Anatomy of an Epidemic (Part Three)

The question was: Why have we seen such a sharp increase in the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States since the “discovery” of psychotropic medications? At the very least, there is one major cause. In large part, this epidemic is iatrogenic in kind.

Now there may be a number of social factors contributing to the epidemic. Our society may be organized in a way today that leads to a great degree of stress and emotional turmoil. For instance, we may lack the close-knit neighborhood that help people stay well. Relationships are the foundation of human happiness, or so It seems, and as Robert Putnam wrote in 2000, we spend too much time “bowling alone”. We also may watch too much television and get too little exercise, a combination that is known to be a prescription for becoming depressed. The food we eat – more processed foods and so on – might be playing a role too. And the common use of illicit drugs – marijuana, cocaine, and hallucinogens – has clearly contributed to the epidemic. Finally, one a person goes on SSI or SSDI, there is a tremendous financial disincentive to return to work.

As a foster mother, Gately was required to follow “medical advice” and give psychiatric medications to the children who arrived on them. Most of the children were on cocktails, and it seemed to her that the drugs were primarily being used to make the children quieter and easier to manage.

She has kept track of a number of the ninety- six children, and as could be expected, many have struggled as adults. “When I look back on the kids that stayed on the drugs and those who got off, it is the ones that are off that are the successes.” She says. “Liz should never have been on the drugs. She got off the drugs and is doing great. She is a full time student in nursing school and almost ready to graduate, and is about to get married. The thing is, if you get off the drugs, you start building these coping mechanisms. You learn internal controls. You start building these strengths. Most of these kids have had very bad stuff happen to them. But they are able to rise above their past once they are off the medications, and then they can move on. The kids who were drugged and continue to be drugged never have the opportunity to build coping skills. And because they never had that opportunity as a teenager, as an adult they don’t know what to do with themselves”. It isn’t a scientific study, but her experience does offer a peek into the toll that the medicating of foster kids is taking. Most of those who stayed on the drugs, she says, ended up “filing for disability”.

Sam Clayborn from New York tells from personal experience what it is like to have been a foster kid in the US. He was born in Harlem and by age six he was living in a residential group home. He says: “They were not so hot on psychiatric diagnoses back then”, he explains. “They were more into beating your ass, restraining you, and just throwing you into an empty room. I’m glad I grew up when it was like that rather than what it is today, because if I grew up now, I’d be drugged up. I’d be doped out and zonked out”.

Starting around 2000, rates of black youth diagnosed with bipolar disorder soared, and based on hospital discharges, they are now said to suffer from bipolar disorder at a greater rate than whites.

Sometimes children with criminal records get to choose – to go to juvenile prison or mental institution, they choose the latter not knowing that they are damaging themselves.

“The Tuskegee syphilis experiments were nothing compared to this. That’s mild shit compared to what they are doing to black kids today. The pharmaceutical companies and the government are cheating in cahoots, and they are doing a wicked dance with a lot of people’s lives. They don’t give a shit about these kids. It’s all about capitalism, and they will sacrifice all the niggers in the hood. We are damaging these kids for life, and the majority of these kids will never rebound. These kids will be destroyed and they are going to make the SSI rolls more overwhelmed”.

“This is happening to a lot of the brothers today, and once they are on the medication, it take them away from themselves. They lose all the willpower to struggle, to change, to make something out of themselves and have success. They succumb to the chemical handcuffs of the mediations. It’s medical bondage is what it is.”

From the book “Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Robert Whitaker.

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