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

Posts tagged ‘diagnosis’

YKAS 3: Culture of Chemicals

We are addicted to our chemicals, you and me, and that’s a problem.  Not just for you or me.  It’s a problem for our kids.  Equipped from birth to imitate us, what do we show them?

Got a headache?  Grab an aspirin or an ibuprofen, or something else for pain.  We have many choices.  Seems harmless enough.  And it is – most of the time.  After all, they sell “baby aspirins” for babies.  They seem to work too, if given properly, and not too much.  Makes sense.  A headache isn’t, really, behavior.  The chemical we take works on our physical body, right?

Sometimes, though, when we’re too tense, or there’s too much stress in our life at the moment, a headache – or a backache, or a soreness somewhere else in your body – can occur.  We say it’s “stress-related.”  That’s what our doctors, friends and family members will tell us.  Even in the modern world, stress and tension affects all of us.  You too?

We’ve found out, over time, that some kind of sedative – a Xanax or two – will give us relief – and if we plan on it, we probably won’t need an aspirin for pain.  Pain relief is important, of course.  Relief allows us to get on with the day, minus the headache, backache, or soreness.  It’s something going on in human tissue – maybe our blood vessels are “constricted,” maybe our muscles are “tense,” or maybe we just need to calm down.  Anyway, it doesn’t matter.  The pill seems to help.

Maybe you know someone who’s been in a funk for a while.  You’re informed.  Why not give a friend a Valium if you think it will help her?  After all, why suffer the “symptoms” of this “disease” when relief is a pill away?  No need to go to a doctor, except for that damn prescription.  You know your friend is depressed.  You know her story.  She needs a “boost” to get over the funk.  It’s obvious.

Or, instead of sharing your chemicals, you provide your own diagnosis, and you make a referral.

“Bob, you’re bi-polar.  Maybe you need some medication.  It’s really helped me.  Please call my doctor.”

Bob does.  The psychiatrist provides the right diagnosis within the first ten minutes, he suggests a chemical, and Bob agrees.  Bob says he finds comfort in that pill. He becomes convinced he has a “chemical imbalance” of some kind, and the fix is in.

Not only is Bob relieved of his symptoms, he is now among the informed, and an advocate.  Why wouldn’t he be?  By the way, Bob’s doctor has a host of chemicals to “treat” bi-polar disorder.  There are 52 to choose from, including Zyprexa, Zoloft, Wellburtrin, Tegretol, Seroquel, Risperdal, Lexapro, Geodon, Effexor, Depakote, Abilify – and 41 others.  (See the rest here)

Maybe you had a recent tragedy you can’t seem to get over.  There’s relief for you at the drug store too.  Oddly enough, if one of your problems is abusing an illegal chemical, you can find a legal chemical to help you shake your chemical addiction.

There are chemicals, we are told by our doctors, for anxiety, depression, too much activity, or not enough activity.  There are mood elevators, mood depressants, and chemicals for hallucinations.  You can get a chemical to help with bedwetting, obsessing or compulsing too much, as well as lack of hunger or too much hunger.  Chemicals are sold to help you sleep, to mute your aggression, or to help you with social isolation.

And, ladies, there’s more to come, though you’ll have to have a “disease” if you want the chemical.  Big Pharma companies are sprinting as fast as they can to be the first to offer a chemical to “treat” the recently created new “disease”:  Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder in Women.  (Don’t believe it?  Check it out here.)

It’s the race to develop “female Viagara,” and Big Pharma is drooling.

The prize goes to the first one to get approval by the FDA.  It will be worth billions worldwide, and it’s a business response to customer demand.  After all, if men can have Viagara, why can’t women have something too?  You will.  I’m confident you’ll have many choices from which to choose.  “Love Potion #9” seems like it might be a good name – and a big seller.  Look for the ads.

For some convoluted but alarmingly convincing reasons, we have, in the past 25 years in particular, gotten accustomed to going to a medical doctor for help for behavioral problems, as if difficult behavioral problems are medical in nature.  They are not, but it really doesn’t matter.  There is relief found in those chemicals.  Even when there isn’t, at least you’re “in treatment.”  You have an imbalance of some kind, and you feel better taking your chemicals.

Psychiatrists are more than willing to help, of course.  There’s no pretense anymore.  You see a psychiatrist, and a psychiatrist sees you, to prescribe you a chemical to relieve your discomfort.  You go to someone else for therapy.  More than that, you soon become a disciple, adept at diagnosing and prescribing all at the same time.

The chemicals seem to work so well, we reason, we should give them to our children.  After all, we give them chemicals for the flu or asthma, why not for their “disorders.”  And it’s on the rise.  The use of chemicals to address these false “diseases” has risen four fold in 20 years.  No cures, mind you.  Just lots of “diseases,” and lots and lots of chemicals.

You may have to lower your expectations too, just a little bit.  Many believe children with these “diseases” are “handicapped” or “disabled.”  Maybe you believe it’s true too.

It isn’t, of course.  It’s nonsense.  Your kids aren’t sick.

Selling chemicals is a business. You, me – and our kids – are customers.

NEXT YKAS ESSAY:  The Business of Selling Chemicals

(NOTE:  I recently published an article I wrote back in 1988.  It was about the growing chemical culture nearly a quarter century ago.  It’s eerily relevant.  When you can, please see The Era of Chemicals – Redux.   – RC)

YKAS 1: Let’s Get Acquainted

This is a blog about psychiatry and the chemicals they sell to us to drug our kids.  It’s also a blog about temperaments and children, and ways to help parents.  I’ll have something to say about both as we go.  You may be surprised to learn the kind of chemicals we give to children has a lot to do with their temperament.

I’ll be writing about psychiatry as it’s currently practiced by most psychiatrists.  This will include the universities they graduate from – lets call them Academia – and the large pharmaceutical companies you buy your chemicals from – affectionately known on Wall Street as “Big Pharma.”

I’ll introduce you to some courageous professionals who have dedicated their careers, often to their detriment, to fiercely challenge our cultural belief that unwelcome behavior is evidence of a psychological disease.  Along the way, you’ll meet some courageous individuals who collectively refer to themselves as “psychiatric survivors.”

You’ll learn that psychiatric theory is nothing like the Big Bang Theory or The Theory of Evolution – and both have their own controversies – or any other scientific theory.  That’s because psychiatry isn’t science.

The Medical Model was developed for medical doctors to find treatment for illnesses of the body – flesh and bone – and psychiatry was not included.  Yet, psychiatry managed to nudge its way in, despite being an unwelcome addition to medicine.  Why unwelcome?  Because most doctors at the time didn’t think human behavior had anything to do with human medicine.  Neither do I, and neither does a growing number of professionals and lay people alike.  You’ll be hearing more from them too.  (You can read more about the Medical Model here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_model)

Did you know there was a time when Insulin Shock Therapy (IST) was the “state-of-the-art treatment” used to create comas for patients living in “mental hospitals,” especially patients with “schizophrenia?” Give enough insulin to someone and they would become “comatized,” and this would “treat the disease.”  You may find it worth your time to read the justifications the doctors used back then, as well as their proclaimed “successes.”  They sound a lot like modern-day psychiatric justifications and “successes.”  What finally made them stop this shamefully cruel “treatment?”  A new “invention.”  Neuroleptic drugs. (SEE:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin_shock_therapy.)

Mostly, though, this blog is about you, me, and our children.  Like no other time in human history, in the Western World, we are giving children daily chemicals, many of them toxic, to address our concerns about their worrisome behaviors.

That’s a key.  Their worrisome behaviors soon become our worrisome concerns.  What’s a parent to do?  We know.  Good parents follow the advice of their psychiatrist, because that’s what good parents do.  You wouldn’t deny your child other medication, so how could you say no to that “scientific” chemical that’s supposed to “treat” your child’s Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder, the long time leader in childhood psychiatric “diseases?”

ADHD is perhaps the cruelest of all childhood “diagnoses.”  “He’s too active and doesn’t pay attention” isn’t a disease.  Your child’s teacher is complaining, not your child.  This is a child management concern, and that begins with the adult.  If adults change their behaviors, children’s behaviors will follow – inevitably.

And, dear reader, please remember this isn’t an exercise in abstract ideas for me.  Over a long career, I’ve met several thousand troubled and troublesome children who, upon arrival, were sometimes taking two or three or four or five – or six – different chemicals.  When I had the last word, my staff and I reduced and then eliminated their “medication.”  Always with parents’ permission – and sometimes their insistence – we did so because, well, your kids aren’t sick.

By the way, a parent saying “no” to a psychiatrist prescribing “medication” for a child’s “disease” is getting to be a bigger problem than you may know.  In courtrooms and classrooms around our country, a brewing conflict is growing that may some day affect you and your child.  I’ll keep you informed.  I’m sorry to report, Big Pharma and Academia, working hand in hand, are not on your side.  They are on their side; the side that proclaims your child has a “disease” and you may not be able to deny him his “treatment.”

So, dear reader, blend our honest parental concerns with the myth that unwanted behavior is a medical condition best treated with some kind of man-made chemical, add in an incredibly lucrative business fully prepared to charge us for those man-made chemicals, and we have a perfect storm and a growing disaster.  Kids aren’t getting any better, and parents – teachers too – are even more frustrated.

What’s a parent to do?  I know your child’s behavior is often a concern for you.  While you may agree medicine might not be the only answer, you don’t get much help from the school either.  I’ll have some concrete, usable techniques for you and your children’s teachers as we get to know each other.

However, before we do, let’s get the rest of the bad news out of the way.

NEXT YKAS ESSAY: It’s Gotten Much Worse

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from birth to adulthood, a kid is a kid

I’ll always have something to say about children and temperaments, and much more as time goes on.  After all, this blog is about kids and how they behave, and you can’t talk about that without talking about temperaments.  Children are different, so we have to treat them different and, as you already know, that’s not so easy to do – is it?

Children arrive equipped.  About that I’m sure.  The rest is about their unfolding.  How we go about helping them discover their project begins with their innate temperament.  Following Keirseyan temperament theory, these are the four forms of temperaments of children:

NEXT TIME:  What do the four forms mean?  Why Stars, Squares, Spheres and Cubes?

A Very Private Practice

One day, a boy had to be hurried to the psychiatrist.  The doctor’s office called and said there was a last minute cancellation, and my supervisor picked me to take him to the doctor’s office.

I was a little nervous.  I had pestered this doctor with my questions, apparently to the breaking point.  I was nearly 30 by then, I had two kids of my own, and I wanted clear answers.  I don’t do well with platitudes.  I guess it showed.  At some point he decided he didn’t want to answer any more of my questions, especially when he found out I had a bachelor’s degree in sociology.  So, this time, I walked in with one of the boys and I quietly found a seat.  The boy was soon escorted to a room in the back where he would wait to see the doctor.

It was late in the day and the office was empty.  I took a seat just below and to the right of the sliding glass window where the receptionist was.  I was extra quiet.  After a few minutes, I was out of sight and, as I soon found out, out of mind.

About 10 minutes later, I heard the doctor approach the receptionist area.  The receptionist, I would learn, also did the doctor’s billing for Medi-Cal.  Her name was Evelyn.  I remember her name because, unbeknownst to the doctor, this is what I heard the doctor say to her, in no uncertain terms:

“God dammit Evelyn, how many times do I have to tell you?!  I don’t get paid for this diagnosis!!”

Hmmm.  As I was to learn in the next few years, the love of money really is the root of all evil after all.