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Teenage boy and girl stick out tongues to each other

Recently in the media it was announced that there is now a new mental health disorder called ODD being used in the diagnosis of children. This so called disorder equates to Oppositional Defiant Disorder. The condition could be identified where a child has a repetitive pattern of disobedient and disruptive behaviours towards authority figures, which persists for at least 6 months.

ODD is what you and I as parents, adults, and even once children ourself would have called naughty behaviour which has now been quantified into a major mental health disorder. Quite a few of us may consider we had ODD at some stage in our childhood but we emerged and evolved through any such stage of disruptive behaviour.

If children’s disruptive behaviour is a continuum then at the worse end of that spectrum is another disorder known as Conduct Disorder (CD). The Cluster of behaviours under CD includes vandalism, lighting fires and cruelty to animals. It starts to look like anti-social and psychopathic disorder behaviours when you read the description of these other disorders.

This alarming trend at Psychiatry in particular, and psychology in general, to apply reductionistic thinking in breaking down the spectrum of human behaviours into behavioural clusters, and naming them as conditions and disorders, matches the physical equivalent in medicine. Both fields are rooted in the same scientific principles of quantifiable and measurable empirical sciences.

A more recent enabler of condition naming has been the gradual evolution of a psychiatric “bible” of mental health conditions which is known as the “DSM-IV”. This reference manual has the full name of Diagnostic and Services Manual – Release IV (4)” and is the standard and hence “bible” of both psychiatry and psychology.

In recent time the DSM-IV has blossomed with a range of new disorders such as ODD and CD that start to question the real agenda behind such disorder creation in Psychiatry. This then calls into question the wider ethics and impartiality of the industry.

There is now a common view that the medical model triangle of GP, Psychologist and Psychiatrist live and work in a major conflict of interest. These 3 professions are now considered by numerous commentators as being compromised by the funding and marketing techniques of major drug companies.

Each of these 3 professions has a basic dictum to “do no harm” and the old symbol of the two entwined snakes around the rod is a symbology that reinforces the “Hippocratic Oath”. However the rise of the multinational reach and incomes of drug companies has seen these 3 professions potentially beholden in varying degrees.

Drug companies are capitalist profit motive entities who do not have a social responsibility ethic nor a “do no harm” ethic. Think of drug companies as being like cigarette companies. Their sole responsibility in their own minds is to make profits for shareholders. There are no other real stakeholders to such companies and their impact and effect on the community is met with a narcissistic indifference.

The impact of their products and services on society and its members is not their concern and they fight aggressively when others try to make them accountable for their conduct or efficacy of their products. The drug companies and some medical technology companies are no different. It’s just that their product is different and the market segment they occupy is different.

Drug companies have worked out long ago that the “black mail” point for GP’s, Psychologists, and Psychiatry is in the area of funded professional training and conferences. These 3 professions have a professional ethic of continuous training and professional development. The rapid advances in medical technology, drugs, and psychology/neurosciences make that a must in order for any professional within these 3 professions to keep up.

The 3 professions (GP’s, Psychologists and Psychiatrists) would normally find such training expensive to attend. They must attend to satisfy the professional development criteria that if not met may render them unable to meet their legal requirements to get professional insurance, to be part of their industry professional bodies, or to practice with competency with these new technologies and drugs.

The drug companies and technology providers know this and the evidence has been that the Sales Representatives who leave company branded note pads, pens, gimmicks and incentives with these 3 professions as they work their rounds are also those who can get the same professionals onto “conferences” and events.

There is an implied loyalty or mutuality here that creates in my and others minds a conflict of interest. GP’s are under pressure to prescribe drugs and they also are often a primary referral source for psychologists and psychiatrists.

Many members of the public cannot get into seeing a Psychologist or Psychiatrist without a GP referral, and are increasingly referred to specialists for more tests of various kinds. More and more the general public is becoming cynical with these self serving behaviours and believe that many in the 3 professions are working to a “Hippocritic Oath” more so than a “Hippocratic Oath”.

The GP gets paid for the non-medical act of writing a referral to another specialist. In addition, most GP’s I know are not trained to work with anxiety, depression or mental health issues but regularly write prescriptions for drugs along the DSM-IV categories of some of these conditions.

The various classes of drugs often produce a stunning array of side effects depending on the chemistry of the patient. This is known as the “iatrogenic effect” and means how medicine makes you sick through its side effects. Drug companies produce an origami like folded brochure stuffed inside the packaging of their drugs.

The SSRI Anti-Depressant medication ones I have been given by clients are of such a small font as to be almost unreadable, and the list of possible side effects is such that the cure may be worse than the disorder!! I have yet to meet a client to whom this leaflet was taken out and read to, and explained to them, by anyone in the 3 professions who prescribed them in the first place.

The drug and some medical technology companies sit outside this system feeding everyone inside with samples, trainings, paid for trips, holidays, and incentives. If one thinks this is not true then just look to the Western Australian Health Department scandals of recent years.

This was reported by commentators as being the tip of the iceberg in terms of the manner in which Drug and Medical technology companies pursue their aggressive marketing agendas with stakeholders and market “touchpoints”. The 3 professions are “touchpoints” under this marketing speak

There is no leap of faith here required to think that Drug companies would not exploit their relationships with the 3 mentioned professions if they could. The evidence is that this has been occurring for many years in other countries and within Australia.

The tie-in with the DSM-IV manual and the rise of disorders is seen by concerned commentators as being yet another strategy to legitimise the selling of more drugs to a wider population over time. A global strategy of drug companies is to normalise the lifestyle and behaviour of taking drugs and medication as part of a “normal lifestyle”.

The goal then becomes to get as many members of a population as possible being medicated under some legitimate guise. The 3 professions are the camouflage and delivery channels that execute this strategy.

The American experience and commentary is that for some time there has been a widening number of new disorders being coined within the 3 professions. The logic is that the more disorders that exist means the more new drugs that can be created or the number of existing drugs that can be associated with new disorders. This legitimises their existence.

Psychologists are saying that ODD does not involve the prescribing of drugs but it does normalise the labelling of children as they having something wrong with them. Some senior psychologists claim ODD “is not rare” and may represent 6 to 10% of the population of children. It is also not considered a serious mental health problem by the same senior psychologists.

Why then do we create a negative label over our vulnerable children and start to shape their emerging identities in a negative way so young. Research has repeatedly shown that children give negative nicknames, labels and outcomes such as ugly, stupid or bad, then are likely to go onto have social adjustment issues, low self esteem issues, depression, addictions and suicidal ideation issues as adults.

Why then would we create and impose another negative label over our children. The condition is considered not to be a serious mental health disorder but the outcome of being negatively labelled can in fact produce later serious mental health disorders and low happiness and achievement outcomes.

Could we just be paving the way for normalising more of us to be in need of drugs or medication because we are found to be medically having a disorder of some type? It is far easier to start with a less severe disorder and then shape and shift perceptions over time towards a more severe outcome. The negative label may be the agent that creates that real outcome and so is the gateway to a true later mental health issue.

There are certain business sectors that deal with customers in emotional or vulnerable circumstances and so can effectively exploit their customer base in these emotional or vulnerable moments. Think of funeral services.

Patients at Doctors’ surgeries or with Mental Health Professionals are also in an “emotional contract” with their clients. What I mean is that when we go to the doctor or a mental health professional our physical or mental health brings emotionally to a place of vulnerability and concern. We are ripe emotionally for exploitation.

A simple raised eyebrow by a doctor, a simple “tut-tut” while he looks down our throat with his torch, a pronouncement of a disorder by a mental health professional, and we are rushing to get out our Medicare and HBF cards to pay for and line up for those battery of tests or take the drugs s/he now feels we better take in case it is something serious.

In many cases the drugs serve a useful purpose in a short term setting. One may need to stabilise and become functional and in present time consciousness. The severe disorders and the severe drugs have a place in our understanding and treatment of human bodymind disorders and conditions.

The growth of new disorders and the growth industry of medication of the masses based on suspect motives and justifications is the elephant in the room very few speak about. There are too many benefitting from a system that sloshes with billions of dollars in federal and state funding, private health care and consumer dollars.

The whole industry has degenerated into a morass of conflict of interest. Just watch out for when you next mention to your GP or your psych that your 5 year old son and your 4 year old daughter were fighting over crayons.

You may get that feigned look of concern and the writing of a referral to your local psychiatrist or a script for some form of drug for your now ODD or CD labelled children.  For the full version of this article click The Disorder disorder


“Richard Boyd is a Body Psychotherapist, counselor, author, and the CEO of Energetics Institute and Corporate Energetics” MBA,BBus,AdvDipCEBPsych,Cert Coaching AICE,AIFM,ExtDISC Certified

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