April 30, 2012
It's a sign of the times where the medicalization of almost every human behavior is being documented, labeled and categorized as some type of illness or 'disorder.' A psychiatrist who heads the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) wants to broaden the definition of children with mental illness so that unruly and badly behaved kids will soon be diagnosed as having mental disorders.
It's not terribly shocking anymore to have some so-called expert, academic or psychiatrist label perfectly normal human behaviors as disorders. What a coincidence that this one happens to head the NIMH.
"One reason we haven't made greater progress helping people recover from mental disorders is that we get on the scene too late," said Thomas R. Insel, MD, director of the NIMH and the featured speaker at the American Academy of Pediatrics' Presidential Plenary during the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Boston.
What Dr. Insel is referring to is that more children are not being diagnosed with mental disorders at an earlier age, thus decreasing the demographic of available candidates for psychiatric evaluation and pharmaceutical intervention. Dr. Insel discussed signs of mental illnesses in young children and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention in his presentation, "What Every Pediatrician Needs to Know about Mental Disorders," on April 29, in the Hynes Convention Center.
He insists that as the first line of defense, pediatricians should detect mental disorders early and ensure children get drug treatment as soon as possible. He foresees migrating from the current screening tools involving questionnaires to other methods such as cognitive and genetic testing.
Dr. Insel is very blunt about diagnosing a child's behavior problems as a mental disorder. It's important to understand that mental illnesses are a developmental brain disorder even though they can look like behavior problems, Dr. Insel explained.
"The future of mental illness has to be at the point where we aren't treating behavior separately from the rest of the person," he said. "There needs to be full integration of behavior and medical concerns."
All children misbehave--it is their nature. The medicalization of normal these normal behaviors further support ongoing research into the disturbing and ongoing chemical abuse of children by conventional medicine. The prescription of psychiatric drugs to the masses, specifically children, are altering their minds, bodies and entire lives. See A Closer Look At Generation Rx
Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Mathematics Disorder. If you've never talked to your doctor about these conditions, it should come as little surprise; they are arguably some of the stranger diagnoses floating around in the medical literature. And although ridiculous to any sane person, many medical professionals say that these disorders are legitimate conditions that often warrant treatment.
"Illness is always a social construct," notes Dr. Nortin Hadler, professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of the book "Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America."
"People have to agree -- both people, in general, and those in the medical community -- that a life experience should be labeled an illness," Hadler says. "For example, the Victorians medicalized orgasm, and we medicalize the lack of it."
Dr. Igor Galynker, director of The Family Center for Bipolar Disorder at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, says that some psychiatric conditions, in particular, tend to be a target of widespread controversy.
"In psychiatry, part of a disorder is clinically defined and part is societally defined," he says, adding that conditions, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, are particularly contentious.
"An ADD diagnosis is very controversial, especially after a recent paper suggested some children with ADD 'grow out' of it at age 25," he says. "That would mean that ADD is a phase in development, rather than a disease. ... It is all fluid."
Recent proposed changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the bible of the psychiatric profession childhood temper tantrums, teenage irritability and binge eating as psychiatric disorders.
The DSM is in its fifth edition. It has been criticized for formalizing character traits and emotions into mental conditions and for encouraging their medical treatment, often with drugs that have powerful side effects.
In addition to serving as director of the NIMH, Dr. Insel is acting director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, a new arm of the National Institutes of Health that has been specifically developed to accelerate diagnosis of mental disorders and subsequent pharmaceutical drug treatment.
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.