How Danish Journalism Misleads About Psychiatry

Multiple errors in a Danish newspaper article about adult ADHD.

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An article in a Danish newspaper from 14 April was very frustrating to read but was typical for the totally uncritical way journalists deal with issues in psychiatry. It was about the fact that significantly more middle-aged and older people receive an ADHD diagnosis today than earlier. This, the readers were supposed to think, was a good thing.

The article says that children do not outgrow their ADHD diagnosis. However, research shows that many children do this. And 50% more children born in December are treated with ADHD medication than those born in January in the same school class, which is simply because they are more immature.

Photo of outraged shocked woman in stupor reading fake terrible headlines, news about her corporation sitting in armchair isolated grey color wall concrete background

The article says that people get an explanation for their problems when they receive an ADHD diagnosis. But the diagnosis doesn’t explain anything. It is just a name for a behaviour that lies at one end of a normal distribution for behaviour. Poul behaves in such a way that we choose to call it ADHD. Then we can’t say that ADHD is the reason why Poul behaves like he does. This is circular evidence, also called a tautology.

For the same reason, one cannot have ADHD, which the article claimed. We can have a car or a dog, but not ADHD. It’s not something that exists in nature that can attack us like bacteria can. It’s just a name for a certain behaviour.

It is therefore also misleading to say that 2-3% of middle-aged and older people “live with ADHD.” You can live with a cancer, which really exists, but “living with ADHD” just means living with yourself, which we all do, so this is also an empty statement.

The article mentions that ADHD has a genetic element. Surely, our children resemble ourselves to some extent in the way they behave, but that does not mean that we can find the “disease” (which is not a disease) in the genes. Genetic association studies have not proven anything, and it is not true either that people with ADHD have smaller brains than others, as it was claimed in much touted Lancet article.

The article notes that a named person, diagnosed at age 58, has clearly noticed the effect of the medicine against ADHD. It regulates her mood and behaviour and dampens her many emotional outbursts. Well, this is not exactly what was reported in the randomised trials, but science by anecdotes is very popular among journalists, just as it is among alternative practitioners.

I wrote a short comment to the newspaper, which I expected them to publish, as the article contained factual errors. But oh no! The debate editor wrote to me that they, unfortunately, could not publish it, as the article I referred to did not contain factual errors. “Your appeal is based on your views – and that is of course perfectly fine, but there is no question of erroneous facts on our part – all arguments and statements can be substantiated. But journalist Tea Krogh Sørensen would like to talk to you for a follow-up article about the debate around diagnoses, so I would encourage you to contact her by email.”

I wrote to Tea that I found it “very disappointing that the debate editor writes that there are no errors in the article, when objectively there are errors. It has nothing to do with my ‘views,’ and what I write has nothing to do with opinions, but is based on facts, and there are also logical fallacies (tautologies). I assume you got the information you bring in the article from a psychiatrist.”

We spoke on the phone and when I checked her sources, they confirmed that some children outgrow their diagnosis. So, her article was not correct. The only exception was the patient organisation MIND.

My talk with Tea led nowhere. I tried to convince her that she needed to be critical and not just accept what she was told by leading psychiatrists, and I offered her an easy example. The FDA, based on a meta-analysis of 100,000 patients who had participated in placebo-controlled trials, warns against using depression drugs in children because they increase their risk of suicide. At the same time, leading psychiatrists in Denmark, e.g. professors Poul Videbech and Lars Kessing, claim that the drugs protect children against suicide.

Tea was unable to understand my argument. She said something about different views, and other types of evidence, and when I said randomised trials were the best evidence we have and asked her if she believed more in psychiatrists than in drug regulators, I came nowhere.

Tea said she wanted to interview me, but I shall decline. It can only go wrong. When I explain such simple things to lay people, some of them having no education at all, they always understand me. But journalists? They must be among those with the lowest intelligence of all trades. There are some excellent ones, but my collaboration with average journalists have been intensely frustrating.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. As a diagnosis, ADHD inherited much from the older concepts of “Minimal brain damage” and “Minimal brain dysfunction”, which were somewhat more general in what behavior they circumscribed.

    ADHD then, appears to me, a distillation of the behavioral issues associated with MBD, that seemingly respond positively to stimulant drugs (lack of attention and agitative behavior). If the sole purpose of the diagnostic label was to put children on drugs (and it seems like that, given the poverty of alternative therapeutic approaches), it would make sense for pharmaceutical companies to heavily lobby for the inclusion of the diagnosis as a way to both legally establish the practice of peddling drugs (coinciding with the mass-prescription of anti-depressants in the ’80s) and to colonize a new market and expand upon it.

    Subsequently, the diagnosis would also serve to protect the interests of the shareholders since any use of stimulant drugs other than what has been authorized could quickly land you (the practician) in jail. Since the practice of drugging children had already emerged in school settings back in the ’60s and ’70s for the purpose of controlling children, it just made sense to define ADHD in such a way that adults could not qualify for it. Given the lack of any science, one had to rely on ad hoc reasoning which effectively forced them to come up with the idea that “children could outgrow it”. This turned ADHD into one of the very few psychiatric disorders that could be left behind.
    This coincides with how ADHD was conceptualized back then, an issue of brain maturation that primarily affected the frontal cortex (if I’m not mistaken). Over the last couple years, the pharmaceutical companies, by whatever means, managed to establish the legal practice (again, not scientific) of putting adults on stimulant drugs. In order to justify that habit, of course, certain truths that remained unchallenged for over 3 decades had to be abolished. This includes the notion of children “outgrowing ADHD” as well as adults not having ADHD. Is this based in science? No. It begs the question then, who’s interested in putting adults on meth. Usually, people correctly identify the pharmaceutical industrial complex but that industry would, on its own, never have waited three decades just to start selling adult ADHD now.

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  2. Thank you as always, Dr. Peter, for speaking the truth. American propaganda is out of control, too.

    “Tea said she wanted to interview me, but I shall decline. It can only go wrong.” I hope you will rethink this, because if you give Tea some information to research into first, and say you’ll allow her to interview you, after she properly educates herself with the “alternative,” albeit, truthful view. It may go better than you think?

    “But journalists? They must be among those with the lowest intelligence of all trades.” Well, I personally think that’s likely the psychologic industry – since I think they used to be the only industry that could get into grad school, without taking the GRE, albeit maybe I’m wrong about that, and that no longer seems to be the case.

    Nonetheless, one journalist is somewhat my hero of mine, since he’s the one who pointed out the actual iatrogenic etiology of my “bipolar” misdiagnosis. But he seems to be modest enough to have people, rightfully, and even he is now pointing out systemic failures, within both the medical pharmaceutical industries and big media.

    And, as a former economics and marketing major, I will say, both those industries are corrupted also. Just check out my favorite economics professor’s pointing out of the fraud of Keynesian microeconomic theory in his book:

    https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Bigness_Complex.html?id=PLsUeY_Q1doC

    And all do need to wake up to the systemic fraud of the globalist banking system, including the Federal Reserve.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rmc8GDlyAQg&t=5s

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  3. Round our way parents want there children on ritalin, they go down the pub and sell it off as a party drug which kind of suppliments the minimum wage. There are also lots of cracks dealers round where I live so if adults want speed I think they should buy their own like everyone else and stop sponging off the government.

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