How Psychiatry Labels Gifted Children for Psychiatric Drugging
By Colin Taufer
A mother and a psychiatrist are relaxing in a park, both observing the mother’s son at play. The mother feels her child may be gifted. The psychiatrist observes the boy and speculates he is suffering from ADD/ADHD and needs medication.
How could this be? How could two people viewing the same child come to such different conclusions?
The first answer is, like all psychiatric diagnoses, there are no bio-markers (no blood tests, no brain scans, no genetic tests, no hair analyses) that validate the “disease” of ADD/ADHD. The diagnostic methods used are all subjective and based on the feelings of the doctor, counselor, teacher or parent towards the child.
The second answer is equally troubling. In fact, its implications are a touch sinister. Psychiatry views the gifted child as having a “disorder”.
“Millions upon millions of children and youth will never know their full potential because they grew up with an intoxicated brain — their neurotransmitters forever deformed by being bathed in psychiatric drugs during their formative years.” – Peter R. Breggin, MD
Dr. Breggin has been called “The Conscience of Psychiatry” for his many successful efforts to reform the mental health field. He is a medical-legal expert who has testified for plaintiffs in numerous successful cases against psychiatric malpractice and criminality, helping victims of psychiatry win multi-million dollar settlements.
Last year Breggin spoke about gifted children being misdiagnosed with ADHD at the 1st International Conference of Intellectual Giftedness in Mexico City.
Dr. Breggin told PsychSearch, “The gifted child is an extraordinary child who is full of energy and very bright. We need to bring out their wonderfulness, not drug them. In class they’re not paying attention to the teacher because they’re paying attention to what they want to pay attention to.” He also referred PsychSearch to a study that shows ADHD drugs stunt growth in both height and weight in children.
According to The National Association of Gifted Children, NAGC, the gifted child is one who demonstrates outstanding levels of aptitude or competence. They might shine at math, music or language. They might excel at painting, dance or sports.
Both the mother and the doctor sit on a park bench and observe the youngster at play. The mother, looking to confirm her assumptions about the brilliance of her son, goes to the NAGC website and runs through a checklist of behavioral traits of giftedness in children. At the same time, the psychiatrist runs through his checklist of signs and symptoms of ADHD.
The first thing they both recognize in the child is his tendency to flit from activity to activity, each one more interesting than the last: jumping from a swing, dashing to the pond, hanging from the tree. Mom checks off the box for “Spontaneity”, the psychiatrist checks his box: “Switches from one activity to another frequently”.
Mom, impressed by her son’s inquisitive nature and gregariousness, checks off three more boxes: “Constantly questions,” “Non-stop talking/chattering,” and “Insatiable curiosity”. The psych sees it differently: “Frequently interrupts others” and “Acts or speaks without thinking”.
Seeing her son bound from bug to tree to friend to slide, mom smiles and checks off “Highly energetic – needs little sleep or down time”, “Boundless enthusiasm,” and “Impulsive, eager and spirited”. The psych sees it differently: “In constant motion”, “Having trouble sitting quietly or still”, and “Running, jumping, or climbing around constantly”.
The boy tries several times to build a castle out of sticks and rocks, only to see it fall each time. He becomes discouraged, finally gives up and moves on to a new activity. Mom, knowing his love of castles and perfectionism, checks “High levels of frustration – particularly when having difficulty meeting standards of performance (either imposed by self or others).” The psych attributes what he sees to “Being easily distracted or becoming easily bored”, “Having trouble focusing,” and “Having problems completing tasks or activities.”
He tries to organize a game of freeze tag with other children on the playground. The other kids are willing and the game runs for a few minutes until one girl, confused by the rules, decides to leaves the game. This dampens the spirits of the others who disperse and leave the game behind. Her son becomes infuriated and stomps away to sit alone on a swing. Mom, somewhat chagrined, checks the box “Volatile temper, especially related to perceptions of failure.” The psych puts three exclamation marks next to “Impatient.”
An afternoon of play over, goodbyes are said and the boy’s mother takes her son’s hand and they head home. Two observers walk away certain of their assessments, each with a label in mind that is perfectly correct. One is certain her child is gifted. The other refers to his DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and jots down his final note. “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation, diagnostic and billing code: 314.01. Prescription: Adderall.”
Welcome to my monthly column. I am a career educator, writer and lifelong advocate for human rights. With each article, I hope to shine a light into the dark world of psychiatry to make stronger champions of human rights, to stir into action, to enlighten. As always, I appreciate feedback from readers. I can be reached at Colin@PsychSearch.net.