Dr. Kaplan, Narrow-Minded Purveyour of Vaguery, M.D.

There’s an article in Newsweek this week by a Dr. Stuart L. Kaplan, M.D.  The jist of the article is that childhood Bipolar Disorder is a myth.  It’s impossible.  It doesn’t exist.  Read the article here.  I’ve copied the comment I left on the article below:

When my son was 4, a Neuropsychologist diagnosed my son’s severely delayed speech, OCD type behavior, and rages as Autism. I didn’t believe it.

When my son was 7, a psychiatrist suggested my son was not Autistic but had a mood disorder. I refused to listen.

When my son was 9, a team of psychiatrists and psychologists said my son’s extreme rages and anxiety, delusional thoughts, self-injury and deep, self-depricating depression indicated he might have Bipolar Disorder. I denied medication.

When my son was 11, he was admitted to a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt. After 45 days inpatient, the medical team suggested my son had Bipolar Disorder, and might have Schizophrenia. I demanded he be discharged.

When my son was 15, he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the 12th time. His psychiatrist, along with a consulting doctor, sat me down and told me my son has Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Type. After 12 inpatient stays totaling more than 300 days, 2 suicide attempts, months of rage and mania followed by deep bouts of depression, always coupled with hallucinations, delusional thoughts, and irrational behavior, there was no more denying. My son has – and has always had – a severe mental illness.

But did Dr. Kaplan mention children like mine in his article? Has he observed children like Nanci’s, or talked to the parents I know who have children with similar symptoms? Has he read any of the clinical – or even anecdotal evidence that contradicts him, like Judith Warner’s book, “We’ve Got Issues”? Considering the examples he cites, I think it’s safe to assume he has not. I’d be happy to gather a group of parents and children with Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia together for Dr. Kaplan to meet. I have a feeling, after a day with us, Dr. Kaplan might be singing a different tune.

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  • GB's Mom June 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Some people only see what they want to see. Great post!

  • picklesprincess June 23, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Thanks for speaking for us with such a wonderful voice.

  • Different, Not Diseased June 26, 2011 at 1:47 am

    I can come for the gathering. Just tell me when and where! My son, now 10, was diagnosed at age 7, after years of extreme hyperactivity and irritability. He also had rages that were very violent, mostly focused on his siblings! He was hospitalized for three weeks after threatening suicide and murder (yes, murder ~ of me and his little sister). While in the hospital, they, like Dr. Kaplan, questioned his diagnosis and trialed a stimulant used for ADHD. My son was off the wall manic and at 8 years old, didn't sleep that night, either. The doctors quickly saw that the bipolar diagnosis was correct and rightly began treatment with lithium. He has been mostly stable now for two years on the lithium.

  • Adrienne June 26, 2011 at 5:09 am

    It's all misdiagnosed ADHD? Please. Carter on stimulants is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed.

    I wish he was right. I really do. But the debate is being framed all wrong. The issue is not "can children be mentally ill?" Of course they can. These questions about diagnoses, categories, criteria, etc. (important debates of which I wholeheartedly approve) too often turn into debates about the existence of mental illness in children. And really, after spending the better part of today helping Carter deal with a bugs-all-over-his-body hallucination, I don't have tons of patience for that kind of nonsense.

  • Jules aka Mom June 27, 2011 at 2:10 am

    Great post

  • Mama Bear August 26, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I asked him a direct question about my son's disorder in the comment section of one of his articles and the funny thing was, he never responded. Being that I was the only comment, I can't imagine he missed it, I guess he was speechless. Too bad he wasn't when he wrote the book that will just continue the stigma.