Sheldon Richman: “Bush’s Brave New World”

2004-10-18

Richard Moore

--------------------------------------------------------
From: "Janet M Eaton" <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2004 12:03:50 -0300
Subject: Bush's Brave New World [re Big Pharma & mental-illnes screening for all
Americans] 
Reply-to: •••@••.•••

President Bush's little-publicized New Freedom Commission on Mental 
Health has proposed comprehensive mental-illness screening for all 
Americans. If this proposal is carried out, which is Bush's 
intention, no adult or child will be safe from intrusive probing by 
"experts," backed by drug companies, who believe that mental illness 
is woefully underdiagnosed and therefore that many millions of people 
ought to be taking powerful and expensive psychiatric drugs. Schools 
and doctors' offices will become quasi-psychiatric monitoring 
stations.  

fyi-janet 

========================================


http://baltimorechronicle.com/100704SheldonRichman.shtml

The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel -- October 7, 2004 COMMENTARY: 
Bush's Brave New World by Sheldon Richman  

President Bush's little-publicized New Freedom Commission on Mental 
Health has proposed comprehensive mental-illness screening for all 
Americans. If this proposal is carried out, which is Bush's 
intention, no adult or child will be safe from intrusive probing by 
"experts," backed by drug companies, who believe that mental illness 
is woefully underdiagnosed and therefore that many millions of people 
ought to be taking powerful and expensive psychiatric drugs. Schools 
and doctors' offices will become quasi-psychiatric monitoring 
stations.  

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas tried to forbid the federal government from 
funding mental-health screening, but the House turned down his 
amendment to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and 
Human Services. Paul, a physician, said the program was a usurpation 
of parental rights, pointing out that parents can already be charged 
with child abuse for refusing to give their children Ritalin for 
alleged attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He said, 
"Psychotropic drugs are increasingly prescribed for children who show 
nothing more than children's typical rambunctious behavior. Many 
children have suffered harmful effects from these drugs."  

Another physician, Karen Effrem, also opposes the plan: "Universal 
mental-health screening and the drugging of children, as recommended 
by the New Freedom Commission, needs to be stopped so that many 
thousands if not millions of children will be saved from receiving 
stigmatizing diagnoses that would follow them for the rest of their 
lives. America's school children should not be medicated by 
expensive, ineffective, and dangerous medications based on vague and 
dubious diagnoses."  

People wrongly assume that psychiatric diagnoses are like medical 
diagnoses. They're not. Medical diagnoses are ultimately based on 
objective biological evidence. Psychiatric diagnoses, as retired 
psychiatry professor Thomas Szasz shows, are based on what people say 
and do. This means that such diagnoses are moral and political, not 
medical, judgments. It begs the question to say that brain science is 
still in its infancy: Why is one kind of behavior interpreted as a 
sign of mental or brain disease but not another kind? Besides, Szasz 
writes, behavior has reasons not causes. That principle is at the 
very core of what we mean by personhood. (Brain-scan technology 
cannot refute this principle because it does not identify causes of 
behavior. Correlation is not causation.)  

Thus the New Freedom Commission recommendation that everyone be 
screened for mental illness whenever he goes to the doctor and that 
children be monitored for mental illness in the government's schools 
is simply a plan to stigmatize people for "inappropriate" behavior 
and speech. It is also a plan for the widespread drugging of adults 
and children under government supervision. Besides the Huxleyian 
aspects of this idea, there is also reason to fear improper influence 
by drug companies.  

Allen Jones, formerly of the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector 
General, revealed that a similar program was started in his state 
after drug companies curried favor with state officials. According to 
the British Medical Journal, "In July 2002 Mr Jones was appointed 
lead investigator when he uncovered evidence of payments into an off-
the-books account. The account, earmarked for 'educational grants,' 
was funded in large part by Pfizer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. 
Payments were made from the account to state employees who developed 
formulary guidelines recommending expensive new drugs over older, 
cheaper drugs with proved track records. One of the recommended drugs 
was Janssen's Risperdal -- a drug that has recently been found to 
have potentially lethal side effects."  

In a statement last January, Jones said, "The industry was 
influencing state officials with trips, perks, lavish meals, 
transportation to and first-class accommodations in major cities. 
Some state employees were paid honorariums of up to $2,000 for 
speaking in their official capacities at drug-company-sponsored 
events."  

Jones was relieved of his duties after blowing the whistle. In court 
papers challenging the state's move, he said the government was 
attempting to "cover up, discourage, and limit any investigations or 
oversight into the corrupt practices of large drug companies and 
corrupt public officials who have acted with them."  

The New Freedom Commission has gotten little publicity. One hopes 
that as Americans learn about its ominous proposal for wholesale 
mental-illness screening and psychiatric drugging of them and their 
children, they will vehemently object.  

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation 
(fff.org), author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare 
State, and editor of The Freeman magazine.  







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