Why Parents Give Amphetamines and Other Risky Psychiatric Drugs to the Children They Love

Michael Cornwall, PhD
67
731

Because I’ve served as a dissident child and family therapist for 35 years, I was stirred to write this article about reasons that I think loving parents choose to give their children potentially harmful psychiatric medications after I read, recently, that a new candy-flavored amphetamine drug for children is now on the market. It’s called Adzenys.

My inquiry began immediately, as I imagined parents saying “Here honey, enjoy your yummy Adzenys!” to their child every morning, handing them a new orange-colored and flavored, fructose-sweetened form of the time-released amphetamine Adderall.

The sweet, delicious-tasting, and almost playful-sounding new FDA-approved drug Adzenys, developed to increase compliance for children diagnosed with ADHD is now here. It was specifically designed to help parents to more easily get their children to take a prescribed drug.

It has this product description printed large on every package: “Adzenys – Amphetamine Extended-Release Orally Disintegrating Tablets. 9.4mg.”

In this article, I’d like to explore three of the main very complex reasons why I believe the parents of the 11 percent of all children ages 4 to 17 in the US now diagnosed with ADHD would choose to give their children amphetamine in this new candy-like form of Adderall, or to give their children any powerful prescribed stimulant drug under any circumstances.

Let’s ask ourselves why loving parents are choosing to fill the prescriptions for their child’s amphetamine against the backdrop of the tragic nationwide epidemic of methamphetamine addiction, given that Adderall and meth are both amphetamines, as any cursory Google search will show.

Let’s first consider a very big factor impacting parents’ decision-making process; how the incredibly successful marketing strategies of big Pharma affects parents, and then let’s consider the added enormous impact of a parent receiving a child psychiatrist’s ADHD diagnosis and medication treatment plan for their child, and finally let’s recognize how the crucial absence of trauma informed psycho-social services options for children has also created the void where parents try and get help for their children.
I have seen how all three of these factors powerfully combine to negatively affect parents’ decision making process about choosing the help needed for their struggling children.

First, the parents of kids diagnosed with ADHD are all potential customers of the drug companies who are experts at marketing psychiatric drugs to them directly. In Alan Schwatz’s excellent NY Times article called “The Selling of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” he described a 20-year ADHD drug marketing campaign that has contributed to the rise in children diagnosed with ADHD from 600,000 in 1990 to 3.5 million in 2013.

The huge ADHD drugs advertising campaign that runs commercials on TV, and that puts ads in magazines like People and Good Housekeeping, has very successfully worked to reach concerned parents who are looking for help for their children.

Shire, the company that makes Adderall, even recently subsidized the manufacture and distribution of 50,000 ADHD-themed comic books for kids to read. The comic books have messages like “Medicine may make it easier to pay attention and control your behavior!”

Due to Pharma’s greatly successful marketing campaign, ADHD drugs are some of the most prescribed psych drugs, with over $10 billion spent on them annually now in the US.

In the case of the new Adzenys, a lot of children already happily take tasty chewable vitamins every day, who have had problems swallowing pills with water. The ADHD drug manufacturer got FDA approval for candy-flavored Adderall, solely to increase medication use compliance.

But a huge part of the ADHD drug companies’ successful marketing plan is based on Pharma knowing it can count on psychiatrists to urge parents to purchase new drug products for ADHD and other DSM diagnoses.

This encounter with the disease model of psychiatry is the second big factor that parents face as they try and choose what’s best for a child who is on the verge of being diagnosed and treated for ADHD.

Because psychiatry has the major hand in the development of the ADHD DSM diagnosis in the first place, psychiatrists are naturally invested in having parents medicate their children with amphetamine-based stimulants to help the ADHD-diagnosed child be more able to focus and not be disruptive, especially while at school.

Medicating ADHD-diagnosed children with amphetamines is considered the “best practice,” that is most utilized in the uniform standard of child psychiatric care by physicians who believe in and practice the disease model of psychiatry. It’s very rare for parents to find one of the 25,000 psychiatrists in the US who don’t practice from the disease-model paradigm.

Since I’ve never shared that disease-model belief system while serving as a dissident licensed therapist, I instead look for things happening now, or that did happen in a child or teen’s life that may be causing them to be easily distracted, angry and/or restless – especially in the overly structured demands for regimentation compliance that’s enforced during school hours.

Even though I don’t believe in the validity of the ADHD disorder diagnosis, I have still been able to provide help to many children and teens who were given that diagnosis from other professionals, by engaging them and their families in therapy, without them taking meds.

Therapy is effective because there always are knowable and understandable reasons, in my experience, that children and teens struggle with their emotions and behavior. If we compassionately listen and take time to learn about what has happened and is happening in a child’s life and in their family and community, there is always an opportunity to help alleviate the causes and presence of so-called ADHD. The efficacy of therapy holds true for adults who are suffering from every form of emotional distress too.

So, for decades I’ve been right there in person with parents and kids to notice the second big reason why parents go ahead and decide to give their children prescribed amphetamine and other psych drugs.

The parents I see often have a hard time believing at first that any alternative, non-psychiatric disease model therapy approach could be beneficial for their child diagnosed with ADHD or other DSM diagnoses.

I can understand why, for the following reasons.

In addition to the fact that for decades the public has been indoctrinated into the disease model of psychiatry, to the point where now a majority of Americans believe emotional suffering is caused by a chemical imbalance or a genetic-based disorder, there is now an even more aggressive presentation being given to parents by psychiatrists about the impact of the disease model on their child’s brain.

Parents have recently described to me seeing child psychiatrists, with their child present, and having the doctor take out a plastic model of the brain and emphatically telling the parent that MRI scans now can show that the pre-frontal cortex of children with ADHD is “dark” and “not working right” compared to normal children. This powerful demonstration using a model of the brain is happening routinely now at one of the largest HMOs in the US.

I don’t believe there is reliable scientific research that proves that brain scans can establish a medical diagnosis of ADHD.

Almost all parents will take the doctor’s expert word on that graphic, frightening evidence, though, as they see the model of the impaired child’s brain being held up in full view.

It’s almost like a doctor holding up an X-ray to show a frightened parent the extent of the damage to their son’s or daughter’s obviously broken arm or leg.

It’s not surprising that parents believe the child psychiatrist. All parents have been turning to pediatrician doctors since their child was born for expert advice and medical care to help their beloved child be healthy.

The powerful aura of authority that the highly-trained medical school graduate and licensed MD always projects is of the professional who can be of crucial, even lifesaving, help for us and our loved ones in time of illness and injury. That aura of authority that MDs possess and that we all have deferred to as their patients many times ourselves is very important in setting the stage for a parent’s first fateful encounter with a child psychiatrist.

Many of us writing, reading and commenting here on MIA doubt to varying degrees the veracity of the psychiatric disease model of human emotional suffering.

But how can we better inform parents of our beliefs about alternative mental health care that are so different than what they hear from psychiatrists and other prescribing medical doctors – doctors functioning in the professional role that parents have been so inclined to trust and believe in their whole lives – even since they themselves were children.

It’s a real quandary. I hope this blog can prompt some serious discussion about how to better communicate an alternative model of causation and mental health care to parents who view medical doctors to be the most credible authorities.

But the third factor that contributes to parents choosing amphetamine or other drugs for their children is that there is such a glaring lack of funded trauma-informed alternatives available that can be offered to them, or can even be pointed to as proof that their child would be better served without meds.

At the large urban public mental health system where I served for almost 30 years the alliance of NAMI, big Pharma, and psychiatry was successful in imposing the disease model of care – first for adults, and then for children and teens. I saw the steady erosion of teen and child therapist services happen while the number of med-prescribing child psychiatrists multiplied.

That whole mental health system has devolved from only a handful of children being on meds in our county system, when I started there in 1980, until now when almost 100% of the hundreds of children and teens served are on meds.

Under the disease model system of care, 15 percent of high school students in the US are now diagnosed with ADHD, and most are only offered medication. The over-medication of children and teens in foster care – instead of providing them with needed psycho-social supports like counseling – is a national disgrace.

Robert Whitaker has documented how many of the children who are started on amphetamines like Adzenys or other stimulants as young children will go onto being diagnosed with a bipolar disorder as teenagers and young adults.

So, when all the factors mentioned above are added up, the stakes are very high when loving parents anxiously sit down across from a child psychiatrist who has completed an ADHD evaluation of their child. All of the parents’ high hopes for their precious child’s well-being and future happiness are pressing on the parent’s heart and mind. The psychiatrist leans to the side, reaches into a drawer, and lifts out a life-size model of a human brain for the parent or parents to see.

The little five-year-old sitting on the floor playing stops and looks up at a model of his or her brain as the psychiatrist breaks the bad news.

And the question is formed right then in the little boy or little girl’s soul that may haunt the child for the rest of their lives – “Why is there something wrong with my brain?”

How grateful I am when that family and child may finally sit in my room and I start to offer another story that doesn’t break the parents’ hearts again and doesn’t further close off the sacred light in the innocent child’s eyes.

Support MIA

Enjoyed what you just read? Consider a donation to help us continue to produce content, provide up-to-date research news, offer continuing education courses, and continue building a community for exploring alternatives to the current paradigm of mental health. All donations are tax deductible.

$
Select Payment Method
Loading...
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Donation Total: $20.00

67 COMMENTS

  1. Michael, I am so grateful to hear your viewpoint, because I, too, have to undo this damage done to parents and children when psychiatrists “educate” about the alleged disease model of “mental illness.” So many children come to therapy with the belief that their brains are damaged and will be for life. This, of course, hampers any efforts at therapy, worsens their self-image and promotes helplessness in parent and child.

    So in the first session I educate parents and children/adolescents on the fact that the “damaged brain” concept is completely unsupported by research. What makes far more sense is the child has been trained to react to fear/threat with normal “fight-or-flight” responses and become dysregulated. I offer parenting education on brain development, on how their interactions with the child may be causing fear/anxiety, even inadvertently through permissive parenting or being overly verbal or being anxious or depressed themselves. I work with parents to improve attachment (insecure attachment being another cause of emotional distress). I investigate any traumas the child may have experienced and work on changing the cognitive and emotional response to that. All of these ideas are encompassed in Self-Acceptance Psychology. (www.SelfAcceptancePsychology.com) I’ve developed a concept called Self-Acceptance Psychology that explains the real, root causes of “mental disorders” such as behaviors labeled as “anxiety,” “depression,” “bi-polar,” and “ADHD.” It reframes these as normal, natural behaviors resulting from low self-worth, fear, shame, self-criticism and a desperate need for love and belonging (attachment). These can be easily and effectively addressed without medications by learning to generate self-acceptance. Yet the psychiatry profession continues to medicalize “mental disorders” and push pills, rather than advocate for safe, effective psychotherapy and self-help. Keep up the good work!

  2. Hi Michael,

    You mentioned it briefly, but schools really play a big and toxic role in the drugging of children. Instead of taking the lead and challenging society to ask why populations of kids now have so many issues they never had before (and adapting for difficult kids), the schools choose instead to collude with pharma and to pressure parents into tranquilizing their kids for easier manageability. Parents are intimidated (a ‘one-two’ punch by the MD and the school) and further pressured into drugging their kids instead of informing themselves and avoiding all of it.

    Good, solid, credible information is out there for interested parents, but parents have to WANT to avoid diagnosis and drugs to become informed in the first place. I wish there were more of us.

    It’s a terrible scourge, and we’ll see the results of these guinea-pig trials in the decades ahead as these drugged kids grow and age. It’s a huge issue. Thanks for devoting a post to this critical question of why parents cave to drugs.

    Liz Sydney

    • Thanks for saying what I was thinking!!

      How many kids come to the door step of drugging through public school systems? That would be a very interesting thing to know. But, not mentioned, as well was the involvement of “social service” agencies on seeing to it that children in the system are continually over drugged to make them manageable for who ever doesn’t want to put forth any real effort to help them become fully functioning, happy with who they are people.

      It’s very sad to think that 5 and 6 year old children are being fed toxic chemicals to “help” their broken brains. By the time they are able to want to be free of drugs, they will probably have truly injured brains and nervous systems which the idiots forcing them will say proves their “illness” nonsense. What a vicious cycle.

    • Hi, Liz, and Michael,

      I agree. I believe most parents are reacting to the school system telling them that their child is a disruptive influence in the classroom and there is medication available for this. The parents may or may not be skeptical at first, but once they sit down with a psychiatrist and are shown images of the brain, they’ll soon start to panic. There is no room in today’s world for high energy boys. Most people I know (admittedly going back a few years) were anguished about the thought of putting their child on a drug, and they didn’t act immediately.) One of my son’s school experience sounded like Steve’s description of his school experience. Bored out of his mind. The school recommended Ritalin for his lackluster performance. We refused. Being spaced out and dreamy in school was not a disciplinary challenge to the teachers, so it was easier to refuse medicating him.

  3. Hi, Michael,

    I loved the article, but I do have one addition: sometimes kids “have ADHD” because they are normal kids who are being asked to do abnormal things like sit still all day doing boring, repetitive, meaningless tasks that don’t fit with their active personalities. I never acted out in school, but I still viscerally recall the agonizing, stab-a-pencil-in-my-eye, daylong, torturous boredom I suffered at the hands of the educational system. I specifically recall doing subtraction with borrowing problems for MONTHS AND MONTHS ON END in second grade, even though I’d gotten the hang of it on day one and had mastered it in probably a week or two. It was horrible and painful and miserable but I tolerated it and “acted in” with fantasy and depression. Some kids, however, simply can’t stand that, not because they’re experiencing any stress at home, but simply because the expectations were ridiculous and they lacked either the motivation or self-denying self-discipline to put up with it. Looking back on it, in many ways, those were the HEALTHIEST kids – the ones who said, “This is bullshit and I’m not putting up with it.” But they were punished and ostracized and held up as the ultimate models of “bad” behavior, and the rest of us compliant cowards were identified as “good students.”

    I am sure you’ll agree with me that it’s not sick to object to a sick system!

    —- Steve

  4. In poor areas of this country I suspect the numbers on Amps are much higher. Legal Amphetamines are the true gateway drug. It is an epidemic that is morphing into a catastrophe. Because the climb to success is insurmountable once a young person is labeled a failure and then drugged to the point of chronic failure.

    Not only that our social security system is doomed because of the dramatic rise in disability claims to come. Additional School funding is being tied to the numbers in need and that perpetuates the growth.

    Why are the experts in our society letting this happen?

    • Numbers are high everywhere
      Thanks for this. I tried desperately to keep my child off
      Husband was in a post loss of father/post Stage3 cancer fog
      No other options after he was sexually harredsef in school
      Could have sued but was it worth it to him
      Moved out of city. He did not see med as a bad
      Had better times but move was huge loss for him
      No family therapy

      I knew but you can’t work on your own family Murray Bowen not withstanding
      Farms let the kids with energy work on farms or create or do something
      Free the kids from the chains of their desks!

      He do

    • Numbers are high everywhere
      Thanks for this. I tried desperately to keep my child off
      Husband was in a post loss of father/post Stage3 cancer fog
      No other options after he was sexually harredsef in school
      Could have sued but was it worth it to him
      Moved out of city. He did not see med as a bad
      Had better times but move was huge loss for him
      No family therapy

      I knew but you can’t work on your own family Murray Bowen not withstanding
      Farms let the kids with energy work on farms or create or do something
      Free the kids from the chains of their desks!

  5. Hey, Dr. Cornwall. Great article and many thanks to you for being in the children’s and the family’s corner, rather than just another bitch of Big Pharma. I have just one quibble with your excellent article – your assumption that all/most/a large minority of these parents actually do love their “brain diseased” children. Have you ever been on one of those blogs for “parents of ‘mentally ill’ children”? Those blogs are open social-media-sewers of eugenics and self-pity. And the quacks who “treat” these children often refer their parents to those websites in order to “provide them with an outlet” for their “dark, but understandable” feelings about the “abuse” that they’ve “suffered” at the hands of their “impossible-to-love” children. Divorce between parents and their children needs to become a reality in this country. That, for sure, would drive a stake through the gut of bio-bio-bio psychiatry.

  6. ADHD drugs are better than cocaine for getting high and focusing, cocaine you have to keep doing it every 15 minutes but both methylphenidate and the amphetamine based ADHD drugs produce a nice focused high for several hours and that’s at the prescribed dose. Taking 3 or 4 times the recommended dose really doesn’t get you higher, there is like a cieling that if you go past it is unpleasant.

    Methylphenidate (ritalin) feels more like cocaine cause it is a ‘stupider’ high where the amphetamine based ADHD drugs create this illusion that you are smarter but your really kind of in the box but can’t tell.

    But anyway the reason parents give this stuff to kids is because they never tried it themselves. You will see parents making sure a cup of soup is not to hot by trying it themselves before putting it in front of the kid but for some reason almost none of them do the same with psychiatric drugs.

    So I suggest parents try an adult size dose and feel the ‘focus’ and then the can’t eat anxiety ridden depressing crash that comes later then decide if you want your kids taking this stuff.

  7. Crooked Hillary Clinton Calls For Universal Preschool … with child drugging

    “We are not here to bash the use of these medications,” Clinton said. “They have literally been a godsend to countless adults and young people with behavioral and emotional problems.” Left untreated, such conditions as ADHD prevent children from reaching their full potential in life, Clinton said.

    She also said the National Institute of Mental Health would dedicate more than $5 million to research ADHD and Ritalin use in preschoolers. The institute also released a fact sheet to help parents of children with emotional and behavioral conditions understand their options. articles.philly.com/2000-03-21/news/25604458_1_adhd-ritalin-psychotropic-drugs

    With patent extension up for grabs, Shire agrees to test Vyvanse in preschoolers (Hillary Pharma donor) http://www.fiercepharma.com/regulatory/patent-extension-up-for-grabs-shire-agrees-to-test-vyvanse-preschoolers

    Crooked Hillary !

    The pharmaceutical industry has donated $589,344 to [Crooked] Hillary Clinton’s campaign, according to the nonprofit research group Center for Responsive Politics. That’s more than any other candidate — despite Crooked Clinton’s proclamation that she’s proud to call the pharmaceutical industry her enemy. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/10/despite-her-rhetoric-big-pharma-likes-hillary.html

    Crooked Hillary Clinton tops 2016 field in drug industry donations http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/257234-clinton-brings-in-most-big-pharma-money-of-2016-field

    The pressure is on for parents of young children to make them behave “properly” in day-care and preschool settings.

  8. The reason is the same as it is in all Munchausen’s by Proxy matters. These parents are using their children, and they don’t want to deal with the child’s reality. And as it stands today, no one is holding parents accountable. This latter I want to change.

    Nomadic

    • I sympathise with your underlying concern for children’s health and well-being.

      How though do you propose to hold parents accountable for the perceived crime of accepting ADHD as a valid, treatable psychiatric diagnosis, when your main argument involves labeling the parents themselves with a different psychiatric diagnostic term, ie, Munchausen by Proxy?

      I agree that there is a need for accountability at all levels in this area, but I’m not sure that armchair diagnosis of parents is a helpful way forward.

      • Tenacious, you don’t seem to get it. It’s not just concern over the affairs of children, its that it is not right for stuffed shirts to be pulling in huge salaries by doing counseling sessions which parents who are drugging their kids.

        If it weren’t for fear of prosecution, therapists would still be telling children that they were imagining on going sexual abuse.

        Psychotherapy and psychiatry are extensions of The Middle-Class Family.

        I don’t need to make any armchair diagnoses of parents or anyone. It is simply a matter of acting when presented with the evidence.

        With the last guy who went on and on scapegoating his eldest daughter, I helped get him convicted, sentenced and incarcerated for sexually molesting her.

        And oh yes, they tried to send the three girls to psychotherapy to make their awareness of the abuses go away.

        Munchausen’s By Proxy was an unfortunate term. We don’t say that Jessie James robbed banks because he suffered from a psychiatric disorder. And we shouldn’t be doing therapy sessions with parents who are abusing their children either. There must be intervention. And the therapists who are doing these sessions should be arrested and prosecuted.

        Today they call it Medical Child Abuse.

        https://www.amazon.com/Medical-Child-Abuse-Munchausen-Syndrome/dp/1581101368/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466281460&sr=8-1&keywords=medical+child+abuse

        Nomadic

  9. For the poor little sods whose only chance to say NO was, `unable to swallow pills’, all hope is now gone! What about putting ALL psychoactive substances in nice colourful, tasty, `chewy’ form and we can have everyone under drug control just like `1984′! An obedient, unquestioning, SANE population, eager to get their thrills from meds that come in many flavours, sweet, savoury, BBQ, Tangy and happy to pay, pay, PAY. My, what will the drug companies DO with all that money? If they buy a few countries, as they can already afford to do, they’ll have complete captive, sorry, eager, populations of volunteers all of their own to do their testing, and there’ll be no NEED to worry about those occasionally pesky regulators, the ones they haven’t paid off. Since they can make their own laws it could be a capital crime to dissent. Lovely, George Orwell was spot on, wasn’t he?
    Can you imagine the possibilities here? Kid leaves lunch box lying about, smaller kid finds it, finds `sweets’… Teenager leaves bedroom door open. baby wanders in…Kid hands out `sweets’ to mates as `sharing exercise…tastes nice, I’ll just have another one…
    Have the marketing people AND the regulatory bodies lost not just their imagination but their REASON? Is money so important that they have surrendered their intelligence? How many deaths will it take for OOPS! to happen?
    This is a tragedy and a crime against our children. I can only hope that one day the perpetrators of this holocaust will be brought down and forced to answer for it, but I fear that an entire generation will be destroyed first. After all it was only AFTER 6 million Jews were dead that anyone did anything. The difference is that we KNOW so if we do nothing, we are as guilty as the PPA (Psychiatry Pharm Alliance).

    There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children. Nelson Mandela

  10. Thanks for the informative article, Michael.

    Since childhood, in the 90s, I’ve found the tradition of medicating children for under performance, bizarre and at times frightening. I felt like I was in “The Twilight Zone” seeing my friends and classmates being given meds during school hours to “help” them pay attention and get better grades. To this day I am still baffled.

    Later, in life my brother was able to acquire Adderol from a general practicioner, even though he never had concentration or attention issues. He popped them like candy and within a month, stopped sleeping, taking the pills around the clock. He became paranoid and delusional and was eventually picked up by the police and hospitalized. In the hospital he was put on anti psychotics and benzos, and never taken off the amphetamine.

    It wasn’t until I started to learn more about psychiatry years later, that I realized that there was a direct link between his amphetamine use and the psychosis. I spoke with him about it, and he endorsed that, initially, he probably experienced amphetamine psychosis and not bipolar disorder, but the psychiatric establishment never put two and two together. They continued giving him more and more drugs, by no means against his will.

    A few years ago he passed away from a heroine overdose. During his last voluntary hospitalization, family therapists accused both my parents of being “enablers” (for not throwing him out of the house), rather than realizing that their very system and facility were playing the most direct enabling role in his drug use…as pushers.

    “Robert Whitaker has documented how many of the children who are started on amphetamines like Adzenys or other stimulants as young children will go onto being diagnosed with a bipolar disorder as teenagers and young adults.”

    This phenomenon is very likely iatrogenic. It is due to both blind and willful ignorance practiced traditionally in psychiatric culture…When will this despicable drama end?

  11. “But how can we better inform parents of our beliefs about alternative mental health care that are so different than what they hear from psychiatrists and other prescribing medical doctors – doctors functioning in the professional role that parents have been so inclined to trust and believe in their whole lives – even since they themselves were children. It’s a real quandary.”

    It is a quandary, indeed, Michael. My mother works as a translator for the public school system. She translates between counselors and Spanish speaking parents of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, among other diagnoses, but ADHD is by far the most common. I’ve asked her perspective on this, and her response is direct and clear: “The child’s behavior and focus have improved, they’re doing better in school, and the parents are grateful.” And, she’s quite indignant about it, kind of defensive, really, because she knows what I’m thinking.

    Of course, you and I and others who know better understand what this all means beneath the surface, and the future is sadly predictable for most of these kids, that they will have problems down the road—issues that aren’t being addressed now will surface, and they will also have a psych drug dependence to deal with, at the very least. And, we know there are other, safer, and more well-informed paths to take.

    My mother also witnessed my coming off of psych drugs after 20 years, up to and including 9 that last year, which came extremely close to killing me. She knows I followed protocol to the letter when I was going through mental health care. And, she knows that it eventually created catastrophe for me, as well as for my partner. We were both victims of the system. She knew I did scads of alternative healing after I ditched the drugs and the mental health system, and that I became trained and certified in a variety of healing schools of thought, including energy healing, spiritual healing, natural healing, and Integral Alternative Medicine. She knows my story in detail, of course, and has witnessed the complete transformation of my health and life.

    And yet, despite the fact that my mother is a highly intelligent and well-educated person, she is unable to put it together, that the drugs did the damage, and without them I am thriving. She refuses to see that I am thriving creatively, happy, grounded, in synch with myself, and fulfilled; she cannot take this in, her very limited perspective will not allow it, it is all tied to profound social programming. (I’ll spare you the projections I can still get repeatedly from her, which is why I limit my contact with her).

    Despite my success in healing from extreme and debilitating anxiety, social trauma from the mental health system, and a mental and physical chaos due to psych drugs poisoning, she can only feel threatened by my reality, for whatever reason, and insists on throwing invalidation in my direction. She has no concept of the courage and fortitude it took to take this journey, and how it changed me for the better, as my natural evolution. It’s bizarre, more than anything.

    Overall, I feel it is the result of deeply embedded ego issues. When we question these profoundly programmed beliefs, I think we face a great deal of fear, because then we must let go of all we thought we knew, our habits of belief, and we face the unknown and unfamiliar. Personally, I like to embrace new pathways and I find the unknown to be exciting because that is our most fertile creative time, and it means that new things will come to light. I believe that is why I had the success I did in healing, I never, ever resisted anything new put before me, regardless of how “out there” it may have seemed. I left no stone unturned and explored everything made available to me, and then discerned what rang true and what did not.

    But I know there is a lot of resistance, from fear of the unknown, for many folks. Each step forward is an unknown during transition, so I think getting people to face their fears and trust their process would be a step in the right direction. I’ve had no luck with my mother in this regard, she is completely fear-based. And so even when the example of this is right in front of her face, she cannot take it in.

    My partner, on the other hand, who also witnessed my healing and transformation over the years, is in awe of what I learned and was able to apply, and followed in my healing footsteps and he experienced transformative healing as well. She will not hear either one of us on the matter. Go figure.

  12. Learn why parents would want to spend their time and money driving their kid to doctor after doctor. Learn what the payoff is.

    https://www.amazon.com/Sickened-True-Story-Lost-Childhood/dp/0553381970/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466101758&sr=1-1&keywords=julie+gregory

    Then you can understand why parents would want to put their kid on drugs, why they need to be able to say that their child has a defect.

    And then the therapists, all they are doing is placating the parents, helping the parents to use their child. Conducting therapy sessions with parents who should be in prison. And never telling the child that the parents are wrong, and that our society does not allow what they are doing.

    So we Survivors of the Middle Class Family, we have a huge amount to learn, because right now we are doing nothing. We act like psychotherapy is the answer, when really it is the root of the problem. We are Uncle Toms, and we are complicit in the continuing abuse of children and adults.

    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/survivors-of-the-middle-class-family-t243.html

    Nomadic

    Stokely Carmichael At UC Berkeley – Black Power
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFFWTsUqEaY

    James Forman SNCC
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7Tv7f0TJR8

  13. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the heads-up on the Dr. Peter Breggin radio interview. MIA should post a link somewhere. The truly satisfying thing there was hearing his total outrage at these outrageous developments. (Less so the parenting advice for some of us who faced extreme issues, but I digress.)

    I have thought a lot over the years (while raising my own very difficult child) what motivates parents to drug their kids, and frankly I believe that everyday stress and the pace of life just pushes parents toward miracle-wishful-thinking solutions (the same reason adults take 90% of their pharma in the face of evidence that would tell them not to). This was confirmed for me in this recent and awful article that I hope you will read, where an MD both shills for the candy-amphetamine and feeds it to her own kids…because it’s the convenient solution:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/28/kiddie-adderall-could-actually-be-a-lifesaver-for-parents-and-children.html

    This topic is close to my heart, and I’ve sacrificed a decade to it, which is why I’ve commented a couple of times. To tell you the truth directly from the trenches, I think pharma has won this one. Woe be future generations.

    Liz Sydney
    https://ourviolentchild.wordpress.com/

    • I felt compelled to come back and amend my comment: It’s difficult to NOT grow cynical, negative, and hopeless with alarming, beyond-the-pale developments like the candy-amphetamine. BUT hope springs eternal, and just like I and a few others refused drugs, maybe some tide will turn and the mainstream will see the folly of drugging children through their childhoods. Hope always!

  14. I remember people scoring Dexedrine & meth in high school over 40 years ago. They would have been busted big time for this. Kids would test their heart rate and go for their “personal best.” (“It was up to 110 in gym class today!”) Now it’s considered medicine. Amazing.

  15. I think that America is about short term solutions. For this reason, we look to short term solutions despite long term disadvantages. Think about credit card debt versus mortgages. Think about texting over reading a book. The short term offers an immediate gratification.

    If your child gets kicked out of class because he is jumping off the walls, you see a specialist who suggests medication. The behavior gets better but the memory function goes down. If you believe school is about behavior, you are happy. If you believe that school is about learning, you are dissatisfied. The three year data on Ritalin and other stimulants now suggest this.

    Ritalin treats the classroom at the expense of the child, and this is why parents often agree to educator suggestions, because they want their children to “do well” in school. This is also why Congress passed the Individuals with Disability Act to protect the rights of these children. Yes, an intelligent child with hyperactivity is often painful to deal with. But it is not a teachers role to judge a young child below 12, it is their job to educate.

    Attention Deficit, which primarily affects girls sitting in the back of the class and not paying attention, did respond to Ritalin and other medications. The fact remains that the key issue is the formulation. Only Concerta is reasonably safe after a child has been enrolled in CBT. This is the Japanese approach, and they are reluctant to prescribe medication to young children.

    Hyperactivity is not attention deficit. It is true that fMRI can now visualize these disorders but psychiatrists refuse to distinguish the disorders as separate. The entire purpose of visualization is to have a scientific basis to progress. The real problem with all amphetamines is the over expression of delta FosB. This is not a small risk. Individuals exposed to amphetamines have a higher risk of addiction. Those who prescribe medication for more than a 1 month period are not currently held to longitudinal followup. We saw the same challenge with benzodiazapenes.

    If you go to the emergency department with chest pain and anxiety, and get ruled out for myocardial ischemia, and the doctor treats you with Ativan, you are not going to get addicted. But if you are prescribed 90 Ativan, you run a risk. This is no different than if a doctor prescribes a year of antibiotics. You can get antibiotic resistance and C. Difficile.

    The real challenge is that psycho-pharmacology has resorted to long term treatments. Had the model focused on short term stabilization with immediate CBT followup and psychological counseling in ALL cases, with longitudinal databases mandatory, we would have seen more progress.

    The reality is that many psychiatrists refuse to recognize a test that eliminates the diagnosis. For instance, if a child can pass the Stroop test, they do NOT have Attention Deficit. This has been highly validated. A child may have Oppositional Defiance, but they can absolutely pay attention to tasks that they do not like to perform. As such, the Stroop test functionally tests the frontal and parietal lobe circuit, no different than if you brought your car in, and the car started, and drove, and the engine light was still on. Well, it was not the battery, and not the fuel pump, and not the tires. Well psychiatrists have a hard time in eliminating a diagnosis. They also cannot admit when they do not know the diagnosis. They cannot simply test a person and say, at this point, the problem is not clear. This is why psychiatrists currently are so focused on comorbidity.

    Many countries are legitimately worried that early use of amphetamines can lead to affective disorders as an adult. The real challenge is that the young brain is still developing. There is zero association with failing out of school and ADHD or going to prison and ADHD. Failing out of school and prison is usually directly related to a broken family structure. So we have to ask ourselves, what are the end points? If the end point is a a child that has time to develop into a responsible adult, and have a happy childhood, then medication is not usually the answer. There are some exceptions. What we have decided as a nation is the opposite, that we medicate first. As such, addiction is way up. We now have a cohort of heroin addicts throughout the US. Where did this come from? Predictably, a stepping stone from Ecstacy, an amphetamine, to Methamphetamine, to more powerful injectable narcotics.

    The fact is that in 1960, at the high point of the summer of love revolution, drugs were neither as powerful or as prevalent. What changed is American culture. Americans love sensational short term solutions. Every new medication is touted as superior, when in fact, many barely beat placebo. Old medication, no longer profitable, are often superior, especially when taken only on an as needed basis.

    I think this is the real challenge. Medications approved by the FDA have “passed the test”. But they have “passed the test” only for their only label indications, and often only in the short term. There are very few followup long term studies. The only validated model has been cholesterol medications in individuals with heart disease. Hypertension was also another model with long term followup. Glaucoma another model. Anti-Coagulation another model. In all these cases, there are clear scientific and objective end points, HDL, Systolic Blood Pressure, Intra-Ocular Pressure, INR. When fMRI can be used to diagnose, exclude, and demonstrate treatment success, it will be useful. SPECT has recently been able to demonstrate the effect of benzodiapenes in panic disorders. Panic disorders are different from long term anxiety. During the Panic phase, the brain develops functional asymmetry, with decreased firing in the left temporal lobe, and increased firing in the right frontal cortex, causing a flight reaction. When patients were treated with benzodiapenes, the patients improved, and their SPECT scans normalized. This suggested that in the acute phase, the drug worked as promised. However, there is no evidence that Ativan or Valium works chronically. It should only be used on an as needed basis, and does not offer any prophylactic benefit when studied.

    This is true of Attention Deficit. If a child has true Attention Deficit, and they MUST pay attention, the drug helps. But what if they MUST pay attention and remember what they paid attention to? That is more complex, and that is the problem. What happens, is these children on Ritalin can finish their homework, great. But the challenge, is their long term memory is affected, and they do no better than children than do not finish their homework. WHAT! Yes, the child that does half his homework, remembers that half off Ritalin. The child that completes his homework on Ritalin only remembers half his homework. So if the end point is completing the homework, behavior, Ritalin works. If the end point is learning, Ritalin begins to fail as the brain adapts to the Ritalin, and the memory function ratchets downwards, which is exactly what was seen in the long term followup studies on children with ADHD that were medicated with Ritalin.

  16. “My inquiry began immediately, as I imagined parents saying…”

    “Let’s ask ourselves why loving parents are choosing…”

    A clarification question first: so what form did the “inquiry” actually take? Did it involve any inquiring questions being put to real-live parents who have made actual choices about stimulant medication for their offspring? Or was this narrative constructed entirely in your own mind….?

    This is a really interesting topic to me, especially when read from a UK perspective, but the lack of methodological rigour (just to mildly understate the problem) is a little disconcerting…

    As background, I am an adult who sought assessment for ADHD in mid-life, and I use dexamphetamine in what I think is a very moderate way, alongside exercise, diet, meditation and other lifestyle changes. No-one ever tried to push upon me a disease-centred model of mental illness and I’ve never thought the DSM-5 to be anything other than a descriptive, categorical attempt to make some meaning of a very inexact science. I view my decision to take meds as an open-ended one, made only after a great deal of research and, so far I am happy with my choice.

    Regardless of this, I do have huge concerns about the increasing use of stimulant medication in children, as I think many people in the UK probably do. If I could go back to the beginning and start again, I would not wish to have been prescribed meds at a young age, in order to improve my “performance” or to make my behaviour more acceptable to others. That’s not why I use meds now, and I am at a time in life where I am able to be assertive about my right to make informed choices. I never fail to be horrified by the rubbish that is served up for children’s consumption, whether by McDonalds, or Disney, or SmithKlineGlaxo et al.

    Looking back, I just feel a little sad for the missed opportunities to learn to understand and accept myself as I was back then, and to build strategies and habits that might have better helped me to manage some very difficult and enduring problems, back when my brain was probably better equipped to take on the challenge. As someone with an interest in education and child development, this is obviously something I will be continuing to think about as time goes on.

    I don’t have kids of my own and am not entirely sure at what age I think it is appropriate to discuss medication-as-a-last-resort with kids that want to try it, but I don’t think I would personally consider a child mature enough to engage in a decision-making process about psychoactive medication much before the age I would give them free-reign over their own Facebook account. The bottom line though is that it is easy to make judgements like this in a situation that is not actually impacting on my own life. The older I get, the more I realize how little I actually “know” about anything, and so I would hesitate ever to weigh in with opinions on another parent’s choices unless I knew their situation really really well, and they have explicitly asked for advice.

    The UK perspective on ADHD is a little different to your own, as you will be aware, and so some of our differences of opinion may be down to that.

    We don’t really have the problem of the advertising of stimulant drugs in the UK, unless people go looking for adverts on overseas websites. I didn’t actually know that drug advertising was a “thing”, until after my own diagnosis, when a UK psychologist published her dissertation about the association she perceived to exist between YouTube adverts and a rise in the phenomenon of the ADHD woman! You can possibly imagine the surprise that caused to many of us from the generation that mostly use YouTube to look up old episodes of Victoria Wood sketch shows from the 90s …. 😉

    Most GPs here will still tend to be conservative in their approach to ADHD, despite the fact that there has been a clear overall rise in prescriptions of stimulants to children. In my part of the UK, it has become normal practice for all parents to be made aware of local parenting support groups right from the start of their ante-natal care in pregnancy, in an attempt to normalise the stresses of parenting, and to build a bridge from which parents of children with additional needs can feel more confident about asking for help in managing more challenging family situations.

    (We also have a national campaign going on at the moment called #PowerToTheBump which is aimed at making expectant mums and dads aware of their rights to take paid employment leave to attend ante-natal appointments – and if we want to make a difference in children’s lives, I think initiatives like this are one excellent way of engaging parents in thinking about, and taking ownership of, their child’s health right from the outset.)

    In education, we have a strong emphasis on providing individual learning plans to children with additional needs and, while there will always be rogue individuals in the profession that give duff advice to parents, generally there is a blanket refusal in schools to even discuss diagnostic labels unless they have already been made in advance by a medic, given that educational professionals have no expertise or power to make such claims about the causes of any given behaviour or difficulty.

    So loving parents in the UK probably aren’t influenced very much by these factors when they turn up at their GP surgery asking if their child had ADHD.

    I deal with enquiries from parents worried about their children reasonably often, as a member of a couple of online communities for adults with ADHD. Honestly, overall I think many parents here seek medications for their younger children simply because they are struggling and don’t know what else to do for the best, and they have learned about the phenomenon of ADHD in children mainly as it has spread from you guys over the pond, on both sides of the debate. 😉

    Personally, I have no problem accepting the construct of ADHD as having reasonable face-validity for those of us who are struggling with the sharp and pointy end of attention and concentration problems. To that extent, I don’t object in principle to parents seeking help, or to doctors making diagnoses of ADHD in children. My diagnosis doesn’t make me feel “broken” and it doesn’t define me. Rather it has served as one of the stepping stones towards a place where I have a better understanding of myself, and a more compassionate plan for the next part of my life journey. I just generally don’t think medication should be considered as the first or best answer to most things in life, either physical, emotional or behavioural.

    Whether ADHD symptoms are a product of nature, nurture, or the society we live in, the reality, as I perceive it, is that parents presenting at GP surgeries with questions about ADHD are simply doing their best, in a situation where they themselves are likely to have spent a good proportion of their lives sat on the naughty step for impulsive or distracted behaviour. Childhood is a brief window of opportunity for growth and development and most parents want their own children to do better than they did, and be happier than they were. From the real-life stories I have heard, from worried parents that are confiding in us, struggles with attention and concentration do seem to be handed down through the generations in one way or another, and that makes for some fraught and distressed home situations in which parents barely have the time to read the instructions on a cereal packet, let alone trawl the internet for adverts about cotton-candy chemical cures…

    I don’t know the answers to all the questions, but I do think that one good way forward would be for clinicians, teachers and community workers to speak less and listen more to parents’ and families’ own individual accounts of their problems, rather than generating your own narratives which seem to be drawn more from your imagination rather than your knowledge of the lived-experiences of others. Simplistic and thinly-veiled “Big Bad Pharma” narratives like this one just seem to me to serve the purpose of taking shame away with one hand (“you’re such loving parents…”) before handing it back with the other (“you poor deluded fools”).

    When young parents visit the internet support forums that I frequent, they usually arrive wanting to know our top tips to get their child assessed and medicated. Most of what we do involves listening and supporting them in thinking about how to make things better. Hopefully they go away feeling a bit more empowered and knowledgeable about the best ways to seek support from local parenting groups, to ask for individual assessment and planning for their child’s needs to be met in school, and to hold their heads high and stick to positive interventions when their kids cause mayhem at the local park or museum -because public spaces belong to all of us, and no child should be shamed for their enthusiasm in exploring the world around them. They don’t get advice about how best to procure Ritalin for 3 year olds, but they do get buckets of empathy and support because that is what know and do best.

  17. Do any of you have (or had ) a child with severe behavior problems ? My child was disruptive in grade school not due to any home or abuse issues. He was diagnosed with Tourette’s @ age 3. He was kicked out of 6 day cares before kindergarten. The school was going to call the police on a first grader. He wasn’t diagnosed until age 12 with Aspberger’s which is now considered High functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As a parent with nowhere to turn I had to medicate my son. I was blessed to find him a private school ( from 6 to 12th grade ) that helped him eventually without any RX until he graduated High School. You can have a negative opinion about this issue but don’t condemn us for being bad parents. Have you had to deal with this ?

  18. http://prn.fm/the-dr-peter-breggin-hour-06-15-16/

    I respect Peter Breggin very much. As far as I know he has never counseled parents who are drugging their children himself.

    But I am going to listen carefully to this show, very carefully.

    As it stands now, if a parent has a bad relationship with their child, instead of the parents being given last and final warning from a judge, they just take the child to a therapist and get the child onto drugs. Then it looks like they can also consult with someone like Michael Cornwall, who not seeming to understand the concept of mandatory reporting, will perhaps try to persuade them that there might be ways other than drugs.

    I’m going to be evaluating the broadcast very carefully.

    As I am starting to listen to this, I see that endorsement of psychotherapy is part of the problem, Breggin, Bertram Karon. This is all still second rape, even with out drugs or electo shock.

    This is why I don’t support Mind Freedom, they endorse psychotherapy!

    Lawyer, not therapist. Sue the parents and every therapist that was ever in the loop, as they are all accomplices!

    I listened to a guy scapegoating his eldest daughter, trying to use me as an after the fact accomplice, just like he might with a therapist. Except I am not a therapist, so it didn’t work. I side with the child. I would not have gotten involved unless I wanted to deal with him myself. But as it worked out it was better. Police, DA’s, and judges got an education, and this father keeps a cell warm in our state prison.

    I just checked. As most felonies are eventually appealed, this one is being appealed. If buy some chance he gets his conviction overturned, I’ll go back into action immediately. I am monitoring the situation.

    Nomadic

  19. Michael, I know how severe the pressure from the schools is. But one bad doctor is not the solution to a whole bunch of horrid doctors.

    How many parents have you counseled who you knew were giving unnecessary and harmful drugs to their child, without reporting the mater to law enforcement?

    In how many of these cases did you know that the parent was going to continue giving the drug to the child after they left your office, yet you still didn’t report the matter to law enforcement or other wise try to intercede?

    How long ago was the last such case where you were counseling someone who was giving an unnecessary and harmful drug to their child, yet you did not report it or otherwise interceed?

    Nomadic
    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/free-expression-f2.html

  20. As a young girl I spent many hours tucked away with a book or at the family piano composing music, while my baby brothers made noise, screaming and throwing things. They did this because that’s what little kids did. I wonder what I would have thought if my parents had told me they were “giving the boys pills to make them quiet.” Undoubtedly I would have loved the quiet, but wouldn’t I have considered my parents to be completely out of their minds?

    I remember Mom and Dad thought of far more creative ways to get “the boys” to settle down. One way was to hand a kid a musical instrument, or a baseball bat, or a bicycle. My dad put together a swingset in our yard. How about leading a troop of Cub Scouts? We had that badminton net set up all summer long. We even played croquet and invited all the neighbor kids.

    The coolest thing about my childhood was that we went to the mountains all the time. We went skiing in winter and hiking in summer. I learned to start a fire with one match if I ever had to. We learned what SOS meant and about great search and rescue missions in history. I read fiction books about children lost in the woods, including Lord of the Flies. I wondered if I would ever live in the woods and write like Henry David Thoreau or Robert Frost. We learned how to follow a mountain trail by the markings on it, and how to respect the wilderness. My favorite saying is attributed to Smoky Bear and says something about leaving only footprints and taking only photographs.

    I heard an inkling that recently a blood relative of mine was given these pills. Now I can only sigh, know it was all out of my hands, and feel sad.

    I think maybe Big Pharma needs to start putting their warnings on these drugs where it’ll have an impact. If they’re going to pretty up the pills, why don’t they decorate them by painting colorful pictures of addiction, restraints and seclusion, forced care, locked doors, needles, poverty, prison, death, and whatever else these poisons lead to right on the shiny surface of the pills. Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.

  21. Thank you Julie for your sharing.

    “I think maybe Big Pharma needs to start putting their warnings on these drugs ”

    They already have the very highest possible level of restriction for something which can be sold at all, a doctor’s prescription is required. The only way to go beyond that is to treat it like heroin and not allow it to be sold under any conditions.

    But I agree with you, something needs to be done, something substantial, and right away.

    Are the FDA approval and the licensing of doctors the source of the problem, rather than a protection?

    Am I correct in my understanding that the vast majority of long term adult use of psychiatric drugs is voluntary, zero physical coercion being used? And then so what drives this, misinformation, misunderstanding, and the desire to avoid feeling the pain of life, as it is with alcohol and street drugs?

    And then with the drugging of children I say that it always has to be considered forced.

    So is there a problem in that the drug manufacturing and the providing of doctor services are a for profit industry, and that most of the time it is just serving the desires of the parents? I say yes.

    So what do we do? How can we protect the personhood of the children, and in the face of parents who are committed to politically exerting an ownership right because this is the basis of their adult identity?

    Should there have to be a court involved and the child represented by an attorney, before there can be any substantial medical procedures or drugging?

    And with the current situation, who do we go after:

    1. Government and FDA?

    2. Big Pharma?

    3. Doctors?

    4. Parents?

    My own view is that we should go after all of these, and try to get substantive punishments, like civil judgments and criminal convictions.

    We have now laws against child abuse. These make no exception for when that abuse is performed by a licensed doctor, a therapist, or a parent. It is just a matter of interpretation. So I say these laws should be enforced on doctors, therapists, and parents, and maybe on Big Pharma too.

    We have mandatory reporting laws for cases of suspected child abuse. There is no exception in these for abuses committed by doctors, therapists or parents. It is just a matter of interpretation as to what is abuse. I say we should use this, that is report, but also prosecute those who fail to report.

    Will doing these things solve the problem? No of course not. But it will help to open people’s eyes while we figure out how to make larger scale structural changes.

    People who protect themselves and others are respected, and room is made for them. But people who try to get by via bowing and scraping continue to get stepped on. Psychotherapy and psychiatric medications are designed to make people more amenable to being stepped on.

    Those in our society who support the middle-class family control the land, the capital, and the politics. Those of us who do not support it are kept on the margins, and delegitimated. So most survivors are afraid to even think about opposition. I say this pertaining to survivors of the middle-class family and to survivors of the psychiatric system. To me these are the same. So this situation will not change until we start standing up for ourselves.

    Always the fate of children, and the fate of adults too, is in the hands of the broader society. Every society inscribes upon it’s members. Okay, but never before in history has their been anything like the middle-class family, where adults are encouraged to deliberately assert themselves by going into a Barnes and Nobel’s and purchasing a pedagogy manual and then by making some babies and then by using them for display and bragging. And then each time the FDA approves a new drug, what this means is that it is approved for parents to get their kids put on it and brag about it.

    In traditional societies and primitive societies it is not anything at all like this.

    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/index.php
    Nomadic

    Murphy Bill
    http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2015/06/17/Murphy-s/stories/201506170119

    Kibbutz Videos
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GQ_bYu-cgM&list=PL70H-XrUa3iFPUPVPjaibnV2XoSVKAskV&index=3

    How Israel Lost
    https://www.amazon.com/How-Israel-Lost-Four-Questions/dp/074325029X