Years ago, Nancy Regan famously advised youngsters to "just say no to drugs". Since then, society has responded with a contrarian and increasingly noisy "yes!" — — with pharmaceuticals advertised like candybars on television in the US, and nearly universal exhortations by the mental health community to just pop pills. By 2008, the makers of the PBS documentary The Medicated Child were reporting that "six million children are taking psychiatric drugs, but most have never been tested on children." An earlier film, Medicating Kids, had noted in 2001 that "school-aged children in the United States consume at least 4 times more psychiatric medicine than children in the rest of the world combined."
What’s the difference between an exhuberant kid (a classic "handful") and a psychiatric case? What does it mean when schoolteachers presume to pre-diagnose children whom the parents often regard as normal? What is the toll on a developing neurological system of powerful psychiatric drugs ingested regularly from pre-school age to puberty (sometimes several different ones simultaneously)?
The diagnoses discussed in the films (ADHD and childhood bi-polar disorder) have become common, yet they are still relatively new and controversial. Likewise for many of the drugs, which are sometimes prescribed off-label (not for the conditions they were originally approved for).
After watching these documentaries and reading the accompanying in-depth interviews and documentation, it is difficult to avoid concluding that — at the end of the day — no one really knows what they’re doing when it comes to these diagnoses or the multiple psychiatric drug medications that children are given.
Years ago, the mental health profession asserted its authority to defend the citadel of Freudianism. Today, the same profession defends the legal drug culture instead, backed by powerful pharmaceutical companies which lobby to ensure an increasingly intrusive role in the lives of citizens. The shrinks were largely wrong then. They are probably largely wrong now. Millions of today’s kids are guinea pigs in the quest to discover where the truth lies.
Click here to see the first video: The Medicated Child (2008)
Click here to see the second video: Medicating Kids (2001)