ANTIDEPRESSANT: 14 Year Old Girl Kills 3 Year Old: Canada

Paragraph 15 reads:  “But fetal alcohol syndrome,
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, disruptive, hostile and threatening
behaviour ­ behaviour that escalated before her period and required
anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication to quell ­
and functioning at the level of a child half the girl‘s age didn’t faze
Hamilton.”

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2367695

Inquest opens into boy’s killing

Posted By TIFFANY MAYER Standard Staff

The three-yearold boy signed the word across the dinner table to the daughter of
his Welland foster mom.

He did it to show he understood the young
woman’s message to him ­ also said with sign language to quiet the talkative
tot ­ that the 14yearold girl joining them at the table, who arrived that
mid-December day in 2005 to stay with them, was a friend.

The next
morning, foster mom Margaret Hamilton found the gregarious boy lying on his
bedroom floor, cold and grey.

He had been smothered by his friend, a
Crown ward in the care of Family and Children’s Services Niagara, who confessed
her crime in a note left near the boy’s body and calmly brushed her freshly
washed hair in her bedroom as Hamilton and her daughter frantically called for
help.

The girl, who cannot be identified, was given a seven-year

sentence in November 2007 for second-degree murder.

On Monday, during
the first day of a coroner’s inquest that will examine the events surrounding
the tragedy, Hamilton relived the events leading to the Dec. 15, 2005 death of
the boy, who was in the care of the Haldimand-Norfolk Children’s Aid Society.

Due to a publication ban, the boy can’t be named.

The inquest,
presided over by Dr. James Edwards, is being held at the Quality Hotel Parkway
Convention Centre on Ontario Street. It is expected to take three weeks.

A five-person jury will hear from about 30 witnesses, including police,
a forensic pathologist, social workers, educators who worked with the girl,
foster families and, possibly, the perpetrator herself.

At the end of
the proceedings, the jury can choose to make recommendations that can be used to
prevent similar deaths in the future.

The circumstances surrounding the death “cry out for some kind of
examination,” coroner counsel Eric Siebenmorgen said.

As she answered
Siebenmorgen’s questions, Hamilton talked about the notes she took when she got
the call that FACS Niagara would like to make use of a bed in her Welland home.
It was a bed that she decided to reserve for the agency after moving to Niagara
from neighbouring Haldimand County a year earlier.

She had been a foster
parent with Haldimand-Norfolk CAS for more than four years when the 14yearold

girl, who had recently been raped and was arrested for stealing a van, would be
coming to stay with her.

The list of issues plaguing the teen was long
and troublesome to anyone unfamiliar with caring for foster children,
Siebenmorgen noted.

But fetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, disruptive, hostile and threatening behaviour ­
behaviour that escalated before her period and required anti-depressant and
anti-anxiety medication to quell ­ and functioning at the level of a child
half the girl‘s age didn’t faze Hamilton.

“I fostered a lot of teenage
girls, a lot of runners, and almost always seemed to have good rapport with
them,” she said.

What she did question, though, was how the girl was
with young children, Hamilton told the inquest.

The boy, who had
recently been returned to Hamilton’s home after time with his biological mother,
had been roughed up by an eight-yearold girl who had stayed briefly with
Hamilton a couple weeks earlier.

“I wanted him to get settled and feel
comfortable,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t want anything upsetting him …. The
response to that was, ‘No, she likes little kids.’ ”

But looking back,
as Siebenmorgen asked her to do, Hamilton said she felt the half-hour that the

girl‘s caseworker spent at her home when dropping off the teen seemed short and
rushed.

That evening, as dinner was eaten, TV was watched and everyone
called it a night, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, until she went to rouse
the boy the next morning and get him ready for a pre-school Christmas party.

In hindsight, Hamilton said she would have liked to have seen some of
the notes in the girl‘s file with FACS, written between 2000 and 2003, before
agreeing to accept her. The teen was the first foster child from FACS Niagara
that Hamilton welcomed into her home.

Two incidents in particular
concerned Hamilton: a report of the girl allegedly putting another child’s head
through a window and another accusation of her pushing a child down stairs.

“I believe if I had those notes, I wouldn’t have chosen to have someone
with that background in the home, just because there was a small child in my
home,” Hamilton said.

The inquest continues Tuesday with
cross-examination by counsel for the boy’s biological family.
Article ID#
2367695

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4/9/2001 – Back-to-back documentaries tonight and tomorrow.

Back-to-back documentaries on children and psychotropic
medications, tonight and tomorrow night, on A&E and PBS.
Here’s a review from the NEW YORK TIMES.

Mark

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/09/arts/09MCDO.html?pagewa
nted=print

April 9, 2001

Television Review: Ifs, Ands or Buts of Drugs for Restless U.S.
Children

By C McDONALD

By pure coincidence, two documentaries on two different
channels are arriving back to back tonight and tomorrow to
examine the same issue: the widening and sometimes
harrowing use of psychoactive drugs in America to modify
children’s behavior. Suffice it to say that the programs ˜ the first
on A&E, the other on PBS ˜ are in many ways redundant.

They even largely look alike: both of these well-made
presentations are structured around intimate portraits of people
caught up in this anguishing phenomenon.

Thus, over two nights, we encounter seven boys and girls, some
illustrating the drugs’ benefits, others telling of depression,
malnourishment, even psychosis after being put on
medications. We’re also introduced to Adderall, Zoloft,
Wellbutrin, Cylert, Dexedrine and, most prevalent of all, Ritalin ˜
drugs administered to help troubled children sit still in school,
concentrate, get along with others (including the teacher) and
have fruitful lives.

Given the programs’ similarities, the obvious question is, which
is the one to watch: “Generation Rx: Reading, Writing and
Ritalin,” one of Bill Kurtis’s “Investigative Reports,” to be shown
on A&E tonight, or “Medicating Kids,” a Frontline special
appearing on PBS tomorrow?

The answer is not so cut and dried. Both hourlong
documentaries are serious, sometimes startling contributions to
an important discussion over the increasing ˜ and some say
spurious ˜ diagnosis of attention deficit disorder and attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder in children (up to four million cases,
by one estimate). And for all the parallels, each program
contains an angle or two that the other doesn’t.

The A&E program, for instance, looks at the alternative of
long-term drug-free behavior therapy. The Frontline
documentary, more aggressively, suggests that drug
manufacturers and certain pliable doctors may have entered into
unholy alliances to promote the use of the drugs among
children.

What’s more, watching both programs affords an illuminating
opportunity to see how two of the lamentably few investigative
bodies still standing in television journalism can differ so
markedly in tone even when plowing the same ground.

The Kurtis production wastes no time in establishing a darkly
dramatic approach, not to mention tipping its hand to its
sympathies. “It’s scary: we’re polluting our best resource,” says
an anonymous, unchallenged voice in the opening. “Putting our
kids on these drugs when they really don’t need it.” Mr. Kurtis, the
host, asserts that use of the drugs may challenge “the very
essence of childhood itself.”

Frontline takes a more measured tack, which ultimately gives it
the edge, declaring at the outset its more open-minded
intentions: “We wanted to know why kids are being prescribed
these drugs and whether or not they help.”
All sides get a fair hearing in both reports: those who say the
drugs have rescued many children from calamitous lives, and
those who say the drugs have been wildly overprescribed,
leading in one case, recalled on Frontline, to a 12-year-old boy’s
classroom suicide attempt using a pencil.

Both presentations also acknowledge that it is too early to know
the drugs’ long-term effects. But only Frontline seems willing to
end on an honestly inconclusive note. On A&E, Mr. Kurtis can’t
resist a loaded sign- off about Einstein and the scientist’s own
apparent attention deficit as a child. Where might we be, Mr.
Kurtis seems to ask, if the father of relativity had been a child of
Ritalin?

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02/15/2001 – Writing May Be on Wall for Ritalin

Once again I must apologize for sending so much info at once over the next
couple of days. I have been traveling again as I work to educate more and
more areas of the country about these drugs and the articles that I have
needed to get out to you have backed up yet again.

The following is an incredible article once again written by Kelly O’Meara of
Insight Magazine. Kelly has published several very informative articles over
the last year or so educating the public about the drugging of our children.

We will work to keep you updated on all the latest on this class action suit
filed against Ritalin by the attorneys that took on the tobacco giants and
won.

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition For Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org

http://www.insightmag.com/archive/200010163.shtml
—————————————————————————–

10/16/2000

Writing May Be on Wall for Ritalin
——————————————————————–
By Kelly Patricia O’Meara
omeara@…
——————————————————————–

A lawsuit challenging the validity of the science behind mental
illness and psychotropic drugs will have repercussions for drug makers as
well as for the mental-health establishment.

Hardly a mention was made in the national media concerning the
class-action lawsuit filed in May by the Dallas law firm of Waters and Kraus.
It named the Novartis Pharmaceutical Co. (the maker of the drug Ritalin), the
American Psychiatric Association (APA) and Children and Adults with Attention
Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder as defendants for conspiring, colluding and
cooperating in promoting the diagnosis of attention-deficit disorder (ADD)
and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Last week, however, a second lawsuit made a bang when even
bigger guns were rolled out in California and New Jersey to take aim at an
industry that has enjoyed a special relationship with the Clinton/Gore
administration. Indeed it is a relationship which, based on numerous speeches
by the vice president and his wife – who has been the president’s White House
mental-health guru – would continue if Al and Tipper Gore are allowed to make
the White House their new residence on Inauguration Day.

And if the beating the tobacco industry took at the hands
of these attorneys is any indication of what the defendants should
anticipate, the psychiatric community, pharmaceutical industry and
mental-health advocacy groups finally may be called upon to put their science
where their mouths are. Putting aside the legal jargon, what appears to be in
question is the ever-increasing influence of pharmaceutical companies over
public and private mental-health organizations and, ultimately, whether that
influence is responsible for the growing number of “mental illnesses” and the
subsequent increased use of psychotropic drugs.

The class-action lawsuit that was filed last week in
California and New Jersey names Novartis and the APA as defendants for
conspiring to create a market for Ritalin by targeting millions of children
and misdiagnosing them with ADD/ADHD for the strategic purpose of expanding
use of the drug.

Both the APA and Novartis have a great deal at stake
professionally and financially. To fight the claim that children have been
and still are being misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD, the APA – the nation’s
leading psychiatric professional group – will be required to cough up its
medical and scientific data to support the ADD/ADHD diagnosis. This may be
difficult given the growing number of physicians, scientists and even
psychiatrists who long have argued that the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is not
based in science – that the diagnosis is a fraud based on subjective
assessments.

Furthermore, should the APA fail to provide the necessary
scientific data, Novartis could be forced by the courts to return to
consumers hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars made from the
sale of Ritalin. Even more devastating to Novartis, should it be exposed that
the diagnosis of ADD/ ADHD is scientifically baseless, would be an end to the
prescribing of the drug. This type of judgment could open the industry to
additional lawsuits requiring proof of thousands of alleged mental illnesses.
The reverberations through the pharmaceutical industry could be devastating.

Considering that Ritalin has been in use since the
mid-1950s, one has to wonder how tens of millions of children and adults
could be prescribed a highly addictive drug for more than 40 years without
concrete scientific data to support the diagnosis. According to psychiatrist
Loren Mosher, it isn’t that tough. Mosher is the former chief of the Center
for Studies for Schizophrenia at the National Institute of Mental Health
(NIMH) and author of the definitive book Community Mental Health, A Practical
Guide. Mosher explains that the Ritalin phenomenon comes down to a very
simple theory: “If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.” Long
aware of infiltration by the pharmaceutical companies into professional
psychiatric organizations, Mosher resigned his membership in the APA with a
stinging 1998 letter in which he wrote:

“The major reason for this action is my belief that I am
actually resigning from the American Psychopharmacological Association.
Luckily, the organization’s true identity requires no change in the acronym.
. At this point in history, in my view, psychiatry has been almost completely
bought out by the drug companies.”

According to Mosher, “The APA receives a huge amount of
money from the pharmaceutical companies through grants, but the most obvious
and obnoxious examples are the two meetings the APA has each year. At both,
the drug houses basically lease 90 percent of the exhibition space and spend
huge sums in giveaway items. They have nearly completely squeezed out the
little guys, and the symposiums that once were dedicated to scientific
reports now have been replaced by the pharmaceutical-industry-sponsored
speakers.”

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI),
explains Mosher, “gets the pharmaceutical money and then says they spend it
on their ‘anti-stigma’ campaign. They say that mental illness is a brain
disease. And it works well for the people who suffer from this to use their
drugs. This is why NAMI is pushing for forced medication. It is an amazing
selling job on the part of NAMI.”

A nonprofit, grass-roots, self-help support and advocacy
organization for people with severe mental illness, NAMI was featured in a
November/ December 1999 Mother Jones article, “An Influential Mental Health
Nonprofit Finds Its ‘Grassroots’ Watered by Pharmaceutical Millions,” by Ken
Silverstein. The article focused on the enormous amount of funding which NAMI
receives from pharmaceutical companies, with Eli Lilly and Co. taking the
lead by donating nearly $3 million to NAMI between 1996 and 1999. In fact,
according to Silverstein, NAMI took in a little more than $11 million from 18
drug companies for that period. Nonetheless, NAMI, Eli Lilly and the others
deny any conflict of interest.

While Eli Lilly, manufacturer of Prozac, admits making
substantial contributions to NAMI and the National Mental Health Association
(NMHA), it claims that for “proprietary reasons” it is unable to provide a
list of specific contributions. According to Jeff Newton and Blair Austin,
spokesmen for the company, “The key issue here is that these are unrestricted
grants. The groups can use the money any way they want. Lilly’s support of
these initiatives presents no conflict of interest since they represent
efforts to raise public awareness around issues that Lilly publicly
supports.”

According to Bob Carolla, director of Media Relations for
NAMI, “We represent a constituency that uses their [pharmaceutical] products.
Why shouldn’t they give us money? They’re making money off of our members and
some of it has to go back into the community to help us get better
mental-health programs to help people. Much of what we do has nothing to do
with the pharmaceutical industry. We do not advocate or endorse any specific
medications or products, but we also are not going to back off from saying
that millions of Americans lead productive lives because of the medications
they are prescribed.”

Meanwhile, NAMI has no problem stating that “mental
illnesses are disorders of the brain.” In fact, according to Carolla, NAMI
“has been trying to educate people that mental illnesses are a result of
brain disorders and they are treatable. Stigmas still exist and stigmas need
to be overcome.” Asked to provide scientific data that mental illness is a
disease of the brain, Carolla deferred to a higher authority explaining that
“this [question] reminds me that one small interest group denies that mental
illness even exists.”

Carolla added, “Mental illnesses are biological brain
disorders. Go read the dominant body of medical information out there. It is
a function of biochemistry. I encourage you and recommend you talk to the
surgeon-general’s office.”
Carolla was referring to the Report on Mental Health
released by the U.S. surgeon general in December 1999, which he says “stands
as the national baseline.” This enormous document goes into great detail
about mental health in the United States. But it does not provide a single
piece of scientific data supporting the claim that even one mental illness is
caused by a brain disease. In fact, what it says is “the body of this report
is a summary of an extensive review of the scientific literature, and of
consultations with mental-health-care providers and consumers. Contributors
guided by the Office of the Surgeon General examined more than 3,000 research
articles and other materials. .”

According to the report, “The review of research supports
two main findings: 1) the efficacy of mental-health treatments is well
documented, and 2) a range of treatments exists for most mental disorders.”

Voilà! The review of research came up with findings about
treatments, not with scientific causes of mental disorders. And there even
appears to be some question about the validity of the treatments.

The surgeon general nonetheless places Ritalin in a
category where the “efficacy of mental-health treatments is well-documented,”
when in Chapter 3 of his report he writes that “because the symptoms of ADHD
respond well to treatment with stimulants,” and because stimulants increase
the availability of the neurotransmitter dopa-mine, the “dopamine hypothesis”
has “gained a wide following.”

The surgeon general may want to review the Drug
Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) 1995 report on methylphenidate, which
makes clear that Ritalin has the same effect on children and adults with ADHD
as it does upon those not diagnosed with ADHD. According to the report:

“There is a considerable body of literature on the
short-term efficacy of stimulant pharmacotherapy on the symptoms of ADHD.
From 60 to 90 percent of children have been judged as positive drug
responders to methyl-phenidate medication. However, contrary to popular
belief, stimulants like methylphenidate will affect normal children and
adults in the same manner they affect ADHD children. Behavioral or
attentional improvements with methylphenidate treatment therefore are not
diagnostic criteria of ADHD.”

NAMI, however, is not the only group apparently being
misled by the surgeon general’s report. Take, for instance, the Mental Health
Early Intervention, Treatment, and Prevention Act (S2639), a broad piece of
federal mental-health legislation sponsored by Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.,
Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Paul Wellstone, D-Minn. According to one staffer
familiar with the legislation, Domenici’s staff took the lead in writing it.
The first of Congress’ “findings” states that “almost 3 percent of the adult
population, or 5 million individuals in the United States, suffer from a
severe and persistent mental illness.” When asked where Domenici got these
figures, the same source explained that “the numbers come from various
federal agencies, various studies that have been conducted and the surgeon
general’s report. The senator takes into consideration that there are those
who argue there is no such thing as a medically diagnosable mental illness
but, when someone like Dr. Steven Hyman [director of NIMH] shows a brain with
schizophrenia and one without, then the senator takes it seriously. Hyman is
well-respected.”

While it appears that Hyman’s “brain” slide show has wowed
a great many people, the fact is that even Hyman has contradicted his own
presentation. For instance, as Hyman explained in a Feb. 28, 1999, New York
Times Magazine article, “indiscriminate use of MRI and PET scans . as a
high-tech form of phrenology . are pretty but inconsequential pictures of the
brain.” While Domenici may place a great deal of trust in the “science”
presented by doctors such as Hyman, he also has a more personal interest much
closer to home: His wife served on NAMI’s board for nearly three years.
Domenici’s office did not respond to inquiries about whether the senator had
received campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies.

NAMI’s Carolla openly admits that NAMI worked with the
sponsors of the legislation, and one doesn’t have to look too hard to see the
similarities between the Senate bill and NAMI’s proposed Omnibus Mental
Illness Recovery Act, which Eli Lilly paid to print.

NAMI fully supports the Senate bill, which features such
programs and expenditures as Section 581 in which $75 million would be
appropriated to fund an anti-stigma advertising campaign – which many argue
is a promotion for the pharmaceutical industry and should not be funded with
taxpayer dollars. In question also is why taxpayers should be burdened with
funding an anti-stigma campaign which many believe was created by the
mental-health community when it first began labeling individuals as
defective.

Section 582 would provide $50 million in training grants
for teachers and emergency-services personnel to recognize (read: diagnose)
symptoms of childhood and adolescent mental disorders. This would allow
service personnel such as firefighters, police officers and teachers to make
referrals for mental-health treatment – a difficult task given that each of
these categories of personnel appears to have its hands full with jobs for
which they already are trained.

Section 583 would provide another $50 million for
emergency mental-health centers within which mobile crisis-intervention teams
would be established. This would allow for the designation of a central
receiving point in the community for individuals who may be cited by, say, a
firefighter, to be in need of emergency mental-health services. And this is
just the beginning of the programs proposed under the Mental Health Early
Intervention, Treatment, and Prevention Act, now pending in Congress.

Larry Sasich, a pharmacologist who handles Food and Drug
Administration drug-safety issues for the Washington-based Public Citizen’s
Health Research Group, tells Insight that “conflicts of interest are kind of
a fact of life in the scientific community. At some point groups like NAMI
are going to have to pay the piper – they’re going to have to answer for what
they are promoting. But it’s hard to tell how much influence the
pharmaceutical companies have. It could be subtle or overt influence
depending on what they want.”

One thing that is certain, concludes Sasich: “The group that is
paying the money wields the big stick.”

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1/9/2000 – The Legal Drugging Of America

The Legal Drugging Of America

Here is a recent article from Arianna Huffington. – Mark M.
———-

The Legal Drugging Of America: A Status Report
Filed December 23, 1999
by Arianna Huffington

Two reports out this month highlight the continuing trend toward the
legal drugging of America.

The Surgeon General’s report on the state of the nation’s mental health
found that 22 percent of the population has a diagnosable mental
disorder.” At the same time, a study by the National Institute of
Mental Health concluded that we are under-medicating our children and
that for those diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder,
drugs — specifically Ritalin — are more effective than therapy.

The big drugmakers will no doubt use these studies as additional
weapons in their ongoing war to make mood-altering drugs the solution
to all life’s problems. Our magazines are already stuffed with ads
portraying pharmaceutical giants as noble enterprises, engaged in
nothing but the pursuit of pure science and the public good. And our
television screens are filled with commercials for drugs to cure
shyness and so-called “social phobias.”

The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved Effexor XR, a
drug for “generalized anxiety disorder” — the garden-variety
free-floating anxiety that has plagued humanity since the expulsion
from Eden. Mark Twain summed it up this way: “I am an old man, and
have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

These days, the assumption seems to be that drugs can take care of
everything unpleasant in the human condition. “At Pfizer,” one ad
boasts, “we look to the future with the knowledge that the only thing
incurable is our passion.” What the ad doesn’t mention is that drug
company profits (Pfizer’s last year were $3.35 billion) are often spent
not on finding cures for serious diseases but for “lifestyle”
maladies — baldness, toenail fungus, and of course any interruption to
a perpetually sunny mood. Not one major drug company in the United
States has an in-house research program on malaria, for example, but
sales of pharmaceutical drugs for pets are approaching $1 billion
annually.

The major flaw of the Surgeon General’s report is the lumping together
of dramatically disparate conditions. According to Surgeon General
David Satcher himself, “tragic and devastating disorders such a
schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease,
the mental and behavioral disorders suffered by children, and a range
of other mental disorders affect nearly one in five Americans in any
year.” This is a classic example of pseudo-scientific sleight of hand:
linking schizophrenia to childhood behavioral problems as though they
are in any meaningful sense on the same continuum.
It is this mind-set that has led to the Ritalin epidemic — with the
number of kids taking the powerful drug skyrocketing from 1 million in
1990 to 4 million today. And now along comes a study that says the
answer to those many instances where Ritalin has proved ineffective is
to simply up the dosage. As Dr. Peter Jensen from the National
Institute of Mental Health put it, “You find the dose that achieves
the absolute possible total benefit for this child … That’s the dose
you want, not the lowest possible dose that you can get by on.” It’s
ingenius, if Ritalin isn’t working, try more Ritalin. As they used to
say in the ’60s, “Why do you think they call it dope?”

It’s doubly tragic that these reports have arrived at a time when we’re
facing a crisis in managed health care. Because a diagnosis of a mental
disorder will almost always prompt managed care companies to take the
cheap way out — drugs rather than therapy, no matter how potentially
dangerous the long-term side effects, especially on children’s growing
brains.

Making this growing emphasis on drugs especially troubling is the
conclusion by federal investigators that the FDA has “no quality
control system” to track adverse drug reactions. Currently, doctors
and hospitals are not even legally required to report patients’ drug
side effects to the FDA. As a result, in one year, from the beginning
of June 1997 to the end of May 1998, the agency got only 13,825 such
reports even though in hospitals alone approximately 180,000 patients
die every year from drug reactions.

Even if the FDA moves from a voluntary to a mandatory reporting system,
the agency has only 80 employees to monitor more than 3,000
prescription drugs. Over the past year and a half, the agency has
banned only five drugs that it previously had approved but now deems
dangerous. But every year 2 million Americans are hospitalized due to
drug side effects.

“Most errors are not caused by stupidity, incompetence or neglect, but
by system failures that allow them to occur,” said David Lawrence,
head of Kaiser Permanente, suggesting that the safety tests done by
drug companies are not enough, and that the companies fail to educate
physicians and hospital workers on the proper administration of their
drugs.

As drugs, and the conditions treatable by drugs multiply, can we
continue to tolerate such slipshod oversight of a powerful industry
that so affects our lives — and our deaths? Or continue to rely on
reports tainted by the drug industry’s assumption that millions of
Americans are suffering from mental disorders whose cure is just a pill
pop away? Oh, the infinite possibilities of an America where everyone
has finally admitted to a mental disorder, and everyone is blissed-out
on appropriately high doses of the newest wonder drugs.

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12/02/1999 – Boys Will Be Boys

We shout a public “WELL DONE AND THANK YOU!!!!” to George Will and the
Washington Post for their encouraging article on the Colorado School
Board Resolution. Ann Blake-Tracy who was one of three invited to present
documentation to the school board on the damage caused by these drugs
will be doing a radio show this Saturday on this issue. She will be
joined by Patti Johnson, the Colorado School Board member who
introduced the resolution. The interview will be with Phyllis Schlafly,
national head of the Eagle Forum (www.eagleforum.org) at 11:30 AM
Central Time. For a station near you that may carry the show check
their web site or the drugawareness.org site or members.aol.com/atracyp
hd.

Boys Will Be Boys
Or you can just drug them.
By George F. Will
Thursday, December 2, 1999; Page A39

A reaction is underway against drugging children because they are
behaving like children, especially boy children. Colorado’s elected
school board recently voted to discourage what looks like drug abuse in
the service of an ideological agenda. The board urged teachers and
other school personnel to be more restrained about recommending drugs
such as Ritalin for behavior modification of children, and to rely more
on discipline and instruction.

One reason for the vote is that some school violence has been committed
by students taking psychotropic drugs. But even absent a causal
connection between the drugs and violence, there are sound reasons to
recoil from the promiscuous drugging of children.

Consider the supposed epidemic of attention deficit/hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) that by 1996 had U.S. youngsters consuming 90percent of
the world’s Ritalin. Boys, no parent of one will be surprised to learn,
are much more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD. In1996, 10
percent to 12 percent of all American schoolboys were taking the
addictive Ritalin. (After attending classes on the dangers of drugs?)

One theory holds that ADHD is epidemic because of the modern
acceleration of life–the environmental blitzkrieg of MTV, video games,
e-mail, cell phones, etc. But the magazine Lingua Franca reports that
Ken Jacobson, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of
Massachusetts, conducted a cross-cultural study of ADHD that included
observation of two groups of English school children, one diagnosed
with ADHD, the other not. He observed them with reference to 35
behaviors (e.g., “giggling,” “squirming,” “blurting out”) and found no
significant differences between the groups.

Children, he says, tend to talk, fidget and fool around–“all the
classical ADHD-type behaviors. If you’re predisposed to label any child
as ADHD, the distracted troublemaker or the model student, you’ll find
a way to observe these behaviors.” So what might explain such a
predisposition? Paul R. McHugh, professor of psychiatry at Johns
Hopkins, writing in Commentary, argues that ADHD, “social phobia”
(usual symptom: fear of public speaking) and other disorders certified
by the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders” are proliferating rapidly. This is because
of a growing tendency to regard as mental problems many characteristics
that are really aspects of individuality.

So pharmacology is employed to relieve burdensome aspects of
temperament. “Psychiatric conditions,” says McHugh, “are routinely
differentiated by appearances alone,” even when it is “difficult to
distinguish symptoms of illness from normal variations in human life,”
or from the normal responses of sensitive people to life’s challenges.
But if a condition can be described, it can be named; once named, a
distinct disorder can be linked to a particular treatment. McHugh says
some experts who certify new disorders “receive extravagant annual
retainers from pharmaceutical companies that profit from the promotion
of disorders treatable by the companies’ medications.”

The idea that most individuals deficient inattentiveness or confidence
are sick encourages what McHugh calls pharmacological “mental
cosmetics.” This “should be offensive to anyone who values the richness
of human psychological diversity. Both medically and morally,
encumbering this naturally occurring diversity with the terminology of
disease is a first step toward efforts, however camouflaged, to control
it.” Clearly some children need Ritalin. However, Ken Livingston, of
Vassar’s department of psychology, writing in the Public Interest, says
Ritalin is sometimes used as a diagnostic tool–if it improves a
child’s attention, ADHD is assumed.

But Ritalin, like other stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine,
improves almost everyone’s attention. And Ritalin is a ready resource
for teachers who blur the distinction between education and therapy.
One alternative to Ritalin might be school choice–parents finding
schools suited to their children’s temperaments. But, says Livingston,
when it is difficult to change the institutional environment, “we don’t
think twice about changing the brain of the person who has to live in
it.” This is an age that tries to medicalize every difficulty or
defect. Gwen Broude, also of Vassar, believes that the rambunctiousness
of boys is treated as a mental disorder by people eager to interpret
sex differences as personal deficiencies.

Danielle Crittenden of the Independent Women’s Forum sees the “anti-boy
lobby” behind handwringing about the supposed dangers of reading the
Harry Potter novels, which feature wizardry, witchcraft and other
really neat stuff. The androgyny agenda of progressive thinkers has
reduced children’s literature to bland gruel because, Crittenden says,
there is “zero tolerance for male adventurousness.” The Potter books
recall those traditional boys’ books that satisfied boys’ zeal for
strife and Adventure. Today, Crittenden says, that zeal causes
therapists–they are everywhere–to reach for Ritalin. Harry is brave,
good and constantly battling evil. He should point his broomstick
toward Colorado, where perhaps boys can be boys.

Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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10/28/1999 – STUDY QUESTIONS TREATMENT OF VERY YOUNG WITH PSYCHOTROPIC MEDS

YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN A NEW STUDY WHICH APPEARS IN THIS MONTH’S
JAMA, QUESTIONING THE TREATMENT OF VERY YOUNG CHILDREN (3 AND UNDER)
WITH PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS. HERE’S A SUMMARY AND A LINK.

Diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Use of
Psychotropic Medication in Very Young Children

Marsha D. Rappley, MD; Patricia B. Mullan, PhD; Francisco J. Alvarez;
Ihouma U. Eneli, MD; Jenny Wang, PhD; Joseph C. Gardiner, PhD

Conclusions

Children aged 3 years or younger had ADHD diagnosed and received
markedly variable psychotropic medication regimens. Little information
is available to guide these practices. The presence of comorbid
conditions and injuries attests to these children’s vulnerability.
Resources must be identified that will enable physicians to better
respond to the compelling needs of these children and their families.

Editor’s Note: The authors point out a pressing need to define better
diagnostic criteria and effective treatment in very young children.
There seems to be a real deficit in attention to this
problem.—Catherine D. DeAngelis, MD

http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/issues/v153n10/full/poa8497.html

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