The Drugging of Children in Foster Care

It’s no secret that here in America, foster children are being prescribed psychiatric drugs, especially neuroleptics, as a means of controlling their behavior.  A great deal has been said and written on the matter.  Politicians have declared the practice deplorable.  Children’s advocacy groups have expressed concern, and, of course, those of us in the antipsychiatry movement have screamed till we’re hoarse.  But the problem persists. 

For the past six months or so, the San Jose Mercury News, a California newspaper, has been running frequent articles on this topic, calling for oversight and corrective action.

On February 24, 2015, Karen de Sá, a reporter with that newspaper, published an article titled Senate panel examines why California foster care system ‘addicted’ to psychiatric drugs.  It’s an excellent article, which highlights various aspects of the problem, and provides updated information on this matter.

Here are some quotes:

“California’s foster care system ‘has grown more addicted to mind-altering medication,’ the chair of a powerful Senate committee told a packed public hearing in the state Capitol on Tuesday, adding that ‘here in California, we’ve done little to act on this alarming issue.'”

“Lightbourne said two state-sponsored panels have spent years working to develop guidelines that would protect foster children from the excessive use of psych medications and to house fewer kids at residential group homes, where drugs are most frequently prescribed. Foster children deserve ‘nonmedical treatments whenever possible,’ Lightbourne said.”

“‘We need to shift our thinking away from the primacy of psychiatric medications toward relationships,’ testified George Stewart, a Berkeley child psychiatrist who has spent much of his career tapering severely traumatized children safely off high-risk drug cocktails. ‘We are going to look back on this era of great enthusiasm for psychiatric medications and either scratch our heads or beat our heads. We will look back in 20 years and say, ‘What were we doing?'”

“Senators also said they were alarmed by the newspaper’s analysis that showed how pharmaceutical companies lavish the state’s foster care prescribers with millions of dollars for meals, gifts, travel, speaking engagements and research grants — a practice Lightbourne called ‘deeply troubling.’ The newspaper found the doctors who prescribed the most, typically were rewarded the most.”

All of which tells a familiar story.  Pharma-psychiatry systematically targets foster children as potential customers.  They do this because the residents of foster homes, group and individual, are a “captive audience,” in the sense that the foster parent or staff member will ensure that the resident takes the pills.  In this way, non-compliance – the great drain on pharma revenue – becomes a non-issue.

Karen de Sá’s article is cogent, articulate, and powerful, and undoubtedly she and her colleagues are raising awareness on this matter.  But there was one paragraph in her article that I felt warranted some additional discussion.

“Tuesday’s four-hour hearing before the Human Services Committee highlighted a package of bills being introduced this month, following this newspaper’s investigation ‘Drugging Our Kids,’ which revealed nearly one in four foster care teens take psychiatric drugs — often to control behavior, not to treat mental illnesses. Most are prescribed antipsychotics, a powerful class of psychiatric drugs with the most harmful side effects.”

Note the phrase  “…often to control behavior, not to treat mental illnesses”.  What the author is missing here is that, within psychiatry’s spurious domain, misbehavior is a mental illness.  In fact, it is several mental illnesses.  If a child is frequently defiant, he has a mental illness called oppositional defiant disorder.  If he is given to outbursts of anger, he has a mental illness called intermittent explosive disorder.  If he is given to violating rules or infringing on the rights of others, he has a mental illness called conduct disorder.  If he is given to setting fires, he has a mental illness called pyromania.  If he is persistently angry and given to very frequent temper tantrums, he has a mental illness called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.  And, of course, if he is disruptive and inattentive in the classroom, he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  If the child’s misbehavior can’t be shoe-horned neatly into any of these categories, psychiatry has two residual categories:

  • other specified disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorder; and
  • unspecified disruptive impulse-control and conduct disorder.

Contrary to popular opinion, no neurological pathology is required to establish these “diagnoses.”

So, by neatly re-labeling every conceivable kind of misbehavior as a mental illness, psychiatry has established turf in this field, and has legitimized the use of drugs to “treat” this misbehavior.

This is the crux of the entire debate.  There is literally no significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving that is not listed, either directly, or by implication, in the DSM.  So, Karen de Sá is incorrect.  In the looking-glass world of psychiatry, practitioners are not prescribing major tranquilizers to control children’s behavior.  Rather, they are “treating mental illnesses”, with medications that have been proven by highly questionable pharma research to be “effective and safe”.  We have actually reached the position in our society where a physician who does not follow these practices could be held liable for failure to treat.

And this is the problem.  Every attempt to eliminate, or even reduce, this widespread and persistent practice, is doomed to failure as long as psychiatry’s spurious diagnoses are accepted as bona fide illnesses.  Because if childhood misbehavior is an illness, then psychiatrists and other physicians are not using drugs to control behavior, rather they are “treating”, compassionately and effectively, these “disabling illnesses”. 

Psychiatry, over the past five decades, has systematically and deceptively pursued a self-serving policy of medicalizing virtually every significant problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving.  Their pharma allies have provided the money, and psychiatry has provided the credentials, in what is arguably the most widespread and destructive swindle in human history.  And they have been enormously successful.  Their spurious notions are widely accepted today as reality.

No significant progress will be possible in these areas until the swindle is finally and utterly exposed, and sanity is restored to our conceptualizations of human activity.  Until then, despite the protests of politicians, advocates, journalists, and others, the pharma-psychiatry maw will remain wide open, and the ranks of “the mentally ill” who need “treatment” will continue to grow.

 

  • all to easy

    Describing the terms psychiatrists use to diagnosis a person with an illness without filling in all the pertinent data is almost criminal, when one knows better, as you profess to know. Omitting, repeatedly, diagnostic criteria for disorders is a type of fraud. The very thing the haters hate about doctors, is their speciality.

    Doctors do not prescribe drugs for every thought, feeling and behavior common to mankind. Perhaps the key to understanding why haters have accomplished practically nothing, is that they simply can’t sustain legitimate arguments, especially when they are challenged by people who see through their misleading propaganda.

  • all too easy

    Dear Phil,
    Provide all the relevant statistics showing how therapy without drugs has brought healing to the mentally ill. Include each seriously ill patient you, Breggin, Baughman and Stewart assisted with empirical data to support your claims.
    Thanks anyway!

  • Trollbuster

    Dear all too easy troll, Provide all the relevant proof that an “illness” of the “mind” exists outside your mindless belief in the existence of such “illnesses”. We all know you’ll get tired of coming here with your ridiculous empty-headed provocations eventually. Phil has helped many people, they were not “ill” and they were not “patients”. Run along now troll.

  • all to easy

    Phil’s penchant for rearranging what someone meant to say is a form of mental dyslexia. I am no longer convinced Phil is faking what appears to be a willful decision to twist truth and facts. It may be he suffers from an as yet uncharacterised DSM condition which I would call Inadvertent Unintentional Intellectual Inability to Think or Properly Process Information Based Upon Extreme Mental Malfunction of Various Kinds or NUTS for short.

  • Trollbuster

    One of the most pathetic, poorly formed comments I’ve ever seen on here. The sooner you disappear, troll, the better. You’ll tire of attempting to wind up the good people here, and slink back to the places you’d be happier. You just show you have no life by insisting on remaining here, with people you don’t share any common beliefs with, leaving your internet graffiti on a site owned by somebody else, go and start your own popular site with a decent readership if you think you’ve got anything to say, I certainly don’t think you’ve got anything to say worth listening to. Go away, you’ll get nothing but the occasional hostile comment telling you to go away, but mostly you’ll be ignored.

  • all too easy

    Really? I think it’s pretty cute.

    IUIITPPIBUEMMVK is bound to become the latest DSM fad diagnosis. We have overwhelming proof that it exists and it blocks rational thinking: look at Hickey, his pals and you. With the devastating arguments you guys keep making, Big Pharma and the Mob of psychiatrists in their pockets, money, gobs and tons of money will have to be poured in to “research” to demonstrate you have no credibility, don’t you think? Otherwise, you geniuses might put them out of business dealing their drugs. The cartels will be thrilled.

    Besides, I have 19 children and each has responded to ADHD treatment even though there is no such thing. How do you like that?

    NUTS

  • all too easy

    Thanks. That’s what I said. Ain’t got nothin. Can anyone imagine these guys counselling an ADHDer? Now Johnnie, this is the 55,649 time I have told you to sit down! If I have to tell you 25 998 more times, I will send you to someone who knows what he’s doing. O yes I will. Don’t push me 25,998 more times or else!

  • all too easy

    “And, of course, if he is disruptive and inattentive in the classroom, he has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Phil
    Phil, can you do me a favor, bro? Can you show me where your definition of ADHD can be found? I know you can’t. I know. You know it and I know it, but folks who really could use some medical help may not know it and your glib definition may be enough to persuade them not to visit an M.D. If they turn away from such help, they may experience excruciating pain for the rest of their lives. Don’t you get that? Don’t you realize that, on any level of your consciousness?

  • all too easy

    “No significant progress will be possible in these areas until the swindle is finally and utterly exposed, and sanity is restored to our conceptualizations of human activity. Until then, despite the protests of politicians, advocates, journalists, and others, the pharma-psychiatry maw will remain wide open, and the ranks of “the mentally ill” who need “treatment” will continue to grow.”
    If you boys had one intelligent argument to refute the great work psychiatrists are doing and how they and manufacturers of legal medications are saving lives, you could quit your crying. You see, (you fail to see) not everyone falls for preposterous, convoluted, twisted, off-topic attempts to deny reality and scientific facts and common sense.
    Anecdotal testimony on the internet doesn’t cut it, either. Some one claimed his two kids had ADHD and they grew up just fine without meds. Isn’t that great? Kids with ADHD need meds.

  • cledwyn hater

    Excellent article. Keep up the good work.

    “We have actually reached the position in our society where a physician who does not follow these practices can be held liable for failure to treat.”

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. Human certainty, and the sufficiency of the grounds which men have to be certain, are like two scales in a balance; as one goes up, the other goes down, as a general rule anyway.

    Man’s intellectual arrogance, and the assumption of his own infallibility, knows no bounds. You can see this especially with these modern equivalents of Inquisitorial tribunals which heretical practitioners are arraigned before for failure to abide by the true faith.

    This assumption of infallibility whereof I write is perhaps to be found in its fullest concentration amongst the mental health movement. True, in theory they often accept their own fallibility, but in practice, they always seem to start from a position of assumed infallibility.

    This, of course, manifests itself in the pervasive call for the suppression of heretical viewpoints.

    The advice of J.S. Mill in “On Liberty”, that veritable cornucopia of locus classici illustrating the epistemological, social, cultural, and pragmatic

    grounds for liberty of thought, speech and expression, has seemingly gone unheeded by these people, a recent example of which has been afforded by some of the comments of that nonpareil heretic-hunter, Jeffrey Lieberman, and is also regularly encountered, to offer another example, by believers in the diagnosis of ADHD, although it must be stated that often the intolerance of which I write here is only the outward form of what is inwardly insecurity in one’s own beliefs, insecurity so upsetting in its emotional effects that there is an understandable desire to suppress that which occasions it.

    A mind held captive by the conviction of its own infallibility is common amongst philosophically naive people. Such people are of a kind commonly found amongst the mental health faithful. Most of these people are not very philosophical, nor do they partake of the intellectual humility that increases pari passu with the accumulation of philosophical wisdom, due to the greater awareness the latter brings of our limitations and the importance of scepticism regarding ourselves and the world we inhabit, whose spirit cannot be said to be in attendance amongst psychiatric heretic hunters demanding the removal of views that deviate from the true faith, nor when they fulminate their anathemas from whatever pulpit they can find.

    This philosophical naivety might explain their naive realism, that is, their belief that they see reality as it is, unmediated by their mental apparatus and sensory apparatus, as is implied in certain of the shibboleths of their movement, such as the view that some people are detached from reality, the implication being that they are attached, an assertion whose stupidity would be readily apparent to them if they stirred those dormant organs they keep between their ears from their seemingly sempiternal slumber.

  • cledwyn hater

    Don’t know what happened in the 7th paragraph. Certainly wasn’t like that when I posted.

  • all too easy

    Dear Phil,
    Provide all the relevant statistics showing how therapy without drugs has brought healing to the mentally ill. Include each seriously ill patient you, Breggin, Baughman and Stewart assisted with empirical data to support your claims.
    Thanks anyway!

  • all too easy

    Can’t do it I see. Yet, you make such wonderful statements of fact! Discipline is all they need. Good old-fashioned discipline. I suppose the big guy advocates spanking the kid who keeps on misbehaving. How about a belt? A bat?

    What forms of discipline did you have in mind, doctor? And when he performs no better, what then, a whip, starvation, lock him in his room? Then what, doc, if he still can’t pay attention and he still speaks when he shouldn’t and can’t sit still. Huh? Put him in jail? Or have your pals Breggin and Baughman lecture him? I’d rather go to prison.

  • zoe

    This is something that upsets me. Children in care are abused on so many levels, and governments do nothing to protect them.

    I am aware that sexual abuse is common, and this is very hard-to-stomach, but I did not know that children in care are also being drugged. I expect drugs are not only to ‘control’ children, but also to take advantage of them (there was recently a story published in the UK of a small child who had been drugged and then raped, whilst in care).

    I feel deeply saddened after reading this. I don’t believe governments are designed to protect children at all, but rather to satisfy their own pockets, and desires.

    When I was young I used to believe that people in positions of power were great people. That they were wise and of good integrity. Now I don’t believe this at all.

    When I became a parent, my outlook on the world changed entirely. Some weeks ago I spotted a boy shuffling along in the rain, he was soaked and wasn’t wearing a coat. There was a bus stop nearby, so I gave him some bus-fare to catch a bus. And last week I spotted a young man sitting under a blanket in a busy town centre. He looked young, but his eyes were tired and red. Maybe he took drugs, maybe he’d just had a hard life. I always wonder if homeless people are there because they’ve fled from care-homes, and I wouldn’t blame them! Again, my maternal instinct took hold of me. I was carring a McDonalds, so I gave it to him. He was such a polite young man. When you see someone look grateful, for something that you take for granted every day, it puts life into perspective.

    When I look at the world today, I see it differently. I wish there was something I could do to help protect children. I wish enough people cared enough to campaign, to change the world in that we live.

    Sadly, whilst ever there are drugs, and ‘disorders’, children will always be taken advantage of.

    Thank you for raising awareness for this.

  • Anonymous

    That is a very nice comment.

  • all too easy

    Are you taking care of them when government doesn’t? Do you make them drink poisonous liquids? Like water? How about eating fatfilled meat from innocent animals murdered in coldblood aka burgers? Or salt, sugary ketchup, soda with additives like antifreeze, carcinogenic hot dogs filled with floor scraps or cholesterol rich eggs? Do you force them to breathe unfiltered, nonpurified, deadly, gaseous, smogfilled, contaminated, cancer causing air? Hmmm? Would you let an imbiber like Dr Phil convince your kids that drinking ethyl alcohol, a known neuron killing toxin that is the cause of the most deadly social and health pandemic in history-responsible for the tragic often brutal deaths of millions-would you let him serve as an example to those children about healthy living?

  • zoe

    Actually my McDonalds was of the vegetarian variety. But having said that, it’s true McDonalds are filled with a lot of unhealthy ingredients. However, I hadn’t eaten all day so it was convenient. That’s interesting that soda contains antifreeze, I wasn’t aware of that. I’m not entirely sure what you mean when you talk about breathing “nonpurified, deadly, gaseous, smogfilled, contaminated, cancer causing air? Or ‘making children drink poisonous liquids’? You lost me with that I’m afraid.
    My point was that I think the government fails children on many levels.

  • Zoe

    Thank you.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Zoe,

    And thank you for your support and encouraging words.

  • all too easy

    My point was, what are you doing to help those kids the government is harming? Paying taxes that pays for their placement in care, somewhere? Not caring for them personally, correct? But, if you were, anyone could condemn you for abusing them depending on what you feed them, allow them to drink, and which role models you bring into their lives. Do you know what’s in the air you breathe and the water you drink? Do you know which pesticides are sprayed on the veggies in your burger?

    Did you know Phil consumes ethyl alcohol, an addictive poison known to destroy neurons (that is why one feels its effects, from oxygen starved brain cells). Hypocrisy.

  • all too easy

    Can’t show where your fraudulent definition of ADHD is used formally, anywhere? Didn’t think so, bro. Perhaps, then, you may want to consider stopping willfully misrepresenting ADHD. If you had a valid argument proving ADHD doesn’t exist, you wouldn’t resort to lying.

  • all too easy

    ethyl alcohol, also called ethanol, grain alcohol, or alcohol, a member of a class of organic compounds that are given the general name alcohols; its molecular formula is C2H5OH. Ethyl alcohol is an important industrial chemical; it is used as a solvent, in the synthesis of other organic chemicals, and as an additive to automotive gasoline (forming a mixture known as a gasohol).
    Our hero, Big Ole Dr. Phil, consumes gasoline additive and a solvent. How many other antis partake in the consumption of these lethal poisons, voluntarily?

  • all too easy

    I would recommend going easy on your abuse of aspirin antis, seeing as you are encouraging tens of thousands of people to end their lives by not speaking out against that poisonous killer. If you spent one one hundredth of your time and resources combating that death inducing drug, you may have saved lives.

  • stmccrea

    Actually, I raised two moderately to severely ADHD kids without drugs using only psychosocial interventions, and have worked with others professionally, and became quite an expert in how to do so. Kids labeled with “ADHD” are essentially looking for stimulation, and are willing to put up with a lot of anger or frustration or even punishment from the authorities if the experience is entertaining enough. While you can provide artificial stimulation through drugs, the long-term effects are not known and really can’t be good, plus I read many long-term studies and reviews of the literature, and all pretty much agreed that stimulants don’t lead to better outcomes in the long run anyway. So we did our best to make it fun and stimulating to do what they were supposed to do, and dull and boring to do otherwise. It took years of experimentation, trial and error to come up with the best approaches, but both boys are now successful adults who got good grades in high school and have great work ethics. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

    One point of importance, however – we avoided standard school classrooms like the plague, at least through elementary school. Most elementary classrooms are so dull, it is torture for a smart and active kid to have to sit through. So we used homeschooling and even helped create a charter school where kids got to pursue their own goals and select classes and do projects and work with kids older or younger than them if they were learning the same things, and I think that choice was essential to our success. Those kids would have been a disaster in a standard classroom, because they would never have sit still for the dull and repetitive and uncreative curriculum they’d have been forced to endure. I felt the same way, but was able to suppress my hatred of the situation. They would not have done so.

    Anyway, my point is that there is nothing “wrong” with our “ADHD” kids except that they needed a different approach in parenting. Having gotten that environment, they are now thriving and successful adults. So were they “mentally ill?” I don’t think so.

  • stmccrea

    Don’t you have anything better to do with your time than trolling?

  • Phil_Hickey

    stmccrea,

    Thanks for this comment.

    “It took years of experimentation, trial and error to come up with the best approaches”

    It is so important that this message be heard. I hope you will consider starting a website or some other channel to disseminate these ideas.

    Best wishes.

  • stmccrea

    I’ve already done one public presentation regarding our experiences, and have another one planned for November. Thanks for your support!

  • Athena Koop

    stmccrea,

    Are you aware of the speaking tour about reclaiming childhood that Michael Corrigan and Michael Gilbert are putting together? Here’s a link describing the speakers and what has been booked so far.

    http://www.iacaf.org/mental-health/project-for-the-kids/

    Dr. Corrigan is considering a west coast tour as well. On his roster of speakers are experts like Marilyn Wedge and Gretchen Watson AND also PARENTS. You would be a perfect fit as one of the speakers. Would you consider contacting him? You have an important message that really needs to be shared as widely as possible.

  • stmccrea

    I have posted back and forth with Michael on the Mad in America website. I’d LOVE to contribute to such a tour. Do you know how to get hold of him?

  • Athena Koop

    Yes, I just sent you his contact information a message on Facebook. Check your “other” folder.

    (I also sent you a friend request.)

  • Athena Koop

    *via* a message

  • Athena Koop

    Prof. Corrigan just gave me permission to share his mobile phone number with you, so I sent that along to you too in a Facebook message.