Below is Part Two of the transcript of a lengthy interview and discussion between Dr. Peter Breggin, author of “Medication Madness – a psychiatrist exposes the dangers of mood-altering medications” and Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Peter: On the other side, is the fact that human beings have forever found life very difficult and very painful, and understandably have sought shortcuts and solutions to these problems. But in the past, we have tended to see this as a weakness, as something we shouldn’t be doing; that if you were going to take – drink alcohol or smoke marijuana that this is not a good idea and that even taking psychiatric drugs should be done very cautiously and hardly at all or not at all with children. So human beings, even though they’ve had a tendency to want solutions to suffering, to emotional, psychological, spiritual suffering. I’ve looked at the drugs in general but this enormous amount of propaganda coming from the drug industry and then through places like the National Institute of Mental Health, the FDA, even the U.S. Department of Education has promoted the ADHD diagnosis in the use of psychiatric drugs. People begin to believe that these somewhat easy scientific solutions are actually scientifically valid. We get this explosive combination of the false advertising from this giant what I call psychopharmaceutical complex and the desperation and needs of human beings.
Patrick: Alright. So then what do you say? That ADHD does not exist? And if so, what is it really?
Peter: Well, focusing on children, ADHD by definition is a collection of behaviors that annoy teachers and demand attention.
Patrick: Well, that’s – okay.
Peter: Well, I mean – no, it’s really true. That’s not even an exaggeration. If you actually look at them – for example, I’ll read a couple for you. Here under inattention. Of – this is – these are diagnostic behaviors. Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school work. Well of course, that’s the kind of thing that requires some teaching and some attention from parents as well maybe. Then under hyperactivity, often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in the seat. That’s another thing where, you know, a teacher really ought to be paying a little more attention of getting the child’s interest. Often leaves seat in classroom. I mean, all of these – these are from the diagnostic manual. All these things are tailored to give teachers an excuse for pushing medication.
My favorite one is under impulsivity because I’ve already done this to you today: Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed. [laughs]
Patrick: [laughs] I do that for effect.
Peter: You know, the point is that if a child has these problems. Let’s even say it reaches a proportion where it’s a problem. A child is always jumping up in class and disrupting the classroom. Is that a disease? No. It has no known biological origin or is it likely to have one because it’s such an odd collection of behaviors, all of which relate to disrupting classrooms. That’s how they would develop. What it could be is almost anything. It can be a boring teacher. I have seen cases of “ADHD” cured by a change of teacher. It could be boring classroom curriculum. It could be the child is just never going to want to sit in a room for the rest of their lives with 25 people and listen to somebody go on and on.
Few adults ever put up with the conditions that we expect our kids to put up within a classroom. It could be the child is hungry. It could be the child has a problem of a physical nature, head injury, fatigue, not sleeping enough, diabetes, you know, anything – if this really becomes a real problem where a kid is having trouble controlling his behavior, concentrating and so on and so forth, come from almost anything on the face of the earth.
Now the cases that come to me – the kids that come to me generally fall into two categories. If they have a problem at home, it’s called a discipline problem. I don’t approach it like a disease. I approach it, “Hey, parents, let’s get a consistent plan for unconditional love and reasonable discipline.” And I guarantee the parents that if they apply this, that children will do well or if the problem is at school and say not at home but, you know, look to the school. What does the teacher need to do? What does the school need to do? And sometimes, parents just simply have to bite the bullet in home school or send the child to another school.
But under no conditions do we accept this hodgepodge list as a disease and we should never medicate the children. All psychiatric drugs can do is disrupt brain function. That’s the central thesis of my work. You’ll find in Medication Madness, they disrupt mental function and they spellbind the victim. That is, the child or adult who’s taking a medication is being partially mentally disabled by it but doesn’t know it. They can’t appreciate it. You can see that with people who drink alcohol. You know, they don’t really appreciate what’s happening quite often.
Patrick: But you’re raising two great important points. One is a person who comes into an office, a professional’s office with a problem. They walk out with a prescription and a label and no real solution to the problem but rather, a medication which will then create more problems, some of which could be long term permanent damage. Meanwhile the original cause of these symptoms has not been attended to in any way whatsoever, which is what I mean to be the second problem or the second point. When you talk about ADD and ADHD, and you cited some of your own examples, based on my expertise in human behavior, I always go back to the emotions because our behavior is simply a reflection of our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs. And based on some of my experience, I found that kids who are as you put it “impulsive” or who scream out for attention, who can’t focus, can’t concentrate, tend to have very little attention at home or tend to receive little attention from father.
Peter: I am with you a hundred percent. I’ve actually coined the term DADD, Dad Attention Deficit Disorder because that’s what the kid is suffering from.
Patrick: Well it’s interesting you say that, Dr. Breggin. I live by the beach and I was by the pool the other day and there is an 11-year-old girl, the daughter of a friend who just jumps and clings to me and the mother says, “Oh, I go crazy because, you know, I can’t control her.” And obviously, she’s really just trying to get attention from me. And the mother said, “You know, the doctors told me that she has got ADD and ADHD.” I said, “No. I just bet she doesn’t get enough attention from her father, does she?” And the mother says, “Well, how did you know that?” And I said, “Because it’s pretty obvious.”
Patrick: She seeks attention. So her inability to focus and concentrate is because she’s not getting the attention. She’s not getting the approval, the acceptance, the recognition, the validation, the affirmation, the support, the encouragement, the praise and as you put it probably most simply, the discipline.
Patrick: So here is the other question I want to ask you because you talked about how all these drugs have become almost like an industry in themselves all interwoven between the field of psychiatry, the companies and even the journals and the buildings. What about the FDA? Why doesn’t the FDA intervene if you tell me there are no real scientific studies to even prove that there’s a chemical imbalance? And now, you’re citing studies that are showing the dangers of these drugs.
Peter: Well the FDA is doing the opposite of intervening on the side of science. The FDA gives its imprimatur, its official government approval to the idea of giving drugs for emotional problems and even giving shock treatment for emotional problems. So the FDA is behind this viewpoint. It’s a matter of the power of the psychopharmaceutical complex. It is probably undoubtedly the wealthiest, most powerful lobbying complex in Washington D.C.
As a result, the people who work for the FDA are trying to please the drug companies, literally trying to please them as best they can until they just absolutely have to draw the line on something. And all of the FDA’s advisory panels are made up almost entirely of people who literally work for drug companies, not in their buildings but work for them like doing research for them, doing consultations for them, giving speeches for them, writing papers for them and so on and so forth.
So the FDA over the years has really gone from sort of a weak watchdog to a house pet of the drug industry. It’s in effect of the – for example, recently, it finally came around to admitting that anti-depressants cause suicidality. But even then, they tried to parse it and say, “Well we know this in children and young adults.” Well, when does an adverse effect affect children young adults and at what age do you not be a young adult anymore? But I had been describing the suicidality produced by these drugs as early as 1991 and it took the FDA until 2004 to begin to acknowledge it. So – and our FDA is actually – used to be the premiere drug monitoring agencies falling behind because it was actually Great Britain that first began to hold accountable the manufacturers of the anti-depressants causing suicidality.
Patrick: Now, I’m still hopeful that, as in the case of what happened with the tobacco industry, that there’s still the chance that things could change and hopefully, that might happen soon. But nonetheless, if we look at the genesis of drugs in America, why is America the most medicated nation in the world? Why isn’t it other countries, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and other advanced nations?
Peter: Well, I don’t have a complete answer to that and it’s obviously a question that goes way beyond psychiatric expertise of the – you know, all of civilization but a big chunk of it is marketing. The marketing starts in America. I can tell by what countries are phoning me to do radio and television interviews. I can tell where the marketing has moved. So for example, initially, almost all the stimulants were being used in the U.S. and then the U.S. and Canada and for a time, not long ago, some time before 2000, 90 percent of the world’ s Ritalin was being used in the U.S. So the market gets saturated.
And then it begins to move and it moved next to England and Australia which were the English speaking countries and to Germany because it also has so-called advanced mental health concepts over there. So it starts where the marketing hits the strongest and spreads out and in fact, doesn’t get to the so-called underdeveloped nations than much later and often doesn’t get into the poverty areas of the U.S., in West Virginia, or in the inner cities until much later as well.
Another part of it is this has been sold on a very high intellectual level with these fake concepts and that has appealed to the, you know, opinion leaders in the opinion-leading nations and I think that’s another way that America has become more deeply ensnared. But it’s a complex question and I certainly don’t have all the answers to it.
Patrick: Well from my perspective, I would say that probably the key factor has been the decision to allow drug companies to advertise which I believe only happens in the U.S. and New Zealand. Correct?
Peter: Yes. I’m not sure which countries allow it but it’s very unusual. It’s not allowed in most places, this direct to consumer advertising as it’s called. But the problem begins – I don’t think that’s a huge part of the problem. It’s part of it. I mean Prozac was the best-selling drug in the world before direct to consumer advertising. So, it already was selling into several, you know …
Patrick: But Dr. Breggin, in terms of the total number of anti-depressants that have been prescribed to people, the numbers have doubled in the time and I think it happened under the Clinton regime that it was approved for drug companies to advertise and market their product, at which point, the numbers just skyrocketed in terms of prescriptions of anti-depressants because what really annoys me as someone that works with people and tries to help people through their problems and help them to change their thoughts, their feelings, their perspectives, their beliefs is to watch a commercial where suddenly it says, “Are you having a problem sleeping at night? Are you tossing and turning? You might have Restless Leg Syndrome.” Well, any intelligent person knows that if you are under a lot of stress, you’re going to find it hard to sleep at night and yes, you’re going to be kicking the sheets and tossing and turning but it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong in your brain. It means that you need to deal with the problems that are happening during your waking hours.
But, we have now gone to the point, as you said, that it’s true. We look for a quick solution. I call it instant gratification. But nonetheless, we look for a quick way out. Instead of dealing with the cause and the problem, “we just want to deal with the symptoms”, which never solves anything because even if the drugs weren’t damaging us to the extent that they are, which you’re telling us right now, the problem is that the cause of these symptoms doesn’t go away and so it just creates other symptoms. And I think that is a huge danger in itself because we have a two-pronged problem, the very cause that led you or me or anyone to go to the office of the psychiatrist and say, “I need help,” or a psychologist. And then the second thing is, “well now you’ve given me drugs and now, I’m screwed. Now, I’ve got more problems than before.”
I want to talk a little bit though about your experience with the pharmaceuticals because with all due respect, I’m shocked that you’re still around based on your history of how you have tackled some of these companies head on and I’m sure – if I can ask this question respectfully, have you not received death threats?
Peter: Well, I don’t want to get in to any of that other than to say that anyone who is in the public limelight and then takes on billion dollar industries is going to have to face, you know, the whole range of threats. I think more interesting is that I have survived and I’ve had a good life and while it is hazardous to speak truth to power, it’s a good life for anyone who wants to have a somewhat overly exciting time on earth.
Patrick: Well – and I know that you’re happily married and you have a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment within your relationship which makes you a great role model for a lot of people. But I’m curious about some of the cases because right at the beginning, I even used the terms lobotomy and psychosurgery. And I thought to myself, you know, we’ve bandied around the word lobotomy for many years. But was there a time in medicine when they actually removed parts of the brain or here in America did surgery do so in the hope of changing the way you think and feel?
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Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.