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Antipsychiatry News Clips


Commentary on current news by
Douglas A. Smith, webmaster of this website

"A new study concludes that America's favorite antidepressants are little better than sugar pills."
The July 15, 2002 Newsweek magazine reports that a new study by University of Connecticut psychologist Irving Kirsch titled "The Emperor's New Drugs" has found that supposedly antidepressant drugs "may have no meaningful pharmacological effect at all."  The article says "Anti-drug zealots have said that for years, but Kirsch is a scientist, and he has data to back his assertion."  By pooling data from 38 studies on six supposedly antidepressant drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Kirsch found "that people who got placebos fared almost as well as those getting real drugs."  Specifically, he found that on the 50 point Hamilton Depression Scale, people getting real drugs improved 10 points, versus 8 points for people getting placebos.  The drugs he studied were Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Serzone, Celexa, and Effexor.  The article quotes clinical psychologist David Antonuccio of the University of Nevada School of Medicine, saying: "One day we may look back and marvel at the stroke of marketing genius that led to calling these medications antidepressants in the first place."  (David Noonan and Geoffrey Cowley, "Prozac vs. Placebos," Newsweek, July 15, 2002, pages 48-49)
      The article doesn't say so, but if someone were to compare so-called antidepressants with a pill that has effects patients can feel physically, such as dizziness, but which also has been proved to have no antidepressant effect (perhaps by giving it to people in a study and telling them it is an antibiotic), the slightly better result from supposedly antidepressant drugs could probably be eliminated, since the neurotoxic "side-effects" of the real drugs convince people the drug they are taking is really doing something.  In fact, people taking the real drug would probably do worse than those taking pills with side-effects but no antidepressant effect because of the real drugs' neurotoxicity. 

Peter D. Kramer, M.D., author of the best selling book Listening to Prozac, admits Prozac isn't so great and that biological theories of depression are "wrong or incomplete."
Dr. Peter D. Kramer, now a clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University, popularized Prozac with his book, Listening to Prozac.  In a letter to the editors of The New York Times appearing on the July 7, 2002 editorials and letters page, he wrote: "[Your article] may give the misimpression that my 1993 book, "Listening to Prozac," claimed that the new antidepressants were miracle drugs.  In fact, I wrote that Prozac was no more, and perhaps less, effective in treating major depression than prior medications.  The book was early to identify Prozac's undesirable effects, including 'burnout' and sexual dysfunction.  I argued that the theories of brain functioning that led to the development of Prozac must be wrong or incomplete."  (Fighting the Darkness in the Mind," The New York Times, July 7, 2002, Section 4, page 8)

Psychosurgery victim wins $7.5 million jury verdict
Probably the most frequent supposed psychiatric "illness" for which psychosurgery is still done is obsessive-compulsive disorder.  "Psyshosurgery" is surgery done on a perfectly healthy brain for the purpose of curing or relieving psychiatric problems or so-called mental illness.  See The Brain Butchery Called Psychosurgery (found on this web site).  According to a report in the June 24-July 1, 2002 issue of The National Law Journal, a woman and her husband did an Internet search for possible treatments for her obsessive-compulsive disorder, which in her case was washing her hands and taking showers frequently.  Through the Cleveland Clinic web page they learned about a type of psychosurgery done at Cleveland Clinic and other hospitals in the U.S.A. (including Massachusetts General Hospital) to cure obsessive-compulsive disorder.  The surgery was done and "left her without control of her limbs or bodily functions."  The article includes no information about how the surgery affected her mental functions.  The patient thereafter won a $7.5 million jury verdict against Cleveland Clinic, which the Clinic is appealing.  (Peter Page, "$7.5 Million - Jury slams Cleveland Clinic," The National Law Journal, June 24-July 1, 2002, page A4)
      This woman's tragic story illustrates that newer, more limited versions of what was once called lobotomy are still being done and how much harm these more limited 21st Century psychosurgeries can do.

Jury awards and Oregon appellate courts uphold $22 million judgment against drug manufacturer because it "committed fraud" when it "withheld or misrepresented to the FDA information about the problems" with antibiotic it sells
The Oregon Supreme Court let stand a $22.5 million punitive judgment awarded to a doctor who said a drug manufacturing company's "failure to warn about possible toxic antibiotic interactions with an asthma medication" harmed him as well as his patient.  The Oregon Court of Appeals had earlier upheld the award because "The jury specifically found by clear and convincing evidence that Key [Pharmaceuticals, Inc.] knowingly withheld information or misrepresented information concerning toxicity problems associated with Theo-Dur."  (Margaret Cronin Fisk, "Doctor's $22 million award stands against drug co.," The National Law Journal, June 24-July 1, 2002, page A6)
      This verdict illustrates the fact that we cannot rely on drug manufacturers or the FDA to protect us from harmful drugs - including but not limited to psychiatric drugs.
      It also illustrates the most important reason for recent efforts to get "tort reform" laws enacted: Large jury verdicts cut deeply into the profits of large corporations who hurt people with harmful products and can threaten them with bankruptcy.  The threat of lawsuits is the biggest deterrent we have to the manufacture and sale of harmful products - more important than government regulation.  In particular, it is a larger deterrent to the manufacture and sale of harmful drugs than regulation by the FDA in the U.S.A. and similar agencies in other nations.  "Tort reform" laws, by protecting wrongdoers from the consequences of their actions, would reduce or remove this protection and make it easier for businesses to manufacture and sell harmful but profitable products, including harmful drugs.

USA's Food & Drug Administration (FDA) joins forces with pharmaceutical industry to force consumers to pay exorbitant prices for prescription drugs by banning mail-ordering drugs from abroad where lower prices for the same drugs are available
According to the June 24, 2002 Time magazine, a cancer patient who was prescribed an anti-cancer drug called tamoxifen that costs $355 for 90 pills in the USA was able to mail-order the drug from a Canadian pharmacy at a fraction of the cost: $62.34 - including shipping - for 100 pills.  According to the article, "It's technically illegal to import drugs from other countries, but U.S. authorities have made exceptions for 'personal use.'"  However, the article says, "The FDA says it cannot ensure the safety of all those drugs [mail-ordered from abroad], and this week will ask Congress to end cross-border drug mailings."  (Debra Rosenberg, "Prescriptions - Getting Their Fill," Time magazine, June 24, 2002, page 12)
      A mail-order purchase from a nation other than the U.S.A. is - or should be deemed - outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Government's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so the FDA need not be and should not be concerned with such purchases.  A person mail-ordering drugs from a Canadian pharmacy is relying on the protection of the Canadian government.  Why therefore is the FDA seeking to ban the mail-ordering of drugs from other nations?  Perhaps the answer is that we can rely on the people in the USA's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help their friends in the drug manufacturing business make huge profits, whether it is prohibiting consumers in the USA from saving money by mail-ordering the identical drugs from abroad, or by approving drugs, like those used in psychiatry, that help only the people who sell them, not the hapless, uninformed people who take them.  This is sometimes called "regulatory capture," that is, a government regulatory agency developing such close ties with the industry it is supposed to regulate that the agency is essentially "captured" by the industry it is supposed to regulate and ceases to protect consumers and instead defends and promotes the large corporations in the supposedly regulated industry.  One result of "regulatory capture" of the FDA by the USA's drug manufacturing firms is approval of drugs by the FDA, including psychiatric drugs, proves nothing about the value of the drugs to patients, only the (commercial, or profit-making) value of the drugs to the companies that sell them.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) proposed as alternative to electric shock treatment
According to the April 24, 2002 Time magazine, Dr. Mark George, a neurologist and psychiatrist at the University of South Carolina, is using magnetic stimulation of the brain to "treat depression."  The treatment supposedly works because "magnetic fields placed around the brain can alter its electrical impulses."  Dr. George says TMS is like "tickling the brain."  Reportedly, "although gentler than shock therapy, it probably works just as well, according to new studies."  However, details of these new studies were not included in the article, which says "TMS is still experimental, and it's a long way from FDA approval."  As is always true of psychiatry's biological therapies, nobody knows exactly how or why the "treatment" should work, e.g., nobody knows in what way TMS alters the brain's electrical impulses, or how or why altering the brain's electrical impulses should relieve severe unhappiness or "depression."  According to the article, the U.S. Defense Department "has awarded [Dr.] George's lab a grant for giving soldiers cognitive boosts" even though "The research is highly speculative; it's a mystery how - or even if - magnetic therapy could make people more alert."  The article says the alternative, electric shock therapy (now often called electroconvulsive therapy or ECT) "often causes permanent memory loss."  It seems those promoting psychiatry are more likely to admit the harm done by ECT or other treatments when they are promoting a competing "therapy."  (Mary Carmichael, "Magnets That Move Moods," Time magazine, April 24, 2002, p. 57)

Japan: "epidemic" of suicide; psychiatric stigma remains strong
According to an article in the June 3, 2002 Business Week magazine, "Business suicides are epidemic" in Japan now because of the country's economic slowdown:  "Each year since 1998, 30,000-plus Japanese have killed themselves - up nearly 60% from the 1980s.  ...  Japan has the dubious distinction of having the highest per capita suicide rate among the Group Seven nations.  ...  After all, this is a nation where suicide is widely considered an honorable exit, and where The Complete Suicide Manual was a best-seller in the 1990s."  The article says "Ageism is a factor, too.  It is very hard to relaunch a career after 45 or so."  The article reports that "there is a cultural reluctance in Japan - and in the rest of Asia, for that matter - to seek help for depression and other mental illnesses."  This reference to "depression and other mental illnesses" in the context of an article that alleges only economic and related life-experience causes of people being despondent enough to commit suicide suggests that in the minds of some people a biological cause isn't necessary for something to be defined as an "illness."  And of course psychiatric stigma exists not only in Japan and the rest of Asia but throughout the entire world.  Underscoring the continued existence of psychiatric stigma in Japan are the words of Sumiko Kitagawa, a counselor at a Tokyo suicide-prevention telephone call-in center, who is quoted as saying Japanese people "tend to have a prejudice against mental-health problems, especially men." (Brian Bremner, "Death Trap," Business Week, June 3, 2002, p. 26-27)

Barron's promotes myth of biological depression and drugs as the cure
Barron's is a publication for investors.  The cover story on pages 25-26 of the May 20, 2002 issue is about how sales of supposedly antidepressant drugs are affecting pharmaceutical firm stock prices.  Sales of so-called antidepressant drugs are important to pharmaceutical companies and to people who invest in their stocks because in many cases so-called antidepressants bring in a huge percentage of the drug company's revenues and profits.  The author of this article, Jay Palmer, says "Antidepressant sales in the U.S. jumped to $12.5 billion in 2001 from $1.5 billion in 1991, making them the largest profit driver for the pharmaceutical industry in the 1990s" and "Between 1991 and 2001, global sales of antidepression drugs rose 10-fold, to over $11 billion, making this sector the drug industry's chief profit driver in the decade."  As an example, he gives Forrest Laboratories, which got 68% of its $1.6 billion in revenue in 2001 from its new so-called antidepressant Celexa.  He says "Paxil, the No. 1 drug on the market ... brought in $2.7 billion in revenues last year."  In addition to providing this revealing and probably accurate information, the article includes a number of prominent psychiatric myths.  In particular, Mr. Palmer says "Depression is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain."  He says this as if it were a known and unquestioned fact.  Of course, as is typical of those who assert this claim, he doesn't state which chemicals are imbalanced or in which direction they are imbalanced (too much or too little).  There are theories about too little serotonin or norepinephrine, but they remain unproved, and there are good reasons for doubting them - one of which Mr. Palmer mentions in his article, namely, that SSRIs increase the level of serotonin in the brain almost immediately but have no effect on "depression" for three to six weeks (if ever).  The truth is this: There still is no convincing evidence sorrow or despondency or "depression" is ever caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain or any other biological cause.  Mr. Palmer says antidepressant drugs really work, that "only since the wildly successful introduction of Prozac in 1987 has a broad-based treatment been available.  ...if you know anyone who has been treated with antidepressants - or if you've used them yourself - you can attest to their effectiveness."  Yet he also - inconsistently - admits the following:

Ironically, clinicians still don't understand exactly how these drugs work.  For while they increase the levels of serotonin in the brain very quickly, they can take three to six weeks to kick in and start lifting depression.  ...  What more, it's a common finding that between 30% and 50% of patients taking any one of the new antidepressants fails to get any benefit from that particular drug.  They must try a second and maybe even a third, before they find one that works.

If you have talked with many people who have taken these supposedly antidepressant drugs, you have probably heard stories from them about trying one supposedly antidepressant drug after another and getting no relief from any of them.  Furthermore, people who say they benefit also say they start to feel better only very slowly over a long period of time.  There are no tests to determine if in fact there are any chemical imbalances in the brain causing depression nor which brain chemicals are imbalanced or in which way they might be imbalanced, nor are there any tests that will predict which supposedly antidepressant drug will work for any particular person.  It's all guesswork, which is why people have to try one drug after another in hopes of finding one that works, despite fantasy claims you will hear about the "science of psychopharmacology."  Why would a person supposedly get relief from depression after trying several different supposedly antidepressant drugs?  Answer: People will feel better over time with or without "treatment," and each trial of an "antidepressant" drug takes three to six weeks.  So by the time the third drug is tried, a person has been on supposedly antidepressant drugs for perhaps three months and will be trying the third drug for another month and a half.  Most people begin to feel less despondent in three or four months with or without any sort of "treatment," but if a person happens to be taking a particular drug when he starts to feel better two or three or four months later, he may falsely give credit to the drug.  This, and the placebo effect, are the "mechanisms of action" of supposedly antidepressant drugs.  It's the same as the mechanism of action of penicillin on the common cold: Penicillin has no effect on the common cold, but a common cold will go away on its own without treatment in two weeks.  Therefore, a shot of penicillin will cure (or seem to cure) a common cold in two weeks.  The "mechanism of action" of antidepressants is similar.  There is no such thing as an antidepressant drug.

U.S. President George W. Bush becomes world's most prominent promoter of psychiatric myths and psychiatric oppression
In remarks in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 29, 2002, President George W. Bush promoted many of today's most prominent psychiatric myths and endorsed the agenda of those promoting psychiatric oppression.  He said mental illness is real, that modern psychiatric treatment is wonderful, and that we should encourage more Americans to seek mental health treatment.  He endorsed federal mental health parity legislation that would force health insurance companies pay for mental health treatment under the same rules they use for bona-fide health care and said he will work with Congressional leaders to get such legislation enacted into law this year.
      Those of us who have regained our liberty from American psychiatric hospitals when we were discharged because we reached the time limits for hospitalization imposed by our health insurance should be horrified that the President has endorsed legislation that would remove this protection and force insurance companies to pay for longer term, even indefinite, involuntary commitment for supposed mental health care.  If President Bush is successful, more Americans will be persuaded and in many cases forced to be psychiatrically "hospitalized" and take psychiatry's brain-damaging drugs and electroconvulsive "therapy" because of the increased availability of insurance company funds to pay for these so-called treatments.
      The President's speech included nothing about freedom to refuse psychiatric "treatment" or the right to a fair trial when threatened with loss of liberty through involuntary commitment to a mental hospital, such as the right to trial by jury in civil commitment for mental illness, which is recognized in only 19 states of the U.S. (and in the nation's capital, the District of Columbia).
     To those of us who fully understand the erroneousness and invalidity of the concept of mental illness, President Bush's remarks on mental health are as ridiculous as an American leader standing before the Nation and saying we need to get serious about the problem of witchcraft - or evil spirit possession - and must renew our commitment to eradicating it.
     Click here to read the text of the President's remarks with paragraph-by-paragraph retorts by Antipsychiatry Coalition webmaster Douglas A. Smith.

(revised & expanded on June 26, 2002)
CBS television's 60 Minutes program featuring E. Fuller Torrey misleads viewers about nature of "schizophrenia"
The April 21, 2002 60 Minutes broadcast included a segment consisting mostly of an interview with psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., in which he criticizes psychiatrists who concern themselves with real life problems rather than searching for biological causes of so-called mental illness.  Much of Dr. Torrey's message in the 60 Minutes broadcast was summarized in a news release about the broadcast (available
on-line): "Torrey caused a furor in the early 1970s when he argued that schizophrenia was a disease of the brain and not a condition caused by family behavior, a theory dismissed by most psychiatrists at the time.  His view proved to be correct."  Readers of this website who have read Does Mental Illness Exist? and Schizophrenia: A Nonexistent Disease know this is false, but unfortunately most television viewers do not and have undoubtedly been mislead into believing a biological basis for schizophrenia has been found and proved to be correct.
      One point Dr. Torrey makes in this 60 Minutes interview is entirely valid.  He says so-called psychotherapy or other therapy for what he calls "problems of living" is not health care.  He says "problems of living" are matters such as "why is your third wife divorcing you, or why were you passed over for office chief, or why won't your teenage daughter talk to you."  He says "I'm not saying that these are not problems.  They are problems.  But I'm saying that I don't think that medical resources or medical insurance should be used to cover why your teenage daughter won't talk to you.  You may want to talk to your bartender about it.  You may want to talk to your social worker.  You may want to talk to your hairdresser.  But you should contract to do that individually" - meaning, you should pay for it with your own money and not expect it to be paid for by health insurance.  Regrettably, so-called psychotherapy and other "therapies" such as behavior therapy and tranquilizers to help people better deal with or better tolerate "problems of living" are covered by many health care insurance plans in the USA today even though they are not bona-fide health care.
      Dr. Torrey makes one revealing admission in this 60 Minutes interview, one that is inconsistent with his advocacy of forced psychiatric drugging: He admits current drugs for schizophrenia are not very effective.  Specifically, he says, "my sister has a severe form of schizophrenia.  She's a good example of someone who represents really a failure of the medications we have now, and a reason why we should be developing better medications, which we have by and large not done."  Long before this 60 Minutes broadcast, the problem with this thinking was pointed out insightfully by retired psychiatry professor Thomas Szasz when he said that trying to get rid of a 'mental illness' by having a psychiatrist work on your brain is like trying to get cigarette commercials off television by having a TV repairman work on your TV set.  The whole biological approach in psychiatry is based on a misunderstanding of the type problem psychiatrists are trying (or say they are trying) to solve.  Despite Dr. Torrey's admission that today's psychiatric drugs are ineffective against so-called schizophrenia, he advocates forcing them on unwilling people who are labeled or "diagnosed" as schizophrenic.  When the interviewer, Morly Safer, says "You believe in mandatory, enforced, drug treatment" Dr. Torrey responds with these words: "I believe in forced treatment for people who have brain diseases like schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness who are potentially dangerous and who don't know that they're sick" (underline added).  There are several fundamental flaws in Dr. Torrey's position on forced treatment: (1) It cannot be shown that so-called schizophrenia or manic-depressive illness or any other so-called mental illness is in fact caused by a brain disease.  (2) Future human behavior (such as "dangerousness," whatever that is) cannot be accurately predicted by psychiatrists or anyone else, whether the people whose future behavior is sought to be predicted are those psychiatrists call schizophrenic or manic-depressive or anything else.  (3) The forced treatment Dr. Torrey advocates is usually forced drugging, and the drugs Dr. Torrey is saying should be given to supposedly mental ill people against their will (against our will), do not in any way improve brain function but, on the contrary, damage the brain.  As psychiatrist Peter Breggin succinctly put it in The Antidepressant Fact Book, published in 2001: "If a drug has an effect on the brain, it is harming the brain.  Science has not found or synthesized any psychoactive substances that improve normal brain function.  Instead, all of them impair brain function" (p. 168).  For evidence proving today's psychiatric drugs not only temporarily impair brain function but cause permanent brain damage, see Psychiatric Drugs - Cure or Quackery?" (found on this web site).  Of course, like most advocates of psychiatric drug use, in his 60 Minutes interview Dr. Torrey said nothing about the permanent brain damage caused by the drugs he is advocating be involuntarily administered to people, and, typical of our pro-psychiatry news media, the 60 Minutes broadcast said nothing about it.  (4) The fourth problem with Dr. Torrey's position on forced administration of psychiatric drugs is in some ways the most important: Freedom is the reason for American patriotism.  Forced drugging laws like Dr. Torrey advocates undermine the most important reason for American patriotism.
      Even if we assume, for purpose of argument, that Dr. Torrey is right and that some people do have brain diseases that cause the so-called symptoms of "schizophrenia" or manic-depressive "illness" or other supposed mental illnesses, how are we to identify them?  There are no biological tests to determine who has one of these supposed brain diseases and who does not.  Rather, the determination is made subjectively.  For example, a psychiatrist might say, "Oh?  You hate your mother?  Why in that case, you must have a brain disease" or "Since you think the CIA is watching you, you must have paranoid schizophrenia, which we believe is a brain disease" or "Since you have felt depressed for a long time and don't know why, you probably have a chemical imbalance" or "We believe people who have mood swings like you do are suffering from a brain disease that for some unknown reason is helped by lithium."  Nobody, including Dr. Torrey, is claiming biological, laboratory tests exist that can distinguish normal people from those who have these theorized but as yet undiscovered brain diseases psychiatrists like Dr. Torrey believe cause schizophrenia and other so-called mental illnesses.  It is of course perfectly okay for researchers to study the connection between the brain (physical) and the mind (non-physical) and see if they can find biological abnormalities causing what is thought of as mental illness.  However, until there are biological, laboratory tests such as blood tests or tests of cerebro-spinal fluid or X-ray or other imaging tests of the brain (such as positron emission tomography - PET - or magnetic resonance imaging - MRI) that can reliably determine who has one of these supposed brain-disease-caused mental illnesses and who does not, nobody (aside from researchers) should take the brain disease theory seriously - not doctors, not patients, not lawmakers writing outpatient commitment laws, and not judges or juries deciding whether to force someone to take a psychiatric drug.

Reason magazine exposes psychiatry's house of horrors - past and present
The May 2002 issue of Reason magazine includes a 6 page book review of Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill by medical journalist Robert Whitaker (Perseus Press, January 2002).  According to the book reviewer, Reason magazine associate editor Brian Doherty, the book "should elicit not just head shaking but outrage from any reader who cares about human dignity and liberty."  He says it "thoroughly exposes psychiatry as a power-hungry, elitist guild practicing social control under the guise of medicine."  Psychiatry's torturous "therapies" have included bloodletting up to four-fifths of a patient's blood (practiced two centuries ago by Benjamin Rush, the "father of American psychiatry" whose face still appears on the seal of the American Psychiatric Association), fully immersing bound patients in water until they thought they were going die from drowning, pulling patient's teeth (thinking insanity was caused by germs from rotting teeth), surgically removing other body parts believed to be breeding grounds for insanity (at Trenton State Hospital in New Jersey, killing 43 percent of patients), inducing deep sleep for weeks at a time with barbiturates, binding patients in blankets or sheets and immersing them from the neck down in freezing water until their body temperature fell 10 to 20 degrees below normal, injecting large doses of insulin to induce coma (sometimes called "insulin coma therapy" or "insulin shock"), using injections of a drug called Metrazol, or electricity, to induce convulsions severe enough to fracture bones, tear muscles, and loosen teeth (in addition to damaging the brain), lobotomies, and today's psychiatric drugs that cause "vegetative syndrome" and permanent brain damage.  According to the book review, "The section of the book detailing the damage these drugs [Thorazine, Haldol, Prolixin] do to your nigrostriatal, mesolimbic, and mesocortical systems [in your brain] are not for the squeamish."  You can find other reviews of the book as well as buy the book on-line at amazon.com.  As of April 8, 2002, this book review was not available on Reason magazine's web site, but a link to it might later be found here (http://reason.com/earchive/doherty.shtml).  The title of the book review or article is "Ill-Treated."

"Treatment" for drug addiction or alcoholism is still worthless
Anyone who considers himself addicted to heroin or cocaine or who thinks he is an alcoholic, or who is concerned about the drug or alcohol use of another person, will benefit from reading Stanton Peele's excellent article in the May 2002 Reason magazine about "the relentless, misguided search for a medical cure for addiction."  The article is available on line at Dr. Peele's website.  Dr. Peele, who is both a psychologist and an attorney, has written several excellent books about addiction.  In this article he lambastes the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), because the NIDA's own studies do not support its biological orientation and pro-drug propaganda.  Peele points out that "Long-term cocaine users, for example, generally do not become addicts.  And when they do go through periods of abuse, they typically cut back or quit on their own."  That is, they recover from addiction without "treatment."  Another study he cites found "more treated (33 percent) than untreated alcoholics (28 percent) were continuing to abuse alcohol."  He says "untreated alcoholics did better".  He concludes that "The main factor in successful resolution of a drug or alcohol problem is the ability to find rewards in ordinary existence and to form caring relationships with people who are not addicts."  (Stanton Peele, "Hungry for the Next Fix," Reason magazine, May 2002, pp. 32-36)

Does kava cause liver damage?  Sales halted in France, Switzerland, and Britain; in U.S., Food & Drug Administration issues warning
Kava is a Polynesian herb used to induce a "calm, dreamy state of mind" and to quell anxiety.  You'll find a short article praising the power of kava on pages 78 & 79 of the March/April 2002 Psychology Today magazine saying "Some experts believe kavalactones [the active ingredient in kava] act much like Western tranquilizers, but without many of the side effects."  Yet the April 8, 2002 Time magazine includes an article warning of reports of liver damage from kava, leading the governments of France and Switzerland to halt kava sales and causing the British government to suspend kava sales in the U.K. and the Food & Drug Administration in the U.S.A. to issue a warning about kava.  The case isn't clear, however: A four-week Duke University Medical Center study found that kava "used responsibly, poses no significant health hazard" including no evidence of liver damage.  (Lev Grossman, "The Curious Case of Kava - Why did it take the FDA so long to finally sound the alarm?," Time magazine, April 8, 2002, page 58)
      Here is a bit of common-sense advice: Rather than trying to calm your nerves with drugs or herbs the health effects of which are uncertain, work at changing or avoiding the situation in life that is causing your worry or anxiety in the first place.

New Mexico grants psychologists authority to prescribe psychiatric drugs
In March 2002 the State of New Mexico became the first state in the USA (and perhaps the first state in the world) to grant psychologists the privilege of prescribing psychiatric drugs.  The new law was "bitterly fought my M.D.'s."  Similar legislation has been introduced in the states of Georgia, Illinois, Hawaii, and Tennessee.  Reportedly, some psychologists do not welcome their new medicine prescription power because of evidence that "talking" therapy is as effective as any currently available psychiatric drugs.  (Marianne Szegedy Maszak, "Psychotherapy - Prescription Power," U.S. News & World Report, April 8, 2002, p. 51)
      Studies showing no treatment or conversation with sympathetic but untrained persons is as effective or even better than professional psychotherapy ("talking" therapy) were not mentioned in the article, but some of them are cited in
The Case Against Psychotherapy, available on this web site.  If you have read Psychiatric Drugs - Cure or Quackery?, (also available on this web site) you know why prescription of most psychiatric drugs should be banned rather than being added to the practice of psychologists.

Criminal defendants in USA are mentally disabled by forced administration of permanently brain damaging psychiatric drugs prior to and during their trials
An article in the March 25, 2002 issue of The National Law Journal describes the differing views of different U.S. Courts of Appeals on the criteria to be used when deciding whether to allow the government to force criminal defendants to take toxic, mentally disabling, and permanently brain damaging psychiatric drugs before and during their trials.  In 1992 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an (allegedly) mentally incompetent criminal defendant has a right to a court hearing before being "medicated" against his will but didn't say what standards must be used to determine whether to order forced "medication."  The U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 6th, 8th, and District of Columbia circuits have reached differing conclusions, and so far the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to resolve the conflicting views of the lower courts.  (Gary Young, "Circuit Splits - Of two [actually three] minds on forced medication," The National Law Journal, Monday, March 25, 2002, page B8.)
      Incredibly, none of these courts have reached the obvious conclusion that fogging a defendant's mind with psychiatric drugs against his will prior to and during his trial makes it impossible for him to have a fair trial and is therefore prohibited the U.S. Constitution's requirement for "due process" (or fairness) in criminal proceedings.  These same courts seem to have also missed the obvious conclusion that forcing a permanently brain damaging drug on a criminal defendant, whether prior to trial or after conviction, is cruel and unusual punishment that the U.S. Constitution also forbids.  Federal and state prosecutors, psychiatrists who support them with supposedly expert testimony, and judges who rule in favor of forced psychiatric drugging for the claimed purpose of restoring a criminal defendant (or anyone else) to a state of mental competency (so that he can be put on trial for his crime) are engaging in a type of Orwellian newspeak that inverts the truth.  In the words of psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., in The Antidepressant Fact Book, published in 2001: "If a drug has an effect on the brain, it is harming the brain.  Science has not found or synthesized any psychoactive substances that improve normal brain function.  Instead, all of them impair brain function" (Perseus Publishing - Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2001, p. 168).  Forcibly drugging people with such drugs, whether during "civil" commitment of the supposedly mentally ill, or of criminal defendants or convicts, is oppression disguised as benefaction.

Life Extension magazine exposes outrageous profit margins for manufacturers of psychiatric (and other) drugs
An article in the April 2002 issue of Life Extension magazine claims 11 cents worth of Prozac (20 mg - 100 capsules) is sold to the consumer for an astounding $247.47, that Paxil (20 mg - 100 tablets or capsules) for which the cost of the generic active ingredient is $7.60 is sold to the consumer for $220.27, that Zoloft (50 mg - 100 tablets or capsules), the active ingredient of which costs the manufacturer $1.75 is sold to the consumer for $206.87, and that 1 mg tabs or caps of Xanax for which the active ingredient costs the manufacturer 24 cents is sold to the nervous consumer for $136.79.  "The astounding profit margin enjoyed by drug companies exposes several facts," says the report.  "First, it shows why the pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable of all businesses.  ...  These exorbitant profit margins also provide incentive for drug companies to get their patented molecules approved by the FDA, whether they kill people or not.  Horror stories abound of how drug companies have egregiously falsified data to obtain FDA approval."  It says FDA approved drugs "kill over 100,000 Americans every year, and seriously injure over 2.1 million people.  This figure does not include prescribing errors or drug abuse." (William Faloon, "Consumer Rape," Life Extension, April 2002, pp. 13-17.)
      According to another article by a different author in the same issue, "The FDA is happy to serve various pharmaceutical interests in this role due to the revolving door between the Agency and certain [drug] companies whose interests they protect."  In other words, FDA officials grant approval for drugs they shouldn't because they hope the drug manufacturers they are supposedly regulating today will offer them jobs with enormous salaries tomorrow.  (John C. Hammell, President, International Advocates for Health Freedom, "FDA Attacks Alternative Clinics - Cancer Patients' Lives Threatened,", pp. 37 at 39.)

Schizophrenia myth promoted on cover of Newsweek magazine
The cover of the March 11, 2002 Newsweek magazine announces "SCHIZOPHRENIA" in huge letters - in front of the face of Andrea Yates, who attempted to avoid criminal responsibility for murdering her children by saying, in effect, "Schizophrenia made me do it."  Dr. Phillip Resnick of Case Western Reserve University testified at Yates murder trial that she "had a combination of schizophrenia and depression when she killed her children."  According to this article, schizophrenia "remains one of the most tragic and mysterious of mental illnesses" and that "psychosis - the inability to distinguish reality from imagination - lies at the core of schizophrenia."  At one time the article proclaims "Neuroscientists have now traced such hallucinations to malfunctions of the brain" yet admits "the actual cause remains elusive."  The article also says victims of schizophrenia "have periods of clarity (thanks to medication)" and that "the new drugs can allow people with schizophrenia to hold jobs and have families."  Readers who have read articles on this web site such as Schizophrenia - A Nonexistent Disease and Psychiatric Drugs - Cure or Quackery? will recognize these myths for what they are.  According to a later newspaper report, a Texas jury rejected the insanity defense asserted by Yates' attorneys and her "expert" witnesses, convicted her of murder, and sentenced her to life in prison.
      (Sharon Begley, "The Mystery of Schizophrenia," Newsweek, March 11, 2002, pp. 44-51; Pam Easton, Associated Press, "Life term - Texas jury spares killer mom from execution," Boston Herald, March 16, 2002, p. 1.)

California neurologist Fred A. Baughman, M.D., is on a personal crusade to dispel myth of mental illness, especially ADHD
In the February 18, 2002 issue, in an interview with Kelly Patricia O'Meara, who has written several excellent articles about psychiatry in Insight magazine, retired neurologist Fred A. Baughman, M.D., says "Psychiatry never has proved that ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder], let alone depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, even exists.  Yet this hasn't stopped doctors from diagnosing them."  Dr. Baughman also says "no one really knows how these [psychiatric] drugs work on the brain.  It's all just theory at this point."  To read this article on-line at the magazine's web site, click hereKelly Patricia O'Meara, "Baughman Dispels The Myth of ADHD," Insight magazine, February 18, 2002, pages 36-38 at page 38.

Bush Administration challenges Oregon's assisted-suicide law
Oregon is the only state in the USA that has a law permitting doctor-assisted suicide.  It was adopted by a statewide referendum.  It is called the Death With Dignity Act and allows doctors to prescribe deadly drugs for patients they certify have an illness leaving them with less than 6 months to live.  In 2001, 44 terminally ill patients in Oregon received prescriptions for "lethal medication" (an interesting application of the term "medication") authorized by the Act, although only 21 actually committed suicide.  U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is seeking a federal court's permission to penalize doctors who prescribe lethal drugs, including doctors in Oregon who do so in the manner permitted by Oregon state law.  The challenge raises interesting questions not only about the right to commit suicide but whether we want doctors intentionally killing people and the authority of the federal government to overrule state law.  Sam Howe Verhovek, "As Suicide Approvals Rise in Oregon, Half Go Unused," The New York Times, February 7, 2002, page A24

Depressed woman dies from prescription drug toxicity
Yvonne Anderson, 29, a wife and mother of three children, experienced the ultimate side-effect of drugs used to treat this supposed mental illness: death caused by the toxicity (poisonous nature) of the drugs.  Her husband and children sued the psychiatrist and family practitioner who prescribed the drugs, alleging her death was caused by "multiple prescriptions that the defendants had prescribed for her."  A verdict clearing the doctors of any wrongdoing was rendered on December 31, 2001.  Anderson v. Schiro, No. 00 0000800, Yuba Co., Calif. Super. Ct., California Jury Verdicts Weekly and again reported in "Doctors not negligent for patient's overdose," The National Law Journal, February 4, 2002, page B4.

Diary writer under federal indictment in USA for thought-crime
Prosecution for thought-crime in the USA usually takes place under laws authorizing involuntary civil commitment for supposed mental illness.  However, the case of Orange County superior court judge Ronald C. Kline illustrates that thought-crime prosecutions can also happen under federal criminal law in the USA.
      Judge Kline thought what he wrote in his diary was for his own eyes only.  Unfortunately for him and for all who value privacy, investigators trying to nab child pornographers on the Internet illegally infected the judge's computer with a computer virus that allowed the investigators to make an unauthorized copy of the entire contents of the judge's hard drive.  Among the material they obtained in this manner was the judge's diary in which he wrote his personal and private thoughts, including his homosexual attraction to young boys.  His diary, obtained in this manner and without his consent, was deemed to be "child pornography" by those who brought the indictment against him - despite Kline's attorney's claim that what Kline wrote in his diary was "never meant to be shared with anyone."
      For some of us, these facts are probably reminiscent of George Orwell's novel, 1984, in which the main character is imprisoned because of what he wrote in his diary, namely, that he hated Big Brother.
      In addition to the federal thought-crime charges, Kline has been charged with offenses under California state law that may have constituted bona-fide crimes, namely four allegations of molestation or "lewd conduct" with a minor.
      Kline has asserted his innocence and is seeking re-election to his judicial post.
"Thoughts thought to be very private", The National Law Journal, February 4, 2002, page A26

Psychiatric "hospitalization" and "treatment" fails to prevent MIT student's suicide
Elizabeth Shin, age 19, a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and biology major from Livingston, N.J., committed suicide in April 2000 despite, or perhaps partly because of, inpatient psychiatric treatment at a hospital in 1999 and continuing treatment through the school's counseling and support services for more than a year before her death.  Her family has sued MIT for $27 million, claiming school employees were negligent in their handling of the student's "mental illness."  According to MIT officials, the student's parents were not notified of their daughter's "mental illness" because of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protecting students' privacy.  Since there are no allegations of harassment or abuse but merely negligence in failing to prevent suicide, the filing of the lawsuit illustrates why people who let others know they are guilty of this particular type of thought-crime (thinking about suicide) place their liberty at risk - in addition to exposing themselves to risk of being hampered by psychiatric stigma for the rest of their lives.  Denise Lavoie, "Family of student suicide sues MIT for $27 million," The Eagle-Tribune (Lawrence, Massachusetts), January 29, 2002, page 4.

Insight magazine exposes unjustified involuntary psychiatric commitment and forced drugging in New York City
The cover story in the January 28, 2002 issue of Insight magazine, titled "The Grief Police," near the end of the article, describes the unjustified involuntary psychiatric commitment and forced drugging of a Manhattan periodontist, Dr. Ira Warheit.  According to the article, while Dr. Warheit was volunteering his services at what remained of the World Trade Center after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, a psychiatrist named Antonio Abad engaged Dr. Warheit in a conversation and then had him forcibly taken to Bellevue Hospital where Dr. Warheit was held against his will and forcibly drugged with Haldol until a judge released him.  To read this article on-line at Insight magazine's web site, click here.


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