MENTAL HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL CONTROL
Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
In Part 13 of this series, I briefly mentioned the new book, ONE NATION UNDER THERAPY: HOW THE HELPING CULTURE IS ERODING SELF-RELIANCE (2005), by Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel, M.D. The authors claim that "children, more than any group, are targeted for therapeutic improvement....The propensity of experts to pathologize and medicalize healthy children en masse has gotten way out of hand. The past decade has seen a cascade of books and articles promoting the idea that seemingly content and well-adjusted Americans---adults as well as children---are emotionally damaged."
Unfortunately, President George W. Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (NFCMH) has proposed screening all of America's youth. Used to support this initiative will be the recent findings of the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCSR), the results of which are published in the June edition of the ARCHIVES OF GENERAL PSYCHIATRY. It found that half of those who will ever be diagnosed with a mental disorder show signs of the disease by age 14. In Rick Weiss' "Study: U.S. Leads In Mental Illness, Lags in Treatment" (THE WASHINGTON POST, June 7, 2005), one also learns that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) funded the $20 million NCSR study, which found that one-quarter of all Americans met the criteria for having a mental illness within the past year. The study also found that almost half of Americans meet the criteria for such an illness at some point in their lives, and that less than half of those in need get treated. Thomas Insel, chief of the NIMH, expressed his disappointment to learn from the survey that about a third of people in need rely solely on nonprofessional sources such as internet support groups and spiritual advisers. You might ask yourself at this point what kind of broad definition they are using to determine that half of the American population will be mentally ill at some point, and you might also ask what is wrong with relying upon spiritual advisers?
Countering advocates of mental health screening, Dr. Karen Effrem in an October 31, 2004 letter to THE WASHINGTON TIMES titled "Go Slow on Mental Health Screening" cautioned: "Given the very real problems of already existing coercion, subjective criteria, dangerous and ineffective medication, and the failure of screening to prevent suicide, none of which are covered in the NFC report, Congress would be wise to withhold the $44 million requested for state grants to implement the NFC recommendations. Whatever good may come from the other recommendations is completely overshadowed by the loss of freedom and damage that would come from labeling and drugging potentially millions of children based on these unsupportable screening and treatment programs. If we don't act now, every child in America will be screened for mental illness: thousands, perhaps millions, will be deemed 'at risk' of developing mental health problems for which they will be prescribed powerful psychotropic drugs. The screening plan has been called Orwellian and diabolical---the treatment 'model' the report recommends is a drug-industry sponsored guideline---the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP)." The first TMAP model was adopted in 1995 in Texas when President Bush was Governor of that state.
One of the major forces behind TMAP was the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) mentioned in earlier Parts of this series. About the time TMAP began in 1995, the RWJF gave a sizeable grant for TMAP to Dr. Ken Altshuler in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Texas and Dr. John Rush in pharmacology at the same university. Chairman of the RWJF's National Advisory Council for its Mental Health Services Program for Youth (MHSPY) was former North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt, Jr., also mentioned in earlier Parts of this series. After the foundation's MHSPY National Program Office in 1990 awarded implementation grants to 8 states, it then awarded replication grants to 11 states, including Texas, between July 1994 and October 1996. In Texas and other states, the Child and Adolescent Strengths Assessment (CASA) was used, looking at whether a child had a particular vocational skill, an ability to trust others, and experienced religious/spiritual beliefs among other things. The states used outcomes-based planning and implemented outcomes-based systems of care.
The TMAP, of course, was not the first government program regarding children's mental health. On September 29, 1970, a Special Studies Subcommittee (U.S. Rep. Cornelius Gallagher, presiding chairman) of the Committee on Government Operations held hearings on "Federal Involvement in the Use of Behavior Modification Drugs on Grammar School Children of the Right to Privacy Inquiry." At the beginning of the hearings, Rep. Gallagher stated: "I want to welcome you here today to our hearing into Federal responsibility in promoting the use of amphetamines (e.g., Dexedrine and Ritalin) to modify the behavior of grammar school children....From the time of puberty onward, each and every child is told that 'speed kills' and that amphetamines are to be avoided. Yet, this same child has learned that Ritalin, for example, is the only thing which makes him a functioning member of the school environment and both his family and his doctor have urged the pills on him. I am frankly very curious about the kind of credibility his parents have when they try to guide him away from amphetamines after encouraging him to take them." He concluded his introductory remarks by listing a number of 1970 NIMH grants, among which were R01 MH 18180 for $102,076 to test the full range of FDA-approved psychotropic drugs for their effects on children, to establish guidelines for safe and effective use of psychotropic drugs in the treatment of emotional disorders in the young. And he listed R01 MH 18579 for $60,185 to evaluate the relative efficacy of thioridazine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), thioridazine-methylphenidate combination and placebo in hyperkinetic children between ages 6 and 12.
Following the list, Dr. Ronald Lipman, chief of the Clinical Studies Section of the NIMH, testified that "after the age of 12 these drugs (amphetamines) should be given with extreme caution, if at all." He later indicated that "the estimates we have are from 3 to 10 percent of those up to 12 years of age" have MBD (minimal brain dysfunction). This was succeeded by a prepared statement by Theodore Johnson, a chemist with the Veterans' Administration, who observed that "the most grotesque of proposals reached President Nixon, December 1969, by memorandum from Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker, a psychiatrist and consultant to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. He suggested that all 6- to 8-year-old U.S. children be required to take psychological tests to determine whether they had a predeliction for criminal behavior, and to weed out the potentially dangerous. This program would have been implemented by the construction of 'rehabilitation camps,' day-care centers and after school centers, where the children could be treated. I have been informed that Dr. Hutschnecker was educated in Berlin, Germany, in 1939. This may explain the insight he shared with the President. 'There are Pavlovian methods which I have seen effectively used in the Soviet Union.' Perhaps even more alarming, is the fact that the President sent this ludicrous thing to HEW for advice on setting up pilot projects."
Chairman Gallagher next challenged Dr. John Peters (with the Child Study Center at the University of Arkansas Medical Center), who had been using Imipramine in a study by reading from the Tofranil (which is included in Imipramine and hydrochloride) warning label, which states: "Pending evaluation of results from clinical trials in children, the drug is not recommended for use to patients under 12 years of age. We don't have information that has been systematically studied in hyperkinetic behavior for these children."
Included at the conclusion of the hearings was John Mathews' article, "Set Up Data Banks, Allen Urges Schools" (WASHINGTON STAR, April 15, 1970), which began: "U.S. Commissioner of Education James E. Allen, Jr. has outlined a plan for restructuring local schools that would include computerized data systems designed to help professionals 'prescribe' programs for helping pupils and their families....In his proposal, made yesterday in a speech to the National School Boards Association convention in San Francisco, Allen suggested each local school system should have a central diagnostic center 'to find out everything possible about the child and his background' to plan an individualized program for him. After test and home visits, Allen said, the center 'would know just about everything there is to know about the child---his home and family background, his cultural and language deficiencies, his health and nutrition needs and his general potential as an individual.' The information would be fed into a computer for use by a team of trained professionals who would write a 'prescription' for the child 'and if necessary, for his home and family as well,' Allen said. 'If the home is contributing negatively to the child's development, it too should receive attention and aid.'"
There are forces---powerful forces---working increasingly toward the destruction of the traditional family as well as the souls of our children, our grandchildren, and the soul of our nation. Some years ago, the British Humanist Association published a discussion document, "Marriage and the Family," in which one reads that "some opponents of Humanism have accused us of wishing to overthrow the traditional Christian family. They are right. That is exactly what we intend to do."
One way the traditional Christian family is being undermined is by what is taught in our schools. The National Education Association (NEA) has a Gay and Lesbian Caucus, and at an NEA annual convention, lesbians promoted a 90-minute video titled "It's Elementary: Teaching About Gay Issues at Schools." Also, the American Library Association has had a Task Force on Gay Liberation which produced a list of "Gay Materials for Use in Schools" as long ago as 1978.
Another way our traditional Christian families are being undermined is via values clarification. Earlier in this series, I explained how this process has been used in government schools. As nationally syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell wrote in "Schools brainwash vulnerable kids" (WEST COUNTY TIMES, September 28, 1990):"There is a whole spectrum of courses and programs designed to brainwash children into rejecting the values, beliefs and ways of life taught them by the parents---and to accept the latest fad thinking on subjects ranging from death to sex to social philosophies in general. Whatever the particular subject matter, these programs follow standard brainwashing techniques of putting the victims under emotional stress, breaking down their inhibitions and destroying their links to others on the outside. With schoolchildren, the link that must be loosened or broken is the child's link to his or her parents. In innumerable ways, some very subtle, these programs undermine, ridicule, or otherwise sidetrack parents as irrelevant."
Values clarification has also been used outside of schools. For example, in the late 1970s, under a contract with the U.S. Army, humanist Sidney Simon implemented a values clarification program which the contract said "is an experimental program to change attitudes and behavior of 12,000 soldiers...." Concerning this, U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond on December 12, 1979 wrote a letter to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, saying: "...Obviously the use of this type of course in the Army raises many questions. It is a form of psycho-therapy. The questions are predetermined and the choices preselected. Thus the narrow options given the student are actually a subtle form of political or philosophical indoctrination....Many also see this type of course as an attack on the family when Simon says in his book VALUES CLARIFICATION that 'young people brought up by moralizing adults are not prepared to make their own responsible choices.' There is a strong implication that family and church guidance have left the individual unable to cope with the modern world....Mr. Secretary, in my view government has no right to modify the behavior of soldiers through a humanistic program of this type....I consider efforts to open the military to this type of program a dangerous precedent...." In addition, moral absolutes are under attack by the popular culture. For example, the most recent Star Wars film, "Revenge of the Sith," in which the Sith are the villains, contains a statement by hero Obi-wan Kenobi that "only the Sith speak in absolutes." The clear implication is that those who believe in moral absolutes are villains.
We cannot stand idly by as the principles of our Judeo-Christian religion are being undermined. Often today this undermining comes in the form of a watered-down gospel rather than a direct challenge. It's as though Richard Gardner's infamous April 1974 FOREIGN AFFAIRS article were retitled "The Hard Road to a New World Religion" and as if his message were paraphrased to say "an end run around the gospel, eroding it piece-by-piece, will get us further (to a new world religion) than the old-fashioned frontal assault." We should heed the words of Bishop James Madison (second cousin of President Madison) in his sermon, "Manifestations of the Beneficence of Divine Providence Towards America," preached in Richmond, Virginia, on February 19, 1795 (proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer by President Washington), when he said: "The moment that religion, the pure and undefiled religion, which heaven, in compassion to the infirmity of human reason, vouchsafed to mortals, loses its influence over their hearts, from that fatal moment, farewell to public and private happiness, farewell, a long farewell to virtue, to patriotism, to liberty!" We cannot let the plans of the power elite succeed. "Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch...." (1 Thessalonians 5:6) We must join in this war for hearts, minds, and souls. We must keep informed, inform others, and "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
© 2005 Dennis Cuddy - All Rights Reserved
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Dennis Laurence Cuddy, historian and political analyst, received a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (major in American History, minor in political science). Dr. Cuddy has taught at the university level, has been a political and economic risk analyst for an international consulting firm, and has been a Senior Associate with the U.S. Department of Education.
Cuddy has also testified before members of Congress on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Cuddy has authored or edited twenty books and booklets, and has written hundreds of articles appearing in newspapers around the nation, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He has been a guest on numerous radio talk shows in various parts of the country, such as ABC Radio in New York City, and he has also been a guest on the national television programs USA Today and CBS's Nightwatch.
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clarification has also been used outside of schools. For example, in the
late 1970s, under a contract with the U.S. Army, humanist Sidney Simon
implemented a values clarification program which the contract said "is
an experimental program to change attitudes and behavior of 12,000 soldiers...."