ADHD: A Destructive Psychiatric Hoax

Philip Hickey, PhD


Earlier this year, Alan Schwarz, an investigative reporter for the New York Times, published his latest book: ADHD Nation.

The blurb on the jacket states:

“More than 1 in 7 American children get diagnosed with ADHD—three times what experts have said is appropriate—meaning that millions of kids are misdiagnosed and taking medications such as Adderall or Concerta for a psychiatric condition they probably do not have.  The numbers rise every year.  And still, many experts and drug companies deny any cause for concern.  In fact, they say that adults and the rest of the world should embrace ADHD and that its medications will transform their lives.

In ADHD Nation, Alan Schwarz examines the roots and the rise of this cultural and medical phenomenon: The father of ADHD, Dr. Keith Conners, spends fifty years advocating drugs like Ritalin before realizing his role in what he now calls ‘a national disaster of dangerous proportions’; a troubled young girl and a studious teenage boy get entangled in the growing ADHD machine and take medications that backfire horribly; and Big Pharma egregiously over-promotes the disorder and earns billions from the mishandling of children (and now adults).”

And who could argue with any of that?  But the blurb continues:

“While demonstrating that ADHD is real and can be medicated when appropriate, Schwarz sounds a long-overdue alarm and urges America to address this growing national health crisis.”

And there, of course, is where we must part company.

When I first read the jacket blurb, I was curious as to what kinds of arguments Alan Schwarz would marshal to support the contention that ADHD is “real”, and that it sometimes warrants “medication”.  And let us be clear as to the meaning of the word “real”.  Nobody is denying that inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity can be real problems.  The issue at stake, however, is whether it makes any sense to conceptualize this loose cluster of vaguely-defined problems as an illness.  Usually when people say or write that ADHD is “real”, they mean that this cluster of problems listed in the APA’s catalog (DSM) is a genuine, bona fide illness – just like diabetes; and that people who “have” this so-called illness must take their “medication” in the same way that diabetics must take insulin.  So, the promise on the jacket that Mr. Schwarz would demonstrate that ADHD is a real illness seemed significant, and as I said earlier, I was particularly interested in whether he had anything new to add to this debate.

Here’s the opening page of the introduction.

“Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is real.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

A boy who careens frenziedly around homes and busy streets can endanger himself and others.  A girl who cannot, even for two minutes, sit and listen to her teachers will not learn.  An adult who lacks the concentration to complete a health-insurance form accurately will fail the demands of modern life.  When a person of any age has a combination of these struggles—severely enough to impair his daily functioning—with no other plausible explanation for them, then he could very well have a serious, if still somewhat mysterious, condition that medicine has decided to call ADHD.

No one quite knows what causes it.  The most commonly cited theory is that the hypractivity, lack of focus, and impulsivity of classic ADHD result from some sort of dysfunction among chemicals and synapses in the brain.  A person’s environment clearly plays a role as well: a chaotic home, an inflexible classroom, or a distracting workplace all can induce or exacerbate symptoms.  Unfortunately, as with many psychiatric illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, there is no definitive way to diagnose ADHD, no blood test or CAT scan that lets a doctor declare, ‘Okay, there it is’—all one can do is thoughtfully assess whether the severity of the behavior warrants a diagnosis.  (After all, we all are distractible or impulsive to varying degrees.)  One thing is certain, though: There is no cure for ADHD.  Someone with the disorder might learn to adapt to it, perhaps with the help of medication, but patients young and old are generally told that they will deal with their abnormal brains for the rest of their lives.” (p 1)

And there is it.  Let’s take a closer look.

“Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is real.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

The reality or otherwise of “ADHD” is the fundamental issue of this entire debate, and it is clear from this opening statement that Mr. Schwarz has not approached this question with anything resembling the kind of open-mindedness that one expects from an investigative journalist.

But it gets worse.

“A boy who careens frenziedly around homes and busy streets can endanger himself and others.”

Mr. Schwarz is clearly trying to create the impression that this kind of behavior is fairly typical of children who “have ADHD”, and he is also pointing out that the behaviors are serious.  What he doesn’t mention, however, and perhaps isn’t even aware of, is that physically dangerous activity – including running “into street without looking” – was one of the specific criteria for ADHD in DSM-III-R, but was diluted to “runs about or climbs excessively” in DSM-IV.  And in DSM-5, the word “excessively” was dropped.  Here are the actual items from the three editions:

DSM-III-R (1987):
“(14) often engages in physically dangerous activities without considering possible consequences (not for the purpose of thrill-seeking), e.g., runs into street without looking” (p 53)

DSM-IV (1994):
Under the sub-heading Hyperactivity:
“(c) often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)” (p 84)

DSM-5 (2013):
Under the sub-heading Hyperactivity and impulsivity:
“c.  Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate.  (Note: in adolescents or adults, may be limited to feeling restless.) (p 60)

So, a boy who careens frenziedly around homes and busy streets would probably meet the standard in all three editions, but – and this is the critical point – there is no requirement in the latter editions of such extreme behavior to score a “symptom” hit.  Contrary to Mr. Schwarz’s implied assertion, a child does not have to engage in such extreme or dangerous behavior to meet any of the APA’s criteria for this so-called illness. And it needs to be noted particularly that since 1994, the only requirement under this item for adults and adolescents is that they experience feelings of restlessness!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“A girl who cannot, even for two minutes, sit and listen to her teachers will not learn.”

How can Alan Schwarz – or anyone else, for that matter – deduce that a girl who doesn’t pay attention to her teachers, can’t pay attention.  This is an invalid inference, but is standard procedure in psychiatry.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“When a person of any age has a combination of these struggles—severely enough to impair his daily functioning—with no other plausible explanation for them, then he could very well have a serious, if still somewhat mysterious, condition that medicine has decided to call ADHD.”

This again is standard psychiatric patter:  the flaw is contained in the phrase “…with no other plausible explanation for them…”

Anyone who has had even the slightest experience working with children and families can attest to the fact that there are always alternative psychosocial explanations, if one is prepared to look for them.  The reality, however, is that within the practice of psychiatry, these alternate explanations are almost never sought.

And the reason they are not sought is because psychiatry has effectively closed the door on these kinds of deliberations.  Within the psychiatric framework, if a child (or adult) meets the arbitrary and inherently vague criteria listed in the DSM, then he has a brain illness called ADHD.  So the notion of even looking for psychosocial explanations not only doesn’t happen, but would be seen within psychiatry as ridiculous.

In real medicine, if a person has pneumonia, then that is the explanation of his persistent cough, nasty phlegm, weakness, etc.  The notion of a physician in such circumstances casting around for an alternative psychosocial explanation would be pointless.  Similarly, psychiatrists, firmly wedded as they are to their spurious illness perspective, don’t look for ordinary human explanations of the problems they encounter.  The difference, of course, between psychiatry and real medicine is that the latter’s diagnoses are indeed genuine explanations of the presenting problems.  In psychiatry, the “diagnoses” are merely labels that psychiatrists assign to the loose clusters of vague problems, and have no explanatory value whatsoever.

To demonstrate this, consider the two following hypothetical conversations.

Client’s parent:  Why is my son so distractible; why does he make so many mistakes in his schoolwork; why does he not listen to me when I speak to him; why is he so disorganized?
Psychiatrist:  Because he has an illness called attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Parent:  How do you know he has this illness?
Psychiatrist:  Because he is so distractible, makes so many mistakes in his schoolwork, doesn’t listen when you speak to him, and is so disorganized.

The critical point being that in psychiatry, the only evidence for the “illness” is the very behavior it purports to explain.  In other words:  your son is distracted because he is distracted.

Contrast this with a similar conversation in real medicine.

Patient:  Why am I so tired; why did my temperature spike; why am I spitting up such dreadful-looking phlegm?
Physician:  Because you have pneumonia.
Patient:  How do you know I have pneumonia?
Physician:  Because I can hear characteristic sounds through the stethoscope; your chest X-ray shows large quantities of fluid in both lungs; your sputum labs are positive for pneumococcus; and because everything you have told me is consistent with this diagnosis.  I can show you the X-rays if you like.

In this conversation, there is no circularity to the reasoning.  The pneumonia is the cause of the symptoms and constitutes a genuine and useful explanation.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“No one quite knows what causes it.”

Well actually, lots of people know what prompts children to “careen frenziedly around homes and busy streets”.  It is very simply that the discipline and self-control to refrain from this kind of activity has not been instilled at an appropriate age.  And it’s not “somewhat mysterious”.  It’s something that parents and grandparents have been dealing with probably since prehistoric times.  And the same goes for the other ADHD behaviors, misleadingly called “symptoms” in the DSM.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“The most commonly cited theory is that the hyperactivity, lack of focus, and impulsivity of classic ADHD result from some sort of dysfunction among chemicals and synapses in the brain.”

And just when we thought that the long-discredited chemical imbalance hoax was about to die!  Mr. Schwarz seems unaware that most leading psychiatrists are at the present time busy distancing themselves from this particular inanity, which was a mainstay of the psychiatric hoax for decades.  The very eminent and highly prestigious Tufts psychiatrist Ronald Pies, MD has even gone so far as to claim that psychiatry never promoted this hoax – an assertion that adds an entire new dimension to academia’s allegorical ivory tower.

Then Mr. Schwarz gets to the point:

“Unfortunately, as with many psychiatric illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, there is no definitive way to diagnose ADHD, no blood test or CAT scan that lets a doctor declare, ‘Okay, there it is’—all one can do is thoughtfully assess whether the severity of the behavior warrants a diagnosis.  (After all, we all are distractible or impulsive to varying degrees.)”

So despite the earlier vagueness, and despite Mr. Schwarz’s condemnation of what he describes as the over-diagnosis of ADHD, he is clearly a firm supporter of psychiatry’s contention that inattention, impulsivity, and general gadding about constitute an illness, if the behaviors cross some ill-defined threshold of severity.

This is another of psychiatry’s core fallacies, routinely promoted, not only in the successive editions of the DSM, but also in the defensive writings of psychiatry’s most prestigious promoters:  if a problem of thinking, feeling, or behaving crosses some arbitrary and vaguely defined thresholds, of severity, duration, or frequency, it becomes, through some alchemy known only to psychiatry, an illness.  The fact that no organic pathology has ever been identified is of no consequence.  If the problem is severe enough, then it’s an illness.

And the reason for this travesty is that within the looking-glass realm of psychiatric diagnosis, the cause of the problem is irrelevant.  This is the essential point of Robert Spitzer’s phenomenological approach as embodied in his DSM-III and in subsequent editions.  Why a person exhibits a problem is of no consequence.  If, in the case, say of “ADHD”, a child is inattentive, overly active and impulsive to the degree specified, albeit loosely, in the text, then he has the illness.  Whether he emits these behaviors because of lax parenting, inconsistent parenting, indulgent parenting, sibling rivalry, emotional abuse, or some other cause, makes no difference to the “diagnosis”.  In marked contrast to real medicine, where diagnosis and cause are virtually synonymous, in psychiatric diagnosis, the cause of the problem is immaterial.  If the child emits the behaviors in question, for any reason or cause, then he “has the illness”.  The “illness” in fact is nothing more than the presence of the vaguely-defined problem behaviors.  There is no requirement of neurological pathology, nor any evidence that the behaviors in question entail a neurological pathology.  DSM-III describes this approach as “…atheoretical with regard to etiology or pathophysiologic process except with regard to disorders for which this is well established and therefore included in the definition of the disorder.” (p xxiii), which is not the case with ADHD.

Far from acknowledging the obvious dishonesty of this “atheoretical” approach, DSM-III-R actually makes of it a virtue:

“The major justification for the generally atheoretical approach taken in DSM-III and DSM-III-R with regard to etiology is that the inclusion of etiologic theories would be an obstacle to use of the manual by clinicians of varying theoretical orientation since it would not be possible to present all reasonable etiologic theories for each disorder.” (p xxiii)

In reality, however, by ignoring etiological questions, the APA created the context in which “mental disorders” could be created at will on the basis of any human problem, and these “disorders” could be, and indeed are, morphed readily into “mental illnesses”, and, of course, as we see in Mr. Schwarz’s text, neuro-chemical imbalances.  Psychiatry has conveniently abandoned the notion that new diagnoses must be grounded on proven organic pathology.  Real doctors discover new illnesses through painstaking research and study – often taking years or even decades.  Psychiatry just makes them up and confirms their ontological validity by a committee vote.

For decades, psychiatry, confident in the knowledge that few people read the DSM,  simply lied with regards to the absence of organic pathology.  They told their clients, the public, and the media the blatant lie that the “chemical imbalances” existed and were the cause of the problems.  And – the biggest whopper of all – that the drugs corrected these non-existent imbalances.  They also routinely asserted that their “patients” would in many (or perhaps most) cases have to take the drugs for life.  And here again, Mr. Schwarz follows his psychiatric mentors, lock step.

“One thing is certain, though: There is no cure for ADHD.”

Again note the dogmatic arrogance.  Children who are inattentive, unruly, disobedient, and disruptive to the inherently vague degree specified in the DSM are incapable of acquiring an age-appropriate level of discipline!  How in the world could Mr. Schwarz know this?  As early as 1973, Huessy, Marshall and Gendron (Five hundred children followed from grade 2 to grade 5 for the prevalence of behavior disorder, Acta Paedopsychiatrica, 39(11), 301-309), showed that hyperactivity is not a stable pattern across time.  There is also an abundance of research going back to the 60’s that demonstrates clearly that children who are habitually inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive  even to an extreme degree, can be trained readily to behave in a more productive and less disruptive fashion.  In fact, prior to the mid-60’s, no such research was needed, because parents and teachers routinely and successfully trained children to control their movements, and to pay attention to their studies and to their chores.  Indeed, parents and teachers accepted that this was an intrinsic part of their responsibilities.  But in 1968, with the publication of DSM-II, psychiatry’s “top experts” decreed that these problem behaviors constituted an illness that required specialist attention.  This “illness” was labeled hyperkinetic reaction of childhood.  The description ran to four lines:

“308.0  Hyperkinetic reaction of childhood (or adolescence)*
This disorder is characterized by overactivity, restlessness, distractibility,
and short attention span, especially in young children; the
behavior usually diminishes in adolescence.” (p 50)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“…patients young and old are generally told that they will deal with their abnormal brains for the rest of their lives.”

Despite decades of lavishly funded and highly motivated research, and despite the numerous enthusiastic, and subsequently discredited, claims to the contrary, there is not one shred of evidence that people who have been given the ADHD label have any brain pathology whatsoever.  In fact, no edition of DSM, including the present DSM-5, has ever included any kind of brain pathology as a criterion item for this so-called illness.  DSM-5 does include ADHD in the Neurodevelopmental Disorders section, but all that this entails is that the onset of the problem was in the developmental period.  There is no requirement of neurological pathology.  “The neurodevelopmental disorders are a group of conditions with onset in the developmental period.  The disorders typically manifest early in development, often before the child enters grade school, and are characterized by developmental deficits that produce impairments of personal, social, academic, or occupational functioning.” (p 31)  Describing “ADHD” as a neurodevelopmental disorder strikes me as extraordinarily deceptive, in that most people would interpret the term “neurodevelopmental disorder” to entail some kind of neurological pathology.  What the APA has done here is convey the impression that there is a neurological pathology involved in “ADHD”, without having to produce evidence that this is the case.

The “Over-Diagnosis” of ADHD

Then Mr. Schwarz gets to the main theme of his book:  that ADHD is being grossly over-diagnosed, a theme incidentally that many psychiatrists have adopted in recent years in an attempt to rescue their crumbling profession from the criticisms of anti-psychiatry.  Watch how Mr. Schwarz does this:

“The American Psychiatric Association’s official description of ADHD, codified by the field’s top experts and used to guide doctors nationwide, says that the condition affects about 5 percent of children, primarily boys.  Most experts consider this a sensible benchmark.

But what’s happening in real-life America?

Fifteen percent of youngsters in the United States—three times the consensus estimate—are getting diagnosed with ADHD.  That’s millions of extra kids being told they have something wrong with their brains, with most of them then placed on serious medications.  The rate among boys nationwide is a stunning 20 percent.  In southern states such as Mississippi, South Carolina, and Arkansas, it’s 30 percent of all boys, almost one in three.  (Boys tend to be more hyperactive and impulsive than girls, whose ADHD can manifest itself more as an inability to concentrate.)  Some Louisiana counties are approaching half—half—of boys in third through fifth grades taking ADHD medications.

ADHD has become, by far, the most misdiagnosed condition in American medicine.

Yet, distressingly, few people in the thriving ADHD industrial complex acknowledge this reality.  Many are well-meaning—they see foundering children, either in their living rooms, classrooms, or waiting rooms, and believe the diagnosis and medication can improve their lives.  Others have motives more mixed:  Sometimes teachers prefer fewer troublesome students, parents want less clamorous homes, and doctors like the steady stream of easy business.  In the most nefarious corner stand the high-profile doctors and researchers bought off by pharmaceutical companies that have reaped billions of dollars from the unchecked and heedless march of ADHD.” (p 2-3)

But what Mr. Schwarz doesn’t mention, and perhaps isn’t even aware of, is that 69% of those “top experts” in psychiatry who “codified” the criteria for ADHD for DSM-5, and whose prevalence estimates Mr. Schwarz accepts implicitly, were also in the pay of pharma.

Nor does Mr. Schwarz seem to be aware that these same “top experts” who codified the criteria for ADHD have progressively liberalized the criteria for this so-called illness.  I have listed the DSM-IV (1994) relaxations in an earlier post.  The relaxations for DSM-5 (2013) were:

– the number of inattention “symptoms” required for adolescents and adults reduced from six to five (p 59)

–  the number of hyperactivity/impulsivity “symptoms” for adolescents and adults also reduced from six to five (p 60)

–  DSM-IV specified that some symptoms of ADHD had to have been present prior to age 7 (p 84).  DSM-5 relaxed this age-of-onset criterion to 12 (p 60).

It needs to be stressed that none of these relaxations were, or indeed could have been, based on empirical evidence or science.  There is no definition of ADHD other than that set down in successive revisions of the DSM.  The notion that the pharma-paid “top experts” compared ADHD-as-it-really-is with the description in the DSM, and found discrepancies, is simply not possible.  There is no ADHD-as-it-really-is.  There is no definition other than the one that the APA made up, and they can, and do, change it at will.  And, so far, the vast majority of the changes have been in the relaxation direction.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And this is the central point.  To bemoan the over-diagnosis of ADHD is an empty, futile exercise.  Given the facts that:

– the criteria are impossibly vague and subjective, and
– pharma makes more money the wider the net is cast, and
– psychiatry shares in these profits through a variety of avenues, and
– the drugs are addictive, and
– schools receive additional funding for every ADHD child on their rolls,

“diagnosis” creep is inevitable.  “Diagnosis” creep is not some accident or some pharma-produced sabotage that has befallen psychiatry despite its best efforts to remain pure and undefiled.  “Diagnosis” creep is an integral component of the monster that psychiatry has consciously and deliberately created.  “Diagnosis” creep is an integral part of psychiatry’s expansionist agenda, and was facilitated enormously by Robert Spitzer’s atheoretical, phenomenological approach in DSM-III (1980).  Though, incidentally, in the case of “ADHD” it was occurring prior to 1980.  Here’s a quote from Ullmann and Krasner’s A psychological Approach to Abnormal Behavior,  Second Edition, (1975):

“The treatment of children who have received the label of ‘hyperactive’ has been a source of further controversy in both psychology and pediatrics…Drug therapy, particularly stimulants such as amphetamines, have become the popular form of treatment including up to 10% of all students in some school districts…” (p 496)

And even then, forty-one years ago, there were clear dissenting voices:

“The label plus the drug treatment brings the child into the mentally ill or sick category and the social and self-labeling that follow…The use of drugs enhances the belief in the efficacy of outside agents rather than attribution of change to one’s own efforts (an important element in the development of self control in children and responsibility in teachers).” (Op. Cit. p 497)

If should also be noted that the relaxation of criteria is not confined to “ADHD”.  DSM-5 also relaxed the APA’s definition of a mental disorder, effectively expanding the net for all their so-called diagnoses.

The definition of a mental disorder in DSM-IV (1994) was:

“… a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress (e.g., a painful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability or an important loss of freedom.  In addition, this syndrome or pattern must not be merely an expectable and culturally sanctioned response to a particular event, for example, the death of a loved one.  Whatever its original cause, it must currently be considered a manifestation of a behavioral, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the individual.  Neither deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict is a symptom of a dysfunction in the individual, as descried above.” (p xxi-xxii)

This definition can, I think, be accurately paraphrased as:  any significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving.  And indeed, it is extremely difficult to think of a significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving that is not listed within DSM.

The definition of a mental disorder in DSM-5 (2013) is similar to that quoted above, but contains additional verbiage, and one enormous relaxation of the definition.  To enable readers to judge this for themselves, here’s the DSM-5 definition:

“A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning.  Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress or disability in social, occupational, or other important activities.  An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder.  Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflicts results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.” (p 20) [Emphasis added]

The word usually on the fourth line expands the potential range of psychiatric “diagnosis” enormously.  One might even say that it becomes so wide as to embrace the entire population.  The point being that in DSM-IV, the problems had to reach a certain level of significance or severity.  But in DSM-5, that requirement was effectively dropped.  Admittedly, both phrases are vague, but DSM-IV’s requirement that distress or disability be present, is obviously a more stringent standard than DSM-5’s assertion that distress or disability is usually present.  In effect, the severity threshold has been abandoned, and there is a clear invitation to practitioners to assign “diagnoses” to individuals with increasingly milder presentations.  And it needs to be stressed that this change was not based on any kind of scientific information or discovery.  This change was simply a decision by the APA to expand the prevalence of their so-called illnesses to virtually everyone on the planet.  It also needs to be stressed that this is not an empty issue, but has already been implemented in the case of “ADHD”.  Compare the severity criterion for ADHD in DSM-IV with that in DSM-5:

“D.  There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic or occupational functioning.” (p 84) [Emphasis added]

“D.  There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with , or reduce the quality of, social, academic, or occupational functioning.” (p 60)

Here again, both statements are vague, but significant impairment in… is obviously a tighter standard than interfering with, or reducing the quality of….

Given all of these considerations, it’s extremely difficult to avoid the conclusion that the APA not only supports the wide expansion of this so-called diagnosis, but has actively pursued and facilitated this expansion for decades.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


Mr. Schwarz has done a good job of exposing pharma’s tactics and strategies.  Although much of this story is well-known and has been told before, he does present the scam in a detailed and readable form.  He also addresses the problem of parents pushing to get their children “diagnosed” and on drugs, and the undeniable fact that people do become addicted to these products.  He also exposes the link between CHADD and pharma.

Perhaps now he can take a look at the even bigger scam:  psychiatry’s spurious and destructive medicalization of literally every problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving, including childhood inattention, impulsivity, and general lack of discipline.

Pharma does indeed push their products using very questionable methods.  But they couldn’t sell a single prescription for methylphenidate or for any other psychiatric drug without psychiatry’s bogus and self-serving “diagnoses”.  And they couldn’t have increased their sales to the extent that they did, without the commensurate relaxation of the “diagnostic” criteria, that psychiatry knowingly and willingly provided.  Bemoaning the use of hurriedly-completed facile checklists is empty talk, unless one is also willing to turn one’s criticism against the DSM’s equally facile “symptom lists”, of which the checklists are simply mirrors.

Psychiatry is nothing more than legalized drug-pushing.  There is not one shred of intellectual or scientific validity to their so-called taxonomy.  They invent these so-called illnesses to expand their turf, and then liberalize the criteria to expand it further.

Under the guise of medical care, they routinely rob people of their sense of competence, their dignity, and in many cases, their lives.  They have radically undermined the concept of success-through-disciplined-effort, and have ensnared millions of people worldwide in their ever-expanding web of drug-induced dependency and self-doubt.  They are not the thoughtful and expert codifiers of genuine illnesses, as Mr. Schwarz contends.  Rather, they are drug-pushing charlatans and hoaxsters who have systematically and deliberately deceived their clients and the general public to enhance their own prestige and their incomes.

If there was ever a subject that called for thorough investigative journalism, psychiatry is it.

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    • Jordan, are you saying that you were cured of ADHD, or do you believe as I do that there is no such thing as ADHD?

      So then did neurofeedback perhaps cure you of the effects of emotional child abuse? Did it cure you, or was it just another way to shift the focus on to the survivor and away from the perpetrators?


        • Fear behind? Don’t even know what that would mean.

          But I do know that for a parent to start taking a child to doctors to try and fabricate an illness is what used to be called Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy. Today they just call it Medical Child Abuse.

          Trying to make a child believe that they have something wrong with them is most certainly emotional child abuse.

          As far as it being ADHD, that would be impossible because ADHD does not exist.


  1. I taught a targeted riding program to these “ADD & ADHD” kids for 35 years; BEFORE the term was coined to sell drugs. My initial clientele brought to me by a dear friend was many of the top shrink’s kids in Scottsdale ,AZ. Even back in 1972 all but one of these kids was medicated; mainly because they were acting out. When the parents saw me having some success ; word got out.
    Later by comparing hundreds of kids & their parents disclosure of medical issues & professions I discovered that nearly all of them were likely poisoned, either by massive vaccinations [in the 80s forward] or mouths full of mercury amalgams or mothers who were environmentally exposed [ like working as a hygienist while pregnant; breathing Hg vapor all day]. This was especially striking when the 2nd child would be normal because mom had to quit her job to care for the “crazy one”. There were also several women who had babies after adopting because they had their amalgams removed & one who had two normal girls & then after having massive amalgams placed got pregnant & had a boy with severe learning disability & very pronounced cleft palate [ #1 cranial facial disorder from Hg poisoning]
    Metal poisoning causes many chemical imbalances including mineral derangement, enzyme blockage & receptor confusion. This is a testable condition but difficult to get done. It continues to horrify me that there is rarely even preliminary blood work [liver,kidney,thyroid etc] done on these kids before they get drugged & labelled.
    Since I was not a doctor [though I have now studied toxicology for 26 years ] the parents only cared about results not my opinions. My most interesting case was the girl who would jump out of the car & run into traffic. Her heavy schedule of meds at age 9 had caused her to stop growing, sleeping & eating, but not helped her attention span. She loved animals though. After convincing them to cut most of the meds [at least before lessons]; in one year she was competing in 3Day events [jumping ,endurance & dressage] on her own pony & placing in the ribbons. Why? Because of two things. The instinct to survive MAKES them pay attention [ we start on a safe lunge line in round pen] and second I learned that most of these kids learn by touch/feel NOT verbal or visual. Very taxing for the instructor but also very rewarding if you have the patience & guts to do it. I only wish they all would have had the knowledge to chelate the toxins out to avoid the problem in the first place.

    • You’re probably right about your kids having heavy metal poisoning. If they were poor, they’d be exposed to lead instead of the dental mercury. They wouldn’t see any ponies, but they’d be just as hyperactive and get a lot of speed as their presumed treatment.

    • My other problem with the ADD & ADHD paradigm is that not only are eliminative tests NOT being done to rule out other disorders or causes, but a large portion of these drugs are being prescribed at the behest of parents by general practitioners for months on end with no follow up blood work to check for damage which even the drug company warns should be done.
      What if they can’t pay attention because their parents are fighting all night & they can’t sleep? What if no one sees that they get proper nutrition? What if they really have PTSD or suppressed anger issues from abuse? What if they are low thyroid or have mineral derangement or low blood sugar? Non of the kids I know on these meds have been tested & when requested the docs often refuse stating it is not necessary or insurance won’t pay; despite the fact that most of these head meds were never approved for kids in the first place & all state on the product package insert that they have only been tested for periods of 6 – 8 weeks. Yet doctors prescribe them for years keeping patients in the system until the side effects require more drugs & eventually they have a worse “mental disorder” or at the very least CAN’T stop taking the drugs without major withdrawals.
      A proper history of environmental exposures by a toxicologist usually reveals poisoning from industry ,farming,or the pharmaceutical community. This can be reversed & should be tried BEFORE a label & meds are rolled out. Recent MRI studies of young children put on ADHD meds showed a 15 % smaller brain size than unmedicated children. That alone should give parents pause.

  2. Excellent writing as always.

    if a problem of thinking, feeling, or behaving crosses some arbitrary and vaguely defined thresholds, of severity, duration, or frequency, it becomes, through some alchemy known only to psychiatry, an illness.

    This is something most people can understand if properly explained. My veterinarian, when the topic was broached, volunteered that psychiatry takes the very wide parameters of human behavior and shrinks them down to a very narrow size, then labels anyone who falls outside these artificial boundaries. I would suggest in addition that the definition of “normal” behavior is predicated on its value to the pursuit of capitalist expansion.

  3. What an excellent article about another hoax by Big Pharma and the psychiatric community to sell more drugs. The DSM-IV and 5 definitiions of mental illness are so vague that anyone can be “mentally ill” at any moment. Inteesting that both editions include this phrase: “An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder.” Expectable by whom? And just because a “culture” approves of a response, that doesn’t make it healthy or right. That passage provides some potent weapons for medicalizing – and disempowering – anyone who doesn’t behave in expectable or culturally approved ways.

  4. ADHD is bunk, but labeled and drugged children often grow into labeled and drugged adults. (Outcomes, I read, are notoriously negative.)

    “One thing is certain, though: There is no cure for ADHD.”
    ~Alan Schwarz

    “An adult who lacks the concentration to complete a health-insurance form accurately will fail the demands of modern life.”
    ~Alan Schwarz

    What kind of legitimate investigative reporter accepts without question so much expert OPINION as fact?

    What’s new in the DSM? Adult ADHD for one thing.

    Given an epidemic of adolescent ADHD, I would expect an epidemic of adult ADHD could be plausible before long.

    Wow! Invest in a disorder for childhood, and your children grow up, creating a future market for treatment (i.e.. psychiatrists and drug companies). How convenient is that?

    Great post, by the way.

      • Not really, Nomadic. “Mental health” work is in large measure paper-work because what we’re dealing with here is a bureaucracy. I don’t think more paper-work for people in the field is an improvement at all. I think if you’re going to arrest doctors, you should do so for harming patients, and not for neglecting to fill out forms. Not unless, of course, such neglect results in injury. Adding to “mental health records” being used for “surveillance and monitoring” purposes is problematic in itself, and I am not one to encourage it. Psychiatry is vulnerable for not being real medicine, however more paper-work is not going to make the field any more valid or less valid than it is at present.

        • Frank, the reason we have mandatory reporting laws is to prevent any type of doctors or others who work with children from becoming accomplice child abusers. This is the original intent. I would say that as it stands now, going by the letter of the law, a doctor who sees a child who is clearly displaying signs of extreme emotional abuse, but does not report, is committing a felony. And this applies whether they treat the child or not.

          I know someone with our county hospital and she teaches the class on mandatory reporting. She says, “You report *EVERYTHING*”, that is they err on the side of compliance. And you don’t know, your small complaint could be the one which, added onto others, prompts action.

          Thing is, the private practice doctors seem to take a much lighter attitude towards reporting. Their business model requires that the parents always be held blameless. And often they make this interpretation clear in their promotionals. Otherwise they would get no patients.

          The middle-class family has always revolved around hiring doctors. And so doctors seem to be involved in a majority of middle-class child abuse cases.

          Our federal law since 1974 was intended to prevent this. But here we have this ADHD hoax, and it seems to be the creation of the FixMyKid doctors.

          One problem is that there is vagueness in the mandatory reporting laws. And as it stands today, the authorities already get more complaints of suspected child abuse than they can do anything at all with.

          But the intent of the law is that doctors cannot become accomplice child abusers, and that if they do they are committing a felony.

          Excellent Book:

          You see my point, that if the doctors actually had to comply with the law, then this industry would vanish, as would all of its hoax ailments and the drugging of children.


          • There was a time when children weren’t diagnosed and drugged the way they are today. I think we should return to such a time. Children are innocent as a rule. Psych-diagnosis and drugging is just, in the main, sins of the parents being visited on the child. Ritalin is not a good baby sitter, nor is it a good educator. It’s bad enough that doctors find excuses to drug adults, they should not be drugging children. Psych-drugs are not medicinal. There is little difference, to my way of thinking, between giving children drugs and giving them substances that you can’t legally imbibe under the age of eighteen. It should be illegal for people to give the same drugs that doctors are handing out like candy to children. I don’t think it is a matter of filing out forms and making reports. I think it is more a matter of unacknowledged child abuse.

          • To further clarify, the problem isn’t non-compliance with the law. The problem is rather that mental health law itself is a way around what otherwise is the law.

            Children can be taken away from their parents because they don’t do the state’s bidding, that is, drug their children. The psychiatrist is not the problem here for filling out a prescription pad. The state is the problem for taking control away from parents, and for not permitting safe options. Psychiatric opinion is required, but it would not matter if it didn’t have legal sanction. The psychiatrist is entirely within the law, and that’s what the problem is, often, just like the science, it’s bad law.

            Protecting a person from psychiatry now is a matter of protecting a person from the state because the psychiatrist is there to serve what are seen as the interests of the state, NOT the interests of the person or persons being treated. If the patient’s interests were foremost, refusing treatment would not be an issue.

    • You should take some time to read some of the many other articles written by Dr. Hickey, to comprehend his rational perspective. His concepts of real illnesses do agree with mine, that none of the current DSM disorders have any scientific validity. And my experience is based upon my own experience of the ADRs of the psychiatric drugs, and seeing the massive drugging of children. This greed inspired insanity needs to stop.

    • I think he does answer that question, if indirectly, with his pneumonia example. He is saying that an identifiable disease is something where the cause is known or at least knowable, that some kind of specific test will indicate the presence of said cause, and that the cause is distinguishable from a recitation of symptoms. His critique of ADHD, and I think it is quite valid, is that the symptoms define the “disease,” hence, “He has ADHD because he’s hyperactive and impulsive and lacks focus,” when the very definition of the disorder is “he’s hyperactive and impulsive and lacks focus!” We could just as easily say that someone is picking his nose because he has nose-picking disorder, or that his knee is swollen because he has swollen-knee disorder. The diagnosis is neither explanatory, nor specific, and doesn’t distinguish for the likelihood that these same “symptoms” could be caused by a wide range of different factors.

      ADHD is at best a syndrome, a set of “symptoms” that tend to occur together and are troubling, but for which no known cause has been determined (as the author of the original article clearly states himself). If the definition of a disease is “anything that is uncomfortable or difficult to deal with,” perhaps it would qualify, but the purpose of medical treatment is supposed to be to differentiate between causes rather than just treat symptoms.

      My best example is a rash. Any rash could be “treated” with calomine lotion or with corticosteroids, but you’d REALLY want to know if you have poison ivy, prickly heat, or syphilis. Syphilis is a disease. A rash is a condition or syndrome that may or may not be caused by a disease state. ADHD is much more like the rash. Except that in some cases, the behavior is an entirely normal reaction to abnormal circumstances. So treating the symptoms is both cowardly and ineffective, and we really should be looking for the cause, be it poor diet, lack of discipline in the home, boredom, or an overly rigid school environment, or whatever. If there ARE odd cases of purely physically determined “ADHD”, we should be trying to distinguish them from the various other causes, rather than lumping together everyone who acts a certain way into a huge, heterogeneous group and trying to suppress the “mysterious” (again from the original article) manifestations with a drug “treatment” for a “disease” when we haven’t the vaguest comprehension of what we are “treating,” let alone what the long-term impact of “treatment” might be.

      — Steve

      • But there are plenty of serious medical diseases with unknown etiology. Surely having unknown causation isn’t enough to disqualify an illness. Or do you mean something like an unknown pathogenesis? Even in that cases, there are diseases that no one disputes for which the pathogenesis is poorly understood. There has to be something more to the criteria by which we distinguish disease from non-disease.

        Being a ‘normal reaction to abnormal circumstances’ also isn’t enough. If you get stabbed and start bleeding, that’s a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances. Doesn’t mean you couldn’t benefit from medical treatment.

        • Good point, also normal and abnormal are subjective unless graded according to the norms of a particular milieu.

          However, if one accepts the rules of language and the traditional definition of disease, intangible abstractions such as the “mind” cannot have physical attributes, be they colors, textures or diseases.

          • But what do you mean by the “traditional definition of disease”? The old classical/medieval view of humoral balance? There are quite a few modern definitions of disease, most of which are not grounded in physiology (which was particularly important because for a long time we did not understand the etiology or pathogenesis of most diseases).

            There are “diseases” in the modern sense that don’t have physical symptoms, e.g., “high cholesterol” or “high blood pressure,” which are really just risk syndromes for heart disease (among others). There are pain disorders that can only be measured by the subjective pain experiences of the patient, with no biological test. My point is that there is no easy definition of disease that would exclude mental illnesses but include everything else we generally include in the category of illness.

            Nor does it seem to me to be a good idea to exclude things for which people are actively seeking help. If a patient comes to me with crippling high anxiety, should I turn them away because anxiety isn’t a problem some deem worth solving?

          • DrStrait, please don’t forget a big flaw with the psychiatric industry is they are force treating people, not just treating people who come to them for help. This should be made illegal. And there is an enormous problem with the psychiatric industry misdiagnosing the known adverse and withdrawal effects of their drugs, as the “serious mental illnesses.”

          • A disease is a defect in a bodily process or body tissue. Some dictionaries say “body or mind” but that’s because the common language has been permeated by psychiatric concepts.

            Who says anxiety isn’t a problem worth solving (or a warning of such a problem)? It’s not a medical problem, that’s the issue here.

          • @SomeoneElse – Certainly I would agree that any forced treatment is problematic, whether in psychiatry or any other field of medicine. Here I’m exclusively talking about dealing with help-seeking adults. I think there is a good critique to be made of pediatric psychiatry, as well as other coercive uses of psychiatry with adults — but you can take the rhetoric too far and start undermining the efforts of help-seeking adults to gain relief.

          • @oldhead – Why isn’t anxiety a medical problem? Is chronic pain a medical problem? Those are mediated similarly in the central nervous system. There is no such thing as a mind that exists independently from the body — everything that happens in the mind happens in the brain. The mind is *epiphenomenal* of the brain. And beyond that, as I’ve argued, there are institutional problems with saying that anxiety isn’t a medical problem: if so, people can no longer be reimbursed by their health insurance. To take away treatment from patients with panic disorder, or to suddenly make it too expensive to receive treatment, is astonishingly cruel.

          • There is no such thing as a mind that exists independently from the body

            This is a quite unproven assumption and in my view an invalid one which highlights the subjective and philosophical nature of this realm of inquiry.

            everything that happens in the mind happens in the brain

            The brain may mediate the activity of the mind in a material, 3 or 4 dimensional construct but that doesn’t mean the mind isn’t active and manifesting in other spheres imperceptible to the physical senses. Nor does it necessarily mean that this activity originates in the physical brain, or ceases when the physical body succumbs to entropy.

            However none of the above is essential to an understanding of how language is manipulated by psychiatry to equate behavior with disease.

          • You think it is unproven that the mind is the product of activity originating in the physical brain? That sounds like some kind of mysticism; I’m coming at this as a scientist, so we might not be speaking the same language.

          • He is absolutely correct. There is no proof that the mind is the product of activity originating in the physical brain. It is a philosophical assumption that many “modern” people make, and there is a tendency to dismiss anyone who doesn’t automatically agree as “superstitious” or “mystical” as you have. However, I defy you to show us any specific proof of that postulate. I know you can’t, because there is no way to prove what “mind” really is. What you’re saying is that you believe there IS no possibility of non-material existence, therefore the mind must originate in material reality. But there are many, many cultures and individuals who would disagree with you, and you have nothing less mystical than their assumptions to fight them with. You believe that because you believe it – what other proof can you provide other than “It has to be because it can’t be anything else?”

        • Which leads me to believe that rather than psychiatric disorders, they should be referred to for the most part as “psychic injuries.”

          I do agree that some form of “treatment” can be proposed for things that aren’t understood (though bleeding is not a good example, as we know VERY clearly why a person is bleeding and what we can do to help), however, treating SYMPTOMS is not the same as treating a DISEASE. For instance, a person whose knee is swollen for no reason we know of might benefit from pain killers or antiinflammatories or some kind of drainage to reduce the pressure. But we would be extremely remiss to call a swollen knee a DISEASE and stop looking for a cause just because the antiinflammatory reduces the swelling. Psychiatric diagnoses are very much like saying someone has a “swollen knee.” You can describe what’s happening and try to reduce the “symptoms,” but only an idiot would assume that all swollen knees are caused by the same thing or needed the same treatment. Hence, a swollen knee is NOT a disease, even if it is amenable to symptomatic treatment.

          You also have not addressed my rash analogy. Is a RASH a DISEASE? Or is it a condition that could be caused by many things, some disease states and some not? No one’s saying you shouldn’t help a person in distress, but it is presumptuous in the extreme to tell people they “have bipolar disorder” when bipolar disorder is simply a description of how they are acting. If that’s an OK way to define a disease, what is to stop us from diagnosing people with “nose-picking disorder” or “excessive digital-nasal insertion disorder” if you want something more erudite? After all, nose-picking is something that disturbs social functioning and leads to bullying and exclusion. Why not diagnose and “treat” anything that people find annoying?

          Thanks for the civil exchange!

          • @Oldhead — “high cholesterol” isn’t a defect in a bodily process. It is perfectly normal, and nothing is defective. But we treat it because it is a risk syndrome for various cardiovascular disorders.

            One could argue that panic disorder and other cases of crippling anxiety are ‘defects’ in the nervous system’s anxiety response, perhaps due to upregulated glutamate receptors or downregulated GABA receptors. If you come up with a definition of ‘defective’ that excludes this, you will be excluding quite a few disorders treated by other fields of medicine that I’m not sure you want to exclude.

            In general, I’m very suspicious of this Cartesian dualism that says that body and mind are utterly distinct. We know that the mind is epiphenominal of the brain, and that it is ultimately grounded in materiality.

            Then there are institutional problems. If you say anxiety disorders are a problem, but not a *medical* problem, then all those people who seek help will not be able to obtain insurance reimbursement for therapy and/or anxiolytic medication. I really don’t think we should be making it more difficult for help-seeking individuals to obtain help.

            @Steve — Yes, we know why bleeding occurs. But the point is that bleeding is a “normal reaction” to being punctured. What makes it a medical problem then, if you’ve defined medical problems as exclusively abnormality? Certainly, we should address the cause (by removing sharp objects that pose such a danger), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also treat the effect (the bleeding). Similarly, if there is a help-seeking patient with crippling anxiety, and there is an identifiable external cause, we should address that, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also consider anxiolytic treatment. We also understand the neurobiological pathogenesis of anxiety fairly well, so we can explain what is happening subjectively in terms of measurable physiological processes. This is less true of some other mental disorders, of course, but I picked anxiety since people are challenging the entire category.

            A rash is a symptom. Ever since Thomas Sydenham, we have defined discrete disease entities as syndromes that consist of constellations of clinical signs and symptoms that co-occur. But some “rashes” are themselves a disease, or at least are the central pathological element to a disease, e.g., perioral dermatitis. Other times, the rash is a reaction to an offending agent like poison ivy, to use your example. And in that case, the rash is a “normal reaction to abnormal circumstances” — and yet you surely would agree that it is perfectly appropriate to treat someone afflicted with a rash from contact with poison ivy. In fact, it is often appropriate to treat the symptoms even when we either don’t know the causes or can’t do anything about the causes. For example, if someone has a cold, decongestants are perfectly appropriate even though they do nothing about the underlying virus. Similarly, if I have a help-seeking patient with severe ADHD, that is seriously interfering with their ability to function at work or with their spouse or some other significant aspect of their life, I think it is perfectly appropriate to prescribe a psychostimulant even though I know it doesn’t treat the underlying cause (which is not well understood). The idea that physicians should turn away those seeking this kind of help is, from my point of view, shocking and abhorrent.

          • Also, regarding your last question, there’s nothing to stop us from defining any problem as a disease — but we only do so when it is useful. Given the realities of insurance reimbursement, it is often useful to define something as a medical problem. Even when insurance isn’t on the table, it can be useful when there is medication that helps with a problem because of the institutional logics of the state’s regulatory apparatus. For example, male pattern baldness used to be thought of as a cosmetic problem. But now that we have medication that works for it, we call it alopecia and treat it medically. We do so entirely because it is useful in terms of providing aid to help-seeking individuals. Generally, the threshold is that the issue causes significant distress and/or significantly interferes with basic functioning.

          • In general, I’m very suspicious of this Cartesian dualism that says that body and mind are utterly distinct. We know that the mind is epiphenominal of the brain, and that it is ultimately grounded in materiality.

            Again, this is more of a spiritual/religious declaration than anything. Or maybe anti-spiritual.

            Maybe you would be more comfortable with E.F. Torrey’s description of the mind as a “function” of the brain; nonetheless it remains an abstraction which cannot have material qualities such as color, texture or disease.

          • I think your argument is rational, and I don’t object to defining “disease” in that way. What I object to is psychiatrists and other doctors or professionals telling people that they are depressed “because they have a chemical imbalance” rather than admitting they have no idea exactly what is happening biologically or psychologically and they are treating symptoms. It’s obviously idiocy to tell someone with a rash that they have “irritated skin disorder” that is caused by an “overactivity of the immune system” and that suppressing the immune system response is the only answer. And I would still submit that calling “anxiety” a mental disorder leaves the door open to “nose-picking disorder” or “ball scratching disorder.” Where is the line in your view? How insipid and subjective and culturally bound does a condition need to be before the definition of a disease becomes absurd?

          • No psychiatrist should be using the phrase “chemical imbalance.” It is unfortunate that such language made it into pharmaceutical marketing copy. Certainly no psychiatrist actually thinks in those terms, even if they use such language with lay folks in a misguided attempt to convey the neurobiological basis of affective disorders. That said, it is true that the hippocampus loses mass during episodes of severe depression or mania, and it is also true that effective antidepressant treatment (whether medication, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, cognitive therapy, light therapy, excercise, etc.) produces neurogenesis in the hippocampus through BDNF which produces measurable increases in mass. Obviously we can’t talk about causation, but this is a well established correlation. The idea that neurotransmitters are out of “balance” is a throwback to medieval medicine…

          • I don’t actually see anything wrong with what you’ve described re the skin disorder — that’s exactly what happens and how we deal with it. The line is really anything that interferes with functioning or well being that can be helped in some cases by physiological intervention. I’m not naive about the dangers of medicalization — but given the institutions we have, it is useful to treat many problems like this. The trick is to have a physician who is willing to pursue a variety of treatment modalities and who has a strong sense of discretion, and also the influence of pharmaceutical companies needs to be confronted. But, at the end of the day, if your vision for how the world should work doesn’t have a practical way for a patient with panic disorder who happens to really need anxiolytic medication to get that medication (and for it to be reimbursed), I simply can’t get on board. There are tens of thousands of help-seeking patients who are truly suffering in ways that would shock most people. Anything that interferes with their ability to obtain the help they seek is, in my view, cruel.

          • Certainly no psychiatrist actually thinks in those terms, even if they use such language with lay folks in a misguided attempt to convey the neurobiological basis of affective disorders.

            Or, in layman’s terms, “lie”?

          • No physical basis, no disease (i.e. no pathology). Even a skin rash has a physical basis. You are in the business of telling people that there’s something wrong with them. I figure it’s time to get into the business of telling them that there’s something right with them. To sell “treatment”, you must first sell “disease”. I would remind you, Dr. Strait, that many people are still “treated” against their will and wishes. It is not MY job to convince them that they NEED “treatment”. I’d rather agree with them when they say they don’t need such “treatment”, and especially when it is, to all intents and purposes, maltreatment.

          • SO you really do think that it’s OK to say someone has a “nose-picking disorder” if nose picking is getting in the way of their social success???? That’s a very weird way of defining “disease.” Seems to me like you are perhaps invested in defending the current paradigm rather than really listening to how/why people find this medicalization of normal behavior disturbing and destructive.

          • I think that if someone comes to me and asks for help with a problem that is making their life a nightmare, I should try to help them rather than turn them away because some people debate whether or not the Platonic Ideals of ‘illness’ and ‘disease’ are inclusive of their problem. I think instead of throwing up artificial barriers to help seeking patients getting help, we should be trying to help people who ask for it.

            And, respectfully, I think it is silly to assert that mental illness has no biological correlate. I don’t know how you can be so certain of that, or why, even if true, that would be a good reason to refuse to help someone improve themselves or eliminate some problem in their life.

          • You seem to be suggesting that the only way to help someone with a problem is to diagnose them with a disease. I have helped hundreds, probably thousands of people professionally over many years without feeling the need to diagnose a single one of them. The only purpose psychiatric diagnosis served for me is to get insurance to pay for people to get certain kinds of help, and whenever I did so, I clearly explained to the person that the diagnosis was simply a description of what is going on with the purpose of getting insurance reimbursement, but that their conception of the problem is the only thing I was really concerned with.

            Psychiatric diagnosis, in my experience, tends to invalidate people’s own experience and takes away their ability to define their own problem and potential solutions, and is therefore extremely disempowering. It puts people in the position of having some “expert” tell them what’s wrong with them and what they have to do. This is particularly egregious when the “expert” has no real clue what is going on.

            As for “biological correlates,” well gosh, we all inhabit bodies and there are biological correlates for everything we do. So what? Are you intending to say that anger is “caused” by “excessive adrenaline and other neurotransmitters?” Or is it caused by someone deciding that something pisses them off and the body responds to their thought by preparing to fight?

            As for not diagnosing someone with “Nose-picking disorder” being somehow a barrier to helping him/her with that problem, you have now descended into the extremes of absurdity. I am thinking you are being perhaps intentionally obtuse in order to be “right” about your point. Perhaps you are suffering from “Irrational Need to Win an Argument Disorder.” It seems to be interfering with your ability to hear others’ viewpoints. Do you think there are biological correlates for your condition? Perhaps I can offer some kind of treatment?

            I hope you get my gentle jest above. Not meaning to be insulting, just to point out the absurdity of taking any condition you consider undesirable and labeling it as a disease. At a certain point, it reduces to total absurdity.

            — Steve

      • Yes, very familiar. I think he makes some very important arguments about coercion and also is an important voice concerning forensic applications of psychiatry. But I think he vastly overstates his case, and his tendency toward polemic interferes with his ability to deal with arguments in a scholarly way sometimes.

    • It is a good and difficult question.

      My five cents: The term ‘Illness’ is nothing in itself but becomes meaningful through the context and functional intent of its use. Sometimes illness is used to alleviate someone of (perhaps perceived) painful responsibility, sometimes it is used to ascertain power by professionals. Sometimes it is used carefully in order to indicate functional problems, sometimes it is used to market drugs or therapy and sometimes it is used to indicate the need to allocate resources to an individual. Sometimes it is used to (illusory or not) suggest that we understand the nature of some problem or other. Sometimes it is used to point out the inexplicable or alien.

      Illness is just a name – and what’s in a name, really? By any other context, it could mean something completely different.

    • DrStrait,

      I’ve discussed this issue in many previous posts on my website (, including these two:

      The essential feature of illness is that there has to be biological pathology. Problems that do not stem from structural or functional biological pathology might be serious problems, but they are not illnesses.

      • How do you define “pathology”? Surely everything that happens in the mind is mediated by the brain. So whatever it is that someone is feeling or experiencing or doing tracks with something happening biologically. So the key issue is what biological phenomena do you consider to be ‘pathological.’ Do you use some kind of medieval humoral ‘too much/not enough’ of x criterion? Perhaps you are trying to compare the functioning of an organ to some idealized ‘normal’? Or perhaps you are looking for anatomical lesions of some kind? That would exclude quite a few legitimate medical disorders.

        • Hi DrStrait,
          Your reasoning about the connection between brain and mind is not a proven fact. Epiphenomenalism, which states that the material organization of the brain causes experience, is a philosophical position not based on empirical science per se. There are alternatives to epiphenomenalism which nevertheless also retains a materialistic worldview. The area of systems theory holds several alternatives. For example work in the line of Gregory Bateson points to the interactional characteristics of complex systems – such as brain, body, culture, family, dyadic constellations etc. – and holds, that mind is immanent not in the brain per se but in the-organism-in-the-world. This of course is a challenging way of thinking because it involves not only the complexity of the brain but also of psychological, social and cultural occurrences and their patterns of interaction – and further more it entails a circular view of causality in contrast to the more simple linear view usually assumed.

          If you see your search for a clear definition of brain illness or brain pathology in this light, it might lead you to question how you delimit the object in the first place. I think few will disagree that psychiatry holds a special position compared to the different branches of medicine in that its way of delimiting ‘illness’ to a very high degree is a cultural process. But if the systemic, or bio-psycho-social, nature of psychiatry is denied in favor of a solely biomedical self-presentation then terms such as ‘brain disease’ risks serving an effort to leverage power – often by insinuating a deeper understanding than actually exists – rather than pursuing genuine understanding of the complexity involved.

          I understand from your comments that you are a physician, and that you find it abhorring not to prescribe stimulants to a person presenting him- or herself to you with symptoms similar to that described under the ADHD-diagnosis because not doing this would be to deny this person help. But there are other ways of helping – for example based on learning theories or by addressing the milieu – that may be more appropriate (either alone or in conjunction) but are often eclipsed by pharmacological solutions.

        • Epiphenomenalism, which states that the material organization of the brain causes experience, is a philosophical position not based on empirical science per se.

          Exactly. As for the notion of “science vs. mysticism,” science generally offers proof of its conclusions. So, in lieu of such, Dr. S must be employing his own form of mysticism (in addition to using metaphor and literalism interchangeably).

        • What is the difference between physics and metaphysics? One difference is that physics is a matter of measure and mathematics. Infinity is metaphysics. Thomas Szasz used Rudolf Virchow’s definition of “disease” as a “lesion in an organ”. Clearly, psychiatric disorders are not “lesions in organs”. Perhaps, if one were to take a break from one’s infinite growing one could learn to stop growing. More probably, growing ceases whether one wishes for it or not. Imaginary “healing” is quite interesting. Invariably one doesn’t necessarily arrive at “healed” through it.

  5. Medicated kids are growing up to be addicted adults, just go to any treatment center or 12 step alcohol addiction meetings start a conversation about psychiatry to open the door then ask the young people if they were drugged in school for ADHD , the majority say yes.

    Psychiatry inadvertently taught a whole generation the thing to do is to take drugs to regulate how you feel and since so many were started at a young age that’s all they know how to do to regulate feelings.

    Some day in the future people are going to look back at today’s child drugging and say how stupid that was the same way we look back at how stupid it was to put toothpaste in lead tubes.

  6. Philip, some have posted that once they meet the parents, why the child might be behaving strangely becomes obvious.

    Do you think these alleged cases of ADHD ( bogus illness ) are simply cases of familial conflict, and going so far that we could say that it constitutes emotional abuse?

    And so do you agree with me that following both the letter and intent of the Child Abuse and Neglect Act that doctors and therapists are required to report such cases, whether they treat them or not, and that failure to do so constitutes a felony?

    Do you also agree that the intent of mandatory reporting was to stop doctors from continuing to be complicit in child abuse?

    Do you agree that simply enforcing mandatory reporting would put an end to this ADHD Hoax, and then lot of similar things as well?


    • Nomadic,

      In my experience, the parents of “ADHD” children are a heterogeneous group. Some, frankly don’t care about their children. They see them as burdensome, and afford little or no attention to them other than screaming at them when they misbehave.

      Others are more or less benignly interested in the children, but more interested in other things. So parenting is neglected.

      Others are passionately interested in their children’s welfare, but utterly clueless as to how to train them.

      And so on. These are just general categories. In reality, each family is unique, and has to be regarded as such.

      In some cases, the neglect of training responsibilities is so glaring that mandatory reporting might be appropriate. In other cases, a referral to a parenting training program would be great, except there aren’t many of these.

  7. Does anyone have information or experience regarding a suicide that could be related to ADHD? My nephew committed suicide last April. To the best of my knowledge, he had been diagnosed as a child; but, I think that as an adult he went without medication or any help. I’ve read a few articles with the link between ADHD and suicide. Thank you…

    • The ADHD drugs are amphetamines:

      And an adverse side effect of amphetamines can be suicidal thoughts:

      And in as much as my expertise is in the ADRs and withdrawal effects of the antidepressants and antipsychotics, not the amphetamines. I will say I doubt the “two week” withdrawal rule mentioned in the medscape article is actually valid in regards to how long the withdrawal symptoms can last, since the doctors have basically the same rule in regards to the antidepressants and antipsychotics, and I know the withdrawal symptoms from those drug classes can occur over years, not just “two weeks.”

      Hope that helps a little, my condolences on the loss of your nephew.

    • Debmarci,

      I’m sorry to learn of the loss of your nephew.

      There are many reasons that people take their own lives, and we need to be wary of taking general links/trends, and applying them to individual cases.

      In general, “ADHD” is essentially a lack of personal discipline. And people who lack personal discipline often struggle with the demands of life. So, again in general, they might be more vulnerable than average to bouts of despair and discouragement. But in the absence of a detailed suicide note, we can never know with certainty the issues in any individual case.

      • After I recovered I still suffered from some dysregulation ; and direct control and effort didn’t get me far. But I found solutions within the non drug approach that were helpful. So even if a person is sure they are beyond self discipline – there can still be a means!

  8. This really offends me as someone with ADHD. Yet again this is another person that thinks everything was better in the 60s when teachers and parents “believed in discipline and control.” If you think the 60s and before were so great you clearly are not thinking about the thousands and thousands of people that could NOT learn in the traditional educational environment because they were told they were “stupid” of a “behavior problem.” So, they quit school and had low self esteem which probably led to a terrible life. Most of these people probably didn’t come from the background of the author who believes “discipline and control” worked for him. Thus creates the cycle of parents and educators who only want to believe in “discipline and control” to pat themselves on the back as more children get lost in the system or are even abused. As a child I had plenty of discipline and control. I was only given extra time on tests and if I dropped the ball in any way I blamed for “laziness.” It was only through my love of learning did I survive. It has been proven again and again that people with ADD have “different” brains and literally cannot pay attention to certain stimuli no matter what they do. If you don’t want to give a child medication don’t, but there are literally hundreds of other plans and strategies that you can use to help people with ADD. The first and foremost of these strategies is to understand people with this learning disability ARE doing their best and so are their parents and families. What is needed is to drop the unrealistic expectations and accept different learning styles.

    • I do agree 100% that different learning styles should be respected, and that more discipline to force “ADHD” kids into regular classroom environments is stupid. Of course, the real purpose of “medication” is to do exactly that, to force kids who don’t fit to modify their personalities and learning styles so as to be less inconvenient for the adults involved.

      I raised two of my three boys who had this range of behavior, and we used home schooling and alternative schooling with a child-centered approach, where they were allowed more room to explore and pursue their own interests at their own pace. They both did much, much better in this kind of environment, to the point that both graduated high school with honors, without a milligram of stimulants passing their lips. They DID require some unique approaches to discipline as well, but more or tougher discipline wasn’t the issue, it was more a matter of adjusting disciplinary techniques to their unique needs, most specifically, to take their need for stimulation as an opportunity to be smart and effective, rather than continuing to do what doesn’t work and expect that more of the same will somehow magically change the situation.

      Thanks for your comment!

    • Anyone who has gone through different experiences has different brain chemistry. Brain scans prove nothing about a discrete illness called ADHD existing let alone one in which people can never come to concentrate. Indeed, what happens with these brain scans is that research psychiatrists presume a priori that certain individuals “have ADHD”, and then they scans their brains and compared them to “normals'” brain scans, and take the (inevitable) average differences as proof of an illness existing. But this is simply circular logic – average differences in brain chemistry at one point in time between two quasi-experimental groups do not prove anything about an illness called ADHD. As oldhead suggested, one must wonder where you got these ideas…

      • Don’t know if you’re responding to a particular comment, but yeah. I was riding in a car with someone talking about MIA-type stuff and when I said that “mental illness” doesn’t exist she didn’t want to discuss it, and told me that it was “offensive.” Actually she was being defensive, for whatever reason. I guess the round Earth theory, etc. were offensive in their day as well.

    • MamaJ,

      There is, in my view, nothing offensive in the article. There is a widespread tendency among psychiatric adherents to confuse offense with disagreement. “I disagree with this” becomes “This is offensive.” If you feel that there is some sentence or passage that is offensive, please point it out and I will gladly take another look.

      Personal discipline means doing things that we don’t particularly feel inclined to do for the sake of a greater goal, and refraining from, or at lease postponing, things that we do want to do, also for the sake of a greater goal. It is not something that comes naturally to children. Rather, it needs to be instilled through active training. The label “ADHD” refers to children who for whatever reason, have not received this training to an age-appropriate degree. This is the obvious and most parsimonious explanation for the behavior in question. The term “discipline”, incidentally, should not be confused with harshness.

      Are you suggesting that personal discipline as defined above is undesirable? Are you suggesting that parents do not have a responsibility to actively train their children in personal discipline?

      You assert that “It has been proven again and again that people with ADD have ‘different’ brains and literally cannot pay attention to certain stimuli no matter what they do.” If you would cite me the references to support this assertion, I would be happy to take a look, and if your assertion is founded, I will acknowledge this in a subsequent post.

      • I would have to add, though, that different kids require different disciplinary approaches. Kids who get diagnosed with “ADHD” generally are seeking stimulation, and knowing that does help decide HOW to approach discipline with them. Of course, needing something different does not make someone diseased, especially if what is different is simply behavioral style and personality.

        I’d also add that there are kids who have been abused and/or neglected by their parents, or have been injured by society at large, and they may choose stimulation-seeking as a means of coping. So we do have to be careful to posit a lack of discipline as a universal commonality – trauma also plays a role, as can easily be seen by the massively higher “ADHD” diagnosis rates for kids in foster care.

        Thanks for continuing to fight this fight – this topic is near and dear to my heart!

        — Steve

  9. Thanks Philip,

    You’re saying it directly – ADHD is a hoax, and you’re explaining why.

    The DSMs’ remind me of manuals that try to pass themselves off as legal policy manuals, but are more like “medieval witchfinder manuals” (written by defective people).

  10. Hi Dr Hickey, great article as usual.

    you write “Psychiatry is nothing more than legalized drug-pushing. There is not one shred of intellectual or scientific validity to their so-called taxonomy. They invent these so-called illnesses to expand their turf, and then liberalize the criteria to expand it further.”

    I’d go even further than this. Drug pushers rely on their ‘clients’ to have an addiction which brings them back time and time again to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal. Psychiatrists have available the use of force to create the addiction in the first place. And not only do they invent the so called illnesses, it is the case that without any National Standard as to what constitutes a “chemical restraint” people who are attending EDs etc are being injected with chemical cocktails with the primary aim of restraint, and which actually cause the very chemical imbalance that they claim later to be curing.

    Highly effective for those who wish to throw inconvenient truths down the well, never to be seen again.

  11. Well done Phil – it is indeed stunning and distasteful to see the ignorance and presumptuousness of a phrase such as the following:

    “One thing is certain, though: There is no cure for ADHD. Someone with the disorder might learn to adapt to it, perhaps with the help of medication, but patients young and old are generally told that they will deal with their abnormal brains for the rest of their lives.”

    Few people can believe that the person writing such a phrase is essentially delusional – i.e. that Schwarz has no understanding of how or why problems with attentiveness and focus do not in any way constitute a discrete illness, let alone incurable ones… and that many children could think with more logic and nuance than Schwarz.

    As you wrote very cogently,

    ‘Under the guise of medical care, they routinely rob people of their sense of competence, their dignity, and in many cases, their lives. They have radically undermined the concept of success-through-disciplined-effort, and have ensnared millions of people worldwide in their ever-expanding web of drug-induced dependency and self-doubt. They are not the thoughtful and expert codifiers of genuine illnesses, as Mr. Schwarz contends. Rather, they are drug-pushing charlatans and hoaxsters who have systematically and deliberately deceived their clients and the general public to enhance their own prestige and their incomes.”

    This is a great description of what psychiatrists do in general; and really applicable to almost any of their pseudo-diagnoses.

    Thank you for continuing to sound the alarm against this nonsense.

  12. Vaccinations , Mercury dental work, food and water with added chemicals , poverty and the elusive living wage, —There’s got to be some social reaction and the ultimate pseudo scientific profit seeking population behavior control catch bag , pharma and it’s psychiatrists, pusher’s of demonically engineered substances from hell shoved down our throats from the cradle to the grave .Hey if it aint them (the psychiatrists) Pharma will still find someone from somewhere to push the stuff for them .Shock and Awe , if the drug don’t get you the fear of prescribers will. We must activate anti-psychiatry better and maybe join it with an anti pseudo science movement . Cause the stuff ( pseudo science that shortens life span and cranks up suffering) is all over the place cause the powerful have converging interests and our well being is not one of them.

    • “We must activate anti-psychiatry better and maybe join it with an anti pseudo science movement. Cause … pseudo science … is all over the place … [and these] powerful [for-profit only motivated corporations] have converging interests and our well being is not one of them.” So true, and Thomas Jefferson forewarned us of this day long ago.

      The root of the problems in this country are so evil, and so much bigger, than just a deluded psychiatric industry. The problems stem from those who financed the miseducation of all the psychiatrists, and the mainstream medical community, for profit.

      But waking the psychiatrists up to the reality that maintaining the status quo, which is that the psychiatrists have turned themselves into a bunch of unrepentant defamers, murderers, and thieves, which is an unwise place for any soul to be, is a place to start. And the reality is the globalist bankers and corporations who financed the current murderous US medical industrial complex, in general, are not ‘powers that be’ that deserve to be kept in power.

      I’m forgiven, but those still blinded by their miseducation, like the majority of today’s psychiatrists, who are still trying to maintain the status quo, are those who are not yet forgiven, since they haven’t repented and made proper amends to those they’ve harmed. “Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t, warn you.” The psychiatric industry needs to mentally comprehend their beliefs are as scientifically invalid as the beliefs of the psychiatrists during the Nazi era, and those who financed their miseducation, are much more evil and insideous than were the Nazi’s alone.

      Maintaining the current “status quo” is the problem, since the “status quo” are the globalists who financed our societies’ current miseducation, chaos and problems. It is also sad to notice that historically it’s only evil governments that advocate belief in psychiatry’s spurious theories. And that my government is currently doing this.

  13. In college, we read Mad In America. At the time, I thought it was majorly cool. I am all for exposing the shenanigans of the ‘medical’ community, demedicalizing and humanizing society. The integrity of human beings needs to absolutely be respected. De humanizing and medicalizing so-called ills of society is pret much a crime against humanity.
    I was one of the few men in America teaching preschool a few years ago. There was a three year young wonderful little girl who stood out as playful and joyful to me. After a few month absence, she came back and was acting like a lifeless zombie. It was tragic! I later learned that some ‘bright’ psychiatrist ‘diagnosed’ her with adhd. My jaw hit the floor!
    Meditation has worked well for me to keep an even keel so to speak.
    It seems to me that older adult road ragers who can get way out of hand on the road may have adhd of sorts. This could apply to random serial killers, etc. So I think there’s much more to it than looking at it from a medical perspecitve.

  14. I “have” ADD. Diagnosed at 8 and treated with Ritalin for 8 years. Re-diagnosed as an adult. I am a successful, high-functioning adult. ADD/ADHD is not an illness and I disagree with a lot about modern psychiatry and the way “mental illnesses” are perceived and treated. I LOVED Anatomy of an Epidemic and Bob Whitaker’s writings. They were a revelation to me about many things. But dismissing a chunk of the populations experiences and suffering doesn’t help anyone. I got tired of trying to explain my experiences to other people so I wrote and drew a graphic novel (a big comic book) about ADD from the perspective of someone who has actually lived this life. It’s obvious when posts or news articles like this go up that the writer and commenters have little-to-no firsthand experience with ADD. Go to and read my book online for free or order a hardcopy. Read that whole book and then we can talk.

    • Sorry but the whole notion of being raised on Ritalin is too horrific for me to read that. I’m sorry you were “diagnosed” and drugged before you could have possibly understood what was going on. Maybe, hopefully your body has developed a resistance to the Ritalin and it will not be a factor in your future (physical) health.

    • @tylerpage “…little or no idea…” about a fungible, malleable concept built by a discipline that makes things up as it goes along? And whose diagnoses are directly tied to one of the biggest profit-making industries of the planet? If I had brought my son (from age three onwards) to psychiatrists he would have been variously diagnosed as ADD, ADHD, IED, ODD, bipolar, or maybe even psychotic (all depending on the psychiatric flavour of the moment). I would have fed him off-label psychotropic drugs whose actions are much less clear and much more dangerous than psychiatry/pharma wants us to know, without his informed consent, and without knowing the effects on his brain decades into the future. Meet my son now, who was successfully raised without diagnoses and psych drugs, and then WE can talk.

      If you’re satisfied with your experience, that’s OK. But don’t suggest that because others reject wholesale the lies and omissions of psychiatry, its ridiculous diagnoses, and its deadly chemical cocktails that they somehow know less than you.

      Liz Sydney

    • Tyler,
      I believed in my severe diagnosis and I was dependent on medication. But as time went by I found that I responded to psychological approaches.

      There’s no debate in it for me, if nondrug methods work, then these are what should be used (and the “illness” idea itself is fraudulent).

    • Tylerpage,

      First-hand experience is important, but is emphatically not the arbiter of reality. My “first-hand experience” tells me without a doubt that the sun rises in the east each morning, crosses the sky, and sets in the west. But this isn’t true. In addition, almost everyone can remember the inattentiveness, impulsivity, and general gadding about of our childhood years. We can also remember the efforts we made to overcome these tendencies and the efforts our parents and teachers made to help us. I suggest that you are dismissing these experiences, or at least, you are implying that they have no relevance to you. I, on the other hand, am not dismissing anybody’s experiences. My primary point is that ADHD is not a coherent entity of any kind, much less an illness. It is, rather a loose collection of vaguely-defined behaviors. You seem to agree that “ADHD” is not an illness, but in your comic book, you go much further than this: “ADHD is who I am.”

  15. The entire mental health field is based on control, manipulation, and maintaining power at all times. I found every bit of that world to be oppressive, judgmental and uptight. It’s easy to lose focus. I found that to be the cultural norm, no attention span. No space for people in their humanity, only very quick sound bytes, and they think they have you all figured out. To call it a myopic world view is being generous, in my estimation.

    And what better way to to control and maintain power than to make up an “illness” which becomes a label intended to brand people in all sorts of mythological ways in order to 1) make tons of money and 2) stay in denial and ignorance of what are the true roots of these issues? Which means people taking responsibility for themselves where they are most reluctant to do so. Scapegoating is alive and well in the 21st century, so the burden of growth and change falls on a mere few, rather than on the collective at large.

    Also, it will implicate a lot of people who either pretend they are helping others while only interested in their own gain, at anyone’s expense; or, they truly feel they are helping others when in fact, they are doing more harm than good. Sinister, but clever. Sure has a lot of people good and confused. I think that’s the idea. Lack of clarity is a tool of oppression, keeps people in kind of a daze, and perpetually doubting themselves.

    • So Alex, do you agree that in large measure, ADHD is the invention of FixMyKid Doctors?

      Some of them use drugs, but some do not. Right now these two groups are competing for share in the FixMyKid market. Of the second type, we’ve all seen their ads.

      It was many years ago, reading the works of Salvador Minuchin and the Milan School of Family Systems Therapy:

      an earlier edition of:

      They clued me into something critical, one of the defining characteristics of the middle-class family is that it hires its own private practice doctors. It does not use public agencies which serve the poor. So it is not just the pedagogy and child development manuals which characterize it, it is also the use of all sorts of doctors. And as I see it, mostly it is just that the parents want to be right, as this is why they had children.

      Do you agree with me, that these doctors are routinely seeing kids who show sufficient evidence to warrant suspicion of severe emotional abuse, and that likely each one of these hoax ailments like ADHD is really just an excuse for severe emotional child abuse?

      And so do you agree with me that these doctors should be made to comply with the letter and intent of our federal mandatory reporting law, or face prosecution?

      Of course you know that that would be the end of the FixMyKid industry.

      Family life in Pittsburg

      Does the thought of some of these doctors being charged with felonies, and the entire FixMyKid industry being plowed under, arouse any particular feelings in you?

      You know that unless forced to, the doctors would never report, and that it has always been this way.


      • Nomadic, I do believe that ADHD is a false and misleading label, based on othering a child who does not conform to the norm in a controlling and narrow-minded environment. Sadly, all too often, parents and the school system match in their desire to control the child rather than to see this as an opportunity for THEM to evolve, as well as the entire community, especially the family. We learn and grow from kids, they are the ones acting as per their true nature.

        I’ve observed that usually, the kids that are labeled and drugged are usually far more aware and creative than the adults around them, so the adults end up feeling threatened and that’s where the trouble really begins, leading to labels and drugs, to keep the kid acting “normal” and compliant.

        I do think it’s abusive, but not intentionally. I believe people are doing the best they can with what they know. But overall, I do think people need to wake up to a new level of awareness in order to see the consequence and root of their choices for the kid. I believe it’s a matter of education, but it’s hard to get people to listen. This stuff makes people really defensive.

        Personally, I hate “mandatory reporting.” it plays into the system and causes all sorts of problems for people. This is pure ego and control and people use it to play God and judge their clients.

        I believe the solution here is on a much broader scale. Society, on the whole, is tarnished with scapegoating and corruption. I think it’s a matter of seriously assessing our “leaders” in every regard. Dynamics such as these, which create confusion and chaos for people, start at the top.

        To me, the chaos down here in “the trenches” signifies that our leaders are lying, pure and simple, and stressing everyone out in the process. Vampires, in short, draining others for their own gain. Makes it easy to dupe and control others. That’s what I think the real problem is here.

        I studied Sal Minuchin in in grad school family therapy class. I used his model to break my family system a few times and spoke my truth. Fascinating process.

        • If you don’t have mandatory reporting, then doctors are professional accomplice child abusers. This used to be called Muchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy. Now it is called Medical Child Abuse.

          ADHD, ASD, Mental Illness, are clear examples of this. What could be worse than doctors who treat non-existent illnesses and advertise this?

          Mandatory Reporting gets it under the supervision of the court, and this is the only entity which has authority over the parents. The doctors market themselves to the parents, and herein lies the root problem. Only the court has the authority to intercede. The court makes the child into a personage.


  16. Something that is not considered here but which is an important consideration, is the potential for turning young children into drug addicts by prescribing them ADHD medications.

    Its quite a contraction, to tell children that using street drugs to get high is bad, but then we turn around and hypocritically given them the same drugs to cure them of a disease. When its really a diseased ideology used to make money on them that causes their suffering.

    Speed users love Adderall, and consume it just as readily as they consume Meth. Its often sold by those that get the prescription for it, to others.

    Then of course they forget about past mistakes and liver failure in young children on now banned types of medications, and the fact that after amphetamines were banned as an over the counter drug, pharmaceutical companies continued to manufacture large quantities of it. They shipped it to Mexico where it could be bought legally, and smuggled back into the United States….

    • It is an important problem, and there are related issues of diversion, but the data seem to indicate that children diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed stimulant medication are not more likely to become substance abusers, and, indeed, might be *less* likely:
      “ADHD medication was not associated with increased rate of substance abuse. Actually, the rate during 2009 was 31% lower among those prescribed ADHD medication in 2006, even after controlling for medication in 2009 and other covariates (hazard ratio: 0.69; 95% confidence interval: 0.57–0.84). Also, the longer the duration of medication, the lower the rate of substance abuse. Similar risk reductions were suggested among children and when investigating the association between stimulant ADHD medication and concomitant short-term abuse.
      We found no indication of increased risks of substance abuse among individuals prescribed stimulant ADHD medication; if anything, the data suggested a long-term protective effect on substance abuse. Although stimulant ADHD medication does not seem to increase the risk for substance abuse, clinicians should remain alert to the potential problem of stimulant misuse and diversion in ADHD patients.”

      • You neglect to mention that such long-term studies have shown little to no effect on key outcomes like high school graduation/college enrollment rates, academic test scores, delinquency rates, teen pregnancy rates, self-esteem, social skills, or any major outcome that people claim “untreated ADHD” purportedly damaged. If you’re going to quote the long-term literature, your credibility would be enhanced if you told the whole story. Not only does long-term stimulant use not appear to have much impact on substance abuse one way or the other (though you should read Nadine Lambert re: possible connection with stimulants, especially smoking), but it doesn’t appear to have much impact on ANY important outcome measure. The honest conclusion should be that long-term stimulant use makes little to no difference in the aggregate, and should not be supported by doctors. Stimulant use, at best, should be considered a short-term intervention to make kids more manageable while other psycho-social interventions are attempted.

        —- Steve

        • And just for clarity’s sake, I don’t really support stimulant use at all, as I’ve raised two “ADHD”-type boys using creative discipline and alternative schooling, and they are thriving without any “medical” intervention whatsoever. And they were not “mild cases,” either. My person opinion is that the major cause of “ADHD” is our idiotic insistence on making kids sit still and follow teachers’ directions when they’re not developmentally ready to do so, and don’t benefit from being forced to in any case.

        • I was simply replying to the claim that ADHD medication prescribed to children increases the likelihood of substance abuse. That claim seems not to be supported by the evidence. I don’t know why my “credibility” would be enhanced if I cited literature about some issue that we aren’t discussing.

          There are scant few studies on the long term effects of stimulant therapy. It is extraordinarily difficult and expensive to do the kind of longitudinal studies that are needed.

          I am skeptical about prescribing psychiatric medication to children. But I know quite a few adult patients who have been successfully maintained on stimulant medication for decades. And it has nothing to do with making them more “manageable.” These people are help-seeking and their symptoms are very well controlled by the medication, for years.

          • There have actually been plenty of long-term studies, starting back in the 60s. The MTA is the most referred to, but most only refer to the firts 14 months, when the medicated group did slightly better on reading scores. By three years, these advantages had evaporated and those maintained on stimulants actually did slightly worse. Same is true with the Raine study in Australia – no advantage for long-term stimulant use, with worse academic outcomes. Montreal study – no improvements in academic outcomes, worse psychosocial outcomes for girls on stimulants. Finland vs. USA comparison study – Finnish kids much less likely to be on stimulants, no difference in academic outcomes at all. Plenty of other studies have been reviewed, including Barclay’s 1978 review, Swanson’s 1993 “review of reviews,” and the Oregon State University’s Medication Effectiveness Project, which looked at every piece of research ever published on the subject that they could unearth, over 2000 articles. None showed any improvements in long-term outcomes for long-term stimulant users, whether academic, psychological, or social, except for kids taking stimulants being somewhat less likely to get into major accidents as teens (OSU study). True, those not taking stimulants still had significant struggles, but it is clear that assuming the risk of long-term stimulant use did little to nothing in the long term to help with those struggles. Scientifically speaking, long-term use of stimulants to “treat ADHD” is a complete failure and should be abandoned.

            Of course, individuals may have different experiences, and I don’t want to invalidate that. But it is absolutely wrong for doctors or teachers or psychologists to say that “untreated ADHD leads to X” when the proposed treatment doesn’t alter those outcomes at all, or maybe even makes them slightly worse in some cases.

            Don’t mean to be difficult – this is just an area I’ve studied intensively and I know that what people are told generally is not supported by the literature. If folks said, “Stimulants may help you pay attention in the short term, it is not likely by itself to make any differences in your long-term performance, and we should talk about other strategies to get you (or your child) to where you want to be.”

            — Steve

          • Ritalin use is not substance abuse? The DEA accounts it a cocaine class chemical. When Ritalin users grow up, too, do they stop using/abusing, or do they “have adult ADHD” instead, sanctioning such use/abuse? The people looking at possible adverse consequences aren’t, as a rule, prescription drug pushers. Does such use lead to the use of other and stronger, more potentially damaging, substances? That’s another question entirely, isn’t it? I would think, all in all, you’re more likely to get a healthier child without Ritalin than with, and from what I’ve read, outcomes tend to agree with me.

      • Actually thats a false assumption, because those that are prescribed ADHD medications are in fact substance users there is no difference.

        I ran diversion groups for almost 10 years in LA County DAPO certified, lots of people on diversion get scripts to avoid testing dirty…So those who gather stats are actively interviewing biker gangs, who deal meth?

        • I’ve worked with substance abusers and I’ve worked with patients who have been taking adhd medication for decades under medical supervision. There is no comparison at all. First of all, a meth abuser can plausibly consumer up to a gram of methamphetamine in a single day. When we use an equivalent drug, desoxyn (d-methamphetamine), they come in 5 mg pills. So it would be like a patient taking more than six months of medication in a single day. As they say, sola dosis facit venenum.

          Secondly, look at behavior and functioning. I’ve never seen a stimulant abuser (that is, someone who consumes street stimulants, almost always administered non-orally, using doses orders of magnitude larger than therapeutic doses, and obviously not under medical supervision) who was high functioning and did not suffer terribly from their addiction. The patients that I know who have been taking prescribed stimulants for decades are productive, have normal sleep schedules, do not commit crimes, do not shirk basic responsibilities, and, in short, are stable. To say ‘oh well they are taking the same or similar chemical’ is either to grossly misunderstand how the body responds to different dosing regimes of stimulant medication, or to simply not care about the truth. It would be like comparing a chronic pain patient to a heroin addict. (Chronic pain, btw, often does not have an identifiable physiological cause — I suppose you people would say it isn’t real or worthy of treatment? Cruel.)

          As for the ‘but but ritalin is in the same class of drugs as cocaine’ — yes, drugs that have medical uses but are prone to abuse. I suppose you think that a patient who has been administered cocaine as an anesthetic for eye surgery is the same as someone who smokes crack?

          • I’ll leave it to Ritalin experts (which includes users and ex-users) to comment on the specific dosing issues you mention. But the administration of any drug as “medicine” for a “disease” which is basically a figure of speech is obviously irrational. If people want to use speed because they like the way it feels, that’s up to them — but it shouldn’t be rationalized as “treatment.”

          • I don’t know why you are so hung up on categories. Categories don’t exist. They aren’t real. They are *useful* (or not). That’s it. Do you administer caffeine to yourself when you get tired? Does it matter in the slightest bit whether you want to call your tiredness an illness? Suppose you do, for some strange reason. Does the caffeine no longer help? There is no such thing as a disease except what we want to call a disease. Influenza, or cancer, or chronic pain (you’ve ignored my arguments about letting people suffer chronic pain since often there is no identifiable physiological explanation — I can only assume you would choose the cruel course of action to deny these patients medication that relieves their pain), or Alzheimer’s (or as perhaps you would call it, the medicalization of severe memory loss or some such nonsense) are only diseases because it is useful to call them diseases. That’s it. Forget categories and start thinking about helping people who ask for help. To dismiss insurance issues as ‘vagaries’ is the height of privilege — those ‘vagaries’ make a serious material difference in whether immense personal suffering can be relieved. They aren’t small issues — they are basically the only reason we have a DSM in the first place.

          • Well, if it “doesn’t matter,” why is it so important to defend it? Obviously, words have meaning and meaning impacts behavior. If you don’t believe that, you have no business being around people. As I described above, it is DISEMPOWERING to a person who has been through a bunch of crap or who is just “different” in some way to be labeled as “abnormal” by some professional. Don’t you get that at all? And you have some nerve talking to ME about paying attention to categories over people – my entire argument is that categories are damaging and we should focus on people instead of labeling them. Is there something about this you don’t understand????

          • Your argument is that because certain illnesses (again, you continue to fail to respond to my point about chronic pain etc.) don’t fit your definition of illness, that it is illegitimate for people to ingest certain chemicals that make them feel better. That’s the only reason why the category matters — it matters because of what you can do (or can’t do) institutionally as a result. There is no metaphysical ‘disease’ or ‘illness’ floating around with the forms. All there are are people suffering and you telling them that certain avenues of help should not be available to them.

            Let me let you in on a secret. Psychiatrists don’t care in the slightest bit about diagnoses. Generally, there is no good reason to even introduce the label to the patient. They serve the purpose of insurance reimbursement for psychotherapy and medication. A good psychiatrist is not going to “disempower” a person with an explanation or label that isn’t going to help them. On the other hand, some people find immense relief in discovering that they aren’t crazy, they just suffer from x or y. It is actually empowering to those people. They go from being distressed suffering people to becoming mental health consumers.

            Finally, I find your premise somewhat silly. When you find out that you have influenza, do you feel disempowered? It is certainly not normal to have influenza. Why would learning that you have high blood pressure (not a disease, incidentally, but a risk syndrome — are you up in arms about medication to “treat” that non-disease?), epilepsy, or parkinson’s, or panic disorder be disempowering? And why would you be seeking help from a professional if you would find that help disempowering? Take people seriously and give them credit. They are stronger than you imagine. They just need people with compassion.

          • Hi DrStrait
            If there is no specific theory og logic behind the DSM, that helps or guides treatment, then if reimbursement could be arranged some other way you would gladly throw DSM out the window and never think about it again?

          • To dismiss insurance issues as ‘vagaries’ is the height of privilege

            Enough with the ad hominems, especially when I have to borrow $ to get through the weekend.

            Insurance Co. accounting concerns have no relevance to science or medicine. That should be obvious.

          • @oldhead — Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with how the institutions of medicine and science actually operate in the modern world. You might be surprised how relevant insurance accounting concerns are. Or pharmaceutical marketing imperatives. Should it be so? Well, no, but no one should ever get sick or suffer. Alas, that isn’t the world we find ourselves in.

            @jonathan, In the clinic, sure, but *something* would have to replace it that would provide a common language necessary to do research and to train residents (and clinical psychologists, social workers, nps, etc.). But the DSM is not terribly useful to anyone, and the APA doesn’t really understand what is at stake in various nosological controversies. For example, take something like narcissistic personality disorder. Does it ‘exist’? Well, sure, that constellation of symptoms and signs certainly show up in certain people. But those people are never help-seeking, at least not with respect to their narcissism. So why does psychiatry need the concept of NPD? Criminologists, sure. Just because some set of phenomena exist, are disabling, and are atypical doesn’t mean it is useful to have them appear next to a label in a book like the DSM.

          • “For example, take something like narcissistic personality disorder.”

            What could be a better example of psychiatry as a social control mechanism?

            Because courtrooms everywhere are busy demonizing criminals, and now we have the psychiatric labels with which to help them do so, that doesn’t mean that this is what we should be doing, nor that this or that demonizing label (read insult) has any innate validity (i.e. as in the case of syphilis or pneumonia).

          • I reiterate, why is it important to defend labels that you yourself admit are arbitrary and socially determined, driven mostly by insurance reimbursement and irrelevant to treatment decisions?

            It sounds like you see the real point of these labels as justification for getting paid for treatment. That’s the only thing they are useful for, so we agree on that point.

            As for disempowerment, you are really not trying very hard if you can’t understand this. Your “good psychiatrist” may not use the labels to define a person’s condition, but if that’s the case, most are not good psychiatrists, because it appears very, very common in the folks I talk with. Best example is from multiple foster youth I’ve spoken with, most of whom have been through hell and back and have understandably difficult emotions and behavior to deal with. These kids are almost always told that the reason they are depressed or angry or anxious is because their brain isn’t working properly, and that medication will help “balance out” their brain chemistry. Psychiatrists as a rule have almost nothing to say or ask them about why they are acting the way they are or what their history is. They medicate based on symptoms and explain away any causal factors. The kids find this confusing and/or downright insulting. And I’m talking multiple examples from a fairly specific sample of people who do NOT respond well to that kind of treatment. So disempowerment is VERY real and damaging both to the kids’ desire to continue treatment of any kind and of their chances of success, since the actual reason for their “condition” is not examined or validated or directly addressed.

            Or for another example – my son went off the rails temporarily and was living a dangerous life for a couple of months, including taking drugs and ultimately being assaulted. He went to see a doctor and in a depression screening endorsed suicidality. The doctor went on a lecture about how depression is a “disease just like diabetes” and that “treatments are available” but never ONCE asked him why he might have considered killing himself! And he would certainly have told her what was going on, and it might just have been helpful, but the “MDD” label allowed the doctor to feel like she’d “diagnosed” him without bothering to even find out what was going on.

            You’ll try to tell me this is rare. In my experience, it is not. It is, in fact, extremely common, and the labeling process makes that possible for doctors to get away with.

            Of course, you are again being intentionally obtuse if you don’t recognize the difference between telling someone they have influenza, which is a verifiable fact that leads to a verifiable treatment that is almost uniformly effective, with diagnosing “Major Depressive Disorder,” which is nonspecific, non-verifiable, and does NOT lead to a uniformly effective treatment plan, since the wide range of people diagnosed with MDD are incredibly heterogeneous, and what works great for one person could actually ruin someone else’s life.

            I am afraid you are so committed to your position that you are unable to look at any other perspective. I am not going to bother trying to convince you further that other rational viewpoints are viable and have value. You can remain rigid if you want, but I am not going to accept that you are somehow more knowledgeable about this area than I am, because it just ain’t so.

          • Unfortunately, that means you have very little experience of street drug users, some of whom are very high functioning criminals, who learn how to make meth with no back ground in chemistry, elude law enforcement for decades, and steal hundreds pf thousands of dollars

          • Unfortunately, that means you have very little experience of street drug users, some of whom are very high functioning criminals, who learn how to make meth with no back ground in chemistry, elude law enforcement for decades, and steal hundreds pf thousands of dollars per year to support their use. Some of whom are medical professionals, doctors and nurses. Of course you won’t admit it, because you don’t really know what your talking about. I’ve worked with medical professionals who have been sent to diversion to keep from losing their license, people like you are one of their biggest assets.

  17. Frank and Alex, ADHD is bogus, and in the view of Sami Timimi, so is Autism Spectrum Disorder. So these things being bogus, they are not being caused by parents. They don’t even exit.

    But there is what Alex called this “othering”. In other times I have compared it to being made into a leper, like in the Gospels. And then there is what I call Maternal Hatred Syndrome.

    Read this, Jayne Lytel, a frightening woman who clearly finds her younger son Leo to be an embarrassment.

    So as it stands today, a parent can take their child to a doctor and get them diagnosed and drugged. And if for some reason one doctor won’t do it, another will. And there are doctors who advertise this. And then there are some who will make the child more subservient without even needing drugs. What these all have in common is that they legitimate the parents.

    So they used to call this Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy. But now they are just calling it Medical Child Abuse. Usually they mean situations where the parents are fabricating the child’s illness. But when you have doctors who market their services for treating such bogus illnesses, it gets more complicated.

    What will stop this though is outside oversight, someone who is looking out for the rights of the child. Then the doctors will have to report, and the parents won’t be showing up at their door anymore.

    Existing law makes it a felony to not report a suspected case of child abuse, its just that the laws have not really been enforced as written. Sure I wish this were not necessary, but it is, as finding ways to establish that the child has a defect, and using doctors to do this, is one of the hallmarks of the middle-class family.

    We have to have outside oversight to protect children, otherwise it is all controlled by their parents, and by the doctors who market to them.

    And if people here object to Psych Meds, or to Forced Treatments, why aren’t they trying to get these outlawed? State initiatives would in my opinion be the best way.


  18. Let’s try moving this to a new thread.

    From “Dr. Srait”:

    I think instead of throwing up artificial barriers to help seeking patients getting help, we should be trying to help people who ask for it.

    Treating problems in living by labeling thoughts and feelings as symptoms of a disease is what I would call throwing up an artificial barrier to getting help. It’s called mystification.

    I think it is silly to assert that mental illness has no biological correlate.

    Any thought, feeling or emotion has a biological correlate. Writing the letter “C” and the letter “L” no doubt have their own biological correlates, as do nose-picking and doing calculus.

    However you’re putting the cart before the horse, as you have yet to demonstrate that such a concept as “mental illness” is even legitimate.

    Incidentally, the vagaries of the insurance industry have no relevance to a scientific/philosophical debate. As for what “helps” people, having a rational understanding of their problem is a prerequisite.

    • @DrStrait
      Thx for your answer on throwing away the DSM:
      “@jonathan, In the clinic, sure, but *something* would have to replace it that would provide a common language necessary to do research and to train residents (and clinical psychologists, social workers, nps, etc.). But the DSM is not terribly useful to anyone, and the APA doesn’t really understand what is at stake in various nosological controversies.”
      That is something of a bombshell. We use the ICD-10 in Denmark and it would be unthinkable to throw the diagnostic system away at least among leading figures in psychiatry. In the fight for funding and leverage in the health care system, mental health diagnoses are routinely referred to as discrete, identifiable, specific illnesses which requires specific medication. Research based on ICD (or DSM) categories are used to argue for for example forced treatment. The argument goes something like this: “This person has an illness, he is suffering terribly and it would be unethical not to treat him/her with the medication we know from research works on this brain disease.” The same people, however, at other times acknowledge that, “no, schizophrenia is probably not one disease, but several different conditions.” But they still do category-based research and use simplistic diagnostic arguments.
      If you do not find DSM-categories helpful, how do you decide how to treat patients? Different medications are usually researched through the administration to persons in a diagnostic category. If you consider this diagnostic system useless for anything than getting paid, how do you at the same time argue that psychiatry rests on a bona fide scientific body of knowledge?

  19. “Dr. Strait”:

    Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with how the institutions of medicine and science actually operate in the modern world. You might be surprised how relevant insurance accounting concerns are. Or pharmaceutical marketing imperatives.

    You’re actually proving everyone’s point, that we are dealing with political, economic and social problems, not medical ones. And why these “institutions” need to be discarded in favor of actual medicine and science.

    • The only point of disagreement is that I think the rest of “medical” problems are also political, economic, and social, and I don’t believe there exists anything like “actual medicine and science” that is not structured politically and economically and constructed socially. Ivan Illich’s Medical Nemesis is especially instructive on this point, and I should note that I’ve mentioned nearly a dozen non-psychiatric “medical” disorders in the comments here, and continually pointed out that you all are systematically refusing to respond to those examples.

      I will not defend pediatric psychiatry as it is beyond the scope of my practice and personally much of what happens there alarms me. But no properly trained psychiatrist will ignore the patient’s explanations for their feelings or behaviors. I can’t even fathom how one would conduct a clinical interview without asking those questions. Usually this kind of problem comes when non-psychiatrist physicians attempt to treat mental illness, which they often (but not always) do poorly.

      You can’t refer to an illness as a “verifiable fact.” That we call something an “illness” in the first place, and consider it relevant to treat, is a social construction that is not grounded on any kind of non-intersubjective basis. Is male pattern baldness a “verifiable fact”? Is obesity a “verifiable fact”? Is hypoactive sexual desire disorder a “verifiable fact”? Is high blood pressure a “verifiable fact”? Is premature ejaculation a “verifiable fact”? Is chronic pain a “verifiable fact”? Each of these have “verifiable” aspects (much like mental illnesses have verifiable aspects — do you have this cluster of clinical signs and symptoms? Are you behaving in x characteristic way? Something like schizophasia is obvious and can be ‘verified’ in any number of ways), and yet the fact that it is considered an illness in the first place is a *value* judgment. (re schizophasia, we happen to consider it a problem if someone suddenly loses the ability to form sentences. And that problem is in the brain.)

      I am open to the fact that sometimes psychiatric treatment is poor, and that many times a diagnosis doesn’t serve a direct clinical purpose. I’ve said as much. You seem not so open to the fact that sometimes, it can be a great relief and reassurance to patients. When you talk about being rigidly committed to my position, we have a word for that: projection.

      • A verifiable illness is a verifiable fact. Not so a non-verifiable illness. Most so-called mental illness falls into the non-verifiable category. If you had to file it in somewhere, I’d file it under F for”fiction”. You are being very slippery in your efforts to call what is not, strictly speaking, disease disease. A verifiable figment of the imagination is still a figment of the imagination, that is, not verifiable as fact. Another thing a figment of the imagination isn’t is a disease, not unless, that is, the figment one is imagining happens to be a disease. What is the difference between a psychological injury and a physical injury? Well, one is an actual injury and the other is, how did you put it? Oh, yeah, a construct. This non-verifiable disease business is an awfully tangled web wouldn’t you say? I think so anyway.

          • “Male pattern baldness”? As if everybody was born to have a full head of hair, and as if a topee or a hair-weave were a “cure”. This is like arguing that one eye color is diseased, and another isn’t. Obesity? Over-eating will kill you, surely, but that doesn’t make it disease. Oh, excuse me. I believe some committee or other may voted it “disease”. Under-eating will kill you, too. “Hypoactive sexual desire”? A lack of imagination is a lack of imagination, just like, when it comes to disease invention, an overabundance of imagination is an overabundance of imagination. Neither bears any resemblance to the flu, tuberculosis, nor even leprosy. “High blood pressure”? This is more a lifestyle thing, isn’t it, and not disease in itself, but something that could lead to disease, if heart-disease is disease. “Premature ejaculation”? Some couples don’t communicate very well, do they? Nonetheless, it is something they can work on. Disease, it isn’t. Chronic pain could have a physical base, surely, but drugs are not necessarily the best nor only answer. There are more than one type of illness, ill at ease, for instance, is not the same as nauseous, and while nauseous may be a symptom, I dare say ill at ease isn’t a symptom. Indigestion is one thing, indignation another. Merely being ill at ease, uncomfortable, is not physical disease, although technically, much like other diseases that are not diseases, we can stretch a point with dis-ease. I think there are some fools who are going to be fools regardless of the amount of effort you spend trying to turn them into sages. What am I saying? The pursuit of folly has to be at least as prevalent as the pursuit of wisdom. Call a fool diseased, and you don’t get a fool. No, you get two fools.

      • It may be a relief, but it is misleading, and intentionally so, as you yourself indicate. Sure, it could be a relief for parents to feel like it’s “not their fault,” or for teachers to be told that the kids’ lack of progress in their class is not a result of poor teaching or lack of a stimulating environment or a child’s inappropriate or dangerous home environment, but if it is NOT TRUE, then the parent/teacher/psychologist is being let off the hook, as my son’s doctor was. And if you’re saying that only a “poor psychiatrist” would act upon a person without asking psychosocial screening questions, I would have to say that there are a lot more poor psychiatrists in practice than you seem to recognize.

        As for your other examples, you’re correct that “high cholesterol” is not a verifiable illness, either, and that many medical diagnoses are subjective and lack an understanding of cause. However, one IS able to establish that a person DOES have a specific cholesterol level and that all persons can be measured and compared and a standard set above which it is considered “high.” We all know that politics enters into both where that line is set and what recommended treatments are allowable, but that does not excuse psychiatry from engaging in the same unhelpful political nonsense, which again you seem to agree is the case with the DSM. But at least we can measure blood pressure and weight and cholesterol levels. What the heck are we measuring in psychiatry? How can we create “nose-picking disorder” without any measurement of what is supposedly wrong?

        And of course, your assertion that there is no such thing as science is completely specious. Science does exist, even if many people practice it in a corrupt or distorted manner. A call for psychiatry to actually respect the findings of their own scientific literature, including, for instance, the fact that “ADHD” diagnosed kids are no better off in the long term whether medicated or not, is certainly not unreasonable, nor is calling them out when they repeatedly ignore known scientific findings in favor of their pet biological theories, which is what the DSM really encourages. We’d be far better off to drop the whole thing and start over if we really care about helping people instead of getting more insurance reimbursement for less time spent with the client.

        —- Steve

      • (Wherever this ends up in the thread):

        many times a diagnosis doesn’t serve a direct clinical purpose. I’ve said as much. You seem not so open to the fact that sometimes, it can be a great relief and reassurance to patients.

        So you seem to consistently support lying to make people “feel better,” which is about as helpful in the long run as drugging away someone’s anxiety and other inconvenient feelings.

        You routinely conflate metaphor and that which is literal; perhaps you should brush up on your language skills.

        • I’m not sure who oldhead is quoting here, but I agree with oldhead.

          many times a diagnosis doesn’t serve a direct clinical purpose. I’ve said as much. You seem not so open to the fact that sometimes, it can be a great relief and reassurance to patients.

          Psychotherapy, Psych Meds, and Street Drugs are all sold on the same lie. You are being told that you don’t have to go thru the hero’s journey, you don’t have to vanquish foes, and that the objective of life is to feel better.

          It is a dangerous and very destructive delusion.


  20. If a child comes into the doctor’s office and the child is black and blue, then the doctor either gets some clear answers, or he has to report, or he gets charged with a felony.

    The law is the same for suspicion of extreme emotional abuse. We just need to enforce it.

    1. Strange behavior, is cause to suspect child abuse.
    2. Getting hit with strange labels is cause to suspect child abuse.

    Either they report or we need to get them prosecuted for felonies. This is the only way to stop these doctors from playing God, from aiding in child abuse, and from profiting from it.

    There could still be various types of child therapies and treatments, its just that they would be overseen by the court. And that is the only way children can be protected from further harm.


  21. The main reason for middle-class child abuse is because the parents are living in Bad Faith, they are not living up to their own values. They have children deliberately in order to use them.

    So Alex, the “abuse” which underlies this othering of children, maybe not directly intentional, but the parents are still culpable.