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When Big Brother is drugging you

Dr. Jan Fortune-Wood is a freelance writer and home educator. She is a supporter of Taking Children Seriously and writes on home education, autonomous education and non-coercive parenting from a libertarian perspective. Her third book, Bound To Be Free deals in depth with the hidden costs of so called ‘free’ education, including further discussion of the issues below

According to last week’s Independent on Sunday a new mental health campaign sparked off by the fear that parents may face jail over compulsory drug orders for their children if a new Bill becomes law. Not content with collecting personal and private data on parents and children via the Orwellian Connexions scheme, the Blairite regime is now proposing to parent our children for us still further by accusing parents who do not favour drugging their children of being negligent and denying their children medical treatment.

The use of the ADHD drug, Ritalin, continues to rocket – 208,000 in 2001 compared to 2,000 a decade earlier. Compulsory treatment orders are a symptom of a culture which treats children as products and an adjunct of administering a brutal, centralised ‘free’ education system. Those who do not conform to this ‘one size fits all’ educational machine are ‘bad’ and/or ‘dysfunctional’ and can be diagnosed and treated. The more the system feels threatened, the more aggressive the intervention. In a collapsing state education system so-called hyperactivity disorders such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are popular tools of control and neatly shift the focus of failure away from the non-individually responsive institution and onto the child.

There are an increasing number of doctors and psychiatrists who consider that there is no objective difference in the behaviours of so called ‘normal’ and ADHD children. There are even some, like Thomas Szasz, who put these objections vigorously, pointing out that feeding children what is effectively ‘speed’ in order to curb what is not a disease, but a ‘catch all’ for troublesome behaviour, is a matter of adult convenience and control, not of medicine.

Formerly, quacks had fake cures for real diseases; now, they claim to have real cures for fake diseases.1

When big brother is threatening to drug your children so that they can be more suited to the homogenised environments of state schools perhaps its time not only to fight back, but to ensure that more and more people are aware that they can opt out of the system entirely and choose the freedom of home education. The hidden costs of so called ‘free’; state education are on the increase – not only through massive taxation, but also via services delivered with increasing menaces to civil liberties.

Dr. Jan Fortune-Wood

1 = Chemical Straitjackets for Children by Thomas S. Szasz
     © 2001 The Foundation for Economic Education

7 comments to When Big Brother is drugging you

  • Sadly, there have been cases in New York State where children have been removed from the home over their parent’s refusal to place them on medication. The truly sad thing is that the demands for medication were made by teachers or administrators, with no medical training. In other words, “I can’t handle your kid in my class, he must be put on drugs. No? Well, I’m calling to report you for child abuse.”

  • For six years in school, my son was treated for a mild form of ADHD, diagnosed as such by a doctor. The difference in his behavior was noticeable and positive. He went from being unable to restrain his behavior in class to being teachable.

    He is 12 now and has learned enough self-control that he no longer needs the medicine. Even so, he still exhibits behaviors that are reminiscent of his earlier years (the noises, the uncontrollable hand movements, the intability to parse thoughts at times).

    Fortune-Wood’s blanket condemnation of new medical discoveries is as objectional as the program she condemns.

  • Sandy P.

    Our illustrious teachers’ union is trying to make it illegal for children to be home-schooled. The parent must be “certified.”

  • Mike


    You state “He went from being unable to restrain his behavior in class to being teachable.”

    So you used drugs to fix your son into the system rather than taking your son away from the cause of his problems…school.

    I am sure there are genuine cases of ADHD/ADD however Ritaslin is massively over prescribed to children who don’t need it. They just need their enviroment to changed ie. the school system and this is the point that Jan is making.

    If you were an alien from another planet come to earth and you saw parents drugging their children just to maintain their equilibrium in a stressful (non compulsory enviroment) would that strike you as logical.


  • Hamish

    The way I see it, there may occasionally be legitimate reasons to give a disturbed child drugs as the source of their problems may have nothing to do with the trauma of school. A young relative of mine was deeply disturbed after a horrific trauma and was given drugs, which helped.

    But the good doctor is quite right that to use drugs as a way of dealing with what amounts to dissent, rather than true mental illness, by a child because they refuse to conform to a situation not of their choosing and of dubious benefit to themselves is monstrous. This is not materially different from the former Soviet and current Chinese practice of pathologising dissent for the ‘Politically Insane’. Any state agency trying to mandate druging a child of mine against my judgement is going to have to literally kill me first to make that happen.

  • I now work in the for-profit sector, but spent 20 plus years in “education”, higher and otherwise. Here in the U.S., drugs are used to control behaviour problems in children.

    Hey, I grew up but I used to be a kid. Everyone in my class graduated. Sure, some were dumber than a post, but the teachers taught, and worked, and got them through somehow. There were angry kids, sad kids, etc., but nobody disrupted classes and nobody needed to be drugged.

    We’re not talking about the few who legitimately needed Ritalin or some other drug, we’re talking about the many who are being drugged because no one wants to expend the time and effort to make their education work.

    I’m an EMT. On a regular basis, I’m called to, or hear calls for, a Mental Hygiene Arrest of a child 7, 8 , 10 years old. “Out of control”. Since when can an 8 year old be so out of control that a police officer has to call an ambulance and have hte child involuntarily taken to a psychiatric facility?



    My name is Anna . I live in Rutland, Vermont.
    The following is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge.
    I have two children, a fourteen-year-old and an eleven-year-old.
    My eleven-year-old son, Jacob , was born June 23, 1992 and recently just turned eleven years of age.
    As a youngster he attended public schools in Rutland, Vermont. He seemed to do well at the first school he attended, the Rutland Intermediate School. He was a smart child and an avid reader, even when in first grade.
    In the summer of 2000, when he was 7 years old, the Educational Coordinators of the Intermediate School and the Success School in Rutland both told me I should take my son to see a psychiatrist named Dr. Marjorie Carsen. Both had been pressuring me to get my son drugged with Ritalin. So, I took my son Jacob to see Dr. Carsen at Rutland Mental Health. She saw him for about 15 minutes, diagnosed him as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and prescribed Ritalin for him. In arriving at her diagnosis there were no medical tests performed of any kind, such as blood testing, brain scans, etc.
    As an observation, I have since encountered many parents whose children have been drugged by Dr. Marjorie Carsen and I believe she is responsible for the vast majority of the psychiatric drugging of the children in the Rutland schools. I recently called Rutland Mental Health and they said she is the only one in the area that prescribes psychiatric medications for young children.
    After our first visit with Dr. Carsen, my son Jacob was on Ritalin for about the next 8 months. He had very bad effects from taking this drug and it caused him to act unlike his natural self. At times he would be violent on the drug and he even started gouging holes in the walls of his room. There were other times when he would sit in a chair for literally hours, sometimes 3-4
    hours, and do nothing except stare and drool. He also lost his appetite and stopped eating or drinking as much as he used to. I was very worried about how little he would drink. He began to lose weight.
    Ritalin also produces frequent withdrawals, about every four hours, and the drug has to be given several times a day to take the child off the withdrawals. During the week my son would be drugged with Ritalin by me in the morning and then the school would give him a second dose around lunchtime. These were the only two doses prescribed each day. Sometimes, by the end of the afternoon, he would be acting kind of crazy and out of character, as he would be going through withdrawals late in the day. This made both our lives difficult on a daily basis. (By this statement I am not recommending drugging children one or two more times per day. On the contrary, I feel they should not be given such drugs at all.)
    Another effect of Ritalin is to cause insomnia. (Weight loss, loss of appetite, insomnia, stunted body growth, stomach pains, headaches and nervousness are all common effects of this drug.) Jacob also had a lot of trouble sleeping while on Ritalin.
    In all the times I have spoken with Dr. Marjorie Carsen and with all the drugs she has put my son Jacob on, she has never once told me of any of the many, nasty effects of the drugs.
    The same Educational Coordinators told me I had to enter my son into a psychiatric hospital called the Brattleboro Retreat. They told me that if I didn’t do it they would force the action on me. When he was still 7 years old, in the summer of 2000, he went to this “hospital.” There, they labeled my son not only with ADHD, but also Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and as being borderline Bipolar. This surprised me as he was then on Ritalin and acting out of character and having numerous effects from the drug, such as nervousness at times and just sitting and drooling at other times, as well as loss of appetite for food and liquids, and insomnia. Many parents know that a child can be cranky and difficult when they are short on food and sleep and the Ritalin was causing my son to have these very characteristics day after day.
    In the fall of the year 2000 Jacob began attending a school known as the Success School in Rutland. People at the school felt that Jacob was still not paying enough attention or following the requests of his teacher adequately.
    Dr. Carsen decided to try out different drugs on Jacob. After he was on the Ritalin for about 8 months she stopped that and tried other psychiatric drugs on him, such as Klonopin and Zyprexa. These did not suit him well either.
    When he was about eight and a half years old, Dr. Carsen put him on a mixture of Concerta (which consists of the same chemical as Ritalin, but is longer lasting). She also put him on an antipsychotic medication called Risperdal which was supposedly to keep him calm in the morning and to help him sleep at night, as he was having trouble sleeping from the first drug. Risperdal has its own numerous effects on a person. For example, it can make them feel very tired, and it is even advised that one wear protective clothing and sun screen with this medication as it makes one’s skin overly sensitive to sunlight. Carsen prescribed the Risperdal for my son to be taken morning, noon and night with a double dosage to be taken at night, all in addition to the Concerta he was being given.
    In recent months, when my son Jacob was ten years old, Dr. Carsen decided to add a third drug to the mix, a new drug for ADHD called Strattera. I would say that this drug drove him somewhat psychotic, at least in the chemical cocktail she had devised for him. He was on this combination of three drugs for about three months. I saw my son go really crazy on this drug mix. One time he started throwing chairs about. He was acting out more in school and at home during this period. After many reports to Dr. Carsen from me about the toxic reactions my son was having to her new drug concoction, she switched my son over to Trileptal, 300 mg. a day, in addition to the Concerta and Risperdal.
    The Success School is considered a behavior treatment place. It has about 35 children enrolled in it and I believe that every one of them is being drugged similarly to my son. Despite the name of the school, it apparently seldom produces a successful outcome. It is said about the school that once kids are sent there they are destined to spend their lives in a mental institution. I suspect that many of the kids there display numerous negative effects of the drugs they are given and that these are looked upon as symptoms of more mental disorders. As there is no medical or scientific bases for psychiatric “mental disorders,” they can be assigned to children very arbitrarily, leading to further drugging. As the drugs can cause permanent brain, nerve and glandular damage, very great harm can be done to them with such treatment.
    Personnel at Success School told me to go to the Social Rehabilitation Services for assistance because my son was leaving the school a lot during school hours. I contacted the Social Rehabilitation Services about 2 months ago to get their help and because the personnel at the school threatened me with having my child taken away if I didn’t contact them myself. When I went to see them I gave them custody of my son with the understanding that he would be allowed to live with me and that I would eventually get full custody returned to me. I was soon betrayed.
    About 2 weeks days ago, an 18-year-old kid from a group home called Spectrum, around the corner from our house, run by Social Rehabilitation Services, gave my 10-year-old son a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor. (The drinking age in Vermont is 21.) My son drank it. Apparently, the older boy thought my son was funny and pushed him to drink a second one as, I understand, my son was reluctant. Jacob became very sick from the alcohol, as he was only 10 years old and only weighed about 68 lbs. Additionally, he was already taking 3 strong psychiatric drugs. He threw up and passed out on the ground. I was told about the incident and immediately brought him home.
    Soon after that a police officer came to the house and took Jacob on behalf of the Social Rehabilitation Services. Jacob was taken to a juvenile correction facility called Woodside where he was put in with a group of 17- year-olds.
    About 10 days ago, about 3 days after he was seized, he was brought into court for a hearing. This little fellow (he was kind of small to begin with and I believe his last 3 years on Ritalin and Concerta have stunted his growth even more) was brought into the courtroom in handcuffs and with shackles on his ankles. When I first saw my boy I wanted to hug him, but was forbidden. The hearing was brief. The judge seemed to have zero interest in my point of view or Jacob’s; he seemed predisposed to listen to the lawyer for the Social Rehabilitation Services and in a foregone conclusion ruled to
    keep my son at Woodside. At the end of the hearing I went up to Jacob without permission and a female guard let me hug my shackled and handcuffed son while 2 older people lifted him under his arms and held him near me. He was crying.
    I give the Citizens Commission on Human Rights authority to do as they wish with this affidavit, including, but not limited to, bringing it to the attention of the media, legislators and government officials.

    COMMENTS: ahardi8@aol.com

    Anna Hardina
    p.o.Box 6352
    Rutand V.T.