. . . and it's not their genes either. – Dr. C

Archive for August, 2012

YKAS 5: A Most Valued Customer – Your Child

First Contact – Someone is “Concerned”
It usually starts like this for parents of active kids – especially parents blessed with very active kids.

There’s a call from your child’s teacher.  You were half expecting it.  About two weeks earlier you met with her about your nine year-old’s behavior in the classroom.  She said he’s a nice enough boy, very cute, however, he’s inattentive and easily distracted.  That, and he’s much too active during classroom hours.  Oddly enough, you’ve seen him at home when he’s using the PlayStation III.  That too active, inattentive kid can be so focused on the TV screen he won’t budge – even if it’s pizza for dinner.  He seems intensely attentive, to the point you have to pry him away from the game.

Nevertheless, this time the teacher tells you “. . . your child still isn’t paying attention and he continues to be up and down all day long, and we are concerned.”  She said “we,” so now you know there’s at least one other person at the school who’s concerned, and that concerns you.

The teacher said she would like to refer your child to the school psychologist for an “evaluation,” with your consent.  Your concern increases so, of course, you consent.  After all, these are the experts, you reason, and you must trust them.

They know best.

The Disease Model Indoctrination Process
You have a meeting with the school psychologist.  She’s a doctor of some kind, and you’re a little intimidated.  While you were expecting her to test your child, you’re given a behavioral questionnaire to complete too.  You didn’t expect that, but that’s good.  At least something is being done to help your son, and the experts are being thorough.

You’re beginning to learn about the process, and you’re impressed.

In a week or so, you’re informed the evaluation is done, and you’re asked to attend another meeting.  You’ve been worried and you’ll be glad to get an answer.  Then you get your answer.  The psychologist recommends you seek medical assistance for your child because he likely has “attention deficit disorder” with, God forbid, “hyperactivity.”  She uses the term “disorder” for the first time, and it unsettles you.  She tells you she can’t treat him because “this is a medical problem.”

A doctor of psychology recommends you seek help from a doctor of medicine.

Enter the MD – With Chemicals
By now, you know this is serious.  You have to inform your family too, and that won’t be easy.  You’re a conscientious parent, and you’re persistent.  You want the best for your child, so you search for a “child psychiatrist,” as others have suggested.  Maybe someone you know, or the school, makes a referral. If you’re “lucky,” you’ll find one.

You do, and you make an appointment.  The nurse takes your child’s vitals, you provide a family medical history, and they’re done with your child.  You’re a little surprised.  You were expecting something more “medical.”  Maybe an x-ray, a blood test, a “scan” of some kind, or another medical procedure that can be measured or weighed or looked at – something.  After all, that psychologist told you “this is a medical problem.”

You’re learning a little more about the process.

A Family Changing Event – The Diagnosis
You meet with the doctor and, for the most part, you do most of the talking.  You tell him about the school’s concern and the tests from the psychologist.  Maybe your child is asked a few questions, maybe not.  It doesn’t matter.  He’s not there to talk.  He really doesn’t need to be there at all.  The doctor is there to make a diagnosis based on the information you give him.  The doctor’s only function is to do nothing, or prescribe a chemical – and he can’t prescribe a chemical without a diagnosis.

Within 10 to 20 minutes, the child psychiatrist has heard enough and says “. . . I’m prescribing a chemical to help with your son’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.”  Maybe he calls it a “mental illness, or a “mental disability,” or “mental disorder,” or “psychiatric disease” or just plain “disorder.”  It’s what you expected.  You’ve talked with family and friends before this meeting. Still, hearing it for the first time from an MD makes it much too real.

There’s a brief explanation of the “disorder.”  He says something about “brain chemistry” and some sort of “imbalance,” and you know he mentioned “dopamine.”  You know you’ve read about dopamine somewhere.  It all sounded so “medical.”  The special chemical he’s giving your son, you’re told, helps to fix all this, so that your son will sit still in his chair during school hours, and so your son will do his school work when the teacher tells him to do his school work.

You’re anxious to get the treatment part of the process started.

How Soon Will It Work?
Well, you first have to know it will take some time – a few weeks, maybe more, maybe less –  for the chemical to begin to have an “effect” because it has to “build up in his bloodstream.”  Once in his bloodstream, you may begin to see some improvement, although there will undoubtedly be some “adjustments” along the way due to unpredictable yet very common “side effects.”  It’s been made clear to you:  there will be good days, and there will be bad days.

Strangely enough, you’re still a little relieved.  At least the medical doctor knows what your child “has,” and you leave the office confident this new chemical will help your child in school, and that’s all that matters.  You privately fret your child has a “disease” or “disorder,” and you’re not clear how long your son will have to take this chemical – the doctor was vague about predictions – nonetheless, you’re reassured, and optimistic.

The teacher is pleased you are taking steps to help your son.  The school is happy too, and, to some degree, so are you.  You find comfort when you hear, over and over from friends and professionals, “it’s just like diabetes.”*  That means, thankfully, your son’s “ADHD” can be “treated,” with the right chemical.

He’s Just A Little Flawed
About your child, well, at some point you have to explain to him he has a “handicap ” –  or “disorder,” or “disease,” or a “mental illness” or, maybe, “an imbalance” – and that’s why he’s not sitting still, and that’s why he’s not paying attention to the teacher in school, and that’s why he needs this chemical to help him.  It’s tricky, but with the advice of others who’ve gone through the same thing, you do it.  You make sure he understands he’s not responsible for his unwanted behavior in the classroom.  You make sure he understands it’s not him, it’s not you, it’s not his teacher, it’s not his school – it’s his “disease.”

Four months go by and you’re disappointed.  Yes, the teacher said she saw “some initial improvement,” but a month later, she began to complain again.  You’ve had two “follow-up” appointments with the doctor to “review” your son’s chemicals to find out how they are helping or not helping.  At the last appointment he increased the dosage of the chemical.  Now, at this appointment, he’s suggesting a change of chemicals “that has less side effects, and better results.”  Of course, this means this new chemical will have to “build up in his bloodstream” too, and there will be new “adjustments” to make along the way.

By this time, you’ve done research, so this wasn’t unexpected.  You’ve surfed the web for the past few months, read dozens of articles, and you’ve talked with other parents who also have children with “disorders.”  Changing chemicals, up and down doses, extra chemicals for the “side effects” is the rule – not the exception.  You’ve talked with some parents whose children are taking 3 or 4, or as many a 5 different chemicals.  You hope you don’t get there.

Don’t Worry – It’s “Normal”
You’re troubled too.  He’s not sleeping well.  His appetite comes and goes.  He’s not doing any better in school either – maybe a little worse – and now they’re talking about special classes, and you have to make some decisions.  On top of that the doctor says he can give you another chemical to help with the “side effects” of the first chemical.  You have to think about that one.  You do, and you agree.

Your child seems to be a little more distressed too, a little more unhappy, a little more frustrated, maybe a little more angry.  You are too – all of it.  It’s going to be a longer road than you expected, but you’re going to stay with it and do whatever is necessary.

You know by now from your doctor, through your research, and by talking with other parents, all of this is a “normal part of the process.”

And It’s Done
You and your child are now willing, all-in customers of the disease model of “modern” psychiatry.  You can’t stop the “treatment” now.  It’s been made clear to you, and you know it as fact, your son has a “medical condition.”  Now you’re the one who educates others that “it’s just like diabetes,” and you wouldn’t dare stop treating diabetes.

You now know everything you need to know about the process.  You’re indoctrinated.  You’re an advocate.  You’re an expert.  You’re fully prepared to indoctrinate another parent.

And so it goes.

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For a very real, very recent example of the indoctrination process, read a mothers story about her experience with her 8-year old son – and how he’s doing now – in her article in the NY Times:  “Raising the Ritalin Generation” here.

* See “It’s Just Like Diabetes” in the forthcoming essay:  Psychi-Babble – Psycho-Babble’s Evil Twin

NEXT:  How’s Business?

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YKAS 4: The Business of Selling Chemicals

This is the fourth in a series of essays on the YKAS blog.
The original article – Your Kids Aren’t Sick –  can be read here.

Let’s Call Them Chemicals
If you’ve read my prior essays, you may have noticed by now.  I don’t refer to them as “medications” or “drugs.”  I call them what they are: chemicals.  I’ll continue to use that term, so, please, while you may consider Valium or Xanax or Mellaril as medication, I refer to them as chemicals.  Likewise, you may think of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana as drugs.  Here, all illicit drugs are called chemicals too.  In that way, we don’t have to be concerned about why you take them or where you get them, and whether they are legal or illegal.  Instead, we only need to know what effects these chemicals have on people.

Does it Work?
The selling of psychiatric diseases and the chemicals that treat them is as much a political issue as it is a for-profit commodity.  A Big Pharma company prepares a sophisticated and detailed application to seek approval from the United States Government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  New cancer chemicals, for example, must provide some evidence of success, or what is referred to in scientific circles as “efficacy” – as in “efficient.”  Doctor’s and their clients – you and I – need to know if the chemical is “efficacious.”  In other words, does it work?  After all, we pay taxes to make sure the chemicals created by business really do what they say they do, and to ensure business and government work together to produce safe products.

That’s the good news.

Off-Label Use.
However, and maybe you don’t know this, once a chemical is approved for cancer, for example, the newly approved “efficacious” chemical can be prescribed by a doctor for any human malady, regardless of what it was originally designed to treat.

If a pharmaceutical “rep” shows the doctor a “study” that “suggests” this same cancer chemical is effective for, let’s say carbuncles, then the doctor can prescribe the cancer chemical to his patient to battle carbuncles.  Despite the fact the chemical was thoroughly scrutinized by the FDA specifically for cancer treatment and nothing else, once approved a doctor can prescribe it for anything, and no one will bat an eye.  In the business, this is called “Off-Label Use.”  From Wikipedia here:

  • The FDA does not have the legal authority to regulate the practice of the medicine, and the physician may prescribe a drug off-label. Contrary to popular notion, it is legal in the United States and in many other countries to use drugs off-label, including controlled substances such as opiates.

What does this mean to you?  While the FDA is strident to ensure any new chemical they approve meets very rigid standards, once approved, any chemical can be prescribed for any human need by any doctor, anywhere, anytime.

So much for “efficacy.”

You can thank Big Pharma lobbyists and our bought-and-paid-for legislators working in tandem for this too clever and excessively obvious tactic to get around FDA scrutiny.  Together they made this practice “legal,” and there is no recourse for you or me.  Why do they do it?  Why do you think?  To widen their customer base.  Here’s an example.

Zoloft – The Miracle Chemical
If you’re not familiar with Zoloft, you should be.  In 2007, nearly 30 million prescriptions for Zoloft were written.  The chemical name is Setraline Hydrochloride.  It was created by Pfizer and approved by the FDA in 1991 as an “antidepressant.”  Once approved to treat depression, and thanks to that beneficial law, Pfizer got busy.

In the mid 90’s, by way of their self-financed “studies,” they “discovered” Zoloft was “better than a placebo” for treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The “discovery” of this new use didn’t need the FDA’s approval or oversight.  Pfizer just declared it, and their sales force provided doctors with their “evidence.”  (By the way, the phrase “better than a placebo” is common in these studies.  More about that, and an explanation of the scientific-sounding-yet-phony phrase “double-blind studies” will follow in the essay “Psychi-Babble.”)

Pfizer was just getting started.  From the late 1990’s through the present, other amazing “discoveries” were made about this chemical – through Pfizer financed “studies.”  Take a look:

  • By 2000, they tell us, “in four large double-bind studies setraline was shown to be superior to a placebo for the treatment of panic disorder.” 
  • By 2003, “studies” showed setraline was “successfully used for the treatment of social anxiety disorder.” 
  • Around this same time, and through the same means, setraline was found to be “effective” for Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • And, though not nearly done, this same miracle chemical was subjected to two “double-blind studies” that “confirmed the efficacy of setraline for severe chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) in civilians.”

Let’s Keep Score
This one miraculous chemical can treat 1) depression – the original approval – as well as; 2) obsessive-compulsive disorder; 3) panic disorder; 4) social phobia; 5) premenstrual dysphoric disorder and; 6) posttraumatic stress disorder.  You’d think that would be enough, as ridiculous as this already is.

Think again.  There’s more to come.

There are “indications,” we are told, from the latest “placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trials,” that Zoloft may also be useful for: 7) Generalized Anxiety Disorder; 8) binge eating disorder; 9) night eating syndrome; 10) bulimia nervosa; 11) syncope (fainting) in children and adolescents and – who would have thought; 12) premature ejaculation.

That’s six official uses now, with six more on the horizon.  An even dozen.  We’re told more “studies” are needed to confirm these “indications.” Do you think Pfizer will make sure the studies get done?  What do you think the outcomes will be when they do?  (For more information about Zoloft, see Setraline here.)

 Business As Usual
This is how it’s done.  It’s an “efficacious” business practice for all of Big Pharma.

If you create a toothpaste and you “discovered” a little later that the toothpaste was good for cuts and bruises too, as well as a lubricant for doorknobs, and it’s a good quick drying glue on top of that, my goodness, think of all the customers you’d have.

You’d be rich.

(You can read about PsychRights and attorney Jim Gottstein’s ongoing strategic litigation campaign against forced psychiatric drugging, electroshock and off-label use in the United State here.)

 NEXT:  A Most Valued Customer – Your Child

Meet . . .

Madness, then, has a job to do, that is, to conceal our dark secret, so that we have an excuse for failing to live up to our expectations and for setting aside one or more of the tasks of life—working, communing, mating. The function of absurd rituals—madness—is thus concealment.                                         D. W. Keirsey

You may know him as the world-renowned author of Please Understand Me, Please Understand Me II, and his recent seminal work, Personology.  If you don’t, you should.  You can read more about David Keirsey here.  You can also go to his website here.  And you can visit his blog too.  Yes, at 91, he has a blog, here.  If that weren’t enough, believe it or not, his newest work – a treatise on madness – will be released soon.  It will be, I believe, historic.

I first met David West Keirsey 30 years ago.  He was my first professor at Cal State Fullerton.  I was 37 years old, a father of four, in my profession for about 8 years.  I had a middle management position at a Mental Health facility for children in Corona, California.  I wasn’t expecting much from school.  I just wanted to get my Masters degree and get out.

Well, much to my surprise, that first class – the only class I took from him – was life altering.  Like no one else I heard before or since – I’ve been a lifelong critic of educators and what they call education – this professor made sense.  The best part was that he didn’t speak psychobabble.  After 8 years in the business I had my fill of psychobabble.

I used to stand at the doorway of his office at school and ask him questions.  Why?  Because of his answers, that’s why.  Those answers, by the way, changed the way I did my business from then until now.  I’ll be talking about those useful answers – and a lot more – in future blogs.

For now, here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote a few years ago. It‘s about that first class.  (See Your Kids Aren’t Sick here.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

.  .  .  My first class in my first semester was counseling 735.  It was also the last class for Dr. David Keirsey before he retired from a long career.  He had already written Please Understand Me with Marilyn Bates.  Since then he has written several other books, including his seminal work, Please Understand Me II.  He is the preeminent temperament theoretician in the world.  If you want to understand human behavior, and yourself, read this book.  Millions of others have, around the planet.

 As the Department Head for the Counseling/Psychology Department he developed a unique program based on the practice of doing therapy rather than learning the various theories of therapy.  He was also a walking bibliography when it came to the history and evolution of human psychology.  That made it easy for me.  Why go through all the pain of reading this stuff if he already had, I reasoned to myself.  Better to see if he had anything worth saying.

 Turns out he did.  A number of things.  A few that changed my entire view of psychology, including an orientation to Holistic Theory that I will reserve for another time.  It was at one of his initial lectures that my ear perked for the first time.  There were only fifteen of us in the class, so it was comfortable.

He somehow got onto the subject of medicating children.  Before academia, he had a career as a child psychologist.  He worked with troubled kids in a variety of settings.  He had an opinion.  He expressed it, and when someone pressed him as to what, exactly, did he mean, he turned, looked at his student, and declared:

 “I said I think it (the practice of medicating children), should be criminalized.”

 Did I hear him right?  Did he just say that giving these chemicals to children should be against the law?  Yes he did.  I sat up in my chair.  He didn’t sound at all like that doctor from UCLA.  If I were hearing him right, he would have had that doctor locked up.

This was affirming.  Though he was unknown to me, this was Dr. David Keirsey, Clinical Psychologist, and the head of the Counseling Psychology Department at Cal State Fullerton .  .  .

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, thirty years later, about a year after retiring, I thought I’d look him up.  Maybe he was still around, I wondered, and maybe he could answer a few more questions, I hoped.  I was able to locate his son, Dr. David Mark Keirsey – an accomplished scientist himself – and he gave me his father’s email address.

I was delighted to find out that not only was he around, he was available.  I asked to see him, and for the past several months I’ve been meeting with him every week.  Our four-hour conversation usually begins with him asking “any questions?” to which I eagerly reply “yes.”

It’s a little different now though.  He’s not just my old professor anymore.  He is, I’m proud to say, my friend.

If you continue to follow this blog, it’s very likely you will hear a lot more about David West Keirsey.