Unfalsifiability in psychiatry and licit drugging of white children

by César Tort

“An irrefutable hypothesis
is a sure-fire sign of a pseudoscience.”

—Terence Hines [1]

Huxley’s prediction

According to Jeffrey Meyers’ biography of George Orwell, right after Nineteen Eighty-Four was published, Aldous Huxley wrote to Orwell telling that he did not believe that hard totalitarianism would be the chosen way of the future. Instead of a boot stomping on a human face forever, a soft totalitarian system could be devised. “Within the next generation I believe that the world’s leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons.”

The grim fact is that, gradually, what Huxley called narco-hypnosis (licit drugging) is becoming a reality throughout the West.

In today’s world, one of the ways to sell drugs of social control is to sell the idea of psychiatric illness, like labeling infants and children with non-existent disorders/diseases. The history of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), simply a list of behaviors of normal children —e.g. impulsivity, inattention, careless mistakes, etc.— illustrates social trends that strongly remind us of soma, the fictional drug in Huxley’s Brave New World.


“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”

In September of 1970 during a hearing called Involvement in the Federal Use of Behavior Modification Drugs on Grammar School Children (keep in mind Huxley’s “infant conditioning” and drugs as “instruments of government”), Dr. Ronald Lipman of the government agency Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testified: “Hyperkinesis is something that brings the child into conflict with his parents, peers, and teachers.” The hearing was the first step of what may be called the corporate design of diseases.

Seventeen years later, in 1987, psychiatrists voted in favor of the diagnosis ADHD, the new name for hyperkinesis and a list of previously normal behaviors among children to now be considered pathological, and included the label in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. As a result, the following year, half a million children worldwide were diagnosed with the “disorder” as a preliminary step to administer them licit drugs.

Psychiatrist Peter Breggin, who has been called by Time magazine “Prozac’s worst enemy,” has earned impressive academic credentials and published more than twenty books criticizing the use of psychotropic drugs. What struck me the most while reading some of his books is that precisely the brightest and most independent children, often white males, are the ones who get psychiatrically diagnosed and medicated.[2] In his 1991 book Toxic Psychiatry Breggin wrote:

In short, the whole spectrum of so-called psychiatric and psychological disorders in children can be traced to child abuse and neglect, including the latest school-related fad diagnoses… Not only do biopsychiatrists working with children tend to deny these obvious conclusions, so do the other psychiatric contributors to the same Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. Chapter after chapter is written about one or another “disorder” in children and adults, without connecting them in any way to childhood experiences of any kind…

In blaming the child-victim, psychiatry takes pressure off the parents, the family, the schools, and the society.[3]

In 2012, two decades after publishing Toxic Psychiatry Breggin continues his campaign to combat what he calls “the war against children.” Although Breggin is a liberal who subscribes the current worldview about race, it is precisely the fact that the most intelligent white children are being hunted by the psychiatric establishment’s voracious appetite what moved me to write this article. No abnormalities in the bodies of the white children can be detected with blood tests, X rays, brain scans, or biopsies. On the contrary, the absence of an identifiable organic cause is the best evidence against biological psychiatry’s ADHD hypothesis. This is even recognized by the very company, Novartis, which manufactures the stimulant Ritalin: “Specific etiology of this syndrome is unknown, and there is no single diagnostic test.” [4]

The authors of the Novartis article do not dare label as a “disease” the behavior of children who do not want to pay attention in the traditional schooling system. They call it a “syndrome,” and its mysterious etiology suggests, as Breggin believes, a psychosocial rather than a medical problem. In medicine, a “syndrome” designates a cluster of symptoms that, in the absence of biological markers, cannot be considered diseases. It may surprise the reader that, unlike genuine neurological diseases, nearly all DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) categories are classified by their symptoms rather than their causes, as is done in other medical specialties, neurology included. Moreover, in the latest edition of the DSM the very American Psychiatric Association has admitted that “no laboratory tests have been established as diagnostic” for “Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder.”

Besides Breggin, Fred Baughman, a veteran neurologist with over forty years of experience, has been another visibly outspoken critic of labeling children with non-existent diseases. During the years that I investigated psychiatry, [5] including a one-year course on “mental health” in Manchester’s Open University, I met Dr. Baughman. He is one of the few neurologists who has dared to say publicly that the ADHD epidemic does not exist in the heads of the children but in the adults, by means of massive advertising from the Big Pharma.

The chemical known commercially as Ritalin was synthesized in the 1950s. The hyperactivity “epidemic” grew worldwide from 150,000 children in 1970 to five million in 1997 and the U.S. production of Ritalin increased by seven percent between 1990 and 1997. It is estimated that at the beginnings of this century seven million children take Ritalin and other stimulants in North America. [6] One study found that in ten countries psychostimulant consumption increased 12 percent from 1994 to 2000. Australia and New Zealand were ranked third in the use of these drugs for children, after the United States and Canada.[7] An international comparison showed that in 2002 consumption in Europe was relatively low but rising.

From 15 to 20 million children wordwide were prescribed a psychotropic drug. In addition to stimulants such as Ritalin, this include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anxiolytics and even neuroleptics. A few years ago the global market for psychotropic drugs for children was approximately 1.7 billion dollars according to Gloria Tsuen, an analyst at First Investors Corp. in New York. Presently, more than five million children in the United States alone (i.e., 9.5 percent) have been diagnosed with ADHD, with the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychiatric Association and even the American Neurological Association promoting stimulant medications. [8]

The active substance of Ritalin is called methylphenidate. In the remainder of this article I will use the generic name rather than the trade names. The very Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reported that the effect of methylphenidate lies between cocaine and amphetamines: “They produce discriminative stimulus effects similar to cocaine in laboratory animals and humans.” [9] The DEA has also reported that the abuse of the drug involves “severe medical consequences, including death…” [10]

For years Baughman has contacted several doctors asking which journals have published articles with evidence that ADHD is a disease that meets the Virchowian criterion of genuine diseases. To date, no one has responded, and the reason is simple. The same MDs recognize that the biological cause that children do not pay attention in traditional schools is a mystery (the mere fact that I paraphrase thus what is in the DSM suggests that so-called biological psychiatry should be scrutinized). The mobile of Baughman’s quest was to determine whether their colleagues were drugging millions of children and healthy infants with methylphenidate and other psychoactive drugs.

In the beginnings of the new century Janssen began distributing Concerta, the trade name of a kind of slow-acting methylphenidate: a pill to get a child’s behavior controlled for 24 hours. In the Concerta propaganda I have seen pictures of white children submissively doing their homework. In 2004 Eli Lilly launched Strattera: a new drug for children which advertising I have seen in the newspapers. Baughman concludes:

Today, in the US, millions of parents are being told by teachers, principals, counselors, special educators, psychologists, psychiatrists and physicians of all sorts, that their children cannot learn, and even, that they will not be permitted to come to school, unless they are taking Ritalin…

In virtually every instance, family court judges have chosen to believe prevailing psychiatry propaganda, refusing to consider that fact that ADHD does not exist… The Hippocratic Oath does not permit such “practice.” It does not permit the “treatment” of real children—of real human beings, for “diseases” that are not real diseases… This is criminal. It is child abuse. Nothing about it is the legitimate practice of medicine. It must be exposed. Those responsible for the fraud and deception must be publicly identified, charged, prosecuted, and, held accountable.[11]

But the psychiatric industry is driven mostly by market, not medical, needs. Not only has the DEA recognized the similarity between amphetamines and cocaine, or that methamphetamines such as methylphenidate are Schedule 2 type of drugs.[12] The DSM-IIIR itself acknowledged in 1987 that “Controlled studies have shown that experienced users are unable to distinguish amphetamine from cocaine.” The fashionable edition of the DSM, the DSM-IV-TR, censored this intriguing sentence.

Some international organizations have taken up the matter. A communication from the United Nations’ International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) expressed concern about parental associations that are actively lobbying for the medical use of methylphenidate for children. The Board stated that “financial transfer from a pharmaceutical company with the purpose to promote sales of an internationally controlled substance would be identified as hidden advertisement and in contradiction with the provisions of the 1971 Convention (Article 10, para. 2).” Since the 1990s the Board has reiterated its request to all governments to do everything possible to avoid overdiagnosis of ADD among children and the treatment with methylphenidate “that is not justified for valid medical reasons.” [13]

But the INCB apparently moral request is grossly misleading. The MDs are not diagnosing too much, or even misdiagnosing. In the words of Baughman the ADHD diagnosis “is a total, one hundred percent, fraud.”[14]

Baughman and Breggin are not alone. Thomas Szasz, the veteran critic of psychiatry, is still influential (the latest book about him, The Szasz Quotationary, was published only four months ago). In a 2004 conference in Los Angeles, an elderly Szasz said:

Another lamentable development is the claim that millions of children suffer from a mental illness called “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” and that Ritalin… is a treatment for it. Of course, it is always administered against the will of the child. What child wants to be stigmatized as crazy?

When school authorities tell a mother that her son is sick and needs to be on drugs, how is she to know that that’s a lie? How is she to know that what experts call Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not a disease?

Bedazzled by psychiatric jargon, she does not realize that diagnoses are not diseases. She is no expert in the history of psychiatry. She does not know that psychiatrists have always used diagnostic terms to stigmatize and control people… No behavior or misbehavior is a disease or can be a disease! Period!

When I went to medical school, sixty years ago, there were only a handful of mental illnesses. Now there are more than three hundred, with new ones “discovered” every year…

Labeling a child as mentally ill is stigmatization, not diagnosis. Giving a child a psychiatric drug is poisoning, not treatment.

I have long maintained that the child psychiatrist is one of the most dangerous enemies not only of children, but also of adults who care for the two most precious and most vulnerable things in life: children and liberty.

Szasz has also said that psychiatrists assume that their young patients are guilty (“sick”) until their health is demonstrated. But a disease so understood cannot be refuted scientifically.

Using what Szasz calls “the sacred symbol of psychiatry” —schizophrenia— in the rest of this article I will discuss the subject of


Psychiatry under scientific scrutiny

Perhaps some MD readers are willing to dismiss the scientificity of the ADHD label as “dirty water” while at the same time try in their minds to save the “baby,” the psychiatric profession itself. Let us now see whether or not psychiatry passes the standard test for genuine hard sciences.

According to Ron Leifer, there have been four parallel critiques of psychiatry: Szasz’s conceptual and logical critique of the mental illness idea; Leifer’s own parallel critique of social control through psychiatry, Breggin’s medical evaluation of the assaults on the brain with drugs, electroshock and lobotomy, and the cry of those who have been harmed by it.[15]

Another way to question the validity of psychiatry is to examine the scientific basis of biological psychiatry. This fifth parallel critique, which I would call the evaluation of the scientific status of psychiatry, takes psychiatry to task on its own theoretical base. Exponents of this late strategy have focused on the various bioreductionist claims and logical fallacies in psychiatry;[16] on the dubious science behind psychopharmacology,[17] and on statistical analyses that show that poor countries with few psychiatric drugs called neuroleptics (“antipsychotics”) fare much better in the treatment of people in psychotic crisis than the rich countries.[18] In the remainder of this article I shall present an apparently innovative way to call into question the scientific status of biological psychiatry.

However odd it may seem, biopsychiatry has not been attacked from the most classic criteria to spot pseudosciences: Karl Popper’s test that distinguishes between real and false science, and the principle known in science as Occam’s razor. Both of these principles have been very useful in the debunking of paranormal claims, as well as biological pseudosciences such as phrenology.[19]

Mario Bunge, the philosopher of science, maintains that all pseudosciences are sterile. Despite of its multimillion-dollar sponsoring by the pharmaceutical companies, biological psychiatry remains a sterile profession today.[20]

Despite its long history of biological theories since 1884 when Johann Thudichum, the founder of modern neurochemistry, believed the cause of madness were “poisons fermented in the body” to the current dopamine theory of schizophrenia, psychiatrists have been unable to find the biological cause of the major disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.[21] This lack of progress was to be expected. If the biologicistic postulate on which psychiatry lays its foundational edifice is an error, that is to say, if the cause of mental disorders is not somatogenic but psychogenic, real progress can never occur in biological psychiatry; and the subject of mental disorders should not belong to medical science but to psychology. Nancy Andreasen, the editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, the most financed and influential journal of psychiatry, recognizes in Brave New Brain, a book published in 2001, that:

there has not been found any physiological pathology behind mental disorders;

nor chemical imbalances have been found in those diagnosed with a mental illness;

nor genes responsible for a mental illness have been found;

there is no laboratory test that determines who is mentally ill and who is not;

some mental disorders may have a psychosocial origin.[22]

A better proof of sterility in biopsychiatry can hardly be found. It is worth saying that a book reviewer tagged Andreasen’s book as “the most important psychiatry book in the last twenty years.” [23]

The above points show us why, since its origins, psychiatry and neurology are separated.


Popper’s litmus test

While neurology deals with authentic brain biology, it is legitimate to ask whether psychiatry might be searching for a biological mirage.

In The Logic of Scientific Discovery philosopher of science Karl Popper tells us that the difference between science and pseudosciences lies in the power of refutability of a hypothesis.[24] Despite its academic, governmental and impressive financial backing in the private sector, psychiatry does not rest on a body of discoveries experimentally falsifiable or refutable. In fact, the central hypothesis in psychiatry, a biomedical entity called mental illness—say “schizophrenia”—cannot be put forward as a falsifiable or refutable hypothesis.

Let us consider the claim that psychiatrists use the drugs called neuroleptics to restore the brain chemical imbalance of a schizophrenic. A Popperian would immediately ask the questions: (1) What is exactly a brain chemical imbalance? (2) How is this neurological condition recognized among those who you call schizophrenics and which lab tests are used to diagnose it? (3) Which evidence can you present to explain that the chemical imbalance of the so-called schizophrenic has been balanced—or has not been balanced—as a result of taking the neuroleptic?

Before these questions the psychiatrist answers in such a way that he who is unfamiliar with the logic of scientific discovery will have great difficulties in detecting a trick. For instance, Andreasen has acknowledged that there have not been found biochemical imbalances in those diagnosed with a mental illness and that there is no laboratory test that determines who is mentally ill and who is not. That is to say, Andreasen is recognizing that her profession is incapable of responding to the second and third questions above. How, then, does Andreasen and her colleagues have convinced themselves that neuroleptics restore to balance the “chemically unbalanced” brains of schizophrenics? Furthermore, why does Andreasen have stated so confidently at the beginning of the section in Brave New Brain that addresses the question of what causes schizophrenia that the disorder “is not a disease that parents cause”?

Speaking in Popperian terms the answer is: by contriving a non-falsifiable or irrefutable hypothesis. In contrast to neurologists, who can demonstrate the physiopathology, histopathology or the presence of pathogen microorganisms, Andreasen and other psychiatrists recognize that they cannot demonstrate these biological markers (faulty genes or biochemical imbalances) that they postulate in the major disorders classified in the revised, fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-IV-TR. If they could do it, psychiatry as a specialty would have disappeared and its body of knowledge merged in neurological science. What psychiatrists do is to state that after almost a century of research in, for instance, schizophrenia, the medical etiology of the “disease” is still “unknown,” and they claim the same of many others DSM-IV behaviors.

As Szasz has observed, in real medical science physicians observe the pathological alterations in the organs, tissue, and cells as well as the microbial invasions, and the naming of the disease comes only after that. Psychiatry inverts the sequence. First it baptizes a purported illness, be it schizophrenia or any other, but the existence of a biological marker is never discovered, though it is dogmatically postulated.[25] A postulate is a proposition that is accepted without proof. Only by postulating that these disorders are basically genetic and that the environment merely plays a “triggering” role can psychiatrists justify to treat them by physical means. On the other hand, if neuroses and psychoses are caused by poor parenting and extreme parental abuse respectively, to treat them with drugs, electroshock or lobotomy only “re-victimizes” the victim.[26]

In the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s tens of thousands of lobotomies were performed in the United States, [27] but since the advent of neuroleptics only about two hundred surgical lobotomies are performed each year in the world. About 100,000 people are being electro-shocked every year in the United States alone, many against their will.[28] North America consumes about 90 per cent of the world’s methylphenidate for American and Canadian children. Many parents, teachers, politicians, physicians and almost all psychiatrists believe in these “medical model” treatments for unwanted behaviors in children and teenagers.

On the other hand, the “trauma model” is an expression that appears in the writings of non-biological psychiatrists such as Colin Ross. Professionals who work in the model of trauma try to understand neurosis and even psychosis as an injury to the inner self inflicted by abusive parenting.[29] The psyche of a child is very vulnerable to persistent abuse while in the process of ego formation. Although some books of the proponents of the old existential and “schizophrenogenic” mother are still in print,[30] today the model is better explained in the case-stories writings of compassionate psychologists such as Alice Miller.[31] In a moving and yet scholarly autobiography John Modrow maintains that an all-out emotional attack by his parents caused a psychotic crisis in his adolescence.[32] Despite claims to the contrary, the trauma model of psychosis is still alive. Only in 2004 two academic books were released on the subject,[33] and in the Journal of Psychohistory Lloyd deMause still suggest that the gamut of mental disorders, from the dissociative states and psychoses of ancient times to the neuroses of today, are consequence of child abuse.[34]


Unfalsifiability

Let us take as an example an article published in a July 2002 Time magazine. The author used the case of Rodney Yoder, abused during his childhood and as adult hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital in Chester, Illinois. From the hospital Yoder undertook an internet campaign for his liberation. Catching on the favorite phrases of psychiatrists the Time writer tells us: “Scientists are decades away [my emphasis] from being able to use a brain scan to diagnose something like Yoder’s alleged personality disorders.” [35] In the same line of thinking, Rodrigo Muñoz, a former president of the American Psychiatric Association in the 1990s, stated in an interview: “We are gradually advancing to the point when we will be able [my emphasis] to pinpoint functional and structural changes in the brain that are related to schizophrenia.” [36] That is to say, psychiatrists recognize that at present they cannot understand a mental disorder through purely physical means, though they have enormous faith they will in the near future. Hence it is understandable what another psychiatrist told the Washington Post: “Psychiatric diagnosis is descriptive. We don’t really understand psychiatric disorders at a biological level.” [37] Psychiatrists only rely on conduct, not on the individual’s body, to say that there is an illness. Child psychiatrist Luis Méndez Cárdenas, the director of the only public psychiatric hospital in Mexico which specializes in committing children, told me in a 2002 interview: “Since the cause of any disorder is unknown, the diagnosis is clinical.”

More to the point, in February 2002 I debated psychiatrist Gerard Heinze, the director of the Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatría (the Mexican equivalent to the American National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH.) Arguing with Heinze I rose the question of the lack of biological markers in his profession. Heinze answered enumerating two or three diseases that medical science has not fully understood; he tried to make the point that mental disorders lie in this category of still incomprehensible diseases. For example, until 2006 the Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, which makes some children start to age since their childhood, was an authentic biomedical disease of unknown etiology. But its existence was not controversial before 2006: it was enough to see the poor aged children to know that their problem was clearly somatic. On the other hand, diagnoses of the alleged psychiatric disorders are so subjective that their inclusion in the DSM has to be decided by votes in congresses of influential psychiatrists. Heinze’s point would not have strained my credulity to the breaking point if most of the 374 DSM-IV diagnoses were already proven biomedical illnesses with only a few of them remaining as mysterious diseases. But we are asked to believe that virtually all of the DSM behaviors are mysterious diseases “of unknown etiology”!

One last example related to a 2003 hunger strike of psychiatric survivors in Pasadena, California, who demanded scientific proof of mental illness as a genuine biomedical disease, will illustrate this attitude.[38]

The hunger strikers’ demand was addressed to the American Psychiatric Association and the offices of the Surgeon General. Psychiatrist Ron Sterling dismissed the strikers’ demand for positive scientific proof describing the mental health field in the following way: “The field is like cardiology before cardiologists could do procedures like electrocardiograms, open-heart surgery, angiograms and ultrasound [...]. Since brain structure and physiology are so complex, the understanding of its circuitry and biology are in its infancy.” [39] The Surgeon General Office did not even bother to respond. However, in a statement released in September 2003 the American Psychiatric Association conceded that:

Brain science has not advanced to the point where scientists or clinicians can point to readily discernible pathologic lesions or genetic abnormalities that in and of themselves serve as reliable or predictive biomarkers of a given mental disorder or mental disorders as a group… Mental disorders will likely be proven [my emphasis] to represent disorders of intracellular communication; or of disrupted neural circuitry.

The trick to be noticed in the above public statements is that psychiatrists, physicians all things considered, are stating that even though the etiology of mental disorders is unknown such etiology is, by definition, biological, and that it is only a matter of time that it will likely be proven. This is the hidden meaning of the code word “of unknown etiology.” By doing this psychiatrists dismiss in toto the work of the many researchers who have postulated a psychogenic origin of mental distress and disorders.

Although it is more parsimonious to consider a psychological cause for a mental disturbance that has no known biological markers, with its somatogenic dogma orthodox psychiatry ignores the simplest hypothesis, the model of trauma. To inquire into Yoder’s childhood, for instance, is axiomatically dismissed in a science that clings to only one hypothesis. In other words, by talking of unknown etiologies that will be discovered in the future by medical science —never by psychologists— these physicians have presented us a biological hypothesis of mental disorders in such a way that, even if wrong, cannot be refuted.

If psychiatrists were true scientists they would present their biological hypothesis under the falsifiability protocol that Popper observed in hard sciences. Let us consider the hypothesis:

“At sea level water boils at 40º C.”

This is a scientific hypothesis in spite of the fact that the proposition is false (water does not boil at 40º but at 100º C). The hypothesis is scientific because it is presented in such a way that it just takes putting it to the test in our kitchen with a thermometer to see if it is true or not: if water does not boil at 40º C, the hypothesis is false. In other words, according to Popper the scientific quality of a hypothesis does not depend on whether the hypothesis is true, but however paradoxical it may seem, it depends on whether the hypothesis may be refuted assuming it is false. Thus the hypothesis that at present water boils at 40º C can be refuted: it is a scientific hypothesis. On the other hand, the hypothesis that schizophrenia and the other major mental disorders are biological and that this “will likely be proven,” the words of the American Psychiatric Association, cannot be refuted: it is not a scientific hypothesis. Against this biological hypothesis there is no possible evidence at present, that is, there is no empirical evidence which can show that the hypothesis is wrong.

This is the sure-fire sign of a pseudoscience.


Conclusion

A biopsychiatry that drugs millions of white children with healthy brains is not a genuine science. True scientists, such as geologists or biologists, never postulate their central hypotheses as non-falsifiable hypotheses that “will likely be proven.” It is the futuristic stance of psychiatrists what gives the lie to the claim that their belief system is scientific.

A pseudo-science is a belief system that pretends to be scientific. Psychiatry is not the only biological pseudoscience, but it exhibits the same unequivocal signs of pseudoscience present in every system that pretends to be scientific. Other biological pseudoscientists such as phrenologists or the communist proponents of Lysenko-Michurinism did not comply with the Popperian requirement of presenting their conjectures in falsifiable form either. In this article I cannot deal with communist pseudoscience.

Suffice it to say that all pseudosciences, biological or paranormal, have four things in common. Just as its biological sisters (phrenology and Lysenko-Michurinism) and its paranormal cousins (e. g., parapsychology and UFOlogy), psychiatry is a “science” that (1) presents its central hypothesis in a non-falsifiable way; (2) idolizes in perpetuity that sole hypothesis; (3) violates the economy principle by ignoring the more parsimonious alternative, and (4) is completely sterile. After decades of research neither phrenologists nor psychiatrists, parapsychologists, or ufologists have demonstrated the existence of the (alleged) phenomena they study.

In other words, psychiatrists do not have medical or scientific evidence to back their claims. Psychiatrists’ recognition that they cannot tell us anything about the above-mentioned question—with which lab tests do you diagnose this so-called neurological condition?—demonstrates that their schizophrenia hypothesis is unscientific. The same can be said of ADHD, bipolar “illness,” depression and the other major DSM disorders.

In a nutshell, psychiatry is not a science.

Since the middle 1950s the lack of a mental health science in the medical profession has been compensated by an invasive marketing and the aggressive sales of psychiatric drugs by the pharmaceutical companies.[40]


References

[1] Terence Hines, Pseudoscience and the paranormal: a critical examination of the evidence. New York: Prometheus Books, 1988, p. 2.

[2] See e.g., Peter Breggin, Reclaiming your children: A healing solution for a nation in crisis. Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2000.

[3] Peter Breggin, Toxic psychiatry: Why therapy, empathy, and love must replace the drugs, electroshock, and biochemical theories of the “new psychiatry”. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991, pp. 274-275.

[4] “Ritalin LA® (methylphenidate hydrochloride) extended-release capsules” (Novartis’ PDF).

[5] Cf. my blog in Spanish: http://biopsiquiatria.wordpress.com/.

[6] See e.g., Peter Breggin, “A Misdiagnosis, Anywhere” in The New York Times, October 13, 2011.

[7] Constantine Berbatis, Bruce Sunderland and Max Bulsara: “Licit psycho stimulant consumption in Australia, 1984-2000: international and jurisdictional comparison” in MJA, 2002, 177 (10): pp. 539-543.

[8] Breggin, “A Misdiagnosis, Anywhere”.

[9] DEA Congressional Testimony Statement by Terrance Woodworth, Deputy Director, Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration.

[10] Ibid. On adverse reactions to the drugs given to children, see Breggin’s website, which contains several articles on the subject including Breggin’s conference in the House of Representatives.

[11] Baughman: “Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder & all biological psychiatry as fraud.”

[12] “Legal Classification: Controlled Substances Act 1990” (DEA Listing).

[13] Information Service of the United Nations, Vienna; INCB annual report (to be published after March 4, 1997).

[14] Baughman: “Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder & all biological psychiatry as fraud”.

[15] Ron Leifer, “A critique of medical coercive psychiatry, and an invitation to dialogue,” Ethical Human Sciences and Services, 2001, 3 (3), 161-173 (the journal has been renamed Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry).

[16] Colin Ross & Alvin Pam, Pseudoscience in biological psychiatry: blaming the body. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1995.

[17] Elliot Valenstein, Blaming the brain: the truth about drugs and mental health. New York: Free Press, 1998.

[18] Robert Whitaker, Mad in America: bad science, bad medicine, and the enduring mistreatment of the mentally ill. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus, 2001.

[19] The Committee for the Scientific Inquiry, that publishes the bimonthly Skeptical Inquirer and whose members included luminaries such as Martin Gardner, Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, has been a think tank in the debunking of pseudosciences since 1976.

[20] Cf. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, a journal authored by a group of mental health professionals that specializes in criticizing biopsychiatry.

[21] For a critical review of the dopamine theory of schizophrenia see for example Valenstein, Blaming the brain, pp. 82-89; Ross and Pam, Pseudoscience, pp. 106-109.

[22] Nancy Andreasen, Brave new brain: conquering mental illness in the era of the genome. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

[23] Ty Colbert, book review in Ethical Human Sciences and Services, 2001, 3 (3), p. 213.

[24] Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery. New York: Routledge, 2002, chapters 4 and 6 esp.

[25] See for example Thomas Szasz, Pharmacracy: medicine and politics in America. Connecticut: Praeger, 2001.

[26] César Tort, Hojas susurrantes, 2011, pp. 115-227.

[27] As to date Whitaker’s Mad in America is the most readable exposé I know of the darkest period in American psychiatry.

[28] Ibid.

[29] See for example Silvano Arieti, Interpretation of schizophrenia. New Jersey: Aronson, 1994. Originally published in 1955, this celebrated treatise is worth revisiting.

[30] See for example Ronald Laing, The divided self: an existential study in sanity and madness (Selected works of R.D. Laing, 1). New York: Routledge, 1999.

[31] Alice Miller. For your own good: hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983. See also Miller’s Breaking down the wall of silence: the liberating experience of facing painful truth. New York: Dutton, 1987.

[32] John Modrow, How to become a schizophrenic: the case against biological psychiatry. New York: Writers Club Press, 2003.

[33] Colin Ross, Schizophrenia: an innovative approach to diagnosis and treatment. New York: Haworth Press, 2004. See also John Read, Loren Mosher and Richard Bentall, Models of madness. New York: Routledge, 2004.

[34] See e.g., Lloyd deMause, “The Evolution of the Psyche and Society” in The Emotional Life of Nations. New York: Other Press, 2002.

[35] John Cloud, “They call him crazy,” Time, 15 July 2002.

[36] Rodrigo Muñoz, quoted in Jeanette De Wyze, “Still crazy after all these years,” San Diego Weekly Reader, 9 January 2003.

[37] Thomas Laughren, quoted in Shankar Vedantam, “Against depression, a sugar pill is hard to beat: placebos improve mood, change biochemistry in majority of trials of antidepressants”, Washington Post, 6 May 2002.

[38] Fred Baughman, Peter Breggin, Mary Boyle, David Cohen, Ty Colbert, Pat Deegan, Al Galves, Thomas Greening, David Jacobs, Jay Joseph, Jonathan Leo, Bruce Levine, Loren Mosher and Stuart Shipko, “15 December 2003 reply by scientific panel of the Fast for Freedom in Mental Health to the 26 September statement by the American Psychiatric Association” (I read this article at the beginning of 2004 at mindfreedom.org).

[39] Ron Sterling, “Hoeller does a disservice to professionals,” op-ed rebuttal, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9 September 2003.

[40] Valenstein, Blaming the brain (op. cit.).

____________________

Note of 29 December 2012:

See also my short entry “MacDonald and psychiatry”

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  1. A very good article.

    • Thank you. Have you seen this?:

      Also, see this conference of Szasz speaking some of the quoted words in the above piece:

  2. So what are you saying here? That no matter how goofy a person might be consistently acting he does not have anything wrong with him?

    It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks the “cause” of seriously abnormal behavior is (Breggin’s neglect & abuse? Oh, please!). That no one can understand a mental disorder through purely physical means is irrelevant. Why does everything have to be proved through a microscope? If you can’t see “it” under a microscope it doesn’t exist and it’s not happening?

    No such thing as attention deficit disorder? I sat in on a boys’ club several times, where about 40 6-year old boys were acting normally – yes, there is such a thing as “normal” – doing crafts, with one boy running back and forth, back and forth for half an hour like a lunatic, unable to be made to sit for a minute. It was like this with him every time the boys club gathered.

    No, you don’t just dose them with Ritalin or any other chemical. Standard orthodox western medicine doesn’t have a g.d. clue, but that doesn’t mean that little white boys don’t sometimes have a mental-medical-whatever you want to call it problem and it’s not the parents’ or “society’s” fault.

    I suggest you look into old Chinese medicine for Shen Disturbances and their treatments. The present western system is lacking. Western doctors either poison your brain or think you can be talked out of your seriously maladaptive behavior.

    Tell me, what would YOU do with the little boy I mentioned above? Or someone who takes off all his clothes and rolls around in the street? Or who walks up and down the street, day after day, swearing in a loud voice? I have seen these things. Oh, I know, these guys were “neglected and abused”. Right.

    • So what are you saying here? That no matter how goofy a person might be consistently acting he does not have anything wrong with him?

      Exactly. The problem is not the kid but the parents who drove the kid mad.

      It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks the “cause” of seriously abnormal behavior is (Breggin’s neglect & abuse? Oh, please!).

      “Oh, please” is no refutation of the trauma model of mental disorders: a model that blames parents alone for the child’s acting out (see a chapter of my book here).

      That no one can understand a mental disorder through purely physical means is irrelevant. Why does everything have to be proved through a microscope? If you can’t see “it” under a microscope it doesn’t exist and it’s not happening?

      What is relevant is that the shrinks are saying that mental disorders have a physical origin: a claim that, as I have demonstrated, is a pseudoscientific hypothesis.

      No such thing as attention deficit disorder?

      I don’t claim that mental disorders don’t exist, but that, in direct contradiction to the outrageous lie in bio-psychiatry, they do have a psychogenic origin.

      …and it’s not the parents’ or “society’s” fault.

      Man, you really must read my book chapter I linked above.

      Tell me, what would YOU do with the little boy I mentioned above? Or someone who takes off all his clothes and rolls around in the street? Or who walks up and down the street, day after day, swearing in a loud voice? I have seen these things.

      If I had the power, I’d remove the boy or the teenager from the schizophrenogenic home, what psychiatrist Theodore Lidz recommended. Or still better, remove the abusive parent from home, as Alice Miller advised.

  3. Alice Miller is goofy and I can assure you that she is not a friend of yours or mine. Everything is the parents’ fault? They drove the kid mad? That may have been your experience but as a parent, let me assure you that we do what we know how to do; very few of us are malicious toward our children. If the parents are indeed at fault, be assured, Cesar, that they were impelled by forces they could not control to behave as they did, going back to the Dawn of Time.

    I read one of Miller’s books years ago when I had a young family. I understand that she had some major shifts of opinion on things. So, maybe, it’s in the cards for you to do the same.

    Suppose there’s brothers and sisters (of the mentally ill child) who are not disturbed. What do we do with them? Do they go along with Crazy Kid to the new home and strange new caregivers? These are important questions.

    Just WHO is going to mandate removal of children from a home? Guess what – there’s lots of more or less disturbed people out there who had a fine upbringing by well-meaning parents. If well-meaning isn’t good enough, who is that outside authority who is going to enter every home and rate it for suitable parenting?

    To think that removing a child from bad parents will cure anything is like saying that if you have lung cancer or emphysema, all you have to do is stop smoking. Not saying that seriously wicked parents should keep their children, only that removing those children will not necessarily have the nice effects you think will ensue.

    • Alice Miller is goofy and I can assure you that she is not a friend of yours or mine.

      A blanket statement with no arguments (or are you referring to something like my criticism of Miller here?).

      Everything is the parents’ fault? They drove the kid mad? That may have been your experience but as a parent, let me assure you that we do what we know how to do; very few of us are malicious toward our children.

      If you have a child with a disorder, I would have to speak with your kid, or still better have hidden cameras at your home to believe that you are innocent (ask my parents!: who believe they’re 100% innocent of the monstrous abuse they perpetrated on my poor sister).

      If the parents are indeed at fault, be assured, Cesar, that they were impelled by forces they could not control to behave as they did, going back to the Dawn of Time.

      Have you at least leafed thru my book The Return of Quetzalcoatl published in this blog?

      I read one of Miller’s books years ago when I had a young family. I understand that she had some major shifts of opinion on things. So, maybe, it’s in the cards for you to do the same.

      Miller did change her views. She dedicated her first books to Freud and after her awakening she ended up as a major critic of the Vienna quack.

      Suppose there’s brothers and sisters (of the mentally ill child) who are not disturbed. What do we do with them? Do they go along with Crazy Kid to the new home and strange new caregivers? These are important questions.

      I have responded to that legitimate observation in the second book of my Hojas Susurrantes.

      Shrinks do believe that the “invulnerable sibling” invalidates any attempt to blame any parent of the emotional fall of another child. But if there’s something I iterated in the first book of my Hojas is that the behavior of my parents was directed almost exclusively toward one person, not toward my brothers and sisters—just as Peter Helfgott’s behavior targeted his son David, not his other children (see the film Shine which won an Academy Award in 1996).

      Just WHO is going to mandate removal of children from a home?

      I am fully aware that we have zero legislation about what Lidz or Miller proposed. Society is blind about what parents do to their children.

      To think that removing a child from bad parents will cure anything is like saying that…

      I don’t believe that that would cure everything. But it’s certainly the first step to recovery. I started this Wikipedia article which mentions the Ross Institute for Psychological Trauma (a clinic I have visited by the way, not as a patient but as a researcher). They specialize in approaching trauma caused by parents.

  4. I read the article on Wikipedia and noticed that chart from Infanticidal to Helping. While I raised mine mostly by the Helping model, let me tell you – it’s one step forward & two steps back sometimes. You would not understand if you have not had children. Parents can’t just goodheartedly make a decision to rear their children this way and then carry it out perfectly. Life isn’t like that, not in this nut house called modern society.

    Also, this Helping style, with everything it includes – is this a cause or a result? I say, everything else has to be right in our society first before we can even dream of raising our children this way as a matter of course. Children are born with their own agenda and need rearing accordingly.

    Lots of theory and ideology. Practicality – less so. Anyone here with children who agree with me? Please keep in mind that the idea that parents’ actions totally determine the mental health, behavior, and character of their children is laughable liberal garbage. There’s a whole lot more going on. This world is not all about your or my pain.

    • You would not understand if you have not had children.

      It’s sophistry to say that because I don’t have children I will never understand, say, the emotional aftereffects of beatings on a poor four-year old girl.

      While I raised mine mostly by the Helping model

      Again, I’d have to interview your children. It makes no sense to listen only to the lawyer so to speak and never listening to the other witnesses (or the prosecutor).

      Please keep in mind that the idea that parents’ actions totally determine the mental health, behavior, and character of their children is laughable liberal garbage.

      No liberal that I know claims that. The proponents of the “trauma model of mental disorders” are an extreme minority within the mental health professions, and after Miller died a couple of years ago no notable author that I know is saying this with the ferocity that Miller wrote.

  5. “While I raised mine mostly by the Helping model”

    “Again, I’d have to interview your children. It makes no sense to listen only to the lawyer so to speak and never listening to the other witnesses (or the prosecutor).”

    Interview my kids? For heaven’s sake, children and parents are a unit. Parents and children do not need to think of themselves – or be regarded by others – as somehow being in separate boxes, like, say, employer and employee, or Prosecutor and Accused.

    ___________

    “It’s sophistry to say that because I don’t have children I will never understand, say, the emotional aftereffects of beatings on a poor four-year old girl.”

    But I wasn’t talking about beating up on little children. I was talking about the messy, unpredictable business of trying to be a decent parent, how you can never, ever have it figured out. Because when you think you have, something comes along and changes that. It’s about flying by the seat of one’s pants. We (parents), no matter what, struggle with ourselves daily to do what’s right. Maybe yours didn’t.

    It looks as if you identify solely with the abuse you endured, that the only thing in life is thinking and ruminating on that.

    • It looks as if you identify solely with the abuse you endured, that the only thing in life is thinking and ruminating on that.

      You still haven’t even leafed thru my book in this blog, have you?

      Interview my kids? For heaven’s sake…

      This was exactly the frame of mind that destroyed my family: Only parents have the right to speak. And teachers, counselors, relatives and therapists have only ears for the parents’ version (only after decades, after my sister and I grew and finally broke the taboo, a totally different picture of what happened at home started to emerge).

      If I cannot speak to your children, I’ll never swallow your claim that you behaved like a “helping mode” parent and, “mysteriously” one of your offspring got emotionally disturbed. I have heard that tale thousands of times.

      Bye right now.

  6. Oh, I finally found the chapter of your book you were referring to. I am familiar with most of the people you discuss and read some of their writing several years ago.

    I know this much: people who were badly abused when young have a tendency to go on to try and punish others through lying and misrepresenting and any other means they can come up with. They can’t get the real culprits so they spend their lives maneuvering themselves into a position where they find hapless substitutes.

    C’est la vie.

    • You are describing exactly what parents, who never get their asses even with their own parents, do to their innocent children.

  7. Yup! And round and round it goes!

  8. As a teenager, I came close to falling into the grips of the psychiatric system in my native country (somewhere in Western Europe: more details are useless, as all countries in Western Europe are the same now).

    I was utterly disgusted with the society I was living in (dumbed down educational system, feelings of general decadence, etc) which led me to lose a great deal of motivation at the end of junior high and thus cease to have good marks in certain subjects.

    My parents, who were obsessed with my “success”, sent me to see several psychiatrists and psychologists. Only one of them understood me and even agreed with my societal judgment, the others basically redirected my “problem” towards myself. It was not society which was wrong, it was me.

    I even had to pass a brain scan, which I accepted to prove there was nothing wrong with me. And indeed, my brain was not only normal and flawless, but from the own account of a nurse, “unusually big”.

    It is only my intuitive understanding of what was wrong with psychiatry (at only 15 years old, I knew nothing back then on a theoretical level) that enabled me to politely leave the psychiatric system as it was closing in on me. Had I accepted to take some drugs that were proposed to me, I would have badly ended (I discovered later the side-effects of these drugs).

    I learnt a lot of things during this experience, which were later confirmed by articles and books. If I were to choose three only:

    (1) Psychiatrists are servants of the State, a parallel system of punishment for deviant thoughts and behavior.

    (2) True mental illnesses are actually of genetic origin (such as schizophrenia), and the anomalies are observable through brain scanners. Anything that is not observable through brain scanners was simply deemed “illness” by people more powerful than you, and it is a form of societal enforcement. Today, it indeed seems that smart White children are those targeted by this societal enforcement.

    (3) The inventions of psychotropic medication and the contraceptive pill in the 1960s were deal-changing, and had profound political consequences.

    Finally, two links that can be of interest of Chechar, if he doesn’t already know them.

    The Tyranny of Pharmacracy by Thomas S. Szasz: here and here.

    • Rhod, you didn’t read this article. Did you? Schizophrenia has no genetic origin. That’s psychiatry main lie. What brain scanners detect is the damage done on the brain by neuroleptics. You must read Peter Breggin’s journal which debunks the brain scan claims.

  9. Reblogged this on nomasons and commented:

    So glad I was able to dig up this incredible post. Read for yourself, even if you do have that tragic, short-attention “spectrum.” Think “misdiagnosis” and “labelling.”

  10. Sigmund Freund founded psychiatry. He was a jew. “Nuff said.

  11. Chechar, why don’t you propose to Greg Johnson that he feature this article on Countercurrents?

    • I did but by that time I had started to criticize Johnson for his music tastes and, although originally he planned to publish it, he had second thoughts. In fact, the version you see above has already Johnson’s syntax corrections in it. I believe it still merits publication there or at TOO, but alas: MacDonald seems to believe in the usefulness of child psychiatry.

  12. This indicates that the usual prescribing of surgery and a health policy researcher at the Universityof Toronto.
    The Bicycle 9 Month Baby Dry Skin” I ride way too fast to worry about out of pocket price for treatment. Acupuncture pain relief is believed to be helpful sometimes, and this prevents them from getting too stiff. Specialty pillows keep your face from wrinkling, acids from refluxing and snores from waking up the whole house.

  13. […] La psiquiatría. La pseudociencia criminal […]


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