Tag Archives: American Psychiatric Association

America conned: Psycho pharma drug pushing empire under fire

Is America truly stricken with widespread mental illness? Do tens of millions need mind-altering drugs? A recent flurry of media articles lead readers to a realization that Big Pharma and the “mental health” industry have deceived Americans on a grand scale.

The “New York Review of Books” two-part article by Dr. Marcia Angell, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Medical School and former Editor in Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, summarizes it extremely well. She analyzes three books by authors Irving Kirsch, Robert Whitaker, and Daniel Carlat. Each deconstructs the apparent mental illness epidemic and theory that mental disorders stem from brain chemical imbalances which can be corrected by drugs.

Dr. Angell’s review has sparked a host of other journalists to applaud her and fuel the fire. An article in Forbes even concludes, “psychopharma is looking like an idea whose time has passed.”

“How do I get off all the depression drugs?” We asked an expert

Phillip Sinaikin, MD, is a Florida psychiatrist who has been in practice for 25 years. Author of “Get Smart About Weight Control” and co-author of “Fat Madness: How to Stop the Diet Cycle and Achieve Permanent Well-Being,” his new book focuses on excesses and industry influence in the field of psychiatry.
Rosenberg: Your new book, Psychiatryland, traces how deception, conflicts of interest, medical enabling and direct-to-consumer advertising have resulted in millions being on psychiatric drugs they don’t need. One patient you describe has legitimate mourning and grief work to do after his wife leaves him for his own cousin. But his grief is pathologized into “bipolar disorder” by the system, including his own mother.

The problem with the DSM

Do you have a shopping addiction disorder? Perhaps an addiction to food? Maybe one of your kids has Internet addiction disorder, or video-game attachment syndrome. Well, not quite yet, because these kinds of new mental diagnoses are only proposed, not final, for the new revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the bible of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

And there is a terrible problem with this. The DSM was first created in the 1920s. Based on psychoanalytic theory, it enumerated fewer than 100 mental problems that a psychiatrist could diagnose, all of them attributable to environmental conditions, generally the role of parenting. We know now that this theoretical stance was limited and, in many cases, wrong. In 1980, the second revision of the DSM took place. Freud was discarded, and the revised bible now included several hundred disorders, all delineated by a list of observable symptoms and a framework for limiting and differentiating diagnoses.

Three versions later, the current DSM lists more than 1,000 disorders. No theories are espoused for their origins, though implicit in it is that there is a mix of genetic and environmental causes that shape neurological development. During this period of about three decades, the incidence of attention disorders in the general population has increased from 2 percent to 10 percent. In the 1980s, people diagnosed with bipolar disorder represented less than 1 percent of the population; now the number has increased to 5 percent. New diagnoses, like oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder, now cover as many as 5 percent of children.

Autism, which afflicted a tiny percentage of the population in the 1990s, now accounts for 1 out of every 100 children. What is wrong with this picture? Do we have an epidemic on our hands? Something in the water we drink, or the air we breathe?

The business of ADHD

As the DSM-V looms closer to becoming a reality, I can’t help but think of words from the man who chaired the committee for the DSM-IV. Allen Frances, M.D., wrote in the in the LA Times:

As chairman of the task force that created the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which came out in 1994, I learned from painful experience how small changes in the definition of mental disorders can create huge, unintended consequences.

Our panel tried hard to be conservative and careful but inadvertently contributed to three false ‘epidemics’ – attention deficit disorder, autism and childhood bipolar disorder. Clearly, our net was cast too wide and captured many ‘patients’ who might have been far better off never entering the mental health system.