Autism & Psychopharmacology From Ethical Issues in Psychopharmacology
I found the online chapter “Ethical Issues in Psychopharmacology” from Steven J. Marcus’s book Neuroethics Mapping the Field to be well balanced. I am open about my bias toward the psychopharmaceutical industry. I find psychopharmacology to be a necessary evil in the field of therapy. I know that there are many psychological disorders that call for medication because therapy alone will not work.
Progress in science is making it clearer that most of these disorders are biological genetic defects and not from dysfunctional family dynamics as early psychoanalyst believed. My bias is not so much against the use of medication as it is against the overuse and misuse of psycho pharmaceuticals. Knowing my own bias, I picked this online chapter because of its unbiased look at ADHD medications. I felt it looked at both the positives and negatives of ADHD medication treatments. According to Marcus, “Dr. Hyman pointed out the general efficacy and safety of psychotropic drugs, but he noted that the while their immediate benefits are well understood, we really know very little about their long-term effects on the brain” (p.1).
Dr. Hyman feels the problem is that ADHD is being over diagnosed to children who are nothing more than very active. Dr. Hyman says, “It is important that ADHD not be diagnosed as soon as Johnny acts up in Mrs. Robinson’s classroom” (p.2). I agree with Dr, Hyman that ADHD does not automatically require a child to be hyperactive. When looking for signs of ADHD, it is more important to look for a lack of concentration and severity. ADHD symptoms must not only appear in the school but in the child’s home as well. I feel that Dr. Hyman insight is correct, the more we over-diagnose the less we meet the needs of children actually suffering from ADHD.
It is my opinion that this can only be corrected by not allowing general M.D. practitioners to prescribe psychopharmacology medications. We should only allow psychiatrists and psychologist (New Mexico and Louisiana) to prescribe psychopharmaceuticals. An average medical doctor has no knowledge of psychology so how can they prescribe psychopharmacology medication correctly?
Dr. Hyman’s is concerned about giving children under six years of age methylphenidates. He says that methylphenidates have been studied well on school age children but not on younger kids. It not that he is against it he believes that it needs to be researched and tested before we continue to prescribe psychotropic drugs to children under six. I believe that it is important to research much further, to find out if we are altering children’s brains’ permanently.
If we permanently change the dendrite spines, and cause irreversible synapse remodeling what is the outcome down the road when a child becomes an adult? Dr. Hyman says, “I think that we as a community, and as a society, have a set of complex and not fully resolved ideas about psychopharmacology—in all patients, but especially in children—that is a very rich topic for continued discussion” (p.5). I agree with Dr. Hyman that we can no longer continue on the path were on when it come to psychopharmacology.
It is time for us to come up with some solutions to some urgent issues surrounding the use of psychopharmaceutical medication and children.Five talking points that I would use from Dr. Hyman’s speech when addressing a matter with a prescribing psychiatrist:
- I would address the child’s age. I would have issues with giving any kid under six years old medication at all.
- I would make sure that therapy was still continued after medication was given.
- The psychiatrist would need to assure me that medication could be ended if the child seemed to be growing out of the disorder.
- The psychiatrist would need to have a vast knowledge of the negatives and positives of the prescribed medication.
Make sure that the therapist that is working with my client has compassionate and caring qualities. I say this because the psychiatrist that works with my clients now is like a cold robot; it boggles me that this man I work with chose a field where human empathy is so needed.