Recently published articles of interest

 The Washington Post publishes debate on whether Judge Rotenberg Center tortures children. (Published: Oct 14, 2010 02:38 PM) The Washington Post published the following debate about whether the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Massachusetts tortures many of the children detained there. On 2 October 2010, The Washington Post published the below essay by president of Disability Rights International, Laurie Ahern, charging JRC with torture. A United Nations representative agrees. DRI is a sponsor group of MindFreedom International. Following this essay you'll find a reply by Matthew L. Israel, who directs JRC, which the The Washington Post published one week later.  SAMHSA, the Alternatives Conference, and the Story of an Opportunity Lost (Published: Oct 07, 2010 04:35 PM) Author/journalist Robert Whitaker was picked to keynote at the Alternatives Conference 2010, bringing together more than 1,000 mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors. His topic: Challenging mental health industry hype that inflates the benefits of psychiatric pharmaceuticals. Federal funders pressured organizers to disinvite him, but MindFreedom organized a public campaign that successfully reversed that decision. Whitaker spoke, but the federal funders required another speaker as a rebuttal. Here, Whitaker describes this whole experience of speaking about the apparently taboo topic of questioning the psychiatric drug approach.  Child's Ordeal Shows Risks of Psychosis Drugs for Young (Published: Sep 03, 2010 07:16 PM) The New York Times covered the way even very young children - even 18 months old - are being put on the super-powerful family of psychiatric drugs known as the neuroleptics or antipsychotics.  Review: Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (Published: Sep 03, 2010 07:09 PM) In this review of journalist Robert Whitaker's book exposing the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry, psychologist Bruce Levine mentions how MindFreedom International helped campaign to 're-confirm' Whitaker as a keynote speaker at a federally-funded conference.  Making a Killing (Published: Sep 03, 2010 04:00 PM) Those interested in an investigation by a journalist of psychiatric drug company research fraud are encouraged to obtain the Sept./Oct 2010 issue of Mother Jones and read the "Making a Killing" article here. Carl Elliott reveals how clinical trials and even whole universities are manipulated by the pharmaceutical industry.  Robert Whitaker on Neuroleptic "Brain Damage" Debate (Published: Aug 20, 2010 06:00 PM) In the "climate crisis" controversy there are deniers, people who are putting out misinformation to cloud the debate about the greenhouse effect. The same thing is true in the debate about brain damage caused by the neuroleptic drugs, also known as antipsychotics. Some scientists, instead of warning the public about the many studies regarding massive brain changes induced by neuroleptics, are hypothesizing - based on fragmentary and contradictory research - that neuroleptics somehow help prevent brain damage. Here Robert Whitaker, in his Mad in America blog, analyzes some of these claim as aired on the PBS national television show, PBS.  GUEST VIEWPOINT: It's time to end this grand experiment with psychiatric drugs (Published: Aug 15, 2010 10:35 PM) Journalist and author Robert Whitaker wrote this column that was published in the main daily newspaper of Eugene, Oregon, USA, The Register-Guard. Whitaker mentions MindFreedom's work for human rights as a sign of hope. (In an event co-sponsored by MindFreedom and LaneCare, Whitaker speaks in Eugene on 8/20/10, free.)  Misguided Thinking: Mental health at a crossroads (Published: Aug 15, 2010 10:25 PM) Chuck Areford, a long-time mental health worker in Lane County, Oregon, wrote this column challenging the current drug-oriented model of the mental health system. The column was published by the Eugene Weekly, which is the second-biggest newspaper in Lane County, Oregon. Chuck is a long-time member and supporter of MindFreedom International.  Psychiatry Considers Eliminating "Bereavement Exclusion" for Depression Diagnosis (Published: Aug 02, 2010 01:35 PM) The American Psychiatric Association currently excludes people who have had a death of a loved one from being diagnosed with "depression" in the short term. For the APA's next edition of their 'label bible' -- called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual -- they are considering eliminating this exclusion. In other words, an individual who has just suffered the death of a loved one may get a "mental disorder" diagnosis of "clinical depression" on their 15th day of experiencing extreme grief. Even an editor of the current "DSM," feels that this is overly-medicalizing people's experiences. MindFreedom has long warned that psychiatric labeling can result in prescriptions for needless psychiatric drugs, as well as discrimination and hopelessness.  Treat the cause (Published: Jul 22, 2010 08:04 PM) Here's a letter-to-the-editor about by MindFreedom board member Mary Maddock, founder of MindFreedom Ireland, published in the Irish Examiner. Mary's letter was part of a series of a letter and article published by the Irish Examiner highly critical of involuntary psychiatry, and psychiatric drugging.

 A big thank you to everyone who supported

          our swimathon yesterday.

A Ghostwritten Psychiatric Book Hints at a Much Larger Problem

By Robert Whitaker Created Nov 30 2010 - 5:52pm

The report by the  New York Times today  that a 1999 medical text authored by Dr. Charles Nemeroff and by Dr. Alan Schatzberg was ghostwritten and financed by a pharmaceutical firm seems—at first glance—to tell of a new level of corruption within American medicine.  “To ghostwrite an entire textbook is a new level of chutzpah,” former FDA commissioner David Kessler told the New York Times. “I’ve never heard of that before.”

But, in fact, this ghostwriting revelation simply hints at a much larger, pervasive problem, which is that financial bias profoundly affects the authorship of psychiatric textbooks at every turn. And it is quite easy to document that this is so.

In its article, the New York Times reported that SmithKline Beecham (now part of GlaxoSmithKline) had provided Nemeroff, who today is chairman of psychiatry at the University of Miami medical school, and Schatzberg, who was chairman of psychiatry at Stanford University Medical School from 1991 to 2009, with an “unrestricted educational grant” to author Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Psychopharmacology Handbook for Primary Care. But SmithKline Beecham also paid a writing company, Scientific Therapeutics Information, to develop an outline for the book and—apparently—to actually write the text. Once the ghostwritten book was published, SmithKline Beecham purchased 10,000 copies for distribution to American family physicians.

This is indeed egregious. But the larger problem is this: Commercial interests influence the writing of most psychiatric texts.

First, psychiatric textbooks are regularly authored by leading psychiatrists at academic medical centers, many of whom are paid by pharmaceutical companies for their work as “advisors, consultants, and speakers.” Thus, while writing a particular textbook, they may not be receiving any money from a pharmaceutical company, they still have an ongoing financial relationship with the makers of psychiatric medications. As such, they have a financial reason for writing about psychiatric medications in a way that promotes their use.

Second, psychiatry as a field naturally has reason to promote the safety and efficacy of psychiatric medications. After all, this is the field’s main product today. Psychiatrists have turned into psychopharmacologists, and you can’t expect the leaders in the field to author texts that might question the fundamental merits of that product.

In my book Anatomy of an Epidemic, I investigated this storytelling process. In the first sections of the book, I reported on a number of studies funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the World Health Organization, and other governmental agencies that told of unmedicated psychiatric patients doing better over the long-term than those who stayed on the drugs. In the latter part of the book, I investigated whether these studies were ever written about in psychiatric texts. Here’s what I found: None of the studies was discussed at any length, and in the few instances when one of the studies was mentioned in a textbook, the authors spun the results to protect the image of the drugs.

For instance, Martin Harrow, a researcher from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, reported in 2007 on the 15-year outcomes of a group of schizophrenia patients he had been following since the early 1980s. Forty percent of the patients off antipsychotic medications were in recovery at the end of 15 years, versus five percent of those on medication. He also reported on the 15-year outcomes of patients with milder psychotic disorders, and once again it was those off antipsychotics that were doing much better.

Now, this is the best longitudinal study of modern schizophrenia outcomes that we have today. This was an important NIMH-funded study. So how did the authors of the 2009 edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Textbook of Psychiatry deal with it? They mentioned the study in passing, but they didn’t detail the actual results. They didn’t report that the recovery rate for unmedicated patients was eight times higher than for the medicated patients; instead the authors simply wrote that Harrow’s study revealed that there are some schizophrenia patients who are “able to function without the benefit of continuous antipsychotic treatment.”

This was spinning at its best. The authors came up with a sentence that told of the “benefit of continuous antipsychotic treatment.”

Now, let’s put the pieces of this larger storytelling process together. As is fairly well known now, the published scientific literature on the clinical testing of psychiatric medications during the past 20 years does not accurately portray the efficacy and safety of those drugs. Trials were biased by design, results were spun, articles were ghostwritten, and negative results went unpublished. As such, the source literature is corrupted, and that tainted literature then serves as the source material for authors who write psychiatric texts. Then those authors—when confronted with an upsetting study like Harrow’s—add their own layer of spin.

The New York Times article tells of a ghostwritten book, and observers—like former FDA commissioner David Kessler—express their shock. But it’s really not so out-of-step with larger storytelling forces that have been at work in psychiatry for some time.

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"Be the love you want to feel in the world"    Mary Maddock


 Zyprexa: A Prescription for Diabetes, Disease and Early Death


Leonard Roy Frank