The Wall Street Journal recently printed a letter to the editor in which psychiatrist/psychoanalyst Charlene Moskovitz promotes the alleged benefits of medication and psychotherapy for children diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and ADHD (and, presumably, other emotional and behavioral issues). According to Moskovitz, children who exhibit the behaviors in question may be dealing with "biochemical abnormalities."

She asks, rhetorically, "Would such a child not benefit from having his or her biochemical issues helped with medication and thus build further strengths and coping mechanisms to deal with the other difficult aspects of his life? Does such a child not benefit more fully from the psychotherapy a skilled therapist provides?"

In all fairness to her, Moskovitz is only acting as a spokesperson for the mental health and pharmaceutical industries that have built up around the practice of diagnosing children as young as 2 with various mental disorders. Said practitioners routinely explain the behaviors in question in terms of "biochemical imbalances" and prescribe medication as well as various forms of therapy.

In 2009, I published a book on this subject: The Diseasing of America's Children. My co-author — pediatrician Bose Ravenel of Greensboro, North Carolina — and I put forth evidence that these brain-based explanations and therapies have no scientific validity.

Concerning the oft-referenced "biochemical imbalance," for example, since no one has ever quantified biochemical "balance" in the human central nervous system, it is nothing short of disingenuous for medical scientists to lead the public to believe they know what they're talking about when they refer to a CNS imbalance.

"How is it useful?" one may ask. To sell the public on the unproved notion that psychiatric drugs are the answer to problems of emotion and cognition, that's how.

Furthermore, the medications in question have not reliably outperformed placebos in double-blind clinical trials.

As for psychotherapy with children, no study done by an objective third party has conclusively verified the reliable efficacy of any form of child therapy. Over the course of my 40-plus year career, hundreds of parents have told me that putting their kids in talking or play therapy made matters considerably worse.

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