A Response to the March 15 letter to the Reader entitled “Taking Gary Kohls to Task”

Gary G. Kohls, MD

I welcomed the challenges in last week’s Reader letter from Doctors D’Allaird, Doane, Duus, Heck, Jagim and Saracino to my occasional Duty to Warn columns that have mentioned unwelcome information about the dangers of the seriously over-prescribed and proven to be neurotoxic synthetic chemicals known as psychotropic drugs. Most of the Duty to Warn columns also contained information about non-drug alternatives that proved to be safe and effective (indeed, sometimes curative) in my own practice of holistic mental healthcare

The dangers that I have occasionally written about have indeed been well-documented in hundreds of books and thousands of medical science research journal articles that were written by highly ethical research scientists and scholars that had not been co-opted by BigPharma’s money and influence. I have read and studied many of them.

Unfortunately, journals and books that offer another side of the story don’t seem to be on the shelves of most mental health practitioners and are definitely not readily available to the clinicians who are making the choices about whether or not to prescribe a drug for a particular symptom or patient. Most of us clinicians don’t have time to listen to or read sources other than what comes from the drug reps and the mainstream medical journals, all of whom are paid for or subsidized by the drug industry.

The Truth About
the Drug Industry

I enthusiastically endorse two of the books recommended as resources in the above-mentioned letter. One was written by whistle-blower Marcia Angell, entitled “The Truth About the Drug Companies”. Her book should cause any mental health practitioner or patient to seriously question the assertions of every drug that BigPharma has ever marketed. Angell lost her job as editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) when she wrote a single, very powerful editorial that blew the whistle on the drug industry’s influence on medical practice in the US. I highly recommend her writings.

I also enthusiastically endorse the second of the group’s recommended books, written by investigative journalist Robert Whitaker. This book is an even more powerful expose of those that are bringing us dangerous, incompletely tested psych drugs is “Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America”, published in 2010.

(I say incompletely tested because the standard human clinical trials that the pharmaceutical industry uses for the antidepressant class of drugs is 4-8 weeks. And then the FDA approves those drugs for marketing without time limits. Many patients are on these drugs for years, sometimes totally unable to ever get off the drug.)

Whitaker’s book was the sequel to his 2001 book entitled “Mad in America” and subtitled “Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill”. Hopefully the group that wrote last week’s letter, and their patients, will actually read and carefully study one of Whitaker’s books. If they do that, then we all need to get together and discuss them, because then we will be allies on the same page. The information in Whitaker’s books, which should be intensely disturbing to every mental health practitioner and patient, can be easily accessed at  www.madinamerica.com” www.madinamerica.com, a website that has a wealth of information about the multitude of dangers from psych drugs - plus links to hundreds of other important articles that pertain to the current American epidemic of mental ill health.

Brain shrinkage and
the long-term use of
antipsychotic drugs

One of the several articles that I recently read on Whitaker’s website was the most recent peer-reviewed study confirming again the frequently noted brain shrinkage caused by the long term use of antipsychotic drugs - both in human and (non-psychotic) animal studies. The article can be accessed at  “http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/68/2/128” http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/68/2/128.

If any reader of this dialogue was told that he or she was to be placed on an antipsychotic drug for the rest of their lives (whether the diagnosis was first-episode psychosis, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, anxiety disorder or sleep disorder) they have the legal right to be fully informed about the not-established risk of cerebral atrophy, before they gave their consent.

Any reader would also want to be informed, before starting on long-term antipsychotic use, about the reality of drug-induced super-sensitivity psychosis that can occur when attempts are made to taper down the dosage of antipsychotics too quickly (episodes of which are often mis-diagnosed as spontaneous “relapses” rather than iatrogenic drug-induced episodes). The seminal article about iatrogenic supesensitivity psychosis was co-authored by Canadian psychiatrist Guy Chouinard  in the January 1980 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. It can be accessed at   www.madinamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Chouinard%281%29.pdf” http://www.madinamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Chouinard%281%29.pdf .

These examples of psychotropic drug problems are just two of thousands in the non-mainstream medical literature that I have read, studied, written about, taught and about which I have presented numerous seminars (interestingly, I have noticed that very few mental health practitioners have attended these seminars). The totality of my experience is corroborated by Whitaker’s extensive research into the epidemic of both mental illness labels and, his most important point, that it is the drugs that are causing the epidemic of mental illness disability. As he states on his website: “Every day, 850 adults and 250 children with a mental illness are added to the government disability rolls. What is going on?”

Whitaker has looked clear-headedly at all the evidence that he has reported on and documented in his books, writings and interviews, and he has given a clear answer to the question “what is going on?” His answers have been re-affirmed again and again by a multitude of non-drug company-contaminated, independent researchers and clinicians, and it is this: The drugs, and not the diagnostic labels, are the problem!

I have likewise been convinced of that conclusion by the massive evidence compiled by the many courageous and ethical researchers (who have often been black-balled for their efforts). We all need to start paying attention to what they have been trying to tell us. Being a whistle-blower by nature, the massive evidence of harm has compelled me to speak out. I do not apologize for that.

A double standard
seems to be operating

It is obvious to me that a double standard has been applied.

I am accused of “unbalanced” reporting, making “unsubstantiated claims”, making “assertions that lack empirical support” and not citing references from the peer-reviewed medical literature. I dispute that assertion, but, then again, I am writing essays that are not for professionals in a medical context. Therefore, being an essayist, extensive documentation is not required. Actually though, the dozen or so columns that I have written for the Reader concerning the dangers of psych drugs have often had bibliographies or other references inserted into the body of the articles. Besides that all my claims are grounded by the medical literature and most of them are in sync with Whitaker’s extensive source material.

Evidence of the double standard is the reality that each year tens of billions of dollars are spent by BigPharma in order to convince us easily brain-washable consumers, through laughable, albeit slick commercials, to consume their drugs, without any valid proof of the safety or the efficacy of their dangerous substances.

We “consumers”, as are our  prescribing practitioners, are inundated by thousands of hours of biased and grossly “unbalanced” direct to consumer advertising (DTCA) promoting the drugs. And it has been demonstrated over and over that majorities of prescribing physicians are quite willing to accommodate such consumer’s demands to try out the latest substance they saw on TV.

The drug lobby in Washington, DC is the biggest and most pervasive trade organization lobby in the world, with the possible exception of the weapons industry. Drug sales reps that used to come to my office with their free pens, pizzas and post-it notes are backed up by the mainstream media’s softball reporting on the latest drug information (which came from press releases generated by the drug-makers). They only report on the positives of drugs, rarely mentioning the negatives, except for the small print or laugh out loud, rapid-fire disclaimers at the end of the advertisement that are required by the FDA, Being accused of unbalanced reporting is equally laughable.

A good example of not citing references from the literature appears in the body of the very letter by D’Allaird et al accusing me of the same. They bring up what is now recognized by credible observers as a propaganda myth promoted by BigPharma. They talk, without any reference to the literature, about the supposed increased incidence of suicides in children and adolescents after the black box warnings had been posted about the proven increased incidence of suicidality due to SSRI drugs. The FDA does not make critical comments about their paymasters in BigPharma lightly and no credible evidence for that bit of propaganda has been documented!

While I am at it, I need to dispel another myth about mental illness, and that is the “neurotransmitter imbalance” theory of mental illness that was repeated endlessly by the agents of BigPharma to promote the prescribing of psych drugs. The claim was repeated so often that many people started to believe it, even there has never been any evidence brought forward in the medical literature supporting the claim. Since it sounded plausible, prescribing physicians claimed that it was the truth, much to the delight of the industry. There is there no proof of the claim, nor is there any evidence for the assertion that psych drugs “re-balance” the illusory imbalance!
I haven’t seen any local group of mental health practitioners publicly questioning the inaccurate and biased DTCA advertising of psych drugs, which the whistle-blower and now de-frocked and effectively silenced NEJM editor Marcia Angell tried to warn us about. Somebody needs to be stepping up to the plate to warn about the risks of drug use before more millions of victims are put in danger!

Before I end this response, I want to mention the existence of a powerful neuropsychiatry reference book that was published in 2009. It was written by practicing psychiatrist and scholar  Grace E. Jackson, MD and is intended for health professionals and academics (although it can be understood by literate non-professionals). The book is entitled “Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime”.

The book, tellingly, was figuratively “black-listed” by mainstream medical and psychiatric journals (the book was never reviewed in any journal, for the same reason that neither of Whitaker’s books were reviewed). Such censorship should not come as any surprise, for those “blasphemous” truth-telling books contained such sobering information that the powers-that-be would naturally be afraid that if too many people read them, especially too many mental health practitioners, the psychopharmaceutical industry could come down.

Dr. Jackson’s book contains hundreds of valuable references from human studies and the animal research neuroscience literature (as well as from the psychiatric literature). The hundreds of studies prove without a doubt that long-term use of any of the five categories of psychiatric drugs (not just antipsychotics, but also psychostimulants, antidepressants, tranquilizers and “mood stabilizers”) can cause brain damage and therefore iatrogenic dementia of various types.

Dr. Jackson’s and Whitaker’s books should be required reading for all mental health practitioners, especially those who haven’t yet become aware of the dangers of psychotropic drugs.

Following are a partial list of other well-researched books and websites that I have used in my practice and my writings. More responses to come over the next few weeks.

Bibliography for
Demystifying Mental
Holistic Approaches
to Achieving Mental Wellness

Related Websites and Books







Toxic Psychiatry, Your Drug May Be Your Problem and Medication Madness - Peter Breggin, MD –  www.breggin.com

Prozac Backlash and The Antidepressant Solution - Joseph Glenmullen, MD

Mad In America:  Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill  and Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America - Robert Whitaker – www.madinamerica.com

Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide for Informed Consent, and Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime - Grace Jackson, MD

The ADHD Fraud - Fred Baughman, MD – www.fredbaughman.com

Excitotoxins - Russell Blaylock, MD – www.russellblaylockmd.com

Selling Sickness; How the World’s
Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies

Are Turning Us All Into Patients
- Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels

Let Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship Between the

Pharmaceutical Industry and Depression - David Healy, MD

Prescription for Nutritional Healing
– Phyllis Balch

The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine are Destroying Your Health - Randall FItzgerald

The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry is Destroying our Brains and Harming our Children - Carol Simontacchi