Undiagnosing Childhood As A Mental Disorder

You don’t have to read the article if you read the first, and at this point only, comment in response to it. The article is called It’s more than just a movie, and purported the subject of the article is–go figure–Reactive Attachment Disorder.

RAD children, according to the article, are apparently kind of like Stepford Wives, only they’re children.

“They’re like boarders in a boardinghouse. They sleep in your home and eat at your table, but you never really know who they are.”

From the article we also get this:

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, RAD is a complex psychiatric illness characterized by difficulties in developing emotional attachments with others, including parents.

Enough nonsense, now let’s cut to the response.

From reading both of Jane Ryan’s books, it is my opinion that she is most likely a proponent of the scientifically-unvalidated pop psychotherapy called “Attachment Therapy” (which goes by several names, such as Holding Therapy, Rage Reduction, etc.). In 2006, a task force convened by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children published its report on Attachment Therapy, its parenting methods (aka Nancy Thomas parenting), and use of the unrecognized diagnosis “Attachment Disorder.” This task force condemned these practices as abusive and advised child welfare workers to investigate any of these practices as “suspected abuse.” The APSAC task force findings and recommendations were adopted by the American Psychological Association’s Division on Child Maltreatment.

Apparently the proponents of this Attachment Therapy are finding it convenient to blur the distinction between what the commenter sees as the “legitimate” DSM classification and their “bogus” “disorder”. Perhaps this kind of confusion will work to their advantage in the long run. How distant, after all, can any “reactive attachment disorder” be from an “attachment disorder”…linguistically speaking anyway?

“Attachment Disorder” (AD) is a bogus diagnosis ONLY used by Attachment Therapists, bears no resemblance to Reactive Attachment Disorder, as defined in the official DSM-IV. RAD is characterized by a child being either extremely withdrawn or overly friendly with unfamiliar persons. There are NO aggressive features associated with RAD. On the other hand, AD has a long laundry list of signs; it is a catch-all diagnosis, so that any child taken to an Attachment Therapist is likely to receive this “diagnosis.” (Even good behavior is interpreted as “stalking prey.”) It gets confusing because proponents of Attachment Therapy often conflate AD with RAD. The important point here is that an accurate diagnosis is needed to get effective and safe care. That isn’t possible with Attachment Therapists.

I wouldn’t say AD is a bogus diagnosis ONLY used by Attachment Therapists. I would think that many of the more nebulous and relatively minor “disorders” in the current DSM could be attributed to improper or incomplete weaning, and therefore, by extension anyway, are fundamentally attachment “disorders”.

Peggy Thatcher, the writer of the above comment, goes on to add.

Attachment Therapy and its parenting methods have been associated with numerous high-profile criminal child abuse and death cases.

Nanny state policies, and not necessarily pop nannies, are in large measure much of what lies behind the problem here. The future and adult independence of the child should be of foremost concern in child rearing. Children are very astute, and they can often detect when affection and caring in a family context is pretentious and unreal. I suggest that this—Jane Ryan might call it trauma—is what results in these Stepford children. These Stepford children in some ways are essientially, like children in foster care situations, throw away children. Child rearing should be managed by parents, and it should not be left up to mental health workers, pop or otherwise, if you don’t want situations to develop like the ones described.

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