by Susan Rosenthal
In July, the Washington Post reported that Corporate America is hoarding a record $1.8 trillion in cash while it waits for profit-making opportunities. At the same time, record numbers of American children are being prescribed toxic psychiatric drugs at earlier ages. These two facts are connected.
The corporate class stole its trillions by exploiting workers at home and abroad – paying us less than our labor is worth – and by laying off workers and squeezing the rest to work a lot harder for much less.
They also steal from our children.
Exploitation and deprivation cause parents to be distressed, depressed, angry, anxious and overwhelmed.
An estimated 15 million American children (one in five) live with an adult who suffered a major depression in the previous year. A report from the Urban Institute found that 7 percent of all 9-month-old infants live with severely depressed mothers, and 41 percent of 9-month-old infants live with mothers who suffer some form of depression. These rates are higher among mothers living in poverty, who are also more likely to suffer domestic violence.
Children respond to parental distress with symptoms and behaviors. The greater the parent’s distress, the greater the child’s distress.
Instead of demanding that the corporate treasury be invested in supporting families, the medical system labels distressed children with mental disorders and drugs them into submission.
For several decades, researchers like Peter and Ginger Breggin have documented the shocking extent to which American children are being drugged with stimulants and anti-depressants.
The newest trend is to drug distressed children with powerful anti-psychotics. In adults, these toxic compounds increase the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, suicide, seizures, infection, kidney failure, nervous-system damage and sudden death. The effects on children are unknown.
Last September, an FDA report found that the number of anti-psychotic prescriptions dispensed to children (0-17 years) had risen 22 percent over the previous 5 years.
The FDA examined 6 anti-psychotic drugs: Seroquel® (quetiapine); Zyprexa® (olanzapine); Risperdal® (risperidone); Abilify® (aripiprazole); Geodon® (ziprasidone); and Invega® (paliperidone).
In 2008, of the 32 million prescriptions dispensed for these drugs, 4.8 million were dispensed to children (15 percent of the total).
That same year, one million individual children were prescribed these anti-psychotics (19 percent of the total of 5.5 million individuals). Here are the numbers, by age group:
1,770 children aged 0-2
64,664 children aged 3-6
414,451 children aged 7-12
540,760 children aged 13-17
Diagnoses applied to the infants and toddlers (aged 0-2) included: Attention Deficit Disorder; Mental/Behavior Problems, Behavioral Problems; Other Emotional Disturbances, and Residual Schizophrenia, a diagnosis that can be made on the basis of “odd beliefs and unusual perceptual experiences.”
A more accurate diagnosis for these children’s symptoms and behaviors would be “Severe Parental Distress due to Heartless Social Policies.”
Only a sick social system would enrich the few by stealing the present lives and future hopes of the many.