On any given day in America millions of children are taking powerful anti-psychotic drugs to treat alleged mental disorders such as ADHD. In many schools across the country the teachers themselves have the power to suggest that a child has ADHD and should be medicated based merely on the child’s behavior in the classroom. (WebMD) In fact, there appears to be a correlation between ADHD diagnoses and school performance assessments. In states where schools are held to performance standards there are higher rates of ADHD. (Miller) This is because, according to the Child Mind Institute, once a child has been diagnosed with ADHD their test scores no longer contribute to the larger assessment. This gives them incentive to identify and diagnose children with ADHD. It has also been determined that in many instances, younger children are over diagnosed. This may because they are younger than their peers and their behavior is due to this fact and not a mental disorder. (Miller) ADHD is a controversial topic. There are people in the psychiatric profession who are now insisting that it is not a real disorder, and there are claims that it was simply made up to rake in profits for drug companies. This paper will examine the symptoms of ADHD. Where they come from, how they are assessed, and the effects of the powerful medications being prescribed to our children.
America’s Drugged Children
According the Centers for Disease Control, over six million children as recently as 2016 have been diagnosed with ADHD. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) More than 300,000 of these children are less than five years old. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental condition listed in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual. This is the manual used by the psychiatric profession to diagnose mental illness. The DSM, first published in 1952, (Child drugging: Psychiatry destroying lives) originally contained only one hundred twelve diagnosable conditions. (Child drugging: Psychiatry destroying lives) Today, that number has exploded to over three hundred eighty. (Child drugging: Psychiatry destroying lives) All of which come complete with a code used for billing insurance companies.
ADHD was first added to the DSM in 1987. (Child drugging: Psychiatry destroying lives) Throughout the first year alone over 500,000 children were diagnosed with the disease. (Child drugging: Psychiatry destroying lives) According to an article in the Indian Journal of Clinical Medicine, the founder of the disease, Dr. Leon Eisenberg, made the shocking confession on his death bed that the disease is not real. (Bhushan, 2013, p. 202) He stated that he made up the disease to help the pharmaceutical companies rake in massive profits. (Bhushan, 2013, p. 202) The percentage of children said to have ADHD has risen roughly three percent every year since 1997. (Armstrong, 1995) There is a financial connection between those that diagnose mental health disorders and the pharmaceutical companies. (Cosgrove, Krimsky, Vijayaraghavan, & Schneider, L. 2006) The industry rakes in billions every year. (Cosgrove, Krimsky, Vijayaraghavan, & Schneider, L. 2006) Is ADHD a made-up disease to generate profits? How does diagnosing and drugging our children for the treatment of ADHD affect them? Are we helping our children or causing them more harm?
What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? This is not an easy question to answer because anyone of us, at any time during our lives could be displaying symptoms synonymous with the alleged disease. The criteria, according to the ADD Resource Center, is confusing and dependent upon time spent experiencing the symptoms, and age. For example, children under the age of six need to show six symptoms for a period of more than six months. If you’re between the ages of six and seventeen you only need to show five symptoms. (The A.D.D Resource Center) These symptoms include, but are not limited to, forgetfulness, inability to sit still for long periods of time, inability to pay attention for long periods of time, easily distracted, is often on the go and runs around when it is inappropriate to do so. Don’t forget the fidgety hand tapping. (The A.D.D Resource Center) Displaying these symptoms for a period of six months is all it takes to have an individual labeled with ADHD and prescribed drugs. The drugs most often prescribed are Ritalin and Adderall.
According to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, there are over three and a half million children prescribed drugs like Ritalin and Alderall for ADHD alone. (Number of Children & Adolescents Taking Psychiatric Drugs in the U.S.) The total number for children taking drugs for all mental conditions surpasses seven million. (Number of Children & Adolescents Taking Psychiatric Drugs in the U.S.) What is Ritalin? Ritalin is a powerful schedule II narcotic (Ritalin Side Effects) that is classified as a controlled substance, the same as cocaine. It is highly addictive and has been known to cause severe problems in children taking it. These problems include psychological conditions which lead to more drugging. Side effects include but are not limited to, cardiovascular and heart problems, suicidal or homicidal thoughts, involuntary shaking, depression, and cognitive impairment. (Ritalin Side Effects)
One of the most common causes of mental illness is commonly referred to as a chemical imbalance. This theory first came about in the 1960’s when Thorazine, the commonly prescribed drug at the time, was found to block the brains dopamine production. (Whitaker, 2005, p. 25) This theory later proved to be inaccurate. This is important because many people today still believe the chemical imbalance theory (Whitaker, 2005, p. 25) when in fact, there was never any significant signs that there were low levels of brain chemicals such as serotonin in patients diagnosed with depression or schizophrenia before their diagnoses. (Whitaker, 2005, p. 25) In fact, the evidence, according to an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that the brain becomes more chemically imbalanced after the use of psychotropic medications. (Hyman & Nestler, 1996, p. 161) Drugs like Prozac, which are commonly prescribed to treat depression, inhibit the brains normal functioning by reducing serotonin production by up to fifty percent. The result is the creation of a condition in which the brain is functioning entirely different from before the drugs were prescribed. (Hyman & Nestler, 1996, p. 161) In other words, the use of psychiatric drugs is contributing to higher rates of mental illness. (Hyman & Nestler, 1996, p. 161)
When it comes to the issue of prescribing drugs like Ritalin to children this is an important concept to understand. Just as there is no conclusive proof that chemical imbalances are the root cause of any mental illness, there is no conclusive test which proves ADHD exists as a biological treatable disease. (The rise of ADHD: An educational psychology perspective, 27 October, 2017) The diagnoses of such a disease is just as controversial in adults as they are in children. (ADHD is a Fraud, 15 December 2018) There is no conclusive test which identifies any biological factor in the brain which causes its symptoms. (ADHD is a Fraud, 2018, December 15) The diagnoses are made purely from the perspective that the child’s behavior is disruptive and at times, inattentive. (ADHD is a Fraud, 15 December 2018) The cause of ADHD remains largely unknown just as the cause of other so-called mental illnesses. (Whitaker, 2005, p. 25) Yet, we are prescribing drugs like Ritalin to children as young as five years old.
In an interview with The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Israeli family practitioner Dr. Louria Shulamit states that ADHD symptoms are so common they could be diagnosed in anyone, particularly boys, at almost any given time. (Child Drugging) ADHD, according to Shulamit, does not fit the standard definition of disease and is only diagnosed by its so-called symptoms. (Child Drugging) This is a re-occurring theme that is heard over and over. This statement backs up the research cited earlier stating that there is no conclusive test which proves ADHD exists as a biological anomaly which is identifiable and treatable like other medical diseases. Furthermore, Dr. Mary Anne Block suggests that ADHD symptoms can be explained by other medical problems that children may be suffering from such as allergies, which would make concentration in school more difficult, or high intakes of sugar which leads to higher rates of irritability and anxiety. (No More ADHD, 2009, September 15) There is little doubt that some children suffer from low attention spans and an inability to focus, however, labeling it a psychiatric disorder when no test exists to prove its existence as a disease (No More ADHD, 2009, September 15) is not the way to go.
According to Dr. Tana Dineen, psychological disorders found in the DSM, such as ADHD are not based on any real viable medical conditions but the opinions of committee members who simply vote the disorder into existence and add it to the DSM. (Dineen, 2001) These are the same committee members who have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. (Cosgrove, Krimsky, Vijayaraghavan, & Schneider, L. 2006)
Our inquiry into the relationships between DSM panel members and the pharmaceutical industry demonstrates that there are strong ﬁnancial ties between the industry and those who are responsible for developing and modifying the diagnostic criteria for mental illness. The connections are especially strong in those diagnostic areas where drugs are the ﬁrst line of treatment for mental disorders. Full disclosure by DSM panel members of their ﬁnancial relationships with for-profit entities that manufacture drugs used in the treatment of mental illness is recommended. (Cosgrove, Krimsky, Vijayaraghavan, & Schneider, L. 2006)
According to Cosgrove et al, fifty-six percent of the one-hundred-seventy DSM panel members had at least one financial link to the drug companies. (Cosgrove et al, 2006) This is a huge conflict of interest. Furthermore, while the number one link was in the form of research funding, forty- two percent, (Cosgrove et al, 2006) thirty-eight percent of members were receiving funds for consulting and speaking on behalf of the drug company in question. (Cosgrove et al, 2006) Cosgrove et al notes the importance of the public as well as mental health workers knowing about these financial ties because there is a “right to know” what diseases, and the criteria they are based on, are being added to the DSM. Because there is no specific testing method to detect ADHD and the psychiatric industry is pushing powerful, mind altering drugs on American children, this author agrees with Cosgrove et al’s conclusions. There should be full disclosure of financial ties between DSM panel members and the drug companies that rake in billions annually. These drug companies, according to Thomas Armstrong, author of the book “The Myth of The ADHD Child” also financially support nonprofit organizations such as CHAAD. (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) (Armstrong, 1995)
Children have been diagnosed with symptoms which make up today’s ADHD diagnosis since the early twentieth century. (Armstrong, 1995) It used to be called post encephalitic behavior disorder. (Armstrong, 1995) This was after the worldwide encephalitis outbreak after WWI. It was believed at the time that the children who survived the outbreak were suffering from this disease. Later, in the 1940’s the term “minimal brain damaged” was used because children who had allegedly suffered from a brain injury were displaying symptoms synonymous with today’s ADHD. (Armstrong, 1995) This term, according to Armstrong, was also rejected a couple decades later as scientists could not identify any brain damage in children displaying these symptoms. In 1968 the term describing ADHD symptoms was hyperkinetic reaction of childhood and it was an official diagnosis in the second edition of the DSM. (Armstrong, 1995) In the 1980’s, it was then called ADHD and classified as an official psychiatric disorder. (Armstrong, 1995) Again, what we are discussing here are behavior traits such as inability to pay attention for long periods of time, an inability to sit still and running around and being very hyper when it may not be appropriate to do so. Do these sound like mental health symptoms children should be taking drugs for, or is there something can account for this behavior?
Behavioral neurologist Richard Saul is another doctor with experience treating people with ADHD symptoms who simply states that the disease as defined by the psychiatric profession does not exist. (Saul, 2014) Many of the ADHD symptoms, according to Saul, can be explained by other medical conditions such as sleeping disorders, poor vision or hearing, iron deficiency, allergies or even marijuana and alcohol abuse. Saul places people suffering from ADHD symptoms into two categories. Those who display a normal inattentiveness at times and those suffering from other conditions. Drugs like Ritalin are not recommended for either category. Instead, eating right, watching caffeine intake, exercise and engaging your mind in something your passionate about are recommended courses of action for the first category. (Saul, 2014) The other category usually finds ADHD symptoms going away after the detection and treatment of another medical condition. (Saul, 2014)
There may yet be another explanation as to why so many children are seemingly displaying an inability to pay attention. According to Armstrong, neurologists have discovered that the brains of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD suffer from slower development, but still develop the same as anyone else’s brain.
That is, the brain of the child identified as ADHD is not a flawed brain, a broken brain, or a disordered brain; it is a developmentally delayed brain. And this in turn means that we should not be regarding children diagnosed with ADHD as suffering from a neurological disorder but, rather, as manifesting a developmental difference. (Armstrong, 2005)
As noted earlier, the use of psychotropic medications is more responsible for so called chemical imbalances in the brain than the symptoms of many mental disorders. Considering the above information, drugging a child with powerful stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall does not seem like the thing to be doing. If the above information is true than we are causing more harm to children by giving them these drugs. Children diagnosed with ADHD are also more likely to be users of illegal drugs. (Armstrong, 2005) The drugs prescribed for ADHD are very addictive and prone to abuse by users. (Armstrong, 2005) Furthermore, the drugs do not heal the symptoms; rather, they cover them up. As soon as the effects of the drug wear off, the symptoms return. (Armstrong, 2005) This is because, as demonstrated throughout the duration of this paper, there has been no conclusive evidence that ADHD exists as a biological disorder which can be identified and healed as a typical medical condition would be. It does not exist as defined in the DSM.
As mentioned earlier, drugs like Ritalin have been known to cause violent or suicidal behavior in young children. According to an article published by the journal Pediatrics, psychotic behavior is more likely to be prevalent in children diagnosed with ADHD after taking medication. After conducting a study with children diagnosed with ADHD, a higher percentage that were taking stimulant type medications such as Ritalin, were showing signs of psychotic symptoms compared to those that were not prescribed drugs. The conclusion is that the drugs were a greater contributing factor than the ADHD diagnosis. (Mackenzie, Abidi, Fisher, Propper, Bagnell, Morash-Conway, Glover, Cumby, Hajek, Schultze-Lutter, Pajer, Alda & Uher. 2016, p. 4) This backs up the research cited by Hyman & Nestler which states higher rates of drug use to treat mental disorders create more mental disorders. Furthermore, Mackenzie et al, was also able to establish, in a few patients, the presence or absence of psychotic behavior during the use of psychotropic medications. In other words, the psychotic behavior tended to subside when the use of stimulant medication was stopped. (MacKenzie et al, 2016, p 4.)
The increased prevalence of psychotic behavior among those taking stimulant medication has been readily observed. Most of the recent mass shootings occurring in America have been committed by people taking psychotropic medications. (Corsi, 2012, December 18) While the debate rages between the need for stricter gun control and more mental health treatment, the point being missed is the fact that those committing the shootings are more often the ones that are being treated. (Corsi, 2012, December 18) Three medications commonly associated with ADHD have been linked in a study to over one thousand nine hundred cases of violent behavior. (Moore, GlennMullen & Furberg, 2010, p. 2)
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has published a list of 36 high profile events which involved teenagers on psychiatric medications committing murder. (36 School shooters/schoolrelated violence committed by those under the influence of psychiatric drugs.)Twenty-two percent of these incidents involved children taking drugs for ADHD. This certainly doesn’t mean that all children taking drugs for an ADHD diagnosis will commit murder or other violent acts, however, given the research cited earlier by Mackenzie et al, it is safe to say these children would not have committed these crimes had it not been for their medication. Dr. David Kirschner, writing for The National Psychologist states that in thirty of the mass shooters he has evaluated, mental health services were widely available but did nothing to deter the violent acts. Several of the perpetrators were prescribed the ADHD drug Ritalin before committing the murders. (Kirschner, 2014) According to Kirschner, the drugs prevent the brains frontal cortex control mechanisms from functioning properly. This is what contributes to or causes the violent behavior. This statement reinforces a common theme throughout this essay. The use of psychotropic medications can cause mental health issues as opposed to treating them.
There is substantial evidence on both sides of the aisle arguing for or against the use of psychotropic medications. Millions of Americans use them, and they claim that it helps. There is also the evidence provided in this paper, which cannot be discounted given the fact that we are dealing with life and death. “We cannot just uncritically accept research methods as given to us in a valid form by the social sciences.” (Sullivan & Porter, Central Works in Technical Communication p. 300) The idea that psychotropic drugs are the only way to treat people displaying symptoms of ADHD or other forms of mental disorders has become too mainstream. (Dineen, 1998) A quick fix to deal with the anxiousness and confusion we experience in the hectic world we live in. Given the evidence that it leads to violent behavior in some people, a more thorough approach to researching their use and benefits is in order. As the debate rages on between increased gun control or better access to mental health treatment, the evidence suggesting that perhaps it is the treatment contributing to the violence is being ignored. Could this be due to the huge financial connections mentioned earlier in the paper? John Horgan, writing for The Scientific American, cites the work of Dr. David Healey. According to Healey, five percent of participants walk out of clinical trials concerning psychiatric meds due to increased mental agitation. (Horgan, 2013) Healey believes this increased mental agitation could be leading to the violent behavior. (Horgan, 2013) The Citizens Commission on Human Rights estimated that 41 million people are taking psychiatric meds in the U.S. (Psychiatric Drugs: Create Violence & Suicide School Shootings & Other Acts of Senseless Violence) That equates to over two million people that could be experiencing increased mental agitation. In many other situation’s, five percent of forty-one million is a small, insignificant number, however, the consequences of two million people potentially going crazy due to psychotropic drugs could be grave. It is something that cannot be ignored.
In the book The Myth of Mental Illness, Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz makes some interesting observations. He states that much of the work in psychiatry is based purely on the fields preconceived notions. “Actually, many contemporary psychosocial concepts are defined in terms of the expert’s self-proclaimed intentions, interests, and values. Virtually all current psychiatric concepts are of this sort.” (Szasz, p. 3) Because there is no scientific proof that mental illness exists as a biological disease, there is a need to legitimize psychiatry as a medical profession. Szasz states that the field of psychiatry, attempting to be a legitimate medical practice, has been fundamentally disloyal to its patients from the perspective that they cannot admit they have no understanding of the root causes of so-called mental illness. (Szasz, p. 5) “Imitating medicine comes before telling the truth.” (Szasz, p. 5) There is something to be said here because as stated earlier, overwhelming evidence is being ignored. In fact, it could be argued that despite the evidence available there is an increased demand for the use of psychotropic drugs to treat violent behavior while ignoring the evidence which suggests the drugs are causing it.
Perhaps there is a larger problem. One that is being overlooked altogether. Man, in religious terms, has long been thought to be in control of his own behavior. The fields of psychology and psychiatry have their roots in evolutionary beliefs. The idea that man is an animal as opposed to a spiritual being has dominated the profession. Wilhelm Wundt, founder of experimental psychology (Child Drugging: Psychiatry Destroying Lives) stated that man’s behavior and thought patterns should not be viewed any differently than they would be in any other animal. (Wundt, Lectures on Human and Animal Psychology, p. 5) Furthermore, he states that any study undertaken of the human mind must be done as an experimental science or else we would never be able to identify any so-called psychological problems. (Wundt, Lectures on Human and Animal Psychology, p. 8) This gives Thomas Szasz’s quote more meaning. “Actually, many contemporary psychosocial concepts are defined in terms of the expert’s self-proclaimed intentions, interests, and values. Virtually all current psychiatric concepts are of this sort.” (Szasz, p. 3) Behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner, founder of the operant conditioning theory stated something similar in his book “Beyond Freedom and Dignity.”
“In what we may call the pre-scientific view (and the word is not necessarily pejorative) a person’s behavior is at least to some extent his own achievement. He is free to deliberate, decide, and act, possibly in original ways, and he is to be given credit for his successes and blamed for his failures. In the scientific view (and the word is not necessarily honorific) a person’s behavior is determined by a genetic endowment traceable to the evolutionary history of the species and by the environmental circumstances to which as an individual he has been exposed. Neither view can be proved, but it is in the nature of scientific inquiry that the evidence should shift in favor of the second. (Skinner, 101)
Maybe the answer to America’s mental health crisis is shifting away from studying man from a scientific perspective and returning to the idea that we are spiritual beings created in God’s image. Looking at man through what Skinner has deemed the scientific viewpoint is resulting in nothing less than the dehumanization of people. We have tried using drugs to correct behavior what we haven’t tried is returning to our Christian as a nation.
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36 School shooters/school related violence committed by those under the influence of psychiatric drugs (N.K.D) The Citizens Commission on Human Rights Retrieved fromhttps://www.cchrint.org/school-shooters/
Article posted with permission from David Risselada
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