Citizens Commission on Human Rights

Australian National Office

DSM: Psychiatry’s Deadliest Scam From Bushranger to Shopper, We’re All “Ill”

Bushranger in Ned Kelly outfitIf Australia’s famous bushranger Ned Kelly was alive today, psychiatrists would most likely label him with “oppositional defiant disorder.” In fact, psychology-inspired eugenicists claim Kelly was a “mental defective.” Under a planned fifth revision of psychiatry’s research and insurance “billing bible,” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Kelly’s diagnosis could change to “Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder” which supposedly describes people who can’t let go of grudges.

Yet to others, Kelly’s fight against oppressive British rule cast him as an Australian Robin Hood – a legendary “archetypal Australian challenging authority.”1 Right now, the challenge against psychiatrists’ self-proclaimed authority over all things mentally wrong with us has reached an all time high, with international criticism – even from peers – about DSM-5.

An online petition originated by the British Psychological Society and supported by the American Psychological Society challenges the proposed revisions to DSM-5 and has accrued more than 12,000 signatures from health professionals.

The Age says the DSM-5 review has been branded a “dangerous public experiment” that could turn normal human experiences into an epidemic of mental illness with healthy people being drugged unnecessarily.

Citing examples The Age reported: “If a mother in a custody battle tries to turn a child against the father, it might create ‘parental alienation disorder’.” If a widow grieves for more than a fortnight she might be diagnosed with “major depressive disorder” and what was once considered a child’s temper tantrum could be labelled “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.”2 Then there’s excessive shopping, exercise or interest in diet recipes and odd food choices and hoarding – all of which are earmarks of Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders.

Unlike for medical conditions, there are no physical tests, including x-rays or MRIs that can confirm these or any other psychiatric disorder. “We do not know the causes [of any mental illness],” Dr. Rex Cowdry, director of the US National Institute of Mental Health told Congress. While former president of the World Psychiatric Association, Norman Sartorius, declared, “The time when psychiatrists considered that they could cure the mentally ill is gone.”3

The iconic Dr. Thomas Szasz, professor of psychiatry emeritus and founding Commissioner of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) points out that psychiatric diagnoses are opinion. Medical diseases, he says, “are discovered; [psychiatric] diagnoses are created. Diseases cannot be manufactured, but diagnoses can be.” Depression, he adds, “is a diagnosis, recognised as a disease only if it is authoritatively interpreted as such.”

Clinical psychologist Craig Newnes says that consumers and families are mostly unaware that “The way the system works in terms of diagnosis is that every few years a group of psychiatrists and psychologists sit around in a room and vote on new diagnoses.” Newnes is among experts interviewed in an award-winning CCHR documentary, DSM: Psychiatry’s Deadliest Scam.

Also interviewed is Professor Robert Spillane, a lecturer at Macquarie University who says that DSM is a “book which catalogs mental illnesses for which no medical sign has ever been discovered… Childhood has now become itself an illness. In the case of almost every other condition from academic disorder to mathematics disorder, any performance that is in some way seen to be less than satisfactory has now become medicalised.”

Dr. Allen Frances, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, who chaired the DSM4 Task Force, admits that the manual created “fad diagnoses” like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), causing a false epidemic, especially in children, and causing massive increases in dangerous drug prescription.4 When his taskforce reduced the number of symptoms needed to qualify a person as having ADHD, they thought the prevalence of the disorder might increase by 15% among children. Instead, it increased by 200%. At the same time, autism diagnoses increased by 2,000%.5

Pharma-funded Groups Market DSM

The fifth revision of the DSM, due to be published in 2013, could see any characteristic or behaviour re-defined as a “mental disorder” and Aussies are apparently already at serious risk. According to the pharmaceutical-company-funded group SANE Australia, “Nearly half (45%) of the population will experience a mental disorder at some stage in their lives.”6

Mental disease advocacy groups often have financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, which then act as marketing campaigns for psychotropic drugs and cite alarming statistics to support their arguments.

Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels, authors of Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies are Turning Us All into Patients, found that “Partnering with patient groups has become a key element of marketing strategies.”

One of the pharmaceutical-psychiatric marketing coups was that a chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression, leading to more than $20 billion in worldwide annual sales of antidepressants. SANE Australia advertises: “Antidepressant medications help the brain to restore its usual chemical balance….”7 Beyondblue claims: “Depression can also run in families and some people will be at increased genetic risk.”8 And former CEO of beyondblue, psychiatrist Ian Hickie, was adamant: Depression is “a mental ailment or chemical imbalance in the brain….”9

However, Ronald Pies writing in Psychiatric Times said pharmaceutical companies espoused the theory that a chemical imbalance caused depression, but the psychiatry community has known all along that the theory is not true. In January, psychiatrists confessed on a national US media outlet that there is no evidence to support the Serotonin Theory of Depression and that “there was never any evidence in support of the idea that low serotonin causes depression.”

SANE Australia, beyondblue and others reinforce a false authority in psychiatric diagnosis by misleadingly marketing serious problems in life as biological-based disease. Depression is a painful, functionally impairing condition, but it is not a physical disease or chemical imbalance that can be cured by a drug.

“It’s such a narrow and limited view of human experience, to want to reduce every bit of suffering to medical diagnosis,” said Jon Jureidini, professor of psychiatry at the University of Adelaide. He said the changes to DSM would lead to increased prescribing.10

Pharma-DSM Conflicts of Interest

Controversy surrounding DSM development rests largely on its influence by the pharmaceutical industry. A high profile study by Lisa Cosgrove, associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA, in 2006 forced the American Psychiatric Association to disclose financial ties between DSM Task Force members and drug companies. However, the move toward transparency did little to cut down on conflicts. A subsequent study released by Cosgrove in March this year revealed nearly 70 percent of DSM-5 panel members reported financial relationships with drug companies – up from 57 percent for DSM-4.

DSM-IV and its counterpart, the World Health Organisation’s mental disorders section of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) are used not only to diagnose mental “disorder” and prescribe “treatment,” but also to resolve child custody battles, discrimination cases based on alleged psychiatric disability, augment court testimony, modify education, and much more.

Professor Szasz says, “The diagnoses of most mental diseases are used to justify the psychiatrist’s obligation to commit patients or his need to prescribe drugs and other so-called treatments for them…” When insurance reimbursement is dependent upon a DSM diagnosis, he adds, this “creates a host of ethical and social problems…” Another physician puts it more bluntly: “The sicker you make a patient look, the more money you get.”

Professor Spillane says DSM is essentially a book that tries to convince people that the behaviour that annoys, upsets or offends people should, in fact, be called an illness.

Bruce Levine, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author says that many of those diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ADHD are essentially anti-authoritarians: questioning the authorities’ honesty and legitimacy and whether the authorities – in this case psychiatrists – know what they are talking about.11

He also laments how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be today but said the “reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologised and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.”

Dr. Jeffrey A Schaler, a psychologist and professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University’s School of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., would agree they are “authoritarians.” He refers to them as the “cult of psychiatry” which demands unquestioning acceptance of its belief system about mental illness – without physical proof. Mental illness, he says, “is always diagnosed on some sort of social conflict, when people do something that others find objectionable, they can be diagnosed as mentally ill. If the person doing the diagnosing is more powerful that the person diagnosed, then there’s trouble. In this sense, the diagnosis of mental illness is always a weapon.”

The Totalitarian Power of DSM

Levine says those doing the prescribing are by definition authoritarians: They “demand unquestioning obedience” and any resistance to their diagnosis and treatment can result in the patient – the “anti-authoritarian” to be labelled “noncompliant with treatment,” increasing the severity of their diagnosis, and consequently, psychiatrists “jacked up their medications.”

“…authoritarians financially marginalise those who buck the system, they criminalise anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologise anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their ‘cure’.”12

Consider that already in Australia there are recommendations to adopt a criminal offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing psychological harm.” And to strengthen Health Care Complaints to deal with the issues relating to “deliberately, recklessly or indifferently interfering with psychological health or access to qualified medical [psychiatric/psychological] treatment.”

Therefore, should you agree with this article, disagree with a DSM diagnosis, dispute psychiatry’s damaging treatments or even demand comprehensive information to satisfy informed consent needs, you could be arrested for denying “mental health care” that by psychiatric decree is needed.

This totalitarian thinking is evident in the 2011 draft ADHD Clinical Practice Points (ADHD CPPs) currently being written by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The recommendations include that parents who don’t “medicate” their ADHD child could be referred to child protection services. The ADHD CPPs state: “As with any medical intervention, the inability of parents to implement strategies may raise child protection concerns.” The recommendation shows the authoritarian influence of Australian psychiatrists over government, especially considering that in the US federal law bans school personnel from forcing parents to drug school-aged children as a requisite for their education.

Psychological Assessments Australia sells DSM-based “mental health screening” tools for those with a reading level of 3-17. The ADHD/DSM-IV Scales are marketed as a “5-10 minutes administration time; parent-completed, teacher-completed, adolescent self-report.” You can purchase an ADHD screening kit for $726.00, which includes a “manual” and 25 report forms for parents, teachers and children.13

Then there’s the Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function – Preschool Version for ages 2½ to 11. These cost up to $638.14 Or “The Anger Regulation and Expression Scale” – a “comprehensive, self-report measure of angry thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in youth aged 10 to 17 years.” The Complete Scoring Software Kit is $484.15

Today, DSM runs to nearly 900 pages and it is estimated it could earn its owner, the American Psychiatric Association, $100 million.

Today Australia, like countries the world over, are bearing the brunt of DSM’s legacy: As Dr. Jureidini, says: “If you can attract people to the idea that their distress is an illness you increase drug sales.”16

There were over 22 million government-subsidised prescriptions for mental health-related medications in 2009, accounting for 11% of all subsidised prescriptions. More than 400,000 ADHD prescriptions a year are written, and their use has soared by 300 per cent over the past seven years, sparking debate about use and conflicts of interest. 50% of children under 12 who live in residential care are being prescribed antipsychotic drugs. 44% of Aboriginal children in residential care are on drugs such as Ritalin, Strattera and Zoloft.

While we may laugh at the absurd diagnoses Ned Kelly might suffer, the number of people, especially children, being drugged is Australia’s shame. It is putting them at grave risk. Thomas Szasz says psychiatry is “not science. It’s politics and economics… Behaviour control. It is not science. It is not medicine. It’s an epidemic of psychiatry that we are dealing with. We don’t have an epidemic of mental illness, we have an epidemic of psychiatry.”

Article appears in New Dawn 132 (May-June 2012), available in news agencies across Australia and New Zealand. For further information please visit

You can learn more about the above important issues by obtaining a copy the new documentary film DSM: Psychiatry’s Deadliest Scam. The DVD is available for $18 (postpaid in Australia) from CCHR (02) 99649844 or go to


  1. John Kilner, “Ned Kelly: villain or hero?,” The Age, 30 Apr. 2003,
  2. Jill Stark, “Psychiatry bible ‘turns sorrow into sickness,” The Age, 4 Dec. 2011,
  3. Lars Boegeskov, “Mentally Ill have to have Help—Not to be Cured,” Politiken, 19 Sept 1994
  4. Frances Allen, MD, “Psychiatric Diagnosis Gone Wild: The ‘Epidemic’ Of Childhood Bipolar Disorder,” Psychiatric Times, 8 Apr. 2010,
  5. Amy Corderoy, “A new chapter for psychiatrists’ bible,” Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Feb 2012,
  9. Richard Baker, “Beating The Blues: Mental Health Takes The Industry Pills,” The Age, 8 Aug. 2006
  10. Jill Stark, “Psychiatry bible ‘turns sorrow into sickness,” The Age, 4 Dec. 2011,
  12. Ibid.
  16. Julie Robotham, “Big business, bad medicine cloud our epidemic of the blues,”, 3 Apr. 2002,

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was established in 1929 by the Church of Scientology and Professor of Psychiatry Dr Thomas Szasz to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights. For more information contact the Australian National Office on (02) 99649844,,