June 2011

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Open letter to Professor Michael Kohn

Dear Professor Michael Kohn,

Despite significant longstanding evidence to the contrary a recent article in the Daily Telegraph stated:

“Westmead Hospital pediatrician Professor Michael Kohn, who has patients under the age of six, said… more evidence had recently come to light which confirmed that children with ADHD had brains that developed slower. Stimulant medication like Ritalin helped brain growth. “Children with ADHD have a lower rate of brain growth and development and they do not reach the same peak of brain growth that children without ADHD do,” Prof Kohn said. “When we give them stimulant medication, scans show a more normal pattern of brain development than would otherwise have occurred.[1]

This letter seeks evidence supporting your claim that giving ‘ADHD’ children stimulants, amphetamines (dexamphetamine) and amphetamine-like drugs (Ritalin, Concerta) aids in ‘brain development’. I am very surprised by this claim as numerous studies have long established that the use of psycho-stimulants by children has regularly resulted in gross malfunctions in the brain, and ‘can cause shrinkage (atrophy) or other permanent physical abnormalities.[2] As this is the opposite of what you are claiming, I would like to have access to any contradictory new evidence and if it is valid help to publicise it. If, however, there is not adequate supporting evidence I would welcome an explanation of why you made this surprising claim.

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In the Australian on 16 June 2011http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/schism-opens-over-ills-of-the-mind/story-e6frg6z6-1226075910650 ) Professor Patrick McGorry responded to his critics by withdrawing his support for the inclusion of Psychosis Risk Syndrome in the ‘Bible of Psychiatry’ DSM5. In addition he has stated that he now opposes the use of antipsychotics to prevent first break psychosis stating  it ‘needs to be studied before it’s ever advocated’.

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The following is a verbatim copy of a blog by Dr Allen Frances and a response by Professor Patrick McGorry. The original is available at Psychology Today – DSMV In Distress

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