eric maisel
Source: eric maisel

This interview series is designed to help parents better understand what’s going on when one of their children is on the verge of receiving a mental disorder diagnosis, does receive such a diagnosis, is living with that diagnosis, and/or is taking psychiatric meds.

The series is also for anyone who might be interested in children’s mental health issues and who happens to be concerned about current trends, including diagnosing ever-younger children, predicting mental disorders in children, and placing children on multiple psychiatric meds. 

In this series you’ll hear from practitioners, parents, and others with a stake in these issues. Most set a cautionary tone and invite you to learn for yourself whether or not the current system is valid and whether better alternatives are available. The questions raised and discussed are fundamental ones, questions like “What exactly is a mental disorder?” and “Is a mental disorder diagnosis a real diagnosis or a kind of labeling?”

I hope this series will help parents think deeply about these issues and help them picture a landscape that includes more than just “a diagnosis followed by meds.” It matters whether a child is in actual distress or whether what he or she is doing is socially unacceptable; it matters if a child is simply different from some putative statistical norm; it matters if your child is confronted by a system that is upset with his or her behaviors, and so on. It matters what is going on with and to your child. It also matters that there are alternate responses in addition to—or instead of—a mental disorder diagnosis and chemicals.     

We have come a long way in our compassionate treatment of children. We no longer look at children as a workforce; we see them as having rights and deserving not be abused; we believe that they have a right to be educated. Now, suddenly, in the course of just a handful of years, we have taken a huge step backward. We are now rushing down the road of turning every feature of childhood into a “symptom of a mental disorder” and turning every child into a “mental patient.” Currently one in thirteen children are on so-called psychiatric medication. If you find yourself “in the system”—say in foster care—the number increases to one in four. And those numbers are increasing rapidly.

What happened?

Primarily, a certain idea took hold. A particular way of thinking about “mental health” and “mental illness” became the dominant paradigm. Beginning in the 1950’s, mental health professionals announced that when you displayed certain things called “symptoms” you “had a mental illness.” Despite the fact that they made this claim without any scientific justification whatsoever, this claim has stuck. The “symptom picture” model took hold—and now has grabbed us by the throat.

Although this model makes no scientific sense, it is our current standard of care and an extraordinarily profitable cash cow for pharmaceutical companies, researchers, and mental health professionals. My goal for this series is to help you better understand the nature of this problem and the solutions available to you. I hope that you’ll follow this series and tell others about it, especially parents who may be wrestling with these exact issues.

Visit this page to learn more about the series and to learn about the topics that I’ll be discussing. At this page you’ll also find links to 115 previous interviews I conducted with a roster of international experts in the critical psychology, critical psychiatry, and anti-psychiatry ranks. You may find those illuminating as well.


To learn more about this series of interviews please visit this page. To learn more about Dr. Maisel’s workshops, trainings and services please visit this page.To learn more about Dr. Maisel’s guides, singles, and classes please visit this page.

You are reading

Rethinking Mental Health

Your Child's Mind Space

Healthy indwelling series, Part 1: For parents, therapists, and coaches.

What's More Likely to Increase Creativity—Netflix or Zumba?

What Spacebase's experiments tell us about the brain.

Survive Your Difficult Family By Being Calm

Eight Skills for Handling Any Family Situation