Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Child Abuse for Profit

The Bootcamp style of treatment for troubled kids is running into trouble

Usual definitions of torture include the use of practices such as solitary confinement, non-medical application of psychiatric drugs, unprovoked beatings, starvation, and verbal abuse as means to change a person’s behavior. Many Americans are reluctant to support the use of these techniques even on criminals, much less teenagers with behavioral problems.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what is being done on a large-scale basis as “tough-love” programs have become a booming industry. These programs come in several varieties, including boot camps, “therapeutic” boarding schools or academies, and wilderness programs. At the cost of several thousand dollars per month (up to $40,000/year), these schools supposedly provide a climate where troubled teens can continue their regular education while receiving treatments designed to improve their behavior.

In the philosophy of these schools, reform involves two goals: to break kids down through strict discipline and routine, then to build them back up through self-examination and therapy of various sorts. Usually, only the former is accomplished. So successful is the breaking down process that former inmates of these institutions often suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome, even years after being freed. Ex-students call themselves, with good cause, “survivors”.

The deeper you dig, the more it becomes a profit center at the expense of the young.

The evil Ulster doctor who destroyed women's lives

An extensive story worth reading

Last month the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Ulster psychiatrist William Kerr - accused of sexually abusing dozens of his patients - had died. Now his first known victim has broken a silence of 42 years to describe her nightmare ordeal to Crime Correspondent Jonathan McCambridge [...]

The Co Antrim teenager met the doctor as an outpatient at Lagan Valley Hospital. What followed was to mark the beginning of a horrific ordeal for her and the biggest sexual abuse scandal ever in the NHS. Now, almost 42 years later, Anne has spoken for the first time publicly about her fate at the hands of the disgraced doctor.

She was the first. Unfortunately, there were many others.

For almost 40 years Anne had no idea what had become of Kerr other than that he had left Northern Ireland "under a cloud". Then one day she read a press report about him standing trial in England on multiple sexual assault charges. The report left her devastated. [...]

After Kerr left Northern Ireland in 1964 his career flourished but Anne was left to pick up the pieces of her broken life. She admits to attempting suicide on one occasion. Her situation was made worse because a series of doctors and pyschiatrists would not believe what she had suffered. [...]

Over the next 30 years, 67 of his patients were to make complaints about his behaviour, including several allegations of rape and sexual assault. The circumstances in many of the cases were startingly similar to the facts outlined by Anne. [...]

Kerr did not have a criminal conviction and did not serve any punishment, but did go on the sex offenders' register for life. Last month the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Kerr had died at his home in Yorkshire at the age of 80 without ever facing justice. [...]

Friday, April 21, 2006

Study Finds a Link of Drug Makers to Psychiatrists

As reported in the NY Times:

More than half the psychiatrists who took part in developing a widely used diagnostic manual for mental disorders had financial ties to drug companies before or after the manual was published, public health researchers reported yesterday.

The researchers found that 95 — or 56 percent — of 170 experts who worked on the 1994 edition of the manual, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or D.S.M, had at least one monetary relationship with a drug maker in the years from 1989 to 2004. The most frequent tie involved money for research, according to the study, an analysis of financial records and conflict-of-interest statements.


In recent years, critics have said that the manual has become too expansive, including diagnoses, like social phobia, that they say appear tailor-made to create a market for antidepressants or other drugs.

The study investigated the financial ties by sifting through legal files, patent records, conflict-of-interest databases and journal articles, among other records.

Twenty-two percent of the experts received consulting income in the years from 1989 to 2004, the study found, and 16 percent served as members of a drug maker's speakers bureau. Such services are typically more lucrative than research support.

Of course there are the obligatory mouthpieces proclaiming complete innocence for all involved.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

When Babies see Shrinks

Back on Sept 20 2003, we linked to a satire news item entitled Babies: 100% suffer from depression

Rockville, Mary. -- A study conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) reports that an overwhelming majority of 100 percent of all newborn infants display symptoms normally associated with clinical adult depression and in fact suffer from a medical condition known as Infant Depressive Disorder (IDD).

"A baby suffering from Infant Depressive Disorder will exhibit many of the same warning signs as depressed adults: frequent bouts of crying, weight gain, disrupted sleep patterns and so on," said Dr. James Redab, who headed up NICHD's three-year study. "Parents, do not dismiss your infant's behavior and assume that the little one is just tired or fussing. The infant without question requires immediate medication, psychotherapy and quite possibly electroconvulsive therapy. Your baby needs to get well."

Now MSNBC has a news item about When babies see shrinks

Traditionally, young children have rarely crossed paths with psychiatrists or psychologists. Not anymore. With a growing amount of research focusing on early brain development, more youngsters — even infants — are being targeted to receive the services of mental-health professionals.

There are no hard numbers available for just how many pre-kindergarten children are being seen, but experts say infant/toddler mental health is moving into the mainstream. Psychological research on this age group is a hot topic at major universities, and last year the American Academy of Pediatrics launched a task force with at least part of its purpose to push more infant/toddler mental health intervention.

Of course, we can rest assured that the psychiatric industry will take full advantage of this growing market.