Could stress with your teen lead to false psychiatric labeling?
Jeromie Williams, in an article for the, Canada Pop Culture Examiner reports that “Research and records are showing that children and young adults are being diagnosed at higher rates every year with mental disorders…which leads to many being placed on prescription drugs that can have serious and life threatening side effects.” 1
In this article, Mr. Williams quotes The Citizens [Commission] on Human Rights has estimated that “‘…each year 20,000,000 children and young adults suffer with being labeled with mental disorders that are not based on clinical diagnoses but solely on professional opinion and a checklist of behaviors. In what is now a $4.8 billion-a-year industry, most diagnoses happen without the benefit of brain scans, x-rays, genetic tests or blood tests that definitively prove the mental state of the patient, yet the children affected are given dangerous and often life threatening psychiatric drugs and bear a stigma that can last a life time.’”
Stress with your teen can lead a frustrated parent to turn his or her own judgment over to that of a “professional.” This can end in an unforeseen and sometimes tragic result. Dr. David Stein, an anti-labeling psychiatrist, has created a list of 5 compelling reasons why you should not label your child.
Here is a summary of those excellent reasons:
1. “The label connotes having a mental disease, which means that the person believes that he or she will have it for the rest of his or her life…
2. Being labeled usually means being placed on psychiatric drugs. This in turn leads to the erroneous belief that a person cannot ever function without his or her drugs, ergo they never stop taking them. Drugs frequently cause long term health problems…
3. The labeled person is treated as if he or she were handicapped, which means they cannot function unless he or she receives a diet of constant help and assistance. This, in turn, makes the person highly dependent on others because he or she learns that he or she is handicapped and therefore must have help, help, and more help, which is an unhealthy way to live life.
4. Labeled youngsters are often the target of bullies, and are called things, such as “stupid”, “retard”, “lazy”, or “special”. This can scar the soul of a youngster that lasts through life. Being bullied in such ways often underlies feelings of anger and revenge, which at times has turned deadly. Every rampage school shooter had this common element in their life history.
5. Labels are often completely erroneous. In the DSM -III, [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual] the agreement on diagnosis reached at its best 16%. The way that the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations handled this was to remove the statistics from future manuals. The doctors cannot agree, and lack of reliability means no validity. Plus, there exists absolutely no independent test to confirm a diagnosis, i.e. no blood tests, no urine analysis, [no] MRI test, no CT scan test, and NO PSYCHOLOGICAL test, nothing! The label is purely subjective.”
John R. McHugh, M.D professor of psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University has this to say about labeling:
“Labeling and drugging is a convenient way of treating mental health disorders,
and is profitable for insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
“This practice, along with the stigmatization of individuals who have mental health disorders, or who exhibit symptoms of such disorders, has come under the most scrutiny and criticism as lacking sound basis in professional circles in the field of mental health.”
Adolescence can be a difficult period for many young people. But there are alternative ways to handle stress with your teen. He or she does not have to have false psychiatric labels and be prescribed dangerous psychiatric drugs that can impact the rest of their life.
Alan Luks and Peggy Payne, who wrote the book The Healing Power of Doing Good, discovered that helping others has many benefits, including the alleviation of depression.
Allie Mendoza quotes some of their discoveries in her article Helping Others Can Help You. Among the good results of helping others were “…decreased feeling of helplessness, loneliness and depression, decreased stress as well as a greater sense of calmness, relaxation and serenity, a greater sense of connectedness with others.” 2
Their advice might offer a way to help you handle stress with your teen. And the young adult might gain valuable experience and confidence at the same time.