Kai von Klitzing in conversation with Julius Stucke

Child and adolescent psychiatry: rich country, too many neglected children. (picture alliance / dpa / Michael Reichel)

Well-known child psychiatrist Michael Winterhoff is said to have treated children with controversial drugs. His theses on tyrannical children have received very critical commentary in the professional world, but again and again in the media. Why?

According to research by WDR and Süddeutscher Zeitung, famous Bonn child psychiatrist Michael Winterhoff has treated dozens of children, most of whom lived in child welfare facilities, with controversial drugs for long periods of time.

“According to statements from former Winterhoff patients, they must have taken the funds for years, in one case it was even over ten years. Apparently the funds were also used in institutions to calm the children – this that Winterhoff denies “, writes the Südddeutsche Zeitung. The latter said he “deliberately did not seek sedation” with the drug. The funds should have made it possible for children and adolescents to be available for therapeutic measures.

Winterhoff is not just any psychiatrist, he has written bestsellers, has been a guest on radio and television often, and thus made himself known in public. He also had his say in Deutschlandfunk Kultur. The Family Ministries of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia have now announced that his treatment methods need to be fully investigated.

A rich country with abandoned children

Renowned child and adolescent psychiatrist Kai von Klitzing was “always amazed” why Winterhoff was so prominent in the media. Winterhoff’s theses are popular science, explains the director of the Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics of Children and Adolescents at the University Hospital Leipzig. According to this, children would become tyrants if they did not know enough boundaries through their guardians. They then got stuck in the early stages of narcissism and intimidated the adults.

Von Klitzing considers “the image of the tyrant child” to be “dangerous”. Germany is a rich country, and yet between 10 and 20% of children are neglected, he criticizes. There has been a very critical examination of Winterhoff’s thinking in science, but these positions have hardly been echoed in the media. Von Klitzing explains the great interest in Winterhoff with a “collective sense of guilt”:

Serious risks to life as a whole

“I think we have a collective sense of guilt towards our children, and rightly so. We do not even manage to enshrine children’s rights in the Basic Law. In a wealthy society, we have a mass of children who were neglected in infancy. We know that these children are exposed to the most serious risks their entire lives. This makes us feel guilty of course. And if we suddenly reinterpret that and say kids are bullies, then that’s fine. Because: So we have to fight. It’s a very convenient thesis that we like to hear.


more on the subject

Michael Winterhoff vs. Heinrich Brinker – Will open classes block the future of schoolchildren?
(Deutschlandfunk, culture of conflict, December 7, 2019)

Michael Winterhoff: “Germany stunned” – the compatibility with the school system
(Deutschlandfunk Kultur, lecture, July 6, 2019)

Michael Winterhoff: “Stunned Germany” – the sound of the apocalypse
(Deutschlandfunk Kultur, reading, 06.06.2019)

Psychiatrist Winterhoff on the educational system – “18 years old with the social maturity of a small child”
(Deutschlandfunk, Campus & Karriere, June 3, 2019)

Child psychiatrist criticizes education system – children need guidance – also at school
(Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Interview, May 20, 2019)

Punishment and Neglect – How much violence is there in the education of children?
(Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Wortwechsel, April 26, 2019)

Child psychiatrist Michael Winterhoff – Let the children have their childhood
(Deutschlandfunk Kultur, conversation, September 5, 2018)

Child psychiatrist on behavior problems – why parents and children should regain their inner calm
(Deutschlandfunk Kultur, interview, July 1, 2017)

“Disciplinary educators destroy the love of childhood”
(Deutschlandfunk, interview, March 24, 2009)

Advocacy against obedience education
(Deutschlandfunk Kultur, subject, 02/10/2009)

Psychologist: Children are not partners
(Deutschlandfunk, interview, May 30, 2008)

Child psychiatrist sees disrespect as a warning sign
(Deutschlandfunk Kultur, subject, March 17, 2008)