Fred Baughman on PBS Frontline:
PBS: Establishing whether it’s actually a biological brain disease seems to be a less important issue. The question is whether there aren’t certain conditions with symptoms that can’t be aided and addressed with psychotropic medications. What’s wrong with that?
Fred: Well, what they’ve done essentially is to propose that there are children who, up to the time they walk down the schoolhouse path, seem to everyone to be entirely normal. But what they have proposed is that there are children who are misbehaving at school and at home who are inherently unable to achieve self-control because they’ve got something wrong in their brain. This ignores whether or not their parenting is optimal, and whether or not their de facto parenting in school or disciplining at school in the hands of a teacher is optimal or not. There aren’t many schools, or homes for that matter, where one can say that parenting and schooling are optimal. I know our schools in California are in just horrible straits.
PBS: But in the real world, parenting will never be optimal. Schooling is rarely optimal. But we’ve got a class of people telling us, psychiatrists and family physicians, that there is a drug that can help children that have a certain set of symptoms. What’s wrong with that?
Fred: I think that the deficiency is, in fact, in the adults … To maintain that the deficiency is in the child and not to require any correction of the adults who are responsible for the development of the child is a terrible misstep. … By denying that there is any problem at all in the adults, and just accepting that it’s a chemical imbalance and you’re going to take a pill for it, I think you’re going to leave unaddressed and undone … things that must be done, and should be done, and are being done in proper homes, and are being done in parochial and private schools throughout the country. …
There are no miracle drugs. Speed–these drugs are forms of speed–don’t improve human life. They reduce human life. And if you want less of a child, these drugs are very effective. These parents have also been lied to: flat-out lied to. They’ve been told that children have a neurobiological disorder. They’ve been told their children have biochemical imbalances and genetic defects. On what basis? That they fit into a checklist of attention deficit disorder, which is just a list of behaviors that teachers would like to see stopped in a classroom? That’s all it is. . . .
One of the really obscene things that has happened is that psychiatry has sold the idea that if you criticize drugs, you’re making parents feel guilty. What an obscenity that is. We are supposed to be responsible for our children. . . . If we’re not responsible for raising our children, what are we responsible for? If children aren’t entrusted to us for the specific purpose of our turning ourselves inside-out to be good parents, what is life about? It is a disgrace that my profession has pandered to the guilt of parents by saying, “We’ll relieve you of guilt. We’ll tell you your child has a brain disease, and that the problem can be treated by a drug.”
That’s pandering to the worst desires that we have as parents–all of us–which is to say, “I’m not guilty of this problem.” . . . I’d rather be guilty as a parent, and say, “I did wrong,” than say, “Son, you have a brain disease.” Sure, we’re all tempted. We’re all tempted, when we’re in conflict with our children, to hold them responsible. And how much easier it is if we don’t even have to hold them responsible. . . .