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Your Kids Aren't Sick

By       Message R.L. Cima     Permalink
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                           YOUR KIDS AREN'T SICK

                      Towards the Death of Psychiatry

                                 R.L. Cima, Ph.D.

 

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                               The Beginning                                               

My first contact with the psychiatric profession was in 1974. Armed with a new Bachelor's degree in Sociology, I found work as a counselor at a 65 bed boy's home in Corona, California.

I went back to college at 25 to get a bachelor's degree so I could become a teacher and coach. I was a good coach. I commanded respect from the kids, I treated them with respect, I was in their face just like my best coaches were with me when I needed it, and I tried to help them improve their talents and skills, no matter how old or what sport. I liked coaching almost more than playing. Coaching was my style at the boy's home too, and it was effective.

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Dr. Duncan was our MD. Dr. Duncan was a wonderful man. He donated his time, services, and money to the care of these teenage boys. Dr. Duncan was not a psychiatrist. Though there were psychiatric medications available to adults at the time, they were not in common use for children. However, Dr. Duncan sought out and found some new psychiatric training available to MD's regarding some miracle chemicals available to help children. So, once he was trained, we began to medicate children.

Not all children mind you. It was the most difficult to manage children that were given chemicals, the ones the adults complained about the most. The explanation used by the experts at the time was that these children were hard to manage "because . . . ," and then these same experts would say something vague about chemicals and parts in their brains that didn't make sense. That's when this whole idea of magical chemicals began to get fuzzy for me.

"because . . ."

"What is this Ritalin stuff?" I asked Dr. Duncan.

After all, I was giving these pills to kids, and I wanted to know what they were.

By the mid-seventies, Ritalin[i] was quickly becoming the treatment of choice for hyperactivity, or what was then called "hyperkinesis."[ii] A few years later Attention Deficit Disorder was coined, and by 1987, ADHD was voted in as a new disease in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).[iii]

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I used to keep the pill packets in my shirt pocket. I gave them to the kids as prescribed, usually after dinner or before bed. All I noticed is that the kids had a tough time going to sleep, and often were groggy in the morning. That was explained to me as a "side effect." I quickly came to hate that term. There was nothing "side" about it. These were full-blown effects.

"It's a stimulant," Dr. Duncan answered.

I thought that was odd. A few of the boys I was giving it to were arrested and placed on probation because they were taking stimulants, usually Benzedrine ("bennies").[iv]

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I've been working with children and families from the foster care system in California for 35 years. I have a Ph.D. in Psychology. I'm an active opponent of the use and abuse of psychotropic medication given to manage children. There are no (more...)
 

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