Thursday, September 2, 2010

Here's what I object to in the NY Times article

I read the NY Times article Child’s Ordeal Shows Risks of Psychosis Drugs for Young. This is a bit of a rambling discourse because I am still feeling quite jet-lagged. I doubt if I'm making my points clearly.

I suppose I should be grateful if focusing on children to highlight the problem with psychiatric drugs will also benefit adults who feel they are being force medicated and overmedicated. Doctors don't seem to be making the mental leap, judging by what I read in the article. Actually, the article made me extremely angry because it seems that the focus on children may be diverting attention from the greater flaws in the drug paradigm system. I am very cranky after reading this article.

If you read the comments section that accompanies this article, you will see that a great deal of the criticism is directed against  the doctors who prescribed the drugs, but equally against the mother who allowed this to happen. Everybody has jumped all over this one and readers have offered up all kinds of parenting advice. Show us an innocent child and we all say, oh, it is obvious that the parent didn't know what she was doing when she medicated this child. All the family needs is counselling, not drugs. True, true, but how does this change when the child is an adult? What seems ridiculously easy to spot in children somehow becomes "a true illness" as soon as they reach the age of psychosis, which is 15 to 25 in men and 25 to 35 in women.

I'll start with the word "young" in the title of the article "Child's Ordeal Shows Risks of Psychosis Drugs for Young." The risks are the same for everybody - weight gain, diabetes, leaking breasts. Why isn't this point made more forcefully? I guess the answer is found in the quote from Dr. Gleason, below. Apparently, there is mental illness for which antipsychotics can be justified.

Dr. Gleason says Kyle’s current status proves he probably never had bipolar disorder, autism or psychosis. His doctors now say Kyle’s tantrums arose from family turmoil and language delays, not any of the diagnoses used to justify antipsychotics.

So, the myth will continue to be peddled by people who benefit from enforcing these labels that there is something akin to true bipolar, autism or psychosis. Where's the scientific validation, doctor, for mental illness? Show me! Dr. Gleason's justifying antipsychotics is opinion based on wishful thinking. It is laughably easy to see that Kyle suffered from poverty, and a medically naive young unwed mother. It is not so easy, but shouldn't be impossible, to figure out that adults with these labels are just children who have aged a few years.

Here's the myth being promulgated in one of the comments to this article. Stephen Reidbord, MD, San Francisco writes: Antipsychotics are tremendously helpful for severe conditions such as schizophrenia, where the benefits usually outweigh the considerable risks. For lesser conditions, the risk/benefit ratio swings the other way.

The benefits to whom, exactly? Prove that they are "tremendously helpful." Where's the evidence? How patronizing.

“There are too many children getting on too many of these drugs too soon,” Dr. Mark Olfson, professor of clinical psychiatry and lead researcher in the government-financed study, said.

You mean that it is okay to get on these drugs later?

The article, which is not remarkable because there are so many of them today, has left me furious because it's trying to separate obvious innocents from the older victims of this abuse. Since "Kyle" is a bright happy six year old today, he couldn't possibly have had "real" psychosis. Anyone reading the article would agree. Now what about the over 18s?

How many of us are really excellent parents? Poor parenting? Yes and no. Parenting is difficult no matter who you are. Nobody, but nobody gets it consistently right. Some parents, such as single and divorced parents, are obvious candidates for criticism, particularly if they are poor, and they are forced to bear the brunt of the criticism because their situation is dysfunctional. The public at large gets this, as the comments to the article attest. What the public doesn't often grasp when they get on the single parent bandwagon is that no matter who you are or how old you are when you first have children, having children doesn't give us sudden wisdom. It increases the strain. Just getting married increases our anxieties. Having more children increases stress.

There is a good comment in the comments section from CJ, of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She gets it and is willing to admit that she was struggling, too.

Back in the day (1970) when my eldest son was about 5, I found him difficult to handle, easily distracted and inclined not to obey. Bright and articulate, he nonetheless made me crazy and unable to deal with him, much less his two younger brothers.Around that time, the term "hyperactive" first came into play, a condition with which even his pediatrician was unfamiliar. J. was hospitalized for 2-3 days for observation and then prescribed Ritalin. The results of the medication were that they calmed J. right into oblivion. In other words, it totally knocked him out for the afternoon or... it didn't effect him at all. We never knew which to expect.

We kept him on it for most of the 30-day prescription, at which time it was either strengthen the dosage or take him off it. I opted to take him off it, without consulting the doctor, "asking" permission or anything else. It was breaking my heart to see what was happening to my bright-eyed firstborn.

Although he's had his issues throughout the years, at least I know they weren't caused by over-medication administered by his parents. And today he's a happily married, soon-to-be-45-year-old –– hard-working, responsible and still employed, despite the economic downturn.

In retrospect, his father and I were 23 when we had him, both emotionally young, hyperactive adults prone to nervousness. What, then, could we expect in our little ones?
It appears today's parents don't want to take time to examine themselves, their lifestyles, their parenting skills (or lack thereof) to see what might be affecting their child/ren. In addition, they might look to the schools, who have in many instances effectively taken away all outlets for normal childhood rambunctiousness by eliminating recess and phys ed, and requiring these little ones stay at their desks most of the day.

As for parents and physicians "drugging" infants and preschoolers, well, as they say, you can't cure dumb.

As a nation, we are doing our youngsters a great disservice, substituting drugs for parenting, and placing the blame on others. Parents, take control. Do this by first taking control of yourselves. Your children –– and their future –– is at risk.


  1. I was about to write that if there's anything different between the drugging of children and that of adults, it's that children almost always are drugged against their will. But not even that's a true difference, because most of the adults who give their "consent" to being drugged have been brainwashed (misinformed and threatened) into it, and, additionally, they're not given a choice at all, since it is drugs or nothing.

    Great comment, the one by CJ. "Parents, take control. Do this by first taking control of yourselves." Yes! Control, or responsibility. I love the quotation marks around "asking" in " 'asking' permission". It's a complete mystery to me how someone can be as slavishly dependent on whatever their shrink says, as I see many are.

  2. In a recent thread on one of my facebook pages, a woman was unable to grasp the idea that drugging children wasn't any different than drugging an adult. (Dr. John Breeding is against it for children - taking away their right to choose?) Marian wrote back to her that the child was drugged without consent. Pretty glaring obvious difference. Whatever the age, the outcome is the same!
    CJ makes her point strong and clear. Still, we have to address this situation differently. When someone goes to a clinic looking for help - stressed out by normal life events - the first recourse should not be drug treatment. There are many good therapist ( and too many bad - my recent post on the subject)
    Still I think many of these situation could be "diffused" by just talking with someone - telling them how lousy it feels to be broke, out of work, stressed with a new baby and another on the way. Stress is the normal reaction to these situations.
    Drug therapy is offered first and it's immediate sedation is welcome to anyone stressed out. But, then the slippery slope gets too steep to hold on.


I am no longer approving comments. All I ask is that you be respectful of others and refrain from using profanity.