April 16, 2013

Look out when the Left and Right both empower psychiatry

By Peter R. Breggin, MD
April 16, 2013

As I predicted in my blogs on and on my website, the left and the right have indeed found common ground in wanting to increase the power of psychiatry and the mental health establishment with the goal of preventing gun massacres. But as I’ve also warned in my reports, psychiatrists have no special ability to identify potentially violent offenders. Even more striking, they have no drugs that prevent violence, but they prescribe many drugs that can cause violence, including antidepressants, benzodiazepines, stimulants, and antipsychotic drugs.

Here is what the New York Times has to say about this coming together of both sides of the aisle to support mental health legislation:

“While the Senate has been consumed with a divisive debate over expanded background checks for gun buyers, lawmakers have been quietly working across party lines on legislation that advocates say could help prevent killers like Adam Lanza, the gunman in the Newtown, Conn., massacre, from slipping through the cracks. …

The emerging legislation would, among other things, finance the construction of more community mental health centers, provide grants to train teachers to spot early signs of mental illness and make more Medicaid dollars available for mental health care. …

President Obama has also joined the effort. His budget includes $130 million for programs that would help detect mental illness in young children, train educators to spot those signs and refer the students to treatment.”

Let’s look at these suggestions one-by-one:

About constructing more community mental health centers, I know firsthand about this. When I was a full-time consultant with NIMH in 1966-8, I helped local communities learn how to build and staff community mental health centers. Despite the highest hopes for delivering multiple services including psychotherapy and family support, these centers have morphed into drug-dispensing infirmaries.

About grants to train teachers to spot early signs of mental illness, this is a major contributing factor to the enormous rise in diagnosing children with ADHD, leading some states, including Connecticut, to pass legislation forbidding teachers from playing psychiatrist. Our schools are already acting like promoters for the drug industry. We already have too many children on psychiatric drugs, including 1/5 of high school boys diagnosed with ADHD.

About increasing Medicaid dollars for mental health, I have never crossed paths with a Medicaid psychiatrist who did not reflexively drug patients to the maximum and beyond. They aren’t paid enough, and few have the skills or inclination, to take the time to talk with their patients. Medicaid doctors offer no hope for preventing violence, but their high rate of drugging will contribute to violence.

Finally, about President Obama proposing millions of dollars for programs to detect mental illness in children and to train educators to recognize the warnings signs or symptoms, we have already been down that road with Teen Screen, another effort to identify potentially mentally ill children. After intensive criticism, Teen Screen was recently abandoned.

These bipartisan policies are a disastrous revival of the most menacing aspect of psychiatry in combination with education – turning our schools into triage centers for psychiatric diagnosis and drugging.

As I pointed out in earlier reports, the vast majority of shooters were in fact immersed in psychiatry before their outbursts of violence with no good result. Further empowerment of psychiatry and establishment mental health will lead to hundreds of thousands of people being falsely identified as violence prone, creating untold personal misery for innocent victims and their families, and threatening civil liberties on a wider scale than ever. Probably we would never even know if the revving up of psychiatric interventions managed to prevent any violent outbreaks, but we can be sure that it would increase fear and conformity among children and youth, and stop people with violent tendencies from discussing them with healthcare providers.

Psychiatric treatment, especially when it is forced, tends to humiliate people, making them angry and potentially more aggressive. Psychiatric drugs can drive people to violence. Empowering the mental health establishment will lead to more violence, while it crushes the rights of even greater numbers of citizens. As Mike Bundrant recently wrote on these pages, psychiatry is already too eager to force itself upon innocent citizens. To repeat myself from an earlier report, psychiatry has no answers to gun massacres.

Listen, both left and right, you can’t shirk your responsibilities by handing them off to school teachers acting as psychiatrists and to an already oppressive mental health establishment. Politicians would be better off doing nothing than making things worse by empowering oppressive psychiatric measures. But politicians could address what really needs to be done. In addition to exposure to psychiatric treatment, bullying is the single most common factor in causing rage in almost every school shooter. Without making excuses for anyone’s violent acts, we need to protect children and youth from the dual abuses of psychiatric drugs and school bullying. Those would be reasonable steps in the direction of reducing school shootings.

Originally published in Natural News.