Another book refuting childhood bipolar DX

There is a groundswell of books appearing on the market that refute the basis of the bipolar diagnosis in childhood. Here’s an interview in the Huffington Post with Stuart Kaplan, MD, author of Your Child Does Not Have Bipolar Disorder: How Bad Science and Good Public Relations Created the Disorder.

There is, indeed, a psychiatric diagnosis called childhood bipolar disorder that used to be reserved for the rare child, but that diagnosis has gotten way out of hand in the past two decades, leading to medicating this “disorder” in growing numbers of children under eighteen. Now, everybody’s child is that “rare” child. I can hear parents complaining, sure, it’s easy for you to say this, just try living with MY child and see what you think. I think I can speak from experience as a parent and having to struggle with mind-blowing odd behavior in my adult child. Years ago, my elementary school aged middle child drove me to seek out a psychologist, who was very helpful in helping me to understand him. I changed my attitude and he changed his behavior. It’s a two way street. My youngest was inexplicably termed ADD by a psychologist who had never even seen him in action. Parents of young children are understandably under stress and sometimes don’t feel they have the luxury of taking a step back from the situation. Even in the 1990s, ADHD and ADD was the diagnosis du jour. Everybody seemed to have it.

Its one thing to be given the label, but it’s another thing to know what to do about it. And that’s where most of us fall down, knowing what to do about it. Science hasn’t been much help. More emphasis is needed on family therapy in learning how to deal with the surprising ways that children can react to their home environment. Especially that “rare” child.

The latest threshold that psychiatry has crossed

Mommy, am I really bipolar? is the title of a Newsweek piece by Stuart L. Kaplan, M.D. Dr. Kaplan argues that there is no scientific evidence that bipolar disorder surfaces in childhood. Dr. Kaplan goes through the recent history of this diagnosis which began in the 1990s with the book The Bipolar Child, and he discusses how quickly psychiatry and the public rallied around this label. Judging from the force of the comments to this article, mainly all negative in regard to Dr. Kaplan’s opinion, there should be a huge blow coming to psychiatry’s credibility as it tries to backpedal on this diagnosis in children. Why should these parents believe psychiatry now?

As much as I agree with much of what Dr. Kaplan writes, there is a huge credibility problem that has been simmering along for the profession and could boil over. Since psychiatry has put all its efforts into magic bullets it has neglected to figure out how to relieve human suffering. In fact, it has gone out of its way to tell parents that it was dangerously old-fashioned to believe that maybe the family environment has a good deal to do with why the child is behaving in a certain way and that chemicals are the main solution. I would be all in favor of what Dr. Kaplan is saying, except that he undermining this position by further arguing that bipolar in children is most often ADHD, and psychiatry has chemicals to treat that. He also refers to ADHD as less trendy than bipolar. Maybe so now, but not so when my kids were in elementary school. ADD and ADHD was THE buzz with the mothers in the schoolyard. So, all Dr. Kaplan is doing is trading one diagnosis for another diagnosis that has the FDA ‘s blessing for the drugs that are used in children.

Many young parents don’t know what they believe themselves, so they believe their doctor. They believed their doctor, perhaps after initially putting up resistance (or perhaps not), when the doctor told them their child was bipolar. Now, all of a sudden, the same doctor is telling them that the child is not bipolar? How is the doctor going to explain away the drugs and the fact that their kid is still messed up? Why should the parent believe this latest fad un-diagnosis? You would think that a parent would be delighted to hear that their child is inattentive and hyperactive, rather than the more ominous bipolar, but that doesn’t seem to be what is happening with the parents who commented on this article. They are lining up behind the belief that their child is horribly, mentally ill and they don’t want the label dropped. By giving parents this option, psychiatry has created a much bigger problem that has invaded every nook and cranny of family life and parents want to hold psychiatry to it. They won’t be able, to, unfortunately.

Psychiatry should be in big trouble from these parents now that it is backpedalling on the bipolar diagnosis. Memories are short, however. The parents of under 18s now will not be the same group of parents of under 18s ten years from now. The bipolar label is going to be folded into a new label. I’ll let Dr. Kaplan explain the new think:

The tide may be turning. The American Psychiatric Association is deliberating intensely on new criteria that would dramatically restrict this fad diagnosis. One step the association is recommending is a new diagnosis called temper dysregulation disorder, a more accurate way of describing extreme irritability in children. If mental-health professionals can be persuaded to consider these alternative diagnoses, many thousands of children could be spared an unwarranted, stigmatizing label that sticks with them the rest of their lives.

The controversy over bipolar will fade, since there is a good chance the current drugs won’t get approved for use in children, anyway, and the next generation of parents will be snowed once again by the profession using new labels and different drugs.

For those who want off the merry-go-round, this latest controversy is all the more reason to rely on one’s own intuition, to expand one’s belief system, and look to emulate people who have cured themselves.


I often get long e-mails from someone or something called which I would normally ignore because the source of his messages refer back to blogs with multicolored font on the perennial black background, ABUNDANT USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS, large bold font and cut and paste as the rantings of CONSPIRACY NUTS. They are pushing their luck with me.  This is the print equivalent to me of the rantings of Herbert W. (dubblya) Armstrong, founder of the World Wide Church of God.  Herbert, through the evangelical radio show that he hosted, was always “just back from speaking with WORLD GOVERNMENTS!”  I assume Herbert was a little more focused in his younger days.

Problem is, sometimes these messages are just too interesting to ignore.

So it is with today’s message from Ben (is it a person?), who gets most of his material from a blog entitled THE 18TH BLOG FOR THE OUTLAW OF PSYCHIATRY NOW ! This blog appears to be written by Evelyn Pringle, who I had banished to my spam box, only because while I liked her investigative journalism re pharmaceutical interests, I ended up getting her opinion pieces on just about anything, No, I don’t want to hear from her about Obama, the war in Afganistan, or gun control, and I certainly don’t want to read colored type on a black background. My interests are quite narrow, really.

Today’s message is about Ablechild

Ablechild (Parents for A Label and Drug-Free Education), is a national non-profit founded in 2001, by these two mothers who each had personal experiences with being coerced by the public school system to label and drug their children for ADHD. Patty and Sheila went from being victims to become national advocates for the fundamental rights of all parents and children in the US.
Here’s the link to the original blog. It’s definitely worth a read. I wrote a post about my own experiences with my youngest son Taylor, when the school psychologist, in cahoots with the middle school principal, took on the role of diagnosing psychiatrists. ADD, ADHD, Schizophrenia – where’s the medical evidence?

Dr. Leon Eisenberg and ADD

Dr. Leon Eisenberg’s obituary appeared yesterday in the New York Times. A pioneer in the study of autism and ADD, according to the obituary Dr. Eisenberg’s concern in later life was that the ADD diagnosis “has morphed from a relative uncommon condition 40 years ago to one whose current prevalence is 8 percent. . . Correspondingly, the prescription of stimulant drugs has gone up enormously. The reasons are not self-evident.”*

Many years ago when Taylor, my youngest son, was in fourth grade, he almost ended up on Ritalin, were it not for the fact that Ian and I couldn’t believe that Taylor was in any way ADD. Taylor was a fifth grade slacker, who was not interested in much at school except for art. He otherwise zoned out. One day the teacher called us in for a meeting with the school psychologist, who strongly suggested Ritalin. The school psychologist hadn’t even observed Taylor in the classroom. “Taylor – ADD?” I gasped with amazement. “Why, he’s our bright light!” The kid seemed very bright and he focused on stuff he found interesting, which didn’t happen to be most fourth grade subjects apparently.

None-the-less, I felt it incumbent on me to do a little research. I ordered a book from Amazon on ADD. Nothing I could find in the check-list applied to Taylor. So, Ian and I said to the principal and the psychologist at our next meeting that the diagnosis didn’t fit. This was embarrassing for the psychologist, as it was embarrassing for us to have to tell her this. The principal was a bit stiff with us and warned us that there were long term consequences for not intervening. “Taylor could continue for years underperforming and never reach his potential,” she said sadly.

For many years afterwards, I was afraid she was right as Taylor slacked his way through middle school and high school. University for him was looking like a pipe dream. After the problems surfaced with Chris, I got Taylor a hair test, figuring that his artistic temperament was also somehow related to Chris. The hair test said he was off the charts in copper, which would make him dreamy and creative or, “unfocused,” if you will. To make a long story short: Three months of supplements and he got focused, just in time for his final year of high school. As I have said repeatedly in my blog, there can be many reasons for a single outcome. Was it the supplements? Was it that boys don’t normally focus until their later teen years? Or, was it that Taylor got scared about what he saw happening to Chris?