Child’s Play – Treating The Insanity of the Mental Health System

In today’s mental health system there is a pattern of fraud and coercion that takes way the freedoms and dignity of children and their families. Children are receiving stigmatizing labels and being prescribed psychotropic drugs with many untoward effects. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, MD made the comment that if an individual hit us with a blackjack and robbed us of our dignity we would call them thugs, yet psychiatrists label and drug children and rob them of their dignity and nothing is said. All in the name of profit. Rarely, if never are the families given informed consent. Szasz has also stated, “From a sociological point of view, psychiatry is a secular institution to regulate domestic relations. From my point of view, it is child abuse.” Families are provided with literature that appears so matter of fact but is funded by the pharmaceutical companies and tainted with their bias. According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, the ‘support’ or should it be said front group for Children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder received substantial funds from the pharmaceutical companies: “CHADD received $315,000 from drug companies in the year ending June 2000, about 12 percent of its budget.”

Children are being beaten, improperly restrained, physically and sexually abused, and emotionally scarred in residential treatment programs. Juvenile probation officials are failing to understand the emotional distress of our children, they are submitting to this “psychiatric Gestapo”. Educators rather than finding new methods of shaping our children’s learning are falling into the trap of psychiatric ‘solutions’ as well. Never could it be that a school has simply failed to help a child learn, rather it is always the child denigrated and labeled as ‘disordered’. There are loving and concerned parents, and there are others who lack love and compassion towards their children. There are loving and concerned parents who become duped by the ‘professionals’. Below are some actual stories of experiences in my work as a therapist with children as well as one story submitted to me by a concerned and struggling parent. I share them to give some perspective as to what is occurring.

I share this scenario because sadly it is becoming a frightening reality: A child is considered overly active and has behavioral issues at school. The school staff may recommend psychiatric intervention and even go as far as to say that medication is necessary, even designating which one. The child sees the psychiatrist for a brief session- it is never examined if the child has any physical conditions, allergies, etc. Immediately the child is labeled and given a dose of psychostimulant. The child develops side effects such as weight loss, insomnia, and possible tics. In order to counteract the insomnia, a new drug such as Klonidine is added. The child develops emotional lability and has crying episodes and manic behaviors. The psychiatrist is seen again for a brief time, and on this visit its determined that ‘bipolar is emerging’. The child is then given Depakote or some other mood stablizer. The child now must receive regular blood tests to insure that liver toxicity does not arise. The child is not overly active, he is quite docile, so it is reported that improvement has occurred. However, with the combination of drugs, he develops some psychotic like symptoms where he feels something is crawling on him and has some hallucinations. The psychiatrist is consulted again, and its determined that bipolar with psychotic features exists or maybe even the possibility of childhood schizophrenia. The child is then given Risperdal or another neuroleptic. Strangely, the child begins developing unusual jaw movements and muscle rigidity. The parents are concerned and ask the psychiatrist if this is medication related and if the child is overmedicated. The psychiatrist brushes off the question and prescribes Cogentin (used for Parkinson’s) to alleviate the neurological problems but fails to remove the offending agent. The child’s behavior becomes more unusual and bizarre leading to hospitalization where medications are raised and adjusted and new ones added. Then the recommendation comes from the psychiatrist that it would be better for the child to be moved to a residential treatment facility. While in the residential facility, the child is frequently restrained and is injured, he is placed with other children with serious emotional and behaviorla distress. he is discharged home having absorbed a lot of new negative behaviors from peers, lacking knowledge of the outside world, and with few skills. So, once the child nears adulthood, it is recommended that he live in a group home where he can be cared for and the psychiatric regiment can be maintained. The child has been ‘treated.’
Names have been changed to preserve confidentiality:

I worked with a teen who had experienced sexual trauma by a relative. The relative was arrested and sentenced. The teen was asked to attend the setencing hearing and prior began acting out at school. She had an incident where she left the classroom to de-escalate after an argument with a teacher. She was restrained by a rather obese school staff. The teen explained to me that sher was frustrated with the school because a number of boys were exposing themselves to her and knew about her sexual trauma and that school staff did not respond. She was charged with disorderly conduct and had to appear before a juvenile judge. The judge was made aware of her sexual trauma and her need to be at the sentencing hearing. He locked her in juvenile detention for 10 days and said, ‘we will transport her from detention to the hearing.” The teen ahd no previous juvenile arrests. In this situation, Attorney Jana Markus was also became involved and after consulting with the District Attorney’s office was able to secure her release and to encourage that she be recommended for homebound education. The school district has agreed not without some contention, particularly trying to continue to charge the teen with truancy for the time between her leaving the school and obtaining the recommendation of homebound education.

I received a call from a mother who had a very young child who was displaying some aggressive behaviors which caused the day care to have the child removed until therapeutic services could be provided. The mother took the child to one agency and was told, “you better medicate this child before he tries to kill someone.” The mother was appalled. I later spoke to this mother by phone and explained my therapeutic approach. She told me her situation and the response she had received. As I spoke with her at length, she said, “You really care about children.” I appreciated this comment but at the same time was saddened as I thought, shouldn’t this be said about every person in the mental health profession? What has gone wrong?

A client who is a physician and his wife related that they sought assistance with their child diagnosed with autism and wanted assistance in aiding him with communication skills. They saw a psychiatrist who visited with them fr less than 10 minutes and began writing a script for antipsychotic medication. When the parents noted that they were not there for medications, the psychiatrist became belligerent and asked, ‘then what do you want and why are you here?”

A staff of a agency working with mentally challenged adults related to me that the supervisors insisted that a client in the residential program was non-verbal and unable to communicate. This client was left frequently to sit and watch television for hours and privided with no real attention or work on skills development. The staff stated that she sought to engage the client in dialogue and found that he was far from non-verbal and after some work was able to write his name and other words.

In visiting an agency working with mentally challenged youth, I discovered that many of these youth’s needs were completely ignored. I recall two incidents of seeing a young girl seated in a chair, the staff gave her paper and markers, and she would sit in the same chair for hours. Every visit she would be seated in the same spout with no one providing attention. Staff would walk past her and she would try to reach for them or hug them. I always made sure to stop and hug her and comment on her drawings. In addition, a young boy would pace incessantly around the building, once again being provided no attention, and no real work being done to aid this child in skill development.

I was presented with a child who was having some serious behavioral issues at school. I began to examine the situation and my assessment was that this child was in conflict with his teacher and this was the only cause for the behavioral issues. This child had been previously placed on Ritalin which was actually cpurt ordered. The child had a very adverse reaction and fortunatelt was removed. As I have mentioned about the fraud of ADHD, this child I was convinced had no brain disorder as the biological psychiatrists would like us to think. This child was actually quite bright and was on the borderline for qualifying for MENSA. I began to look at the dynamics at school, as it was only here that he posed a problem. I learned as well that this child was witness to abuse and trauma. So, as I thought further I saw that the teacher was only aggravating this by his actions. The teacher showed hostility to this child and made him a target, even writing in a journal that the child was ‘fat and ignorant.” Was it any wonder that the child exhibited behavioral issues in a classroom where he was treated with no dignity? As I suspected, this child was moved to a different school environment where he excelled. The “ADHD” symptoms all disappeared, so much for theories about a brain disorder.

I received a call from a mother who explained to me that her child was in a residential facility and only recently was determined to have a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder after years of being labeled with 20 assorted diagnoses. She was given Risperdal as well as Ritalin. The mother reported that the child has tardive dyskinesia and was experiencing tremors. The response was to eliminate Risperdal and replace it with a different neuroleptic. This child is now permanently disfigured, and will probably never fully recover from the damage done in the name of ‘help’.

I was doing an observation of one of my clients in a school setting when I took note of another child who began a conversation with me and in the process was showing facial grimaces and constant repetitive blinking. I pulled the teacher aside and asked her to examine the child for a minute and tell me if she witnessed anything out of the ordinary. “Well, he keeps making faces and twitching.” I asked her, “Why may that be?” “Well, um, I do not know!”. I asked her to see what medication the child was taking and if it might be a ‘blue pill’. She asked the child and indeed he was taking Adderall, the cause of all his grimaces and contortion. What a price to pay to get a child to ‘function’ in class!

I was presented with a child who the teacher insisted was ADHD. The school guidance counselor was called in and told the mother, “without a doubt, he is ADHD and could benefit from Ritalin. It helps with academic improvement.” I asked the school guidance counselor if he had actually met the child or was going on reports. “No, I have yet to meet him.” I then asked him if he could name a study that proved that academic performance could be enhanced and how he was so sure of the ADHD diagnosis.” He responded that he knew of no such study and that such diagnosis was based on teacher reports. Where is the science in that? I explained further that studies have actuallt shown that short term improvement in rote learning does occur, but that no long term improvement has ever been shown. The family sought a second opinion from a different psychologist who stated he saw nothing and sent the boy on his way. In this situation, I saw that the child was bright and that he learned in a way that the teacher just plainly was not providing. This idea was reinforced when the following year with a different teacher his academic performance dramatically increased with no intervention.

I worked with a delightful 5 year old child. Prior to him being referred to me, he had been on Risperdal. He had convulsions in the classroom and was taken to the emergency room. I happened to read the hospital report and it was deemed that these convulsions were a direct effect of the Risperdal. The mother was unfortunately an unconcerned parent, and there were frequent calls made to Child protective Services regarding abuse by herself and her paramour. I found it immensely difficult to work in the home with this mother, and after seeing the child with brusing, I too called the Child Protective Services but each time they found the cases unfounded. I would take the child into the community for my sessions. The mother had described him as a ‘little brat’, a ‘monster’, and a kid ‘who didnt deserve sh-t’. She described all these negative behaviors in the home and yet I never saw one of them in his time with me. Occassionally he would have some difficulty in the classroom, but with some guidance and redirection, problems were always averted. It broke my heart to see that within 5 minutes of me dropping him off at home he would be in tears. The mother requested me to leave this case, and I reluctantly agreed and transferred it to a colleague and friend. My colleague informed me that the paramour was caught sexually abusing the child, and the child was taken to foster care. I feel that foster care should certainly be a last option, but here it was a blessing. I recommended that at least one member of the therapeutic staff he was familiar with continue to work with him in the new setting and I offered to go and visit him to help with his adjustment. Though it will take some time for him to adjust, I think it will be a fresh new start, as he is in a place where maybe for once he will receive love and compassion.

I was presented with a very difficult child who had received multiple psychiatric diagnoses and who had been in residential mental health treatment for the majority of his life. This child had been heavily medicated and was exhibiting slurred speech, poor motor coordination, inner feelings of agitation, and unusual jaw motions and tics. The family was told of the possibility of tardive dyskinesia. This also became a concern of a psychologist who observed him. Unfortunately, the parents stated they were never given informed consent about potential side effects and had never heard of the term ‘tardive dyskinesia’. This neurological problem is a significant problem affecting individuals taking neuroleptic medications.

It is challenging to speak the truth in a corrupt system motivated frequently by greed. I have heard that “if you challenge psychiatry, the doctors will not refer to us anymore’. Or, as just as is done with patients, if you see a behavior or idea that you disagree with, label them and suppress them. Among the labels are “weird ideas”, “non-mainstream”, “un-orthodox”, ‘radical”, or “Scientologist.” The Church of Scientology has been active in tackling psychiatric abuse, so it is assumed that anyone who would dare speak out must be affiliated with the Church of Scientology. It is very easy to try to look at the problem as a “Scientology issue’ rather than for what it is. For me, it would not matter if Hasidic Jews, Muslims, or any other group were speaking out on the corrupt mental health system. The issue should be whether there is validity to what is being said and there most certainly is.
Many are unwilling to take any stand or confront anything because it is more to their advantage to sit behind a desk, make money, and pretend they are helping.

First, we must stop looking through the eyes of a medical model, where we see children as broken and disordered and attempts are made to attributing their behaviors and emotions solely to a malfunctioning brain. There is no evidence supporting the psychopathology of a number of disorders. The linkage between the pharmaceutical companies and psychiatry needs to be evaluated as well as the information that is disseminated via the research and materials provided by pharmaceutical company money. The goal should be to examine the underlying factors of a child’s behavior, looking at the child with dignity and respect, and seeing the child as one in conflict rather than a person who is disordered. Such stigmatization remains indefinitely, and labels can often become a self fulfilling prophecy and will follow our children for years to come and shape the way that they view themselves and also the way others view them, particularly the educational system. We cannot look to solely the most cost effective solution when our children’s lives are at stake. Indeed, providing a prescription may control aspects of behavior and be though to have a ‘therapeutic effect’ but never gets to the root cause, and whereas it is far less expensive to medicate than to provide ongoing psychotherapy, it is appropriate and compassionate counsel that will make the difference. Second, the realm of psychotherapy must return to its original roots. The word psychotherapy literally means the healing of the soul. We must return the soul to therapy, encouraging therapists to instill within themselves the principles of compassion and empathy that are crucial for any therapeutic relationship to blossom forth. Therapists need to be compassionate and creative, and willing to give additional time and effort to see that a child’s needs are met and to also provide community linkages and ongoing support within their environment and to encourage the least restrictive setting for our children. The coercion of parents and families into forced ‘treatments’ needs to be eliminated. Third, the educational system must be willing to accommodate to meet the various learning styles of children and not seek to place them in a box of rote learning or limit them to one particulat style. Some children may falter in a visual setting and need a hands on approach, whereas others may need other methods of encouraging their effective learning. We must return time, attention, and individuality to the classroom. Fourth, parents need to continue to take an active role in the lives of their children, providing ongoing guidance, validating emotions and not taking a dismissive, disapproving, or hands off approach. Rather, parents must be involved in helping the children develop their own sense of being, and being able to assess themselves. Parents need to avoid nagging their children and becoming entrapped in the propaganda that their children are disordered and need drugs to function. Fifth, our society must change in it attitudes. We are a society where we try to find our answers to ailments within a simple pill. We are a society that has unfortunately lost sight for the welfare of our children. We are a societry where we are prosperous, yet greed often blinds us. Such disorders such as ADHD can be looked upon as a social construct. 90% of Ritalin sales are in the US. This tells us that there is something to be examined within our society that needs correction. Somewhere along the line we have failed our children. We need to rely less on psychiatry and its devices to solve our problems and more on what we can do within ourselves- to take a holistic approach, to understand the child as a whole person- physical, emotional, and spiritual, and to examine in each of these areas where there may be difficulties that can be alleviated. We need to rely less on others dictating the course of our own and our children’s lives and develop workable plan within our own family structure. Nothing will ever be perfect, but even in the most serious disturbances, love and compassion can heal much. We must realize that in some situations within society and within our own lives, we may never be able to evoke complete change. This is the cause of much distress, not problems themselves but how we respond to them. To battle those things beyond our control can lead us to emotional distress, but if we seek live as principled individuals, we can make a difference.