Even mental health professionals are complaining about the meteoric rise in psychiatric intervention and the “pathologizing of normal behaviors.” Psychologist Bruce Levine in an article entitled “Why the Rise of Mental Illness? Pathologizing Normal, Adverse Drug Effects, and a Peculiar Rebellion” cites statistics indicating that between 1987 and 2007 the number of people with disabling mental disorders covered by key federal programs increased more than two and a half times. Worse, “for children, the rise is even more startling—a thirty-five-fold increase in the same two decades.”[i]
The growth in insurable mental “diseases” identified in the psychiatric diagnostic “bible” confirms this escalating trend. In 1952, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) listed 106 disorders; in 1968 it was 182; in 1980 it was 265 and in 1994 it hit 365.[ii]
Levine also cites respected investigative journalist Robert Whitaker who examined 50 years of scientific literature to determine what lies behind the apparent rise in mental health problems: “Whitaker argues that the adverse effects of psychiatric medications are the primary cause of the epidemic.” In short, the “cure” is the cause.
We see this kind of increased reach in our military. According to a 2013 article in MilitaryTimes, “at least one in six service members is on some form of psychiatric drug” though the percentage is probably higher today. MilitaryTimes found the armed forces spent at least $1.1 billion on psychiatric and pain medications between 2001 and 2009, representing a stunning 76 percent increase in the use of such drugs. This is not without consequences: the Military Times also reported that “doctors — and, more recently, lawmakers — are questioning whether the drugs could be responsible for the spike in military suicides during the past several years, an upward trend that roughly parallels the rise in psychiatric drug use.”[iii]
Addictions Aren’t Solutions
The standard “care” given by psychiatrists today is to prescribe one or more mind-altering, addictive drugs. Drug dealers, illegal or otherwise, always seem to target youth. Cigarette companies did for years because “the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens. In addition, the ten years following the teenage years is the period during which average daily consumption per smoker increases to the average adult level.”[iv]
Not even meth, cocaine or heroin dealers are so craven as to push drugs into the crib. But psychiatrists are.
The trend of drugging youth began by marketing speed-like drugs Ritalin and Adderall for “hyperactivity.” The New York Times reported in 2013 that even one of the early ADHD thought leaders, Keith Connors, characterized the skyrocketing numbers of kids on drugs a “national disaster of dangerous proportions.” The Times lay the blame at the doorstep of Big Pharma and their enabling psychiatrists: the “…rise of A.D.H.D. diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents.”[v]
Now national trends indicate that psychiatrists are actively pushing into the baby market. A 2015 article in Medical Daily entitled “Psychiatric Drugs For Babies? More Kids Aged 2 And Under Getting Prescribed Antipsychotics” reveals that psychiatric drug prescribing patterns are getting worse “especially among children under the age of 2.” The article reports that “psychotropic drug prescriptions among babies doubled in one year … despite the lack of evidence that shows they are effective and safe for young children.”[vi]
Addicting someone to a psychoactive drug may be a “solution” for the pusher — it guarantees ongoing revenue and dependence — but it is not and never has been a solution for those who become addicted.
Vested Interests Aren’t Objective
If an auto mechanic pushed a repair that obviously benefited his company, we’d instinctively know to be wary. We should have the same wariness when it comes to addictive, psychoactive drugs.
A scandal erupted several years ago when it was disclosed that a prominent proponent of psychiatric child-drugging was on Big Pharma’s payroll. The New York Times noted that “a world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but for years did not report much of this income to university officials.”[vii]
A published excerpt of Enrico Gnualati’s 2013 book Back to Normal: The Overlooked, Ordinary Explanations for Kid’s ADHD, Bipolar and Autistic-Like Behavior points out that “In 2008, psychiatric drugs sold in the United States netted their makers $40.3 billion. A good portion of that amount involved drugs commonly prescribed to kids.” The book also noted that “Among drug reps, it is common knowledge that kids are a lucrative market.”[viii]
Psychiatrists and drug companies are vested interests. It is foolish to think they will make the right purchasing decision for the public.
Universal Health Services (UHS) is America’s largest psychiatric hospital chain with more than 200 facilities. According to the website “UHS Behind Closed Doors”, UHS is “under investigation as ‘a corporate entity’ by the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Fraud Section.”[ix] The investigation is large, covering multiple facilities and an extensive pattern of anti-patient activity. An entire website, http://uhsbehindcloseddoors.org, is dedicated to tracking UHS’s legal and other problems.
Other media have extensively covered UHS’s unsavory behavior including the BuzzFeed News “Locked On the Psych Ward”, aptly subtitled “Lock them in. Bill their insurer. Kick them out. How scores of employees and patients say America’s largest psychiatric chain turns patients into profits.”[x]
UHS is not an isolated case. Many examples of direct psychiatric fraud exist – a Google search for “mental health Medicaid fraud” turns up a wealth of references including an Office of Inspector General (OIG) Report entitled “Fighting Fraud at Community Mental Health Centers.” The OIG investigation into Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) found that “fraud at CMHCs is not new, and OIG studies on CMHCs show that it isn’t isolated. For example, the report ‘Questionable Billing by Community Health Centers’ found approximately half of CMHCs had unusually high billing for at least one of nine questionable billing characteristics.”[xi]
Beyond the individual and corporate crimes, the larger problem is continued funding for a field that demonstrates an inability to make things better, routinely promotes addiction as a solution and rarely makes known their vested interests when pushing their latest and greatest concoction.
We wouldn’t continue to fund a local auto mechanic who routinely ripped off customers. So, why should we continue to fund an overreaching, scandal-ridden, psychiatric vested interest that does more harm than good?
[i]Why the Rise of Mental Illness? Pathologizing Normal, Adverse Drug Effects, and a Peculiar Rebellion, https://goo.gl/1pjyQ0
[iii] “Medicating the military — Use of psychiatric drugs has spiked; concerns surface about suicide, other dangers”, https://goo.gl/savlsM
[iv]“Why and How the Tobacco Industry Sells Cigarettes to Young Adults: Evidence From Industry Documents”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447481/
[v] “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder”, https://goo.gl/UxAWid
[vi] “Psychiatric Drugs For Babies? More Kids Aged 2 And Under Getting Prescribed Antipsychotics”, https://goo.gl/xQJmn6
[vii] “Researchers Fail to Reveal Full Drug Pay”, https://goo.gl/TGkBbm
[viii] “A Toddler on 3 Different Psychiatric Meds? How Drugging Kids Became Big Business”, https://goo.gl/wRMJww
[ix] “Criminal investigation of UHS facilities widens to include parent company”, https://goo.gl/qJkJGB
[x] “Locked On The Psych Ward”, https://goo.gl/HSRlcO
[xi]“Fighting Fraud at Community Mental Health Centers”, https://oig.hhs.gov/newsroom/spotlight/2013/cmhc.asp