Sunday, November 11, 2007
Rick Malter, Ph.D.
Retired Clinical Psychologist
Retired School Psychologist
Cottonwood, AZ 86326
In the spring of 2007, I was stunned and outraged to read a news story on msnbc.com about the tragic death of Rebecca Riley, age 4. At age 2 ½, Rebecca had been “diagnosed” with “bipolar disorder” by a psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center in Massachusetts. As Rebecca got progressively worse on a bizarre combination of psychotropic drugs, she died at age 4 of a drug overdose. Rebecca’s tragic case prompted me to look more in depth at what I view as an ominous trend in child psychiatry
There are important new developments in child psychiatry and drug marketing that do not bode well for the mental and physical health of children, including pre-schoolers like Rebecca. Child psychiatry and the drug companies have a huge new market for powerful toxic drugs to put into young innocent children. Their parents are convinced by mental health professionals that child bipolar disorder is a new advance in "diagnosis" and treatment. Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital are leading players in what I view as another fraud perpetrated as “legitimate” mental health diagnosis and treatment of young children. There are increasing numbers of internet references providing information about child bipolar disorder.
The rationale given for "diagnosing" bipolar disorder in young children is really bizarre. I think the rationale reflects a new psychological syndrome that I call "Psychiatric Thinking Disorder" (PTD). It involves grasping at straws, bundling them all together, giving a "diagnosis" of child bipolar disorder and writing prescriptions for powerful psychotropic drugs to be given to young children. I believe that this is a delusional disorder found in adults who usually have MD degrees and a prescription pad for writing OFF LABEL prescriptions of very toxic and dangerous drugs for young children. A key part of the Psychiatric Thinking Disorder involves the belief that one is "diagnosing" a real mental disorder in children who require strong drugs to control their behavior. There is an inability in these MDs to distinguish normal developmental behavior from a real developmental delay or disorder. Also, extending adult criteria for "diagnosing" bipolar disorder to young children is an application of the "homunculus theory of development" that was popular in the Middle Ages. This approach to "diagnosing" child bipolar disorder is devoid of any sense that young children are developmentally very different from adults.
When a disastrous outcome occurs after a child has been taking these toxic medications, then the ploy is to quickly blame the parents for overdosing their child. Psychiatrists deny professional responsibility for the tragic outcome. They claim that the diagnosis and prescriptions are the advanced "Standard of Care" for child psychiatric practice. Then, they bring in their professional "expert" colleagues to support the "diagnosis" and toxic prescriptions. They convince other professionals -- social workers, teachers, school principals, psychologists, etc. -- that the "diagnosis" and drug treatment represent cutting edge advances in psychiatric practice. These other professionals are expected to defer to the MD's so-called greater expertise and not to question the diagnosis and prescriptions. Also, psychiatrists claim that, in the absence of adequate research with children, the psychiatrist has relied on the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for diagnosing ADULT bipolar disorder and applied these criteria to young children's behavior even though there is no scientific research to support this practice.
In my view, over the past 30 years, the development of the psychiatric diagnostic manuals -- first, the DSM-III and then the DSM-IV -- has resulted in a "dumbing down" of mental health diagnosis from a highly sophisticated diagnostic system that was developed right after World War II, primarily by clinical psychologists. This "dumbing down" diagnostic process has produced the "Psychiatric Thinking Disorder" that leads to prescribing extremely dangerous and toxic drugs to be given to young children. There is also a strong grandiosity associated with this thinking disorder. As for child bipolar disorder and the "Psychiatric Thinking Disorder," it's sometimes hard to tell which psychiatrists and Medical Schools, Universities, and Hospitals are just blatantly corrupt and evil, and which ones are just grandiose, believing that they are doing valid diagnoses of children's “psychiatric” problems.
Since I began my psychology career in the late 1960's, I have observed the "medicalization" of Learning Disabilities into ADHD. (Neurologist Dr. Fred Baughman calls the diagnosis of ADHD a fraud—a bogus disease.) More recently, when stimulant drugs like Ritalin sent some of these "ADHD" kids into manic or anger explosions, psychiatrists came up with the bizarre idea that the ADHD diagnosis really should have been "bipolar disorder." It never seems to occur to these prescribing MDs that perhaps the stimulant drug that they prescribed for the child resulted in the manic or aggressive behavior. The resulting drug induced manic or aggressive behavior is then used as a rationale to “diagnose” bipolar disorder in the child. This is another example of what I refer to as the Psychiatric Thinking Disorder.
When psychiatrists discuss whether the pre-school child's "correct" diagnosis is ADHD or bipolar disorder, it reminds me of medieval clerics debating how many angels can stand on the head of a pin! It is psychological nonsense that can have disastrous outcomes when powerful toxic psychotropic drugs are given to a young child based on such superficial thinking. It also is an example of the "homunculus" theory of development applied to child psychiatry. In other words, it simplistically assumes that the young child is a miniature adult!
With the vast financial resources of the drug companies supporting them, university departments of psychiatry and their teaching and research hospitals have substantially taken over the mental health field. This unsavory alliance between drug companies and organized psychiatry has produced the DSM series of diagnostic and statistical manuals of the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM-III and DSM-IV editions became the diagnostic "bibles" used by health insurance companies and the government to determine eligibility for reimbursement. In effect, this system has established firm control of the mental health enterprise in the hands of organized psychiatry as the dominant authorities. All the other mental health related professions have been forced to use the DSM-IV as the only acceptable diagnostic framework. Since the DSM-IV is so closely related to organized psychiatry and the drug companies, virtually all DSM-IV diagnoses mandate a drug prescription as a primary treatment modality. Psychotherapy and counseling are viewed as adjunct therapies to add to drug treatment.
The drug companies and their psychiatric "experts" have been able to get Congress and the state legislatures to legally establish the legitimacy of psychiatric diagnoses as "scientifically" valid and the "standard of care." A tragic example of this travesty of science and clinical care can be seen in the case of Rebecca Riley. A psychiatrist "diagnosed" her with child bipolar disorder at age 2 1/2 and then prescribed “off label” a bizarre combination of toxic drugs that included a highly addictive drug and a liver toxic "black box" drug. Since there is no scientific basis for a diagnosis of child bipolar disorder, psychiatrists simply apply adult diagnostic criteria to children in a vague, confused manner that is totally devoid of any sensitivity to developmental differences between children and adults. Psychiatrists also assume that each child that they see is neurologically intact, has normal sensori-motor, auditory and visual processing, no toxic metals, and no substantial nutrient mineral imbalances that could affect their neuro-endocrine system as well as their glucose metabolism. Of course, there are no biochemical or neuro-endocrine assessments done in cases of ADHD or “child bipolar disorder,” nor is there any consideration of possible toxic metal effects on the child's nervous system.
Unfortunately, the bottom line is that there is no real interest in using any other conceptual framework besides the simplistic psychiatric diagnoses that are found in the DSM-IV. The DSM-IV is used to rationalize any diagnosis that can justify writing a prescription for one or more toxic drugs as an "acceptable" treatment even if the prescription is “off label.” "Off Label" means that there is no science or research to support this dangerous practice. By fiat, this becomes the accepted "standard of care," i.e. supporting the drug racket in psychiatric practice that is promoted and sold as “scientifically” or “evidence” based. In my view, the “Psychiatric Thinking Disorder” permeates this whole fraudulent process that is aptly described by Dr. Fred Baughman from a neurologist’s perspective.
What is of real concern regarding the well being of children, their parents, and society is that this psychiatric fraud has been promoted as “scientifically” and “evidence” based. It is sold as “acceptable” treatment of children and is likely to become the “standard of care.” Under these conditions, tax dollars through Medicaid and other government programs are then used to buy the toxic drugs that are put into very vulnerable children. In this way, government has become a partner to this outrageous treatment of children’s emotional/behavior/learning problems. Health insurance dollars are used in a similar manner. Schools and mental health clinics are also jumping on this bandwagon just as they did with ADD and ADHD. In my view, “child bipolar disorder” is essentially a drug marketing scheme that has no scientific or clinical foundation.
Friday, November 9, 2007
In a recent article (November 1, 2007) that was on News Target.com, Herb Newborg summarized the fines levied in September, 2007 against drug companies and medical device manufacturers for their criminal activities. Here are my original comments about what Newborg reported.
Obviously, fines alone don't deter this kind of criminal activity that adversely affects the health and well being of large numbers of people while generating millions and billions of dollars in sales and profits. Not only are our politicians complicit in allowing the FDA and other government "health" agencies to serve the needs and interests of these criminal companies, but the politicians also reward these companies with billions of dollars of subsidies in the form of Medicare drug "benefits" to pay for toxic drugs. Is our health/disease care system in need of reform? You bet! But, this system is so corrupt to its core that the corrupt influences have poisoned everything from medical and other health practitioner training to licensing to continuing education to health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. The latest "buzz" word to support this corrupt system is that only "evidence based" treatments and practices will be accepted in the new health care reform that is being touted by candidates. Hillary Clinton is already useing this buzz word of "evidence based" practices in some of her speeches. I wonder how much money her campaign has already received from drug companies and medical device manufacturers? Until we clean out enough corrupt politicians in both the legislative and the executive branches of government, we will continue to be exposed to the dangers of toxic drugs that easily gain the stamp of approval by the FDA. How many more Vioxx, Avandia, Rezulin, and other dangerous drugs do we have to be exposed to before there is enough grass roots pressure to break up this corrupt system?
Thursday, November 8, 2007
1. Retired Clinical Psychologist/Nutritionist Not Convinced by Chao Interview
"The FDA's past history doesn't inspire confidence and trust in what Chao claims he and his FDA colleagues are doing now. Since the FDA has stated that 'only a drug can cure, prevent, or treat a disease,' the FDA has been operating on the basis of a contrived lie that has been highly beneficial to drug companies. Well researched health effects of fruits, vegetables, and dietary supplements cannot be claimed because the claims 'haven't been evaluated by the FDA.' How many young people have needlessly died of sudden massive fatal heart attacks from magnesium deficiency because supplement manufacturers could not legally, according to the FDA, relate magnesium to cardiac health and function? For years, the FDA has been much better at playing legal-semantic games than scientific integrity.
"When it comes to the FDA's activities, including supporting CODEX, I will remain extremely vigilant. Your interview with Chao does not convince me otherwise."
Richard Malter, Ph.D.
Retired Clinical Psychologist
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Ephedra, Ritalin and Other Types of Stimulants: Health Risks Increase with Magnesium Deficiency
Assessing Magnesium Deficiency
Over the past 23 years,. I have found that a very reliable and valid way to assess magnesium deficiency is to use a hair tissue mineral analysis (TMA). Not only does a hair TMA measure cellular magnesium, but because hair TMA also measures cellular calcium, the hair TMA provides important data about the relationship between calcium and magnesium. If magnesium is deficient in relation to calcium as reflected in the calcium/magnesium ratio, then a high ratio of calcium/ magnesium is also indicative of a magnesium deficiency. This measure of a magnesium deficiency also is very useful for determining whether a person is at greater risk when using a stimulant drug or herb. The use of hair TMA can provide extremely valuable information about who would be at the greatest risk for adverse effects of using a stimulant drug or herb. In many cases, the use of hair TMA could literally be a life saver.
Muscle spasms, tremors, glucose metabolism problems leading to diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia and palpitations, heart attack, leg cramps, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and agitation, mental confusion,
constipation, eye twitches and blurred vision, high blood pressure, mitral valve prolapse, PMS, alcoholism and addictions., seizures, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), and stroke are common symptoms of magnesium deficiency. There is a wealth of good information and research about magnesium in health and disease on the internet. Search for “magnesium, health.”
Can you imagine what it would be like to have to get a prescription from your doctor in order to buy Vitamin C or Vitamin E or Calcium or Magnesium? Can you imagine the added cost to your healthcare of having to make an appointment with your doctor to get such a prescription? And, what if your doctor said, “I don’t believe in vitamins so I’m not going to write a prescription for you!” What if vitamins and minerals were so tightly controlled by the FDA that you had no other recourse, but to try to get them by prescription from a recalcitrant physician who “doesn’t believe in vitamins?” How would you feel if maintaining your energy, your health and your immune system were entirely dependent on such a dysfunctional health care system?
Obviously, having freedom of choice in healthcare is a critical issue. In fact, our very survival may be dependent on having free choices in regard to healthcare, especially in regard to selecting vitamins and minerals at reasonable prices without the added cost of seeing a medical doctor for a prescription.
As far back as 1936, the U.S. Senate reported that our soils were already so depleted that our food supply could no longer provide the same amount of nutrients as in previous generations! The nutritional situation is far worse today than it was in 1936. Our foods can keep most of us from feeling hungry all the time, but this does not mean that our food supply contains adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to properly nourish and energize our cells and tissues. Most of us have full bellies while we are slowly starving to death from inadequate nutritional support from foods.
For decades, organized medicine and many medical doctors have debunked nutritional supplements and dismissed their importance for maintaining health or preventing disease. In doing so, they have overlooked a basic truism of modern day life. Next to air and water, food and nutrition are absolutely vital for a person's health and well-being. Vitamins and minerals are essential for a strong immune system. Air, water, food and good nutrition are essential to support life.
Given the sad nutritional state of our food supply today, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, and other food supplements are no longer supplement luxuries. These nutritional supplements are really an essential extension of our basic food supply. As such, a very convincing case can be made that, today, in order to maintain optimal health, energy, and a strong immune system, virtually everyone needs some type of nutritional supplements added to their diet. Therefore, these food supplements should not be as tightly controlled and regulated as are artificial and dangerous medicinal drugs and medications. Drugs and medications are invented and patented by pharmaceutical company chemists for monopolistic control and big profits. Certainly, standards of quality and proper labeling are warranted for nutritional supplements. But it is critical for people’s freedom of choice in health maintenance that they have easy and inexpensive access to good quality food supplements of their own choosing.
Given the fact that foods and food supplements can have a “drug“-like effect on the body, speeding up or slowing down metabolism, affecting blood sugar levels, heart rate, etc., then the argument can be made that anything having to do with food and nutrition falls entirely within the domain of medicine and medical practice in the very broadest sense of the terms. Under this paradigm, anything a person can ingest can have a drug-like effect on the body and therefore, could conceivably fall within the broadest domain of medicine. Taking this position to its logical, but absurd conclusion, no person should be permitted to buy any foods or beverages without a medical evaluation and a prescription! Obviously then, under this paradigm, every food and beverage choice should require a medical evaluation, consultation and a prescription! A person should then need a prescription in order to buy foods and beverages at the grocery store since these products could conceivably affect our medical status. For the same absurd reasons, a person should also need a prescription in order to buy any foods or beverages in a restaurant. A prescription should also be required for purchasing fruits and vegetables, milk, bread, potatoes, cereal, etc. After all, they do affect our health status.
In this context, something that most people don’t realize is that words and semantics often play a major role in what happens in our health care system. Are foods “drugs”? Are vitamins and minerals “drugs”? Should you have to go to a medical doctor in order to have access to the foods and nutritional supplements that you need every day to support your own health and well being? If the FDA and drug company interests succeed in defining food supplements as “drugs”, what is to stop the FDA from extending this warped logic to defining foods and beverages as “drugs?” After all, coffee has caffeine in it; that’s a stimulant drug. Bananas and other fruits have a lot of potassium in them. Potassium is a critical mineral that can have a substantial effect on a person’s metabolism and heart function. Then, perhaps the FDA should regulate how many bananas (a good source of potassium) you can buy each month. Since the FDA is charged with “protecting” your health and well being, perhaps they can save you from yourself by limiting your purchase of bananas. That would help prevent you from “overdosing” on a bunch of bananas. The FDA might even go so far as to make a banana a “controlled substance”.
The healthcare industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. It depends on having a steady supply of sick people. Healthy people don’t often go to the doctor to get a prescription for expensive drugs and medications. The use of vitamins, minerals and other food supplements are becoming a larger part of this industry. They can play a major role in prevention of disease processes and in helping a person to maintain his/her health. A lot of money is at stake in the form of sales and big profits. Under current conditions, there are strong financial incentives for drug companies to tightly control the availability and the price of these nutritional supplements just as they do with prescription medications while a patent is in force. In fact, a few years ago, some of the large pharmaceutical companies were found guilty of fixing the price of raw materials for the manufacture of various vitamin and mineral supplements. They paid huge multi-million dollar fines.
What occurs in the healthcare marketplace may have profound effects on what nutritional supplements are available to us to protect our health. Freedom of choice in healthcare is a critical issue for all of us. It is a common ploy for the drug companies, the FDA, and the American Medical Association to claim that certain actions and policies are for the sole purpose of “protecting” our health and well-being. All too often, when the claim of “protection” is made, there are usually ulterior motives involving more control and monopoly in the healthcare marketplace. Price gouging and escalating costs usually follow. Is it any wonder that healthcare costs continue to escalate?
A Medical, Psychological, or Behavioral Problem?
Richard Malter, Ph.D.
Retired Clinical Psychologist
One of the most perplexing aspects of the condition that is "diagnosed" as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is its complexity. As we become more familiar with children and adolescents whose behaviors and symptoms appear to fit this diagnosis, it seems clear that there is a biochemical factor in the condition. Since Ritalin, a powerful stimulant drug, has been the most widely used treatment for ADHD, the biochemical factor in ADHD has been defined as a “medical” problem. This is because Ritalin is a class II controlled substance and requires a medical prescription. However, there are no known biochemical or physiological tests used by these prescribing physicians. The prescription is essentially a drug “trial” or a biochemical experiment with each child put on medication. When we look carefully at the process by which these children and adolescents are medically “diagnosed”, we see that it has a very flimsy “scientific” and “clinical” foundation. Neurologist Dr. Fred Baughman calls the diagnosis of ADHD a fraud -- a bogus disease.
On the other hand, there is a biochemical test which can shed a great amount of light on the underlying biochemistry of ADHD. This test is the hair tissue mineral analysis (TMA). The TMA provides a great amount of data related to the psychophysiology of the stress response. TMA also provides data on the presence of toxic metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, aluminum, etc.) which can have a neuro-toxic effect. Unfortunately, the TMA is rarely, if ever, used by prescribing physicians. They are really prescribing “in the dark” with no awareness of important biochemical factors (nutrient mineral imbalances and toxic metals) that need to be taken into account when prescribing powerful stimulant medications. Experience with hair TMA profiles of children who have been previously diagnosed with ADHD shows a wide variety of nutrient mineral patterns, but, in most cases, there are substantial amounts of toxic metals present. TMA data indicate that toxic metals are very often present as part of this syndrome of ADHD symptoms.
Since the TMA nutrient mineral data can be closely related to the psycho-physiology of the stress response, these data can also help to account for the “positive” paradoxical effect of Ritalin with many of these children. Initially, many children who are given a trial of Ritalin seem to have a “miraculous” improvement in their behavior and attention span. A stimulant drug seems to calm them down. This behavioral result of a powerful stimulant drug is interpreted as a paradox because, after all, how else could a stimulant drug calm someone down? When we look at TMA data, especially sodium, potassium, zinc and magnesium, the answer becomes quite simple and clear. These four minerals can be closely correlated with the stress response, especially as it relates to the adrenal glands. TMA patterns of ADD and ADHD individuals typically indicate the presence of adrenal gland weakness or insufficiency that adversely affects many other aspects of neuroendocrine and neuropsychological functions. Hence, it is easy to see that a powerful stimulant drug such as Ritalin will provide a temporary “jump start” to weak adrenal glands. This often results in temporary normalization of neuro-endocrine and neuropsychological functions during the short “window of effectiveness” of the drug. The temporary normalization of neuro-endocrine and neuropsychological functions produces temporary behavioral changes which, on the surface, look miraculous. However, they are usually of short duration and, when the stimulant drug effects wear off, there is often a significant rebound effect when the weak adrenal glands become even weaker without drug stimulation.
The continuous repeated drug stimulation of weak adrenal glands eventually burns them out even more than prior to drug treatment. As the adrenal glands become even more burned out and depleted, higher doses of stimulant medication are required to achieve the same behavioral response until a point is reached at which no amount of stimulant drug can produce the desired response. Then, the stimulant drug is discontinued because it no longer “works.” The drug “trial” is over. At that point, adrenal “burn out” is complete and the individual is left in a very vulnerable psycho- physiological condition with even weaker adrenal glands than before this experiment began.
Comparable behavioral changes can be brought about by using the TMA profile as a guide to the selection of vitamins and minerals that will accomplish several goals. One is to restore a better balance between essential nutrient minerals that more naturally support the adrenal glands rather than artificially stimulating them. The other goal that can safely be accomplished with appropriate nutritional supplements is the detoxification of the heavy metals so that their neuro-toxic effect is significantly diminished. Thus, instead of running the risk of burning out the adrenal glands with artificial drug stimulation, these critical glands can be properly nurtured and supported with the nutrients that are known to be needed for their healthy functioning.
Another important aspect of the ADHD syndrome has to do with listening and auditory processing skills, self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-control. These elements strongly suggest the presence of a psychological factor in ADHD. Then, also, the fidgety and hyperactive behaviors suggest that the condition is a behavioral one.
When we look carefully at the ADHD symptoms, some of them clearly suggest that an auditory processing problem may be operative. Other symptoms suggest more of a behavioral problem. These characteristics indicate that ADHD is not a uniform homogeneous diagnosis, but that different syndromes and combinations of symptoms are lumped together under this one label. The more variation there is in the ADHD diagnostic category, then the more one would expect to find psychologically significant differences between different children and adolescents given this one diagnostic label. Since this is, indeed, the case, then much of the so-called scientific research on ADHD may be on very shaky ground.