[  Main Page ]

Antipsychiatry News Clips


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

One man's meat is another man's poison
One man's religion is another man's mental illness

The April 23, 2003 issue of The New York Times reports that in a "festival mourning the death of the Shiite martyr Hussein, who was killed here [Karbala, Iraq] nearly 1,400 years ago" Shiite Muslims "pounded themselves with whips and swords yesterday in rites forbidden under Saddam Hussein's rule."  The article included the below photograph of a worshipper blood-stained from this religious mourning and celebration:

The same story is reported in the April 23, 2003 issue of USA Today, saying "Pilgrims slash[ed] their foreheads to demonstrate grief over the martyrdom of Hussein Ibn Ali, whom Shiites view as the rightful heir of Mohammed."  The USA Today article includes this photograph of other bloodstained worshippers who injured themselves as part of this religious observance:

When done in accordance with the practices of a religion adhered to by millions of people, self-inflicted injury apparently must be accepted as normal.  It apparently is among Shiite Muslims.
      It is easy to guess what would probably happen if someone were to injure himself in a similar manner in the U.S.A.: Such a person not unlikely would be considered "dangerous to himself or others" and forcibly "hospitalized" in a psychiatric hospital for treatment of "mental illness," even if he claimed injuring himself was an aspect of his religion.
      "Mental illness" is cultural, not biological.  As a result, what is defined as religious in one culture may be defined as insanity in another.
      Lest there be any misunderstanding, this is a criticism of the concept of mental illness, not of the beliefs or practices of Shiite Muslims whose behavior, in this case, is well within their rights as autonomous human beings, however strange it may seem to others.

Craig S. Smith, "In Hotbed of Shiite Emotion, Clerics Jockey for Leadership," The New York Times, April 23, 2003, p. A1; Paul Wiseman, "Freedom of religion fills streets of holy city - Shiites make pilgrimage to Karbala," USA Today, April 23, 2003, p. 6A

County jail and sheriff liable for suicide by "manic depressive schizophrenic" prisoner
"The family of an inmate whose need for psychiatric counseling went unaddresed, resulting in his suicide" in the Black Hawk County, Iowa jail recovered $300,000 in an out-of-court settlement.  He used a bed sheet to hang himself.  The prisoner was "a diagnosed manic depressive schizophrenic with suicidal tendencies," but was allowed "to remain in his cell unattended."  ("Verdicts & Settlements - Civil Rights - County and sheriff liable for inmate's suicide," The National Law Journal, April 7, 2003, p. B2)

New Jersey mental hospital pays $1.5 million for letting involuntary patient escape
An Essex County, New Jersey mental hospital paid $1.5 million to settle a medical malpractice claim alleging "negligent supervision" brought on behalf of an involuntarily committed mental patient "who escaped from the hospital while on a smoking break outside the building."  It was during winter, and during his escape he suffered frostbite of his lower legs that required amputations. ("Verdicts & Settlements - medical malpractice - Frostbitten mental patient settles for $1.5M," The National Law Journal, April 7, 2003, pp. B2-B3)

In these cases, jailers in the criminal justice and mental health systems were liable for failing to to sufficiently limit the autonomy or freedom of those they were incarcerating.  The prisoner in the Black Hawk County Jail probably could been prevented from using the suicide escape hatch to escape the situation in which he found himself by tying him down in four or five point restraints that might have terrorized him more than death.  Or, he could have been kept in a bare cell where he would have had only a hardwood or cement floor to sleep on and could not have used a bedsheet to hang himself.  The involuntarily committed Essex County, New Jersey mental patient probably couldn't have escaped if he hadn't been allowed the freedom to go outside the building, perhaps giving him a rare chance to breath fresh air and feel sunlight on his skin as well as enjoy a cigarette.
      In contrast, judges and even juries in our system of (in)justice rarely hold people or hospitals liable because they unnecessarily restrained or limited the freedom of persons trapped in their institutions.  These cases illustrate one motive for cruel limits on the freedom of prisoners in both the criminal and mental health systems.  They also illustrate willingness to hold people and institutions liable for the freely chosen acts of those committed to their care.

Psychiatry targets teen-agers
According to a February 21, 2003 newspaper article, "Researchers are offering a computerized screening tool to high schools for free in hopes of identifying teenagers who are suffering from depression."  It's called Columbia University's "TeenScreen" survey and can be found on the Internet at www.teenscreen.org.  The purpose of the survey is to identify teenagers who are "at risk for suicide or those with other mental health problems."  The survey is reportedly being used at "66 sites, including schools, community centers and homeless shelters in 27 states" and is planned for 400 more communities.  ("Around the Nation ... Teenage Depression," Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Florida), February 21, 2003, p. 2A)
      The effect if not purpose of this kind of screening is to bring in more business and profits for psychiatry and manufacturers of psychiatric drugs.  It may also cause young people to become victims of electroconvulsive brain damaging (called electroconvulsive "therapy") who otherwise would have grown out of their adolescent angst unharmed by biological psychiatry.  Numerous critics of modern psychiatric diagnosis have pointed out that there is probably no human being alive who doesn't fall within at least one category of mental illness defined in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and that most of us fall into several categories of mental illness simultaneously.  So this survey is likely to achieve its purpose of identifying many young people as mentally ill and in need of psychiatric "care."  However, the survey is likely to help only those who profit financially from promoting psychiatry.  Those brought into psychiatry's clutches by these efforts are in grave danger of being harmed by psychiatric drugs, involuntary commitment, electroshock "therapy," and psychiatric stigma.

New York plans to join six other states in lawsuits against major drug manufacturers for unethical pricing practices
According to The New York Times, New York will soon join several other states that have filed lawsuits against drug manufacturers because of the following fraudulent scheme to induce doctors and pharmacies to prescribe, sell, or recommend their drugs rather than those by competitors and in the process defraud governments and insurance companies that pay for health care benefits: "The drug companies establish a price for the drug that the government and insurance companies use to determine how much to reimburse the doctors and pharmacies for the drugs they buy.  The companies then allow the doctors and pharmacies to buy their drugs at much lower prices than the ones reported to the government.  The doctors and pharmacies then pocket the difference."  The article says "Several states, including California, Texas, Minnesota and Nevada, have filed suits against numerous drug makers in the last three years over their prices..."  ("Reed Abelson & Jonathan D. Glater, "New York Will Sue 2 Big Drug Makers On Doctor Discount," The New York Times, Thursday, February 13, 2003, p. A1)
      Dishonest drug company tactics show that the primary concern of the decision-makers at these companies is selling their drugs and making money, not conducting business in an ethical or moral way, and not whether the drugs they manufacture and sell help or harm the patients who take them.  This is why they sell harmful psychiatric drugs.  This is why the drug manufacturers bribe presidential candidates and members of Congress with large campaign contributions, making it more likely they can continue to infiltrate the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) with officials friendly to the drug industry so they can get FDA approval for the drugs they sell, even when the drugs are useless or harmful.  In the words of consumer advocate and former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader in his book Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender, (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Griffin, New York, 2002) in a discussion of the Clinton Administration: "The regulatory agencies were more than captives of the industries they were supposed to regulate - they became their camouflage, material for auto, aviation, food, drug, railroad, and other industries' advertising bragging that their products met or exceeded federal safety or other standards - standards often written by industry lawyers and immediately obsolete when they were issued" (p. 51).  There is no reason to believe it is different now under the Bush Administration.  This being the case, it is foolish to have any confidence in a drug because it has FDA approval.  This is a mistake many otherwise intelligent and well-informed Americans and people in other countries continue to make.

Drug manufacturing industry resorts to heavy handed marketing tactics, legal warfare, and political bribery to keep drug prices high
According to an editorial in USA Today, drug prices in Canada are much lower than in the U.S.  The editorial gives this example: Filling a prescription for tamoxifen, a cancer drug that costs $319.06 in the U.S., is only $52.64 in Canada.  The editorial describes the efforts of drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline to prevent Americans from buying prescription drugs in Canada at much lower prices: "When pharmacists in Canada refused GlaxoSmithKline's demand to stop selling its prescription drugs to Americans at prices far below those in the U.S., the pharmaceutical giant fought back.  It told wholesalers to cut off the druggists' supplies of its popular medicines such as the antidepressant Paxil."  The same editorial says "In the U.S. the [drug manufacturing] industry is waging legal warfare to block states' efforts to lower drug costs, arguing they interfere with interstate commerce, violate Medicade rules and limit drug choices by patients."  The USA Today editorial says "drugmakers are among the most profitable industries and could afford to donate $67 million in campaign contributions to Washington politicians during the past decade to protect those fat [profit] margins."  ("Today's debate: Prescription drug costs - Push for affordable drugs hurt by industry tactics" (editorial), February 13, 2003, p. 11A.)

A majority of the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals duped into believing the exact opposite of the truth about psychiatric "medication"
An article in the Eagle-Tribune, a newspaper published in Lawrence, Massachusetts, says: "In the latest bizarre turn in a nearly 25-year-old death row case, a federal appeals court ruled that a mentally ill inmate can be put to death even though he would be too insane to qualify for execution without his medication.  A sharply divided 8th U.S. Court of Appeals lifted a stay of execution yesterday for Charles Singleton, saying his medically induced sanity makes him eligible for the death penalty." ("Court: Insane man can be executed," Eagle-Tribune, February 11, 2003, p. 3)
      In the words of psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., in The Anti-Depressant Fact Book (Perseus Publishing - Cambridge, Massachusetts, 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).  There is simply no possibility of anyone's sanity being restored by a psychiatric drug.  This decision illustrates how thoroughly and completely psychiatry's advocates have deceived many if not most of America's judges.

Psychology Today magazine on "How to Take an Anti-Depressant"
The February 2003 issue of Psychology Today magazine includes an article, prominently advertised on the cover, titled "How to Take an Antidepressant."  The article repeats the usual myths about depression such as the claim that it is a disease or disorder - and the claim that effective treatment for depression became available for the first time with the introduction of Prozac in 1988: "Fifteen years ago, Prozac launched a revolution.  It rendered depression a disorder that was - finally - safely treatable."  However, the article contains contradictory statements (that an editor should have caught), such as an admission that "...evidence indicates that the available antidepressants are equally effective."  That's contradictory, because the other types of so-called antidepressants (tricyclics and MAOIs) were introduced many years before Prozac and the other SSRIs.  The article doesn't say this, of course, but it would be equally true to say all antidepressants are equally ineffective, since none improve people's mood significantly better than pills with no active ingredients, i.e., placebos.  In fact, in his book Commonsense Rebellion, published in 2001, psychologist Bruce Levine points out that when placebos with effects people can feel are used (to prevent side effects from making the subjects and researchers aware of who is taking the real drug and who is taking the placebo, thereby undermining the supposedly double-blind nature of drug effectiveness studies), the slightly better result from so-called antidepressant drugs vanishes.  The Psychology Today article acknowledges that "In one recent study, up to 70 percent of patients receiving the newer antidepressants reported sexual dysfunction [such as inability to have an orgasm or inability to have an erection] when asked directly about it."  In other words, the article promotes so-called antidepressant drugs, but a careful reading of the article itself reveals how misleading the article is.  (Hara Estroff Marano, "How to Take an Antidepressant," Psychology Today magazine, February 2003, page 58-63 & 95)


Antipsychiatry News Clips

1998   1999   2000   2001   2002   2004


[   Main Page  |  Why Psychiatric Drugs Are Always Bad   ]