Drugging Our Children
How Profiteers Are Pushing Antipsychotics on Our Youngest, and What We Can Do to Stop It
by Sharna Olfman and Brent Dean Robbins, Editors
February 2012, 232pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39683-0
$53, £40, 46€, A72
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39684-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Antipsychotic drug prescriptions for children are skyrocketing, in spite of the fact that they cause irreparable harm to developing brains and bodies and shorten lifespan when used long term. When market forces rather than science drives mental health care, children are placed in grave danger.

This book exposes the skyrocketing rate of antipsychotic drug prescriptions for children, identifies grave dangers when children's mental health care is driven by market forces, describes effective therapeutic care for children typically prescribed antipsychotics, and explains how to navigate a drug-fueled mental health system.

Since 2001, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of antipsychotics to treat children for an ever-expanding list of symptoms. The prescription rate for toddlers, preschoolers, and middle-class children has doubled, while the prescribing rate for low-income children covered by Medicaid has quadrupled. In a majority of cases, these drugs are neither FDA-approved nor justified by research for the children’s conditions.

This book examines the reasons behind the explosion of antipsychotic drug prescriptions for children, spotlighting the historical and cultural factors as well as the role of the pharmaceutical industry in this trend; and discusses the ethical and legal responsibilities and ramifications for non-MDs—psychologists in particular—who work with children treated with antipsychotics.

Contributors explain how the pharmaceutical industry has inserted itself into every step of medical education, rendering objectivity in the scientific understanding, use, and approvals of such drugs impossible. The text describes the relentless marketing behind the drug sales, even going as far as to provide coloring and picture books for children related to the drug at issue. Valuable information about legal recourse that families and therapists can take when their children or patients have been harmed by antipsychotic drugs and alternative approaches to working with children with emotional and behavioral challenges is also provided.


  • A chapter on effective parenting coauthored by a leading parenting expert, Laura Berk
  • Contributions by noted medical journalist Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic
  • Information on legal issues by Harvard-educated lawyer Jim Gottstein
  • Insights from former pharmaceutical industry insider, Gwen Olsen
  • An examination of community approaches to children's mental health care by internationally known psychologist Stuart Shanker
Sharna Olfman is professor of clinical and developmental psychology at Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA, and a clinical psychologist in private practice. She is the editor/author of Praeger's Childhood In America book series. Olfman's published works include The Sexualization of Childhood, Bipolar Children, No Child Left Different, Childhood Lost, and All Work and No Play. She has written and lectured widely on the subjects of children's mental health and parenting.

Brent Dean Robbins, PhD, is associate professor of psychology and director of the psychology program at Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA. He is editor-in-chief of Janus Head: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature; Continental Philosophy; and Phenomenological Psychology, and a recipient of the American Psychological Association's Harmi Carari Early Career Award. Robbins is Member-at-Large and conference coordinator for Division 32 of the American Psychological Association, and also editor of the Division's blog. His published research includes mixed method investigations of emotion, embodiment, and the medicalization of the body in contemporary Western culture, with particular attention to the implications of these findings for the treatment of mental illness.


"The over-use of anti-psychotic drugs with America's children has been one of the leading scandals in mental health for years, and this outstanding volume explores every angle of it, from its history and causes to some solutions in the best interests of children. Parents and professionals alike need to read this book." —Frank Farley, PhD, L.H. Carnell Professor, Temple University, Philadelphia; Former President, American Psychological Association.

"Drugging Our Children is compelling and disturbing. It is a must-read for all health care professionals. This enlightening well-researched volume will help to protect our children from maltreatment and abuse from inappropriate use of medication. I highly recommend it—for parents as well as professionals." —Dr. Alvin Poussaint Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

"Aggressive drug company marketing has promoted the widespread overuse of antipsychotic drugs with potentially harmful side effects. This valuable book provides a powerful pushback." —Dr. Allen Frances, Chair, DSM-IV Task Force, Professor Emeritus, Duke University, School of Medicine

"This is a powerful indictment of the American penchant for prescribing cocktails of dangerous drugs for troubled children instead of dealing with the underlying problems. Anyone who is worried about this nation's children—and we all should be plenty worried—will find the book eye-opening." —Marcia Angell, MD, Senior Lecturer in Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Former Editor-in-Chief, New England Journal of Medicine
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