RITALIN IS NOT A SOFT PSYCHIATRIC DRUG
by Jon Rappoport
July 31, 2012
In the wake of the Aurora shootings, we are seeing another round of questions about the psychiatric drugs that can cause harm and impel violence.
Here is an excerpt from my 1999 white paper, WHY DID THEY DO IT? SCHOOL SHOOTINGS ACROSS AMERICA. All the data in it are from that time period. Since then, several million more children have been put on Ritalin in the US.
To read my whole report:
Ritalin, manufactured by Novartis, is the close cousin to speed which is given to perhaps two million American schoolchildren for a condition called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
ADD and ADHD, for which no organic causes have ever been found, are touted as disease-conditions that afflict the young, causing hyperactivity, unmanageability, and learning problems. Of course, when you name a disorder or a syndrome and yet can find no single provable organic cause for it, you have nothing more than a loose collection of behaviors with an arbitrary title.
Correction: you also have a pharmaceutical bonanza.
Dr. Peter Breggin, referring to an official directory of psychiatric disorders, the DSM-III-R, writes that withdrawal from amphetamine-type drugs, including Ritalin, can cause “depression, anxiety, and irritability as well as sleep problems, fatigue, and agitation.” Breggin then remarks, “The individual may become suicidal in response to the depression.”
The well-known Goodman and Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics reveals a strange fact. It states that Ritalin is “structurally related to amphetamines … Its pharmacological properties are essentially the same as those of the amphetamines.” In other words, the only clear difference is legality. And the effects, in layman’s terms, are obvious. You take speed and after awhile, sooner or later, you start crashing. You become agitated, irritable, paranoid, delusional, aggressive.
A firm and objective medical review needs to be done in all of the school shootings, to determine how many of the shooters were on, or had at one time been on, Ritalin.
In his landmark classic, Toxic Psychiatry, Dr. Breggin discusses the subject of drug combinations: “Combining antidepressants [e.g., Prozac, Luvox] and psychostimulants [e.g., Ritalin] increases the risk of cardiovascular catastrophe, seizures, sedation, euphoria, and psychosis. Withdrawal from the combination can cause a severe reaction that includes confusion, emotional instability, agitation, and aggression.”
Children are frequently medicated with this combination, and when we highlight such effects as aggression, psychosis, and emotional instability, it is obvious that the result is pointing toward the very real possibility of violence.
In 1986, The International Journal of the Addictions published a most important literature review by Richard Scarnati. It was called “An Outline of Hazardous Side Effects of Ritalin (Methylphenidate”) [v.21(7), pp. 837-841].
Scarnati listed over a hundred adverse affects of Ritalin and indexed published journal articles for each of these symptoms.
For every one of the following (selected and quoted verbatim) Ritalin effects then, there is at least one confirming source in the medical literature:
• Paranoid delusions
• Paranoid psychosis
• Hypomanic and manic symptoms, amphetamine-like psychosis
• Activation of psychotic symptoms
• Toxic psychosis
• Visual hallucinations
• Auditory hallucinations
• Can surpass LSD in producing bizarre experiences
• Effects pathological thought processes
• Extreme withdrawal
• Terrified affect
• Started screaming
• Since Ritalin is considered an amphetamine-type drug, expect amphatamine-like effects
• psychic dependence
• High-abuse potential DEA Schedule II Drug
• Decreased REM sleep
• When used with antidepressants one may see dangerous reactions including hypertension, seizures and hypothermia
• Brain damage may be seen with amphetamine abuse.
Many parents around the country have discovered that Ritalin has become a condition for their children continuing in school. There are even reports, by parents, of threats from social agencies: “If you don’t allow us to prescribe Ritalin for your ADD child, we may decide that you are an unfit parent. We may decide to take your child away.”
This mind-boggling state of affairs is fueled by teachers, principals, and school counselors, none of whom have medical training.
Yet the very definition of the “illness” for which Ritalin would be prescribed is in doubt, especially at the highest levels of the medical profession. This doubt, however, has not filtered down to most public schools.
In commenting on Dr. Lawrence Diller’s book, Running on Ritalin, Dr. William Carey, Director of Behavioral Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, has written, “Dr. Diller has correctly described … the disturbing trend of blaming children’s social, behavioral, and academic performance problems entirely on an unproven brain deficit…”
On November 16-18, 1998, the National Institute of Mental Health held the prestigious “NIH Consensus Development Conference on Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD].” The conference was explicitly aimed at ending all debate about the diagnoses of ADD, ADHD, and about the prescription of Ritalin. It was hoped that at the highest levels of medical research and bureaucracy, a clear position would be taken: this is what ADHD is, this is where it comes from, and these are the drugs it should be treated with.
That didn’t happen, amazingly. Instead, the official panel responsible for drawing conclusions from the conference threw cold water on the whole attempt to reach a comfortable consensus.
Panel member Mark Vonnegut, a Massachusetts pediatrician, said, “The diagnosis [of ADHD] is a mess.”
The panel essentially said it was not sure ADHD was even a “valid” diagnosis. In other words, ADD and ADHD might be nothing more than attempts to categorize certain children’s behaviors-with no organic cause, no clear-cut biological basis, no provable reason for even using the ADD or ADHD labels.
The panel found “no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction [which malfunction had been the whole psychiatric assumption].”
The panel found that Ritalin has not been shown to have long-term benefits. In fact, the panel stated that Ritalin has resulted in “little improvement on academic achievement or social skills.”
Panel chairman, David Kupfer, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, said, “There is no current validated diagnostic test [for ADHD].”
Yet at every level of public education in America, there remains what can only be called a voracious desire to give children Ritalin (or other similar drugs) for ADD or ADHD.
Nullifying the assurances and prescriptions doctors routinely give to parents of children who have been diagnosed ADD or ADHD should be a national goal.
The following pronouncement makes a number of things clear: The 1994 Textbook of Psychiatry, published by the American Psychiatric Press, contains this review (Popper and Steingard)-”Stimulants [such as Ritalin] do not produce lasting improvements in aggressivity, conduct disorder, criminality, education achievement, job functioning, marital relationships, or long-term adjustment.”
Parents should also wake up to the fact that, in the aftermath of the Littleton, Colorado, tragedy, pundits and doctors are urging more extensive “mental health” services for children. Fine, except whether you have noticed it or not, this no longer means, for the most part, therapy with a caring professional. It means drugs. It means the drugs I am discussing in this inquiry.
In December 1996, the US Drug Enforcement Agency held a conference on ADHD and Ritalin. Surprisingly, it issued a sensible statement about drugs being a bad substitute for the presence of caring parents:
“[T]he use of stimulants [such as Ritalin] for the short-term improvement of behavior and underachievement may be thwarting efforts to address the children’s real issues, both on an individual and societal level. The lack of long-term positive results with the use of stimulants and the specter of previous and potential stimulant abuse epidemics, give cause to worry about the future. The dramatic increase in the use of methylphenidate [Ritalin] in the 1990s should be viewed as a marker or warning to society about the problems children are having and how we view and address them.”
The Brookhaven National Laboratory has studied Ritalin through PET scans. Lab researchers have found that the drug decreased the flow of blood to all parts of the brain by 20-30%.
That is of course a very negative finding. It is a signal of danger.
But parents, teachers, counselors, principals, school psychologists know nothing about this. Nor do they know that cocaine produces the same blood-flow effect.
In his book, Talking Back to Ritalin, Peter Breggin expands on the drug’s effects: “Stimulants such as Ritalin and amphetamine … have grossly harmful impacts on the brain-reducing overall blood flow, disturbing glucose metabolism, and possibly causing permanent shrinkage or atrophy of the brain.”
In the wake of the Littleton shootings, we find that “the American people” and lawyers and pundits and child psychologists are pointing the finger at Hollywood, at video games like Doom, at inattentive parents, and at the availability of guns. We have to wonder why almost no one is calling out these drugs.
Is it possible that the work of PR people is shaping the national response?
The PBS television series, The Merrow Report, produced in 1996 a program called “Attention Deficit Disorder: A Dubious Diagnosis?” The Educational Writer’s Association awarded the program first prize for investigative reporting in that year. I can recall no other piece of television journalism since the Vietnam war which has managed to capture on film government officials in the act of realizing that they have made serious mistakes.
John Merrow, the series’ host, explains that, unknown to the public, there has been “a long-term, unpublicized financial relationship between the company that makes the most widely known ADD medication [Ritalin] and the nation’s largest ADD support group.”
The group is CHADD, based in Florida. CHADD stands for Children and Adults with ADD. Its 650 local chapters sponsor regional conferences and monthly meetings, often held at schools. It educates thousands of families about ADD and ADHD and gives out free medical advice. This advice features the drug Ritalin.
Since 1988, when CHADD and Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis), the manufacturer of Ritalin, began their financial relationship, Ciba has given almost a million dollars to CHADD, helping it to expand its membership from 800 to 35,000 people.
Merrow interviews several parents whose children are on Ritalin, parents who have been relying on CHADD for information. They are clearly taken aback when they learn that CHADD obtains a significant amount of its funding from the drug company that makes Ritalin.
CHADD has used Ciba money to promote its pharmaceutical message through a public service announcement produced for television. Nineteen million people have seen this PSA. As Merrow says, “CHADD’s name is on it, but Ciba Geigy paid for it.”
It turns out that in all of CHADD’s considerable literature written for the public, there is rare mention of Ciba. In fact, the only instance of the connection Merrow could find on the record was a small-print citation on an announcement of a single CHADD conference.
In recounting CHADD’s promotion of drug “therapy” for ADD, Merrow says, “CHADD’s literature also says psychostimulant medications [like Ritalin] are not addictive.”
Merrow brings this up to Gene Haslip, a Drug Enforcement Agency official in Washington. Haslip is visibly annoyed. “Well,” he says, “I think that’s very misleading. It’s [Ritalin's] certainly a drug that can cause a very high degree of dependency, like all of the very potent stimulants.”
Merrow reveals that CHADD received a $750,000 grant from the US Dept. of Education, in 1996, to produce a video, Facing the Challenge of ADD. The video doesn’t just mention the generic name methylphenidate, it announces the drug by its brand name, Ritalin. This, at government (taxpayer) expense.
We see a press conference announcing the release of the video. The CHADD president presents an award to Dr. Thomas Hehir, Director of Special Education Programs at the US Dept. of Education.
This sets the stage for a conversation between Merrow and Dr. Hehir, providing a rare moment when discovery of the truth is recorded on camera, when PR is swept aside.
MERROW: “Are you aware that most of the people in the film [the video, Facing the Challenge of ADD---referring to people who are giving testimonials about how their ADD children have been helped by treatment] are not just members of CHADD … but in the CHADD leadership, including the former national president? They’re all board members of CHADD in Chicago. Are you aware of that? They’re not identified in the film.”
HEHIR: “I’m not aware of that.”
MERROW: “Do you know about the financial connection between CHADD and Ciba Geigy, the company that makes Ritalin?”
HEHIR: “I do not.”
MERROW: “In the last six years, CHADD has received $818,000 in grants from Ciba Geigy.”
HEHIR: “I did not know that.”
MERROW: “Does that strike you as a potential conflict of interest?”
HEHIR: “That strikes me as a potential conflict of interest. Yes it does.”
MERROW: “Now, that’s not disclosed either. Even though the film talks about Ritalin as a—one way, and it’s the first way presented—of taking care of treating Attention Deficit Disorder. That’s not disclosed either. Does that trouble you?”
HEHIR: “Um, it concerns me.”
MERROW: “Are you going to look into this, when you go back to your office?”
HEHIR: “I certainly will look into some of the things you’ve brought up.”
MERROW: “Should they have told you that all those people in that film are CHADD leadership? Should they have told you that CHADD gets twenty percent of its money from the people who make Ritalin?”
HEHIR: “I should have known that.”
MERROW: “They should have told you.”
This funded video, in which CHADD devotes all of twenty seconds to mentioning Ritalin’s adverse effects, is no longer distributed by the US Department of Education.
CHADD has now told its members that it receives funding from Ciba. It says it will continue to take money from Ciba.
This is an example of how a corporation can, behind the scenes, bend and shape the way the public sees reality.
In the case of the school shootings, has an attempt been made to mold media response? To highlight various causes and omit others?
Real action is going to have to come from the public. Mothers in Littleton and Springfield and West Paducah and Jonesboro [where school shootings occurred] are going to have to ask the hard questions and become relentless about getting real answers. They are going to have to learn about these drugs. They’ll have to learn which violent children in the school shootings were on these drugs. They are going to have to throw off robotic obedience to authorities in white coats. And they are going to have to join together.
If they do, many people will end up standing with them.
The author of an explosive new collection, THE MATRIX REVEALED, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world.