Psychiatry's Front Groups

"Because of the financial incentives structured into the development and use of DSM, decisions about which human problems get included as mental disorders in DSM and who qualifies for the reimbursable diagnostic label are vulnerable to pressure from advocacy groups, professional associations, and corporations."59

Professors Herb Kutchins & Stuart A. Kirk
Authors, Making Us Crazy,
DSM: The Psychiatric Bible and
The Creation of Mental Disorders

The main organizations that are promoting psychiatry's drugs, the biochemical imbalance theory or the fallacious ideas of "neurobiological disease," receive huge grants from sources which profit from the biological psychiatry model; namely drug interests. This funding, Dr. Valenstein says, "enables the groups to increase newspaper and magazine advertising and the information they distribute by other means. Typically, patient advocacy materials have a pro-drug bias," which "exaggerate and sometimes distort the effectiveness of drug treatment and what is known about the relationship of brain chemistry to mental illness."60

Front Group Workings

  • One national U.S. organization representing the families and friends of the mentally ill—and which receives $3 million a year in pharmaceutical funding61—tells its chapters to "stop using the term 'mental illness.' Use terms that acknowledge biology. Terms like 'biologically based brain disease,' 'neurobiological disorders' (NBD), or specific diagnoses (schizophrenia, depression, etc.). Biological terms are more accurate, reduce stigma and differentiate us."62

  • Critics claim this same organization is also in the pocket of New York state psychiatric researchers and fails to make the protection of vulnerable patients a priority.63 As of 1998, it also had 1,100 members of the American Psychiatric Association as members.64

  • These groups will assert with absolute certainty that a drug has saved their child or friend's life by correcting the chemical imbalance responsible for the mental condition. However, Valenstein says, "They were almost surely repeating what they had read or what their psychiatrist had told them, despite the fact the psychiatrist had no way of knowing if they really had a biochemical imbalance."65

  • The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) reported that the activities of such groups might be undermining the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which prohibits the "advertisement of controlled substances to the general public."66 Indeed, the DEA cited Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD), stating that its funding from companies supports a biopsychiatry drug model and may have compromised it, especially when it mentions as a treatment option a specific drug used almost universally for "ADHD." Gene Haislip, DEA diversion control head, dubbed the relationship between one well-known drug manufacturer and CHADD an "unhealthy co-mingling of medical and commercial interests."67

  • Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D., an award-winning author and speaker on learning and human development, stated: "In its search for a physical cause, the ADD movement reached a milestone with the 1990 publication in the New England Journal of Medicine of a study by Alan Zametkin and his colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health. This study appeared to link hyperactivity in adults with reduced metabolism of glucose…in…areas of the brain that are involved in the control of attention, planning and motor activity.

  • "The media picked up on Zametkin's research and reported it nationally. ADD proponents latched on to this study as 'proof' of the medical basis for ADD... What was not reported by the media or cheered by the ADD community was the study by Zametkin and the others that came out three years later... In an attempt to repeat the 1990 study with adolescents, the researchers found no significant differences between the brains of so-called hyperactive subjects and those of so-called normal subjects."68

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