The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Monarch eTNS, a device with electrodes that is placed onto the forehead of children labeled with an ADHD diagnosis. The Monarch, which applies electrical currents that can disrupt the activity of the brain’s highly sensitive frontal lobes, is intended to be used throughout the night while the child is sleeping, and for an unlimited number of days. Reported side effects include fatigue, headache, jaw clenching, and sleep disturbance. Misleadingly promoted as a trigeminal nerve stimulator designed to “modulate” the child’s brain, the device acts to deform the brain’s natural and normal electrical system. All under the guise of treating so-called ADHD, a supposed “disease” that meets none of the criteria for one.
The FDA approval of the Monarch is but the latest form of psychiatric-inspired child abuse and, if not stopped, will afflict millions of children in unimaginably damaging ways. It has inspired us to form Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children (SPAC!) a new international advocacy organization, a project of the nonprofit Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy.
The FDA’s Unscrupulous CDRH
The Monarch’s approval came through the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). The FDA tested the machine for a mere four weeks with only one trial involving a meager 32 children.
This is the same unscrupulous FDA center that has allowed shock “treatment” (ECT) machines to be inflicted on hundreds of thousands of people every year for decades without any testing whatsoever. Psychiatrists, meanwhile, want to inflict this abuse on increasing numbers of children.
Meanwhile, without a blink of a regulatory eye, the FDA allowed the manufacturers over the years to increase the destructive power of their machines by a factor of ten. The earliest machines commonly delivered up to 80-100 milliamps of current to induce a seizure. Now the shock machines have fixed the current to an enormous 800-900 milliamps.
When the ECT machines came under successful legal attack this year for causing brain damage and memory loss, the FDA stepped in within a few days to approve the shock machines for treating depression—again without any testing whatsoever.
How did the nation get to such a morally callous place where this bizarre, damaging device is endorsed and promoted by the Devices Center at the FDA? We believe it flows inevitably from the existing abuses involved in afflicting children and youth with psychiatric diagnoses and drugs. The pharmacological psychiatric abuse of children has become one of modern society’s most frequent and legitimized forms of child abuse. Now it will be escalating into the arena of electrically assaulting their brains.
Psychiatric Drugs: Potent Neurotoxins
All FDA-approved psychiatric drugs are neurotoxins—poisonous to the brain—and are bound to harm the growth and development of both the fetus of women who take them and children who are prescribed them. Psychiatric drugs pass through a pregnant woman’s placenta, potentially causing a variety of serious birth defects as well as withdrawal problems when the child is born. Psychiatric drugs also pass through the mother’s milk, again causing neurotoxins to be passed to the nursing child and resulting in later withdrawal symptoms. After birth and weaning, the growing child’s brain remains very sensitive to being bathed in neurotoxins.
For example, “antidepressant” drugs that disrupt serotonin can cause serious fetal heart defects and pose a risk to the child’s overall growth in utero. Taken directly by children, the drugs have been shown to cause severe behavioral problems as well as brain abnormalities in a large proportion of users.
In part because this epidemic of brain-damaging pharmacological abuse has become so widely accepted, the FDA has met little opposition to its recent approval of the Monarch device.
Our Mandate: Protect Children and Their Human Rights
When children are harmed in ways that adults can prevent, we must recognize the wrongness of these children’s human-rights abuses. The children’s avoidable suffering is a stain on each of our personal claims to membership in humanity based on moral principles. When this abuse is perpetrated by corporations, government agencies, health professions, and individual professionals, it becomes especially unacceptable and we need to resist.
Since its inception in the state mental hospital system, psychiatry has persistently and grossly abdicated its moral authority with respect to children, who have been and continue to be victims of neurotoxic drugging and even electroshock and psychosurgery. Future parents trustingly turn to obstetricians for their healthcare and often receive FDA-approved psychiatric drugs during a woman’s pregnancy. These prescribers show little or no regard for the negative effects on the mothers nor their unborn children. Once babies are born, parents turn to pediatricians and other prescribers who drug their children with equal indifference to the harmful effects. In this way, psychiatric treatments label, pathologize, and injure millions of mothers and their children instead of helping them.
We say: Stop these psychiatric human rights abuses of our children, now! No more psychiatric drugging, which always serves to replace a genuine understanding and improvement of the child’s family and school relationships. No more electroshocking. And now, no more Monarch electrical stimulation of that most delicate organ in the universe, the human child’s brain.
But we must not stop there, because what children really need from us is love, nurturing, and understanding. They need protection from predatory older children and adults, including many healthcare providers. They need good food and exercise. Let us increase our commitment to meet those essential needs. We can do that while we also work to stop the tragic harm and abuse being perpetrated against our children by psychiatrists and by the even greater number of other prescribing physicians, physician’s assistants, and nurses—all of whom will now be able to inflict the Monarch device upon children and their well-meaning parents.
Learn all about SPAC! The resource site includes a brilliant short film by Aaron and Melissa Dykes about the Monarch machine and the bizarre FDA approval process and features Dr. Peter Breggin.
To get involved, contact SPAC! Director Michael Cornwall, PhD, at [email protected] with your valuable ideas for joining us as a SPAC! activist.
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.