Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


When the news reports first came of this very tragic event, one of my first thoughts was the possibility that this shooter was taking an 'anti-depressant' drug. My thought was later confirmed. The FDA has issued warnings and it is being learned that in some individuals the potential for these drugs to induce mania, violence, psychosis, and suicidal ideation is possible. These drugs can sadly send already troubled individuals 'over the edge' and this appears to be the situation in regards to Mr. Cho.
Cho is now the 9th school shooter who was under the influence of an 'anti-depressant' drug.
The mental health system failed in this situation and because of its subjectiveness, it cannot truly ascertain who is a threat and who is not. Cho had committed criminal acts in the past, yet nothing was done of this because he was looked upon as being 'treated' in the mental health system. This would have been the deterrent.
First, the mental health system did nothing to seek to understand the origins of his experience and dangerous thought processes. As usual, it merely prescribed a drug which has been found to evoke mania, violence, and suicide in some individuals and has severe withdrawal effects. Because Cho was put into this system against his will and already had violent reactions to various aspects of society, this certainly could not have helped alleviate his resentment and anger. It made it worse.

My thoughts and prayers goes to all those who have been impacted by this tragedy.

-Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Monday, April 09, 2007


In examining the issues related to the current state of the mental health system- we must ask ourselves can one truly be 'neutral'. The notion of 'neutrality' is a convenient stance as it allows us to remain ignorant and continue on a path even if it is an erring path. In reality, there are two sides to the coin in the mental health system- either one subscribes to the bio-psychiatric paradigm or one does not. The common abuses within the psychiatric system occurred when there was no individuals willing to speak out and take a stand. Actually, throughout history we will see some of the most grave attrocities arising from periods where individuals simply accepted the status quo and chose not to ask critical questions. It is necessary to be critical at times.
Individuals have personal freedom. One can choose to follow various conceptions. It is never my intent to take away personal choice and freedom.
The issue lies in informed consent. Many are unaware that alternatives do exist to the bio-psychiatric paradigm and are often unaware of such information as to the subjective nature of diagnosis, that black box warnings exist on anti-depressants discussing increased suicidal ideation, that the FDA has stated that stimulants can cause psychosis in some children, among other concerns. Should individuals be completely aware of these concerns and choose this avenue, this is their perogative.
It appears an ethical responsibility faced with these dangers, that parents should be informed of alternatives and also that these dangers exist.
In addition, I have seen a number of disturbing situations, for example parents seeking to obtain financial gain from having their child diagnosed and medication presctibed. The story of 4 year old Rebecca Riley comes to mind. This child's parents are now being charged with murder as they fabricated various symptoms which the psychiatrist did not question, was prescribed psychotropic drugs from which she later overdosed. Also, there have been situations where parents have disagreed over the means to address their child's needs. In these situations, it would appear the least restrictive option would take precedence, and this would be to utilize alternatives to psychotropic drugs and implement psycho-social approaches. Most would agree that a physical restraint is a restrictive option and should be avoided, so one must then ask why is it not equally valid to state that psychotropic drugs which are a chemical restraint should be avoided as well?
It is not to say that in certain situations that psychotropic medications could not have a place. If we can demonstrate through objective means that an actual physical abnormality exists, and that the individual is dangerous to self or others, it could be seen as valid for psychotropic medication to be incorporated, but even in this circumstance, this does not need to be permanent and certainly is not the solution to the challenges. Psychotropic drugs are never a cure for anything but mrely subdue certain behaviors. The long term use of such drugs as anti-psychotics actually increases the potential for the development of tardive dyskinesia, a permanent debilitating neurological condition.
Is what is 'mainstream' always correct? We must remember the days when cold, dark psychiatric institutions where electroshock and insulin coma were accepted practices. People were treated without dignity. This was the mainstream. Or we may look at various social injustices and inequalities throughout history which were part of the 'mainstream'- if there was no one to take a stand, there would have been no change to such inhumanity.
My stand has been simply this- that science must be equated with ethics, and that the experience of the individual must be heard not simply diagnosed.
Martin Luther King Jr. stated, "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

Saturday, April 07, 2007


I was asked by some colleagues as to how I have come to some of my viewpoints in regards to mental distress and the means to address it. In my first experiences, I encountered victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. From this, I was able to see the impact of trauma on the lives of individuals. When I first began work with a pediatric population, I had been 'indoctrinated' into the mainstream psychiatric viewpoint and I had no challenge to it, I assumed that this was the appropriate course and had faith in those who instructed me. It was through experiences that my viewpoint began to shift and I began to question a lot of what was taught to me that I had merely accepted at face value. The experiences were my encounters with individuals who had been diagnosed with serious emotional distress (such as schizophrenia). I always noticed how these individuals appeared often lonely and shunned by the world. Most dismissed them as people whose behavior was random and without any meaning. As I began to encounter these individuals, and I actually began to sit with them and listen to them, I found that actually they each had powerful stories to tell, however often these stories were shrouded in symbols and metaphors. But with compassion and understanding, and a non-judgmental attitude, I began to realize that these individuals' experiences could be understood. My next experiences were to see the devastating effects of tardive dyskinesia, I saw this initially with adults, and then later I saw a child. I saw children whose only desire was to be heard, who had undergone extensive abuse, and were reacting to their painful world. It always seemed that it was the child who received the label, and their behaviors were simply subdued by various drugs. It was said to be an 'improvement' if the child was subdued, quiet, and gave no problem to the adults around them. But in this, I saw that the child's pain remained. This caused me to question if there was really something disordered within the child or maybe it is society that is disordered. From this, I began to research the effects of psychiatric drugs as well as the theory of 'chemical imbalances'. I began to see that these drugs often evoked more harm than good and that the idea of chemical imbalances have not been validated. I began to realize that a medical model of mental distress does not address experience and that there is a more humane and dignified method.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


This tragic story of a 4 year old child should be a wake up call to us all.
This now deceased child was drugged solely for profit- by the family and by the psychiatrist.
This is only confirmation towards my recent post listed below, "Abuse by the System".
Hopefully, individuals will take action.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.