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Response to Charles Krauthammer's Op-Ed Another massacre, another charade suggesting that psychosis, not guns, is the real cause of mass shootings in America.


On the one hand, Mr. Krauthammer suggests that more aggressive psychiatric intervention might make a difference; and on the other he states that Roseburg shooter Christopher Harper-Mercer "had no psychiatric diagnosis beyond Asperger's."

First, apparently Mr. Krauthammer missed the memo that Asperger's is no longer a psychiatric diagnosis - it was voted out of the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), published in May 2013.  Many people don't realize that so-called mental disorders are voted in or voted out of American psychiatry's "bible," not scientifically discovered or undiscovered.  Another prominent example of a so-called mental disorder going the way of the dodo by popular vote of American psychiatrists is homosexuality, first included in, then excluded from the DSM.  Referring to the DSM-5, Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), declared,"The weakness is its lack of validity.  Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure... Patients with mental disorders deserve better... That is why NIMH will be re-orienting its research away from DSM categories." ( http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

American psychiatry's inability to determine with scientific clarity what does or does not constitute a mental disorder is compounded by the fact that the United States is one of only two countries in the world, New Zealand being the other, that allows direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies.  Big Pharma does such a good job of disease-mongering -- often inventing then selling a disorder and creating then funding corresponding "grassroots" advocacy groups (aka "astroturfing") in order to sell their drugs -- that it makes it difficult to take back a mental disorder once it has been invented and sold to the American public. 

The first and most obvious flaw with the wishful thinking that more aggressive psychiatric intervention might make a difference (read prevent) mass shootings in America is that American psychiatry cannot reliably define what a mental disorder is, let alone agree upon and recommend its efficacious treatment.

Second, Mr. Krauthammer can't possibly know for a fact that Mr. Harper-Mercer's only psychiatric diagnosis was Asperger's.  This is a classic example of jumping to conclusions, based on a report of out-of-context online posts by a relative.  It has also been reported that Mr. Harper-Mercer's online alias was "Lithium_love."  It should be noted that if in fact Mr. Harper-Mercer was taking lithium, that drug is indicated for Bipolar Disorder, not Asperger's (or Autism Spectrum Disorder/ASD).  So if Mr. Harper-Mercer was prescribed lithium, he was either diagnosed with Bipolar, or the drug was prescribed to him off-label.  To be sure, off-label prescribing, as well as polypharmacy (ie. prescribing multiple drugs), is rampant in American psychopharmacology, a symptom of the shoot first aim later, trial and error prescribing habits of an industry that has a tough time defining mental illness, much less deciding on how to effectively treat it.  The reality is we will probably never know the extent of Mr. Harper-Mercer's psychiatric diagnoses, or the name, number and doses of the psychotropic medications prescribed to treat them.

Third, Mr. Krauthammer invoked the Naval Shipyard shooter Aaron Alexis as an example of someone whom he suggests did not receive needed psychiatric help.  In fact, Mr. Alexis received psychiatric care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, in the form of a prescription for the antidepressant drug Trazodone ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trazodone-antidepressant-used-by-aaron-alexis-described-as-very-safe/2013/09/18/4336c044-20ae-11e3-966c-9c4293c47ebe_story.html ).  Mr. Alexis went voluntarily to the VA for help with a psychiatric symptom, and pills are what he was given.  This is where we get to the root of the problem, as well as expose one of the biggest myths about mass shooters.

The fact of the matter is that most mass shooters in recent history were under psychiatric care and were prescribed psychotropic medications: e.g. Joseph Wesbecker (Prozac, lithium, trazodone, temazepam), Eric Harris (Luvox), Edward Lutes (Luvox), Jeffrey Weise (Prozac), Steven Kazmierczak (Prozac, Xanax, Ambien), Robert Stewart (Celexa, Xanax), Kipland Kinkel (Prozac, Ritalin), Aaron Alexis (Trazodone), James Holmes (Zoloft, Klonopin), Ivan Lopez-Lopez (Celexa, Wellbutrin, Ambien, Lunesta), Aaron Ybarra (Prozac, Risperdal), Bradley Stone (Risperdal, Trazodone), Elliot Rodger (Xanax), Myron May (Vyvanse, Wellbutrin, Seroquel), etc.

The suggestion that the aforementioned mass shooters were not receiving psychiatric care, and if only they had access to needed psychiatric care then perhaps the tragedies might have been averted, is misleading.  The problem is that in America -- where doctors are paid handsome consulting fees by pharmaceutical companies to pitch their drugs to other doctors, and where the pharmaceutical industry spends approximately $230M per year to influence Congress --  psychiatric care has become synonymous with psychotropic drugging. 

The earlier choice of the words "in recent history" was not accidental, because this tragic mass shooting phenomenon has only been recent in America's history, since the clock tower shooter Charles Whitman (Valium, Dexedrine) killed 16 people on the University of Texas campus.  In an upcoming documentary, Dr. Jean Stolzer points out that "guns have always been in this country since the first Europeans stepped on American shores." (see also https://leoniefennell.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/the-systemic-correlation-between-psychiatric-medications-and-unprovoked-mass-murder-in-america2.pdf )  Likewise, President Obama has pointed out: "The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people.  It's not the only country that has psychosis.  And yet we kill each other in these mass shootings at rates that are exponentially higher than any place else.  Well, what's the difference?" [NOTE: Most people missed the fact that Mr. Obama's above response was to a question about mass shootings posed via Tumblr by Nick Dineen, residential assistant to UC Santa Barbara mass killing victim George Chen - whom the coroner later determined was killed with a knife, not a gun, like two other of Elliot Rodger's victims.  Mr. Obama's response and Mr. Dineen's question can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDVFs2l6-fo and the coroner's findings that Mr. Chen, Weihan Wang, and Chen Hong each died of multiple stab wounds can be viewed here: http://www.sbsheriff.us/documents/ISLAVISTAINVESTIGATIVESUMMARY.pdf .  This demonstrates how jumping to conclusions based on initial media reports can be problematic.]

Indeed, what's the difference?  Neither guns or psychosis are new or unique to America.  So what has changed? 

What has changed in America and what is unique to our country is the alarming increase in the number of Americans taking psychotropic drugs, which carry FDA-mandated label warnings of serious psychiatric adverse events, including suicidal and homicidal ideation.

For example, a recent study commissioned by the Louisiana Senate ( http://dhh.louisiana.gov/assets/ADHD/ADHD_DHH_RspnseRsltn39.pdf ) found that 35.8 percent of ten-year-old white boys were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and prescribed predominantly stimulant medications, which an FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) medical reviewer found cause hallucinations, mania, and psychosis at a rate of two to five per hundred person years ( see http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/06/briefing/2006-4210b_11_01_AdverseEvents.pdf and http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/06/minutes/2006-4210m_Minutes%20PAC%20March%2022%202006.pdf ).  The FDA's medical reviewer also noted that the psychotic side effects of ADHD stimulants occur in regular doses, in children with no risk indicators or other psychiatric history besides ADHD, and at a rate that cannot be considered rare.

Whereas in some places in our country nearly two out of every five ten-year-old boys are being medicated with psychosis-inducing drugs for ADHD, the estimated rate of ADHD diagnosis in Europe is less than one percent ( https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/suffer-the-children/201203/why-french-kids-dont-have-adhd ).  Over-diagnosis and over-medication of psychiatric disorders is a decidedly American problem.

Similarly, while Britain was banning antidepressants for kids due to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior associated with the drugs, the FDA threatened the same medical reviewer, Dr. Andrew Mosholder, with an internal investigation, and prevented him from presenting his findings that the drugs doubled suicidality in kids at a Pediatric Advisory Committee meeting ( http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-108hhrg96099/html/CHRG-108hhrg96099.htm ).

According to the DSM-5,"Between 7 percent and 25 percent of individuals presenting with a first episode of psychosis in different settings are reported to have substance/medication-induced psychotic disorder."

Big Pharma invented and has successfully marketed the unproven theory that mental illness is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain.  Swallowing this marketing theory hook, line and sinker, Americans are also swallowing psychotropic pills -- and shoveling them into their children's mouths -- at rates dwarfing other nations. 

Ironically, there is evidence that psychotropic drugs derive their action precisely by creating a chemical imbalance in the brain, according to former NIMH Director Dr. Steven Hyman ( http://search.proquest.com/openview/5610c361a22516dda3dc72bb25f5371e/1?pq-origsite=gscholar ).  Psychiatric medications, he wrote, "create perturbations in neurotransmitter functions."  The brain must then compensate to adapt to "alterations in the environment."  Chronic administration of the drugs, he added, cause "substantial and long-lasting alterations in neural function." 

Referring to his own LSD trip, immediate past President of the APA, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, wrote: "My [LSD] trip did produce one lasting insight, though--one that I remain grateful for to this day...I marveled at the fact that [if] such an incredibly minute amount of a chemical...could so dramatically alter my cognition, the chemistry of the brain must be susceptible to pharmacologic manipulations in other ways, including ways that could be therapeutic."  ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dj-jaffe/book-review-shrinks-the-u_b_6924810.html )

We, as a nation, are reaping the fruits of this historically unprecedented, massive-scale experimentation on the chemistry of the human brain. 

When most mass shooters were taking psychotropic drugs, it's an insult to what's left of our collectively numbed intelligence to suggest that more psychotropic drugs are the answer to mass shootings.  If psychotropic drugs were the answer, then the astronomical increase in Americans' use of psychiatric drugs should have led to a dramatic decrease in the number of mass shootings, not an increase.  Experience shows that more mental health treatment with psychiatric drugs will lead to more mass murder, not less.

Take, for instance, the case of Bradley Stone.  Not unlike Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon, Mr. Stone might once have been considered a darling example of the shining success of mental health diversion courts and Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) of the kind advocated by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) in his proposed Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646) - that is, until Mr. Stone shot and chopped up seven people, before poisoning himself with the Risperdal and Trazodone he was prescribed and then stabbing himself ( http://www.montcopa.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/2128 ). Or there's Spc Ivan Lopez-Lopez who in the months preceding the second deadly Ft. Hood shooting spree voluntarily met with a half dozen Army mental health providers at Ft. Bliss, Ft. Leonard Wood, and Ft. Hood on ten occasions, dutifully refilling prescriptions for psychotropic medications ( http://www.pharmabuse.com/blogs/98 ).

At the very least, we know psychotropic drugs do not prevent mass killings, since toxicology results for most of the aforementioned dead mass shooters revealed the prescribed drugs were still in their blood.  Moreover, the FDA has received 765 reports of homicide as a side effect of psychotropic drugs, many of which were multiple homicides.  Just as the now well-established link between antidepressants and suicidality, which prompted a black box warning, was once covered up, the extent of the temporal link between psychotropic drugs and violence toward others has been concealed from the American public.  Now, thanks to a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the FDA, we're obtaining the relevant adverse event report records, and they will be made public for the first time.

The FDA adverse event records support recent scientific studies finding a link between psychotropic medications and homicide ( see http://ki.se/en/news/study-analyses-link-between-psychotropic-drugs-and-homicide-risk and http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0015337 ).    

U.S. taxpayers should not spend more money on mental health programs promising to prevent mass shooting tragedies, because such undoubtedly costly programs, by the very nature of their promise, would be fraudulent.  If anything, Congress should investigate whether psychotropic drugs, which have been demonstrated time and time again as being incapable of preventing homicide, may actually be living up to their scary label warnings.

The guns versus mental health debate is a red herring.  They are two sides of the same coin - emphasis on coin, as in money.  The gun lobby and the pharma lobby are a marriage made in heaven (or, more aptly, hell).  We're hearing from the gun lobby that more guns would help victims protect themselves from psychotic mass shooters.  We're hearing from the pharma lobby that forced mental health treatment with psychotropic drugs, which the mass shooters were already voluntarily taking, would prevent mass shootings.    

The only lobby seemingly letting a crisis go to waste is the entertainment lobby.  We haven't heard that more violent video games and movies would prevent mass shootings -- yet.
The Congressional Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing on Rep. Tim Murphy's Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR2646) earlier this week.

Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of non-profit Mental Health America (MHA), was among the witnesses called to testify.  It should be noted that MHA, formerly known as National Mental Health Association or NMHA, has received millions of dollars of funding from the pharmaceutical industry.

Mr. Gionfriddo testified that two-thirds of individuals screened on MHA's website screen positively for mental illness.  If true, this is an alarming percentage, and is less indicative of a mental illness epidemic than it is of the inaccuracy of screening tools used to diagnosis mental illness.  Referring to the latest version of psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health Director Thomas Insel, M.D. wrote, "The weakness is its lack of validity... Patients with mental disorders deserve better... That is why NIMH will be re-orienting its research away from DSM categories."

With the unreliable and inaccurate diagnostic tools available today, increased early identification screening of children for mental disorders proposed in HR2646 would almost certainly exacerbate already out-of-control misdiagnosis and over-medication of children in our country.  This is a decidedly American problem, with the rate of diagnosis of ADHD among children twenty times higher than in other developed countries.  Geographic disparities in diagnosis rates are attributable to subjective, unscientific diagnostic tools.  In the U.S., according to the CDC, children in Florida are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with and medicated for ADHD than children in California, Nevada or Colorado.

Nowhere does the disturbing trend of misdiagnosis and wrongful medication of children seem more manifest than in Mr. Gionfriddo's own family story.  In the Washington Post, Mr. Gionfriddo wrote, "The school’s evaluations suggested [my son Tim] had what was then called attention deficit disorder... And it turned out that Tim probably didn’t really have attention deficit disorder."  Nonetheless, Mr. Gionfriddo also wrote in his book, "The pediatric neurologist started Tim on Ritalin... It turned out that neither Tim's teacher nor we could see any difference in his behavior, attention, or focus when he was on Ritalin.  The reason, as we would discover later, was that ADHD wasn't really his problem."

In what has now become an all-too-familiar and sad refrain involving people put on perhaps unnecessary, the wrong or harmful psychotropic medications, Mr. Gionfroddo reported, "On Wednesday, November 20, 1996, my son Tim brought a gun to school."  Like Mr. Gionfriddo's son who was put on the ADHD drug Ritalin, attorney Myron May was on the ADHD drug Vyvanse when he brought a gun to his alma mater and began shooting FSU students on November 20, 2014.

While fortunately neither Mr. Gionfriddo's son or other students at his school were harmed during that particular firearm at school incident, after starting on methylphenidate, Tim was later reportedly arrested in a meth lab bust.  Like methamphetamine, methylphenidate (Ritalin) is also a Schedule II controlled substance.  Methylphenidate carries an FDA-mandated Black Box warning - the strongest possible - for drug dependence.

Equally disturbing, years after Ritalin was approved and Mr. Gionfriddo's son was placed on the drug, the FDA released a post-marketing review, in 2006, of adverse event reports to the agency, warning that the data demonstrated children with no risk indicators, on regular doses of any of the stimulants approved for ADHD, experienced hallucinations, psychosis and mania.  According to minutes of the March 22, 2006 FDA Pediatric Advisory Committee meeting, Dr. Andrew Mosholder of the FDA's Division of Drug Risk Evaluation noted that "symptoms of psychosis or mania were estimated to occur [on ADHD stimulants] at a rate of 2 to 5 per hundred person-years... This rate (greater than 1%) cannot be considered rare..."  Like other children seemingly misdiagnosed with ADHD and put on psychosis-inducing stimulants, Mr. Gionfriddo's son would eventually be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a condition often involving hallucinations and psychosis.

It's time for America to step off the misdiagnosis and over-medication roller-coaster.  Due to the profit motive of some and despite the good intentions of others, early mis-indentification of mental illness and wrongful interventions are worsening, not solving the problem.  During a mental health forum sponsored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis on December 16, 2014 in Land O' Lakes, FL, the bill's author Rep. Murphy stated, "Forty percent of the time a person with psychiatric problem [sic] is on the wrong types or level of medication."

HR2646 is old wine (HR3717) in a new bottle.  It's bad for America, and it's bad for our kids.  Parents are intelligent enough to make the right mental health decisions and seek the right mental health care if needed for their children.  They do not need more intrusive, wildly inaccurate and unscientific diagnostic screening thrust upon them or their children.

Our nation's over-reliance on pharmacological answers to life's challenges is manifestly not working for our veterans and military personnel, either.  The Army's report on the 2 April 2014 Fort Hood shootings concluded that the mental health care Spc Ivan Lopez received did not deviate from the standard of care.  Time to rethink the standard of care, which included in Lopez's case an untested polypharmacy cocktail of the psychotropic medications Celexa, Wellbutrin, Ambien and Lunesta.  Our service personnel and veterans deserve better than being treated as guinea pigs, experimented upon with risky, ineffective psychotropic polypharmacy. 

On the topic of Evidence-Based Treatment (EBT), can we agree that four dead and twelve others shot is not evidence of a good outcome of medication management?  It should be noted that Army records indicate that Spc Lopez attended at least ten counseling sessions dutifully over ten months prior to the shooting; met with a social worker therapist, four psychiatrists, and a nurse practitioner; sought multiple medication refills voluntarily on a walk-in basis (Jan 14, 2014; March 6, 2014; March 10, 2014), had psychotropic medications in his blood stream at the time of death per his autopsy, and had even scheduled a follow up mental health appointment prior to his death during a walk-in visit seeking medication.

The problem is not a lack of access to mental health care, a lack of access to medications, anosognosia, medication non-compliance or treatment non-compliance.  The nature of the problem is American psychiatry's fascination with an as yet unproven chemical imbalance theory whereby mental illness is genetically hardwired into individuals.  Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman's exuberant hearing testimony espousing the benefits of psychotropic medications, suggesting they can prevent or eliminate mental illness, should be tempered by his comments that his faith in pharmacologic manipulations is rooted in his first LSD trip.  Patrick Kennedy's impassioned testimony eschewing any moral component of mental illness ignores man's soul, argues fatalistically that we're all just chemical soup, and removes the element of free will.  It's no wonder depression can turn into despair, when psychiatrists tell patients fate has dealt them a hopeless genetic hand.

Harvey Rosenthal testified in the hearing that people need to be offered a promise of hope and recovery, and that Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is synonymous with medication.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the push to erode the privacy rights of patients. Undermining confidentiality, so long a foundational tenet of mental health care, is a chilling indicator that the page is indeed being turned, some would say forcibly, away from proven yet more time-consuming psychotherapeutic and recovery modalities, in favor of quick but ineffective medication management.  In light of Rep. Murphy's stunning admission that doctors are wrong about psychiatric medications forty percent of the time, we're now going to take away patient privacy in the name of medication compliance?  To comply with the wrong medications?  So that caregivers - often parents who previously forced their children to take the wrong medications under poor medical advice - can continue to harm their kids well into adulthood?

Let parents parent their minor children without intrusion.  Let adults make mental health care decisions for themselves.  We need less, not more, government intrusion into mental health care.

In his determination to erode privacy rights as well as the centuries-old legal protection against false imprisonment afforded by habeas corpus - based upon shaky psychiatric diagnoses and worrisome doctor prescribing habits -  Rep. Tim Murphy claims with great dramatic effect that the mentally ill are dying with their rights on. 

Actually, they're dying with psychotropic medications in their corpses, and often taking others with them.  Spc Ivan Lopez died with antidepressants and sedatives in his body, and took three others with him.  Elliot Rodgers died with Xanax (alprazolam) in his body, and took six others with him.  Myron May died with Vyvanse in his veins, almost taking six others with him.  Andreas Lubitz, Germanwings co-pilot, took 149 other souls with him when, according to the BEA's preliminary report, he committed suicide by intentionally crashing a plane into the Alps, after being prescribed antidepressants.

In the U.S., antidepressants carry an FDA-mandated Black Box warning for increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.  Again, on the topic of EBT, can we agree that 150 lost souls is not evidence of a positive outcome of antidepressants?  Can we agree that the aforementioned deadly mass shootings are not evidence of positive outcomes of psychotropic medications?

Ironically, as the HR2646 hearing was closing, testimony of Aurora theater shooter James Holmes' psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Fenton was just getting underway in Colorado.  She testified that Holmes was on a psychotropic cocktail of 150 mg of Sertraline (Zoloft), .5 mg of Klonopin (Clonazepam), and 10 mg of Propanolol.  DA: "Did he ever tell you that he wanted to stop Sertraline?" Dr. Fenton: "No."

The assertion that medication non-compliance is the reason people with a mental illness become violent is simply not true. Medications are not the panacea that Rep. Murphy portrays them to be, and in fact there is credible scientific evidence to suggest that they may be doing more harm than good.

Perhaps Murphy's bill would be more aptly named the Helping Big Pharma and Mental Health Industry Act.

Family law and parental rights has everything to do with attorneys and how they handle the case for their client.  If you are a parent who is either getting a divorce or already divorced, you know well that parental rights are determined largely by how your attorney services your needs or not.  Once mental health is introduced to the case, the game changes and parental rights may become obsolete.  In a presentation made to the Georgia Annual Bar Admissions Conference, in 2012, Dr. Michael J. Herkov, Neuropsychiatrist, spoke to the attorneys about mental illness. This may, on the surface, seem appropriate to some, but with further thought it seems absurd that an attorney would need to know about mental health. It is an admittance of our times, that mental health and the practice of, has entered into almost every single professional field in our culture. 


Teachers are given courses on mental health so that they can, supposedly, spot children who have learning disorders or behavioral issues and ensure that the student gets the “appropriate attention”.  Law enforcement officers are given courses on mental health so that they can, supposedly, prevent violence and disastrous situations in the community.  Again, on the surface, this may seem appropriate to some, and with further thought it’s actually practicing mental health without a license. 


In reviewing Dr. Herkov’s presentation, he is comparing the physician and the attorney and their value to society. In this comparison he mentions that attorneys “are sought out by the general public during times of personal vulnerability, turmoil, conflict, or stress.” He goes further to say that perhaps the attorney is more sought out than the medical professional during these times. That’s an incredible comparison and a clear path to now introduce the subject of mental health to the profession of law. 


In his own words, Dr. Herkov states, “the client is highly dependent upon the skill of the attorney in understanding and resolving the issue.”


With that in mind, consider the facts instead of the apparent, especially within the family court arena.  Factually, Dr. Allen Frances, former editor of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), “Adding to the woes of the medically ill could be one of the biggest problems caused by DSM 5. It will do this in two ways: 1) by encouraging a quick jump to the erroneous conclusion that someone's physical symptoms are 'all in the head'; and 2) by mislabeling as mental disorders what are really just the normal emotional reactions that people understandably have in response to a medical illness.” Factually, medical professionals have documented that there are medical tests that can be performed to identify physical illness or ailments that are causing mental health problems. Additionally, Dr. Frances is correct when he says that some of the symptoms can be “normal” reactions to life.  The New York Times published an article in 2011, titled, “For Some, Psychiatric Trouble May Start in Thyroid”, and the article reports, “In patients with depression, anxiety and other psychiatric problems, doctors often find abnormal blood levels of thyroid hormone. Treating the problem, they have found, can lead to improvements in mood, memory and cognition. Now researchers are exploring a somewhat controversial link between minor, or subclinical, thyroid problems and some patients’ psychiatric difficulties.” 


Returning to the imposed correlation between attorneys and mental health, Dr. Herkov, tells us, in his presentation at the Bar Admissions Conference, “Attorneys must possess basic cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills. These attributes are often referred to as the ‘essential eligibility requirements’ for the practice of law. The importance of these qualities is well recognized by state boards of bar examiners (and/or their separate character and fitness committees) whose members are charged with verifying that applicants to the bare meet these basic criteria.”


So, not only are attorneys reviewed for their mental health fitness, they are now familiar with the subject of mental illness in dealing with their own practices and clients and that familiarity came from a close scrutiny of their own well-being by the Bar Examiners.  Hence, the double-edged sword; the attorney first reviewed as a potential mental health patient, and then the attorney as the quasi-mental health practitioner.  The standard of care has become mental health diagnosing and medicating.  After all, if an attorney is found to be mentally unfit, meds are prescribed and taken and then he or she is deemed fit. 


No wonder, by the time a parent takes their case into family court, they may feel that their case is already taken a wrong turn. As many parents know, there is a whole cast of characters assigned to divorcees, within the family court arena that are mental health professionals.  Whether that is the child custody evaluator, the parent-coordinator, the guardian ad Litem or the court appointed psychologists, you can add one more to that cast, and that is potentially, your own attorney.  Keep in mind that most attorneys will have had a crash-course in mental health prior to opening the doors to their office.  


When it comes to divorce issues, one issue that is plaguing family courts, is the issue of psychotropic drugging.  If one parent does not want their child to take mental health drugs and the other parent does want the child to take them, the cast of characters, mentioned above, will most assuredly be assigned to the case.  With that, there will be a most definite leaning in the direction of drugging the child. Consider, not only your choice of attorney, who may or may not be on the meds themselves, but also the court appointed professionals.  Dig deep and find out who is influencing the proceedings in your case. 


In a Tampa Bay Times article, the public got a glimpse of the type of psychologist who might work in the family court arena. “As a psychologist who works primarily in the family courts, Flens and others like him stand at an unusual crossroads between social science and the law. Those who occupy it have enormous influence over cases whose emotional stakes are among the judiciary's highest. Expert witnesses who testify about the best custody arrangement for a child can salvage or ruin a parent's life, and their opinions shape the upbringing of the kids involved. These fateful choices command a high price. Court-approved psychologists routinely bill themselves out at rates of hundreds of dollars per hour; a single evaluation can cost litigants $10,000 or more.”


Dr. Herkov’s presentation continues with a definition of mental illness, mental disorders and guidelines for how to determine if the graduate of law school should be able to “engage in the practice of law” or whether they need “further examination, treatment, or monitoring before allowing the individual” to practice law. He uses the definition of mental illness that was published in the fourth edition of the DSM and he uses mental disorders and their definitions from the same manual.  Remember well, that Dr. Frances, former editor of this same manual, is denouncing the credibility of these disorder in that he is adding credibility to the fact that mental health symptoms can be traced back to an underlying physical cause that when evidenced by medical test, can be cured. 


Attorneys and mental health only becomes one more piece of the gigantic, moneymaking, puzzle that is the Pharma-Mental Health industry. An attorney, raked over the coals, in examination by the bar examiners, may learn well, firsthand that mental health disorders leads to mental health drugs and if he or she is placed on them, the cash-register for Pharma-Mental Health only continues to ring.  Once the court-appointed professionals are added to a case, the parent can hear again the ringing of that cash register, at his expense and the expense of his child’s well being. 


Parental rights are a relative term and the only comfort that can be offered is information.  The more information the parent has, prior to any court situation, the more he or she will be able to try to sway the relativity of his or her rights in the right direction.


Www.MentalHealthRights.org offers information to parents so that they can prevent and/or maneuver through these issues. An experienced advocate is available, by phone, for anyone who needs personal attention and information. 






Sources: 


The Bar Examiner, Volume 82, Number 1, march 2013, Mental Illness and The Practice of Law, http://www.ncbex.org/assets/media_files/Bar-Examiner/articles/2013/820113herkov.pdf


Psychology Today: Mislabeling Medical Illness As Mental Disorder, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201212/mislabeling-medical-illness-mental-disorder


New York Times: For Some, Psychiatric Trouble May Start in Thyroid, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/health/for-some-psychiatric-troubles-may-begin-with-the-thyroid.html


Tampa Bay Times Article: Powerful Valrico family court psychologist has a troubled past, http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/civil/powerful-valrico-family-court-psychologist-has-a-troubled-past/2152735