Victim of the Scam

Archive for the ‘DSM-V’ Category

“Parental Alienation Disorder” Will Not Be in DSM-V

In Domestic Violence, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on June 10, 2011 at 4:14 am

UPDATE:

From Dr. Caplan today:  Update for article about Parental Alienation Syndrome: DSM-5 head writes us that PAS will NOT go in the manual


On June 9, 2011, I was one of three recipients of a letter from DSM-5 Task Force Chair David Kupfer and DSM-5 Task Force Public Representative James McNulty (see my earlier essays on this site about the conference call with them in which I was a minor participant). Kupfer and McNulty said that their letter was in response to a list of questions we had sent in the hope that they could be discussed during our conference call many weeks ago. The news in their letter is that: “…because of the high evidence threshold required, the Task Force is not currently recommending the inclusion of Parental Alienation Syndrome.” This is a stunning comment, coming as it does from the heads of a manual in which so many diagnostic categories have been included despite their being no solid scientific evidence even supporting their existence or characteristics. Based on other kinds of decisions the DSM-5 people have been making, it seems unlikely that concern about the lack of scientific evidence is the real reason they have chosen to exclude it. One wonders what might be.

A Word of Caution About Parental Alienation

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on December 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Dr. Richard Warshak would not allow opposing comments in his first article on the Huffington Post, including information about all the professional organizations that have debunked the use of “parental alienation” in child custody cases.  This includes a warning from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges:

2009: A Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department

Page 12:
C. [§3.3] A Word of Caution about Parental Alienation34

Under relevant evidentiary standards, the court should not accept testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome, or “PAS.” The theory positing the existence of PAS has been discredited by the scientific community.35 In Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999), the Supreme Court ruled that even expert testimony based in the “soft sciences” must meet the standard set in the Daubert case.36 Daubert, in which the court re-examined the standard it had earlier articulated in the Frye37 case, requires application of a multi-factor test, including peer review, publication, testability, rate of error, and general acceptance. PAS does not pass this test. Any testimony that a party to a custody case suffers from the syndrome or “parental alienation” should therefore be ruled inadmissible and stricken from the evaluation report under both the standard established in Daubert and the earlier Frye standard.38

The discredited “diagnosis” of PAS (or an allegation of “parental alienation”), quite apart from its scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks the court to assume that the child’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be “alienated” have no grounding in reality. It also diverts attention away from the behaviors of the abusive parent, who may have directly influenced the child’s responses by acting in violent, disrespectful, intimidating, humiliating, or discrediting ways toward the child or the other parent. The task for the court is to distinguish between situations in which the child is critical of one parent because they have been inappropriately manipulated by the other (taking care not to rely solely on subtle indications) , and situations in which the child has his or her own legitimate grounds for criticism or fear of a parent, which will likely be the case when that parent has perpetrated domestic violence. Those grounds do not become less legitimate because the abused parent shares them, and seeks to advocate for the child by voicing his or her concerns.

Dr. Richard Warshak Clueless, Thank Goodness the Professional Organizations Know What’s Going On

In Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on December 2, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Poor Richard Warshak.  He asked for commenters to come to his Huffington Post article and comment.  A few of us did, and he refused to post the comments.  He censored out everything that didn’t show adoration for him.  That is what he wanted.  Afterall, he has a book and “expert testimony” services to sell.  Now he is whining about being criticized for the censorship.

Several comments were made about the American Bar Association, the American Judges Association, the National District Attorney’s Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges debunking the use of “parental alienation” in child custody cases because of it’s well known use by abusers to take custody of children.  Of course, anyone who makes the kind of money that Warshak makes ($20,000 per patient per four days in “treatment”) doesn’t care who claimed what for what purpose, they just know they will make money.  He doesn’t care that children may be in the custody of someone who beat the other parent, probably in front of the children, or may have even been sexually abusing the children.  No, he doesn’t care, but the professional organizations know what the deal is:

2009: A Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department

Page 12:
C. [§3.3] A Word of Caution about Parental Alienation34

Under relevant evidentiary standards, the court should not accept testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome, or “PAS.” The theory positing the existence of PAS has been discredited by the scientific community.35 In Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999), the Supreme Court ruled that even expert testimony based in the “soft sciences” must meet the standard set in the Daubert case.36 Daubert, in which the court re-examined the standard it had earlier articulated in the Frye37 case, requires application of a multi-factor test, including peer review, publication, testability, rate of error, and general acceptance. PAS does not pass this test. Any testimony that a party to a custody case suffers from the syndrome or “parental alienation” should therefore be ruled inadmissible and stricken from the evaluation report under both the standard established in Daubert and the earlier Frye standard.38

The discredited “diagnosis” of PAS (or an allegation of “parental alienation”), quite apart from its scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks the court to assume that the child’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be “alienated” have no grounding in reality. It also diverts attention away from the behaviors of the abusive parent, who may have directly influenced the child’s responses by acting in violent, disrespectful, intimidating, humiliating, or discrediting ways toward the child or the other parent. The task for the court is to distinguish between situations in which the child is critical of one parent because they have been inappropriately manipulated by the other (taking care not to rely solely on subtle indications) , and situations in which the child has his or her own legitimate grounds for criticism or fear of a parent, which will likely be the case when that parent has perpetrated domestic violence. Those grounds do not become less legitimate because the abused parent shares them, and seeks to advocate for the child by voicing his or her concerns.

Is Opposition to or Support of Dr. Richard Warshak’s Censorship of Comments on his “Parental Alienation” Huffington Post Article Part of a Gender War?

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, Dr. Peter Jaffe, Dr. William Bernet, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on November 25, 2010 at 2:14 am

 

Claudine Dombrowski, after being beaten and raped by ex-husband Hal Richardson, one of many attacks by him, was accused of "parental alienation."

 

Prominent psychologists and psychiatrists have debunked the use of “parental alienation” in child custody cases.  So have many professional organizations, such as the American Bar Association, the American Judges Association, the National District Attorney’s Association, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, with the latter warning family court judges against accepting claims of “parental alienation” or “parental alienation syndrome” in child custody cases because of it’s well know use by abusers to gain child custody from their victims.  Notice in their warning (on pages 12 – 13 in their guide) there is no mention of abusive, evil fathers or battered, victimized mothers.   No, when the charge of gender wars or bias comes up, it is generally from the men’s rights or father’s rights activists, who often promote this junk science.

Recently there was a child custody case in Canada I like to refer to often.  This is a case in which Dr. Richard Warshak was involved in, where one of the parents made a claim of “parental alienation” against the other parent who had physical custody of their two teenaged boys.  Dr. Warshak had only spoke to the parent claiming “parental alienation” and not to the other parent.  He hadn’t even talked to the two boys when he made the recommendation to the court that the boys should come to his Texas “treatment” facility for reprogramming, at the cost of $40,000 for the four day program.  It was so ordered by the court, but was overturned by appeal because of the fact that Dr. Warshak hadn’t even talked to the boys beforehand.  It was a nice chance for him to pick up a quick $40,000 for what had been called “quack treatment” by one of Canada’s leading child psychologists, Dr. Peter Jaffe.  Oh…did I mention that the parent claiming “parental alienation” was the mother?

What about California father Jayraj Nair, who was accused of “parental alienation” by Dr. Janelle Burrill, who recently had her board certification revoked and is under investigation by the State of California?  Mr. Nair hasn’t seen his son in about a year and a half…which is often what happens in these “parental alienation” cases.  The child is the one who suffers the most in these situations, and the corrupt psychologists make lots of money.

In the view of domestic violence advocates and the professional organizations listed above, claims of “parental alienation” in child custody cases are not about gender, but about abusive claims that are typically leveled at the other parent which seek to strip that parent of custody, often being successful at cutting off contact totally between the accused parent and their children.  Most of the time, the heart of the matter leads to the court disregarding domestic violence and/or not listening to or believing the children in the case.  As a matter of fact, in Dr. William Bernet’s proposal to the committee in charge of updating the DSM-V, Dr. Bernet states that one of the criteria that may indicate “parental alienation disorder” is that a child is an “independent thinker.”  Really.  If a child has decided he is afraid of being with a parent, and has independently decided this on his own, he may have “parental alienation disorder.”  Bruises, ripped hymens, broken bones optional I guess.

But back to the gender war issue.  Robert Franklin, of Fathers & Families, published the article below about that Canadian case last year and I felt like hell had just frozen over.  Why was a men’s rights advocate suddenly questioning the use of “parental alienation” in this case which Dr. Richard Warshak was in?  Was it because it was a father that was on the receiving end?  They certainly did a 180 degree turnabout in their views of “parental alienation” in child custody cases.  Yet, I have not heard of any turnabouts from DV advocates or the professional organizations on their views of “parental alienation.”  Just where are the “gender war” claims coming from then?  Just look through the comments that Dr. Warshak has allowed to be posted under his Huffington Post article and you’ll get the idea.

Now for Robert Franklin’s article:

From Men’s Daily News:

Eight Year Custody Battle Ends With Handshakes and Some Good Questions

By Robert Franklin, Esq. | May 5, 2009

This is an interesting case out of Canada and it puts a wrinkle into the PAS debate that I think needs attention (The Globe and Mail, 4/27/09).

It’s a case I’ve written about before and that has been pretty high-profile in the Canadian press.  Basically, it involves a divorced couple with three sons, the oldest of whom is 18.  The parents fought so bitterly over the children with allegations of parental alienation on each side, that eventually the 18-year-old filed a motion to intervene in the case which requested that custody of his two younger brothers be awarded to him.

To my surprise, the court granted his motion, and lo and behold once it did, the parents started making nice with the boys and with each other.  I don’t know if the young man realizes it or not, but from here it looks like his successful intervention scared his parents into some semblance of reasonable behavior.  My guess is that they realized that their eight-year legal donnybrook could have ended with both of them losers.  P.F., the 18-year-old, said, “My dad came up and shook my mom’s hand.  That was something I hadn’t seen in a very long time.  It was generally a very happy situation.”

In all this, P.F. looks like the only responsible adult.  And in that capacity, I think we ought to listen to what he has to say about his experiences in family court.

First, he’s not a bit happy with the experts in the case.  He feels strongly that they had theories to peddle and they were going to do so regardless of the realities of the case.  They became advocates for PAS rather than impartial assessors of parental and adolescent behavior.

P.F. adds that children should be listened to in family courts.  In most states in the United States, they are, at least once they’ve reached a certain age.  In Texas, by the time a child reaches the age of 14, he/she can pretty much pick which parent to live with.  Absent unusual circumstances, the court will honor the child’s wishes regarding custody.  Maybe that’s not true in Canada.  Here’s an article that sketches the basics of what happens when a child expresses a preference for one parent over the other (The State, 4/28/09).

But the interesting wrinkle P.F. puts on the issue of PAS allegations is that once an expert gives evidence of PAS, the court tends to ignore what the child has to say, apparently believing alienation to be an established fact.  That places the judge in the difficult position of figuring out whether the child’s testimony is PAS-tainted or the real thing.

And how to solve that problem, I’m not sure.  My guess is that what is and is not true about PAS can be seen, particularly in young children, with a little education from psychologists and social workers.  But determining what is the legitimate wish of a child and what is the wish of an alienated child will be, in many cases, tough to do.

We Won’t Shut Up, We Won’t Go Away: More Outrage Over Richard Warshak and The Huffington Post Censoring Comments

In Corrupt bastards, Dr Richard Warshak, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on November 18, 2010 at 5:35 am

Another one of the commenters with me on the Huffington Post whose comments were also refused has written about this on RH Reality Check.  Please go to the website here and comment…the comments are starting to include Mens Rights Advocates who discount claims of domestic violence as false and “domestic violence is 50/50″ drivel so common from them.  We know men suffer from domestic violence, but the actual numbers are about 85/15 women victims versus men victims.  Nobody…absolutely nobody… should suffer from domestic violence.  But to hide and deny it, as well as giving labels to protect abusers, is ABSOLUTELY wrong.  The Huffington Post and Richard Warshak need to know that, although I highly suspect they do.  The money is just too good in the “parental alienation” scam to ignore.

HuffPo’s Divorce Section: No Room for Reason on Domestic Violence?

By Joan Dawson

November 17, 2010 – 8:21am

Joan Dawson's picture

The Huffington Post, in an effort to beef up its divorce section, is featuring controversial psychologist and author, Richard Warshak. In his first column “Stop Divorce Poison,” Warshak speaks of the equally controversial topic of parental alienation (PA); he or HuffPo have censored comments made by domestic violence advocates and survivors, and many of the remaining comments espouse misinformation, stereotypes, and sexist remarks.

Why should this concern women and those in the reproductive rights community?

“Parent Alienation,” the idea that one parent (typically the mother) poisons the mind of the child against the other parent, is dangerous because it casts doubt on mothers’ claims of child abuse; the more she tries to protect her child and gather evidence, the more she exhibits “parental alienation.” If she fails–and she’ll face an uphill battle fighting bias, paying exhorborant fees, and fearing for her child(ren)’s safety trying to succeed–she can be fined, jailed and/or she could lose custody. PAS can and has turned the table on women trying to protect themselves or their child(ren) from abuse. (Several cases that have received media attention can be found here, here, and here.

We fight for rights during pregnancy; we can’t leave women in the dust after they deliver. Villifying a protective mother, jailing her or taking her offspring is the worse you can do to a woman – abusers understand this, it’s time we do, too.

Warshak and the idea of PA

Warshak starts off with, “Mother Theresa does not marry Saddam Hussein.” But then we would have to ask, what was Hussein’s wife like?, because Warshak is making a comparison between spouses. Perhaps she was no Mother Theresa, but surely she wasn’t as evil as Saddam.  Already we have an imbalance. All human beings can exhibit evil or wrong-doing, but not all humans are equal in this respect, as Warshak wants us to believe. Some are worse than others.  And while women are far from perfect, many women in abusive relationships fall in love with a guy only to find out months or years later that he is abusive. Abusers, unfortunately, don’t come with a sign on their forehead.

Warshak then explains that parents who alienate their child(ren) cannot “harness the emotions unleashed by divorce and they exhibit “rage,” “enlist children as allies,” and use “bad-mouthing, lies, exaggerations…,” which Warshak likens to political mud-slinging campaigns. Some parents may deliberately or inadvertently denigrate the other parent. This may be evident in their parenting skills, but the main problem with PA is that it’s indistinguishable from the fear that comes from an abusive situation and can harm protective parents while rewarding abusive ones.

Jay Silverman’s study at Harvard, as reported in Newsweek, found 54 percent of custody cases were in favor of the batterer and nearly every case used parental alienation to counter the claims of abuse.

Warshak’s belief that “abused children cling tightly to their abuser” must explain why he seeks to reunite children with potential abusers then. Warshak runs a “treatment facility” in Texas that, for the whopping price tag of $40,000, reunites child(ren), at times forcibly, with the denigrated parent. I’ve included a link to a case in Canada, where an alienated mother, who had the financial resources, sought to reunify with her sons at his center. Note Warshak never actually met the sons but called it alienation nonetheless.

Domestic violence advocates and censorship

The domestic violence community, along with many major medical and psychological associations, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, rejects PA as a legitimate diagnosis. At least eight of us, representing domestic violence advocates and survivors, tried to post comments on Warshak’s article explaining our position. While a few posts remained, most, in our supposition, were deleted because they disagreed with the author. One advocate was banned. Apparently, this is not the first time people have complained about the comment section of the Huffington Post.

Nearly all the comments were citations to research, quotes and other factual information, including how PAS does not meet the standard of scientific reliability, about Warshak’s reunification center and its $40,000 price tag, and quotes from experts in the field, among other comments calling into question his analysis.

I included this quote from Dr. Paul Fink, President of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence and a former President of the Amercian Psychiatric Association:

“PAS is junk science at its worst…Science tells us that the most likely reason that a child becomes estranged from a parent is that parent’s own behavior. Labels, such as PAS, serve to deflect attention away from those behaviors.”

Mothers have informed us that when they make a good faith allegation, it is they who are doubted (see, for instance, cases such as those of Katie Tagle, where the judge called her a liar, gave the ex custody, and her baby was murdered by its father; or Amy Castillo, another woman who was denied a protective order and lost three children when her ex-husband drowned them in a hotel bathtub) and labeled abusive or ordered to undergo a polygraph test or psychiatric evaluation. The stereotype that women lie to gain the upperhand in custody cases, which occurs in only a fraction of cases, has more branding power than do mere facts. According to research, men in cases where both abuse and custody are in question actually make more false claims, according to research. The American Bar Association provides further information on custody myths.

Poisonous comments

Many of us understand the origins of PA are rooted in the misogynist and pro-pedophilia attitudes of Dr. Richard Gardner, who thought the mass sexual-abuse hysteria was caused by vindictive women falsely accusing fathers of abuse. (8) In reality, many protective parents feel as if this were a witchhunt against them — mothers are not trusted, they’ve cast a spell on the kids to hate Dad –they must be punished! Jail them! Fine them! Take away their children! Like the “witches” of long past who would either sink or swim, mothers are in a similar bind – if they report abuse, they’re punished for being an alienator; if they don’t report it, they can be punished for failure to report.

Meanwhile, many of the alienating behaviors readers commented on can be attributed to personalities, parenting skills, or, in cases of abuse, domestic violence by proxy, whereby one parent continues to exert control and/or abuse over another. One advocate keeps a blog of parents that kill their child(ren) in cases pertaining to divorce and custody. She’s up to 136. Despite the fact that these marriages ended, the domestic violence continues and these deaths would be classified as domestic violence fatalities.Overwhelmingly, these killings are committed by men – with no tango partner, Mr. Warshak. In other words, party of one.

You can tell from the comment section how much these guys like women. If they got together, I can just imagine them in a big smokey room with leather chairs giving each other the wink and nod about the comment pertaining to Mother Theresa and Saddam Hussein. The idea of ‘equality with a vengeance’ comes to mind.

One poster, Target NoMore, refers to those opposing PA as a ‘special interest group’ that doesn’t want to stop the problem. People who want to protect children are not “special interest groups.”

If HuffPo is going to feature controversial authors whose work is not only rejected by the scientific community but also puts children at risk, why not at least allow evidence to be introduced in the comments section? What are they afraid of?

Ms. Magazine Jumps on Board With the Outrage: Warshak Deleting Mothers Advocate’s Comments on Huffington Post

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on November 13, 2010 at 12:24 am

Thanks to fellow commenter Elizabeth Black and Ms. Magazine, this is NOT going away!  Please stop by the article here and leave a comment.  Contrary to what fathers’ rights advocates say, this isn’t a well known issue amongst feminists, although I am sure the concept of censorship is.  Let’s get our message out there!

Huffington Post Censors Mothers’ Rights Activists

November 11, 2010 by Elizabeth Black · 3 Comments

This week, Arianna Huffington announced the Huffington Post’s latest section: HuffPost Divorce. Her plug: “Breaking up is hard to do… but reading about it isn’t.” Upon Monday’s launch, however, there appeared a column that women’s rights advocates took very hard: a piece by Dr. Richard Warshak promoting the discredited “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” or PAS.

Parental alienation is a dangerous custody-battle concept that has been used primarily against mothers–and in particular, mothers trying to protect themselves and their children from hostile or abusive ex-partners and fathers. As R. Dianne Bartlow explained in her Summer 2010 Ms. article, “There’s Nothing Friendly About Abuse”:

PAS theorizes that most accusations of child abuse (especially sexual abuse) made during a custody battle are actually fraudulent. Not only are the charges false, says the theory, but they are deliberately undertaken by one parent (in most cases, the mother) to “alienate” the child from the other parent (generally, the father).

Frighteningly, PAS has allowed abusive or otherwise hostile fathers to gain custody of their children and then forbid the children contact with their mothers.

Yet parental alienation is not accepted as a valid theory by the American Psychological Association, and was rejected from the DSM-V. Without a real psychological definition, it has devolved over the years into a label for any negative testimony about the father by the mother (even if it’s true). It’s also now promoted as gender-neutral, but the parent most often labeled the “alienator” remains the mother. It’s also one hell of a cash cow for psychologists who make a living from it.

In keeping with all this, Warshak’s post, “Stop Divorce Poison”, gives an overly simplified description of “alienation” that could describe nearly any hostile or cantankerous relationship: “persistent bad-mouthing, lies, exaggerations, overlooking positives, and drum-beating negatives.”

A half dozen domestic violence and motherhood activists, including myself, descended upon Warshak’s column to leave comments describing how discredited PAS really is. But, as I witnessed and others report, by the evening of November 9, most of the comments (nearly a dozen) posted by critics had been deleted in the space of five minutes. According to those I’ve spoken with, deleted comments contained valid source material from professional organizations citing:

  • how discredited parental alienation really is
  • how parental alienation did not make it into the DSM-V
  • how it is used primarily as a weapon by abusive fathers against protective mothers

Here is an example of a comment that was removed:

Another activist and I wrote to David Flumenbaum and Arianna Huffington to inform them about the censorship of opposing, critical views. Both of us received an email in return from Social News Editor Adam Clark Estes, who wrote:

I’ve double-checked the comments and all of those missing were removed in accordance with HuffPost’s commenting guidelines. You can read more about those here:

www.huffingtonpost.com/p/frequently-asked-question.html#moderation

That said, we’re in touch with Dr. Warshak about his comments and will do our best to keep the conversation flowing in the future.

When considering the above screenshots (pure facts devoid of non-objective commentary) it’s unclear which part of these guidelines apply:

(I) The Huffington Post welcomes all users to join our community and to comment and treats all members of the community equally.

(II) We want the Huffington Post to be home to open, transparent conversations in which people connect, discuss, share ideas, and debate the issues.

(III) We are also committed to maintaining a non-toxic atmosphere.

(IV) In order to preserve a functional and civil conversation, we do not allow trolls, trollish behavior, or stalking.

(V) Members of the HuffPost community deserve to be free from spam, and we do not allow posting the same comment multiple times within one thread or on multiple threads.

It’s frustrating that the supposedly progressive HuffPost has given a platform to Dr. Richard Warshak, one of parental alienation’s most fervent supporters, but won’t give the same platform to its commenters.

On November 10, activists returned to the article to comment; it remains to be seen if their comments will be deleted–or whether they’ll fall victim to HuffPost-moderation’s thin skin. If a blog can delete comments opposing their viewpoint, then what’s the point of comments? You might as well change the name to “compliments.”

Dr. Richard Warshak and The Huffington Post: Supporting Child Abusers Through Censorship

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on November 10, 2010 at 3:53 am


Everyone knows that the concept of “parental alienation” will not be in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but this hasn’t thwarted those who make a handsome income off of it.  Dr. Richard Warshak, who sells his testimony and services treating “parental alienation” in child custody cases, has apparently bought or scammed his way onto The Huffington Post and is not allowing comments on how others, including professional organizations, look at this excuse for protecting abusive parents.  I, along with several other domestic violence advocates, posted comments on The Huffington Post in response to a new post by Warshak that touts his professional bread-and-butter, and they were apparently dropped in their bit bucket.  Here is my first comment:

Many professional organizations recognize that claims of so-called “parental alienation” are used by abusive spouses to gain custody of children from their victims.  Some of these organizations include the American Judges Association, the National District Attorney’s Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, with the latter warning family court judges not to accept claims of “parental alienation” or “parental alienation syndrome” because of it’s well know use by abusers.  Research has shown that the number one reason children refuse to visit a parent is because of the behavior of that parent.  Stop putting children in danger by placing them with the abuser.  Dr. Warshak and others that push this so-called disorder make a lot of money selling their testimony in this family court scam.  I would think The Huffington Post was above promoting such snake oil salesmen.

As of the morning after Warshak’s post appeared on The Huffington Post, there were twelve hand-picked comments on the post, which includes one by Warshak cheerleader “Monika” who is Monika Logan, a big “parental alienation” supporter in Texas.  She is a regular commenter on stories that push this scam.  Her blog supports these people who make lots of money off of promoting this “judicial tool of abuse.”

Warshak was involved in a case recently in Canada, in which he testified that two boys apparently “poisoned” by “parental alienation” would benefit being treated at his “treatment center,” a center that charges $40,000 per four day session.  The recommendation was so ordered, but overturned in appeal because Warshak admitted that he had only interviewed the parent claiming “parental alienation” and not the other parent.  Warshak failed to even interview the boys when he recommended them for his unproven program.  Seems $40,000 is quite an incentive to recommend something to someone he hasn’t even seen.

Shame on The Huffington Post to allow these quacks and their supporters space to sell their wares, because that is exactly what they are doing.  Then again, The Huffington Post has a history of censorship.  So be careful what you read even if you think it is a respectable site.  Apparently everyone has their price, and there’s a lot to be made in the “parental alienation” jackpot.

It was suggested to post comments on censorship on The Huffington Post, then share on your Facebook or Twitter account…this is an excellent idea!

Children’s Exposure to Violence

In Domestic Violence, Dr. William Bernet, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on October 17, 2010 at 11:19 am

Children’s exposure to violence…as protective parents, we understand the harm that comes from this.  As a childhood victim who watched my mother abused by my father, only to end up in his custody, it amplifies this understanding.  Until judges, co-parenting counselors, guardians ad litem, custody evaluators, and the other court personnel that continue to churn cases to make work for themselves ($$$) understand this, children’s lives will continue to be destroyed.

Those who wish to profit off of the misery these children endure continue to push for inclusion of so-called “parental alienation disorder” (PAD) into the DSM-V, the psychiatric and psychological diagnostic “bible” (also used for insurance codes), namely Dr. William Bernet of Vanderbilt University, don’t understand this and claim that if a child is afraid to be with an abuser, they could have PAD because they are an “independent thinker.”

It is claimed that Bernet has a large contingent who are supporting this “mental condition” going into the DSM-V.  Fathers & Families is saying now there are “70 professionals” behind the proposal, up from the recent “50″ supporting it.  F&F are pushing for their supporters to continue to hound the committee for it’s inclusion.  This is just delusional to suggest that this is a large group of supports.  I looked into just how many psychologists there are.  I found one number…63,000 clinical psychologists in the United States alone (Bernet’s group is world wide), and this number is from the early 1990s.  This doesn’t include other psychologists such as in the forensic field, and doesn’t include the number of psychiatrists there are.  What is known of the “70 professionals” that Bernet has supporting PAD is that they make significant income from selling their books or “expert” services blaming parents for protecting their children from abuse.

Yes, there are cases where parents behave badly and lie to children, but research has shown that children are far more likely to resist being with a parent because of the behavior of that parent.  The use of parental alienation “disorders and syndromes” have been the choice of abusers to get child custody successfully taken from their victims.    Bernet and his buddies need to spend more time understanding how children are being destroyed by their actions and the actions of family courts handing these children to abusers.  Here is a report from last year, completed for the U.S. Department of Justice, on this very topic.  Our meetings with DOJ personnel continue to expand their knowledge in this area which is encouraging, but much more needs to be done.

The following post appears courtesy of Jeff Slowikowski, the Acting Administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Yesterday, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released The National Survey on Children’s Exposure to Violence. The report is a precedent-setting survey because it gives us the first real estimates—as the most comprehensive survey to date– on the nature and extent of violence in children’s lives.

It is the first time data has been collected across all age ranges, and all types of violence, to define the full scope of violence-related experiences in a child’s life –whether it be as victims or witnesses, and whether it be in the home, the school or the community. This is also the first time data has been collected on the cumulative exposure to violence over a child’s lifetime.

With this comprehensive survey, we now have learned that more than 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or indirectly. Nearly one-half of the children and adolescents surveyed were assaulted at least once in the past year, and more than 1 in 10 were injured as a result.

Respondents also reported they were the victim of a robbery, vandalism, or theft. Some said they were victims of child maltreatment, including physical and emotional abuse, neglect, or a family abduction. 1 in 16 were victimized sexually.

As Attorney General Holder said yesterday in Chicago, these figures are staggering.

The violence that millions of children and youth are exposed to in their homes, schools and communities, whether as direct victims or as a witness, can disrupt their development in many ways. This disruption in development comes from the impact of the stress or trauma on the child. It can be exhibited in how they think, interact, learn and develop relationships.

Each child responds to exposure to violence differently and many children are resilient. Others need support to address trauma reactions to prevent further adverse reactions. That’s why we in the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention support initiatives like Safe Start to prevent and reduce the impacts of children’s exposure to violence. It is our mission to protect our youth and reduce children’s exposure to violence.

At OJJDP we will continue to support the training necessary to reach across disciplines to identify children who are at risk of exposure to violence, such as witnessing domestic violence, and to coordinate the delivery of services to these children. Accurate information is a key ingredient to helping us accomplish our mission. Because the survey tracked children’s lifetime exposure to violence, researchers can develop more accurate estimates on the total number of children in a certain age group who have been exposed to a particular form of violence. It illustrates more clearly the full extent of exposure and the cumulative effects of multiple exposures to violence and how exposure to one form of violence may make a child more vulnerable to other forms of violence.

Armed with these facts we will also work with those who come into daily contact with youth and children to assess and identify those who are suffering emotionally, socially, physically and developmentally from exposure to violence. We can better coordinate our outreach to those children and families who need our help, and provide them with the support they need. This study gives us the tools to better protect juveniles and youth from the effects of violence and guide them into healthy and productive lives.

For more information visit the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The graph below illustrates the past year exposure for all survey respondents, and shows how common exposure to violence for children is.

To download the report “Children’s Exposure to Violence – A Comprehensive National Survey” by David Finkelhor, et al, please click here.

Drugging the Children of Divorce Into Submission

In Dr. Amy Baker, Dr. William Bernet, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on August 8, 2010 at 12:28 am

The most disturbing problem to me is the drugging of children who are handed to the abuser in a child custody battle.  I have had moms tell me about their children being drugged to the point they are walking zombies.  And it’s no wonder…these children have to put up with the continued abuse of their other parent and themselves, possibly still enduring physical abuse or worse, even rape, without being able to escape and nobody believing you.  Of course, if Dr. William Bernet and his 50 magical supporters (including Dr. Amy Baker (book seller) and her very pathetic study of 40 handpicked individuals who have an ax to grind) get their way and so-called “parental alienation disorder” is adopted into the DSM-V, even more children will be subjected to being drugged into submission.

I was handed valium as a child after my siblings and I ended up in the custody of my mother’s abuser.  However, as an independent thinker, I flushed them down the toilet and refused to take it.  As an independent thinker, under Bernet’s definition of so-called “parental alienation disorder” I would have one of the symptoms defining me with the “disorder,” even though my neighbors, siblings and I saw my father abuse my mother for years.  As a young teenager, I knew that trying to drug children into submission was wrong.  Why do these “professionals” keep getting away with it?  It is just another form of child abuse.

US Kids Represent Psychiatric Drug Goldmine

Saturday 12 December 2009

by: Evelyn Pringle, t r u t h o u t | Report

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: zaxl4, Thom Watson)

Prescriptions for psychiatric drugs increased 50 percent with children in the US, and 73 percent among adults, from 1996 to 2006, according to a study in the May/June 2009 issue of the journal Health Affairs. Another study in the same issue of Health Affairs found spending for mental health care grew more than 30 percent over the same ten-year period, with almost all of the increase due to psychiatric drug costs.

On April 22, 2009, the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that in 2006 more money was spent on treating mental disorders in children aged 0 to 17 than for any other medical condition, with a total of $8.9 billion. By comparison, the cost of treating trauma-related disorders, including fractures, sprains, burns, and other physical injuries, was only $6.1 billion.

In 2008, psychiatric drug makers had overall sales in the US of $14.6 billion from antipsychotics, $9.6 billion off antidepressants, $11.3 billion from antiseizure drugs and $4.8 billion in sales of ADHD drugs, for a grand total of $40.3 billion.

The path to child drugging in the US started with providing adolescents with stimulants for ADHD in the early 80s. That was followed by Prozac in the late 80s, and in the mid-90s drug companies started claiming that ADHD kids really had bipolar disorder, coinciding with the marketing of epilepsy drugs as “mood stablizers” and the arrival of the new atypical antipsychotics.

Parents can now have their kids declared disabled due to mental illness and receive Social Security disability payments and free medical care, and schools can get more money for disabled kids. The bounty for the prescribing doctors and pharmacies is enormous and the CEOs of the drug companies are laughing all the way into early retirement.

Psychiatric Drugs Explained

During an interview with Street Spirit in August 2005, investigative journalist and author of “Mad in America,” Robert Whitaker, described the dangers of psychiatric drugs. “When you look at the research literature, you find a clear pattern of outcomes with all these drugs,” he said, “you see it with the antipsychotics, the antidepressants, the anti-anxiety drugs and the stimulants like Ritalin used to treat ADHD.”

“All these drugs may curb a target symptom slightly more effectively than a placebo does for a short period of time, say six weeks,” Whitaker said. However, what “you find with every class of these psychiatric drugs is a worsening of the target symptom of depression or psychosis or anxiety, over the long term, compared to placebo-treated patients.”

“So even on the target symptoms, there’s greater chronicity and greater severity of symptoms,” he reports, “And you see a fairly significant percentage of patients where new and more severe psychiatric symptoms are triggered by the drug itself.”

Whitaker told Street Spirit that the rate of Americans disabled by mental illness has skyrocketed since Prozac came on the market in 1987, and reports: (1) the number of mentally disabled people in the US has been increasing at a rate of 150,000 people per year since 1987, (2) that represents an increase of 410 new people per day and (3) the disability rate has continued to increase and one in every 50 Americans is disabled by mental illness.

The statistics above beg the question of how could this happen when the so-called new generation of “wonder drugs” arrived on the market during the exact same time period. The truth is, the “wonder drugs” cause most of the bizarre behaviors listed by doctors to warrant a mental illness disability.

Psychiatric Drug Goldmine

The CIA “World Factbook” estimate the world population to be about 6.8 billion and the US population to be a mere 307 million. In an April 2008 report, the market research firm Datamonitor reported that the “US dominates the ADHD market with a 94 percent market share.”

ADHD drug prices at a middle dose for 90 pills at DrugStore.com, are: Adderall $278, Concerta $412, Desoxyn $366, Strattera $464 and Vyvanse $385. Daytrana costs $437 for three boxes of 30 nine-hour patches.

The SSRI and SNRI antidepressants include GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil and Wellbutrin, Pfizer’s Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro from Forest Labs, Luvox by Solvay, Wyeth’s Effexor and Pristiq and Lilly’s Prozac and Cymbalta. The average price of these drugs is about $300 for 90 pills at DrugStore.com.

The prices for anticonvulsants can run as high as $929 for 180 tablets of Glaxo’s Lamictal, and $1170 for 180 tablets of Johnson & Johnson’s Topamax.

In 2008, the atypical antipsychotics took over the slot as the top revenue earners in the US, and include Seroquel by AstraZeneca; Risperdal and Invega marketed by Janssen, a division of J&J; Geodon by Pfizer; Abilify from Bristol-Myers Squibb; Novartis’ Clozaril and Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa. The average price on these drugs for 100 pills at DrugStore.com is about $1,000. Lilly also sells Symbyax, a drug with Zyprexa and Prozac combined, at a cost $1,564 for 90 capsules at DrugStore.com in May 2009.

The briefing material submitted to an FDA advisory panel in April 2009 reported that an estimated 25.9 million patients worldwide had been exposed to Seroquel since its launch in 1997 through July 31, 2007, in the US, and the second quarter of 2007 for countries outside the US. Of that number, an estimated nearly 15.9 million took Seroquel in the US, compared to only ten million patients in the rest of the world. In 2008, the US accounted for roughly $3 billion of Seroquel’s $4.5 billion in worldwide sales.

For the full-year of 2008, Eli Lilly reported worldwide Zyprexa sales of about $4.7 billion, with US sales of $2.2 billion and only $2.5 billion for the rest of the world.

FDA as Promotional Tool

On June 12, 2009, an FDA advisory panel gave the green light to expand the marketing of Zyprexa, Seroquel and Geodon for use with 13 to 17 year-olds diagnosed with schizophrenia and 10 to 17 year-olds diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The FDA usually follows its advisers’ recommendations.

“Such approval gives manufacturers a shield from liability – for illegally promoting the drugs for off-label use,” said Vera Hassner Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection.

“And such approval ensures increased use of these drugs,” she warned. “Manufacturers and mental health providers will profit while children’s physical and mental health will be sacrificed.”

“The body of evidence showing these drugs to be harmful is irrefutable,” she said, “it is documented in FDA’s postmarketing database, and in secret internal company documents uncovered during litigation.”

According to Dr. Stefan Kruszewski, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the atypicals increase the risk of obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks and stroke.

He said the drugs were marketed as safer and easier to tolerate than the older, cheaper antipsychotics because they would cause fewer neurological injuries like tardive dyskinesia and akathisia.

Those claims turned out to be totally false, he said, and “they continue to cause same neurological side-effects as the older antipsychotics.”

“Children are known to be compliant patients and that makes them a highly desirable market for drugs, especially when it pertains to large-profit-margin psychiatric drugs, which can be wrought with issues of non-compliance because of their horrendous side effect profiles,” according to a June 29, 2009 paper titled, “Drugging Our Children to Death,” in Health News Digest.com, by Gwen Olsen, who spent over a decade as a pharmaceutical sales rep, and authored the book, “Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher.”

Children are forced to take their drugs by doctors, parents and school personnel, she said. “So, children are the ideal patient-type because they represent refilled prescription compliance and ‘longevity.’”

“In other words,” Olsen noted, “they will be lifelong patients and repeat customers for Pharma!”

“The initiative to drug our children for profit has exceeded all common sense boundaries and is threatening the welfare of every American child,” she stated, and it “is up to each and every one of us to stop this madness!”

Drug Makers Busted

Most all of the psychiatric drug companies have come under investigation over the past several years for promoting their drugs for off-label use, especially with children. However, the fines they end up paying are trivial compared to the profits earned through the illegal marketing campaigns.

In September 2007, Bristol-Myers Squibb entered into a $515 million civil settlement with the US Department of Justice for illegally marketing drugs, including Abilify, for off-label uses. In the first six months of 2009, Abilify had sales of $1.9 billion. In 2008, the salary and compensation package of Bristol-Myers’ CEO, James Cornelius, was $23,150,236, according to the AFL-CIO’s Executive PayWatch Database.

On January 29, 2009, Paxil and Wellbutrin maker, GlaxoSmithKline, announced that it would record a legal charge in the fourth quarter of 2008 of $400 million relating to an ongoing investigation initiated by the US attorney’s office in Colorado into the US marketing and promotional practices for several products for the period 1997 to 2004. The government inquired about alleged off-label marketing as well as medical education programs for doctors, “other speaker events, special issue boards, advisory boards, speaker training programmes, clinical studies, and related grants, fees, travel and entertainment,” according to a Glaxo annual report.

In January 2009, Eli Lilly settled with the DOJ and more than 30 states for $1.4 billion over the off-label marketing of Zyprexa. The agreement included a $615 million fine for a federal criminal charge. But $1.4 billion was chump change considering that Zyprexa was still Lilly’s best seller in 2008, with sales of $4.69 billion. Lilly also has paid over $1 billion to settle lawsuits filed by Zyprexa patients. In the first six months of 2009, Zyprexa sales were $1.5 billion. In 2008, Lilly’s CEO, John Lechleiter, had a pay package worth $12,856,882.

In September 2009, the DOJ reached a $2.3 billion settlement with Pfizer related to the off-label promotion of several drugs, including the psychiatric drugs, Geodon, Zoloft and Lyrica, in the largest health-care fraud settlement in history. But even though Pfizer took the entire $2.3 billion as an earnings charge for the fourth quarter of 2008, the drug maker was still able to post a fourth quarter profit of $268 million. Pfizer’s CEO in 2008, Jeffrey Kindler, had a salary and pay package of $15,547,600.

Johnson & Johnson is also dealing with the DOJ and state-level investigations into the off-label marketing of Risperdal. The company’s latest SEC filing lists nine subpoenas received by the company involving promotions of Risperdal, including one “seeking information regarding the Company’s financial relationship with several psychiatrists.” In the first six months of 2009, Risperdal earned $660 million. J&J’s CEO, William Weldon, had a pay package worth $29,127,432 in 2008.

AstraZeneca’s third quarter SEC filing lists a $520 million tentative settlement agreement with the US attorney’s office in Philadelphia to resolve allegations related to the off-label marketing of Seroquel. At “least 34 states are pursuing separate investigations of AstraZeneca’s marketing practices as part of a joint investigation and others may be conducting their own probes,” according to Ed Silverman on Pharmalot.

“A half a billion dollar one-time settlement is just a small cost of doing business for a company that sold $17 billion worth of the offending drug in the last five years,” Dr. Roy Poses points out on the Health Care Renewal web site. In 2008 alone, Seroquel had world-wide sales of more than $4.4 billion.

As of July 13, 2009, AstraZeneca was also defending approximately 10,381 served or answered personal injury lawsuits and approximately 19,391 plaintiff groups involving Seroquel, according to SEC filings. Some of the cases also include claims against other drug makers such as Eli Lilly, Janssen Pharmaceutica and/or Bristol-Myers Squibb, the filing notes.

On September 23, 2009, Shire Pharmaceuticals received a subpoena from the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General in coordination with the US attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, seeking production of documents related to the sales and marketing of Adderall XR, Daytrana and Vyvanse, according to Shire’s third quarter report for 2009.

In a November 6, 2009, SEC filing, Abbott Labs said the federal prosecutor for the Western District of Virginia was conducting an investigation for the US Justice Department of whether the company’s sales and marketing of Depakote violated civil or criminal laws, including the Federal False Claims Act and an anti-kickback statute related to reimbursement by Medicare and Medicaid programs to third parties.

In 2008, Depakote had sales of $1.36 billion and Abbott CEO, Miles White, had a salary and compensation package of $28,253,387.

In February 2009, the DOJ unsealed a lawsuit alleging that Forest Laboratories marketed the antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro for unapproved uses in children, and paid kickbacks to induce doctors to promote the drugs, including Dr. Jeffrey Bostic at Harvard University. In its latest SEC filing, Forest disclosed that it reached an agreement in principle in May 2009 to settle the civil aspects of US federal and state probes. “Penalties in the civil settlement are covered by a $170 million reserve Forest created in April,” according to a November 9 report by Dow Jones.

Forest also disclosed that the agreement “does not resolve the government’s ongoing investigation into potential criminal law violations” related to Celexa and Lexapro, and thyroid drug Levothroid, Dow Jones notes. In 2008, the salary and compensation for Forest CEO, Howard Solomon, was $6,565,324.

Over the past year and a half, a large number of so-called “Key Opinion Leaders” in the field of psychiatry have been exposed for not fully disclosing money received from many of the drug companies above through an investigation by the US Senate Finance Committee under the leadership of Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.

The list so far includes Harvard University’s Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens; Charles Nemeroff and Zackery Stowe from Emory; Melissa DelBello at the University of Cincinnati; Alan Schatzberg, president of the American Psychiatric Association from Stanford; Martin Keller at Brown University; Karen Wagner and Augustus John Rush from the University of Texas and Fred Goodwin, the former host of a radio show called “Infinite Minds,” broadcast by National Pubic Radio.

Fines as a Business Expense

The fraud settlements are “merely a cost of doing business to these pharmaceutical Goliaths and, in fact, caps their liability for these crimes,” said Alaskan attorney Jim Gottstein, the leader of the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights), a public interest law firm.

“Most importantly,” he noted, “these settlements have not stopped the practice of psychiatrists and other prescribers giving these drugs to children and youth and Medicaid continuing to pay for these fraudulent claims.”

“Because of the massive, harmful, increase in the psychiatric drugging of America’s children and youth, who are inherently forced, PsychRights has made addressing the problem a priority,” he said.

Gottstein conducted an investigation and determined that the vast majority of off-label psychotropic drug prescriptions for children and youth that are paid for by Medicaid constitute Medicaid fraud.

PsychRights now has a national “Medicaid Fraud Initiative Against Psychiatric Drugging of Children & Youth,” designed to address this problem by “having lawsuits brought against the doctors prescribing these harmful, ineffective drugs, their employers, and the pharmacies filling these prescriptions and submitting them to Medicaid for reimbursement,” according to its web site.

“Anyone who submits or causes claims to be submitted to Medicaid for drugs that are not for a ‘medically accepted indication’ is committing Medicaid Fraud,” said Gottstein, in a July 27, 2009 press release announcing the launch of the national campaign.

“Those guilty of this Medicaid Fraud include psychiatrists and other physicians prescribing these drugs, their employers, and pharmacies submitting the false claims to Medicaid,” he pointed out.

PsychRights estimates that over $2 billion in such fraudulent Medicaid claims are being paid by the government each year.

“Once one sues over specific offending prescriptions, all of such prescriptions can be brought in, which means that any psychiatrist on the losing end of such a lawsuit will almost certainly be bankrupted, because each offending prescription carries a penalty of between $5,500 and $11,000,” PsychRights explained.

It is hoped that once the doctors and pharmacies realize they are subject to financially ruinous Medicaid fraud judgments, the practice will be stopped or substantially reduced.

“Each prescriber may have a million dollars or few, at most, to lose, but the pharmacies’ financial exposure can run into the hundreds of millions of dollars and it is hoped this will attract attorneys to take these cases,” the web site noted.

In September and October 2009, Gottstein gave presentations on the initiative at the annual conferences of the National Association of Rights Protection and Advocacy and the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology in order to find people who are potentially interested and willing to pursue such cases.

“This was successful and we have at least a few such cases cooking,” he reported. “PsychRights stands ready to help people interested in bringing such suits.”

In late 2006, Gottstein won international fame by subpoenaing and releasing thousands of documents involving Eli Lilly’s illegal marketing of Zyprexa, which resulted in front page stories in The New York Times.

PsychRights also has an appeal pending on a lawsuit filed against the state of Alaska and responsible state officials seeking declaratory and injunctive relief that Alaskan children and youth on Medicaid have the right not to be administered psychotropic drugs unless and until a number of specific conditions are met. The lawsuit seeks to prohibit the state from paying for psychiatric drugs prescribed off-label to children and youth.

In responding to the lawsuit, the state claimed that they do have any control over or responsibility for the psychiatric drugging of children in their custody, or any responsibility under Medicaid, and moved for dismissal on the grounds that PsychRights does not have standing, or the right to bring the suit, because it was not harmed by the state’s actions.

The court agreed and dismissed the case. “We think the judge is wrong and have filed an appeal,” said Gottstein.

In May 2009, Gottstein sent letters to Sens. Charles Grassley and Herb Kohl and Reps. Henry Waxman, Bart Stupak, John Dingell and Barney Frank, describing the massive Medicaid fraud involved in the prescribing of psychiatric drugs to children in the US and asked for “assistance in stopping these illegal reimbursements.”

As of November 8, 2009, Gottstein reported, “I haven’t gotten as much as an acknowledgment of receipt from any of the members of Congress to whom I wrote.”

While pursuing causes on behalf of PsychRights, Gottstein donates all of his time on a pro bono basis.

Dr. William Bernet’s “Warrior Gene” and Junk Science

In Dr. William Bernet, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on July 17, 2010 at 4:25 am

I am still mulling this over after hearing it on NPR a couple of weeks ago.  This author pegged onto what exactly it was that was bothering me, and that is JUNK SCIENCE.  Dr. William Bernet of Vanderbilt University specializes in this component, being the proposer to the DSM-V Committee (the psychiatric and psychologist’s diagnosis and “insurance code” bible) of so-called “parental alienation disorder,” an “afflication” he provides expert testimony on in child custody cases.  For those who can afford him (typically fathers).

Again, removing responsibility for what an abusive parent or murderer may have done, there’s always an excuse when you use JUNK SCIENCE.

From Psychology Today:

July 13, 2010, Evolutionary Psychology

Pity the poor murderer, his genes made him do it

Did his genes make him murder?
Published on July 13, 2010

by Nigel Barber, Ph.D.

A criminal defense attorney has many arrows in his/her quiver. The latest is the “warrior gene.” Having this gene saved Bradley Waldroup from a first degree murder conviction.

The charges stemmed from a bloody rampage in which Waldroup shot his wife’s friend Leslie Bradshaw, eight times, killing her before attempting to kill his wife by chopping her up with a machete.

Waldroup had been drinking as he waited for his estranged wife and their four children who were to spend the weekend at his trailer home in the mountains of Tennessee. When his wife said that she was leaving with her friend, he removed the key from Penny Waldroup’s van to ensure that they could not leave, thereby establising criminal intent. Waldroup then launched his deadly attack on the pair.

The “warrior gene”

Waldroup’s defense attorneys ordered a test and established that he had the warrior gene. Like most such biological defenses, there is a germ of scientific truth combined with a hefty dose of junk science, including clever labeling. The warrior gene might be called other things, such as the gambling gene, the depression gene, the irritability gene, or, even the live-in-a-trailer gene because its effects are contingent on an abusive childhood.

The scientific rationale for diminished responsibility is that a variant of the relevant gene, known as MAO-A is linked to an under active prefrontal cortex, this being a key area of the brain that inhibits antisocial impulses. The gene is also associated with antisocial behavior in European Americans (but not others) but only if they were abused as children (1).

The gene has recently acquired some evidence linking it to impulsive aggression. In an experiment where subjects were provoked by having money winnings taken from them, people with the MAO-A variant proved slightly more vengeful but only if they lost the higher of two amounts of money(2). They asked for the provoker to drink a larger amount of hot sauce as punishment. Whether this experiment is more relevant to homicidal aggression, or sensitivity to the taste of hot sauce is anybody’s guess.

So far, a skilled defense lawyer might weave a tale that the bad gene had gotten the better of the European American defendant. The key scientific problem is that about 34 percent of Europeans have the warrior gene. Yet, homicide is extremely rare at a population level with only about one person in 100 committing a homicide during their lives. If the gene were used to predict homicide, it would be wrong more than 33 times for every one occasion that it was right (3).

Just the facts

This brings us back to the Waldroup case tried in March, 2009, where the warrior gene formed the kernel of a diminished responsibility defense. This defense received enthusiastic endorsement in a recent NPR report by Barbara Bradley Haggerty (“Can Your Genes Make You Murder?”)

Waldroup’s defense was not a simple genetic defense because it was combined with the normally ineffective abuse excuse. Defense expert William Bernet of Vanderbilt University argued that the combination of the warrior gene and being abused as a child was a dangerous cocktail that increased the likelihood of committing a violent offense.

Some of the jurors were persuaded by this defense. According to one, Debbie Beatty: “A diagnosis is a diagnosis, it’s there. A bad gene is a bad gene.”

Junk science is also junk science. There is no getting away from that either, especially if it helps the defense to save a defendant’s life.

1. Crampton, P., & Parkin, C. (2007, March 2). Warrior genes and risk-taking science. Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 120 (1250).

2. McDermot, R., et al. (2009). Monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA) predicts behavioral aggression following provocation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106, 2118-2123.

3. Caspi, A. et al. (2002). Role of genotype in the cycle of violence in maltreated children. Science, 297, 851-854.