A San Diego 10 year old boy murdered his best friend last week. How could this happen? As a psychotherapist I always seek to understand how such tragic abnormal behaviors occur. From news reports we read this adopted boy was born to an addicted birth mother. Okay, that gives us an indication that his nervous system has had some extra challenges from the time he was in the womb. Reading on, we learn that his adoptive mother was an involved, devoted mother who helped him learn to earn good times at Disneyland and new toys with good behavior. His grandfather lived in the home and was an active father figure. Neighbors, including the mother of the boy who was murdered, said this 10 yr old wasn’t a monster but a soft-spoken, honest child. Not until we get to the end of the article in the San Diego Union Tribune do we learn that this boy was put on a new medication in the days prior to the stabbing. He didn’t react well — his angry outbursts increasing. Neighbors report the mother tried calling his psychiatrist to change the dosage but didn’t get a call back because the Doc was on vacation.
I am now wondering if one of the side effects of this boy’s new medication was homicidal fantasies, impulsive behavior. I also wonder how often that new medication had been used for children…how well tested it was on the developing brain of a child. Was this an off label use of an adult drug? I wonder, too, if the drug representative who pitched this medication, told the psychiatrist who prescribed this drug about any potentially harmful effects on children.
While medication can be a life saver for some, we have seen it implicated in many cases of tragically abnormal behavior. We need much more careful oversight of psychiatric medications than we currently have…and some break in the spell the pharmaceutical industry currently holds over psychotherapy. I am an appreciative follower of Dr. Peter Breggin, the crusading anti-medication psychiatrist and author of the book, Your Drug May Be Your Problem. If this boy’s psychiatrist had read Dr. Breggin’s book, or had access to similar responsible information untainted by Big Pharma’s financial influence, would this tragedy have occurred? If this boy’s mother, obviously responsible and caring, had access to information about handling her son’s issues with diet and alternative health remedies would hers and her son’s life be destroyed now?
Yes, I’m biased. I am the psychotherapist people come to when they want to handle psychiatric issues without medication. I know how to help people manage issues of anxiety and depression without pharmaceuticals. I’ve written a book about it, Emotional Medicine Rx: Cry When You’re Sad, Stop When You’re Done, Feel Good Fast.
And, yes, I occasionally refer people for medication. I’m not doctrinaire. But I am angry that people don’t have easy access to the truth about non medication methods for handling even serious emotional and psychiatric disorders. They don’t learn about these things from their doctors or from TV because most of the non medication methods can’t be patented. They involve tears and touch and sunlight and the right foods for each individual and sometimes alternative medicine options like homeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy.
Of course I haven’t seen this mother and this boy. I don’t know whether they were ever offered support for a non medication approach, or whether they were warned about the dangers of drugs for such a youngster. But something tells me that with all this family was doing right for this child – to have such a tragic outcome; we need to examine carefully the role medication played here.
Penelope Andrade, L.C.S.W.