|23 February 2004
Edward L. Bernays was a nephew of Sigmund Freud and is known
in the public relations industry as the "Father of Spin".
Between the 1920s and the 1940s, he pioneered many of today's
In his article 'The Doors of Perception: Why Americans Will
Believe Almost Anything', Dr. Tim O'Shea tells us something
about Edward Bernays' methods in drawing from the book 'Trust
Us We're Experts' by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber.
"Bernays learned early on that the most effective way to create
credibility for a product or an image was by "independent third-
For example, if General Motors were to come out and say that
global warming is a hoax thought up by some liberal tree-huggers,
people would suspect GM's motives, since GM's fortune is made by
If however some independent research institute with a very
credible sounding name like the Global Climate Coalition comes
out with a scientific report that says global warming is really
a fiction, people begin to get confused and to have doubts about
the original issue.
So that's exactly what Bernays did. With a policy inspired by
genius, he set up "more institutes and foundations than
Rockefeller and Carnegie combined." (Stauber p 45)
Quietly financed by the industries whose products were being
evaluated, these "independent" research agencies would churn out
"scientific" studies and press materials that could create any
image their handlers wanted. Such front groups are given high-
sounding names like:
Temperature Research Foundation
International Food Information Council
Center for Produce Quality
Tobacco Institute Research Council
The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition
Air Hygiene Foundation
American Council on Science and Health
Industrial Health Federation
Global Climate Coalition
International Food Information Council
Alliance for Better Foods
Sound pretty legit don't they?
As Stauber explains, these organizations and hundreds of others
like them are front groups whose sole mission is to advance the
image of the global corporations who fund them ...
This is accomplished in part by an endless stream of 'press
releases' announcing "breakthrough" research to every radio
station and newspaper in the country. .. Many of these canned
reports read like straight news, and indeed are purposely molded
in the news format.
This saves journalists the trouble of researching the subjects on
their own, especially on topics about which they know very
little. Entire sections of the release or in the case of video
news releases, the whole thing can be just lifted intact, with no
editing, given the byline of the reporter or newspaper or TV
station - and voila! Instant news - copy and paste. Written by
corporate PR firms.
Does this really happen? Every single day, since the 1920s when
the idea of the News Release was first invented by Ivy Lee.
(Stauber, p 22) Sometimes as many as half the stories appearing
in an issue of the Wall St. Journal are based solely on such PR
These types of stories are mixed right in with legitimately
researched stories. Unless you have done the research yourself,
you won't be able to tell the difference."
Read the complete article here:
You may also find this related article of interest:
How the Media Deceives You About Health Issues
In the matter of the selling of 'ADHD', this is the opening of an
article entitled 'Is your ADHD support group a front organization
for the pharmaceutical industry?' by Richard DeGrandpre.
"On May 18, 1999, the New York Times reported that "social phobia
ranks today as the third most prevalent psychiatric disorder in
the United States ... affecting an estimated 19 million
Americans, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of
America. Many are too bashful even to talk to therapists."
In the same week, the Boston Globe reported that "Epidemiological
studies have found that acute social anxiety is the third most
common psychiatric disorder in the United States ... affecting up
to 13 percent of Americans. Jerilyn Ross, president of the
Anxiety Disorders Association of America ... said she hopes a
publicity blitz planned by ... SmithKline Beecham will raise
awareness of social anxiety disorder and lead more people to seek
help, which could include psychotherapy instead of drugs."
Why were the Boston Globe and the New York Times both writing
about "social phobia disorder" in the same week, and why would a
drug company spend its money to "raise awareness" of a mental-
health disorder? The answer: the FDA had just approved a drug for
the treatment of social phobia. As the Boston Globe put it,
SmithKline makes the drug Paxil, which was "the first drug
approved by the FDA specifically for treating social anxiety
Notice how, in the media reports just quoted, the drug company
isn't claiming that the social-phobia "disorder" affects millions
of people. Rather, it's an organization with a professional-
sounding name, and one that appears to have nothing to do with
the pharmaceutical industry: the Anxiety Disorders Association of
America. If these claims were presented by a drug company they
would likely appear to the public and news organizations as self-
serving and biased. If, however, they are presented to the public
by an organization that seems only to have the health and welfare
of the public in mind, they seem objective and credible. This is
certainly what drug-company executives believe, which is why they
go great lengths to create and influence what are essentially
front organizations for the pharmaceutical industry.
Consider the case at hand. The Anxiety Disorders Association of
America, ADAA, receives so much funding and influence from the
industry that it is misleading to suggest that they are not an
intricate part of it. The Boston Globe and the New York Times
both received much of their information for the above reports
from an ADAA press release, treating it in just the manner that
the industry would want: as objective information from an
independent organization. As a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times
makes clear, however, the ADAA is neither neutral nor objective:
"I recently received a press release from the Anxiety Disorders
Association of America. It said if your child is afraid of going
back to school, maybe it's not normal, maybe your child needs
drugs. The release says three children in every class have an
anxiety disorder. The solution? Well, enclosed are details of a
drug company-sponsored workshop showing the wonders of Paxil and
With funding coming directly from Paxil's maker, ADAA did much
more than just send out press releases. The summer of '99 also
saw a barrage of advertising by ADAA, which asked people to
imagine being "allergic to people." A poster they used had a
picture of a young man staring despondently into a coffee cup
while a happy "social" couple sat at the other end of the table.
The implication is made clear by the caption, which reads: "Over
10 million Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder... The
good news is that this disorder is treatable." In addition to a
tollfree number and a Web site being listed, the poster indicates
support, not from a drug company, as it should, but from three
nonprofit groups: the American Psychiatric Association, the
Anxiety Disorders Association of America, and Freedom From Fear,
which together form what is called the Social Anxiety Disorder
Coalition. Like ADAA, these two organizations receive substantial
funding from the pharmaceutical industry. "Funding for their
public awareness campaign comes from a far less visible partner:
SmithKline Beecham, the pharmaceutical giant whose flagship
antidepressant [is] Paxil," writes Michelle Cottle in The New
Republic (August 2, 1999). Cottle also notes that the APA's
social phobia website is paid for by SmithKline, as is ADAA's,
and that, on July 19, 1999, ADAA would hold a press conference
to announce the findings of a study, paid for by various drug
makers, suggesting a huge impact of anxiety disorders on
America's productivity. Behind all this is ADAA's corporate
advisory board, which is made up of representatives from
different drug companies.
The ties between drug companies and organizations like ADAA do
not end with public ads and education. As front organizations,
they also direct the public toward support groups that share
their two-pronged bias, that the disorder in question is really a
legitimate medical disorder in need of medical treatment, and
that this treatment will most likely involve psychiatric drugs.
The support group is in many ways the most important step in the
process of getting people on the latest pharmaceuticals, since it
is the support group that will come into direct contact with the
individual or parent."
Further into this article, the author then deals specifically
with 'the mother of all ADHD support groups' - CHADD.
"CH.A.D.D., which somehow translates into "Children and Adults
with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder," asserts on its
website (www.chadd.com) the following:
With over 22,000 members in 225 affiliates nationwide, CHADD is
the nation's leading non-profit organization serving individuals
with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD). Through
collaborative leadership, advocacy, research, education and
support, CHADD provides science-based, evidence-based information
about AD/HD to parents, educators, professionals, the media and
the general public.
Clearly CHADD is a powerful organization, and one that is likely
to attract many if not most American parents confronting a
possible diagnoses of "ADHD" in their child. What is not clear,
especially to those who stray into the CHADD web of "support," is
what the organization is really about. Founded in 1987, CHADD,
which estimates that 10 to 20 percent of schoolchildren have ADHD,
organizes speaking events, publishes a monthly newsletter
(Chadderbox) and a glossy magazine (Attention!), and operates an
impressive website. CHADD claims that "No matter how many sources
of information are out there, CHADD is the one you can trust."
This trust depends greatly, however, on what you want from CHADD.
If you want an organization that has longstanding ties with
pharmaceutical interests, and that selectively recruits only
scientists proven to be pro-drug to their advisory board, than
you can trust CHADD; if you want an organization that
unquestioningly embraces ADHD as an inherited disease for which
parenting and culture play no role, either as causes or
solutions, than you can trust CHADD; and if you want an
organization that acts as a powerful lobby for the growing
population of ADHD parents and children, than you can trust CHADD.
If, however, you want an honest organization that acknowledges
its pro-drug and pro-disease agenda to its prospective (and
current) members, than you cannot trust CHADD; and if you want an
organization that carefully considers, or even considers at all,
the findings of scientific and epidemiological studies showing
that ADHD has strong social and cultural inputs, that
psychostimulants may very well cause brain damage, and that
psychostimulant drugs work more for parents and teachers than they
do for children, then again you cannot trust CHADD."
Read the complete article 'Is your ADHD support group a front
organization for the pharmaceutical industry?' right here:
Others are somewhat harsher in their criticism of CHADD and the
information it provides to the public. This article really puts
the boot in:
CHILDREN AND ADULTS WITH ATTENTION-DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY
DISORDER: WHAT THEY AREN'T TELLING YOU
In 2002, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave
$750,000 to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/
Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a non-profit, 501(c)(3) group, to
act as a national resource center on Attention- Deficit/
Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Meanwhile, the United Nations
International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) have severely criticized CHADD's
financial ties to the manufacturers of ADHD drugs heavily
promoted by CHADD.
More than half of the drugs promoted and validated on the CHADD
website are manufactured by companies that fund CHADD. CHADD also
opposes any legislation that would prevent parents from being
coerced into placing their child on such potentially dangerous
drugs. Indeed, it attacks parents who grieve the death of their
children by psychiatric drug treatment - or parents who have been
terrorized with charges of medical neglect for choosing not to
drug their child. CHADD makes a mockery of their pain, labeling
them "isolated" cases whereas the truth is hundreds of parents
have complained about such abuse.
Parents accuse CHADD of using taxpayers' money to provide biased
information, thereby denying parents access to truly "informed
consent" from a government-funded "resource center."
While CHADD accuses its critics of "tossing around untruths and
inaccuracies," "misinformation" and "junk science," a close
study of its website reveals CHADD to be guilty of these.
Consider the following:
In 1987, members of the American Psychiatric Association voted
ADHD to be a mental disorder for inclusion in its Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The same year,
CHADD was formed.
Within a year, 500,000 American children were said to suffer from
this "disorder." After a financial boost from pharmaceutical
interests, the number of CHADD chapters exploded from 29 to 500.
In 1992, CHADD received $50,000 from pharmaceutical interests. By
1994, this had reached $400,000 and by 2001, $700,000.
Elliot S. Valenstein, Ph.D., author of Blaming the Brain, says
such funding "enables the groups to increase newspaper and
magazine advertising and the information they distribute by other
means. Typically, patient advocacy material has a pro-drug bias,
encouraging people to seek medication often by exaggerating the
effectiveness of drugs and the scientific foundation on which
In 1995, the INCB expressed concern about non-governmental
organizations and parental associations in the U.S. actively
lobbying for the medical use of Ritalin for children with ADHD.
It said that financial transfers from a pharmaceutical company
with the purpose to promote sales of an internationally
controlled substance could be identified as hidden advertisement
and in contradiction of the provisions of the 1971 Psychotropic
In 1995, the DEA issued a methylphenidate (Ritalin) background
paper, stating: "The DEA has concerns that the depth of the
financial relationship with the manufacturer was not well known
to the public, including CHADD members, that have relied upon
CHADD for guidance as it pertains to the diagnosis and treatment
of their children."
Misleading Parents and Children and its Members:
On September 26, 2002, the CEO of CHADD, E. Clarke Ross,
testified before Congress that the group's financial relationship
to ADHD drug manufacturers is "on our website. It's in our IRS
returns." This information is not obvious on the "National
Resource" website; it is in CHADD's annual report. Unless someone
knew where to look, it would not be easily found.
CHADD claims that ADHD is a "neurobiological" disorder, despite
the fact that there is no science-based evidence to support this.
CHADD's website fails to inform people of the considerable
difference in medical opinion regarding the validity of ADHD.
Pediatric neurologist Fred A. Baughman, Jr., who has discovered
real physical diseases, says that by claiming ADHD is a "disease"
or "neurobiological" it makes it so "real and terrible that the
parent who dares not to believe in it, or allow its treatment, is
likely to be deemed negligent, and no longer deserving of custody
of their child." He adds, "This is a perversion of science and
medicine and is a lie."
Elliot S. Valenstein, Ph.D., says that patients "may be
encouraged when they are told that the prescribed drugs will do
for them just what insulin does for a diabetic, but the analogy
is certainly not justified. What is much clearer, however, is
that there are a number of groups that benefit from promoting the
CHADD defers to the 1999 Surgeon General's Report on Mental
Health when citing ADHD as a neurobiological disorder, yet the
Surgeon General's report, the DSM-IV, the National Institutes of
Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Practice
Guideline for ADHD, do not confirm or state that ADHD is a
"neurobiological" disorder. In fact, the Surgeon General provided
no conclusive evidence to support this theory - a fact CHADD
neglects to mention on its website.
When pressed recently by Insight Magazine on the scientific
validity of ADHD, E. Clarke Ross finally responded, "It really is
a matter of belief."
The DEA warned that most of the material prepared for public
consumption by groups like CHADD does not address the potential
or actual abuse of Ritalin. It is portrayed as a benign, mild
substance that's not associated with abuse or any serious side
effects. In fact, Ritalin and several other ADHD drugs are
Schedule II drugs in the same category as cocaine and morphine.
In a token gesture to balanced coverage, CHADD devotes about four
pages to alternative interventions, while using 10 pages to
espouse the virtues of psychotropic drugs. The known and
documented side effects of these drugs are downplayed as "mild
and typically short-term," contradicting medical and scientific
reports showing serious side effects, including death.
Under the "Frequently Asked Questions" section of CHADD's
website, alternatives are referred to as "controversial
interventions." It states that "many people turn to treatments
which claim to be useful, but which have not been shown to be
truly effective in accord with standards held by the scientific
community." Here again CHADD does what it accuses others of,
using "a tactic designed to startle and scare the American
public," and one motivated by pharmaceutical vested interests.
No one can deny that many children today are faced with very real
problems, including controlling their behavior, focusing and
learning. But to propagandize that this is a brain disease over
which a child has no control, for which the government must
provide unlimited funds to "treat" through our schools, is
fabrication and deceit. There is considerable information that
can be provided to both parents and CHADD members that CHADD
deliberately chooses not to provide, pushing instead a drug and
behavioral approach. This does not constitute informed consent,
is therefore discriminatory, a violation of the trust implicit in
federal funding, and a failure in their accountability to the
government and the American people."
I mentioned a little bit about CHADD in my 'Parental Intelligence
Report on ADHD' of May 2003. As I said then - and this applies to
everything I present in The Candlelight Project - it's up to you
to make up your own mind about these things. I'm simply passing
on what I discover, albeit often accompanied by my opinion of it
(which is just that).
My personal experience of CHADD is limited to a few visits to
their website in the early weeks of my exploration of so-called
'ADHD' (during which I found no overt reference to its
relationship with pharmaceutical interests) and to an exchange of
emails with its then Deputy Director, whose response to my
request for more detailed information about the nature of 'ADHD'
was, I have to say, highly unsatisfactory.