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Not quite sure where to post this one. If one of the mods needs to move it, please do so. Thanks!:)

Date: Thu, 3 Mar 2005 20:29:13 -0800

Part One
By Kathleen Deoul

Aldous Huxley's classic 1932 novel, "Brave New World," depicted a
world where the population was drugged - by the government - drugged
to keep it happy and docile. Children were subjected to Pavlovian
conditioning from birth to ensure that they conformed to societal
norms dictated by 10 "Controllers."

Huxley's novel was a work of fiction, but if some people in Washington
have their way, life will soon follow art.

The President's "New Freedom Commission on Mental Health" has issued
its final report, and it's a bombshell! If the nation's mental health
mavens have their way, every living American from infants in the crib
to the elderly will be screened for mental disease, and if they have
their way, have a treatment regimen prescribed. As disturbing as the
general concept is, its emphasis on children is frightening.

There is already an epidemic of over-diagnosing mental problems such
as ADHD among children. Most often, these diagnoses are made by
untrained teachers using a checklist that includes such signs of deep
mental disturbance as failing to sit still, not completing work on
time and forgetting their homework - these mind you for five year-olds!

One consequence of the rush to label our children as mentally
disturbed is that the number on psychotropic drugs tripled between
1987 and 1996 with at least 6.2% of all children and adolescents
taking at least one psychiatric drug. Since the period covered by the
study, the numbers have gotten even larger. In some high schools as
much as 20% of the student population is taking a psychiatric drug!

But if the mental health mavens have their way it's going to get worse
- much worse.

Their intentions were made clear by one brief paragraph in the
Commission's final report.

"Schools are in a key position to identify mental health problems
early and to provide a link to appropriate services. Every day more
than 52 million students attend over 114,000 schools in the U.S. When
combined with the six million adults working at those schools, almost
one-fifth of the population passes through the Nation's schools on any
given weekday. Clearly, strong school mental health programs can
attend to the health and behavioral concerns of students, reduce
unnecessary pain and suffering, and help ensure academic achievement."

In plan English, what they are recommending is that every child in the
nation's schools be screened by their teachers for mental health
problems. Never mind that the teachers have no medical credentials.
Never mind that they may have ulterior motives, such as wanting to
keep children docile so that they don't have to work to hard. Never
mind that their unqualified diagnoses could follow a child for the
rest of their lives. To the mental health mavens, their advocacy of
intervention is more than justified:

"Without intervention, child and adolescent disorders frequently
continue into adulthood. … If the system does not appropriately screen
and treat them early, these childhood disorders may persist and lead
to a downward spiral of school failure, poor employment opportunities
and poverty in adulthood. No other illnesses damage so many children
so seriously."

In fact, the mental health mavens think that it's so important that
they don't even want to wait until a child enters school. They
advocate a program (which has been adopted in Illinois) that has
nurses make home visits to pregnant women and then monitors the
child's mental health during its first year of life - no I'm not
kidding, the first year of life.

As outrageous as this may sound, it actually is merely an indication
of the growing trend toward diagnosing children as having mental
health problems at ever-younger ages.

One of the latest examples of this is the latest fad in psychiatry -
diagnosing preschoolers as bipolar.

A fundamental problem with such diagnoses is that there is no accepted
test for bipolar disorder - in children or adults. Instead, as with
ADHD, psychiatrists use a "checklist" of more than three dozen
behaviors to diagnose juvenile bipolar disorder

And what are these behaviors?

Well, they include such things as silliness, night terrors,
carbohydrate cravings, fidgetiness, bed-wetting, lying, social anxiety
and difficulty getting up in the morning.

So if your five-year old sticks a French fry up his nose, call a
shrink! If the child asks for a second cookie get a straight-jacket!
And, heaven forbid, the child says they really didn't break Grandma's
vase, get out the commitment papers!

If all this seems extreme to you, you're in good company. In Houston,
Texas, Dr. Laurel L. Williams estimates that she has "un-diagnosed"
between 50 and 75 cases of bipolar disorder in young children.

But the problem is far more than just mistaken diagnoses - it's what
happens when children are misdiagnosed. Whether the diagnosis is ADHD,
bipolar disorder, or some other psychiatric ill, the automatic
response from most practitioners is to medicate. And remember, these
are not benign drugs being prescribed to our children - they can cause
serious side effects ranging from diabetes to sterility. Yet, the
mental health mavens think nothing of having our kids pop a pill at
the drop of a hat.

Worse, in most instances, the drugs they're dispensing so casually
haven't been tested on children, and often are being given
"off-label." This refers to prescribing a medication for some purposes
other than the one it was approved for. Moreover, in many if not most
cases, it is not just one drug that the children are getting, it is
several. In fact, the average number of drugs given to these children

A survey by Express Scripts Inc., a private pharmacy benefit manager,
titled "Trends in the Use of Antidepressants in a National Sample of
Commercially Insured Pediatric Patients, 1998-2002," revealed just how
strong, and frightening the trend towards medicating younger and
younger children is:

"… the overall prevalence of antidepressant use among children
increased from 160 per 10,000 (1.6 percent) in 1998 to 240 per 10,000
(2.4 percent) in 2003, for an adjusted annual increase of 9.2 percent.
The growth in the overall prevalence of antidepressants was greater
among girls (a 68 percent increase) than boys (a 34 percent increase).
In 2002 antidepressant use was highest among girls aged 15 to 18 years
at 640 per 10,000 (6.4 percent). The trend of increasing overall use
of antidepressants among children and adolescents appears to have been
driven primarily by greater use of selective serotonin reuptake

Perhaps the single most disturbing data included in the Express
Scripts survey was the finding that the largest proportional increase
in antidepressant use was among children in the age group of 5 years
old and younger!

What makes the trend particularly disturbing is that it comes at a
time when there is increasing evidence that selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may cause some young people to commit
suicide. In fact, on October 15, 2004 the FDA recommended that
pharmaceutical companies put "black box" warnings on the package
insert about the potential for these drugs to cause suicidal thoughts
and suicide in adolescents.

Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who authored the "Antidepressant
Fact Book" is outraged:

"To inflict these drugs on the growing brains of infants and
children is wrong and abusive. We're in an era of technological child
abuse in which physicians routinely, whether they know it or not, are
actually abusing infants and children with toxic substances, rather
than addressing their real needs."

What makes what Breggin terms "technological child abuse" even more
outrageous is that there is no evidence to suggest that the drugs
work! According to Breggin:

"These drugs have not even been proved useful in adults, where the
studies are marginal at best, and we now have the FDA acknowledging
that in both children and adults the drugs produce a wide variety of
behavioral and mental abnormalities. Antidepressants drastically
change the functioning of widespread neurotransmitters in the brain,
and there is no way to interfere at a stage of rapid growth without
disturbing the function of the brain."

But could the problem really be that widespread?

The short answer is yes - and it's not limited to the United States!

The short answer is yes - and it's not limited to the United States!
Studies in Canada, England, France and Germany show that these
countries, too, are medicating their children. For example, a survey
of 609 primary schools in Strasbourg, France revealed that 12.1% were
taking at least one psychotropic drug when they entered school, and of
these, 36% had been started on the drug at the age of one or younger!

In this country, last year 20 MILLION PRESCRIPTIONS were written to
treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) alone!

And if the mental health mavens have their way, the number is going to
get a lot bigger! For example, psychiatrists estimate that 1.1% of the
population suffers from bipolar disorder. That translates into 572,000
children with the problem - 572,000 children they want to medicate
with powerful drugs like lithium!

And, mind you, they would be medicated on the basis of a checklist -
not empirical evidence from testing, BECAUSE THERE IS NO VALID TEST

But what it they're wrong?

Lisa Van Syckel could tell you.

Her daughter Michelle had started life as a normal child. She had
encountered some adjustment problems as her family moved frequently
due to her father's job, but they were always transitory.

Then, in 2000, her father was transferred to New Jersey.

Soon after the move, Michelle began to have problems. She complained
about a number of physical symptoms including dizziness, chest pain
and shortness of breath. Although previously a good student, her
schoolwork began to decline and she began to lose weight. Her doctors
decided she was anorexic and admitted her to an eating disorder unit
at the Somerset Medical Center in Sommerville, New Jersey.

While a patient there, the doctors put her on the antidepressant
Zoloft. Shortly after being put on the drug Michelle developed a slow
heartbeat and erratic blood pressure readings.

So what did the doctor do?

He increased the dose.

After two weeks, Michelle was released, with a diagnosis of
"personality disorder, unspecified."

Three weeks after going home, Michelle was back in the hospital's
eating disorder unit again. The doctors decided they knew what the
problem was: the wrong medication, so they switched her from Zoloft to

Although Lisa didn't realize it, this was the beginning of the
nightmare she thought might never end.

Over the next several months, Michelle's mental health continued to
deteriorate. Then, one day, when Michelle was particularly agitated,
her mother searched her room. She was shocked to discover that Lisa
had hidden knives in her dresser. She was cutting and scratching herself.

Lisa hid all of the knives and other sharp implements and began
sleeping outside her daughter's room at night.

In despair, Lisa and her husband told her doctor about the problem.
His answer: increase the dosage of her Paxil.

Meanwhile, Michelle's self-mutilation got progressively worse.

On September 28, 2000 she slashed herself 25 times and carved the word
DIE into her belly. She was admitted to the hospital.

Eight days later, on October 6, Michelle tried to commit suicide.

Lisa had gone out to run an errand when Michelle's 12 year-old brother
heard his sister scream. Running to see what had happened he
discovered her trying to take a handful of pills. After wrestling the
pills away, he called 911, but Michelle banged his head into a wall
and ran out of the house.

When Lisa got home moments later, there were four police cars in the
driveway and her husband was giving the police gathered there a
description of his daughter.

Panicked, Lisa was terrified that if the police were able to locate
Michelle it would be too late.

Then the phone rang. Michelle had called one of her friends from a
nearby restaurant. They rushed there. Lisa was curled up next to a
phone booth. But as her parents and the police approached, she jumped
up running across some nearby railroad tracks.

When the police finally caught her, it took three of them to get her
under control. When they were able to catch her, she was like a tiger,
biting, spitting and even breaking out of her handcuffs twice.
Shrieking obscenities and attempting to kick out the squad car's
windows, she was transported to the local hospital.

In the emergency room, her violent struggles continued as the doctors
and nurses attempted to place her in restraints. Eventually they were
able to do so and then sedated her and sent her home.

Two days later she was admitted to the adolescent psychiatric ward of
University Behavioral HealthCare in Piscataway, New Jersey, an
affiliate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

One of the first things the doctors did was to abruptly take her off
Paxil - even though the package label warns that this could be dangerous.

Still, the doctors could not agree on a single diagnosis. Over her
ordeal, she had been diagnosed as suffering from anorexia, severe
depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and borderline personality
features. This last diagnosis was a serious mental illness that causes
suicidal gestures and self-injury among other symptoms. Michelle had
also been treated with a host of drugs including Celexa, a powerful
SSRI, Risperdal, a drug normally given to schizophrenics, Depakote, a
drug used to treat epilepsy that is sometimes given to people with
bipolar disorder, and, of course, Zoloft and Paxil.

Despite their inability to come up with a consistent diagnosis, there
was one thing the doctors did agree on: that Michelle's parents were
to blame!

They accused Lisa of being overbearing and suggested that her father
was abusing her!

This, despite the fact that there wasn't a hint of evidence to suggest
such a serious charge was true!

Lisa and her husband were furious, but they were also desperate to
find a way to help their daughter. Then, a casual conversation with an
old friend gave them a ray of hope. Their friend was extremely ill due
to a recurrence of Lyme disease. When he initially got infected, he
suffered from the sorts of symptoms most people know about: rash,
fever and aching muscles. But after being treated with antibiotics, he
thought he was cured. But some time later it came back, this time
causing severe fatigue, depression and a loss of appetite.

His description struck Michelle's parents like a thunderbolt. She had
contracted Lyme disease in 1993, treated with antibiotics and
pronounced cured. Could her problems be caused by a recurrence of the
disease? Lisa and her husband had mentioned Michelle's bout of Lyme
disease to all of her doctors, but none had given it much notice. When
they raised the issue again following their friend's revelations, the
notion was dismissed out of hand. Their daughter was deeply disturbed
the mental health mavens insisted.

By this time, however, Lisa had lost faith in the doctors and began to
do research on her own. She eventually found a specialist, Dr. Andrea
Gaito, who had actually published work on the subject of psychiatric
and neurological symptoms caused by Lyme disease. Fortunately, Dr.
Gaito lived in New Jersey, so they took Michelle to see her.

After a series of blood tests, the diagnosis was confirmed: Michelle
not only had Lyme disease, but also had another tick-related
infection, Bartonella, that could cause brain infection and impaired

Their daughter wasn't crazy, she was sick!

According to Dr. Gaito, Michelle's situation was not all that
uncommon. She explained to Lisa and her husband that she often saw
teenaged patients with apparent psychiatric conditions ranging from
panic attacks to severe depression that had Lyme disease but had
initially been misdiagnosed.

Dr. Gaito took Michelle off all of the psychiatric drugs she was
taking and began a course of intravenous antibiotics. Over time, her
condition improved.

Eventually, Michelle recovered, but she will always carry with her the
scars on her arms and abdomen that are a reminder of how a
misdiagnosis very nearly killed her. For her mother, the experience
was transforming: it gave her a cause, protecting our children from a
medical community too quick to give them dangerous, mind-altering
drugs. In a letter to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor
and Pensions, she gave examples that illustrate just how pervasive the
problem is:


Cory Baadsgard from Washington State was the starting center on
his school basketball team. He served 14 months in a juvenile
detention facility after holding 23 classmates and a teacher hostage
at gunpoint. It was later determined that his actions were caused by
withdrawal symptoms from Paxil and high-dose Effexor.

In 1997, A 15 year-old New Jersey teen, Nick Mansie raped and
killed his 11 year-old neighbor when she came to his door to sell
cookies. Mansie was on Paxil.

Another 15 year-old, Elizabeth Bush of Warrensport, Pennsylvania
shot a classmate while on Paxil.

A third 15 year-old, Camaren Carr of Denton, Texas slit her 6
year-old brother's throat and buried him in the back yard while on Paxil.

13 year-old Kansas teen Matt Miller hanged himself while on Zoloft.

15 year-old Florida teen Daniel Carter stabbed his uncle ten
times while on Zoloft. His uncle later died from the wounds.

Elizabeth Shinn a teenager on Celexa mutilated herself and then
set herself on fire and later died.

13 year-old Elizabeth Rengel mutilated herself and then went to
her school and committed suicide by shooting herself with a 9 MM
handgun in front of her classmates.

It should be noted that Celexa lists apathy, aggravated
depression and suicide as "frequent" side effects.

What is perhaps most outrageous about all of the examples listed above
is that NONE of the drugs these children were taking were approved for
pediatric use!

Doctors know, or should know that the developing brain is different
from the mature organ. They should also know that there have been NO
clinical studies to determine how the effects of these powerful
psychotropic medications on children might differ from the affects on
adults. Yet despite the dangers, they give them to our children
without consideration of what damage they might be causing.

Of course, as a parent you can always refuse to allow the doctor to
give your child these powerful mind-altering drugs - or at least
that's what you might believe.

But you couldn't be more wrong!

Not only can you be told that your child has to take these dangerous
drugs, but if you refuse, your can have your child taken away and even
be sent to jail!

If you find this hard to believe, read next month's installment "Brave
New World?" Part Two.
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