Disease Mongers INC.

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Only two decades ago, if kids were bored and didn’t listen well in class, or could not sit still, refrained from (some) social activities, or kept yapping away, he or she was considered lazy, a daydreamer, or perhaps “undermining authority”. These days, kids doing those “things” seem to be easily slapped with a mental disorder label and drugged.

Some numbers

Only two decades ago, psychiatrists reserved the drugs for patients with very severe mental illnesses. By 2008, antipsychotics were the most lucrative class of drugs in America. In the mid-’90s pharmaceutical companies began pitching atypical antipsychotics such as Risperdal, Zyprexa, and Seroquel as more effective than older antipsychotics, but relatively free of their ugly side effects. By the mid-2000s, atypicals were being prescribed not just for severe illnesses but also for anxiety, agitation, insomnia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and depression. The most remarkable of which was the 40-fold rise between 1994 and 2003 in diagnosis and treatment of a previously considered rare illness named “bipolar disorder”.  And the future does not spell any serious change of this trend. The new diagnostic guidelines in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 relax the diagnostic criteria, pulling more people, especially adolescents and adults, under the “ADHD” umbrella.

In Europe diagnoses for “ADHD” have exploded too. For example, between 1989 and 2001, the number of diagnoses in German clinical practice increased by 381 percent. The costs for ADHD medication, such as for the performance-enhancing psychostimulant methylphenidate (Ritalin), have grown nine times between 1993 and 2003. In Germany, the government health insurance company, Techniker, reports an increase of 30 percent in methylphenidate prescriptions for its clients between the ages of 6 and 18. And the daily dosage has increased by 10 percent on average.

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Fictitious diseases?

“That’s correct; it is an invention. Every child who’s not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: “It’s ADHD; here’s Ritalin.” In fact, 90 percent of these kids don’t have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they’ll make the corresponding diagnosis.” ~ Dr. Jerome Kagan

Child psychiatry researcher, Leon Eisenberg, one of the first to advocate major research studies on children’s developmental problems, like ADHD and autism, was one of the most famous neurologists in the world. He was a prominent figure in child psychiatry in the 50s and 60s. Some even identify him as the “inventor” or “founding father” of ADHD/ADD. In an interview with Dr. Eisenberg’s in 2009, seven months before he died at age 87, he was quoted saying: “ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease.” 

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Confused cau(ca)ses

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is the primary reference catalog for mental health illnesses. But whereas a medical textbook will show you the picture of a broken bone or a tumor, leaf through the DSM and you will find just one thing: lists of symptoms. Who creates these lists, and based on what criteria? Do such lists really capture the nature of a mental illness? What does it mean to be a disease of the mind versus a disease of the body? Does this classification system construct mental illness, or does it reveal underlying facts from genetics or neuroscience?

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Testing for …

“ADHD”

There is no labtest that proves a person has ADHD. The diagnosis is based on a list of signs and symptoms related to inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that are basic everyday child behaviors. Plus there is no objective way to measure behaviour.

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“autism”

There is no such labtest for autism either. Not yet. A potential blood test appears to be underway, but even if all “false positives” can be eliminated and some behavioural expressions can be linked to a particular set of genes, it is only that. It does not mean there are not other, external factors involved in actually bringing out such expressions.

The value of an “annotated” genome compared to “raw sequence” is like comparing the plot of To Kill a Mockingbird to a pile of word-size pieces cut from a copy of the book. When it comes to genomes, meaning and context are everything.

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“anxiety disorder”

Another “disease” with no labtest to make the diagnosis is an anxiety disorder. Again, diagnosis is based on a list of signs and symptoms.

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“bipolar disorder”

And another. Bipolar disorders, for example, virtually never used to occur among children. Today, almost a million Americans under the age of 19 are said to suffer from it.

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“depression”

And another.

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But that doesn’t stop anyone, and Big Pharma sits back laughing nefariously at the billions of dollars being made on diagnosing disorders that perhaps do not exist or are just a temporary state of mind!

It Is BB! Big Business!

The drug industry is a massive conglomerate with enough money to pay doctors, schools, athletes celebrities huge amounts of money to promote their products. All sorts of organizations, online resources and well known public authorities are being paid mega bucks by Big Pharma to recommend, advertise and claim the meds are safe. Big Pharma spends billions marketing to doctors and teachers. They go as far as sponsoring online quizzes and educational videos designed to help persuade people to use drugs.

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Effects of the meds

heroineMany drugs can be damaging, and the majority of recreational drugs were introduced for their medical applications. It’s not always a clearcut case of “good and bad”, there are numerous other variables to consider. Taking drugs isn’t like throwing a wrench into the workings of the brain, but seems to more adjust the settings of it. This can be damaging in many cases, but it’s not a simple black-and-white matter as is often implied.

SPIEGEL: It’s not entirely harmless either, though. After all, children with ADHD diagnosis are being subjected to a systematic change in their brain chemistry through psychoactive substances.

Kagan: I share your unhappiness. But that is the history of humanity: Those in authority believe they’re doing the right thing, and they harm those who have no power.

ADHD meds can be dangerous. They aim to boost levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which most often is not even the root of the cause.

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And now for something completely different

Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy, then gives them drugs to take away their unhappiness. Science fiction? It is already happening to some extent in our own society. ~ Ted Kaczynski

Is nonconformity and freethinking the newest hot mental illness? According to the addition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it certainly is. The manual identifies a new mental illness called “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD. Defined as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed. And you won’t believe how annoyed I am at “authorities” over this “disease”.

The quick acceptance of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD, also known as Temper Dysregulation) shows that just about anything can make it through the sham DSM-5 Scientific Review Group review process.

Watch out for yet another fad sparked by child psychiatry.

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