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Humanist, humorist

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is Australia's "Number One Man" Misleading The Public?

Patrick McGorry. Australia's "Man of the Year"


Last week I reported on the way in which certain factions of psychiatry are guessing the outcome of "mental illness" - it was more of a parody I wrote whereby I used the DeLorean from the movie, Back to the Future' as an analogy. [BACK STORY]

In a strange twist of fate, this morning's 'The Age', a popular Australian newspaper, are running with the headline, 'McGorry 'misleading the public'

McGorry was voted Australian of the year so it could prove difficult in criticising someone who has the backing of friends down under. However, it seems not everyone is convinced of McGorry's apparent ground-breaking work.

Jon Jureidini, an Associate Professor at Adelaide University, has accused McGorry and National Advisory Council on Mental Health former chairman John Mendoza of exaggerating mental healthcare statistics.

It appears that McGorry has laid claim to the assumption that 750,000 young Australians were 'locked out' of care they 'desperately' needed. Jureidini disagrees.

The Age writes:

"He's taken the biggest possible figure you can come up with for people who might have any level of distress or unhappiness, which of course needs to be taken seriously and responded to, but he's assuming they all require … a mental health intervention," said Associate Professor Jureidini, who specialises in child psychiatry.

"It's the way politicians operate. You look at figures and put a spin on it that suits your point of view. I don't think that has a place in scientific conversations about the need for health interventions."

Associate Professor Jureidini said although surveys showed about 750,000 young people experienced an untreated mental disorder at some stage every year, many would have mild and transient disorders that did not need treatment.

McGorry is a founding board member of Headspace, a National Youth Mental Health Foundation. Established in 2006 and funded by the Commonwealth Government of Australia, Headspace offers a range of drug services on its website.

Psychosis Risk Syndrome

This is the DeLorean I spoke of in an earlier post. In essence it predicts the future based on a series of mathematics and, it has to be said, guesswork and ultimately ends up with a child/teenager being diagnosed for something that they haven't got... but they 'may' get in future years.

It's akin to you or I walking into a doctor's surgery and being told we may have gangrene in our left leg, so it has to be chopped off - there's really no better way of explaining it.

It's unknown if Headspace receive any funding from pharmaceutical companies, I'm guessing [hey, if they can guess then I can] that they do. It is, however, known that McGorry has, in the past, received unrestricted research grant support from Eli Lilly, Janssen-Cilag, Bristol Myers Squibb, Astra-Zeneca, Pfizer, and Novartis. McGorry is also a paid consultant for, and has received speaker’s fees from most of these companies.

It's fair to ask if there is more to this than meets the eye. If one can predict the outcome of illness based on a series of algorithms then it could be argued that one can predict a source based on what money is pumped through the doors to promote the pill pushing sponsored DeLorean.

I'm just off to see my doctor. He may give me a magic potion for an illness that he thinks I may catch in the future. I hope he has his abacus to hand.

Further reading HERE and HERE



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