Extract from Natural News.com:
The following is a Street Spirit interview with Robert Whitaker, author of Mad In America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill. It is reprinted here with permission from the Street Spirit in Oakland, California. The interview is conducted by Terry Messman, editor of Street Spirit...
SS: There's an astonishing number of kids being given Ritalin to cure hyperactivity. But what 10-year-old boy in a confined school setting isn't hyperactive? You write that the effect of Ritalin on the dopamine system is very similar to cocaine and amphetamines.
RW: Ritalin is methylphenidate. Now methylphenidate affects the brain in exactly the same way as cocaine. They both block a molecule that is involved in the reuptake of dopamine.
SS: So they both increase the dopamine levels in the brain?
RW: Exactly. And they do it with a similar degree of potency. So methylphenidate is very similar to cocaine. Now, one difference is whether you're snorting it or if it's in a pill. That partly changes how quickly it's metabolized. But still, it basically affects the brain in the same way. Now, methylphenidate was used in research studies to deliberately stir psychosis in schizophrenics. Because they knew that you could take a person with a tendency towards psychosis, give them methylphenidate, and cause psychosis. We also knew that amphetamines, like methylphenidate, could cause psychosis in people who had never been psychotic before.
So think about this. We're giving a drug to kids that is known to have the possibility of stirring psychosis. Now, the odd thing about methylphenidate and amphetamines is that, in kids, they sort of have a counterintuitive effect. What does speed do in adults? It makes them more jittery and hyperactive. For whatever reasons, in kids amphetamines will actually still their movements; it will actually keep them in their chairs and make them more focused. So you've got kids in boring schools. The boys are not paying attention and they're diagnosed with ADHD and put on a drug that is known to stir psychosis. The next thing you know, a fair number of them are not doing well by the time they're 15, 16, 17. Some of those kids talk about how when you're on these drugs for the long term, you start feeling like a zombie; you don't feel like yourself.
SS: Hollowed-out, blunted emotions. And this is being done to millions of kids.
RW: Millions of kids! Think about what we're doing. We're robbing kids of their right to be kids, their right to grow, their right to experience their full range of emotions, and their right to experience the world in its full hue of colors. That's what growing up is, that's what being alive is! And we're robbing kids of their right to be. It's so criminal. And we're talking about millions of kids who have been affected this way. There are some colleges where something like 40 to 50 percent of the kids arrive with a psychiatric prescription.
SS: It looks like a huge social-control mechanism. Society gives kids Ritalin and antidepressants to subdue them and make them conform. On the one hand, it's all about social control and conformity. But it also has a huge marketing payoff.
RW: You're right, it creates customers for the drugs, and hopefully lifelong customers. That's what they're told, aren't they? They're told they are going to be on these drugs for life. And next thing they know, they're on two or three or four drugs. It's brilliant from the capitalist point of view. It does serve some social-control function. But you take a kid, and you turn them into a customer, and hopefully a lifelong customer. It's brilliant.
We now spend more on antidepressants in this country than the Gross National Product of mid-sized countries like Jordan. It's just amazing amounts of money. The amount of money we spend on psychiatric drugs in this country is more than the Gross National Product of two-thirds of the world's countries. It's just this incredibly lucrative paradigm of the mind that you can fix chemical imbalances in the brain with these drugs. It works so well from a capitalistic point of view for Eli Lilly. When Prozac came to market, Eli Lilly's value on Wall Street, its capitalization, was around 2 billion dollars. By the year 2000, the time when Prozac was its number-one drug, its capitalization reached 80 billion dollars -- a forty-fold increase.
So that's what you really have to look at if you want to see why drug companies have pursued this vision with such determination. It brings billions of dollars in wealth in terms of increased stock prices to the owners and managers of those companies. It also benefits the psychiatric establishment that gets behind the drugs; they do well by this. There's a lot of money flowing in the direction of those that will embrace this form of care. There's advertisements that enrich the media. It's all a big gravy train.
Unfortunately, the cost is dishonesty in our scientific literature, the corruption of the FDA, and the absolute harm done to children in this country drawn into this system, and an increase of 150,000 newly disabled people every year in the United States for the last 17 years. That's an incredible record of harm done.
SS: Everyone gets rich -- the drug companies, the psychiatrists, the researchers, the advertising agencies -- and the clients get drugged out of their minds and damaged for life.
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