Mental Health Parity Bill Founded on Pseudoscience
Insurers May be Required to Cover Drugs and Hospitalization for Ã¢â‚¬Å“Internet AddictionÃ¢â‚¬Â
If the Mental Health Parity Bill, H.R. 1424, passes the U.S. Senate as it did on March 5 in the House of Representatives, insurers may be required to cover treatment for Ã¢â‚¬Å“Internet addictionÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬â€the newest proposed Ã¢â‚¬Å“mental disorderÃ¢â‚¬Â for inclusion in psychiatry’s billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Ã‚Â
H.R. 1424 would effectively mandate insurance coverage of a broad range of subjective and scientifically unsound mental disorders found in the DSM, such as Ã¢â‚¬Å“spelling disorder,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“nicotine use or withdrawal,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“mathematics disorder,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“oppositional defiant disorderÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“sibling rivalry disorder.Ã¢â‚¬Â The psychiatric watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) says the bill is founded on pseudoscience, and Congress should not mandate parity of insurance coverage when there is no parity of diagnoses between verifiable medical conditions and the psychiatric pseudoscience of the DSM.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â In the most recent issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry, psychiatrist Jerald Block claims that Internet addiction should be included as a disorder in the next edition of the DSM. The Ã¢â‚¬Å“symptomsÃ¢â‚¬Â he listsÃ¢â‚¬â€including Ã¢â‚¬Å“excessive useÃ¢â‚¬Â of computers, the need for better equipment, more software or more hours of useÃ¢â‚¬â€are as equally absurd as the checklists used to categorize hundreds of other mental disorders found in the DSM, which the House bill proposes insurance companies cover. Block further reports that 80% of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Internet addictsÃ¢â‚¬Â may need psychiatric drugs and about one in four require hospitalization.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Block, like other psychiatrists who dream up new mental disorders for the ever-expanding DSM, not only fails to provide reliable scientific diagnoses, but also fails to warn the public that the treatmentÃ¢â‚¬â€drugsÃ¢â‚¬â€is not only dangerous according to international drug regulatory agencies, but ineffective as well. A recent study in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine found that one of the leading psychiatric Ã¢â‚¬Å“treatmentsÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬â€antidepressantsÃ¢â‚¬â€is ineffective, working no better than placebo in the majority of cases. Despite the lack of proven effectiveness, the drugsÃ¢â‚¬â€which carry a black box warning for suicidalityÃ¢â‚¬â€are widely prescribed to all portions of the population, fueling a lucrative $13.5 billion a year industry in the U.S.
While some patient advocacy groups, heavily funded by drug interests, and the mental health lobby purport that mental illness is like a physical disease such as diabetes, cancer or epilepsy, scientific evidence does not substantiate this. There is no parity in the diagnosis of mental health problems (such as Ã¢â‚¬Å“Internet addictionÃ¢â‚¬Â) compared to real physical conditions that can be accurately tested for and diagnosed. The DSM itself states, Ã¢â‚¬Å“…it must be admitted that no definition adequately specifies precise boundaries for the concept of Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmental disorder.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã‚Â Yet, the House bill would require group health plans offering mental health benefits to cover every one of the 374 Ã¢â‚¬Å“mental disordersÃ¢â‚¬Â listed in the DSM. Even psychiatrists and psychologists admit that the manual is unreliable and lacks validity:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ American University Professor of Psychology Jeffrey A. Schaler stated, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Since there are no objective tests for Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmental illness,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ all kinds of socially unacceptable behaviors will be declared Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmental illnesses.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ The bottom line is this: Behaviors cannot be diseases.Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã‚Â
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Allen J. Frances, professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center and Chair of the DSM IV Task Force, stated, Ã¢â‚¬Å“There could arguably not be a worse term than mental disorder to describe the conditions classified in DSM-IV.Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã‚Â
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The late Loren R. Mosher, M.D., former APA member, stated in regards to the DSM, Ã¢â‚¬Å“…there are no external validating criteria for psychiatric diagnoses. There is neither a blood test nor specific anatomic lesions for any major psychiatric disorder.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Psychiatrist David Kaiser wrote, Ã¢â‚¬Å“…modern psychiatry has yet to convincingly prove the genetic/biologic cause of any single mental illness…. Patients [have] been diagnosed with Ã¢â‚¬Ëœchemical imbalance,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ despite the fact that no test exists to support such a claim, and…there is no real conception of what a correct chemical balance would look like.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Congressman Doc Hastings (R-WA), a critic of H.R. 1424, stated, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦the reach of this bill goes far beyond mental health parity, the 1.3 billion dollar cost it would impose on businesses providing health care to employees is an issue that is not addressed, or any loss of care that may result from new government mandates contained in the bill is also not addressed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â According to CCHR, the bill ignores the failure of the mental health industry to substantiate the science behind their diagnoses, and would increase funding to support the profitable psychiatric practice of masking behavioral and emotional problems with damaging Ã¢â‚¬Å“treatmentsÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬â€most commonly, mind-altering drugs documented to cause suicide, mania, psychosis, Ã¢â‚¬Å“homicidal ideation,Ã¢â‚¬Â heart attack, stroke and sudden death. CCHR urges the public to write, call or fax their federal representatives, demanding health insurance coverage for mental health problems not be based on the DSM and be provided only when full, searching physical examinations are first undertaken to determine that no underlying and untreated physical condition is causing the personÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mental health condition.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â For more information, read CCHRÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s report, Mental Health Parity: Funding DSM-IV Diagnoses – A Scientific Sham.
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is an international psychiatric watchdog group co-founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights. Visit CCHR St. Louis at www.cchrstl.org.