Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson shares his feelings about parents, doctors & Big Pharma dosing our children with psychiatric drugs.
Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of British metal giants Iron Maiden, has a reputation for being very outspoken and opinionated. Now he is speaking out against Big Pharma giving psychiatric drugs to adolescents.
As Dickinson said on the Berlin Star FM Heavy Hour podcast, he is “not a believer” in big pharma giving psychiatric medications to children. And he recalled the time when a doctor wanted to put his son Austin on Ritalin.
“My oldest son, Austin, was diagnosed with… A doctor came along when he was five years old and said, ‘Oh, yes, we should give him some Ritalin,'” referring to the drug used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). “And I was just, like, ‘I won’t give drugs to my son. What is this? He’s five years old. He looks pretty normal to me. He runs around a lot; that’s what five-year-olds do.’ Anyway, fast forward a few years to when he was 11 or 12, and a lot of his friends in a school for dyslexics, and they were really great kids. And he said, ‘Any chance I could get into that school?’
I said, ‘Austin, you’re not dyslexic.’ He went, ‘Oh. I’m not very good at sports.’ He said, ‘Could I still say I’m dyspraxic? Then I could get in.’ So we sent him to this guy who was going to assess him. Anyway, the guy said, ‘Who said this kid has ADHD?’ Bruce said, ‘He doesn’t have ADHD. He was bored.’ He said, ‘He’s 11 years old. He has a verbal reasoning age of 21.’ I went, ‘Ooh. That’s way, way, way, way high.’ He said, ‘Everything else is okay, normal, but verbal reasoning is, wow!’ I said, ‘How is that possible? I’ve never seen him read a book.’ And he said, ‘Well, he does.’ And so for his A Levels at school, I made him — he hated me for it — I made him do English literature, because I just wanted to give him structure. The English literature would force him to give structure to his ability. And his writing is extraordinary. And musically he’s extraordinary as well; he’s doing great from that angle.”
“I was just, like, ‘I won’t give drugs to my son. What is this? He’s five years old,'” Dickinson explained. “He looks pretty normal to me. He runs around a lot; that’s what five-year-old’s do.”
Dickinson also added that “maybe” psychiatric drugs could be given to children “in extreme cases, but even then, I’m not sure. What the hell did we do before drugs with kids?”
As the father of three children, Dickinson acknowledges that “every family comes with the baggage of the previous family; it inherits it. And so you have to run with that. A certain amount of it is instinct; some of it is learned behavior; some of it is behavior that you might have to unlearn.”
Mental health issues may not be able to be “learned” away as Dickinson suggests, but his stance against prescribing children psychiatric drugs is a matter of dispute among many mental health treatment providers.
One study suggests that children are actually under-prescribed psychiatric medications that could help their ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorders. On the other hand, California had to pass multiple pieces of legislation to stop the growing trend of the over-medicating children in foster care.
The song “Ace’s High” includes a legendary speech from Winston Churchill, who some believe had bipolar disorder.
Bruce Dickinson says, “Churchill would unquestionably have been medicated. And many of the great leaders of the world would have been medicated. People’s brains develop at different stages in their lives, and there’s no cookie-cutter approach to the human brain. It’s terrible what they’re doing to kids. And it’s all because of the drive to categorize and put people in little boxes to make it easy for people.”
Dickinson’s children also steered clear from illicit drugs, thanks to their rock star of a father, who brought them out on the road when they were young.
“What was great for my kids was when they were growing up we took them out on the road. They would be backstage, and there would be some idiot who’d done too much coke sweating profusely, teeth chattering. ‘Daddy, why is that man doing that?’ ‘That’s because he’s on drugs,’ I’d say. ‘Drugs? Are they a bad thing?’ I’d say, ‘Judge for yourself. The best possible antidote for people not to take drugs is to go and see a bunch of people who are completely messed up out of their brains. They got an education in drugs and made good decisions.”