HAWMC – Day Four: Absurd Headlines – Another Idiot

I wish I was making this one up.  

Again, a “doctor” that says, basically, we’re just lazy parents.  Here’s his article (reprinted from the Metro West Daily News) and the comment I left on it.

Childhood Bipolar Disorder or Just Childhood?  By Dr. Jacob Azerrad

On the Today show, a few days after the earthquake in Japan, Meredith Vieira commented that to her surprise, there was no looting, and the victims waited patiently in long lines for help and aid. As a psychologist this set me to thinking about respect and caring for the feelings of others under normal circumstances – let alone in the aftermath of such a cataclysmic event.
For instance, I wondered how many Japanese children would ever need a Far East version of our American television program “Supernanny.” I wondered how many might have the diagnosis childhood bipolar disorder and require behavior modifying drugs?

If their parents had fallen victim to modern American parenting proffered by the pediatric establishment, surely they would have. Not so for American kids who today are pumped full of pills and tagged with diagnoses based on symptoms which more often than not are normal childhood behaviors.

Where were these kids 50 years ago? They barely existed because 50 years ago parents were taught not to reward temper tantrums. Genetics have not changed. The greatest change is the misguided way we are taught to parent our children.

Preschool kids, some as young as 2 years of age, are being drugged with powerful, untested, anti-psychotic drugs. Side-effects include, tics, drooling, and incessant eating. Some children have gained up to 100 pounds and often progress to becoming diabetic. What used to be called the “terrible two’s” is now being seen as the first signs of mental disorder.
Self-proclaimed child rearing “experts” repeatedly advise these parents to hold, soothe, comfort and talk to a child who bites, hits, screams, throws or breaks things, ignores or refuses parenting requests or otherwise behaves in obnoxious, infantile ways. Many of the most popular childrearing books are full of such nonsense. And the more faithfully parents follow this advice, the worse their children become.

Commonsense and a truckload of research argue solidly against these practices. The experts are ignoring the well-established fact that children do what gets noticed, that adult attention usually makes behavior more likely to occur, not less.

When bad behaviors worsen, parents are persuaded that the misbehavior is a symptom of a blood chemistry disorder. Then the child is given a diagnosis such as childhood bipolar disorder and a handful of dangerous anti-psychotic medications.

The increase in the use of antipsychotics is directly tied to the rising incidence of one particular diagnosis, bipolar disorder. Experts estimate that the number of children with this diagnosis is now more than one million and rising, making it more common than autism and diabetes combined. To treat it, doctors are administering medications that have yet to be approved for children. Parents are legally medicating their two-year olds with Risperdal to quiet their tantrums, Trileptal to stabilize their moods, and Clonidine to help them sleep.
On Sept. 4, 2007, The New York Times stated that studies in the 1970s and 80s concluded Bipolar Disorder was rare in children, but between 1994 to 2003, there was an astounding 40-fold increase in the number of children diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. On Nov. 19, 2008, The New York Times reported that 31 children who were diagnosed with Childhood Bipolar Disorder and given the drug Risperdal for tantrums died, and, 1,176 suffered serious side-effects.

In the not too distant future, most of America’s children will be on some type of drug, administered for the supposedly altruistic purpose of helping them “function” more effectively. Industries have been created to do brain scans on kids for the purpose of identifying those who might become bipolar in advance of symptoms.
This is a crime against childhood. It undermines the traditional parental role that children so desperately require: children need parents, not pills!

Children once had discipline; they now have a diagnosis which has resulted in the drugging of young children to a degree unprecedented in our history. Virtually nothing is known about the long-term impact of these medications on children. And no one seems to care. Certainly not the drug companies pushing these drugs, nor the doctors who have been coerced by the pharmaceutical industry and panicking parents alike into prescribing them.

Could the real cause be that the child is for the first time becoming self-aware, and exerting his or her independence by saying “No” and “you are not the boss of me”? Could they simply be kids with a backbone who just want to grow up? And when their independence is restricted, the child discovers that having a tantrum might get him what he wants.
Rather than view their behavior as the result of a problem that needs medicating, could it just be a healthy striving to be more grown-up and independent?

A parent’s job is not to nurture negative toddler behaviors by way of talk therapy, but to teach their child what it really means to be grown-up. A grown-up is caring, handles disappointment calmly, and has self-control, does not hit, bite, or throw things in anger.
Our preschool children are far too young to defend themselves. It’s up to parents to “say no to drugs” and teach their children that life is meant to be learned and experienced; it is not just a pill to be swallowed.

Thankfully, for the future of Japan, the earthquake and tsunami victims haven’t spent the past decades pushing pills as a replacement for the parenting required for the grown-up behavior the whole society now needs in order to rebuild its country.

Jacob Azerrad, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, in private practice in Lexington, Massachusetts. He is the author of “From Difficult to Delightful in Just 30 Days” (McGraw Hill) and “Anyone Can Have a Happy Child” (Warner Books.)
Copyright 2011 The MetroWest Daily News. Some rights reserved

My comment: 

What an ignorant, completely misinformed article.

Doctor Azerrad, have you read Judith Warner’s book, ‘We’ve Got Issues‘ ? It tackles EXACTLY this question. She started with exactly your theory. And after years of research and articles – guess what – she found she was exactly WRONG. Here’s a link to the New York Times Book Review, in case you missed it: 


Is Bipolar Disorder the appropriate diagnosis for all children with some type of emotional disturbance. No, of course not. Is it possibly over diagnosed because we simply don’t have another diagnosis to give? Yes, probably. So why don’t you write about the real cause? The overwhelming shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychologist? The non-existent research into childhood psychological conditions?

I have three children, Doctor Azerrad. One is, unfortunately, on powerful psychopharmaceutical medication. We resisted meds for a long time, assuming he was just a spirited child, working with occupational therapists and psychologists in talk and play therapy. Unfortunately, however, after years and years of this, we had to go with medication. My son has Schizoaffective Disorder. Oh – my other two children? Willful? Yes. Spirited? Yes. Medicated? No, of course not. They’re just teenagers.

Trust me – no one WANTS to medicate their child. If you were a practicing child and adolescent psychologist, you’d know that, first hand.

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