An old article but a good one. This stuff is pretty horrifying. Marketing invented “diseases” to sell dangerous drugs—all in the name of profit.
The Atlantic gives a very illuminating look at the fundamental breakdown of the subject of psychiatry and its laughable DSM:
On May 22, the American Psychiatric Association will release the fifth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5. It classifies psychiatric diagnoses and the criteria required to meet them. Gary Greenberg, one of the book’s biggest critics, claims these disorders aren’t real — they’re invented. Author of Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease and contributor to The New Yorker, Mother Jones, The New York Times and other publications, Greenberg is a practicing psychotherapist. The Book of Woe: The Making of the DSM-5 and the Unmaking of Psychiatry is his exposé of the business behind the creation of the new manual.
Can you talk about how the first DSM, published in 1952, was conceived?
One of the reasons was to count people. The first collections of diagnoses were called the “statistical manual,” not the “diagnostic and statistical manual.” There were also parochial reasons. As the rest of medicine became oriented toward diagnosing illnesses by seeking their causes in biochemistry, in the late 19th, early 20th century, the claim to authority of any medical specialty hinged on its ability to diagnose suffering. To say “okay, your sore throat and fever are strep throat.” But psychiatry was unable to do that and was in danger of being discredited. As early as 1886, prominent psychiatrists worried that they would be left behind, or written out of the medical kingdom. For reasons not entirely clear, the government turned to the American Medico-Psychological Association, (later the American Psychiatric Association, or APA), to tell them how many mentally ill people were out there. The APA used it as an opportunity to establish its credibility.
How has the DSM evolved to become seen as the “authoritative medical guide to all of mental suffering”?
The credibility of psychiatry is tied to its nosology. What developed over time is the number of diagnoses, and, more importantly, the method by which diagnostic categories are established.
You’re a practicing psychotherapist. Can you define “mental illness”?
No. Nobody can.
The DSM lists “disorders.” How are disorders different from diseases or illnesses?
The difference between disease and disorder is an attempt on the part of psychiatry to evade the problem they’re presented with. Disease is a kind of suffering that’s caused by a bio-chemical pathology. Something that can be discovered and targeted with magic bullets. But in many cases our suffering can’t be diagnosed that way. Psychiatry was in a crisis in the 1970s over questions like “what is a mental illness?” and “what mental illnesses exist?” One of the first things they did was try to finesse the problem that no mental illness met that definition of a disease. They had yet to identify what the pathogen was, what the disease process consisted of, and how to cure it. So they created a category called “disorder.” It’s a rhetorical device. It’s saying “it’s sort of like a disease,” but not calling it a disease because all the other doctors will jump down their throats asking, “where’s your blood test?” The reason there haven’t been any sensible findings tying genetics or any kind of molecular biology to DSM categories is not only that our instruments are crude, but also that the DSM categories aren’t real. It’s like using a map of the moon to find your way around Russia.
So would you say that these terms — disorder, disease, illness — are just different names for the same concept?
I would. Psychiatrists wouldn’t. Well, psychiatrists would say it sometimes but wouldn’t say it other times. They will say it when it comes to claiming that they belong squarely in the field of medicine. But if you press them and ask if these disorders exist in the same way that cancer and diabetes exist, they’ll say no. It’s not that there are no biological correlates to any mental suffering — of course there are. But the specificity and sensitivity that we require to distinguish pneumonia from lung cancer, even that kind of distinction, it just doesn’t exist.
What are the most common misconceptions about the scientific nature of diseases such as depression?
I guarantee you that in the course of our conversation a doctor is telling a patient, “you have a chemical imbalance — that’s why you’re depressed. Take Prozac.” Despite the fact that every doctor who knows anything knows that there is no biochemical imbalance that causes depression, and most doctors understand that a diagnosis of depression doesn’t really tell you anything other than what you already knew, that doesn’t stop them from saying it.
Research on the brain is still in its infancy. Do you think we will ever know enough about the brain to prove that certain psychiatric diagnoses have a direct biological cause?
I’d be willing to bet everything that whenever it happens, whatever we find out about the brain and mental suffering is not going to map, at all, onto the DSM categories. Let’s say we can elucidate the entire structure of a given kind of mental suffering. We’re not going to be able to say, “here’s Major Depressive Disorder, and here’s what it looks like in the brain.” If there’s any success, it will involve a whole remapping of the terrain of mental disorders. And psychiatry may very likely take very small findings and trump them up into something they aren’t. But the most honest outcome would be to go back to the old days and just look at symptoms. They might get good at elucidating the circuitry of fear or anxiety or these kinds of things.
What is the difference between a disorder and distress that is a normal occurrence in our lives?
That distinction is made by a clinician, whether it’s a family doctor or a psychiatrist or whoever. But nobody knows exactly how to make that determination. There are no established thresholds. Even if you could imagine how that would work, it would have to be a subjective analysis of the extent to which the person’s functioning is impaired. How are you going to measure that? Doctors are supposed to measure “clinical significance.” What’s that? For many people, the fact that someone shows up in their office is clinical significance. I’m not going to say that’s wrong, but it’s not scientific. And there’s a conflict of interest — if I don’t determine clinical significance, I don’t get paid.
You say one of the issues with taking these categories too seriously is that it eliminates the moral aspect behind certain behaviors.
It’s our characteristic way of chalking up what we think is “evil” to what we think of as mental disease. Our gut reaction is always “that was really sick. Those guys in Boston — they were really sick.” But how do we know? Unless you decide in advance that anybody who does anything heinous is sick. This society is very wary of using the term “evil.” But I firmly believe there is such a thing as evil. It’s circular — thinking that anybody who commits suicide is depressed; anybody who goes into a school with a loaded gun and shoots people must have a mental illness. There’s a certain kind of comfort in that, but there’s no indication for it, particularly because we don’t know what mental illness is.
How do diagnoses affect people?
One of the overlooked ways is that diagnoses can change people’s lives for the better. Asperger’s Syndrome is probably the most successful psychiatric disorder ever in this respect. It created a community. It gave people whose primary symptom was isolation a way to belong and provided resources to those who were diagnosed. It can also have bad effects. A depression diagnosis gives people an identity formed around having a disease that we know doesn’t exist, and how that can divert resources from where they might be needed. Imagine how much less depression there would be if people weren’t worried about tuition, health care, and retirement. Those are all things that aren’t provided by Prozac.
What are the dangers of over-diagnosing a population? Are false positives worse than false negatives?
I believe that false positives, people who are diagnosed because there’s a diagnosis for them and they show up in a doctor’s office, is a much bigger problem. It changes people’s identities, it encourages the use of drugs whose side effects and long-term effects are unknown, and main effects are poorly understood.
In 1850, doctor Samuel Cartwright invented “drapetomania” — a disease causing slaves to run away. How do social and historical context affect our understanding of mental illness?
Cartwright was a slaveholder’s doctor from New Orleans — he believed in the inferiority of what he called the “African races.” He believed that abolitionism was based on a misguided notion that black people and white people were essentially equal. He thought that the desire for freedom in a black person was pathological because black people were born to be enslaved. To aspire to freedom was a betrayal of their nature, a disease. He invented “drapetomania,” the impulse to run away from slavery. Assuming there wasn’t horrible cruelty being inflicted on the slaves, they were “sick.” He came up with a few diagnostic criteria and presented it to his colleagues.
So we corrected our notion of what counts as a “disease.” Is there a modern equivalent?
Homosexuality is the most obvious example. Until 1973, it was listed as a disease. It’s very easy to see what’s wrong with “drapetomania,” but it’s easier to see the balancing act involved in saying homosexuality is or isn’t a disease — how something has to shift in society. The people who called homosexuality a disease weren’t necessarily bigots or homophobes — they were just trying to understand people who wanted to love people of their own sex. Disease is a way to understand difference that includes compassion. What has to shift is the idea that same-sex love is acceptable. Once that idea is there, it doesn’t make sense to call homosexuality a disease.
Who was involved in the creation of the DSM-5?
The American Psychiatric Association owns the DSM. They aren’t only responsible for it: they own it, sell it, and license it. The DSM is created by a group of committees. It’s a bureaucratic process. In place of scientific findings, the DSM uses expert consensus to determine what mental disorders exist and how you can recognize them.Disorders come into the book the same way a law becomes part of the book of statutes. People suggest it, discuss it, and vote on it. Homosexuality was deleted from the DSM by a referendum. A straight up vote: yes or no. It’s not always that explicit, and the votes are not public. In the case of the DSM-5, committee members were forbidden to talk about it, so we’ll never really know what the deliberations were. They all signed non-disclosure agreements.
What are the important changes made in the new DSM, and how will they affect patients?
It’s going to cause a lot of trouble when Asperger’s Syndrome disappears. It may cause some trouble when the bereavement exclusion disappears. That’s a good example of why the APA’s going to be in trouble. It was so unnecessary, so stupid. They’ve made the absurd statement that they know the difference, two weeks after someone’s wife dies, whether that person is “depressed,” or just “in mourning.” Come on! Who are these guys?
The APA released a series of drafts of the DSM-5 before publication. Why?
They solicited public input, to their great credit. But they never said what they were doing with it. They said “we got this number of responses” but not what the responses were. How they influenced the process, if at all. The other problem with the drafts is that they deleted them. The history of how these things developed will be difficult to trace unless you happened to make copies of the website, which was in explicit violation of the APA’s copyright. They also tried to prevent people from using the draft criteria in any kind of academic paper — an unprecedented move. They demanded that anybody who wanted to use the criteria would have to seek and obtain their permission for academic publication. Nobody’s ever done that. There were a couple of high profile, embarrassing studies that were conducted with the draft criteria, and once that happened, the APA asserted copyright over the draft criteria.
The APA considers the DSM-5 a “living document.” What do you think they mean by this?
It’s one of those rhetorical flourishes that, if you dig into it, you realize is a real problem. There’s a difference between a constitution and a book of medical diagnoses. It’s not entirely clear what they mean by “living document,” but it appears that they want to update as evidence comes in. That’s not a bad idea — they don’t want to go through one of these massive, expensive, embarrassing overhauls of the diagnostic manual every five or ten or fifteen years, they want to update as they go. But in the meantime, people are getting diagnosed, drugs are getting developed and prescribed, research is being done, and nobody knows to what extent things will get revised as time goes on. The APA is trying to say it’s always in flux. But if that’s the case, why should we let it have so much power?
Can you talk about that? What does the DSM has power over?
To get an indication from the FDA, a drug company has to tie its drug to a DSM disorder. You can’t just develop a drug for anxiety. You have to develop the drug for Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder. You can’t just ask for special services for a student who is awkward. You have to get special services for a student with autism. In court, mental illnesses come from the DSM. If you want insurance to pay for your therapy, you have to be diagnosed with a mental illness. Whatever future contact you have with the health care system will be affected by the fact that a mental illness is in your dossier. If you call it a living document, what happens to all the people who are diagnosed with Asperger’s when that’s thrown out? Will it be chaotic? Maybe.
Al Frances chaired the task force for the DSM-IV and has become one of the biggest critics of the DSM-5. What do you think of his arguments?
We agree that the DSM does not capture real illnesses, that it’s a set of constructs. We disagree over what that means. He believes that that doesn’t matter to the overall enterprise of psychiatry and its authority to diagnose and treat our mental illnesses. I believe it constitutes a flaw at the foundation of psychiatry. If they don’t have real diseases, they don’t belong in real medicine. Al’s attack is overdone. I think he’s really trying to keep scrutiny off of the whole DSM enterprise. That’s why he’s been so adamant that you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater — he believes that the DSM-IV, for all of its flaws, its still worthwhile. I disagree.
Frances also worries that your criticisms are anti-psychiatry.
It’s the universal paranoia of psychiatry that everybody who disagrees with them is pathological. You can’t disagree with a psychiatrist without getting a diagnosis. I’ve been writing critically about psychiatry for ten years and I’ve always encountered that. Psychiatry is a defensive profession. They have a lot to protect and they know their weakness. To repel criticism in the strongest way possible, from their point of view, you diagnose the critic.
Can you talk about the intersection between psychiatry and psychology? How does the DSM relate to both fields?
Psychiatry’s in charge of the DSM. Psychologists and other mental health professionals use the DSM. But psychiatrists have the power and money. I’m critical of the mental health professions in general, including my own practice. But the APA has appropriated this business to themselves. They guard it jealousy, they protect it with ruthless tactics, and yes, they take a disproportionate amount of the heat for this thing, but it’s their baby. They make hundreds of millions of dollars off of this deal.
More in the source article.
This is an amazing story of persistence and fortitude:
Maryanne Godboldo and Allison Folmar are extraordinary women. Their names may not elicit immediate recognition by the masses but it is because of their belief in the right of parents—not the state—to decide whether to medicate a child, that their struggle will protect thousands of children who otherwise would have become victims of deeply flawed State Child Protective Services policies.
It’s been two years since Detroit mother, Maryanne Godboldo, withstood an armed assault by a SWAT team and a tank, assault weapons and helicopter, accouterments worthy of a Die Hard film, determined to kidnap, by force, her then 13-year old daughter, Ariana. The alleged crime? Godboldo refused to give Ariana harmful psychiatric drugs.
The 55-year old Godboldo, after an hours-long standoff, gave herself up to police, was taken into custody and charged with multiple felony counts.Worse, though, was that 13-year old Ariana was taken into state custody while Godboldo’s case worked its way through the court system.
Godboldo’s attorney, Allison Folmar, firmly believed in Godboldo’s parental rights and never wavered in her support. Much to her credit, Folmar has represented Godboldo pro-bono throughout the judicial proceedings and was pleased when, in August of 2011, all charges were dropped against Godboldo.
But that was just the first hurdle. It wasn’t until five weeks later that Ariana was returned to Godboldo, and then only after three Michigan courts had determined that Godboldo’s refusal to drug her child was completely legal.
In fact, from beginning to end of the Godboldo saga, no part of the assault had been legal. Child Protective Services did not have a legal court order nor warrant to forcibly remove Ariana from her home. Rather, a “writ” was issued to CPS with literally a rubber stamp, with no judge actually reviewing the request.
To make matters worse, in initially agreeing to treat Ariana with the state-recommended Risperidone—an extremely dangerous antipsychotic—Godboldo signed an informed consent document guaranteeing her the right to stop the medication at any time. Despite these assurances and the law behind Godboldo, Child Protective Services moved forward with the assault—a State policy that apparently has been terminated.
Today the Michigan Department of Human Services reports on its website that the reason for Ariana’s removal no longer exists. “Medication – CPS is not responsible for investigating complaints that allege parents are failing or refusing to provide their children with psychotropic medication such as Ritalin.”
“The Michigan DHS website is interesting,” says Folmar, “because this is what Maryanne’s case is all about. The CPS policy at the time of the assault was different. I can’t help but think that the change is a direct result of this litigation.”
It’s anyone’s guess why Michigan DHS has decided to change its CPS investigation policy, but there is enough startling information about the drugging of children within state programs that one can be sure it is none too soon.
For example, according to a 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report reviewing psychotropic drug prescriptions covered by Medicaid in 2008 for Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas, “foster children in each of the five states (Maryland’s data was unreliable) were prescribed psychotropic drugs at higher rates than were non-foster children.”
The GAO report further revealed that “foster children in the five states were prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates 2.7 to 4.5 times higher than were non-foster children in Medicaid in 2008 (most recent data) and the rates were higher in each of the age ranges reviewed.”
Additionally, according to the GAO report, children in foster care across the five states were prescribed five or more psychotropic drugs at higher rates than non-foster care children, exceeded the maximum doses at higher rates than non-foster care children and were given to infants (under 1 year old) at higher rates than non-foster care children.
Given the above data, is it any wonder that Godboldo stood up for her daughter? Unfortunately, though, despite having all charges dismissed against her, the Wayne County prosecutor still is looking to take Godboldo to trial.
“They are continuing to try and put Maryanne in prison,” says Folmar, “for standing up and refusing to let police into her home. We won at the district level and the judge saw the case for what it is… the illegal conduct of police. They had no probable cause and no valid order to enter Maryanne’s home.”
“We need help putting the word out,” says Folmar, “that this case affects everyone. Forcing medication down parents throats and literally the throats of children cannot be tolerated. This is about parents’ rights to be able to protect their children.”
“I think,” says Folmar, “that the continued interest in Maryanne is about them sending a message. They are scrambling for some justification of their wrong-doing.”
“In the end,” says Folmar, “it is a basic human right for parents to choose if they want to medicate their children. When the state steps in and says ‘hey, mom and dad, we know what’s better for your child,’ that’s wrong. There are too many of these cases where the state believes it knows more than the parents. It isn’t good for the kids, it isn’t good for the parents and it is ripping families apart.”
“I’m happy,” says Folmar, “to represent someone like Maryanne. She stood up and said ‘no, I refuse to harm my child.’” With respect to CPS and its heavy hand with medication, “It boggles the mind,” says Folmar, “that they are putting kids on medication that they don’t need and is harmful. Maryanne did the right thing to protect her child.” “How could anyone not support that,” asks Folmar. “Whatever it takes,” says Folmar, “we’ll see this through.”
A little background:
In September 2003 FDA medical reviewer Dr. Andrew D. Mosholder discovered evidence, now generally accepted, that antidepressant drugs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)), including Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor, among many others, could increase the risk of suicidal and violent thoughts in children. That story is explained in detail in my book The Rise of Tyranny. In June 2003, FDA assigned Dr. Mosholder the task of evaluating claims of an association between antidepressants and suicidal behavior in children. Dr. Mosholder found evidence of increased risk of suicidal thoughts principally upon a review of twenty-two pediatric trials, involving 4,250 children. He found “74 of the 2298 children taking antidepressants had a ‘suicide related event’ compared with 34 of the 1952 children taking placebos.” Over one hundred events occurred in the trials that were labeled by the drug company sponsor as “possibly suicide-related,” ranging from hanging and overdose to cutting and stabbing. Forty-seven patients were hospitalized; none completed a suicide attempt.
Mosholder additionally found that only 3 in 15 pediatric depression trials included sufficient evidence of efficacy, raising the question of whether any of these drugs were effective in children. He concluded, overall, that children in the studies who took antidepressants were on average twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts as those on placebo. Mosholder’s findings were leaked to the media. FDA Internal Affairs then began a criminal investigation of Mosholder. FDA punished Mosholder for his findings by ostracizing him and suppressing his work. Mosholder had been among FDA scientists who favored approval of the drugs, having changed his mind on their efficacy only after post-market surveillance and study revealed their dangers.
Since that time, there have been 22 international drug regulatory agency warnings concerning psychiatric drugs begetting mania, hostility, aggression, violence, and homicidal ideation. Ten scientific studies support those findings. As the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and AbleChild report, between 2004 and 2011, there were 12,755 reports to the FDA’s MedWatch system on psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects, including: 1,231 cases of homicidal ideation/homicide; 2,795 cases of mania; and 7,250 cases of aggression. FDA states generally that only 1 to 10% of side effects experienced are ever reported to FDA through the MedWatch system.
And the current question, as it relates to recent shootings:
My firm on behalf of AbleChild has sued the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Connecticut for refusing to release the medical records, autopsy records, and prescription drug histories of Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter. Assessment of that information by experts for AbleChild is critical in determining whether Lanza had been using psychiatric drugs noted for their risk of inducing mania, hostility, aggression, violence, and homicidal ideation. Could it be that this incident and many other acts of seemingly inexplicable genocide and suicide are not the product of mental disease alone but, rather, of drugs that are a causative factor or tipping point in the ultimate acts of violence?
Gathering that information from all sources is critical, yet often medical examiners stand in the way of releasing it to parties that have a legitimate interest in scientifically assessing the matter. Unless scientists and legislators have access to this critical information, public resources will no doubt continue to be spent on broad, prophylactic measures that violate Second Amendment rights when the real solution may lie not in disarmament of America but in removing these drugs from psychiatric treatment, if not entirely removing them, then at least doing so in instances where evidence of aggression is manifest. Recent events, involving mass stabbings, reveal just how beside the mark the effort to remove guns may well be. If indeed psychiatric drugs are a causative factor, then if removal of them from people prone to aggression would (to quote President Obama from the gun control context) “save even one life” then certainly every effort should be undertaken to do that.
There should be legislative hearings held on this subject by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and by corresponding state legislative bodies. Individual members, particularly those whose jurisdictions include areas victimized by mass murders, should demand that the coroners release the medical information and respond directly to members about whether psychiatric drugs may have played a role in these horrific events. At a minimum, the parents of victims of this violence have a right to know, organizations like AbleChild interested in protecting caregivers from the risk of this violence have a right to know, and the American people have a right to know before further legislation is adopted that presumes disarmament of the entire population necessary when a far more targeted approach, aimed at removing a causative factor, could preserve Second Amendment rights and also help safeguard the public.
This whole scene smells of a cover-up and protection of vested interests.
This is an egregious misuse of Hollywood’s power:
Has the motion picture industry become the newest outlet for pharmaceutical product advertising? And as part of that promotion will the viewing audience understand that Seroquel, one of the most powerful mind-altering drugs in psychiatry’s arsenal, has been dubbed the pharmaceutical equivalent of a chemical lobotomy?
The recently released Silver Linings Playbook, for example, in an apparent attempt to legitimize the alleged mental illness bipolar disorder as a medical condition, and also convince the audience that psychiatric medication is the necessary treatment, not only specifically mentions Seroquel but also provides a close up of the actual pill.
While the brief shot of the antipsychotic, Seroquel, is almost subliminal, the fact that the pill is given a close up, clearly revealing the name of the drug, is unmistakably purposeful. In the context of this film, the intent of the shot, of course, is to reinforce that the antipsychotic drug will “treat” the alleged mental disorder and the main character will be “better.”
While all of the psychiatric mind-altering drugs mentioned in the film, such as Lithium, Abilify,Xanax, Effexor, Klonopin and Trazodone carry serious adverse effects, the antipsychotic Seroquel is of particular interest due to the utterly devastating adverse reactions that now are associated with it. And it is these important facts that make up the back-story, but did not make the final cut.
For example, Astra Zeneca, the makers of Seroquelhave paid $1.25 billion in criminal settlements, judgments and civil penalties as a result of federal and state investigations and consumer fraud lawsuits for the company’s “off-label” promotion of the drug and serious medical injury caused by the drug. And the problems surrounding Seroquel have a long sordid history.
Between 1997 and 2012, the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, received nearly 50,000 Adverse Event Reports, AER’s, regarding Seroquel, with 30,000 of them identifying the drug as the primary suspect causing the event. During the same time period, the FDA AER’s reveal that 5,974 or 12% of the events ended in death and 2,583 or 9% of the deaths targeted Seroquel as the primary suspect. While these numbers should be of concern to anyone considering taking the drug, the FDA further acknowledges that the AER’s represent only 1 to 10 percent of the actual adverse events.
Among the adverse effects associated with Seroquelare: diabetes mellitus, excessive weight gain, a number of coronary problems including heart failure or sudden death, hallucinations, psychosis, paranoid reactions, delusions, manic reaction, depersonalization, catatonic reaction , abnormal thinking and dreams and delirium.
Furthermore, seven countries have issued nearly sixty warnings for antipsychotic drugs causing death, heart problems, convulsions, diabetes, birth defects, agitation, mania and psychosis. These warnings are based on nearly eighty studies from a dozen countries showing the harm caused by antipsychotic drugs. Among these is a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry which found that antipsychotic drugs are linked to shrinkage in the brains (brain volume loss) of those who take antipsychotics.
However, as evidenced by the positive portrayal of the drug in the movie, this important consumer information was left on the cutting room floor. The audience does not get the benefit of knowing if the main character was warned by his psychiatrist about the possible serious side effects, or whether, after taking Seroquel, he, like tens of thousands others in the real world, experienced any of the above adverse side effects or brain shrinkage. This is the danger of promoting psychiatric drugs through film.
But happy endings sell tickets so Silver Linings Playbook skips the real-life Seroquel horror stories happening all around us and replaces them with a Hollywood happy ending. As we approach the final scenes of the film, the lead character credits his recovery to taking the drug saying “I have a positive attitude. I’m on medication, I’m in therapy.”
You just can’t buy this kind of advertising…or can you? If advocating psychiatric drug use through film is the newest form of advertising for the pharmaceutical industry, one has to ask if it isn’t time to add a new code to the motion picture rating system…something along the lines of “PD” for “Strong Prescription Drug Content.”
From Dr. Peter Breggin, psychiatrist, on the corruption and outright malevolence of the pharmaceutical industry:
Huge efforts have been made by the pharmaceutical industry to prevent the public and the health professions from knowing that antidepressant drugs can cause violence and suicide.
Joe Wesbecker had threatened his co-workers in the past, but had never been violent. In 1989, Wesbecker was placed on Prozac (fluoxetine). One month later, he became agitated and delusional. Suspecting Prozac as the cause, his psychiatrist stopped the antidepressant. Two days later, with most of the drug remaining in his system, a heavily armed Wesbecker walked into his former place of work in Louisville, Ky., where he killed eight people and wounded many others.
Survivors and families of the deceased sued Eli Lilly for negligence in developing and marketing Prozac, and the case went to trial in 1994. A consortium of lawyers and an Indiana court had appointed me to be medical and scientific expert for more than 100 combined product liability suits against Eli Lilly concerning violence and suicide caused by Prozac. In that role, I became the scientific and medical expert in the Wesbecker case.
The lawyer handling the Wesbecker case died, and when the new attorney took over, he seemed to thwart every attempt I made to help us both prepare for trial. He did not tell me about huge amounts of new information, wouldn’t talk with me on the phone. The night before the trial, he still refused to discuss anything with me, and in frustration, I shoved a carefully prepared series of notecards into his hand, saying, “You must ask me these questions or we’ll lose the trial.”
When I testified the following day, the attorney tried to stifle some of my most telling testimony in support of his case against Eli Lilly. Several jurors voted to find the company negligent, but Lilly won the trial by a 9-3 vote. One more vote against the company, and it would have been a hung jury. Eli Lilly and the major media reported the trial as if it had wholly and forever exonerated Prozac and the company.
Afterward, I couldn’t figure out if the lawyer in the Wesbecker case was incompetent or, as my wife Ginger suspected, he had been bought in advance by Eli Lilly to throw the case. The trial judge, John Potter, later discovered that the trial had indeed been fixed.
Judge Potter threw out the rigged jury trial and changed the result to settled “with prejudice” by the drug company. This time major media failed to cover the incredible turnabout in the case. Although I have written about it extensively in my book “Medication Madness” (2008), the real outcome of the trial to this day remains relatively unknown even among psychiatric and legal experts.
More evidence of the connection between psych drugs and violence:
In 1999, Eric Harris, along with Dylan Klebold, slaughtered students and a faculty member at Columbine High School in Colorado. I was a psychiatric expert in several cases surrounding the Columbine massacre, none of which went to trial. From the medical records, I discovered that Harris had been prescribed the antidepressant Luvox one year earlier, before he became profoundly disturbed. Harris remained on Luvox over the next year, becoming increasingly filled with hate and violence. On autopsy, he had a significant level of Luvox in his bloodstream.
A 16-year-old boy in Manitoba, Canada, abruptly plunged a knife into the chest of one his best friends, killing him. The youngster, with no history of violence or serious mental illness, had been put on Prozac three months before the murder. When his mother told the psychiatrist that Prozac was making her son worse, the doctor increased the dose. Seventeen days later, with no significant provocation, the teenager killed his friend.
Before he committed the massacre in the theater in Aurora, Colo., in 2012, James Holmes was in psychiatric treatment at his university clinic. Given that he was in treatment with a psychiatrist who was worried about his dangerousness, it is almost certain that Holmes was either taking psychiatric drugs or in withdrawal from them at the time he committed murder.
We do not know if the Newtown shooter, Adam Lanza, was taking psychiatric medication at the time of the shootings, although a Dec. 14 Washington Post article reported that a family friend said “he was on medication.” There are many suggestions that this socially withdrawn individual had been psychiatrically diagnosed and treated.
Notice that all five individuals (Wesbecker, Harris, Holmes, Lanza, and the Canadian teenager) were already under psychiatric care shortly before or when they committed violence. In addition, the Virginia Tech shooter was psychiatrically hospitalized a year before he murdered his classmates.
These events confirm that involvement in psychiatric treatment, with its emphasis on prescribing psychoactive drugs, is no protection against violence perpetrators. Instead, in too many cases, psychiatric drugs cause or contribute to horrendous acts of violence. Psychiatry is a cause and not a cure for mass violence, and looking for help from psychiatry will only distract us from seeking genuinely effective solutions.
The issue underlying nearly every school shooting to date, but is somehow still being ignored:
Fact: Despite 22 international drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal ideation, and dozens of high profile shootings/killings tied to psychiatric drug use, there has yet to be a federal investigation on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence.
Fact: At least fourteen recent school shootings were committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 109 wounded and 58 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs.)
Fact: Between 2004 and 2011, there have been over 11,000 reports to the U.S. FDA’s MedWatch system of psychiatric drug side effects related to violence. These include 300 cases of homicide, nearly 3,000 cases of mania and over 7,000 cases of aggression. Note: By the FDA’s own admission, only 1-10% of side effects are ever reported to the FDA, so the actual number of side effects occurring are most certainly higher.
Of the 14 shooters documented to be under the influence of psychiatric drugs, seven were seeing either a psychiatrist or psychologist. See the list of school shooters on psychiatric drugs here.
School shooters aren’t the only cases commonly found to be under the influence of psychiatric drugs, here is a list of 10 more recent murders and murder-suicides, committed by individuals taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in an additional 44 dead and 22 wounded.
The correlation between psychiatric drugs and acts of violence and homicide is well documented – both by international drug regulatory warnings and studies, as well as by hundreds of cases where high profile acts of violence/mass murder were committed by individuals under the influence of psychiatric drugs.
The New York State Senate recognized this as far back as 2000, introducing a bill which would “require police to report to the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), certain crimes and suicides committed by persons using psychotropic drugs,” citing “a large body of scientific research establishing a connection between violence and suicide and the use of psychotropic drugs.”
Unfortunately that bill stalled out in the finance committee. By reviewing the international drug regulatory warnings, studies, and adverse reaction reports submitted to the US FDA below, it is evident that the reintroduction of the New York bill is needed on a federal level in order to determine just how many crimes and acts of violence are being committed by individuals under the influence of drugs documented to induce violence, mania, psychosis, aggression, hostility and homicide.
As the world’s leading mental health watchdog, CCHR has for decades investigated hundreds of acts of senseless violence, working alongside investigative reporters, law enforcement, as well as legislative hearings, such as those held in Colorado following the 1999 Columbine massacre (ringleader Eric Harris was found to be under the influence of the antidepressant Luvox, Dylan Klebold’s autopsy reports were never unsealed).
And while there is never one simple explanation for what drives a human being to commit such unspeakable acts, all too often one common denominator has surfaced in hundreds of cases—prescribed psychiatric drugs which are documented to cause mania, psychosis, violence, suicide and in some cases, homicidal ideation. It is an injustice that the general public are not being informed about the well documented links between psychiatric drugs and violence, and so once again we present the facts:
There have been 22 international drug regulatory warnings issued on psychiatric drugs causing violence, mania, hostility, aggression, psychosis, and other violent type reactions. These warnings have been issued in the United States, European Union, Japan, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
Nearly every mass school shooting has involved a minor under the influence of psychiatric drugs, as well as many other highly cited cases, an example of which we have listed below.
In determining what would prompt a person to commit such brutal and senseless crimes, the press must ask the right questions, including: What, if any, prescribed psychotropic drugs the perpetrator may have been on (or in withdrawal from).
More alarming facts in the source article.
What the “science” of psychiatry is doing to the U.S. military:
According to recent data released by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), in the first 155 days of this year, 154 soldiers committed suicide—about one per day – compared to the 139 soldiers who died in combat in the same period. This is an incredible 18 percent increase from the previous year and an unbelievable 25 percent increase from the year before.
More disturbing, though, is that the increased suicides are occurring at a time when, with the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, U.S. combat forces are at significantly reduced numbers and, according to the DoD data, nearly one-third of the suicides in the military occurred among those who had never seen combat duty.
From 2001 to 2009, the Army’s suicide rate increased more than 150 percent while orders for psychiatric drugs rose 76 percent over the same period and according to Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, mental health disorders were the leading cause of hospitalization of active-duty service members in 2007, 2009 and 2011, with nearly $2 billion being spent on psychiatric drugs since 2001.
Despite the enormous increase in expenditures for psychiatric drugs and the growing number of mental health professionals recruited to care for the troops, “mental illness” remains the leading cause of hospitalization for active-duty troops. With so many resources being thrown at this life or death issue, both human and financial, why isn’t anyone getting better? More to the point, why are the troops taking their lives at record levels?
Dr. Bart Billings, Ph.D., a retired Army Colonel and former military psychologist and founder and director of the military-wide Human Assistance Rapid Response Team (HARRT) program, has no doubt that the cause of the suicides among the troops is the direct result of the use of psychiatric drugs.
“I’m 100 percent convinced,” says Dr. Billings, “I’ve seen it and talked to hundreds of these guys. These medications really interfere with the brain’s ability to normalize itself and adjust. It’s hard to make a choice on how to recover if your brain isn’t operating the way it should be.”
“It’s kind of like working with someone who is drunk,” explains Dr. Billings, “you’re not going to get very far. It would be like me spinning you around fifty times and then asking you to walk a straight line. It’s not going to happen. These medications are a chemical lobotomy.”
More astounding, though, is that the FDA’s approved Medication Guide for Seroquel lists “Risk of Suicidal Thoughts or Actions,” as one of Seroquel’s “serious side effects.” Anyone with four stars on the old epaulette might want to add this piece of information to the “good clue” column.
And, while suicidal thoughts and actions are at the top of the list of risks associated withSeroquel, there are others just as frightening, including, but not limited to: hallucinations, worsening mental or mood changes (e.g., aggressiveness, agitation, anxiety, depression, exaggerated feeling of well-being, hostility, irritability and panic attacks).
The atypical antipsychotic drugs, such as Seroquel (which has been implicated in a number of deaths of combat veterans and of late is being referred to as “Serokill”) and Risperdal, showed the most dramatic increase – a jump of more than 200 percent – with annual spending quadrupling between 2001 to 2011 from $4 million to $16 million.
It’s hardly a secret that these powerful mind-altering drugs cause the very symptoms that they are reported to treat, as the psychiatric drugs now being prescribed to soldiers long have been scrutinized for their possible serious adverse reactions and has been public record for nearly a decade.
This is an enlightening article on how corrupt the current drug approval and marketing system is. Some highlights:
Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques that are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don’t like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug’s true effects. Regulators see most of the trial data, but only from early on in a drug’s life, and even then they don’t give this data to doctors or patients, or even to other parts of government. This distorted evidence is then communicated and applied in a distorted fashion.
Because researchers are free to bury any result they please, patients are exposed to harm on a staggering scale throughout the whole of medicine. Doctors can have no idea about the true effects of the treatments they give. Does this drug really work best, or have I simply been deprived of half the data? No one can tell. Is this expensive drug worth the money, or has the data simply been massaged? No one can tell. Will this drug kill patients? Is there any evidence that it’s dangerous? No one can tell. This is a bizarre situation to arise in medicine, a discipline in which everything is supposed to be based on evidence.