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                      Just say yes to Ritalin!
Parents are being pressured by schools to medicate their kids -- or else.
                   By Lawrence H. Diller, M.D.  Sep. 25, 2000

[comments of 10/3/00, of Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD, embedded within ]

Public school administrators, long the enthusiastic adherents of a "Just Say No!" policy on drug use, appear to have a new motto for the parents of certain tiny soldiers in the war on drugs: "Medicate or Else!" It is a new and troubling twist in the psychiatric drugs saga, in which public schools have begun to issue ultimatums to parents of hard-to-handle kids, saying they will not allow students to attend conventional classes unless they are medicated. In the most extreme cases, parents unwilling to give their kids drugs are being reported by their schools to local offices of Child Protective Services, the implication being that by withholding drugs, the parents are guilty of neglect.

[Dr. Baughman:
There can be no doubt, not only that teachers and other
school personnel are diagnosing ADHD and other psychiatric disorders,
but that coercion and the threat of legal force are becoming standard
practice as well. And, all this for psychiatry’s invented, fraudulent
‘diseases,’ not one of them an actual disease. The schools are exhorted
by the mega-billion dollar mental health/psychopharm cartel to step up
the labeling and drugging of normal, un-disciplined mis-educated
children, and step it up they have, forgetting in the process that they
live in a democracy.]

  At least two families with children in schools near Albany, N.Y., recently
  were reported by school officials to local CPS offices when the parents
  decided, independently, to stop giving their children medication for
  attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. (The parents of one student pulled
  him from school; the others decided to put their boy back on medication so
  that he could continue at his school.)

  Meanwhile, class-action lawsuits
   were filed earlier this
  month in federal courts in California and New Jersey, alleging that Novartis
  Pharmaceuticals Corp., the manufacturer of Ritalin, and the American
  Psychiatric Association had conspired to create and expand the market for
  the drug, the best known of the stimulant medications that include the 
  amphetamines Adderall and Dexedrine. The suit appears to be much like
  another lawsuit brought against Novartis in Texas earlier this year.
  As a doctor with a practice in behavioral pediatrics -- and one who
  prescribes Ritalin for children -- I am alarmed by the widespread and
  knee-jerk reliance on pharmaceuticals by educators, who do not always
  explore fully the other options available to deal with learning and
  behavioral problems in their classrooms. Issues of medicine aside, these
  cases represent a direct challenge to the rights of parents to make choices
  for their children and still enjoy access to the public education they want
  for them -- without medication. These policies also demonstrate a
  disquieting belief on the part of educated adults that bad behavior and
  underperformance in school should be interpreted as medical disorders that
  must be treated with drugs.

[Dr. Baughman:
This is the lynch-pin of the fraud and of the
ADHD/psychiatric disorders/drugs epidemic in the government schools of
the country: the purposeful, but fraudulent representation of behavioral
and educational problems in physically normal children as medical
problems/psychiatric disorders/diseases. Nor is this just a
misunderstanding on the part of the parents and educators of the nation,
their thinking has been perverted by a carefully authored prosecuted by
the US psychiatry, lead by none other than our own National Institute of
Mental Health.]

  Unfortunately, I know from the experience of evaluating and treating more
  than 2,500 children for problems of behavior and school performance that
  these cases represent only a handful of the millions of Americans who have
  received pressure from school personnel to seek a "medical evaluation" for a
  child -- teacher-speak for "Get your kid on Ritalin."

[Dr. Baughman:
here we have testimony from yet another, Lawrence Diller, who
testified earlier before the Committee on Education and the Workforce on
the issue of "Behavioral Drugs in Schools: Questions and Concerns,"
that threat, force, coercion have become near-invariable. To begin with
all—every last one is lied to, the informed consent rights of every
child and family are abrogated/violated as they are told that these
so-called disorders are diseases, that their children are
abnormal/diseased, without which they would be normal children who’s
behavioral and educational failures educators would have to stand
responsible for, without which they would be normal children who no
physician would have a medical justification to drug.]

  Most often, evaluations are driven by genuine concerns first raised by a
  teacher or school psychologist. But too frequently the children are sent to
  me without even a cursory educational screening for learning problems. With
  a 700 percent increase in the use of Ritalin since 1990, parents have been
  repeatedly told that their kids probably have ADHD and that Ritalin is the
  treatment of choice. More and more often, the parents who buck this trend
  are being told they must put their children in special restricted classrooms
  or teach them at home.

[Dr. Baughman:
Without a doubt this is the practice of medicine without a
license, and, I would point out, without the least qualification, to do
so. In so doing and in pressuring/ forcing parents to go to a physician
who near-invariably puts the normal child on a dangerous/addictive drug,
they further practice medicine without a license.]

  Patrick and Sarah McCormack (not their real names) came to my office in a
  panic last year because a school wanted them to medicate their 7-year-old
  son. Sarah tearfully explained that the principal and psychologist at
  Sammy's school in an upscale Bay Area town were absolutely clear that the
  first-grader should be on Ritalin. An outside private psychologist who had
  previously tested Sammy did not find any learning problems but concluded
  that he had ADHD and was defiant of authority. She suggested medication. The
  school psychologist, in his report on Sammy, was straightforward in
  recommending "psychopharmacological therapy" for the child.

[Dr. Baughman:
Here we have psychologists practicing medicine without a
license to do so.
Make no mistake about it, this coercing/forcing of diagnoses and drugs
is a power trip, pure and simple. Teachers and all on the school team
today wield a mighty bureaucratic club that make ‘definitive’
pronouncements about the brains of their charges and takes full,
unquestioned charge of the lives of those children and of their
families. They have become a tyranny. They are in an ecstacy having
been given such power, exhorted by education from on high and mental
health to make unlimited numbers of them fodder for psychopharm while at
the same time having to take no responsibility at all for the mundane
business of literacy, education and a preparation for life.]

  The McCormacks were told, in no uncertain terms, that unless Sammy's
  behavior changed, he would be transferred to a special class for
  behavior-problem children at another school or the McCormacks would have to
  consider alternatives to public education like home schooling.
  Patrick and Sarah had few problems with their son at home, though they 
  conceded he was a "handful" and sometimes had problems getting along with
  other children. They deeply valued his outgoing personality and feared that
  Ritalin would change him. They also worried about the immediate and
  long-term side effects of the drug. They acknowledged that Sammy struggled
  at school but felt school personnel had not done enough and were using the
  wrong approaches with their kid. They hoped he could continue at the
  neighborhood school where he had made friends despite his problems. They
  wanted my opinion and support for their point of view at the school.
  When I met Sammy in my office, he was full of life and reasonably focused,
  chatting at length about activities at home and at school. Though he was in
  first grade, he could read at a fourth-grade level. I got a better picture
  of his problems when I met him with his parents. When they were there he
  acted impulsively, getting up and down from his seat and moving about the
  room when we tried to have a family conversation. Sammy regularly
  interrupted his parents and bossed them around, especially Sarah.
  His lack of respect troubled me, but I felt optimistic that Sammy could be
  successful without medication, especially after I spoke with his teacher.
  She was more positive about him than others who had reported on his conduct
  at school. She felt he had made progress in her classroom but still wondered
  how she could help him better stay on task. She was open to ideas. I
  suggested that Sammy be immediately rewarded for good behavior and given
  chips for finished work that could be exchanged for prizes at the end of the
  day. She was comfortable with giving him tangible consequences for not 
  meeting her expectations.

[Dr. Baughman:
Diller has yet to decide whether he thinks the children are
normal and in need of better parenting and schooling or whether they
have an inherent physical/neurologic defect, and a demonstrable need for
medical intervention. In his Running on Ritalin, he acknowledges
writing hundreds of prescriptions per year.]

  I suspected that medication would probably help with Sammy's self-control,
  but, as I told the McCormacks, it was not absolutely necessary. I told them
  that children of Sammy's age never become addicted and that the drug's 
  effects on his behavior would last only four hours per dose. But it was more
  important that they work on their parenting, and I referred them to a
  counselor. I couldn't say for sure whether changes at home and school would
  make the difference for Sammy, but I certainly felt it was up to the parents
  to decide on the medication. I said I would support their decision either
  A year later the McCormacks returned, frustrated and embittered. Sammy had a
  very good end to first grade, but second grade with an unsympathetic,
  unyielding teacher had been disastrous. The principal and school district
  were now insisting that Sammy be on medication if he was to stay in a
  regular third-grade classroom. The school said it "could not meet the
  child's needs within the regular classroom setting without medication." He
  was disrupting the classroom. Other parents had complained about his
  behavior. A one-on-one aide assigned to Sammy had not worked. Sarah thought
  the aide was nothing more than a snitch who regularly recorded Sammy's 
  misdeeds for the principal.
  If the family refused to give Sammy medication, the boy would be transferred
  to a different school, a bus ride from their home, to be in a special class
  with four other "disturbed" children. They could also home-school him or
  challenge the school's decision in a hearing. Ultimately they could go to
  court, but a final decision could take years -- by then Sammy might be in
  middle school. The parents were loath to move Sammy to a new school.
  However, they still were against using medication with their son.
  Families like the McCormacks, who reject medication and face a loss of 
  access to conventional public school classrooms, are increasing in numbers.
  In May, I testified before a congressional subcommittee hearing on ADHD and
  Ritalin organized by several congressmen who had received letters from 
  distressed parents pressured by their local schools to medicate their
  children. The pressure has become so intense in some areas that resolutions
  urging teachers to restrain from recommending medical evaluations and
  Ritalin for students are under consideration in several states. One passed
  recently in Colorado.
  Yet even as the issue of parents' rights is being considered in some areas,
  the stakes have dramatically increased in others, where schools are seeking
  the intervention of CPS to get parents to medicate their kids. It is no
  longer simply an issue of which school or which class a child will attend.
  Instead, some parents are being threatened with the possibility oflosing
  custody of their children if they refuse to comply with suggested treatment
  for an alleged medical condition.
  Many doctors and educators would agree that withholding medication can be
  viewed as a form of child abuse or neglect. Dr. Harold Koplewicz, vice 
  chairman of the New York University Child Study Center, said on "Good
  Morning America" last month that he felt a CPS referral was justified when a
  family refused to medicate a child for whom a diagnosis of ADHD had been
  made by an experienced evaluator. "Ritalin is simply the best treatment for
  this disorder," he said.

[Dr. Baughman:
Upon hearing that Koplewicz, of my alma mater, the NYU,
School of Medicine, was to speak on alumni day, on ADHD, I wrote to the
Dean, Glickman that ADHD is a fraud. Koplewicz and Director of the
NIMH, Steven Hyman, represented to the White House Conference on Mental
Health, and to the public at large, that ADHD is a bona fide disease,
due to abnormalities of the genes and of the brain. Having gone to
medical school and gotten their MD degrees, Koplewicz and Hyman are
fully aware that ADHD has not been validated as a disease by any
abnormality, but, nonetheless they continue their campaign of deception
and disinformation. Not only do Koplewicz, of NYU, and Peter S. Jensen,
of the NIMH and CHADD represent ADHD as a disease, children with it as
abnormal/diseased, they represent it as a matter of real medical urgency
warranting legal intervention using Child Protective Services and the
courts, taking such decision-making out of the hands of the parents.]

  I can't agree. It is true that the courts have ordered medical intervention
  when a child's life is threatened. Judges have overruled the wishes of  
  Christian Scientist parents not to give antibiotics to children who face
  life-threatening infection. Similarly, blood products have been given to
  children in surgery over the objections of Jehovah's Witnesses. But those
  situations are quite different from ones in which ADHD is diagnosed and
  Ritalin is prescribed, according to Dolores Sargent, a former special
  education teacher now practicing family law in Danville, Calif.
  "ADHD children and families do not face immediate life-threatening
  situations," she says, "and ADHD continues to be a 'disease' with multiple
  causes and no definitive markers. It's unlikely any decision that insists on
  the use of Ritalin for ADHD could withstand a court challenge."
  The existence of effective alternative treatments makes any forced decision
  to medicate children against parents' wishes both legally and ethically
  shaky. Yet, the willingness of some CPS workers to pursue families unwilling
  to dose their children shows how strongly entrenched medication for behavior
  problems in children has become in our country.
  A local CPS office cannot demand that a child be medicated -- yet -- but it
  can ascertain whether a child is safe in his or her parents' home. Legally,
  CPS can alert parents that their child's uncontrollable behavior,  which puts
  the child at significant risk of abuse at home, must change. If they feel
  this advice is not being taken, the agency can remove children from their
    What seems to be overlooked in this simplistic, and seemingly convenient,
  way of dealing with hard-to-handle kids is that alternative strategies to
  medication exist, from family counseling to short-term respite care. The
  perceived superiority, rapid onset and inexpensive nature of Ritalin make it
  a very attractive choice for school administrators, who may pressure parents
  of students who threaten to drain their beleaguered schools of time or money
  As more and more families opt for the Ritalin fix, it becomes easier to
  insist that other families in similar situations try the drug, even though
  these families may not want their kids to take stimulants.
  I still prescribe Ritalin, but only after assessing a child's school
  learning environment and family dynamics, especially the parents' style of
  discipline. But I continue to ask questions about Ritalin in a country where
  we use 80 percent of the world's stimulants. I have no doubt that Ritalin
  "works" to improve short-term behavior and school performance in children
  with ADHD; however, it is not an equivalent to or substitute for better
  parenting and schools for our children.                             
  I was surprised to see Surgeon General David Satcher quoted recently as
  saying that he believes Ritalin is underprescribed in our country. I
  participated in last week's Conference on Children's Mental Health sponsored
  by his office and found that Ritalin is thought to be both underprescribed
  and overprescribed, depending upon the community being assessed and its
  specific threshold for ADHD diagnonsis and Ritalin treatment.
  Data shows, for example, that African-American families use Ritalin at rates
  one-half to one-quarter of their white, socioeconomic peers. Asian-American
  youth are virtually absent in statistics for Ritalin use. I happen to
  believe that Satcher's comments were intended for these communities and,
  ironically, will not have any impact on them. Instead, I think, his
  statement will have perverse impact on white middle- and upper-middle-class
  families. In some communities, Ritalin use among boys in this group is as
  high as one in five.

[Dr. Baughman:
There can be no doubt of the Surgeon Generals role as he
touts for the ADHD/psychopharm industry. Earlier this year I wrote,
calling for his resignation. His statement on the health of the nation
asked that the public believe in every mental disorder as a physical
disease and urged that ‘treatment’ (read drugs) be gotten for each.]

  After much agonizing, Sammy's parents decided to put him in a special
  education class rather than give him Ritalin and, for the moment, things are
  going well for him. But they plan to move from the Bay Area, largely because
  of Sammy's school experience.
  With 4 million children taking Ritalin in America today, there are
  undoubtedly millions of other parents struggling with the decision of
  whether to medicate their children.

[Dr. Baughman:
the number, I feel sure, is closer to 6 million]

  The McCormacks' story demonstrates the
  dilemmas and pressures many of these families face. Proponents of drug 
  treatment for children's behavior problems applaud those parents who choose
  Ritalin to improve their children's learning experience. But civil
  libertarians -- and doctors like me -- worry about the specter of more 
  families being forced against their will to put their children on
  psychiatric medication. These families, and their right to make choices for
  their children, deserve our support and protection.
  - - - - - - - - - - - -
  About the writer Dr. Lawrence H. Diller practices behavioral pediatrics in
  Walnut Creek, Calif. He is the author of "Running on Ritalin: A Physician
  Reflects on Children, Society, and Performance in a Pill."  Sound Off Send
  us a Letter to the Editor /letters/index.html>


by Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD  9/27/00
(MW-text only my comment to congress 9 2700)
(947 words-save)

In April, 1998, I  [1]  wrote Attorney General Reno:

"The  biggest health care fraud in US history is the representation of
ADHD to be a disease, and the drugging of millions of normal children …"

Every physician knows, ‘disease’ equals  ‘physical abnormality’.
Nowhere in the  brains or bodies of these children, has psychiatry found
an abnormality.

In 1996, Congressman Christopher Shays [2] observed:

 "In ADHD, we are trying to draw the line between personality and
pathology, and we are placing millions of children and adults on either
side of the social, medical and legal boundary that divides the healthy
from the sick.  We should do so only with the greatest care, and with
particular reticence to make our children medical patients..."

In 1970, Congressman, Cornelius Gallagher [3] wrote HEW Secretary,
Elliott Richardson:

"I have received letters .highly critical of the focus of the medical
side of minimal brain dysfunction, which is, incidentally, one of at
least thirty-eight names attached to this condition…Such a high
incidence in the population- as high as thirty percent in ghetto
areas…may not be pathological at all…"

In 1948, 'neuropsychiatry' was divided into ‘neurology,’ dealing with
organic diseases of the brain, and ‘psychiatry,’ dealing with
psychological conditions in normal human beings [4].

But psychiatric drugs appeared in the fifties, and in the sixties
psychiatry and pharmaceutical industry authored a joint market strategy:
they would call emotional problems "brain diseases," due to "chemical
imbalances" needing "chemical balancers"—pills!

In 1980, they invented ADD [5]; in 1987, ADHD [6].  8 of 14 behaviors
were diagnostic.

In 1994, ADHD [7] was changed again; six of the nine behaviors diagnosed
3 subtypes.

In 1996, Schiller, of the Department of Education, and  Jensen and
Swanson of the NIMH & CHADD [8], wrote:
 "Once parents and teachers…recognize that children with ADD are not
lazy or ‘bad’, but have a biological disorder, they can stop blaming
In 1996, Diller [9], wrote:

"The reason  you have been unable to obtain any articles presenting
clear … evidence of a physical or chemical abnormality… is.. there are
none… the search for a biological marker is doomed from the outset
because of the contradictions and ambiguities of the diagnostic
construct of ADHD…

In 1993, [10], I testified at the NIH:

"If, as I am convinced, these entities are not diseases, it would be
unethical to initiate research to evaluate biological
interventions—unethical and fatally flawed scientifically."

In 1994, Pearlman [11], wrote:
"I take issue with Pincus’ (for the APA) assertion that elimination of
the term "organic" in the DSM-IV has served a useful purpose for
psychiatry… elimination of the  term "organic" conveys the impression
that psychiatry wishes to conceal the nonorganic character of many
behavioral problems …

On May, 13, 1998, Castellanos [12] of the NIMH confessed:
 "… we have not yet met the burden of demonstrating the specific
pathophysiology that we believe underlies this condition."
Opening the 1998, Consensus Conference on ADHD, Hyman [13], of the NIMH,

"ADHD affects from 0-3% in some school districts up to 40% in others…
this cannot be right."

Carey [14] asserted: "What is…described as ADHD in the United States
appears to be a set of  normal behavioral variations..."

Degrandpre [15] observed:

"… it appears that you define disease as a maladaptive cluster of
characteristics. In the history of science and medicine, this would not
be a valid definition of disease."

Failing to prove it a disease, they seek to re-define ‘disease’.

I testified [16]:

"Without an iota of proof … the NIMH has proclaims the … children
"brain-diseased," "abnormal." CHADD, funded by  Ciba-Geigy, … has spread
the "neuro-biological" lie.  The US Department of Education,   absolving
itself of controlling the children and rendering them literate, coerces
the labeling and drugging…ADHD is a total, 100% fraud."

The final statement of Panel [17], was:

" ...we do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are
no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction."

In 1999, I [18] challenged the American Medical Association [19] which
had concluded that ADHD was not being over-diagnosed:

 "Once children are labeled with ADHD, they are no longer treated as
normal.  Once Ritalin or any psychotropic drug courses through their
brain and body, they are, for the first time, physically, neurologically
and biologically, abnormal."

In November, 1999, I wrote Matthew Cohen, [20] President of CHADD:

"You state ADHD is a severe neurobiological condition…’ …How does CHADD
justify calling so many normal children diseased, abnormal…for purposes
of justifying prescriptions for them, of addictive, controlled, Schedule
II, psychostimulant medications?"

In December, 1999, Surgeon General, Satcher [21] announced:

"Mental illness is no different than diabetes, asthma or other physical
ailments…Mental illnesses are physical illnesses…We know the chemical
disorders we are treating…"

I [22] responded:

"…all physicians, know that the presence of any bona fide disease… is
confirmed by an objective finding--a physical or chemical abnormality.
You…know… there is no … abnormality in life, or at autopsy, in
"depression, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses…" …Your role in
this deception is clear…you should resign."

In  January, twenty years after the start of the ADD/ADHD epidemic,
Castellanos [23], observed:

"Incontrovertible evidence is still lacking… I’m confident we’ll confirm
the case for organic causes."

On May 1, Waters and Kraus [24] of Dallas filed the first of several
class action suits charging that the APA, CHADD and Ciba-Giegy/Novartis:

" planned, conspired, and colluded to create, develop, promote and
confirm the diagnoses of Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, in a highly successful effort to
increase the market for its product Ritalin."

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