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7 Reasons America's Mental Health Industry Is a Threat to Our Sanity

Drug industry corruption, scientifically unreliable diagnoses and pseudoscientific research have compromised the values of the psychiatric profession.
 
 
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Why do some of us become dissident mental health professionals?

The majority of psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals “go along to get along” and maintain a status quo that includes drug company corruption, pseudoscientific research and a “standard of care” that is routinely damaging and occasionally kills young children. If that sounds hyperbolic, then you probably have not heard of Rebecca Riley, and how the highest levels of psychiatry described her treatment as “appropriate and within responsible professional standards.”

When Rebecca Riley was 28 months old, based primarily on the complaints of her mother that she was “hyper” and had difficulty sleeping, psychiatrist Kayoko Kifuji, at the Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, diagnosed Rebecca with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Kifuji prescribed clonidine, a hypertensive drug with significant sedating properties, a drug Kifuji also prescribed to Rebecca’s older sister and brother. The goal of the Riley parents—obvious to many in their community and later to juries—was to attain psychiatric diagnoses for their children that would qualify them for disability payments and to sedate their children making them easy to manage.

By the time Rebecca was three years old, again based mainly on parental complaints, Kifuji had given Rebecca an additional diagnosis of bipolar disorder and prescribed two additional heavily sedating drugs, the antipsychotic Seroquel and the anticonvulsant Depakote.

At the age of four, Rebecca was dead.

At the time of her death, Rebecca had a life-threatening amount of clonidine—enough to kill her—in her body, according to the former director of the Massachusetts toxicology lab and the medical director of a regional poison control center. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy concluded that Rebecca died from intoxication of clonidine, Depakote and two over-the-counter cold and cough medicines that led to heart failure, lungs filled with bloody fluid, coma, and then death. Rebecca’s abusive parents went to prison for the over-drugging that led to their daughter’s death.

Kifuji’s fate? The psychiatric establishment rallied around Kifuji, enabling her to return to Tufts Medical Center practicing child psychiatry without any restrictions, penalties or supervision. After Rebecca’s death, Tufts-New England Medical Center defended Kifuji. A Tufts spokesperson told “60 Minutes” in 2009, “The care we provided was appropriate and within responsible professional standards.”

Apparently, psychiatric care that is considered appropriate and within responsible professional standards includes diagnoses of ADHD for a two-year-old and bipolar disorder for a three-year-old when the symptoms of those disorders are normal behaviors for those ages; prescribing three heavily sedating drugs that have not been approved by the FDA for child psychiatric treatment; ignoring the warnings from a school nurse about over-dosages for Rebecca; and making diagnoses based almost entirely on the reports of Rebecca’s mother, who herself was diagnosed with mental illness and heavily medicated to the point of falling asleep in Kifuji’s office.

Long before the Rebecca Riley tragedy hit the headlines, I was embarrassed by the mental health profession for seven major reasons:

1. Corruption by Big Pharma

How did it become within responsible professional standards for a two-year-old to get an ADHD diagnosis, for a three-year-old to get a bipolar diagnosis, and for toddlers to be prescribed multiple heavily sedating drugs? The short answer is drug company corruption of the mental health profession.

Congressional hearings in 2008 revealed that psychiatry’s “thought leaders” and major institutions are on the take from drug companies.

On June 8, 2008, the New York Times reported about psychiatrist Joseph Biederman: “A world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007.”

 
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