Consumers Reports contributes to campaign of misinformation about "depression"
Antipsychiatry News Clips
2000 Commentary on current news by
Douglas A. Smith, webmaster of this website
The December 2000 issue of Consumer Reports includes an article titled "Emotional 'aspirin'?" The article is about three "herbal" alternatives to supposedly antidepressant prescription drugs: St. John's wort, s-adenosyl-methionine (SAM-e), and kava. The article reports that close to $400 million is spent for these "herbal" anti-depressant alternatives, which (combined with the millions spent on allegedly anti-depressant prescription drugs) illustrates the gullibility of many people today. The article says, "...there's at least some evidence - ranging from modest for kava to fairly solid for St. John's wort - that these pills can help people with clinically significant mood disorders. In fact, clinical trials have found that SAM-e (a substance in all human cells) and extracts of the plant St. John's wort relieve some types of depression as effectively as a prescription antidepressant. And, at least one trial of kava, a Pacific-island pepper plant, suggests it may tame anxiety as effectively as a standard antianxiety drug." These statements are impressive until you realize that "prescription antidepressants" and "standard antianxiety drugs" in many trials are no better than placebos (pills with no active ingredients). That means these "herbal" alternatives probably are about as effective as placebos, too.
The article is riddled with misleading statements promoting psychiatry. For example, it says, "many people who are treating themselves with these remedies may be sufficiently anxious or depressed to require professional care and monitoring" and "Serious emotional disorders - particularly depression - should definitely be evaluated by a physician or mental-health professional." In fact, of course, as harmful as psychiatry is today, an anxious or severely unhappy (or "depressed") person would be well advised to stay as far from mental health professionals as possible! The article refers to "depression, anxiety, or other psychiatric illnesses" - as if such "illnesses" were as real as diabetes or cancer. The article promotes the idea that there is a genuine difference between ordinary unhappiness and "clinical depression" when in fact there is not: It says "...there's no evidence that the botanical will help people who have a severe depression - or who don't have clinical depression but just feel a little blue" (underline added).
The article says, "St. John's wort may work in multiple ways, including effects on dopamine and other brain chemicals" (underline added). Notice the word "may," which is a tacit admission that nobody really knows what these supposedly antidepressant herbs do biologically.
The article concludes by alleging kava works on anxiety in as little as a half-hour but that "St. John's wort and SAME-e start working in three to six weeks." The admitted three-to-six week delay is tantamount to an admission that the only effect is a placebo effect - or changed mood that would have taken place over time with or without the herbal "remedy."
It is truly amazing so many people are so totally lacking in insight into the reasons for emotions such as anxiety or "depression" or anger that they don't see the stupidity of "treating" them with drugs like Prozac or herbs like St. John's wort. The severe unhappiness we call depression - or anxiety or anger - are always caused by unfulfilled emotional needs or events in the affected person's life. As Dr. Thomas Szasz once said, trying to change your emotions or behavior by having a psychiatrist work on your brain is like trying to get cigarette commercials off television by having a TV repairman work on your TV set. The only way a TV repairman can do that is by disabling the TV set. Similarly, all a biologically oriented psychiatrist can do is disable your brain - usually with drugs, sometimes with electric shock "treatment" or with psychosurgery. It is a misconceived and counterproductive approach.
New federal standards for medical records privacy and access to one's own medical records:
The New York Times reported that "The Clinton administration will soon issue sweeping new rules to protect the privacy of medical records" that "will affect virtually everyone who receives or provides health care in the United States. ... Under the new rules, consumers will for the first time have a federal right to inspect and copy information in their medical records. They will also have the right to request correction of information that they consider inaccurate or incomplete." (Robert Pear, "Clinton to Issue New Rules On Medical Data Privacy," The New York Times, November 20, 2000, p. A20.)
Many former psychiatric "patients" have gone to court trying to find out what others have written about them in psychiatric records. Perhaps these new rules, when issued, will make it easier.
New York magazine tells the truth about psychiatric drugs
The cover story in the May 15, 2000 issue of New York magazine, titled "Selling Happiness: Did your doctor prescribe that new antidepressant because the drug company bought him dinner at Lespinasse? A hard look at the sell behind the smile" tells the truth about psychiatric drugs in a way that is unusual for mainstream news media. One of the main points of the article is doctors and medical students are bribed by sales representatives for drug companies to prescribe the manufacturers' drugs with gifts like meals at expensive restaurants such as Windows on the World (in Manhattan), picking up the tab for all of a student's textbooks, or buying the physician a trip to Aspen, Colorado. Quoting a physician, the article says, "Studies have shown that I am more likely to prescribe a drug over the next few days after its maker takes me to lunch." The article tells about a web site started by Dr. Robert Goodman, an internist at Columbia-Presbyterian, www.nofreelunch.org, the purpose of which is to encourage physicians to refuse to be bribed.
A ramification the article does not mention is that physicians' medicine prescribing practices undermine the justification for medicine prescription laws. These laws restrict individual freedom by prohibiting buying drugs without a doctor's prescription. These laws are based on the mistaken or at least exaggerated belief in doctors' judgment, expertise, and wisdom. The facts revealed in this article strongly suggest physicians are more easily influenced by drug company promotional tactics than patients are by advertising - and that medicine prescription laws do little or nothing to protect people's health.
The article reveals how corrupt and biased is much of the "research" supporting the use of psychiatric drugs. For example, the article says that, according to a Boston Globe report, Dr. Martin Keller, a Brown University professor of psychiatry, made $842,000 income in 1998, nearly $556,000 of which was from consulting to drug companies, and that he did not disclose this when publishing research about their drugs - research of the sort that persuades legislators to enact "mental health parity" laws that require health insurance companies and HMOs to provide the same coverage for psychiatry as for bona-fide health care, and "outpatient commitment" or "community treatment order" laws requiring people to take psychiatric drugs when living in their own homes - research of the sort that persuades doctors and patients that psychiatric drugs are beneficial. Do you think you could be objective and unbiased if you were a drug researcher and most of your income was provided by the manufacturer of the drug you were evaluating? People doing research on psychiatric drugs - and other drugs - must find a way to report favorable results, since those who fail to do so will no longer be hired by the drug companies as "consultants" and "researchers." As Drs. Peter Breggin and David Cohen say in their book Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How & Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs: Trusting in today's biased drug research is the same as putting your faith in a drug company.
The article says when "Investigating the effects of Prozac on the heart, [Dr. Steven] Roose [a researcher at New York State Psychiatric Institute] happened to discover that it [Prozac] is much less effective than earlier drugs in treating severe melancholia." "I didn't expect it," says Dr. Roose, "It just hit me in the ass. Was I a popular person at Lilly [the maker of Prozac]? No." Dr. Roose also found that Celexa, a new supposedly antidepressant drug of the same type as Prozac, "isn't so effective against depression, either."
The article quotes a Zoloft sales representative saying "You know, there have been some data saying Celexa is no better than placebo." Of course, the same could be said for Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and all other supposedly antidepressant drugs.
The article quotes Dr. Ronald A. Ruden, an Upper East Side Manhattan internist who is "an enthusiastic prescriber of antidepressants," saying "With these new antidepressants, you have to understand that we really don't know what we are doing. [underline added] We know the drugs work, but we don't know exactly how..." Dr. Ruden's claim that "We know the drugs work" should not be persuasive considering the studies showing they are no more effective than placebos. (Placebos are pills with no active ingredients, typically containing only sugar or corn starch.)
The article says these drugs "bring in profits as high as 90 percent of their prices" and that "even a small piece of the fast-growing antidepressant market could be a windfall," which probably explains drug companies' efforts to promote their not just worthless but often harmful supposedly antidepressant drugs.
Vice-President & Democratic Party presidential nominee Al Gore: A prominent but misguided defender of psychiatry
According to USA Today, in a joint appearance with his wife, Tipper, Vice-president Al Gore "promoted his mental-health proposals. He said that insurance companies should be required to cover mental-health services for children under the same co-payments and deductibles used for [real] health benefits. He also urged special mental-health training for all new teachers and spending an additional $2.5 billion over 10 years to expand [mental health] services." USA Today, June 1, 2000, "Politics - Gores turn personal anguish into policy," p. 6A. According to other reports, the purpose of this "mental health training" for teachers is to enable them to identify young people who should then be forced to accept psychiatry's harmful "treatments" such as psychiatric drugs - in many cases, even over their parents' objections.
Psychiatry promoted by Vice-President Al Gore's wife and daughter in nationally televised speeches at Democratic National Convention
Shortly before her father's address accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for President of the United States, on August 17, 2000, Vice-President Al Gore's 23 year old daughter, Kristen, introducing her mother, Tipper, told the Convention and millions of people watching the Convention on television how Tipper got a homeless woman near the White House into "treatment" and on "medication" that allowed her to get a job and, one is left to assume, live a normal life thanks to psychiatric "medication" that eradicated or controlled her psychosis. When Tipper spoke, she told the convention delegates and millions of television viewers that when her son was injured in an accident she suffered "clinical depression" and sought therapy and learned that "Professionals can help." Those listening or watching who don't know better were left with the impression that currently available psychiatric drugs can make crazy people normal again and that anybody who is depressed because of events that would make any normal person severely unhappy or depressed (like one's child being severely injured in an accident) will benefit from seeking "therapy" from mental health professionals. No mention was made of the brain damage caused by these supposedly antipsychotic (neuroleptic) drugs nor the fact that they impair all aspects of brain and neurological function (including normal thinking and emotions, vision, and motor control) and are not specific for irrational or delusional thinking. See Psychiatric Drugs: Cure or Quackery? (found on this web site). Anyone who thinks Second Lady Tipper Gore is right about the advisability of seeking mental health treatment for the normal emotional consequences of life's tragedies should read The Myth of Biological Depression, The Case Against Psychotherapy and Psychiatric Stigma (all of which are found on this web site).
"Statue of Freedom" on Top of the U.S. Capitol Building Symbolizes America's Hypocrisy About Freedom
The July 13, 2000 USA Today newspaper reports that the "Statute of Freedom" on the top of the dome of U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., was built by African-American slave labor between 1792 and 1800. The point of the USA Today article is the irony of a statue named "Freedom" on the top of the nation's capitol building having been built by American slaves. Those of us who have been imprisoned (involuntarily "hospitalized") in America for supposed mental illness even though we committed and were accused of no crime should see the Statute of Freedom, built by slaves, as a perfect symbol of America's hypocrisy about freedom, hypocrisy that continues to this day. Today our presidents and other politicians speak of Americans living in freedom and say nothing about prisoners of psychiatry who are subjected arbitrary imprisonment under America's involuntary civil commitment laws. (Kathy Kiely, "Records show slaves helped build Capitol," USA Today, July 13, 2000, page 12A)
Readers Digest deceives its readers, alleging depression is an illness
The April 2000 issue of Readers Digest includes an article by Anita Bartholomew titled "The Disease Men Don't Talk About" (pages 120-125) alleging "depression is...an illness, just like heart disease, diabetes and flu." Antipsychiatry Coalition activist Douglas A. Smith responded with a letter to the editors, saying in part:Everything this article says is wrong. Sadness, however severe or prolonged, is not a disease, and it therefore cannot be "treated." The only "cure" for depression is improving one's life, not one's brain. As psychiatrist Thomas Szasz once said, trying to get rid of a so-called mental illness by having a psychiatrist work on your brain is like trying to get cigarette commercials off television by having a TV repairman work on your TV set. Bartholomew's article says: "depression is...an illness, just like heart disease, diabetes, and flu." This is absolutely false. Nothing can be defined as a disease without a proved biological cause, and none has been found for depression. The article alleges: "Neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine ... play key roles. If because of a genetic abnormality or other cause, neurotransmitter stores are affected, we may suffer depression." This is pure speculation. In his pamphlet, "Commentary: Against Biologic Psychiatry" (see copy enclosed), psychiatrist David Kaiser says: "For example the illness major depression is defined by its set of specific symptoms. The underlying cause is presumed to be a biologic/genetic disturbance, even though this has never been proven in the case of depression" (page 3). He also laments "Patients having been diagnosed with "chemical imbalances" despite the fact that no test exists to support such a claim, and that there is no real conception of what a correct chemical balance would look like" (page 6). The assertion in Bartholomew's article that so-called antidepressant drugs work is equally deceptive: In the words of psychiatrist Peter Breggin, "The most fundamental point to be made about the most frequently used major antidepressants is that they have no specifically antidepressant effect. Like the major tranquilizers to which they are so closely related, they are highly neurotoxic and brain disabling, and achieve their impact through the disruption of normal brain function. ... Only the 'clinical opinion' of drug advocates supports any antidepressant effect" of so-called antidepressant drugs (Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brain, Springer Pub. Co., 1983, pp. 160 & 184 - cited in "Psychiatric Drugs: Cure or Quackery?," enclosed).Just as manufacturers of psychiatric drugs have bought influence with our lawmakers with large campaign contributions, perhaps, by buying enormously expensive advertisements in magazines, they persuade magazine editorial boards to publish supposedly objective articles like this one in Readers Digest that promote psychiatric drugs. These supposedly objective articles are probably even more effective than advertising, because everybody knows advertising is biased.
Readers Digest readers deserve more accurate reporting than this. Because of the inaccuracy of this article I'm going to be dubious of anything of a scientific nature I read in Readers Digest in the future. ...
Since Lawrence Stevens' pamphlets are not copyrighted, why not publish one or all of them as articles in Readers Digest? Or would that risk offending Readers Digest advertisers such as Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, which has a four page advertisement (pages 20-23) for its supposedly anti-anxiety drug, BuSpar, in the same issue as Bartholomew's deceptive article promoting other psychiatric drugs?
Having published articles promoting biological psychiatry and psychotherapy, will Readers Digest now allow the opposing viewpoint to be heard by publishing articles written by Peter Breggin, Douglas C. Smith, or Lawrence Stevens? Or will the magazine allow only articles that promote the interests of its advertisers to be published? We can only wait and see.
Distinguished Forensic Psychiatrist and Expert in Criminal Behavior Murdered by Her Own 16 Year Old Daughter
According to the March 8, 2000 Boston Globe, "A distinguished forensic psychiatrist who counseled prison inmates died at a hospital yesterday morning, two days after her 16-year-old daughter, whom friends described as emotionally unstable, allegedly pushed her down a flight of stairs and beat her with a hammer." The victim is described as "Dr. Kathleen A. Thomsen-Hall, 44 ... an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and an expert on criminal behavior." The article says "In 1998, she was one of two Massachusetts psychiatrists to receive the Exemplary Psychiatrists Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill." Her daughter, Valerie Hall, 16, was arraigned in juvenile court on charges of assault with intent to murder, use of a dangerous weapon, and drug possession. "It's so ironic that Val's mom is a forensic psychiatrist" said an 18 year old friend of the alleged murderer, "She worked with murderers every day." (Marcella Bombardieri & James E. Watson, "Educator dies after alleged attack - Daughter is arraigned on charges," Boston Globe, March 8, 2000, p. B1, B5)
For a few of us, this story might bring to mind the book Stronger Than Death by psychiatrist Sue Chance, M.D., in which she describes the circumstances surrounding the suicide of her son, and only child, which took her completely by surprise. Dr. Chance says she knew her son was depressed, but she didn't even suspect he might commit suicide.
These cases highlight the complete and total inability of psychiatrists, however distinguished or supposedly expert, to predict future human conduct. This is nothing new to many of us in the antipsychiatry movement. We've known it for decades. In her book Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice, published in 1997, psychologist Margaret A. Hagen, Ph.D., says "not only are they [psychiatrists and psychologists] unable to predict future human behavior any better than the man or woman on the street, they are actually worse at it" (p. 98-99). She says studies have shown that "when psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are asked to predict which hospital patients will be violent in the community after release" the result is "They are worse than chance. ... They are wrong two-thirds of the time!" (p. 163-164). It's too bad this fact does not stop legislators from writing laws based on the entirely mythical belief that psychiatrists can predict behavior: Involuntary civil commitment laws in probably every state of the USA and many other countries allow imprisonment (involuntary "hospitalization") of law-abiding people on the basis of a psychiatrist's prediction that the person is or is likely to become "dangerous to himself or others." If lawmakers were to enact laws calling for incarceration of law-abiding people on the basis of such predictions by astrologers or palm readers, courts would probably promptly strike the laws down as deprivation of liberty without due-process. But because of the persistent myth that psychiatrists can predict whether a person is "a danger to himself or others" - i.e., future conduct, courts do not similarly strike down laws allowing law-abiding people to be incarcerated on the basis of equally unreliable predictions of "dangerousness" by psychiatrists.
Psychiatric drugging of children ages 2 to 4 on the rise
According to a study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy reported in the February 23, 2000 issues of the Journal of the American Medical Association, theBoston Globe and The Tampa Tribune, as many as 1.5 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 4 are receiving stimulants, anti-depressants, or anti-psychotic drugs such as Ritalin, Prozac, and Thorazine. The use of such drugs doubled or even tripled between 1991 and 1995, even though none of the psychiatric drugs most often given these young children have been approved for children under age 6. According to Joseph T. Coyle of Harvard Medical School in an editorial accompanying the study, this age "is a time of extraordinary, unprecedented changes in the brain. We have very little information about the long-term impact of treatment with these drugs early in development."
Perhaps the use of psychiatric drugs in children 2 to 4 years of age is making a larger number of people realize how irresponsibly psychiatric drugs are prescribed by both psychiatrists and other physicians.
Susan Okie (Washington Post), "Drug prescriptions for preschoolers on rise, study finds," Boston Globe, February 23, 2000, p. A3; Erica Goode, "Younger kids being given more mind drugs," The Tampa Tribune, February 23, 2000, page 1.
Psychiatric myths reinforced by U.S. Surgeon General Report
The U.S. Surgeon General, David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., has issued the first-ever U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health. In an article about his Report appearing in the January/February 2000 issue of Psychology Today magazine, he states many "facts" also found in his Report that are 180 degrees from the truth. Among them are these:
MYTH (as stated by the Surgeon General): "In fact, in any one year, one in five Americans - including children, adolescents, adults and the elderly - experience a mental disorder."
REALITY: Neither mental health nor mental illness exist - except in the sense that people use these terms to express approval or disapproval of a person's personality or behavior.
MYTH (as stated by the Surgeon General): "Over the past 25 years, there has been a scientific revolution in the fields of mental health and mental illness... Mental health treatments have improved by leaps and bounds over the past 25 years..."
REALITY: Despite the marketing of some new psychiatric drugs, not much of value has happened in psychiatry during the last 25 years (other than documenting the harm done by psychiatry). Psychiatric "diagnosis" is as arbitrary as it was 25 years ago - or a hundred years ago. There is still not even one so-called mental illness with a proved biological cause. All or nearly all psychiatric drugs used 25 years ago are still used, and they do the same harm they did 25 years ago. It is generally recognized that the new neuroleptic (nerve-seizing) and new "antidepressant" drugs and other psychiatric drugs are no more effective than those of 25 years ago, contrary to claims by psychiatric drug manufacturers. Electroconvulsive "therapy" is still used and is done essentially the same way it was 25 years ago, and it causes the same harm it always has. In fact, it has gotten somewhat worse: The newer ECT devices, using bi-directional or uni-directional pulse rather than sine-wave current as was typical 25 years ago, employ higher peak voltages that are likely to harm the brain even more.
MYTH (as stated by the Surgeon General): "Today, mental disorders can be correctly diagnosed and, for the most part, treated with medications or short-term psychotherapy, or with a combination of approaches. The single most explicit recommendation I make in my report is to seek help if you have a mental health problem or think you have symptoms of a mental disorder. ... I cannot emphasize enough the principle recommendation of my report: Seek help if you think you have a mental health problem or symptoms of a mental disorder. ... There are effective treatments for virtually every mental disorder."
REALITY: Psychiatric "diagnosis" is arbitrary, unscientific, and misguided. Regarding the drugs the Surgeon General advocates - in the words of psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., and social work professor David Cohen, Ph.D., in their book Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs (Perseus Books - Reading, Massachusetts - 1999, pp. 97-98): "There are no drugs that improve mental function, self-understanding, or human relations. Any drug that affects mental processes does so by impairing them." Take a psychiatric drug only if you want an impaired, disabled brain. Regarding so-called "psychotherapy": Many studies have shown "psychotherapy" is no better than conversation with interested, sympathetic, but untrained persons. The single most explicit recommendation an informed person who has your best interests at heart would give you is this: Stay as far away from mental health professionals as you can. As Dr. Breggin said in his book Toxic Psychiatry in 1991: Going to see a psychiatrist has become one of the most dangerous things a person can do. In the words of Dr. Breggin in the Foreword to Reality Therapy in Action by William Glasser, M.D. (Harper Collins, 2000), p. xi: "Nothing has harmed the quality of individual life in modern society more than the misbegotten belief that human suffering is driven by biological and genetic causes and can be rectified by taking drugs or undergoing electroshock therapy. ... If I wanted to ruin someone's life, I would convince the person that that biological psychiatry is right - that relationships mean nothing, that choice is impossible, and that the mechanics of a broken brain reign over our emotions and conduct. If I wanted to impair an individual's capacity to create empathetic, loving relationships, I would prescribe psychiatric drugs, all of which blunt our highest psychological and spiritual functions" (underline added).
MYTH (as stated by the Surgeon General): "Equality or parity between mental health coverage and other health coverage is an affordable and effective way to decrease the number of ill people who are not receiving proper treatment."
REALITY: Equality or parity between mental health care coverage and real health care coverage is an effective (and expensive) way to promote needless and harmful psychiatric "treatment" including unnecessary imprisonment ("hospitalization") in psychiatric "hospitals." A U.S. Congressional investigation in 1992 found "that thousands of adolescents, children, and adults have been hospitalized for psychiatric treatment they didn't need; that hospitals hire bounty hunters to kidnap patients with mental health insurance; that patients are kept against their will until their insurance benefits run out; that psychiatrists are being pressured by the hospitals to increase profit; that hospitals 'infiltrate' schools by paying kickbacks to school counselors who deliver students; that bonuses are paid to hospital employees, including psychiatrists, for keeping the hospital beds filled; and that military dependents are being targeted for their generous mental health benefits." See Unjustified Psychiatric Commitment in the U.S.A. In the words of a 16 year old girl in 1999 shortly after she was released from a psychiatric treatment center where she had been an involuntary inpatient for months: "Perfectly normal people are kept in treatment centers. Perfectly normal teenagers. Nobody was crazy there. Not even one person. They were just teenagers with divorced parents. Or teenagers who did a few drugs. Or teenagers who got suspended from school. Suddenly we were all Borderlines, Schizophrenics, and Manic Depressives who 'needed' long term hospitalization. We also 'needed' medication." In other words, psychiatry is a health care scam bilking millions of dollars from health care insurance companies and HMOs that in turn pass those costs on to the people who pay the premiums or the taxes that pay for the insurance or health care coverage.
Regarding psychiatric stigma the Surgeon General says: "Powerful and pervasive, stigma prevents people from acknowledging their mental health problems and disclosing them to others. To improve access to care, stigma must no longer be tolerated." He is right about psychiatric stigma being powerful and pervasive. It makes no sense, however, to say simply that psychiatric stigma must no longer be tolerated. The reason for this is people will always stigmatize behavior they dislike, and people disliking a particular behavior is what defines anything as a mental illness. So it isn't possible for "mental illness" and stigma to be separated. There however are ways to substantially reduce psychiatric stigma, ways the Surgeon General overlooks, and these are acknowledging there is no such thing as mental health or mental illness, and admitting what nonsense psychiatry is - for example, pointing out that psychiatric diagnosis is arbitrary, that the diagnostic categories of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are invalid, that many people labeled or "diagnosed" as mentally ill do not really have anything wrong with them, and that most people called mentally ill are not more likely than anyone else to commit a violent act. What we need is a Surgeon General who speaks out in these ways to help us so-called mentally ill people - rather than perpetuating psychiatric myths, persuading more people to subject themselves to harmful psychiatric "treatment" thereby ruining more people's lives with psychiatry's brain-damaging drugs and shock treatment, and subjecting more people to the often life-ruining effects of psychiatric stigma.
Click on this link to read a letter from neurologist Fred A. Baughman, Jr., M.D., to U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher saying that because of the deceptiveness of his Report on Mental Health, he should resign his position as Surgeon General.
Parents in Massachusetts complain about schools pressuring them to put their children on Ritalin
According to a Boston Globe article, Massachusetts parent Paula E. Johnson filed a civil rights complaint, and another parent, Fitzgerald Billett, filed a similar complaint with the Department of Education, about being pressured to put their children on Ritalin. They allege "school districts are overstepping their bounds to simply ensure order in classrooms." The parents say "their children showed marked improvement when they began taking Ritalin, but they say the boys' health otherwise eroded. Side effects made them lethargic, causing them to have a 'flat' personality, and in Jerry's case, stomach ailments such as an ulcer. 'The medicine knocked him out'" said one parent, "'He fell asleep out of his chair. It would really slow him down.'" According to Dr. Jefferson Prince, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, "There are many tensions between parents and teachers over the use of Ritalin, I see it everyday." The article says "The diagnosis of attention disorder remains controversial. While some doctors insist it is physical, others say it is strictly behavioral and can be controlled by helpful adults who take the time to evaluate children's needs."
Doreen Iudica Vigue, "Ritalin use challenged - Lawrence parents say children pressured to use drug," Boston Globe, January 21, 2000, p. B1.
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