed requirements of these policies and to their underlying objectives.’

They said the institutions imposed remedial actions, requiring them to refrain from all paid industry-sponsored outside activities for one year, with an additional two-year monitoring period during which they must obtain approval before engaging in paid activities. They were also required to undergo unspecified additional training and suffer ‘a delay of consideration for promotion or advancement.'”

The notion that the ethical lapses of these three psychiatrists were “honest mistakes” is a little hard to credit, given that the total dollar amount was more than $4 M!

Today Dr. Biederman is fully rehabilitated and is back in business. He’s receiving research funding from ElMindA, Janssen, McNeil, and Shire, and is once again churning out research papers on topics such as ADHD and, guess what? – pediatric bipolar disorder.

THE BIG QUESTIONS

The two big questions in all of this are:

1.  Why do Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital stand for this kind of blatant corruption and deception in the upper echelons of their psychiatry department?

2.  Why does the APA not take a stand against the medicalization and drugging of childhood temper tantrums – a problem that parents of previous generations simply took in their stride as an integral part of normal childrearing?

With regards to the APA, it’s really not much of a question.  Their agenda has always been: more psychiatric drugs for more people, and the neuroleptics-for-children development is really just business as usual.  They have dulled their ethical sensibilities through decades of prescribing benzodiazepines, SSRI’s, methylphenidate, and various other neurotoxins for an ever-widening range of human problems, and prescribing a neuroleptic to a 1½ year old for temper tantrums is a short step.

The APA, however, did express some mild concern about the spurious extension of the bipolar label to children.  In DSM 5 (p 132) they state:

“In individuals with severe irritability, particularly children and adolescents, care must be taken to apply the diagnosis of bipolar disorder only to those who have had a clear episode of mania or hypomania – that is, a distinct time period, of the required duration, during which the irritability was clearly different from the individual’s baseline and was accompanied by the onset of Criterion B symptoms.”

But rather than risk losing the pediatric business, hard-won by Harvard’s psychiatrists, they created a new diagnosis:

“When a child’s irritability is persistent and particularly severe, the diagnosis of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder would be more appropriate.”

The effect of all this is that psychiatrists can go on prescribing drugs for childhood temper tantrums, but instead of calling them bipolar disorder, they should use the new label:  disruptive mood dysregulation disorder – but they can continue to use the bipolar diagnosis also, with a few caveats, couched in the APA’s characteristically vague language.

Harvard’s stance on the scandals is a little harder to fathom.  After all, Harvard is hallowed ground – America’s Oxbridge.  It has acquired an image as a center of learning where educational and research standards eclipse all other considerations.

And in fact, there are legal and medical ethicists at Harvard who clearly recognize the implications of the psychiatric scandals.

Earlier this year, the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (Vol 41, Issue 3) published a symposium of 17 papers written by members of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.  Here are some of the titles:

Here are some quotes:

“The pharmaceutical industry has corrupted the practice of medicine through its influence over what drugs are developed, how they are tested, and how medical knowledge is created.” (Light et al)

“In this article, we analyze how drug firms influence psychiatric taxonomy and treatment guidelines such that these resources may serve commercial rather than public health interests.” (Cosgrove and Wheeler)

“Pharmaceutical and medical device companies apply social psychology to influence physicians’ prescribing behavior and decision-making.” (Sah and Fugh-Berman)

Clearly these papers are addressing important and relevant topics.  But what’s particularly noteworthy, from the present perspective, is that they originated in Harvard – the same institution in which senior psychiatry faculty members were hand-in-glove with pharma in the production of fraudulent research and advertizing.  How are we to understand this contradiction?  How are we to understand the minimal response from Harvard’s management, and incidentally from the other academic departments, given that such a wealth of ethical resources was there on their own campus, presumably available and willing to be consulted on these kinds of matters.

BUSINESS ETHICS VS UNIVERSITY ETHICS

In America, it is becoming increasingly recognized, and even accepted, that big businesses are frequently amoral.  Considerations of right and wrong are routinely subordinated to bottom line accounting.  Many big pharmaceutical companies are perceived in this light.  Indeed, the recent $2.2 B  penalty levied against Johnson & Johnson was discussed in some media outlets quite simply as a “cost of doing business.”  The question of whether it is a good thing to promote the use of neuroleptics for children doesn’t even come on the radar.  The perverse calculus is reduced to the difference between the projected profits from the drugs sales, and the fines and lawsuit settlements that might ensue.

Has Harvard’s Psychiatry Department, in concert with their pharmaceutical allies, crossed this line?  Have they now, implicitly or explicitly, adopted the ethical standards of the business world?  Have they subordinated their sense of decency and shame to considerations of prestige and revenue?

And what of the MGH/Harvard leadership?  Do they actually believe that the sanctions imposed on Dr. Biederman and his colleagues are adequate?  Or do they reckon that the years of past and future pharma revenue are worth the cost?  Have they crossed the line into the shady realm of business ethics?

And as we ponder these thorny questions, let’s not forget that the Johnson & Johnson lawsuit listed psychiatric researchers at other renowned universities, including Johns Hopkins, Stanford, UCLA, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Texas at Austin, Georgia Regents, University of Toronto, and Dalhousie University.

Meanwhile the destructive prescribing continues, and Dr. Biederman is still at MGH, where he is Chief of the Clinical and Research Programs in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD, and at Harvard, where he is a full Professor of Psychiatry, a position, which, by his own account, ranks just below God!

Psychiatry’s primary agenda for the past 60 years has been the expansion of their diagnostic net to embrace an increasing range of ordinary human problems, and the unscrupulous prescribing of more and more psycho-pharmaceutical products to more and more people.  In the final analysis, Dr. Biederman’s problem was that he was particularly good at this job.  He was, in effect, a Model Psychiatrist – the perfect embodiment of everything that the APA stands for.

CLARIFICATION OF TERMINOLOGY

My frequent use of the term bipolar disorder in this article should not be interpreted as an endorsement on my part of the ontological validity of this expression, much less its status as an illness or disease.  I use the term bipolar disorder (and the various other so-called diagnoses) for the sake of readability and linguistic convenience.  What I mean by “bipolar disorder” is:  the vaguely defined and loosely clustered behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that psychiatrists call bipolar disorder.

* * * * *

This article also appears on Behaviorism and Mental Health.

28 COMMENTS

  1. The answer to your two questions boils down to the following fact: just because somebody is uber smart and highly trained at the best universities, it doesn’t mean that he/she is automatically ethical. My personal experience, for what it is worth, is that intelligence and ethics are completely orthogonal. We would love that not to be the case, ie, that smart people are the cure to all problems in society, but unfortunately, societies that are ruled by “the best and brightest” are not necessarily the most ethical. Worst yet, among the highly educated, those who tend to rise at the top tend also to be the less ethical because they use their smarts not to the benefit of society but to advance their own careers. A high IQ unethical person can inflict more damage than a legion of less smart, equally bad people.

    William F. Buckley, Jr. put it best “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

    It bets however the question of why the situation is so much worse in psychiatry than in other areas of medicine or research. And the answer is also obvious: because psychiatry is not a scientific discipline. You can claim all you want that something travels faster than the speed of light, but unless you design a falsifiable experiment that proves it, that claim will not advance your career. Psychiatry deals with subjective labels, not with objective realities, so clearly all bets are off. All clinical data in psychiatry can be cooked to show whatever you want it to show, which is why meta-analyses, which average out manipulations, consistently show that even using psychiatry’s own measures of efficacy, there is no real benefit in psychopharmacology.

  2. Harvards Dr. Biederman was the recipient of the 1998 NAMI Exemplary Psychiatrist award. The pharmaceutical industry donates the $25,000 for the award through NAMI. Its like money laundering.

    The “National Alliance For The Mentally Ill” a group funded by the pharmaceutical industry, was Pushing Risperdal off label use in children NAMI had this link posted on the HOME PAGE of it’s website.“Risperidone for Adolescent Aggression”
    Medical Focus, Winter 1996 http://web.archive.org/web/19961221104126/http://www.nami.org/

    The NAMI 2013 page on “ADHD and Coexisting Conditions” States:

    “Antipsychotic medications and mood stabilizers have been proven to be effective in treating oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder.”

    None of the NAMI pages state that the FDA does not approve of this use of neuroleptics in children.

    P.S the Doctor I trusted that turned me into a pill dependent for all those years and almost killed me was a Harvard Grad. He handed me a Zyprexa sample the drug rep gave him in response to my complaint of insomnia and said “don’t worry its safe” after I read all the scary medical words written in fine print on the paper in side the bottle.

    “Don’t worry its safe”… No, its not. http://www.zyprexa-victims.com

      • Cute comment, Copy_cat, “What a tangled web we weave when pharma money we receive.” May I quote you? I hope to write a book some day, and I will likely start it with the quote “what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Since the story behind 20 years of my artwork is of being sane, then drugged up to cover up a “bad fix” on a broken bone, the sexual molestation of my child by a pastor or his best friend, and the denial of the granddaughter of the head of the investment committee of the board of pensions for a mainstream religion a baptism (my daughter) at the exact moment the second plane hit the second World Trade Center building on 9.11.2001.

        We have a major problem of lack of business’s ethics (including the hypocritical medical industry and religions, who own many of the hospitals), and a government that no longer protects it citizens due to greed, in the US. Money is the root of all evil. Jesus was right. And I’m disgusted “Christian therapists” are now drugging people up for belief in the Holy Spirit and God now. That’s technically illegal in the US, psychiatrists. Please learn to abide by the laws of this country.

  3. This is the modern laudanum – opium dissolved in brandy. It had many uses, drugging noisy, demanding children being just one.

    People (psychiatrists) are getting paid millions for promoting the drugging of noisy, needy children.

    Callous, greedy, stupid, nasty Dr (I’m inchoherent with confusion and rage – confusion that Dr’s who are supposed to help people can do something so nasty, damaging and stupid)

  4. I know talking about class is virtually forbidden, but as far as Harvard goes, what would you expect from an institution whose reason for existence is to train the children of the rich in elitism? If one believes that the highest good is to acquire things, and if those things are more important than people, of course Harvard is just fine with any practices that lead to money and power.

    I’m hardly a religious person, but I’ve recently been really impressed with the writings of Pope Francis about the anti-human effects of materialism. Things become more important than people, and then people become things as well, objects to be possessed and used, instead of fellow human beings to be respected and cared for.

    And this is the ethos of psychiatry.

    • Ted,

      Talking about class is strictly forbidden, which means we probably should be talking about it a lot more. I believe that one of the reasons – or perhaps even the main reason – behind the childhood drugging is that pharma identified children as a vast untapped market – objects to be exploited for financial gain.

      By the way, I really appreciate your posts.

      • Hm, class. Now mental health diagnosis is disproportinatly found amongst the poor (and also racial minorities and the LGBT community). So poverty and the abusive use of power drives people mad.

        Then psychiatrists says mentally distressed people are suffering from a disease and need drugs. The drugs are damaging and make huge profits for multi-national corporations.

        So capitalism drives people mad and then sells them fake, dangerous cures.

      • There’s another factor to consider when thinking about what is driving children towards bio psychiatry. Patricia Wen wrote a series of articles in the Boston Globe in 2010 http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2010/12/13/follow_up_process_lacking_in_ssi_disability_program/
        about the “New Welfare”, detailing that many poor families seek out the the stable income provided by SSI disability for children. Parents were quoted as saying, you got to have a diagnosis and get the drugs to qualify.(ADHD and bipolar were the top 2 diagnoses.) This does not excuse Psychiatrists from unethically diagnosing & prescribing. But it does introduce another important variable in Whitaker’s thesis that neuroleptics are fueling disability rates. Welfare reform has possibly driven many impoverished families to seek stable financial support by getting their child diagnosed and “treated”.

    • One of the things that really tipped me off to what you’re speaking about here was when Personnel Departments in organizations employing large numnbers of peoplehad their names changed to “Human Resources Departments?” People are not resources, plain and simple. This kind of thinking turns humans into things that can have terrible things done to them. In every large organization I’ve ever worked in, the department with the meanest people in it is always “Human Resources!”

  5. Who is going to stop the psychiatrists from “helping” the children?

    WHEN will someone count the numbers and “discover” more harm than good is occurring?

    In food allergy in children it has been discovered…
    The doctors write: “There is increasing speculation that a later introduction of peanut has increased the prevalence of peanut allergy.”

    Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/health-headlines/babies-can-eat-allergy-sparking-foods-as-early-as-6-months-say-docs-1.1569947

      • Hopefully the light of reason will stop the mistreatment.

        The trouble is that inertia is hard to stop. Most everyone believes the “medicines” can only do “good” things to the patient. If there is trouble the first thing doctors do is increase the dosage, not decrease it. A magical belief in the goodness of the drugs.

        The invisible damage from supposed medicine (not drugs) is very hard to prove. If Jane or John Smith is not doing well how do link it to the neuroleptics and not the “mental-illness”?

        Robert Whitaker has spoken of the reaction of doctors when confronted with the evidence ( of bad long term outcomes), they don`t want it to be true. The doctors want and need to believe they are helping when they prescribe psychiatric drugs in the long term.

  6. Philip

    This was great article that was written with great clarity and punch. This will clearly provide more ammunition in our fight against Biological Psychiatry.

    Question: do you have a referenced statistic that says how many children in one of the recent years has been written a prescription for so called antipsychotic drugs? I believe I saw one statistic that stated it was about 500,000 children a year. I need this for an Op Ed piece I am currently working on. Thanks in advance.

    Richard

    • Richard,

      Thanks for your encouraging words.

      It’s hard to get very recent statistics.  There always seems to be a substantial time lag.  There’s an FDA document here that says:

      “Atypical antipsychotic use in pediatric patients has increased over the past 8 years by 65% from 2.9 million o 4.8 million prescriptions from Y2002-Y2009…
      The number of unique patients increased by 35% from 592,000 to 801,000 patients over the same years (data not shown).”

      Bruce Jones et al 2013 here, report that:

      “One percent of adolescents reported the use of antipsychotic medications.”

      Their data covers 2005-2010.

      That’s all I’ve been able to find.

      I’m looking forward to seeing your article.

      Best wishes.

  7. ” Researchers Fail to Reveal Full Drug Pay

    A world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but for years did not report much of this income to university officials, according to information given Congressional investigators.”

    Thats here http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/08/us/08conflict.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    BUT CHECK THIS OUT,

    THEY KEEP ALL THE MONEY AND WRITE THIS LAME “APOLOGY” LETTER !!

    http://web.archive.org/web/20110708110602/http://freepdfhosting.com/ce3f1b1ea1.pdf

    It has a Harvard letterhead and everything.