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Child Drugging Increases In Australia

According to the Sydney Morning Herald a psychiatry professor at the University of Adeliade, Jon Jureidini, is raising the issue of the increased use of psychiatric drugs on children in Australia. The article in question bears the heading, Concern at psychiatric drugs used on children.

This article points out that after the addition of black box warning labels to anti-depressant bottles in the USA there was a 58 % drop in the use of those drugs on children in that country.

Yet between 2007 and 2011 in Australia antidepressant prescriptions increased from nearly 22 prescriptions per 1000 children aged below 16 to nearly 27, data provided to the Herald by the Department of Human Services under freedom of information laws shows.

The use of antidepressant drugs on children in Australia is increasing while the use of neuroleptic drugs on children has doubled in little more than 5 years time.

Last year there were about 14 antipsychotic prescriptions for every 1000 children, compared with seven in 2007.

Professor Jureidini points out that this increased usage has occurred despite the fact that the rate of psychosis among children has not increased so significantly. He offers a prescription of his own.

Professor Jureidini said more monitoring of the drugs and their side effects was needed, along with training for GPs on non-pharmacological treatments.

I’d say that the situation of Australian represents an object lesson that doctors and mental health professionals in other countries would do well to learn from.

The NIMH: Using A Scientific Pretext To Fund Harm

Some research studies should be criminal. A good case in point is this study in an article found in Phys.Org, UC San Diego to study accelerated aging in schizophrenia.

Researchers at the Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego have received a $4 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, to study accelerated biological aging in schizophrenia.

Accelerated biological aging? They’re not really studying accelerated aging, are they? The short answer to this question is no. Poor health is often attributed to the psychiatric label that is actually the result, as is the case here, of the drugs given to treat the label. The researchers attribute this poor health falsely to the label as a method of getting more funding and of better deceiving the general public.

Scientists have long observed that schizophrenia is more than a brain disease, as it also affects a wide range of physical functions and entails more rapid biological aging. A number of studies have suggested that physiological changes seen throughout the body occur at an earlier age in people with schizophrenia. For example, young adults suffering from this mental condition are prone to diseases associated with growing older, such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

Suddenly we’re expected to digest the oxymoronic suggestion that there are old young people running around in the mental health system. Actually it is a well known fact that a metabolic condition associated with the use of the atypical neuroleptic drugs developed in the 1990s is the culprit. These drugs have a tendency to cause an excessive weight gain which accompanies the diseases mentioned in the article and results in early mortality. What these researchers will actually be studying is the iatrogenic ill health that doctors are directly responsible for causing. This is the research equivalent of poisoning somebody so that you can observe him or her in the process of dying.

To unravel biological mechanisms underlying faster aging, [principal investigator Dilip V.] Jeste and colleagues will measure and analyze a panel of biomarkers associated with insulin dysregulation, inflammation, oxidative stress, and cell aging. The last study involves measuring the length of telomeres – regions of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes from deterioration and have been linked to longevity. In addition, researchers will investigate the effects of factors related to chronicity of schizophrenia, such as cumulative effects of medication.

There is an easy way to de-accelerate what these researchers are calling an aging process, and that is simply by reducing the dosage of neuroleptic drug that the research subjects are being given. The “cumulative effects of medication” are where the effects of the drugs have to be accumulated over the long-term in a subject. You could do the same thing with persistent low doses of potassium cyanine. “Chronicity” itself is related to the use of these drugs for what is termed “symptom management”. This “symptom management” takes place basically because the condition is thought to so severe in an individual as to place him or her beyond recovery.

The NIMH should have better places to put its money than into studies that damage people just so that damage can be studied. I can’t begin to express how unethical this sort of practice is. I would imagine that the impetus behind this research might be the development of a drug to de-accelerate the ill health that is brought on by psychiatric treatment that could be added to any drug cocktail a mental health consumer might be put on. This additional drug is proposed in order to rake in kickbacks from the drug industry that would not be there if the patient were detoxified. Detoxification, of course, comes with a reduction of drugs.

The Bogus Disease Industry Is Booming

Imaginary diseases are easy to over-diagnose. The mental health field is chock full of imaginary diseases. How can it not be? The DSM, the psychiatrist label bible, is loaded with diseases that were voted into existence by committee. Two of these imaginary diseases are attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Bogus diseases also have bogus criteria for diagnosis. Science 2.0 has released a story with the blunt but true headline, You Knew This: ADD And ADHD Over-Diagnosed.

The researchers surveyed altogether 1,000 child and adolescent psychotherapists and psychiatrists across Germany. 473 participated in the study. They received one of four available case vignettes, and were asked to give a diagnoses and a recommendation for therapy. In three out of the four case vignettes, the described symptoms and circumstances did not fulfill ADHD criteria. Only one of the cases fulfilled ADHD criteria based strictly on the valid diagnostic criteria. In addition, the gender of the child was included as a variable resulting in eight different case vignettes. As the result, when comparing two identical cases with a different gender, the difference was clear: Leon has ADHD but Lea does not.

Not only are boys more likely to be perceived as “having it”, but male doctors are more likely to diagnose it than female doctors according to the same study.

It looks like the drug companies have found many ways to profit from this ADHD and ADD misdiagnosis racket though.

As media attention increased, ADHD diagnoses also became inflationary. 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-enhancer Methylphenidate, have increased 9 times between 1993 and 2003. The German health insurance company, Techniker, reports an increase of 30 percent in Methylphenidate prescriptions for its clients between the ages of 6 and 18. Similarly, the daily dosage has increased by 10 percent on average.

ADHD labeling has increased in the USA as well. The Daily Northwestern from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, has a story on research conducted at that University, NU study finds ADHD diagnoses on the rise.

From 2000 to 2010, the total number of national ADHD cases among children under 18 increased by 66 percent, from 6.2 million to 10.4 million, the study found.

This same article harks back to the German study mentioned above.

Others, however, have hypothesized that doctors are overdiagnosing ADHD in children. In February, researchers from Germany published data in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology showing that 16.7 percent of 1,000 psychiatrists diagnosed ADHD in non-ADHD patients.

I would suspect that the actual figure is much higher. If ADHD is as I have concluded an imaginary disease then 100 % of these children don’t have ADHD. In such case, it follows that diagnosing even a single example of the disorder would be a matter of over-diagnosis.

Psychosis risk no good excuse for psychiatric drugging

A study in England shows that psychiatric drugs should probably not be used on people at risk for developing schizophrenia. The story is in TODAYonline, Drugs not best option for people at risk of psychosis, study warns.

The study was conducted by 5 universities.

Published on the British Medical Journal website, the study found the frequency, seriousness, and intensity of psychotic symptoms that may lead to more serious conditions was reduced by counselling and CT [cognitive therapy].

Participants, aged 13 – 35, were given weekly CT sessions for a max of 6 months over a 4 year period.

Before the trial, international evidence estimated that 40 to 50 per cent of people at risk of developing psychosis at a young age would progress to a psychotic illness.

Apparently this figure was a gross over-estimation. The article says in a number places that this figure is closer to one in ten. In fact, it’s less than 1 in 10.

But only 8 per cent of patients in the study were shown to have made the transition.

These results have led researchers to suggest that neuroleptic drugs should not be used as the first line of defense for dealing with at risk youths.

Do neuroleptic drugs cause an even bigger problem once they have been introduced? We’ve got high relapse rates and low recovery rates for people maintained on these drugs. Although it may seem so, this question was not addressed by the study.

Conflict Of Interest Taints DSM Revision Efforts

A recent article in New Scientist, Many authors of psychiatry bible have industry ties,
covers the connections those psychiatrists revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) have to the drug industry. Despite a call for greater transparency, and new regulations governing industry links, the number of doctors with conflicts of interest hasn’t declined in the slightest.

“Transparency alone can’t mitigate bias,” says Lisa Cosgrove of Harvard University, who along with Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, analysed the financial disclosures of 141 members of the “work groups” drafting the manual. They found that just as many contributors – 57 per cent – had links to industry as were found in a previous study of the authors of DSM-IV and an interim revision, published in 1994 and 2000 respectively.

These cozy relationships exist even though the amount of money a doctor is allowed to receive from a drug company is restricted to $10,000 in a year, and the amount of stock these doctors can own in such companies is restricted to under $50,000. What’s more, that $10,000 excludes research grants.

Cosgrove is especially concerned about DSM authors who serve on “speakers’ bureaus” – experts who are paid to lecture about a drug company’s products. These payments are not specifically identified in the DSM-5 disclosures, but web searches indicated that 15 per cent of the work group members were speakers’ bureau members.

Many of these doctors with such conflicts of interest are in work groups involved in broadening diagnostic criteria, and in determining which drugs should be used to treat which disorders. Members of the American Psychological Association have put together a petition criticizing the DSM that has garnered over 12,000 signatures. Some of those psychologists wrote a letter requesting an independent scientific review be made of the revision process.

The [American Psychiatric Association] APA has rejected this call: “There is, in fact, no outside organisation that has the capacity to replicate the range of expertise that DSM-5 has assembled over the past decade to review diagnostic criteria,” replied APA president John Oldham.

In other words, we’re an exclusive club, butt out. A psychiatry degree confers this status upon us neuro-science experts that you mussy-headed little psychology runts can’t match, and we’re not about to let our authority be challenged and wrested from us.

Given that the APA has a very hierarchical structure, and that it is not at all a completely homogenous body, there is room for change in the future. That said, the old guard is firmly in control, and it may take a little time before any innovative thinking can make its way up the latter.

I think the leadership of the APA must be thinking that as soon as they get their multi-million dollar fetching publication on the book shelves all the furor will die down into little more than a muffled grumble. Unfortunately, they’re probably right. Anyway, while the furor may die down, it will still simmer under the surface, and it is not going away anytime soon.

UPDATE: 3/14/12

I stand corrected. According to another report the psychiatrists revising the DSM-5 have more financial interests in the drug companies than the psychiatrists who were revising the DSM-IV did. The journal nature has an article on the subject, Industry ties remain rife on panels for psychiatry manual.

In 2007, the APA established a conflicts-of-interest policy for physicians revising DSM-5 that, for the first time, called for the disclosure of financial relationships with industry. Some thought that the rules would discourage physicians with conflicts of interest from serving on revision panels for the manual. But today’s study, published in PLoS Medicine, reports that the number of such relationships has risen — 69% of the 29-member task force in charge of the revision have such relationships, compared with 57% of the task force who carved out the previous edition.

This increase indicates that certain members of the American Psychological Association and other critics of the DSM revision process have much good reason to be critical of the process taking place now. The point is, regulations were put in place, and the numbers of doctors with drug industry financial interests increased rather than decreased. Apparently, even with the new regulations, there hasn’t been enough done to keep those drug industry hooks down to a bare minimum.

Psychiatry Professors Behaving Badly

Technically they’ve been “cleared” of all charges, but I wouldn’t say these 2 psychiatry professors from the University of Pennsylvania don’t have blood on their hands. The story can be found in The Philadelphia Inquirer Business section under the heading, Penn finds no misconduct by professors in plagiarism case. I think some of us might better characterize the whitewash of these 2 psychiatry professors actions as misconduct on the university’s part.

An internal investigation by the University of Pennsylvania found no evidence of research misconduct or plagiarism by two psychiatry professors – one of whom is the chair of the department – who were accused by a colleague of putting their names on a ghostwritten paper in 2001.

One of these professors just happens to be the Chair of the University of Pennsylvania’s Psychiatry Department, Dwight L. Evans.

2 authors are taking the credit for a paper authored by 5 authors. It is unclear as to the hand that these 2 authors had in this document, if any, besides the providing of signatures. 3 of those authors were from the drug company that manufactures Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline. The paper is about Paxil.

Last summer, Jay D. Amsterdam, a Penn professor who also had been involved in the study of the effect of the antidepressant Paxil on depression in patients with bipolar disorder, filed a complaint with the federal Office of Research Integrity about the study. He alleged that “the published manuscript was biased in its conclusions, made unsubstantiated efficacy claims, and downplayed the adverse event profile of Paxil.”

Now tell me, this paper wasn’t intended to be a big send up for Paxil, was it!? The university decided that since the piece was written in 2001, before they had guidelines requiring the mention of drug company co-authors, that it’s legit. Okay, I’d say that doing so is stretching the definition of legit to the breaking point.

This is not the first time the University Pennsylvania has been involved in ghostwriting scandals, and it probably won’t be the last.

Last summer, the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group, called for the removal of Penn president Amy Gutmann from her position as chair of the Presidential Commission for the study of Bioethical Issues because she had not been tough enough on ghostwriting. She was recently reappointed.

Isn’t it sad that sometimes people get appointed to serve on Commissions because of their conflicts of interest rather than because of their lack of them? In more independent and truly ethically minded climes, there is a word to describe this sort of practice. That word, if you‘re still stumped, is corrupt.

Patients and Former Patients In The Classroom

As a psychiatric survivor one article of note caught my attention recently, Listening to patients transforms psychiatric care at GHSU.

Much as I’ve tried to open a dialogue and educate people in higher education about the mental health system unsuccessfully due to their prejudice against people with psychiatric histories, I’m amazed that some place is actually listening to people who have known life from the inside.

Psychiatric care and teaching at Georgia Health Sciences University has been transformed by listening to an unusual source: the patients and former patients.

This unusual source consists of the very people they should be serving when they graduate. Why, one has to wonder, are most schools unwilling to listen to this very source? In some if not most instances they continue NOT listening to this source after they’ve graduated.

The Department of Psy­chiatry and Health Behavior at GHSU will be honored today with the Award for Crea­tivity in Psychiatric Edu­cation at the American Col­lege of Psychiatrists’ annual meeting in Naples, Fla.

Assuming they are actually listening, and that they aren’t just pretending to listen, or listening to cherry picked patients and former patients, this should be an Award they richly deserve.

The department is being honored for its Georgia Re­cov­ery-based Educational Ap­proach to Treatment (GREAT) program, which emphasizes the recovery model of care.

Let me tell you, the recovery model of care is a great improvement over the non-recovery model of care. I just hope that someday the full and complete recovery model of care, with recovered as the actual end of treatment, will be on the agenda. I hate to keep hearing from mental health consumers who feel they are stuck in their recovery. There is, after all, a “wellness” on the other side of any “sickness”.

Hopefully other university and schools of higher education have their antennas up and operating, and they are saying, “Hey, GHSU is listening to its mental health service survivors and consumers; maybe we should start listening to our mental health service survivors and consumers, too.” I’d really like to see more of this kind of thing developing into something of a trend. If it were to do so, maybe it would eventually even seep down here to the university town where I happen to reside.

It’s Getting To Be A Mad Mad Gene Hunt

The wierdness the mad gene hunt has taken on becomes apparent with a heading like the following one in Science Alert, Schizophrenia variants present in all. We’re all mad, in other words, but now we’re looking for DNA patterns that would link the mad ones with the ones who haven’t been caught yet.

While previous studies have pinpointed several genes along with rare chromosomal deletions and duplications associated with the disease, these account for less than three per cent of risk of schizophrenia.

I remember reading about a chromosomal deletion that was found in 1 % of the schizophrenic population. Ironically the population labeled schizophrenic comprises about 1 % of the entire population. 1 out of 4 people with this chromosomal deletion were found to develop schizophrenia…

This coincidence is no smoking gun, surely.

But the new method found that about a quarter of schizophrenia is captured by many variants that are common in the general population.

These mad gene patterns occur in a lot of people who aren’t mad, too. Imagine that.

According to QBI’s [University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute], Associate Professor Naomi Wray, who led the international study, this suggests that we all carry genetic risk variants for schizophrenia, but that the disease only emerges when the burden of variants, in combination with environmental factors, reaches a certain tipping point.

Great going, Naomi! You get Lunatic Fringe’s Mad Scientist Of The Hour Award!

Genetic risk variants, in combination with environmental factors? Oh, and do environmental factors alone explain the other 75 % of the mad population? As we are dealing with biological psychiatry, I imagine the correct answer given would have to be no. The claim being we just haven’t found all the other genetic risk variants we are looking for.

I’ve read where researchers thought “mental illness” was 70 % biologically determined. Alright. We’re onto 1 in 4 cases, but we’ve still got a long long ways to go before we’ve get the other 45 % figured out.

What test did they use to come up with this 70 % figure? Well, it has to be over 50 % as they’re biological psychiatry proponents. It has to be under 100 % because there are a lot of blurred lines in the field. Just think about the number of people initially with ADHD, depression, and other disorder labels that were later tagged bipolar. In theory, supposedly based on evidense, the bipolar gene is connected to the schizophrenia gene, and so on. I imagine maybe somebody held that a 7 being his or her lucky number would look good with a zero following it.

Anyway someday we will have all these mad genes that everybody has figured out. You think?

The Big Lie: About Us Without Us

I know of this attorney in Virginia. His official title is Regional Human Rights Advocate. In such a capacity he serves people in the mental health system in that state. He has been known to give presentations at outpatient and inpatient facilities around the area. He has given presentations, inspired by Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly successful people, on what he refers to as The Seven Principles of Effective Self-Advocacy. Given that people within the mental health system often don’t understand the law, and their rights under that law, this kind of instruction can be a very good thing to have.

Often in some mental health literature you will read where people with psychiatric labels are referred to as “voiceless”. You will also see where they are lumped among what are referred to as America’s, or even the world’s, “most vulnerable citizens”. Are they actually “voiceless”? No, it’s just nobody has bothered to ask them about their wants and desires. Are they actually a segment of the world’s “most vulnerable population”? It probably varies from individual to individual. Given enough gumption, no, there are people who are much closer to death and eclipse than most of the people being treated, or mistreated, for mental health issues. The problem here then is one of these people wondering what the heck to do with those people.

There is a saying and slogan among people in the Disabilities Rights Movement that goes, “Nothing About Us Without Us!” When one claims to be speaking for other people, without those other people being present, we have to ask whose interests are actually being served. We don’t know whether this group or that group is truly being represented until we hear from members of the group itself. When any members of the group can express their own concerns, the need for an intermediary to express those concerns for them has vanished. Should such an prophylactic mediation persist, we have to question the motives of the intermediary.

There are many untruths in the current literature on mental health, but I don’t think there is any bigger untruth than this assumption that a psychiatric label magically takes away capacity, or perhaps, more pointedly, that a psychiatric label strips us of our connection to the rest of the human species. The implication is that somehow the very thing that makes a person human has been lost through the act of applying a label to that person. Humans can speak for themselves. They aren’t animals. The capacity to communicate, in fact, is the very thing that separates us from many species lower down on the evolutionary tree. People labeled “mentally ill” are usually not mute, nor are they incapable of intelligible speech.

The less people who have known the mental health system from the receiving end are listened to, the more distance the great lie that somebody must do their speaking for them gets. This is a dangerous lie. People are buried under this lie, real people. The great lie, in fact, takes lives. It takes the best of life, and it takes what makes life important. Your life is reduced to the words of a person who claims to represent you, and a person who doesn’t represent you in actual fact. He or she doesn’t think you should be speaking in your own words and from your own personal experience. He or she thinks he or she should be telling other people how to best respond to you. He or she has replaced you with a big fat lie.

Advocating for the suppression of people’s rights in the mental health system is often confused with advocating for the rights of people in the mental health system. When people who have endured the system themselves become advocates, no such confusion is possible. The system right now is incorporating the use of certified Peer Support Specialists into its operations. Sometimes these Peer Support Specialists are not nearly so rights savvy as they ought to be. We’re not talking patient rights, or even mental health consumer rights, either. Out of that kind of talk you get the right to treatment without a corresponding right to refuse treatment. We’re talking human rights. We’re talking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All three of these rights are jeopardized by that psychiatric assault known as coercive mental health intervention. When the voices denied these rights, have been permitted a chance to speak in support of these rights, then and only then will you know that progress is being made.

The genome of the studious fruit

An article in LiveScience, Family’s Mental Disorders May Shape Your Interests, would indicate that the autistic gene is connected to the science and technicality gene while the bipolar disorder gene is connected to the humanities and social sciences gene. I suspect that you will need much more than voluntary survey results to prove any such connection between career choice and physiology.

The research, a survey of 1,077 incoming Princeton University freshmen in the class of 2014, posits a genetic influence on personal interests. For example, students who planned to major in the humanities or social sciences were twice as likely as other students to report a family member with a mood disorder or substance abuse. Wannabe science and technology majors, on the other hand, were three times as likely as other freshmen to say they had a sibling on the autism spectrum.

I have a big problem with this kind of thing, namely the assuming that there is a genetic influence on personal interests because it is assumed that there is a genetic influence in the development of what are referred to as serious “mental illnesses”. Where’s the HARD evidence supporting your THEORY? Somebody is indulging in a great deal of whimsical speculation here. Merely stating such proves absolutely nothing.

This is not to say that everyone who enjoys computer programming fits on the autism spectrum, or to insinuate that having a bipolar parent destines a person for an English major. But Wang is not the only researcher to find links between heritable disorders and family interests. In November 2011, for example, researchers reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry that people with bipolar disorder, as well as their healthy immediate family members, were more likely to hold “creative” jobs in the arts or sciences than people without a family history of the disorder. Parents and siblings of people with schizophrenia showed the same tendencies.

I believe I read something about the same research, and while people labeled with bipolar disorder were said to sometimes have creative careers the same was not found to be true of people labeled with schizophrenia. I suppose a big part of the problem must be in finding the right trainer patient enough to work with a raving lunatic.

Not that long ago most people on earth were hunter gatherers. I suppose that must have been because they had hunter gatherer genes. When we get a time-machine we can go back, and conduct a survey.

I’m not at all surprised that creative people would be related to dysfunctionaries. The off-cause for functionaries is the on-cause for dysfunctionaries. Does this mean that uncreative people don’t have creative genes? I still think we’re making quite a leap here from ‘practice makes perfect’ to let your genes do the waltzing. I think there could still be a number of reasons why careers could come in families besides genetic make up. Also, you’ve only scratched the surface of the matter if you’ve even done that. You’d have to look at the career spread over many generations to draw any real type of conclusion. At some point or other you come back to hunters and gatherers, but somebody, of course, had to bang the drums, and somebody, of course, had to cast the spells. Somebody had to craft the bows and chip the arrowheads, too. Genes, huh?

Some surveys, like some careers, are mostly a waste of time and money.