Via Kathy Shaidle, Sally Satel’s review of The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder contains an interesting tidbit about the APA’s decision to eliminate homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders:
In the early 1970s, annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) were home to angry showdowns between the gay rights lobby and organized psychiatry. Activists picketed convention sites, shouted down speakers, and waged ad hominem attacks on psychiatrists who sincerely believed that homosexuality was a sickness. The goal of their flamboyant campaign against the APA — an impressive display of “guerrilla theater,” as one psychiatrist put it — was to force the association to take homosexuality out of its official handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, second edition, popularly known as the DSM-II.More. The APA changes its position on homosexuality after protest and harassment and people lose faith in the authority of its pronouncements? Go figure. It’s worth noting, though, that the conduct members of the APA were subjected to by those gay activists is just an extreme example of the social pressures scientists, academics, and other professionals are subjected to generally to conform their conclusions to the opinions of their social group. A researcher whose work tends towards some politically unpalatable conclusions is not likely to have people picketing his house, but he is likely to face a subtle ostracism from his friends and colleagues.
In December 1973, they won. A decisive majority of the APA board of trustees voted to remove homosexuality from the professional nomenclature.”Doctors Rule Homosexuals Not Abnormal,” read the headline in the next day’s Washington Post. It was a major victory both for gay people and for the enlightened wing of the psychiatric establishment. But rather than calm the critics of psychiatry, the APA’s acknowledgment that homosexuality was not a mental illness only inflamed them. They took this as further evidence that the profession was a sham, and asked in outrage how psychiatry could claim to be a legitimate, scientific branch of medicine if its members determined the very existence of an illness by vote.
Exactly how much this tends to skew their work in the face of such pressure cannot be known (any more than we can know what the results of the APA vote on homosexuality would have been without the “guerilla theater” of the gay activists). But it is certainly a bias that must be taken into account. '
Secondly, we have: http://www.dadi.org/eg_apa.htm (Dads Against the Divorce Industry) by Evan Gahr.
CONGRESS NOW HAS yet another reason to berate the American Psychological Association.
The APA this fall officially brushed off congressional criticism of its notorious "study" that called fathers worse than useless. That study came to light earlier this year, not long after a congressional furor broke out over an APA article that appeared to condone pedophilia.
Still, congressmen remain oblivious to how they can really make the APA squirm: Hit the District-based organization in the pocketbook. Last year, unbeknownst to its congressional critics, the APA received millions of dollars in federal subsidies, the American Spectator discloses. There's plenty more where that comes from; most of the grants are multiyear.
Why aren't congressmen a bit more attuned to how they spend taxpayer dollars? After all, it just took them several weeks after the Brooklyn Museum controversy broke to realize that the federal government underwrites the now notorious arts institution (which is locked in a battle with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani over an exhibition that features a dung-splattered Virgin Mary portrait).
As for the APA, an ostensibly scientific organization that functions as a left-liberal advocacy group (witness their new alliance with the American Federation of Teachers), it's almost comical that congressmen unwittingly fund the very organization they condemn.
Some background: In July 1998, the APA's Psychological Bulletin published an article that seemed to condone pedophilia. "A Meta-Analytic Examination of Assumed Properties of Child Sexual Abuse Using College Samples" argued that the "negative potential" of sexual abuse has "been overstated." Child sex abuse, they contended, actually encompasses a wide range of behavior best described with "value neutral" terms.
You might think that would raise eyebrows among the "scientific community." But the article went practically unnoticed until "Dr. Laura" Schlessinger attacked it on her nationally syndicated radio show March 22. The press took note. And soon Congress was turning up the screws on the APA, or so it seemed.
On May 12, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas and three other GOP congressman held a press conference to denounce the APA. Rep. Matt Salmon, Arizona Republican, lamented that "we have a so-called credible psychological organization in this country that purports to say that maybe sex with children isn't bad."
Unbeknownst to the congressmen , this "so-called credible psychological association" has long been in bed with the federal government. The APA has long enjoyed a small but steady flow of federal dollars. And last year, the APA was awarded $4.78 million in federal grants, most of them multiyear. Nor is this anything new. The National Institutes of Health, for example, have funded the APA since at least the late 1980s.
Yes, the government grants represent a small fraction of the APA's $77.63 million annual budget And it's true that some of the grants, such as $848,000 last year to train minority scientists, sound innocuous. But money is fungible. Money earmarked for seemingly legitimate purposes frees up funds to support pro-pedophilia articles.
In any event, shouldn't all these government ties makes the APA awfully scared to antagonize Congress? Apparently not. In the face of criticism over the pedophilia article, the APA simply hid behind science. A spokeswoman said "I think the issue is not so much about pedophilia but whether science should be allowed to ask tough questions."
However, as congressional pressure mounted the APA finally backed down just a bit. CEO Ray Fowler told Mr. DeLay that there were inconsistencies in the APA study. He promised a full review and insisted the APA in no way condones child sex abuse.
Just when the pedophilia controversy was subsiding, a new one erupted. In June 1999, the American Psychologist, which all APA members receive, published "Deconstructing the Essential Father." The authors attacked "neo-conservatives" for their claim that fathers are crucial to a child's development. Psychologists Carl Auerbach and Louise Silverstein explained that sometimes life without father is best. After all, Dad may may squander the household money by gambling or buying alcohol or cigarettes.
It was deja vu all over again. Columnists screamed. Rep. Joseph Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, and other congressmen complained to Mr. Fowler in an Aug. 6 letter.
If the APA was weary from all the criticism, it sure wasn't evident at their annual convention later that month. The controversies were largely ignored. And the convention, with a seemingly endless parade of left-wing speakers, could have been mistaken for a meeting of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition.
In fact, Jesse Jackson was the keynote speaker. He brought the APA crowd to its feet as he railed against the "jail industrial complex," demanded "universal health care," denounced U.S. imperialism, trashed George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. (Another speaker attacked Clarence Thomas.)
On and on it went. Still, the convention's sensibility shouldn't have surprised anyone. The APA has long pushed an unabashedly left-liberal agenda. In addition to such standard liberal goodies as unrestricted abortion rights, gay rights and stringent "affirmative action" measures.
Moreover, key elements of the mental health profession have long manifested utter contempt for middle-class values. In the 1960s and 1970s, one shrink even made his name blaming schizophrenia on society. On the political front, they have declared Barry Goldwater psychologically unfit to be president. And this month, the APA's New York division joined the left-leaning teachers union. (Other state APA divisions may soon join the AFT.)
It's well to note that when the American Medical Association condemned partial-birth abortion in 1996 liberals yelped that politics had tainted medicine. But when the APA shills for the left - and even assorted perverts - it's a different story. Object and you're thwarting scientific progress.
Just look how the APA finally answered criticism of the organization's anti-fatherhood screed. In a Sept. 20 letter to Mr. Pitts, Mr. Fowler, the APA honcho, said APA articles are meant to engender scientific discussion. Actually, with their sniping at the neo-conservatives, the authors of the article sounded more like "Crossfire" panelists than dispassionate scientists. (Even the article's title's reference to "deconstructing" reeks of academia).
Mr. Fowler did not return a phone call for this article. And APA President Richard Suinn cut off questions about the APA as "inappropriate."
But if congressional Republicans ever get serious about their threat to "defund the left," the APA is a great place to start. '
Third, we have http://encognitive.com/node/1215. The 'Misdiagnosing Mental Illness' article is what I looked at, only after reading through many others.
Misdiagnosing Mental IllnessBy Nicholas Regush.
Some So-Called "Psychiatric Diseases" May Not Have A Biological Basis, So Do Drugs Really Help?
[Commentary By Nicholas Regush.]
Psychiatry has become a heavily drug-company influenced edifice which often trumpets highly speculative biological science. There are signs many Americans are disturbed by the insidious evolution of psychiatry as a shill for pharmaceuticals and a tool for behavior control
Two class-action lawsuits filed last month allege the American Psychiatric Association and Ritalin's maker, Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp (formed through the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz) encouraged over-diagnosis of behavioral disorders in children Congress also recently convened hearings about whether Ritalin is over-prescribed to children who are diagnosed as having Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Is It Intrinsic or Culture? These are children who purportedly have disorder-related symptoms such as short attention span, impulsive behavior and restlessness. Some undoubtedly have these difficulties and need some help, but these days it would appear that when a child too often twitches in school, cracks a few jokes, or gazes off, bored stiff, he or she can be slapped with an ADHD label. This "diagnostic" enthusiasm has gone way off the deep end. Now, finally, there are serious calls to investigate.
Part of the problem lies in psychiatry's disorder classification system. I'm referring here to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, or DSM. It is at the core of modern-day psychiatric practice and influences how the entire field of mental health deals with patients and research.
Fidgeting Is a Sign of Illness
The latest DSM edition's description of ADHD is truly something to behold. In the inattention category, for example, one symptom is "Has difficulty sustaining attention." Another is: "Does not appear to listen."
One symptom in the hyperactive/impulsive category is: "Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair." Another is: "Blurts out answers before questions have been completed."
If these types of symptoms occur frequently and appear to be severe, then the child has a good chance of being branded ADHD
The problem is, some of the symptoms listed could point to a wide variety of stimuli: Insufferably boring teachers. An out-of touch-with-reality academic curriculum. This is, after all, the Internet Age in which the flow of ideas and facts are fast and furious. And what about learning patterns at home that might play a role in how a child behaves at school?
To give so many children a drug such as Ritalin presupposes that specific biological problems underlie ADHD. And in psychiatry, this gets about as murky as you can possibly imagine.
The recent orgy of drug-giving to so-called ADHD children is no historical accident. It comes at a time when there is increasing pressure within psychiatry to focus more attention in the DSM on biological causes of disease.
Biology vs. Psychological Causes
Much of the history of psychiatry boils down to a duel between those who have attempted to relate mental disorders to specific brain functions (the biological approach) and those who have attempted to explain disorders in psychological terms (the mind approach).
As long as biological psychiatry had few treatments to bank on, psychology more or less held sway. But that changed considerably in the 1970s when moderately effective treatments for mental illness appeared on the market. That gave biological psychiatry a huge shot in the arm and it has grown in stature and power ever since.
But here's the rub. The brain has proved to be far more vastly complex than some of the biological enthusiasts have imagined. To be sure, there has been progress, but much of what is considered mental illness still is poorly understood and many drugs offer scattershot rather than well-targeted treatment. And that often translates into patients suffering serious drug side effects.
It is indeed very telling that psychiatry's disorder classification system, the DSM, still remains, as the section on ADHD shows - primarily a manual of descriptions of psychological states and symptoms - and not a manual pointing to disorders with specific underlying biological conditions.
Assumed ADHD Is Biologically Caused
Yet, in the case of ADHD, for example, there is clearly an unstated assumption that symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity have some biological cause. But the behavior that is described may have non-biological or social causes, such as bad parenting, poor schools and poverty.
There is certainly no indication in the DSM's description of ADHD that the "disorder" can be viewed as arising from a difficult or non-conformist relationship between an individual and his culture.
In other words, rather than spotlight problems in the culture, the subtle message in the DSM is that ADHD is biological in origin and therefore mental health professionals should opt for drugs to quell some ill-defined inner disruption
There is little in the way of worthy biological data available on something termed "ADHD" to make a scientific case for so much drugging of children.
Now, if either the current president of the American Psychiatric Association or the chief science officer of Novartis would enjoy debating me on this point, I'm sure we can arrange a public forum and an Internet Webcast. '
I think after reading several other articles that we need to defund the APA greatly and ensure that there is a more 'diverse' group of people conducting surveys, looking at data and overall oversight within this unique 'Scientific' arena. Over the past 30 years or so, I think parents should take a hard look at who is doing what and how it is affecting our families.