When I lived in Philadelphia, I was the only psychologist that a busy pediatrician would ever use to send his little patients. The reason was that my results were dramatic and consistent. The doctor knew that when he referred a child to me, the child would get well.
To this day, if he is still alive, he does not know that I never saw a single one of his patients. They played in the waiting room while I treated the parents. The youngest ones busied themselves with toys, and the teens absorbed themselves in the TV.
The reason I maintain this policy today is simply this: There is no such thing as a disturbed child who does not come from a troubled marriage, an upset parent, or both. Children react to what they are put through at home.
With the very few exceptions in genetics or other biology, children do not suffer from mental illness. They think, feel, and behave as dictated by the conditions they live in or to which they have been exposed.
My premise is not supported by the mental-health profession at large because tradition holds mental illness as some sort of mental state that arises within individuals but without a reason. So psychologists and psychiatrists make some observations, ask a few questions, and then affix a diagnostic label. The psychiatrist begins to prescribe medicine, no matter how long the list of side effects.
Many cannot see that what has always been considered mental illness is a reaction, not a set of symptoms magically emerging from a vacuum. Even attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the garbage-can diagnosis of school counselors, is a direct result of sensory deprivation in very early childhood. Even the most severe cases can be managed without medication.
ADHD has already been discussed in a previous article, and it is also described in my book. But usually it is a misdiagnosis.
Today, mental-health practitioners are being swarmed by cases of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Contrary to the foregoing, this painful state is being experienced by children all over the world. But again, even this real pathology is a reaction to craziness in any number of forms.
For example, children are reacting to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in record numbers. Others are struggling with the trauma of actual war as more and more battles emerge all over the world. As a rule, doctoral programs in psychology concentrate very little on training their students to recognize trauma, let alone how to treat it.
In the United States, the main cause of PTSD is, beyond question, child abuse. The fact is that little kids are being dehumanized by their own parents, by the very people who are supposed to love them.
Some of these parents, potential murderers that they are, actually want their kids to be dead.
One of the main disguises for parents abusing their children is to label the child as being crazy. They take the child to a doctor who, the parents are sure, will not catch on to the reality. In fact, the doctor will reinforce what the child has heard from his parents, that there is something wrong with him. So the victim himself will grow up with the lie that there is something wrong inside his head.
This entire scenario is intensified and fueled by the fact that the little patient will indeed exhibit symptoms. Abuse, being the strongest communication possible, will always produce symptoms. What is not generally understood is that the symptoms are reactions to craziness.
There is not now, nor will there ever be, a normal way to react to craziness. Those who can understand such a statement will readily see that very, very, often, taking your child to a shrink is another form of child abuse, another expression of our debased society.
Father Heyward B. Ewart, Ph.D. is President of St. James the Elder Theological Seminary. Information about the doctoral curriculum in Christian clinical counseling and other programs, plus more information on Fr. Ewart, can be found at the seminary’s website, http://stjamestheelderseminary.org
Father Ewart is author of the book “AM I BAD? Recovering from Abuse”, published by Loving Healing Press. (lovinghealing.com) His site has links to two podcasts whereby he can be heard on separate topics changing weekly.