Some psychiatrists argue that ADHD is little more than a marketing gimmick
By Fred Baughman
May 18, 2011
Some 5.4 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, with two-thirds of them taking psychiatric drugs. Sales of ADHD drugs reached $1.2 billion in 2010, a demand level so high that the U.S. is experiencing an ADHD drug shortage. But an increasingly vocal contingent of psychiatric experts is speaking up against diagnosing children with ADHD, arguing it is a non-existent condition drummed up by pharmaceutical companies to increase sales.
What makes you convinced that ADHD is not a real disease?
During my time in practice, I’ve authored papers and discovered real diseases and so on. Psychiatry in 1948 was distinguished from neurology. Neurology is the specialty dealing with physical and organic diseases of the brain and nervous system. Psychiatry is the specialty dealing with emotional and behavioural things which are not actual, physical diseases – things like depression, anxiety, panic, and so on.
Insofar as ADHD is concerned, it seems clear that in the ’50s, as the first psychiatric drugs came to market, that psychiatry – in cahoots with the pharmaceutical industry – came upon the market strategy of, “Well, we’ll call these things ‘diseases.’” And the prototypical invented disease was called ADHD.
It was initially in a 1970 congressional hearing in the U.S. that psychiatrists appeared and testified that, what was then called hyper kinetic disorder or minimal brain dysfunction, was a disease that needed diagnosing by a physician, and as a disease it justified the use of drugs to treat it. So that was the official beginning of ADHD in particular and of psychiatric diagnoses in general as being due to a disease of the brain. In every case, they say there’s a subtle chemical imbalance in the brain, which of course they never have a means of diagnosing in life and have never in scientific literature authored proof that there is in fact a disease. And yet they are allowed by [the U.S.] Food and Drug Administration to say that there is a chemical imbalance and that the drugs balance the imbalance.
So it’s been a market strategy. This lie has been allowed to be published by the drug industry and by psychiatry, by our regulatory agencies, specifically the Food and Drug Administration. So that’s where we are today.
All physicians learn in medical school that a disease is a physical abnormality. When you go to your physician, they may see a rash or they may find something microscopically abnormal, such as cancer cells. Then there are a lot of chemical diseases – diabetes being the best known. There are about a hundred examples of inborn errors of metabolism or body chemistry. These can all be tested for, they’ve all been proven, and they exist in the scientific literature – whereas there is not a single psychiatric diagnosis that exists in scientific literature of the world.
In 2008, I was counselling a young father from Kingston, Ont., who was in a divorce situation, and the mother insisted the children be seen by psychiatrists and the psychiatrist had made a number of diagnoses and had this one boy on large amounts of about five or six different types of medication. I helped the father author a letter to Health Canada asking where – in the case of ADHD or any psychiatric diagnosis – there is proof of a gross or microscopic abnormality.
This gentleman got a letter back from the director-general of Health Canada saying there is no gross, microscopic, or chemical abnormality in any psychiatric diagnosis; there is no objective way of verifying a psychiatric diagnosis as a disease.
That’s why psychiatry’s claims that their diagnoses are chemical imbalances is nothing but a lie and a deception. And yet, because of their financial might on the world scene, no one will challenge them. They have friends bought and paid for in government and in all of the governmental health-care agencies.
Here in the States, as of 2007, the Centers for Disease Control announced that 5.4 million U.S. schoolchildren five to 17 years old had ADHD. And you can be sure that they have all been on ADHD drugs, which are, for the most part, amphetamines, which are known to be addictive, dangerous, deadly.
I’ve heard estimates of 20 per cent of schoolchildren in the U.S. with a psych diagnosis and who were on psych drugs. It’s exploding, it’s increasing all the time.
Is the issue that we’re overmedicating ourselves, or that ADHD is not real?
When it’s a total fraud, you don’t call it overmedicating. There is no such thing as ADHD as a disease, so there is never justification for it. It’s a total fraud.
What is there to gain from diagnosing children with ADHD?
Ritalin has passed $1 billion a year in sales. Ritalin is no longer the top ADHD drug in the U.S. I think Adderall, which is made up of amphetamines, passed Ritalin a few years ago in market share.
It’s a complete fraud, they’ve invented diseases for which their drugs are a cure. The rate of diagnosing ADHD has been going up by a million a year in the U.S. This is a market strategy.
The book Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients [by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels] talks generally about inventing diseases for which to sell drugs. In the foreword of that book, the authors quote the former president of Merck Pharmaceutical Co., Henry Gadsden, who once said he was anxious to find ways to market his products to normal people, just like the Wrigley chewing gum people did. This was kind of an after-the-fact confession they were trying to market drugs to normal people, and calling all psychological dilemmas diseases for which they needed a pill. This was the strategy.
It’s almost unimaginable, it’s almost unthinkable that this has been going on, but that’s exactly what’s been going on.
How would you diagnose a child that was considered to have ADHD?
Look at the criteria that are used to call a child ADHD. They talk out of turn, they don’t sit still, they wiggle around too much in their seats, they are impulsive, disorderly, and so on. It’s a bunch of behaviours that are seen in just about every child at some stage of their life. This is by design; they have taken kind of irritating, bothersome, disruptive behaviours in children and have kind of cobbled them together and called it a disease.
They get a lot of parents to buy it because a lot of parents are now busy with their job in the workforce and there’s no longer a full-time parent in the home, and so, “Here’s why Johnny or Janey is such an irritant to me, they’ve got ADHD.” It takes the pressure entirely off the parent for not being a presence and for not being there full-time to mould the behaviour of the child, and they’re calling these behaviours a disease and saying we’ve got a pill for it. That’s very seductive. That’s a far more appealing analysis than, “Gee, you’re divorced, there’s no one in the home to discipline the child real time,” and so on.
These are not diseases, they are behaviours. Today, you hang a psychiatric label on a child, you surely stigmatize the child and these drugs are exceedingly dangerous. In 2005, there were several deaths in Canada of young children from Adderall. It was temporarily taken off the market, but then the power of the industry won out and Adderall’s back on the market. Pure amphetamines.
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