Hardback: £19.99 / $32.95
2007, 234mm x 156mm / 9.25in x 6in, 192pp
ISBN: 978-1-84310-877-1, BIC 2: JM JNSG VFJD YXK
This is a book about "lost children." It's about children who fail at school and at life. It's about children who commit crimes, and children who react to loving families with hostility or violence. It's about hyperactive kids, and children battling depression or bipolar disorder. But the first "lost children" I studied weren't criminals, or kids failing math, or depressed children, or children who climbed the walls or yelled obscenities at their moms.
They were children even worse off-they were autistic. Trapped in a world of their own, they cried, screamed, rocked, and hit. Many shrank from hugs, and lashed out if their parents tried to touch them.
And one of them was mine.
This was back in the 1950s. I was a young psychologist, well schooled in experimental psychology, statistics, and the measurement of individual differences. My training, however, did me no good when Mark, my first child, arrived.
Mark didn't just cry. He screamed as if in rage, hour after hour, so violently that he could hardly nurse. He hated being held. As he grew, he began rocking and banging his head against his crib. He stared into space for hours, and looked through, rather than at, everyone, including his mother and me, as though we were invisible. His first words, spoken at only eight months of age, were "spoon," "bear," "all done," and "come on, let's play ball." A few months later, he began to repeat nursery rhymes, radio commercials and questions, all spoken in an expressionless voice as if by a robot.
We had no idea what was wrong. Our pediatrician, who had been in practice for 35 years, was baffled as well. He had never seen or heard of such a child. When Mark was two, however, my wife put a name to his condition. She remembered having seen a description, in an old college textbook stored in a box in our garage, of autistic children-children who acted just like Mark. In that textbook I saw the word "autism" for the first time-five years after earning a Ph.D. in psychology.
But putting a name to Mark's problem didn't solve it. Neither did the chilling words in the books about autism that I tracked down at the library. Autism, all the books said, stemmed from damage done by cold, unfeeling parents who irreparably scarred their children's psyches. Mothers were the major culprits. The textbooks' authors, led by then-revered psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, uniformly blamed "refrigerator mothers," who, the psychiatrists were sure, were subconsciously rejecting their children. Bettelheim likened the mothers to guards in Nazi concentration camps, dedicated to oppressing those under their control.1 Other authors varied the theme by blaming "smother mothers," who, the psychiatrists charged, refused to let their children be themselves.
The medical authorities writing these books were cruel and unsparing. I knew that, at least in our case, they were wrong. It was impossible to picture my loving, intelligent wife as an evil destroyer of children. And Mark's uncontrolled tantrums were apparent in the maternity ward, on the day he was born. How could a happy, loving new mother, ecstatic over the arrival of her child, subconsciously "smother" or "freeze" a newborn?
My questions initiated a personal and professional odyssey spanning nearly five decades. It began with my intensive search of the scientific literature, which led to the conclusion that autism was a biological disorder, rather than an emotional illness caused by bad mothering. My research formed the basis for my 1964 book Infantile Autism: The Syndrome and Its Implications for a Neural Theory of Behavior, which is credited with destroying the psychoanalytical myths about autism.2 In 1979, just 15 years later, David Katz wrote that a revolution had taken place: "Ninety percent of the people in the field agree that Rimland's book blew Bettelheim's theory to hell."3
As my research into the roots of autism progressed, and expanded into other areas, such as schizophrenia, depression, and psychopathy, it became clear that the Freudians were dangerously deluded, and had seriously misled our culture. I learned that, contrary to what the textbooks said, and what our instructors taught, disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and autism stemmed from brain dysfunction, not from faulty parenting, and that the years that parents and their children spent in psychotherapy were not only wasted but injurious.
Things have changed a great deal since that time, and the fact that major psychiatric disorders have biological underpinnings is now widely accepted. Today, parents of children with autism or schizophrenia don't hear, "It's your fault." But it took more than two more decades to overturn the "bad families cause mental illness" theories-theories that caused great harm to many thousands of parents wrongly scapegoated by the psychiatric establishment. Worse yet, these theories stopped us from discovering the real causes of autism and schizophrenia. Now, decades later, we are belatedly uncovering the biological roots of these problems, and finding new treatments for children once labeled as "hopeless."
From autism to dyslogic
What does my story about autism have to do with otherwise "normal" children who fail their classes, drive their teachers crazy, spend their days in a dark cloud of depression, or torment their parents with hyperactive or hostile behavior-or with children who rob their neighbors, rape their girlfriends, or shoot their classmates?
Everything-because today the parents of these children are victims of the same scapegoating my wife and I experienced nearly fifty years ago. When depressed children commit suicide, we wonder if their parents failed to give them enough support or attention. When school shootings occur, we blame parents for letting the tragedies happen. When we watch news stories about children who rape or rob or kill, we hear reporters ask, "How could parents raise such horrible children?" Not long ago, for instance, my local newspaper ran a story about a couple of teenagers breaking into a house, destroying the owners' property, and writing obscenities on the walls. A police officer, interviewed about the crime, said that one thing was obvious-the kids who did it had bad parents.
But the parents of troubled or dangerous children typically aren't bad people. I know, because I've met hundreds of them-and you have, too. They are, by and large, loving and dedicated and normal parents. Moreover, I've met and worked with dozens of doctors and researchers who are proving, beyond a doubt, that most "bad" children-much like autistic or schizophrenic children-suffer from toxic physical environments, often coupled with genetic vulnerability, rather than toxic family environments. As I'll demonstrate in this book, research clearly shows that the culprits primarily responsible for the dyslogical behavior of millions of America's children are not their parents, but rather the poor-quality food substitutes they eat, the pollutants in the air they breathe, the chemically contaminated water they drink, and other less well-known physical insults that cause malfunctioning brains and bodies.
Many of these children are labeled "hyperactive" or "attentiondisordered." Some are labeled "conduct disordered." Some are labeled "oppositional." Thousands are labeled "depressed" or "bipolar." And many are simply dismissed as hopelessly warped or evil. They struggle at school, they struggle through life, and in their wake they leave a trail of misery-of disrupted and saddened lives. But it's not truly their fault, and it's rarely their parents' fault.
In fact, the parents of these children are often nothing short of heroic. They battle ceaselessly to find help for their sons and daughters, only to find blame where they expected to find hope. They spend thousands of dollars seeking medical advice, and come away with nothing more than often harmful and frequently useless prescription drugs, and condescending or accusatory lectures. Pediatricians tell them that their children can't be cured, but can only be medicated. Psychiatrists tell them that their children suffer from traumas stemming from family dysfunction, which just adds to these parents' feelings of shame and guilt.
But these parents, far from being the problem themselves, are scapegoats for problems that they did not cause, and cannot cure-at least, not until a revolution in our thinking occurs. I hope that this book will, at least in some small way, contribute to the beginning of that revolution.
In the following chapters I identify many of the biological culprits that play a major role in our epidemic of dyslogic-the brain cripplers placing America's children at risk for criminality, underachievement, learning disabilities, and failure. The data and case studies I present in these chapters show conclusively that most troubled or "bad" children suffer from biological disorders and desperately need biological interventions.
Even more important is the good news: these disorders can often be prevented or effectively treated. We can turn around the lives of many delinquents, hyperactive children, and school under-achievers and we can do it without either futile parent-blaming psychotherapeutic approaches or the use of harmful mind-altering drugs such as Ritalin or antidepressants. Toward that end, this book concludes with an action plan for parents and professionals who want to stop the dyslogic epidemic that has engulfed our children. By implementing these simple but crucial suggestions, we can begin to reverse this epidemic, before it can harm today's children and generations to come.
Kids in the Syndrome Mix of ADHD, LD, Asperger's, Tourette's, Bipolar, and More!: The one stop guide for parents, teachers, and other professionals
Martin L. Kutscher MD
With a contribution from Tony Attwood
With a contribution from Robert R Wolff MD