New Diagnostic Manual With ADHD Listed Could Turn Childhood Into a Mental Disorder

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New Diagnostic Manual With ADHD Listed Could Turn Childhood Into a Mental Disorder
Despite a 28% decrease in 0- to 5-year-old U.S. children taking psychostimulants since 2017, new changes to an international mental disorders manual could revert this and put them at risk. Watchdog relaunches PSAs for parents warning “Childhood is not a mental disorder.”

by CCHR International, The Mental Health Industry Watchdog
February 14, 2022

 

CCHR International warns there could be an increase in the number of children and adolescents prescribed powerful, addictive stimulants for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with the new insurance billing codes released this month in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), Mental Disorders Section. For years, CCHR International, based in Los Angeles, has conducted a “Fight for Kids” public awareness campaign about the risks of childhood and teen behavior being mis-diagnosed as disorders and “medicated.”

However, changes to ICD-11 reinforce this and as such, it relaunched two Public Service Announcements (PSAs) reminding parents that “Childhood is not a Mental Disorder.”

CCHR welcomes a 28% decrease in U.S. children aged 0-5 years old being prescribed psychostimulants between 2017 and 2020. According to the IQVia Total Patient Tracker database that CCHR obtained for 2017 and 2020, there were 80,235 children in this age group in 2017 prescribed stimulants compared to 58,091 in 2020. Overall, for the 0-17 age group, there was a 14% decrease in the numbers taking psychostimulants.

The U.S. Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, being updated in March 2022) and ICD-11 have redefined and categorized ADHD as a “neurodevelopmental disorder,” making it appear to be a neurological or brain-based physical disease when scientific evidence does not substantiate this.

Dr. Fred Baughman, Jr., a retired pediatric neurologist and author of The ADHD Fraud: How Psychiatry Makes “Patients” of Normal Children, said that psychiatric associations representing ADHD as a biologic abnormality of the brain is “neurobiological propaganda” because “psychiatry has never validated ADHD as a biologic entity.”[1]

Prof. Allen Frances, the former Chairman of the DSM-IV Task Force said that the DSM-IV, published in 1994, already created “false epidemics” of ADHD.[2] He wrote that twenty years later, “The rate of ADHD in the U.S. has tripled to a ridiculously inflated 11%. Sales of ADHD medications are approaching an obscenely profitable $10 billion a year.” Frances was forthright about how diagnoses such as ADHD are determined: “There are no objective tests in psychiatry—no X-ray, laboratory or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder….”[3] Inclusion of a disorder in the DSM is by consensus vote.

As such, the fact that ICD-11 and DSM-5 claim ADHD is neurobiological is misleading for parents who could erroneously believe that their child has a faulty brain requiring “medication” rather than an issue which can be handled with behavioral, dietary and educational solutions. Dr. Baughman adds that children have also been led to “believe they have something wrong with their brains that makes it impossible for them to control themselves without a pill.”[4] In saying that, he is not saying that children do not sometimes have trouble with their behavior, focusing, or their emotions; it just simply isn’t neurobiological.

CCHR produced several PSAs to help parents to see that childhood is not a mental disorder, and for children—represented by a young skateboarder—to show that their rambunctious zest for life or creative efforts do not make them dysfunctional or “ill.”

March 21 this year marks the 22nd anniversary of 14-year-old Matthew Smith’s death from a cardiac arrest while skateboarding. Oakland County (Michigan) Medical Examiner Ljubisa Dragovic determined that the skateboarding did not kill Matthew but rather the damage done to his heart from 10 years of taking prescribed methylphenidate, an ADHD psychostimulant that caused a “chronic change of the heart muscle and the small blood vessels in the heart.”[5] Michael’s tragic death was part of the impetus that started CCHR’s Fight for Kids campaign and PSAs.

In 2014, researchers from the University of Delaware and Drexel University College of Medicine reviewed research on the effects of psychostimulants like methylphenidate. They found the drug can impact the brain’s plasticity, interfering with a person’s ability to plan, switch between tasks, and be overall flexible in their behaviors. For a drug that’s supposed to offer better mental performance, they found that the long-term effects appear to do the opposite.[6]

“All proposed ADD and ADHD treatments” are “aimed at modifying observable behaviors rather than in treating their underlying causes,” say other researchers, including Dr. Howard Glasser, writing in Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry.[7]

In his last interview before his death in 2009, Dr. Leon Eisenberg, the “scientific father of ADHD” and a leader in child psychiatry for more than 40 years, admitted “ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease.”[8] The symptoms are so common that anyone could believe they have ADHD: fails to give close attention to details or may make careless mistakes; work is often messy or disorganized; has problems staying focused on tasks or activities; fails to complete schoolwork, chores or other duties; often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat; often talks excessively and interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., cuts into conversations).

The consequences of the drugs prescribed to quell such symptoms are telling: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports methylphenidate can lead to addiction and “psychotic episodes, violent behavior and bizarre mannerisms have been reported” with its use.[9] The manufacturer admits it is a drug of dependency.[10] Suicide is a major complication of withdrawal from it and similar amphetamine-like drugs.[11] FDA also warns of the risks of heart-related problems.

CCHR says the direction ICD-11 and DSM-5 have taken is not in sync with current thinking. Former United Nations Special Rapporteur Dainius Pūras, M.D., in a June 2021 interview with Psychiatric Times, said there is too much reliance upon “the biomedical model and biomedical interventions” for people with mental health or behavioral issues and this represents a “biased use of knowledge and evidence.” In 2017, he also called for a revolution in mental health care around the world, writing: “There is now unequivocal evidence of the failures of a system that relies too heavily on the biomedical model of mental health services, including the front-line and excessive use of psychotropic medicines, and yet these models persist.”[12]

CCHR brought their concerns about the worldwide mass diagnosing of ADHD and prescribing of stimulants to the attention of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which responded with hearings and a recommendation for the establishment of a system for “monitoring of the excessive use of psychostimulants to children.” It also said that governments should “take the necessary measures to prevent any pressure on children and parents to accept treatment with psychostimulant drugs.”[13]

ICD-11 says it changed the category under which ADHD has been placed from “hyperkinetic” to “neurodevelopmental disorders” so that it is not equated as being “disruptive behavior,” but conveys the idea that a child has a deficiently developed brain disease, which experts say it is not. [14]

Child and adolescent video-gamers will also be a potential market under ICD-11 with “gaming disorder.”[15] This has been included in a newly added diagnostic grouping under ICD-11 called “disorders due to addictive behaviors,” again not in response to any scientific evidence but “to global concerns about the impact of problematic gaming, especially the online form.”

As for nebulous “conduct disorders,” such as oppositional defiant disorder and conduct‐dissocial disorder, these are grouped into a new label, “disruptive behavior and dissocial disorder.” ICD11 also expanded these from being limiting to children to include across the lifespan.[16] Disorders are no longer grouped by age but reflect a continuous lifespan approach[17]—anyone can be labeled and stigmatized.

Moreover, ICD10’s so-called gender identity disorders have been renamed as “gender incongruence” (the condition of not matching or being in agreement) in the ICD11 and moved from the mental disorders chapter to the new “sexual health chapter,” meaning that a transgender identity is no longer to be considered a mental disorder.[18] Under DSM, gender identity was called gender dysphoria (unwanted emotional state).[19]

Such arbitrary and capricious diagnosing has come under earlier criticism when in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association committee members voted—5,584 to 3,810—to delete homosexuality as a mental disorder from DSM after gay activists picketed the APA conferences.[20] As The Atlantic reported, “It’s not always that explicit, and the votes are not public. In the case of the DSM-5, committee members were forbidden to talk about it, so we’ll never really know what the deliberations were. They all signed non-disclosure agreements.”[21]

Lawrence Stevens, a former Assistant District Attorney in California, commented: “If mental illness were really an illness in the same sense that physical illnesses are illnesses, the idea of deleting homosexuality or anything else from the categories of illness by having a vote would be as absurd as a group of physicians voting to delete cancer or measles from the concept of disease.”[22]

The late Dr. Keith Conners, who “put ADHD on the medical map,” conducted the first formal trials on the use of methylphenidate. But in 2013, when he was asked to address the American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders, he was so appalled at how many children had been saddled with ADHD, he called it “a national disaster of dangerous proportions.”[23]

The ICD-11 and DSM-5 update can only exacerbate the disaster. Parents, pediatricians, family doctors, and educators should be informed that ADHD is not a proven neurobiological disorder. The behavioral symptoms could be representative of any normal childhood behavior. In an article that has been widely quoted in literature, James T. Webb, Ph.D., reviewed the symptoms of ADHD and noted “almost all of these behaviors are found in bright, talented, creative, gifted children.”[24] Dr. Mary Ann Block, author of No More ADHD advises to look for and treat the underlying causes; don’t just cover symptoms with drugs but “find the cause and fix the problem.”[25]

All of which adds up to: Childhood, including ADHD, is not a mental disorder.

 

References:

[1] Samantha Gluck, “Does ADHD Exist?” Healthy Place, interview with Dr. Fed Baughman, https://aws.healthyplace.com/adhd/articles/does-adhd-exist

[2] “Watchdog Group Alerts Parents and Teachers About Gifted Children Being Mislabeled ‘ADHD’ and Given Stimulant Drugs,” CCHR International, 9 Aug. 2017, https://www.cchrint.org/2017/08/09/watchdog-group-alerts-parents-and-teachers-about-gifted-children-being-mislabeled-adhd-and-given-stimulant-drugs/, citing: Allen Frances, “DSM 5 Will Further Inflate The ADD Bubble,” Psychology Today, 2 Aug. 2011, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201108/dsm-5-will-further-inflate-the-add-bubble

[3]  Allen Frances, “Most Active Kids Don’t Have ADHD,” Psychology Today, 11 Mar. 2014, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/saving-normal/201403/most-active-kids-don-t-have-adhd; Allen Frances, “Psychiatric Fads and Overdiagnosis,” Psychology Today, 2 June 2010, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201006/psychiatric-fads-and-overdiagnosis

[4] Fred A. Baughman, Jr., MD, “Treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 269, No. 18, 12 May 1993,  p. 2369

[5] Caroline Kern, “Death of 14-year-old Caused by Ritalin,” 14 Apr. 2000, http://www.drugfreechild.org/article/Death_of_14-year-old_Caused_by_Ritalin.html

[6] “Bad News For Ivy Leaguers: ADHD Drugs Hurt Your Memory,” TIME Health, 13 May 2014, http://time.com/97448/bad-news-for-ivy-leaguers-adhd-drugs-hurt-your-memory/

[7] Dr. Howard Glasser, et al., “The Online Nurtured Heart Approach to Parenting: A Randomized Study to Improve ADHD Behaviors in Children Ages 6–8,” Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 22, 1 Nov. 2020

[8] “New Federal Statistics Show Teen Overdose Deaths From ADHD & Anti-Anxiety Drugs On The Rise,” CCHR International, 22 Aug. 2017, https://www.cchrint.org/2017/08/23/teen-overdose-deaths-from-adhd-anti-anxiety-drugs-on-the-rise/, citing: “Father of ADHD calls himself a liar,” WND, 23 May, 2013 http://www.wnd.com/2013/05/father-of-adhd-calls-himself-a-liar/#SAe7LssguLIzLtry.99

[9] “Methylphenidate (A Background Paper),” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Oct. 1995, p. 16

[10] https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2013/010187s077lbl.pdf

[11] DSM-III-R, (American Psychiatric Association, Washington, D.C., 1987), p. 136

[12] “UN Special Rapporteur Dainius Pūras Addresses Psychiatry’s Global Coercion & Crisis,” CCHR International, 7 June 2021, https://www.cchrint.org/2021/06/07/un-special-rapporteur-dainius-puras-addresses-psychiatrys-global-coercion-crisis/, citing: Awais Aftab, MD, “Global Psychiatry’s Crisis of Values: Dainius Pūras, MD,” Psychiatric Times, 3 June 2021, https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/global-psychiatry-crisis-values; “World needs ‘revolution’ in mental health care – UN rights expert,” United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner, 6 June 2017, https://ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21689

[13] UNCRC report to Sweden, 2015

[14] Michael B. First, Steven H. Hyman, Wolfgang Gaebel, “Innovations and changes in the ICD‐11 classification of mental, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorders,” et al., World Psychiatry, 2 Jan. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313247/

[15] Tolu Ajiboye, “3 Major Changes to Look for with ICD-11,” Pollen, 9 Oct. 2019, https://www.simplepractice.com/blog/3-major-changes-to-look-for-with-icd-11/

[16] Op. cit., World Psychiatry, 2 Jan. 2019

[17] “ICD 11 Takes Centre Stage,” Journal of Psychiatry Reform, 21 June 2019, https://journalofpsychiatryreform.com/2019/06/21/icd-11-takes-centre-stage/

[18] Op. cit., World Psychiatry, 2 Jan. 2019

[19] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gender-dysphoria/symptoms-causes/syc-20475255

[20] Lawrence Stevens, J.D., “Does Mental Illness Exist?” undated article, https://eqi.org/antipsy2.htm

[21] Hope Reese, “The Real Problems with Psychiatry,” The Atlantic, 2 May 2013, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/05/the-real-problems-with-psychiatry/275371/

[22] Op. cit., Lawrence Stevens

[23] “New Federal Statistics Show Teen Overdose Deaths From ADHD & Anti-Anxiety Drugs On The Rise,” CCHR International, 22 Aug. 2017, https://www.cchrint.org/2017/08/23/teen-overdose-deaths-from-adhd-anti-anxiety-drugs-on-the-rise/, citing: Gareth Cook, “Big Pharma’s Manufactured Epidemic: The Misdiagnosis of ADHD,” Scientific American, 11 Oct. 2016, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/big-pharma-s-manufactured-epidemic-the-misdiagnosis-of-adhd; “ADHD: the statistics of a ‘national disaster’” Significance, Dec. 2016 https://rss.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1740-9713.2016.00979.x

[24] James T. Webb, Misdiagnosis And Dual Diagnoses Of Gifted Children And Adults: Adhd, Bipolar, Ocd, Asperger’s, Depression, And Other Disorders, (Great Potential Press Inc., Scottsdale, AZ, 2004), p. 195

[25] https://blockcenter.com/

 

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