November 11, 2006

What's wrong with a parent?

Why would a parent allow her child to be photographed and discussed by name in a conspicuous article about psychiatric problems?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

The system of diagnosis is 200 to 300 years behind other branches of medicine. So that would be roughly 1756 on average. I think the parent is bilious and needs a good leeching.

Pogo said...

In part, that's good, because it suggests an absence of the stigma once attached to such diagnoses.

In larger part it's bad, for one would think a parent would be protective of a child enough to recognize that the public exposure of a child's mental disorder might cause them harm (such as at school, once other kids get ahold of it). I blame Oprah and Jerry Springer.

As for the article's subject: Whew! No wonder Scientologists get such traction against Psychiatry. In my view, the profession has never been able to give a name to the kinds of kids that grow up in households that are either functionally parentless or run by part-time parents.

I'd call them feral children. They're simply uncivilized, and this is how barbarians behave. It's a metaphor for the dying of the West, too. But there I go again.

NSC said...

I suppose it is too simple an answer to say that mom just wants her 15 minutes of fame.

Internet Ronin said...

NSC: The simplest explanation is usually the best one. You nailed it.

Dave said...

You know, I just read that article, which prompted me to come over here to see if you blogged a response about it.

Ha

John said...

Maybe they hope it will help other parents in the same situation.

Peter Burnet said...

Note there is no mention of a father in any of these case studies.

Obviously afflictions like bipolar are real and serious matters, but any teacher today will tell you there is a rapidly growing number of parents who are consumed by the notion that their child's behavioural and academic problems are pathological/psychiatric. Many of them will go from doctor to doctor or counsellor to counsellor until this belief is validated for them. They are no more relieved by an assurance that their kid is normal than a modern environmental activist is relieved if a scientist tells him global warming is overblown.

Philosophically I suppose it derives from our modern belief that our kids are born perfect and innocent and are destined to win an Olympic medal or corner the silver futures market as long as we/their teachers/the police/their genes/George Bush, etc. don't mess them up.

Joe said...

NSC, I was going to say, because she gets to be in the Times! Maybe it will help someone else, but I don't see it helping that particular child. Sad.
Pogo, my metaphor for the dying West is a man sinking in quicksand, with his eyes closed and in denial about his predicament.

reader_iam said...

"If I can help just one other person by sharing my story....

Here's a radical idea: Maybe we need to "let the kids be" more. I'm not talking about not civilizing them, in the traditional sense--I'm all for time and place, manners, etc., and in fact I'm more of a traditional parent in that way.

But we also pick on them a lot, overschedule them, overmanage them, pathologize childhood (especially with boys), and generally deprive them of "just be" time. They don't know what to do with themselves, because we don't give them much practice at it at an early age, so busy are we at manipulating input and outcomes (except for traditional notions of respect and self-control).

We make them "all about us (the adults)," and, then get all pissed off and frustrated when they don't reflect the outcome that suits our own psychological and emotional needs best. Parents do that, and too often, now, so do too many educators etc.

OF COURSE, there are exceptions. But look at the number of kids who have been drugged by the time they're in their teens.

Also, coming from another place, we complain about our kids being overly moody and overly sensitive, etc., and acting out because of that. But from toddlerhood, we constantly harp on "being sensitive," on "feelings," on "free self-expression" etc. and then we're surprised when our kids are overly sensitive and too inclined to focus and act on their own personal feelings.

In short, we overcontrol and expect too much in certain areas while underguiding and expecting too little in others. We're confused and the kids go cockeyed.

reader_iam said...

That said, many are just fine--or will be.

Except for the "too easily" offended, "anti-free-speech-for thee" thing that you brought up on another thread.

Which, interestingly, really does strike me as related to the larger issue you seem to be exploring this morning.

vh: lflowo

PatCA said...

It doesn't help that the kids have incompetent, self-obsessed parents. I guess they're hoping for a shot at the Oprah Show.

Now that the Dems are in, we will see more articles that will subtley or directly call for government funding to cure these "problems." Last night on 20/20 Chris Dodd campaigned for paid maternity leave for all mothers for at least six months. Various middle class mothers told their tales of woe, and anyone who disagreed with them was portrayed as a Neanderthal.

Hold on to your wallets. As an old time governor once said, "The legislature is now open, and no man's property is safe."

cbi said...

Stigma? Not anymore because such a large percentage of kids are getting the same diagnosis.Kids misbehave, won't listen, moody, throw tantrums, and then calm down (all in the same day)? It's bipolar with ADHD.

A good portion of kids who are in juvenile court have the same diagnosis. The worst part? It gives parents an excuse for bad parenting. The standard response is "What can I do? I can't control their behave and I can't do anything because they're bipolar." Yes, some kids are actually bipolar/other mental illness, but the vast majority don't and their parents are doing them no favors. If anything, it's better that defense attorneys not mention ADHD or bipolar--it's seen as a lame excuse defense.

Bruce Hayden said...

I agree that it was bad parenting and lack of judgment on the part of the parents and showed a lack of responsibility on the part of the NYT to give names and photos. We are used to first names, fictitious names, etc. in this sort of thing - for good reason.

On the other hand, the paper had a good point - that kids are most likely being vastly overdiagnosed with psychiatrict diagnoses.

Part of the problem here is that some of the diagnoses are based on somewhat questionable research being funded by drug companies, who have a financial stake at maximizing the prescription of their products. While I am all for free enterprise, inappropriately drugging our youths for financial gain crosses the line for me. What is often ignored is that those bi-polar drugs do have side effects, and if the kids really aren't bi-polar, but rather have something quite different, as it appears from the article to be the case, then these psychiatrists, educrats, and parents are subjecting these misdiagnosed kids to unneded and potentially dangerous drugs.

Maxine Weiss said...

Child abuse and child drugging....all of it.

http://www.antipsychiatry.org/

http://www.szasz.com

Mortimer Brezny said...

Well, it explains why the kid is screwed up.

Slac said...

A boy who is a gifted reader, curious and independent.

Wait, independence? That's something only adults are supposed to have.

Drug him! Make him dependent on something right now, before he grows up anymore!

DRJ said...

Being a victim is impressive in today's society and this is the parental version of victimhood. The article portrays parents as sacrificing and tolerant people who suffer with a faulty child. Who cares about the child? It's what the parents must endure that matters.

Joe said...

The politically correct notion that the behavior of children is entirely the result of parenting has created the situation where parents feel the urge to find external justification for their children's behavior.

As for the mother and her daughter. Has it occurred to anyone that the daughter has the ability to make decisions? Perhaps the mother was reluctant but the daughter wanted to pose. Perhaps both felt compelled to publicize a treatment that apparently worked so successfuly in their situation.

Maxine Weiss said...

The daughter is under 18, and doesn't have the right to consent. Minors can't even sign contracts, bill of sale etc..

But, it was definately her own decision to consent to the story photos?????

Sure it was. She begged for the chance.

Teens like their 5-minutes of fame just as much as anyone else, I suppose.

And they know exactly how to get it.

Peace, Maxine

Peter Metcalfe said...

A bi-polar disorder at 14? How could they tell? In the photo, the daughter looks like any female fourteen year old photographed in the presence of her mother: sulky and frowning.

OddD said...

It's a PR piece originating with one or more pharmaceutical companies.

The holy grail of the mental health field is classing mental disorders along with physical ones.

TMink said...

Peter wrote: "A bi-polar disorder at 14? How could they tell? In the photo, the daughter looks like any female fourteen year old photographed in the presence of her mother: sulky and frowning."

Really! The adolescent bipolar patients I have worked with got pretty wiggy when manic. Really pressured speech, grandiosity (not typical teen grandiosity, I am Jesus grandiosity,) amazing impulsivity (see parenthetical re grandiosity), dangerous decision making. Then they would be depressed as dirt three days later. Really sad, and really obvious.

And Oddd I think the holy grail of mental health is actually brain scans. (Caveat, I am in said field.) Daniel Amen has done definitive work on the brain and ADD, and he has the pictures to prove it! Wonderful stuff over at brainplace.com (no affiliation.) The major axis one diagnoses, depression, bipolar, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, all have recognizable areas of dysfunction in the brain. It is that big organ in our head. I am not aware of personality disorders having recognizable brain disturbances.

So perhaps we are talking about the same holy grail as the pictures make it more difficult for people like Maxine to say that there is no such thing as depression etc with a straight face. But she still may.

I look forward to the day when an affordable brain scan can be used to help me in diagnosis. It will help a lot I believe and certainly reduce my mistakes as well as save time. Every other field uses imaging of the organ in question to come to a diagnosis, the day is coming where mental health will as well.

Trey

OddD said...

tmink,

I think it'd be great if Amen's work actually panned out. But I think you've sunk the entirety of psychiatric history.

In the meantime, of course, thousands of "diseases"--which can't be proven or meaningfully quantified--are being "treated" with drugs (and ECT and surgery) that aren't even subject to the mild tests that pass for science in the medical field.

I know a lot of good people in the mental health field, don't get me wrong. But they're the first ones to point out that if a patient has $X amount of coverage, his disease will be "treated" and "cured" to the tune of X dollars.

I don't say that the various symptoms don't exist. But giving the keys to the safe to someone and saying "Take all you need to do your job and, by the way, no one's actually going to check up on that," doesn't seem like a good idea, either for finances or sanity.

Slac said...

Trey, far be it from me to defend such people, but there are many individuals who not only say that Jesus is in them, but tell other people that Jesus wants to be in them too. Half of people from India think they're God. The "spirituality" section of any bookstore might as well be a mental infestation.

As an atheist, I am inclined to think that it is! However, I recognize the right for people to say crazy things and act illogically. I really don't like it, but they are human.

I understand that your field is a difficult one, and perhaps I am picking on something idiosyncratic. I'm an economist, so I can relate to the complexity and quixotic nature of diagnosis in the social sciences. For these reasons, social scientists need to be humble. Even though psychiatry has progressed significantly since the days of Thomas Szasz, its humility is still dangerously lacking.

I find it revealing that you think the "holy grail" of your field is something that would make it normal compared to other branches of medicine.

I certainly look forward to the day.

TMink said...

Oddd wrote: "I think it'd be great if Amen's work actually panned out. But I think you've sunk the entirety of psychiatric history."

That sounds interesting to me. Would you write more about this thought please?

Trey

TMink said...

Slac wrote: "Trey, far be it from me to defend such people, but there are many individuals who not only say that Jesus is in them, but tell other people that Jesus wants to be in them too."

As a Christian, this makes sense to me! Crazy sounding though, isn't it.

"Half of people from India think they're God. The "spirituality" section of any bookstore might as well be a mental infestation."

Well, I think the point you are making is that logic as a way of thinking is likely a minority viewpoint in the world. A good viewpoint I think, but still a minority. The comment about the spirituality section is funny! Made me laugh, good one.

"For these reasons, social scientists need to be humble. Even though psychiatry has progressed significantly since the days of Thomas Szasz, its humility is still dangerously lacking."

We are in total agreement there my friend. I would add that the medical field could use a dose of humility if we are passing it out. I say "I don't know" every day. I wonder if some medical doctors have that in their vocabulary.

"I find it revealing that you think the "holy grail" of your field is something that would make it normal compared to other branches of medicine."

I think it would help move my field from the soft toward the hard sciences. Is that what you meant? A step closer to engineering? Less subjective? Yes to all those.

"I certainly look forward to the day."

As do I. Most of my work as a therapist is with trauma and abuse survivors. I explain to them that I am like a personal trainer, except that we are working on their happiness and mental health instead of their pecs and abs. They tell me what to work on, and I tell them what tends to work in that area, and we go from there. If I get off track, they are supposed to fire me. Come to think of it, when they feel better they fire me anyway!

That is to say that I do not tell people what to feel or how to act, but I do work with them to help them figure it out. Well, mostly. If a kid touched another kid I tell them to stop it cause it is wrong and will make them miserable and send them to jail. I don't work with adults that touch kids.

I think many of the complaints against psychologists comes from either the lack of humility or being court whores that will say whatever the person that pays them wants them to say. And being professional excusers. "Johnny did this because he had a bad childhood blah blah blah.

Sorry, this turned into a bit of a rant!

Trey