Saturday, December 31, 2005

But You Can't Fool Everyone All Of The Time

In the middle 1800s, the great showman P.T. Barnum once said, "There's a sucker born every minute." But a much greater man understood the phenomenon better. Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

The marker is being pulled in on psychiatry. The jig is up. Despite their remarkably long stint as an Emperor With No Clothes, the truth is starting to show up -- in print, in the courts, in the legislatures, and in the views of the people.

Take for instance the sharp reduction in the use of psychiatric drugs for children. Only a few years ago the growth in the use of Ritalin and other heavy mind-altering drugs for children was growing so fast it was becoming a way of life. Simultaneously, school test scores were plummeting, juvenile crime was burgeoning, and most chilling of all, teen suicide and homicide was going through the roof.

In an article in USA Today, Marilyn Elias reports the phenomenon. This change follows the turnaround in the FDA's attitude regarding psychiatric drugs. After years of kowtowing to the psychiatric drug industry, the FDA came under sharp criticism when the make-up of the approval board was shown to be made up mainly of psychiatrists and people who were on the payroll of major drug companies. The cleanup resulted in a black box warning on antidepressants, their most severe safety warning short of removing the drug from the market, in late 2004. The result of this and other widespread publication of poor test results on these drugs, has resulted in a 25% drop in their use.

The warning is based on suicidal reactions of some users of the drugs. It should now be expanded to specify the homicidal tendencies that are also created. Or better yet, they should be taken off the market altogether.

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