Dana’s online mind and brain magazine Cerebrum has a critical and thought-provoking article arguing that mental illnesses like ADHD and child bipolar disorder are too often being used as fig leaves for social problems that we prefer to think of as blame-free genetic disorders that can be treated with simple-solution medications.
The piece is by distinguished psychologist Jerome Kagan, considered one of the founders of developmental psychology, who discusses the various social changes that have encouraged differences and misbehaviour to be medically diagnosed and treated – particularly during the last two decades.
The documents show that pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson aimed to carry out research on child bipolar disorder with a specific intention of boosting sales of their medication, as well as countering unfavourable coverage from the media and spinning ‘no result’ studies on the drug.
We usually think of ‘social factors’ as increasing risk for mental illness in the individual, but we also need to remember that there are strong social factors that affect how we think about disorders in terms of their causes, effects and treatments.
One of the strongest social factors is financial pressure, and, as covered by Wired, drug companies are notorious for ‘cooking the books’ in an attempt to bury negative data and spin positive findings in the best possible light.
This has just been reported in yet another damning study on drug company data handling published in the most recent edition of PLoS Medicine.