Screening for Mental Illness: The Merger of Eugenics and the Drug Industry

Sharav, Vera Hassner
July 2005
Ethical Human Psychology & Psychiatry;Summer2005, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p111
Academic Journal
The implementation of a recommendation by the President's New Freedom Commission (NFC) to screen the entire United States population--hildren first--for presumed, undetected, mental illness is an ill-conceived policy destined for disastrous consequences. The "pseudoscientific" methods used to screen for mental and behavioral abnormalities are a legacy from the discredited ideology of eugenics. Both eugenics and psychiatry suffer from a common philosophical fallacy that undermines the validity of their theories and prescriptions. Both are wed to a faith-based ideological assumption that mental and behavior manifestations are biologically determined, and are, therefore, ameliorated by biological interventions. NFC promoted the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a "model" medication treatment plan. The impact of TMAP is evident in the skyrocketing increase in psychotropic drug prescriptions for children and adults, and in the disproportionate expenditure for psychotropic drugs. The New Freedom Commission's screening for mental illness initiative is, therefore, but the first step toward prescribing drugs. The escalating expenditure for psychotropic drugs since TMAP leaves little doubt about who the beneficiaries of TMAP are. Screening for mental illness will increase their use.


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