Happy Mother's Day, everyone. I've had an exhausting day. I asked to go hiking and spent three hours on a mountain. Oh...I'm tired.
Okay, you know that none of us are child psychiatrists, but a number of kiddy issues have hit my radar, so just a very quick recap:
Over on Clinical Psychiatry News, I did a book review of Kaitlin Bell Barnett's new book Dosed: the Medication Generation Grows Up. If you care about kids and meds, this is an excellent read, no sensational tone and she does a good job of giving a balanced presentation of the issues.
We got an email from Stuart Kaplan, a child psychiatrist at Penn State, who's written a book called Your Child Does Not Have Bipolar Disorder. I don't know Dr. Kaplan and I haven't read his book, but I wondered how he knows my child doesn't have bipolar disorder! Check out his blog (linked to the book title) and let us know what you think. I imagine that at least a few of the kids who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder might actually turn out to have it, but our readers know that I feel we need to re-think the bipolar diagnosis, especially with regard to the recommendation for lifelong treatment for those spectrum-y people. I'm thinking that Dr. Kaplan and I may be on the same page.
The New York Times has a ClinkShrink type article on Can You Call A 9 Year Old a Psychopath by Jennifer Kahn. It's an interesting article, mostly because it doesn't have any real conclusions. She talks about children who lack empathy and are behavioral nightmares, and notes that half of these disaster children grow up to normal (meaning not psychopathic) adults-- including the father of the child who was featured. She reports on an intensive program to treat these children in an 8 week-long summer camp to teach empathy and modify behavior. There's nothing about the article that indicates that the treatment is effective, though, granted it's all a research protocol and the stakes here are high. The question is raised about labeling children as 'psychopaths,' a typically stigmatizing, untreatable, and damning diagnosis, and the case is made that the diagnosis would be useful if it led to interventions that prevented these children from becoming adult psychopaths (and perhaps criminals). Personally, until there's a way to know who won't outgrow the problem, and an effective and accessible treatment to be offered, I'm voting "no" on labeling children as psychopaths. I haven't been terribly impressed by the idea that childhood extrapolates to adulthood. Won't every misbehaving teenager in foster care be given this label when there is no one around to recall that an angry/irritable/misbehaving teen was not lacking in empathy as a younger child?