Can Children Have Bipolar Disorder?


Recently, a parent walked into my office with a mountainous stack of test results that purported to show that her eight-year-old son Adam has brain chemistry similar to adults who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Although Adam’s psychiatrist could not diagnose him with bipolar disorder (it is not a pediatric diagnosis in the DSM-5, the current manual that psychiatrists use for diagnosing), he said that Adam should be treated with a medication used for adults with bipolar disorder. The psychiatrist prescribed Abilify for Adam.

As a clinician who has worked with children for more than two decades, I was taken aback by several aspects of this scenario.

The first thing that hit me was that, despite the high pile of paperwork, there are no tests for the “brain chemistry” of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health: “There are no blood tests or brain scans that can diagnose bipolar disorder.”

What a strange new world child psychiatry has become. I did not ask to read over the test results for Adam because that would be giving them credibility.

The second thing that knocked me over was that a psychiatrist had prescribed a powerful drug like Abilify off-label for an eight year old. On the home page of the drug, the manufacturer states that the only pediatric disorder for which Abilify is indicated is autism. For pediatric patients it may be used to treat manic or mixed (manic and depressive) episodes for children 10 to 17 years old. And the warning label for Abilify warns of horrendous side effects like increased risk for diabetes and tardive dyskinesia.

The third and most important thing about this scenario, however, was that Adam by no stretch of the imagination had anything like bipolar disorder or even “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder” (DMDD) which is the DSM-5 diagnosis that is a substitute for bipolar disorder symptoms in children.

After seeing the family for two sessions I came to the conclusion that what Adam was suffering from was inconsistent discipline, temper tantrums and misbehavior that were inadvertently encouraged by his parents, and, ultimately, too much power in the family. Adam was a strong-willed, moody child by temperament and he used his anger to control his kindhearted parents—even to the extent of being physically violent with them. He enjoyed conflict and enjoyed winning. Adam was like a lion and the lion needed to be tamed.

The correct prescription for Adam was not an antipsychotic medication that might cause him harm, but family therapy to help the parents implement a behavioral program that would fit Adam’s needs. Deeper family issues regarding the parent’s marriage and in-law problems would also need to be addressed.

In 2011, child psychiatrist Stuart L. Kaplan wrote an important book called Your Child Does Not Have Bipolar Disorder: How Bad Science and Good Public Relations Created the Diagnosis. This book was a response to the dramatic increase in the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents.

Now I don’t agree with Dr. Kaplan on everything he says. For example, he believes that treating children incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder with ADHD medications often helps them. I don’t think that any child should be medicated with psychiatric medications except in the case of a true brain disease like a brain tumor or meningitis.

But I do think that Kaplan’s book is important in that he does propose a family therapy-based behavior modification program for oppositional defiant children who have taken too much power in the family system by their misbehavior. And he does present a strong argument against treating children with antipsychotic medications because of their horrendous side effects.

Seven years since Kaplan’s book came out, children are still being diagnosed with bipolar disorder (now “discovered” in the child’s brain chemistry by fake tests that even the National Institutes of Health say don’t exist). Worst of all, children are being given antipsychotics in record numbers—sometimes more than one of these drugs. Adam’s pediatrician, who was as appalled at antipsychotics for kids as I was, told me that some children he saw took five psychotropic medications prescribed by psychiatrists. When I recommend to parents that they do some internet research on the drugs that have been prescribed for their child, they come back to my office and say they want their child off the drugs.

And this is the main point of this article. Before parents allow a child to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder and medicated with antipsychotics, educate yourselves on the side effects of these drugs. Then find a professional who will help you set up a behavioral program with rewards for good behavior and consistent immediate consequences for bad behavior.

Use the “count to 3” method to discourage bad behavior and make a “star chart” to reward good behavior. Disengage from arguments with your child. Use immediate consequences for disrespectful language or violence. Don’t be afraid of taking away privileges like going to a friend’s birthday party or a special outing even if they are inconvenient for you. Don’t let your child’s moods control you. Give your child lots of appropriate choices (some power) but not all the power. And remember, giving up power isn’t easy. The tantrums may increase for a while. But if you are consistent, your child’s behavior and moods will improve as if by magic.

Adam’s parents found that after two months of consistently implementing rewards for good behavior and immediate consequences for misbehavior, Adam’s behavior improved significantly. They took Adam off the medication and he still continues to improve. From a baseline score of 10 (with 10 being the worst possible misbehavior and moodiness and 1 being the best) Adam is now a 5. As I help resolve deeper family issues with Adam’s parents, I have no doubt that Adam’s behavior will improve to a 1 or 2. Sure, disciplining a strong-willed child is more difficult than giving him a pill. But Adam’s parents are finding that it’s much easier and more rewarding than they thought it would be.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. I disagree. Adam’s parents are struggling with marriage problems and he is struggling to find emotional well-being in the hostile environment; Adam has a “family environment” problem rather than a “temperament” problem. Adam’s temper tantrums are expressions of frustration that he learned from his parents’ struggles; he does not have a made-up disease (“oppositional defiant disorder”). Adam’s parents need counseling to address their inability to manage their parents and create a happy, stable environment for themselves and their child. Adam’s parents are struggling and he is confused about the hostile environment; he is not the problem in this scenario. However, I assume that he is the problem in other scenarios that include classmates and teachers. Until Adam’s “kind” parents can provide a stable, friendly family environment, they should be the focus of therapy.

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      • Marilyn made a statement that seemed critically important to me: “Deeper family issues regarding the parent’s marriage and in-law problems would also need to be addressed.” Intruding parents are typically the “in-laws” that cause most marriage problems; I made an assumption. However, marriage problems that include an inability to manage intrusions from any in-laws seem problematic.

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  2. Do you have children? Do you have more than one child? Adam sounds like quite the little beast, leaving the parents understandably confused about what sprang from their loins. Adam does not have a family environment problem that should be pinned solely on the parents. He is part of that environment along with all the other personalities vying for a say. The parents may have one or two other children with equally horrible but different innate tendencies that they haven’t yet figured out how to harmoniously make work for all concerned. Perhaps you are mostly blaming them because they reached for the medication, the way some people want to drown their sorrows with several good stiff drinks while they pull themselves together enough to try again with a different strategy. Parenting good intentions fly out the window when confronted with reality, and there is a huge learning curve involved with each child that can go on for years. I was so flummoxed by my “own Adam” that I bribed him with candy if he could pull himself together enough to behave himself. Well, obviously that didn’t work so I took him to a psychologist who cleared up the situation in one go by suggesting that the kid needed to be free range. He didn’t ask the whole family to come in for counselling. That would have been rather insulting, actually. Rubbing it in, I would say. I would never have considered drugs and none were suggested. Parents may be reluctant to take their little darlings to psychologists at all, given the way we are tried and executed by people who don’t know even us, they only think they do.

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    • You misunderstood me; I do not “blame the parents.” Marilyn stated that Adam’s parents had marriage and in-law problems; this sounds like a hostile environment. I do not blame Adam’s parents for having marital problems, but until they can solve their issues, it seems like their young child will have difficulty solving his. I rarely consider “blame” because life is often really difficult and our community offers little assistance for parents.

      When parents are struggling to manage their own lives, parenting a child can be a nightmare and children can seem like “beasts.” However, I do not believe that any young child has “horrible… innate tendencies.”

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      • Everyone has an innate set of characteristics, some good, some not so good, and some grow horrible if left unchecked. The environment can bring out the best or the worst of these tendencies and it’s up to all involved to learn better ways to navigate through life if “normal” isn’t working.

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        • As someone whose life was utterly ruined by parental neglect, I find it specious that you would try to remove responsibility from the parents for their child’s behaviour and instead label the child “bad” for having a temperament that does not interact well with his home environment.

          You wish to label an eight-year-old “bad” purely to avoid “placing blame” on the parents for his misbehaviour. Even though family therapy has effectively changed and reduced his misbehaviour, pointing to the validity of the hypothesis that home environment and familial social interactions were the primary contributing factor in his parents’ perception that he was misbehaving in the first place.

          With no further info on his family life than what was provided in this article, you have no grounds on which to label a small child “bad” and rule his parents innocent of treating their child inappropriately and thus causing and contributing to his acting out.

          Sometimes it is, in fact, the parents’ fault when children are seen as misbehaving. I would go so far as to say quite often.

          It pains me that adults—especially those with children of their own—are so much more likely to have a knee-jerk reaction of labelling a child “bad” just to avoid considering how often poor parental behaviour is the largest contributing factor too perceived misbehaviour in children. Hell, I remember being shamed growing up by my parents and other adults alike for mimicking the behaviours of adults around me. “Do I say, not as I do” is a horrendously toxic message, and it disturbs me to know children are still regularly being raised by those standards today, and then blanetly labeled “bad” by other adults for acting in ways that seem normative to the child; or for acting out in extreme ways because the child is faced with extreme circumstances in their home and family environments.

          Until adults are willing to admit that, yes, parents regularly harm their children and that many parents’ “best” is just not good enough, children will continue to be maltreated and abused in ways both large and small by their own parents, and stigmatized by other adults as “bad” for not magically becoming “normal” while being raised in an inappropriate manner and a poor environment. Just as all the child abuse survivors I know have been treated, and continue to be treated as adult survivors of child abuse.

          We get told not to blame our parents too. That they did their best. That it’s our job to forgive and forget. No. That’s not reasonable, nor is it possible—much less safe or smart.

          Stop blaming children for the things their parents subject them to. Children are utterly disenfranchised in our culture, and are incredibly vulnerable. It is horrendous to label a child “bad” at age eight because it makes you uncomfortable to admit that perhaps his parents weren’t parenting him well enough.

          For goodness’ sake, no one teaches anyone how to parent in our culture. Everyone makes it up as they go along, and the vast majority slide back into parenting techniques their parents used, even if they are abusive. Because that’s all we’re ever taught: parenting by example, and nothing more. Early childhood education is only for the university-going elites who plan to go into childcare as a career. Not for regular ol’ plebes who are just popping out kids and hoping against hope they don’t ruin their little lives.

          And yet people of your mindset constantly try to treat parenting as this perfect, idealized thing that cannot ever be questioned or criticized.

          How absurd, in a world in which people raised by abusers are expected to simply not be abusive themselves if they become parents. With no resources, no education, few to no systemic social supports, and nothing to fall back on but their memories of their own abusive childhood.

          My parents both tried not to repeat the abuses their parents visited on them onto their own children. In specific ways, they succeeded. In the ways that mattered, they failed. They let my brother continue sexually abusing me even after I told my mother what was happening.

          That is their fault. My complex PTSD is their fault as much as my brother’s; if they’d ever even tried to stop him properly and/or get my some sort of help for my trauma when I was three, perhaps I would not be the broken mess I’ve felt like since I was 15 years old. It is absolutely their fault that they tried to pretend my brother never abused me and chose to gaslight me for almost 30 years until I finally demanded to know if my memories were real.

          If I’d had the opportunity to know that and talk about it in my teens, maybe I wouldn’t have decided I was inherently broken for no reason. Maybe I wouldn’t have started self-injuring. Maybe I would have been able to have a sense of self, or any boundaries to prevent myself from being sexually harassed and abused over and over again, with no ability to assert myself or say no. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt the need to physically harm myself for “doubting” my brother when I remembered what he did to me and had to hit and cut myself to convince myself they were just old, bad dreams and I was a monster for even considering that they might have been real.

          I no longer blame myself for that. I do blame my parents. Because they are to blame. As are all parents who gaslight and coerce their children in ways both large and small.

          We need to stop calling children “bad” and start talking about how virtually no one knows how to parent children without also harming them in our culture. Maybe then we can begin to make changes that will lead to children no longer being maltreated and abused.

          There is nothing wrong with criticizing and blaming parents who are maltreating their children. There is something very wrong with calling a child inherently “bad” and absolving their parents of all blame for the child’s behaviour. Children are born into families. Not social vacuums.

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  3. Marilyn:

    Great article. I agree with everything you say. But beyond a one-at-a-time strategy, how can we dissuade American parents from increasingly adopting psychiatry’s quick/easy, socially acceptable approach of drugging their kids into submission? Not only does the medical model allow them to evade any responsibility for creating or addressing their child’s issues, it also awards them victim status. They can even thereby evade their entire obligation to raise their kids, while receiving government financial assistance and “accommodations” that enable their kids to slide through school. It’s no wonder we’re losing our overall war.


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    • Thank you Lawrence. I confess that after fighting this battle for so many years on so many fronts, I have retreated to a one-child-at-a-time tactic. That seems to be what I do best. From reading my books and articles an amazing number of parents have contacted me over the years asking for help finding a like-minded therapist in their community. I help as I can, one-parent-at-a-time. Psychiatrists learn the medication/pharmaceutical propaganda approach in medical school and residency. That’s all they learn. It’s shocking. Adam’s pediatrician, by the way, feels as helpless as I do enface contemporary child psychiatry.

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  4. Amazing story, do psychiatrists really stoop to such dirty tricks in the US? It has to be a crime. My heart goes out. Aripripazole is a real nasty for akathisia, even our nutty psychiatrist wouldn’t go near it. That kid would have been wrecked, because of course it wouldn’t have worked, they would have maxed the dose, augmented lithium, antidepressant etc

    Speaking to the point about researching the drug, as a parent you just don’t have time. They spring this on you, get the kid on board, and you are given a weekend to figure out what anti psychotics are about. It took me 3 or 4 months to really suss out the crippling damage/benefit ratio of these drugs.

    The bottom line is that, whatever it is, it’s a psychological problem that should never go near psychiatry. I think psycho social, exercise and open air stuff, with some kind of community helps people adjust. Maybe the school environment has gone bad?

    Thanks for posting this, I’m just amazed you aren’t trying to get that doctor struck off, they seem immune to responsibility!

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  5. Thank you, Dr. Wedge, for a happy ending story. Kudos to the parents and you for your hard work. Very dismayed though unfortunately not surprised at how a child psychiatrist could even think of medicating and 8-year-old with abilify. This drug certainly would have slowed him down but at what cost? Adam would have learned nothing nor would have his parents who must have felt great satisfaction in trying new behavioral and parenting techniques and seeing positive results. Parenting is really tough these days. Let’s show them love and support not judgment and condemnation.

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  6. This is a 20 year old discussion. People have already made up their minds and at best you’re asking history to repeat itself. If you have a problem with it then move on to legislation because diagnosing and drugging children is in fact child abuse.

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  7. We had our own “Adam.” He was definitely a tough kid to work with, and our own issues definitely contributed to his lack of discipline. I really don’t subscribe to this “don’t blame the parent” concept. OF COURSE, it has something to do with how you’re treating the child. It is silly to imagine that a parent’s behavior has no effect on the child’s. And OF COURSE, the child also contributes by virtue of their own personality and intentions. To solve the problems in any family, it requires everyone to work together and own their own contributions to the system. It’s not a matter of blame, it’s a matter of shared responsibility. No judgment needs to be passed – it’s just a simple fact of life that a system is composed of all of its parts, and any change in one part of the system affects all the other parts. If we can stop worrying about who is “being blamed” and instead focus on what can be DONE to alter the situation in a positive way, we’ll make a lot more progress.

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  8. Marilyn, thank you for this excellent post. I feel compelled to reply because of the idea that it is surprising that a psychiatrist would prescribe an “antipsychotic” to an 8-year-old. I think most people have no idea what the practice of psychiatry involves in the real world, where 8-year-olds are routinely given drug cocktails including neuroleptics. This idea should be surprising, but it is not to those familiar with real-world practice.

    I worked in a psychiatry and psychology clinic last year. The clinic employed an experienced psychiatrist who specialised in working with children and adolescents. Families from all over the area sought out this psychiatrist as there are few child specialists and they are in great demand.

    The clinic used an electronic medical record that showed what psychiatric drugs clients were prescribed. Out of interest, I kept track of the psychiatrist’s prescribing habits in the medical record. Here is a list of drugs prescribed to clients of this psychiatrist seen during a specific, representative week:

    -9-year-old girl on fluoxetine
    -12-year-old boy on sertraline
    -13-year-old girl on methylphenidate, fluvoxamine, and quetiapine
    -13-year-old boy on methylphenidate, fluvoxamine, and quetiapine
    -14-year-old boy on methylphenidate, dexamphetamine, sodium valproate, risperidone, and quetiapine
    -14-year-old girl on fluoxetine and quetiapine
    -15-year-old boy on fluoxetine and quetiapine
    -16-year-old boy on olanzapine, risperidone, and quetiapine
    -16-year-old girl on fluoxetine, quetiapine, and methylphenidate
    -17-year-old boy on dexamphetamine and lisdexamfetamine
    -17-year-old girl on aripiprazole, risperidone, and sertraline
    -17-year-old girl on diazepam and escitalopram
    -17-year-old girl on lorazepam and quetiapine
    -17-year-old girl on aripiprazole, risperidone, venlafaxine, and sertraline
    -18-year-old boy on fluoxetine and quetiapine
    -19-year-old girl on lorazepam, sertraline, and quetiapine
    -(note: all clients were on one or more psychiatric drugs)

    The list above reflects a typical week in the practice of a highly experienced and qualified specialist in child psychiatry. Based on my experience, this psychiatrist’s clients and their families were not adequately informed about adverse effects, or the lack of scientific evidence for these drug cocktails, or the existence of alternative evidence-based psychological therapies for the problems these drugs were used to “treat.” In other words, there was no informed consent, which is an ethical violation. None of these clients were referred to a psychologist for help with the issues (mostly stress, anxiety, depression, and family problems) that prompted them to come to the clinic.

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        • When I worked at the psychiatry practice mentioned above, I sometimes provided accurate information to my clients about the psychiatric drugs they took that I deemed important for informed consent given the client’s concerns. Examples included information that “antidepressants” can cause emotional blunting and mania (in cases where this had obviously occurred), and that antidepressants aren’t necessary to correct a chemical imbalance that causes depression and need to be taken for life like insulin for diabetes (in case where this rationale had been given by the prescriber). In each case, I was careful that the information I provided was scientifically bulletproof, was conveyed in a respectful manner that did not disparage the prescriber, and was conveyed *not* as advice but as information for the client to consider and discuss with their prescriber if they wished so they could make an informed decision about their care.

          When word reached my psychiatrist colleagues that I was occasionally conveying such information, I was told to stop, was threatened with being reported to the regulatory body, and told that this would likely result in the loss of my license and would destroy my career. I subsequently spoke to the regulatory agency directly and asked what information a well-informed psychologist can convey to clients about their psychiatric drugs they have been prescribed. I was strongly advised not to provide *any* information about drugs to clients. Better to refer the client back to the prescriber, or to contact the prescriber myself to discuss concerns. If the prescriber learned I was providing information about drugs to clients, they might make an official complaint that I’m operating beyond the scope of my practice, and this could result in loss of my license. I asked the government official a question: “are you saying there is literally no scenario in which any psychologist can provide a client with any information about medication they have been prescribed by a doctor?” He said, “yes.”

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          • Would you be willing to make these drug statements publicly available?

            For instance I would be much better reassured to have such a drug statement as part of my advance directive. Now and again I am dragged into the you-need-antipsychotics tango. So far so good but my main professional ally has now retired, and while her presence is still felt, her influence is fading. Sadly I cannot add in the tardive akathisia and dyskinesia as no-one is even willing to assess for it.

            Come to think of it templates to cover all main drug classes would be pretty cool to make publicly available.

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          • @Brett Deacon – could you at least strongly encourage them to carefully read the patient information leaflet and take the warnings seriously? No-one ever does, of course, unless they have a problem by which time it’s too late… but there’s a lot of useful information in there which would be better known in advance. For instance, I just looked at the PIL for sumatriptan (a migraine drug I took frequently for several years) and found this: “If you use sumatriptan frequently: Using sumatriptan too often may make your headache worse.”
            Well, that happened to me, and I should’ve been on my guard because it was there in black and white from the start.

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          • Thanks, Brett, for doing your best to inform your clients. I have gotten myself in hot water with child psychiatrists when I questioned them on inpatient unit. I recall many times encountering the “What do you know, I am a MD” attitude. I use to reply back that I certainly had more in depth experience working with the client and their family and that my job is to advocate for their best interest.

            Questioning MDs is tough, not many are open to listening to other professionals which to me is their professional obligation. Lack of time, billing and insurance has created an isolated place for psychiatrists. Some are just really arrogant and condescending. I find that they often get triggered, perhaps guilty conscience.

            I would like to see therapists more proactive against psychiatry. As a group we should be defending and advocating for those we serve. We know now how harmful these drugs are. I am very vocal in my private practice about my feelings about psychiatric drugs and psychiatry as an institution but at the hospital I have to be more careful. I give patients information including drug side effects and MIA website as reference.

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          • The fact that professionals have to be so careful about giving out legitimate information shows just how oppressive the system has become. If we, the ones supposedly with the power, are afraid to speak up, just think what that would mean about the position of the poor clients, whose lives can be destroyed by saying the wrong thing!

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          • This is pitiful but not at all surprising to me. That’s how crazy it has become. The doctors are gods and no one can question them, or even provide missing parts of “informed consent.” It is an incredibly dangerous scenario, and we see the kind of damage that this set of assumptions can do.

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        • I agree photobeing…..To stand by as children get abused, in the name of not wanting to lose your job is pathetic.
          And YET, work on kids ‘trauma’, based on environment.

          None of it fits as true care.
          If people really wanted to help, and are threatened not to speak up, that is EXACTLY when they should speak up. I really dislike platitudes.

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    • Thank you for posting Brett, people need to see what child psychiatrists are getting up to!

      The prescription of 2 or 3 “antipsychotics” is truly shocking. I honestly don’t think this guy should be allowed to practise.

      In the UK what I have seen is that they “whack’ in (their word not mine) an antipsychotic and an antidepressant alot of the time. The only warnings you get are about drowsiness (you’ll get over it), weight gain (we’ll monitor it, but actually forget to), and akathisia (we’ll spot it). For the antidepressant, nothing, he didn’t even know it was off label. You get told nothing about metabolic issues, diabetes, sexual dysfunction or suicidal ideation.

      Child psychiatry is the killing fields, you have some of the least qualified people practising unchecked. Their main skill is in manipulating the mindset of the child and the parents, whom they address separately so no-one knows what’s being decided.

      The thing to do as a parent is just say “no thank you, not until you provide the evidence”. I found that they would be very reticent to give you anything (because it’s so weak), and then they would row back and moderate their demands. They will try and make you feel neglectful and delinquent, but if you keep asking for evidence they know you are onto them.

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        • @streetphoto: I like your style!

          But you have to remember the context. You are terrified, you haven’t slept, the doctors notes are even suggesting that you are part of the problem. The psycho thinks you are an obstructive troublemaker meddling with “his” patient, that you just don’t understand the seriousness of the “psychotic illness”. The patient has been groomed to believe this too. Your confidence is shot and you’ve only had a weekend to research a family of drugs. It’s as much as you can do to utter a few trembling words. What I’m saying is that when you are reeling, shocked and shaking, just try and say “sorry, I’m not going to agree to medication until you cite the scientific evidence for efficacy in the long as well as short term, and the
          prevalence and severity of all side effects. I’m sorry, but your ‘clinical opinion’ is not enough for this controversial treatment”.

          Believe me, he will drop his pen and launch into a tirade of BS, but he is compelled to reveal feeble efficacy statistics (ours cited Star-D lol) and he might even just give up rather than be embarrassed and risk a complaint. My experience is that they don’t stand their ground when they encounter knowledge and determination, they know it’s a house of cards. The most powerful weapon they have , however, remains the ability to groom the patient.

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          • My view – It’s time to stop fearing abusers and to start recording their abuse and exposing them. And yes, I’ve been in that position – they think they hold all the cards because the regulatory bodies cover them, and they do but they can still be exposed on YouTube – we have the internet.

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      • In the United States they work hand-in-hand with child protective services or whatever they are called in certain area’s and just have the children taken away from the parents over medical neglect allegations. It happened to me as a child more than once and that was in the 1990’s. It’s gotten much worse since then. It’s a slam-dunk if the school’s are involved and they can play the truancy card — “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” > but he can’t go to school because they wont let him unless he’s on “meds” > parents refuse to force kid to take “meds” > child taken away from parents and drugged in foster care.

        External and internal trauma + brain damage = super slam dunk for psychiatry. Another child psychiatrist with yet another notch in their belt, patting themselves on the back for keeping yet another genetic defect from disrupting the normies by giving that useless eater the whooping of a lifetime, and from the inside out at that. Big, big man. Or powerful, powerful woman. And with 160k a year salary, too. Almost entirely tax-payer funded, of course. Don’t mention that though if you’re a patient or parent of a child with “mental illness”, I mean if you thought pointing that out to a police officer was bad, be prepared to meet them along with an ambulance if you insult a psychiatrist that way. Someone threatened to kill themselves or someone else? Your word against theirs.

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  9. Thank you for speaking out against the fraud of the American only, SHAMEFUL “childhood bipolar epidemic.” Especially given the primary etiologies of that completely iatrogenic (doctor induced harm), not genetic, “childhood bipolar epidemic.” As Robert Whitaker pointed out in “Anatomy of an Epidemic.” A synopsis:

    And that iatrogenic etiology of “bipolar” which, of course, would stand true for the millions of adults who had the common adverse effects of the antidepressants misdiagnosed as “bipolar” as well. A MISDIAGNOSIS, even according to the DSM-IV-TR.

    From the DSM-IV-TR: “Note: Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.”

    What a DISGRACE the psychiatrists decided to make that completely iatrogenic, not genetic, pathway to a “bipolar” diagnosis, an acceptable diagnosis in the DSM5, by getting rid of that disclaimer. Instead they should have added a disclaimer about the adverse effects of the ADHD drugs.

    “Seven years since Kaplan’s book came out, children are still being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.” It is a DISGRACE that anyone is still being diagnosed with “bipolar,” since many of these are misdiagnoses of doctor induced harm. I will mention Kaplan also pointed out another MASSIVE flaw in the DSM. He pointed out that child abuse is listed in the DSM as a “V Code,” and the “V Codes” are NOT insurance billable disorders.

    And this inability of today’s “mental health professionals” to actually bill insurance companies to help child abuse victims, without first misdiagnosing them with one of the insurance billable DSM disorders, has resulted in millions of child abuse victims/survivors being misdiagnosed with the billable DSM disorders.

    Today over 80% of those labeled with the “psychotic and affective disorders” (which are “depression,” “anxiety,” “bipolar,” and “schizophrenia”) are actually misdiagnosed child abuse victims. Over 90% of those labeled as “borderline” are misdiagnosed child abuse victims.

    As to, “children are being given antipsychotics in record numbers—sometimes more than one of these drugs.” Something the DSM claims to be ignorant of, is that the antipsychotics (aka neuroleptics) can create the negative symptoms (lethargy et al) of “schizophrenia,” via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome. And the antipsychotics/neuroleptics can also create the positive symptoms (psychosis, hallucinations, et al) of “schizophrenia,” via antipsychotic induced anticholinergic toxidrome.

    Neither of these medically known antipsychotic/neuroleptic induced illnesses are listed in the DSM, so they’re also always misdiagnosed as one of the billable DSM disorders. But this also means that “schizophrenia” is primarily an iatrogenic, not genetic, illness, just like “bipolar.”

    And this is also medical evidence that the primary actual function of today’s “mental health professionals” is misdiagnosing child abuse victims with the now NIMH debunked as “invalid” DSM disorders, then turning them into the seriously “mentally ill” with the psychiatric neurotoxins. This is illegal behavior by today’s “mental health professionals.”

    There is a valid reason, “only one man,” the head of NIMH, spoke out against today’s DSM. All the DSM disorders are “invalid” diagnoses, because they are illnesses that can be created with the psychiatrist’s drugs.

    I pray to God today’s “mental health professionals” WAKE UP, take the “red pill,” to the staggering fraud and lies of what you’ve been taught, and are still being taught, in our universities.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    The globalist “robber barons” miseducated, and are utilizing the “omnipotent moral busybody” mental health professionals, to destroy America.

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    • Someone Else, you may be interested to know that the DSM-5 (2013) quietly changed its tune on antidepressant-induced mania. As you noted, DSM-IV stated that manic episodes caused by antidepressants should not count as bipolar disorder. As described in this Psychiatric Times article (, “DSM-5 now considers that mood elevation with antidepressants justifies the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, whereas earlier editions considered it a drug-induced reaction.” I wasn’t aware of this change until I started seeing clients with clear antidepressant-induced mania being diagnosed by psychiatrists with bipolar disorder and given drug cocktails consisting of a “mood stabiliser” and “antipsychotic” as a result.

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        • Fiachra, the problem is when the treatment causes the illness, psychiatrists may interpret this as the treatment “unmasking” a secret illness that was there all along. I see this all the time. Here are two examples (of many more) from my experience in the psychiatry practice:

          -Client is a man in his 20s who recently became depressed in the context of severe stress and was prescribed fluoxetine (Prozac) by his psychiatrist. He soon developed “severe agitation and insomnia” (quote from medical chart), which are common adverse effects of this drug. After these “symptoms” didn’t improve on a benzo, discontinued Prozac, another antidepressant, and an antipsychotic, he was referred to a highly biomedically-oriented psychiatry clinic called the Black Dog Institute where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. From the chart: “In hindsight, he had experienced an irritable hypomania associated with the antidepressant which unmasked a latent BAD (bipolar affective disorder). This is colloquially referred to as BAD III, and is a useful diagnostic indicator of bipolarity.” He now believes, based on what he has been told by psychiatrists, that he is mentally ill due to a malfunctioning brain with a chemical imbalance, and will need to be on medication for the rest of his life. He feels hopeless and was recently suicidal while thinking his life was over and he could never attain his longtime goals. He now takes a “mood stabiliser” and an “antipsychotic” and has been told he will need to do so for the rest of his life. He was referred to me to learn some “skills” to manage his bipolar disorder.

          -Client is a woman in her 50s who recently became depressed in the context of major life stressors. Last year she was given an SSRI antidepressant. Shortly after the dose was doubled, she experienced mild mania (increased energy, goal-directed behaviour, decreased need for sleep) for the first time in her life. Her psychiatrist diagnosed this as the emergence of latent bipolar disorder unmasked by the antidepressant. The client now takes lithium, an antidepressant, and an antipsychotic. She recently switched psychiatrists with the goal of going off her medications. Instead, her new psychiatrist doubled the dose of each drug to “stabilize” her. She did not protest but was disappointed. She complains now of weight gain (30 pounds), fatigue, and being in a fog. Her psychiatrist assured her these are not adverse drug effects despite each being a well-known effect of the drugs she is taking. She was referred to me to learn some “psychological tools” to cope with her “bipolar symptoms.”

          These cases are not outliers. I saw clients with similar experiences on a daily basis working in a psychiatry clinic. Needless to say, I am very, very glad to be working now in my own private practice.

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          • @Brett: Shocking stories of made up diagnoses.

            In each case you allude to something that scares the crap out of me. They believe in the drugs, the psychiatrist has groomed them to believe they have a faulty brain. Thereafter they will take any medication he suggests because that is what they think the problem is.

            And who is most prone to being groomed on this way with subtle references to disorder, imbalance etc? Children, who naturally trust adults and authority figures.

            Psychiatrists are indeed modern day pied pipers.

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          • “when the treatment causes the illness, psychiatrists may interpret this as the treatment “unmasking” a secret illness that was there all along. I see this all the time.”

            Do you just see this written down in the notes or do you also listen to a psychiatrist saying this to you, if so how do you handle it ?

            I’ve had this as well re my care home manager relative, they stated that a psychosis was uncovered and a young chap had to be sectioned. Not being a ‘professional’ and having been on the other end of this destructive nonsense some years previous, I just said flat out: That’s Bollocks.

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  10. I have a relative who is a manager of a autistic unit for young people (UK) I asked them to write down the drugs they use:

    Apiriprizole (Abilify atypical ‘antipsychotic’)

    Lithium (mood stabaliser – out right posion)

    Clonazepam (benzodiazepeine)

    Asenapine (atypical ‘atipsychotic’)

    Chlorpromazine (antipsychotic)

    Paliperidone (atypical ‘antipsychotic’)

    Quetiapine (atypical ‘antipsychotic’)

    Risperidone (atypical ‘antipsychotic’)

    Ziprasidone (atypical ‘antipsychotic’)

    Did I challenge my relative – they know full well the harm. I ignore them.

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  11. Auntie, your common sense suggestion seems totally reasonable. In my view, there are any number of things a knowledge non-psychiatrist professional should be able to convey to clients about psychiatric drugs, that are well-established scientific facts that are important to know for informed consent. Certainly the information in the patient information leaflet is an example. Another example is what credible clinical practice guidelines recommend for the “treatment” of various problems. So, one answer to the question “under what circumstances can a psychologist convey information to a client about their psychiatric drugs,” might be when this information is scientifically bulletproof, relevant to the client’s concerns, and has not been shared by/discussed with the prescriber.

    A different answer to this question was given to me by my psychiatrist colleagues and government regulatory agency: never. This answer was based on a different consideration than the common sense one mentioned above. According to these sources, the wellbeing of the client takes a backseat to a more important consideration, namely the possibility that a medical doctor might be upset at the psychologist for undermining their “treatment.” In their view, saying anything at all to a client about their drugs, under any circumstances, risks undermining medical treatment, upsetting the prescriber, having a complaint filed, and severe penalties against that psychologist. I reiterate that this was the advice given to me by the governmental regulatory agency that handles complaints against healthcare providers. In such an environment, doctors (like the child psychiatrist I described above) can routinely violate clinical practice guidelines, unethically withhold informed consent, and distribute drug cocktails of questionable safety and no established efficacy without any concern about negative consequences. And clients, their families, and well-informed non-physician professionals are helpless to do anything about it. This is the healthcare system in which I work.

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    • @Brett, I admire your courage and objectives. My experience is personal and bitter.

      I think what is needed is an “Informed Consent Card” , accredited by some names or possibly professional body. It comprises questions to ask the psychiatrist and gives internet advice on how to assess the answers given. I was told by my patient not to be a smart-arse, but to ask as many questions as I liked. I admit that this process will surreptitiously trap most psychiatrists who will either fail to provide answers, simply BS or bluster, or point to debunked studies. But such questions are perfectly legitimate. Some questions effective appear twice because the psychiatrist almost certainly will try to evade answering. Perhaps my idea is over ambitious and getting simple answers to straightforward questons would prove impossible – but I think there is something in this approach of asking carefully designed questions. So this is my first draft of an “Informed Consent Card”:

      Parents Informed Consent Card
      Dear Parent,
      Psychiatric drugs are not like other drugs: they do not act on a visible disease process, and they are largely experimental, with correlatory evidence only from quite old clinical trials funded by drug companies.

      Check the answers to the following questions before making a decision to accept medication. Do not accept until all answers are satisfactory for you. Write down the answers carefully.
      1. Is this drug treatment completely in accordance with national clinical guidelines?
      2. Is it licensed for this application, and if not, explain why you are prescribing off label?
      3. Show me published evidence as to the efficacy of this drug?
      4. What is the efficacy either in terms of effect size (Cohen’s d, Hedges g, or Standard Mean Difference) or the Number Needed to Treat? (Refer to internet for interpretation)
      5. How likely do you think it is that the drug will give rise to an improvement?
      6. How much does this increase the risk of suicide or suicidal ideation?
      7. Show me the published evidence regarding suicidality?
      8. What are the common side effects? How temporary are they?
      9. How long will he/she be on this drug?
      10. What is your target dose, and what is the maximum dose you would go to?

      Let me know if I’ve lost the plot!

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      • “accredited by some names or possibly professional body”

        It is a good idea but the problem is the whole lot is corrupt. If you have ever put in a serious complaint to the GMC with documents that totally prove untruths about polypharmacy drugging, you will find just how gone wrong it all is.

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        • @streetphoto: I know it’s all bollocks, as you eruditely put it.

          But I really think the best resistance is to empower the parents, to give them the confidence to ask the hard questions and determine how satisfactory the answers are. They are far too respectful and star struck – the guy in front of them really is not all that sharp or knowledgeable, he’s just trying to keep everyone quiet and doped up and avoid expensive psycho therapy.

          I know official complaints are hopeless, but I detect real fear about kicking up a stink when you threaten to question their competence, particularly if they have been disingenuous, which they always are. And if you do ask incisive questions that imply recklessness, they seem to cave in – they avoid confrontation if at all possible , and prefer the grooming route.

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    • Brett

      I hear you. I’m in exactly the same position as a peer worker in the state “hospital” where I work. You’d better never be caught talking with people on the units about the drugs that they’re forced to take nor are you ever to listen to them about being unhappy or angry about having to take the drugs. Psychiatrists reign supreme, no matter what; even though many people on one of the units are forced to take drug cocktails that include at least two so-called “antidepressants” and two and sometimes three neuroleptics. I’m surprised that we haven’t had people drop dead on that unit. It’s disgusting. Alarms have been raised at the higher levels but absolutely nothing is done because the psychiatrists reign supreme and trump everything.

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  12. “Can Children Have Bipolar Disorder?”

    I didn’t bother to read this article or the comments, because the question it poses is inane. Of course children can’t have “Bipolar Disorder.” No one can “have” “Bipolar Disorder” because there is no such thing as “Bipolar Disorder.” “Bipolar Disorder,” like every other fictitious “disease” that has been invented by psychiatry, is BOGUS. A person can no more “have” “Bipolar Disorder” than he or she can “have” a personal relationship with Santa Claus.

    Those who spread these fake diseases that cause unspeakable suffering to innocent people, including children, the elderly, and the homeless, will be held accountable before God. They also ought to be held accountable before just laws.

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  13. When I worked for a Catholic Charity, one of our programs was getting unhoused families into decent affordable, housing. Social workers in this program would advice program participants to look at every available option for increasing their household income. Frequently, the heads of household are either disabled or lack the necessary job skills to obtain employment that puts them above the poverty level which endangers their ability to stay housed. When a child is labeled with a psychiatric disability, the parents and/or guardians can apply for SSI, which substantially raises the household income by $500/$600 per month. Social workers in these charitable programs are serving as cheer leaders for parents so they can get their children diagnosed and treated. The extra income from one or more children receiving SSI benefits can mean the difference between housing or the street. It is far easier to obtain SSI for a child, if the child is taking prescription drugs. It serves as ‘proof’. Part (but not all) of the explosion of the prescribing of heavy duty drugs for children is due to socio-economic incentives. Before middle class professionals judge parents as ‘abusers’ for allowing their children to be drugged, consider some of the horrors faced by low-income or single parent households and the related incentives based on how our government safety nets for children are set up.

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    • madmom, drugging a human being against their will with a drug they do not need or want to take is abusive. Period. There are no excuses, no mitigating circumstances, no acceptable reasons for these parents to abuse their children.

      If you wouldn’t accept a parent forcing their child to work an adult job because “I need money for my child and abusing them by forcing them to work is the only way I can get it”, then there is no good reason to accept a parent drugging their child “for their own good”.

      Torture via forcible drugging is not for the child’s benefit when the parent thinks they are “sick” and will be “cured”. Torture via forcible drugging is not for the child’s benefit when the parent needs money to care for the child. A child should not be tortured to make their parent’s life easier and alleviate their guilt, stress, feeling of social stigma, etc over not having enough money to care for their child.

      “I’m doing this for you” is a lie every abused child hears from our abusers. It is nothing but a lie. Just because abusive parents need to convince themselves they “had our best interests at heart” doesn’t make it true. If someone can’t help their child without harming them, they are an unfit parent and should never have had that poor child to begin with. So many of us who were raised in abusive homes would much prefer not to have been born at all. The vast majority of child abuse survivors I’ve spoken to feel that way. We’d rather never have existed than be abused and gaslighted by being told it was “necessary” and “for our own good” and “out of love”.

      A loving parent would not torture their child. A loving parent would not put their child at risk of permanent brain damage caused by psychotropic drugs the child is being forced to take so the parent can more easily supplement their income.

      Before you judge parents who forcibly drug their children as “not abusive” because you’ve neglected to consider the child’s needs, rights and desires, consider that it is not only “professionals” who think parents who do that are abusers.

      Adults who survived abusive childhoods wholeheartedly agree that it is heinously abusive to forcibly drug a child with medications known to cause brain damage…for money.

      We are rather experts on what abusive parenting looks like, given that we managed to survive abusive childhoods and live to see adulthood.

      If you’re unwilling to listen to professionals telling parents to stop abusively drugging their children for any reason, perhaps you’ll at least listen to adult survivors of child abuse who agree with those professionals that it’s wrong to torture one’s children for any reason.

      False diagnoses destroy lives. Forcible drugging destroys lives. There is no justification for destroying your child’s life to make your life easier while they’re young.

      Parents, you want your kids to despise you like I and my mentally ill friends despise our abusive families? Then have your kids labelled “crazy” for extra money, and tell them it’s for their own good. You’ll raise a tiny, terrified, broken ball of self-hate, aimless rage and no comprehension of how we’re “supposed” to act like to be “functional” adults.

      You labelled us broken as children just so you could afford us at all. Why should we disbelieve you that we’re broken when we’re adults? Apparently, we’re so crazy we needed to be stigmatized as children. We grew up believing the things you and the medical professionals you sicced on us told us about how we’re broken and fundamentally wrong. That never, ever goes away. And it damages you for the rest of your life.

      You can’t gaslight a kid like that and expect them to thank you for your abuse. And make no mistake: it is nothing but abuse.

      Stop justifying child abuse by saying the parents had no other choice.

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  14. Since Bipolar Disorder, like virtually everything in the three or four most recent editions of the DSM, lacks scientific grounding, lacks even interrater reliability and stability and therefore cannot have validity, a more appropriate question to headline this article might have been “Can ANYONE ‘Have’ ‘Bipolar Disorder’?” Although the author makes some crucial and interesting and helpful points, in troubling ways she reifies the notion that Bipolar Disorder for anyone is a valid or helpful and not harmful category.

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