While the United States unfortunately leads the world in labeling its children with mental ‘disorders’ which cannot be scientifically proven to exist as medical conditions, Australia seems determined to take over the [dishonorable] title. And they just might do it. For poised to carry them into the winners circle is none other than psychiatrist and former “Australian of the Year” Patrick McGorry. The scam is called “pre-psychosis risk syndrome” which simply translates as this: Despite the fact there is not one proven scientific or medical test to prove any child has a mental “disorder,” Patrick McGorry maintains he can determine who will develop one. That’s right. He can determine who will develop a mental disorder before they develop a mental disorder that cannot be medically proven to exist. If that sounds a little crazy to you, rest assured, you’re not alone. In fact, the logic is so backwards that McGorry’s plan has come under fire from U.S. psychiatrist Allen Frances, who chaired the committee that produced the psychiatric diagnostic bible of “mental disorders” used the world over, ‘The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV. If you’re in the mental health “business,” like McGorry is, then that is called being attacked from altitude.
Frances calls McGorry a “false prophet” and says “Australia, led astray by his impractical hopes, is about to embark on a vast and untried public health experiment that will almost surely cause more harm to its children than it prevents.”
We agree. And it looks like Australians are starting to catch on….
from The Australian—June 16th, 2011
Schism opens over ills of the mind
PATRICK McGorry is the face of mental health in Australia. He put the subject on the public agenda through his GetUp! ads at last year’s federal election and was instrumental in securing $2.2 billion in government funding for his cause in last month’s budget.
But now he and his early psychosis prevention and intervention centres are under attack from members of his own psychiatric profession.
At stake is the credibility of the centres that treat people aged 15-24. A $222 million program to establish 16 EPPICs is an important plank in Julia Gillard’s mental health reforms. Tony Abbott also wants to expand the centres as part of his mental health policy.
McGorry is no stranger to controversy. In 2006 Time magazine in an article headlined “Drugs before diagnosis?” was critical of his work testing the use of anti-psychosis drugs on pre-psychosis patients in the late 1990s.
West Australian Labor MP Martin Whitely has been conducting a campaign against McGorry on his blog Speed Up and Sit Still.
Many of McGorry’s mental health colleagues have questioned whether his centres got the bulk of extra money in the budget’s mental health reforms because the government wanted to silence its biggest critic. There are other models and other priorities for mental health funding, they say.
This week McGorry came under fire from US psychiatrist Allen Frances, the man who chaired the committee that produced the psychiatric diagnostic bible Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV.
Underlying the attack on McGorry is a dispute dividing psychiatry worldwide: is there a danger that attempts to define mental illnesses are making a disease out of everyday suffering resulting in the unnecessary medication of patients?
Frances says he was very conservative when he produced DSM IV, including only two out of 84 suggested new mental illness diagnoses. After its publication, diagnoses of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder skyrocketed.
“Once the genie was out of the bottle and heavy drug marketing followed and the internet and ADHD and school services [began] being tied to a diagnosis, the manual gets used differently to the way you thought it should and you have no control over it,” he says.
Frances says anti-psychotic drugs are now the leading revenue producing drugs in the US.
“It’s an astounding fact that 5 per cent of all scripts in the US are written for anti-psychotics. The industry in America is $US15bn and it is the No 1 seller of all drugs and anti-depressants are the fourth biggest sellers,” he says.
“What we’re talking about is a massive worldwide experiment in the use of anti-psychotics.”
Frances fears a similar outbreak of over-diagnosis of mental illness and unnecessary medication of patients could follow the new DSM 5, due out in 2013.
The root of Frances’s dispute with McGorry is the Melbourne psychiatrist’s work in trying to develop a tool that can diagnose patients before they develop full-blown psychosis and finding ways to treat them to prevent the illness.
This tool has various names: psychosis risk syndrome, attenuated psychotic syndrome or ultra high-risk syndrome.
This new diagnosis is a candidate for inclusion in DSM 5. But it is a highly controversial issue in the psychiatric profession and its listing is opposed by one of McGorry’s research partners, Melbourne University psychiatrist Alison Yung.
Yung and Frances fear listing the disorder will lead to teenagers being labelled and stigmatised and given powerful anti-psychotic drugs that have side effects including substantial weight gain.
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