Dr. Peter Breggin's Empathic Therapy Newsletter
  09/30/2010 - Volume1, Issue 8
  In This Issue

FDA—Toddlers and Infants Being Prescribed Multiple Psychiatric Drugs

Anti-Convulsant Drugs Create Higher Patient Risk of  Suicide, Attempted Suicide, or Violent Death

Move Afoot to Broaden Bipolar Diagnosis

Y'All Busted ~ A Rap Critique of ADHD Diagnosis and Drugs

Guest Article ~ Making Healing and Empathic Approaches More Visible

Hear Dr. Breggin
Weekly on his new Internet Radio Show

Empathic Therapy

Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy
Attention: Ginger Breggin
101 East State St #112
Ithaca, NY 14850

Register NOW! for our Empathic Therapy Conference, April 8-10, 2011
Register Here



To those who seek to heal and be healed
through ethical, empathic therapies and relationships.
  Dear [Contact.First Name],

We have a very full issue.  I can barely keep up with all the news!  Our top story is about the increasing prescription of multiple psychiatric drugs including increasing numbers of very young children being administered antipsychotics.   In a related story, there is a movement to broaden Bipolar diagnosis.  Expanding definitions of diagnoses is a common technique used to broaden the market potential for drugs prescribed for the condition.  

On a lighter note, I've included a link to a very creative rap video that provides a critical look at ADHD diagnosis and drugging.  Even those of us less inclined to rap music will appreciate the message.  There is a very clever introduction showing footage of a scientific meeting where one member of the panel finds it impossible to describe ADHD.

And last, we have a lovely guest article by two authors who will be presenting at our upcoming Empathic Therapy Conference. 

Very best, Ginger Breggin, Editor

  FDA—Toddlers and Infants Being Prescribed Multiple Psychiatric Drugs and Antipsychotics

The New York Times reports: "More than 500,000 children and adolescents in America are now taking antipsychotic drugs, according to a September 2009 report by the Food and Drug Administration. Their use is growing not only among older teenagers, when schizophrenia is believed to emerge, but also among tens of thousands of preschoolers."

"A Columbia University study recently found a doubling of the rate of prescribing antipsychotic drugs for privately insured 2- to 5-year-olds from 2000 to 2007. Only 40 percent of them had received a proper mental health assessment, violating practice standards from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry."

Read More Here.
Dr. Breggin and I warned in the early 1990s that children and toddlers were being identified as the "next big market" by psychopharmaceutical companies, and sadly this has come to pass.  Children who are not yet 2 years old are being placed on the strongest psychiatric drugs in the world—the antipsychotics.

We as adults need to think for ourselves and not blindly accept the advice of experts who all too often have been adversely influenced by drug companies and their skewed research and studies.  Currently, too many of our children and toddlers are being offered the cold and false comfort of psychiatric drugs instead of  improvement in their family lives and the personal attention necessary to determine individually what is happening with a troubled youngster.  See Dr. Breggin's book Reclaiming Our Children to explore some better ways to help children who are upset or emotionally disturbed.

Anti-Convulsant Drugs Create Higher Patient Risk of  Suicide, Attempted Suicide, or Violent Death

Anticonvulsants were developed for the purpose of controlling the medical condition of epilepsy.  But anticonvulsants have now become commonly prescribed for psychiatric conditions as well as for chronic pain management.  Another study now reports that once again, this class of drugs creates a greater risk of suicide, attempted suicide or violent death with some of the drugs showing a much higher risk level than others.  Read more here.

Making a Market in Antipsychotic Drugs
by Peter R. Breggin, MD

Look what have become the new top selling drugs in the world: antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal, Zyprexa, Abilify, Seroquel, Geodon and Invega. Although the FDA has been expanding the approved use of some of these drugs to some cases of autism, Tourettes and a variety of other problems, their original purpose and their main use in psychiatry until now has been largely confined to psychosis and acute mania.

Psychosis and acute mania afflict a very small portion of the the population. Yet these drugs are now at the top of the list of most widely prescribed medications worldwide. How did these incredibly toxic chemicals become daily pharmacological mainstays for so many millions of children and adults? It's time to face the truth that the prescription of psychiatric drugs is driven by marketing trends--and now for the first time by something even more dreadful and insidious than mere marketing.  Read more here.

Move Afoot to Broaden Bipolar Diagnosis

Recently I read somewhere that the Psychopharmaceutical Complex was calling for a 'Decade of Diagnosis' campaign.   Many of us who have read Dr. Breggin's books or other psychiatric critiques will recognize that the promotion or broadening of diagnoses is a great way of selling more psychiatric drugs.  The usual first line prescription now for a bipolar diagnosis is a prescription for an antipsychotic such as Abilify, Risperdal, Seroquel, Geodon, Invega, Zyprexa, Clozaril or Symbyax. 

One of the latest efforts at expanding diagnosis is an argument that many persons with depression have a 'subthreshold' hypomania, thus deserving a  bipolar diagnosis.  Two of the authors of the study revealed they had financial ties to pharmaceutical or medical device companies.  Read more here.

Hear Dr. Peter Breggin weekly on his new radio show--Live on the Progressive Radio Network

Tune into Dr. Breggin's new radio show to learn how to improve your mental and spiritual life without resort to psychiatric drugs. Dr. Breggin can empower you each step of the way every Monday afternoon at 5 PM. Your calls and his outstanding guests will make this the most enlightening show in the field of psychotherapy, psychiatry and psychological well-being.  All radio shows are archived on the network and can be listened to anytime on the internet.  Listeners can call in live at:  1-888-874-4888. Great guests, callers, and conversation to inspire your life.

Read more here.

Y'All Busted ~ A Rap Critique of ADHD Diagnosis and Drugs

Here is a very well done rap video that critiques ADHD diagnosis and psychiatric drugs.  Multimedia, music, and video are the cutting edge of communicating to our youth.  Bravo to this artist for his excellent effort and message.  Click here for Youtube video.

Making Healing and Empathic Approaches
More Visible

by Rosemary Barnes and Susan Schellenberg

    It is a problem that emotional crisis and disturbance are usually discussed publically only in modernist, psychiatric, medical model terms.  When alternatives are poorly visible, individuals and families facing overwhelming emotional distress have little choice but to turn to the highly visible systems of conventional, mental health care, even though the potential harms of this approach have been described at length for over thirty years. 

    Countless numbers of individuals receiving such care have suffered from harmful medications, questionable diagnostic systems, patronizing or abusive professional practices, restrictive stereotypes, and disregard for more humane and effective approaches.  Artist Susan Schellenberg and psychologist Rosemary Barnes work together using art and storytelling in an effort to give greater visibility to other possible language and responses in relation to emotional disturbance (see Committed to the Sane Asylum: Narratives on Mental Wellness and Healing, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009). 

    How did our interests develop?  During a 1969 three-week stay in Toronto's Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and for ten years after, Susan was treated with prescribed anti-psychotic drugs and understood that she suffered from schizophrenia, a chronic illness with no hope for recovery.  Eventually, she felt that she could not continue to take these drugs, and committed to healing and to painting a record of her dreams as her mind and body healed. 

    Rosemary became cynical and exhausted about her professional career as chief psychologist at a university-affiliated hospital as she grew skeptical about hospital responses to emotional disturbance.  She eventually realized that her dissatisfaction with medical model psychiatric care reflected a basic disagreement with conventional practices that prize overcoming mental illness and becoming normal. 

    Susan and Rosemary have taken up an approach where emotional disturbance – and who among us has not experienced this in some form? – is addressed by living with an eye to delight and commitment to the creative, relational, earthy process of healing.  Healing is different from "conquering" an illness, achieving a "cure" or "managing" a condition; indeed, such concepts and language reinforce the visibility of conventional mental health care. 

    We think of healing as growth in ability to love and forgive self and other, to cope, to feel pleasure, to engage in meaningful activity and to follow the psyche's inner direction away from addiction and towards greater wholeness.  Healing is a creative process relying on an inner capacity neither created nor destroyed by professional care, but amenable to nurturing by cultivating confidence in life's healing capacity, supportive relationships and an ecology of healing.  A well-being and healing emphasis is central to the recovery approach to serious mental illness that many consumer-survivors advocate as an alternative to conventional mental health care.

    Though Susan and Rosemary have never been in a doctor/patient relationship, we tell our personal stories together in order to show how this crucial relationship can and should be reorganized to be respectful and collaborative.  We mean "doctor" broadly to refer to any professional providing care, e.g., physician, nurse, psychologist, social worker, physiotherapist, and "patient" to describe individuals seeking care from doctors. 

    In the narrative that dominates conventional health care, the doctor (or nurse, psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist) is the confident, powerful, infallible expert responsible for maintaining order by making quick, accurate diagnoses and providing effective treatment.  Patients are weak, distressed, needy, foolish, sometimes threatening, dependents responsible for "getting well" by following the directions of the doctor.  Engaging in such a narrative, in such command-and-control relationships, leaves many patients and doctors as exhausted, harmed and frustrated as this experience left each of us.  Respectful and collaborative healing relationships hold their own challenges, but offer richly satisfying compensations for both the healer and the individual seeking help.

    A well-being and healing approach acknowledges that some individuals may be helped by the medical model explanation of emotional disturbance as a biochemical imbalance that can be righted by means of accurate diagnosis and correct medication.  However, the well-being and healing approach appreciates that emotional disturbance can be explained and addressed in many frameworks, e.g., relational, spiritual, artistic, bodily, political. 

    Giving primacy to well-being and healing provides a basis for identifying a path suitable to each individual's personal demons and life purposes, and thus allows for a postmodern integration of the multiple possible constructions of emotional disturbance.  Even where cure is impossible, healing is always possible and desirable; life can always be lived with an eye to delight, with an emphasis on meaning, creativity, caring and connection to the earth and one another.

Susan Schellenberg's dream art and story can be viewed at  
http://susanschellenberg.com/home.html.  Rosemary Barnes is a psychologist in private practice in Toronto, Canada.

Thank you, Rosemary and Susan, for your lovely article!  And thanks to all our readers for your encouragement and feedback! 

Remember to join our Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy and join in our growing efforts to encourage empathic, ethical human services and sciences in our culture. 

Very best regards,
Ginger Breggin, Executive Director
Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy

Peter R. Breggin, MD is no longer affiliated with the Center for the Study of Psychiatry, informally known as International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, which he founded and led from 1972-2002,
and Dr. Breggin is no longer involved in its conferences.

Copyright 2010
Peter R. Breggin, MD

Dr. Peter Breggin's
Center for the Study of Empathic
Therapy, Education and Living
Bring Out the Best In Yourself!