Fake psychiatric diagnoses

By Peter C Gøtzsche.

On April fool’s day, 1 April 2006, Ray Moynihan from Sydney published the article, “Scientists find new disease: motivational deficiency disorder,” in the BMJ. The article starts this way:

“Extreme laziness may have a medical basis, say a group of high profile Australian scientists, describing a new condition called motivational deficiency disorder (MoDeD). The condition is claimed to affect up to one in five Australians and is characterised by overwhelming and debilitating apathy. Neuroscientists at the University of Newcastle in Australia say that in severe cases motivational deficiency disorder can be fatal, because the condition reduces the motivation to breathe.”

There is a 4-minute video, which is hilariously funny, about this “new epidemic.”

Some people did not get the irony and asked where they could buy the new drug, “indolebant, a cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist,” against the new psychiatric disorder.

Today, Martin Whitely, also from Australia, has released another parody, this time about ADHD (6 minutes). It is also hilariously funny. When patients tell me they have ADHD, I respond that they can have a dog or a car, but not ADHD, which is just a label, a social construct. See also Whitely’s website, ADHD is BS (BS is an abbreviation for bullshit), and the joint statement about how awful it all is:

“Who says ADHD is BS? We, the psychiatrists, psychologists, medical practitioners, researchers, and others listed below are alarmed at the worldwide drugging of tens of millions of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We know that some of the children labelled ADHD do have real problems and need help. However, we also know that ADHD is an unhelpful, unscientific, vague label and that so-called ‘medications’ do not address these problems and frequently cause significant harm.”

I am sure it will be interesting to follow Whitely’s blog.

I showed the video about motivational deficiency disorder as an introduction to my talk about overdiagnosis and overtreatment when I lectured for over 100 psychiatrists some years ago. They laughed out loud but not when I added that what they had just seen wasn’t far from their everyday practice. I also showed them the video, “Havidol,” the name of a fake drug to be taken by people who want to “Have it all” (1½ minutes). This was also produced by an Australian, Justine Cooper.