AT News
Archived Issue
Originally emailed 1 October 2002

Bipolar Foundation Warning

The Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation came forth with the below press release last week, warning that children with bipolar disorder are at risk for being misdiagnosed as “attachment disordered” and being exposed to the risks of Attachment Therapy.

As more professionals are becoming of these abusive practices under the name of AT, they are speaking out forcefully against it.

Press Release
September 26, 2002
Contact: Stuart Cox
The Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation
1187 Wilmette Ave., P.M.B. #331
Wilmette, IL 60091
Web site:

Rebirthing, Attachment Disorder Red Flags for Bipolar Disorder in Children,
says Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation

Chicago (September 26, 2002) — Calling it “dangerous and harmful” last week the U.S. Congress passed a resolution introduced by U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) asking all states to enact laws banning a therapeutic technique known as rebirthing - “to reenact the birthing process in a manner that includes restraint and creates a situation in which a patient may suffer physical injury or death.” (H. Con. Res. 435)

Rebirthing came into focus in April 2001 after Candace Newmaker, a 10-year-old North Carolina girl, died as a result of a rebirthing treatment she had received in Evergreen, Colorado a day before her death.

Rebirthing is a controversial technique for treating attachment disorder (failure of children to form developmentally appropriate bonds with their caregivers) and is used as a means of connecting adopted children with their new parents. Rebirthing has not been approved by the American Psychological Association and is already illegal in many states.

“Many children are misdiagnosed with attachment disorder who actually have emerging symptoms of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), which can now be identified and successfully treated in children,” says Martha Hellander executive director of the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF).

Children with bipolar disorder have behavior, when ill, that may include oppositionality and rages, disturbed relationships with family and peers, school refusal due to severe anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts. If untreated, the illness has a mortality rate higher than that of childhood leukemia, according to CABF, and many children may go on to abuse substances if not treated early.

Hellander cautions that “many of these children need medical treatment for a biological brain disorder. Unfortunately any child who is adopted, even into loving homes at birth, is liable to get diagnosed with attachment disorder because the public and many treatment professionals are unfamiliar with early-onset mood disorders in children. We urge anyone with a child showing these behaviors, or who is told their child has attachment disorder, to have their child evaluated by a board-certified child psychiatrist. Many of our more than 6,000 children were originally given the diagnosis of attachment disorder prior to finding proper treatment for their bipolar disorder.”

Many of the suggested treatments for attachment disorder, including rebirthing, are carried out by untrained or unlicensed therapists, adding further to their risk. At least six children, including a 4-year-old Utah girl earlier this month, have died as a result of controversial therapies related to attachment disorder.

CABF is the only national, not-for-profit organization devoted solely to education, support and advocacy for families raising children with bipolar disorder.
CABF’s Web site, receives more than 2,000 visits daily. The interactive Web site offers an extensive library, message boards, chat rooms, a database of doctors, free online support groups, a gallery of children’s art, and more.

Caution: links may have aged since this AT News was first emailed.