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Rates of diagnosis of psychiatric disorders in children, such as depression, ADHD and autistic spectrum disorders, have shot up in recent years. So too has the prescription of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs and stimulants. Yet the diagnoses are based on weak science, questionable research and powerful financial incentives. In this updated edition of his powerful critique, consultant child psychiatrist Sami Timimi questions why Western societies routinely seek to manage children's behaviour with dangerous medication. He offers a humane and child-centred alternative that is about understanding our children's distress, not medicating it, and practical advice that all parents, carers and teachers will find helpful.
1. The work of culture
2. Childhood in today's world
3. Common diagnoses
4. Common treatments used with children and adolescents
5. Getting help
We live in a time when ever-increasing rates of ‘mental disorders’ are being diagnosed in our children and more children are being labelled and medicated. This concise, accessible book by a practising child psychiatrist offers a critical perspective on these important issues. Timimi draws on wider societal discourses and historical and cultural contexts to critique the diagnoses of ADHD, autism, and depression, the efficacy of medication to treat them and the validity of the so-called gold standard studies that underpin them. This book stimulates critical thinking, reflection and analysis and encourages the reader to question and explore the dominant narratives around ‘mental health disorders’ in children and their treatment. This book is a great addition to the critical psychiatry literature but should be read by parents and carers too who want a different perspective to mainstream psychiatric understandings of their children and how to help them.'
Dr Karen Treisman, MBE, clinical psychologist, organisational consultant, trainer and writer on children’s mental health
'Sami Timimi examines the complexity of children's mental health from a subjective, rather than an objective, viewpoint that prioritises a humanities perspective over a scientific one. If you think that makes for a wishy-washy read, you're wrong. Timimi draws on cultural norms and social constructs, classification systems, competition, globalisation and commodification to make sense of why children are more likely than ever to be diagnosed with a mental health 'condition' and treated as such. This might 'satisfy our understandable thirst for certainty' but, he warns, it betrays a 'more important need for truth and honesty'. Truth and honesty are what this straight-talking book delivers in abundance. Prescription drugs are put on trial; so too, uncomfortably but necessarily, are the talking therapies. This is a little book that packs a big punch. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding more about children's distress and how to help them manage it. Which should be all of us.'
Jeanine Connor, child and adolescent psychotherapist and editor of BACP Children, Young People & Families journal
'The mainstream mental health system that labels and pathologises is responsible for creating countless victims. Tragically, many of them are children. This book is critical reading for anyone who cares about the wellbeing of children. This should mean all of us.'
Jo Watson, founder of adisorder4everyone.com and editor of Drop the Disorder! and We are the Change-Makers
Review for the first edition of this book: 'Trust Timimi, not the medical mouthpieces of the pharmaceutical establishment he demolishes.'
Oliver James, author of They F*** You Up: How to survive family life