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The title of this column, The Drugs May Be The Problem is also the title of a Citizens Commission on Human Rights-sponsored seminar that I will be presenting on October 8, 2016 in St Paul, MN.
I stole the main title from Dr Peter Breggin’s ground-breakng book Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications. I, along with thousands of Big Pharma skeptics, regard Breggin as a valued mentor. I have spent many hours studying his books and they occupy a significant section in my personal library.
Peter Breggin is the giant of psychiatric whistle-blowers and a huge thorn in the flesh of the super-wealthy and super-powerful multinational psychopharmaceutical corporations (and much of academic psychiatry) ever since his first ground-breaking book was published in 1991.
The title of that book was Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock and Biochemical Theories of the ‘New Psychiatry’.
2016 happens to be the 25th anniversary of Toxic Psychiatry and I am dedicating my seminar to Breggin. Soberingly, Breggin’s books are essentially banned books in polite medical establishment circles. His titles are rarely found in mainstream book-seller’s stores. His courageous truth-telling has resulted in his being treated as a banned author. His ideas are considered heretical in mainstream psychiatry, which makes his books continue to be somewhat popular for psychiatric survivors who know they have been sickened or made worse by the drugs.
Among the approximately 2 dozen books Breggin has written in his long career as author and practicing psychiatrist (who is still actually curing his patients at age 80) is his Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock and the Role of the FDA (1997, revised in 2008).
Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry exposed the corrupted pseudoscience that has enabled the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and academic psychiatry to thrive by foisting their addictive and brain-damaging synthetic psych drugs and electroshock “treatments” onto an unsuspecting and naive healthcare industry (and the brain-washed populace) despite the peer-reviewed (but obscurely) published scientific research from a number of altruistic and under-funded neuroscientists who haven’t been co-opted by the amoral multinational pharmaceutical corporations that are collectively known as Big Pharma.
The full title of Dr Breggin’s 1999 book was Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications. Dr David Cohen was co-author.
Psychiatrist William Glasser wrote the following in the forward to the first edition:
“Nowhere does the false medical thinking (that there is a drug cure for almost all common diseases) do more harm than in the modern psychiatric argument that mental illness is easily diagnosed and then cured by a side-effect-free drug. Nowhere is the correct psychiatric thinking more evident than in the books by Peter Breggin. In them he explains clearly that patients with mental illnesses are in almost all instances suffering from their inability to connect with important people in their lives and need help in making these vital connections. He supports safe, drug-free counseling as a more effective way to help people, and I enthusiastically agree with this premise.”
Psychiatrist Alberto Fergusson wrote:
“This book is one of the most important things that has happened to psychiatry and especially to so-called ‘psychiatric patients’ during this century. Having worked for more than 20 years with so-called schizophrenics – the main victims of the abuse by prescribed psychiatric drugs – I can say that Breggin and Cohen must be praised for the courage they have had to unmask many pseudo-scientific conclusions frequently present in supposedly scientific literature.”
Psychiatrist Douglas C. Smith endorsed the book with this:
“One hundred years from now, people will read current psychiatric textbooks with the same incredulity we have about blood-letting and snake oil. Your Drug May Be Your Problem will be remembered as the turning point and as the beacon that showed the way out of these dark days of widespread psychiatric drugging. Breggin and Cohen provide us with critical information we need to know in order to make informed decisions about psychiatric drugs, including when and how to stop taking them. They present it all within a coherent philosophy of life and health that makes the routing use of psychiatric drugs obsolete. If you have reached that inevitable point of being disillusioned with your psychiatric drug, this book will be your best friend and guide.”
In 2008, another of Breggin’s ground-breaking books was published. It was titled Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-altering Medications. The liner notes say:
“Medications for everything from depression and anxiety to (so-called) ADHD and insomnia are being prescribed in alarming numbers across the country, but the “cure” is often worse than the original problem. Medication Madness is a fascinating, frightening and dramatic look at the role that psychiatric medications have played in 50 case histories of suicide, murder, and other violent, criminal and bizarre behaviors…
“Psychiatric drugs frequently cause individuals to lose their judgment and their ability to control their emotions and actions. The book raises and examines the issues surrounding personal responsibility when behavior seems driven by drug-induced adverse reactions and intoxication.
“Many categories of psychiatric drugs can cause potentially horrendous reactions. Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Xanax, lithium, Zyprexa and other psychiatric medications may spellbind patients into believing they are improved when too often they are becoming worse. Psychiatric drugs drive some people into psychosis, mania, depression, suicide, agitation, compulsive violence and loss of self-control without the individuals realizing that their medications have deformed their way of thinking and feeling. The book documents how the FDA, the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry have oversold the value of psychiatric drugs. The book serves as a cautionary tale about our reliance on potentially dangerous psychoactive chemicals to relieve our emotional problems and provides a positive approach to taking personal charge of our lives.”
The Tragic Story of the Soteria Project and the Conspiracy Between the NIMH and Big Psychiatry to Kill It
5 years before his untimely death, Psychiatrist Loren Mosher endorsed Breggin’s Your Drugs May Be Your Problem by writing:
“Confronting current psychiatric drug prescribing practice head-on is a daunting task and we owe Drs Breggin and Cohen a vote of thanks for openly speaking the truth. Despite what the pharmaceutical companies would have us believe, we don’t need ‘a better life through chemistry.’ This book will help debunk this myth and provide practical advice on how to avoid psychiatric drugs and get off them.”
Dr Mosher was the highly esteemed founder of the experimental “Soteria Project: Community Alternatives for the Treatment of Schizophrenia” from 1970 to 1992.
Soteria proved that patients with first onset psychotic breaks could actually be cured without the need for coercive, in-patient psychiatry and the so-called “anti-psychotic/major tranquilizer” drug treatment that was standard in all of America’s in-patient psychiatric facilities. One only has to recall Jack Nicholson’s ward in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” where everybody was forced to take the authoritarian Nurse Ratched’s Thorazine at “Medication Time”.
The staff at Ratched’s insane asylum had no idea about the permanent brain damage, the Parkinson’s symptoms, the dementia, the tardive dyskinesia, the unemployability, the disability, the akathisia, the suicidality, the loss of IQ points, the chronic constipation, the dry mouth, the loss of sexuality, the early deaths, the general zombification, etc, etc that would be caused by Thorazine and every other so-called anti-psychotic drug ever made since then, including the second generation atypicals (and even the SSRIs) that wouldn’t appear on the scene for several more decades.
Many of Soteria’s patients were extremely lucky to be randomized into the Soteria Project and avoid being labeled as life-long schizophrenics. If it hadn’t been for the existence of Soteria, they would have instead been sent to a typical coercive Southern California insane asylum, where they would have been told that they had to be on dependency-inducing, brain-altering and brain-damaging psychiatric drugs for the rest of their lives.
Why Did the World of Psychiatry Find Me so Threatening?
Tragically, especially for the millions of future mis-diagnosed (and therefore mis-treated) ever-lasting “schizophrenic” patients since then, Soteria was sabotaged by the fear, suspicion and under-funding of the project by his own National Institute of Mental Health. The obviously unwelcome positive findings were accurately seen by the establishment types in Big Pharma and Big Psychiatry to be an economic threat to their industries, and they had to act to subvert the project.
In a posthumously published book (2004), Dr Mosher and his co-authors describe the highly successful innovative therapeutic approach – and the resistance to it - for both Soteria’s patients and the young staff. It was titled Soteria: From Madness to Deliverance. The book tells the story of the noble experiment that was intended to alleviate the suffering of some of the otherwise doomed fellow humans who would otherwise have been put at risk for permanent life-long drug-induced disabilities rather than given a chance at a cure.
Soteria’s website at http://www.moshersoteria.com/ describes the book and the project:
“Soteria is the story of a special time, space, and place where young people diagnosed as ‘schizophrenic’ found a social environment where they were related to, listened to, and understood during their altered states of consciousness. Rarely, and only with consent, did these distressed and distressing persons take ’tranquilizers’. They lived in a home in a California suburb with nonmedical caregivers whose goal was not to ‘do to’ them but to ‘be with’ them. The place was called ‘Soteria’ (Greek for deliverance), and there, for not much money, most recovered. Although Soteria’s approach was swept away by conventional drug-oriented psychiatry, its humanistic orientation still has broad appeal to those who find the mental health mainstream limited in both theory and practice.”
One can appreciate how Mosher and all the committed and enthusiastic non-professional healers that had worked so hard and so successfully at the Soteria House felt when the NIMH who had the purse strings decided to pull the plug on the experiment. Mosher resigned from the APA.
Loren Mosher’s Letter of Resignation from the APA
Here are excerpts from Mosher’s letter of resignation from the American Psychiatric Association, of which he had been a long-time member.
He unintentionally outlines in his resignation letter how dysfunctional organizations frequently try to get rid of their best people (especially the ones who also happen to be a threat to the less competent upper management types whose positions of power, influence, authority and seniority may be at risk. Making life miserable for promising up-and-coming employees is commonly orchestrated by less competent superiors by demoralizing the subordinates into quitting the organization. This cowardly attack can avoid controversy and legal entanglements. Mosher felt the pressure and logically resigned, saying “I want no part of it anymore”. Here is more of Mosher’s resignation letter:
“The trouble began in the late 1970s when I conducted a controversial study: I opened a program -- Soteria House -- where newly diagnosed schizophrenic patients lived medication-free with a young, nonprofessional staff trained to listen to and understand them and provide companionship. The idea was that schizophrenia can often be overcome with the help of meaningful relationships, rather than with drugs, and that such treatment would eventually lead to unquestionably healthier lives.
“The experiment worked better than expected. Over the initial six weeks, patients recovered as quickly as those treated with medication in hospitals.
“The results of the study were published in scores of psychiatric journals, nursing journals and books, but the project lost its funding and the facility was closed. Amid the storm of controversy that followed, control of the research project was taken out of my hands. I also faced an investigation into my behavior as chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Center for Studies of Schizophrenia and was excluded from prestigious academic events. By 1980, I was removed from my post altogether. All of this occurred because of my strong stand against the overuse of medication and disregard for drug-free, psychological interventions to treat psychological disorders.
“I soon found a less politically sensitive position at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland. Eight years later, I re-entered the political arena as the head of the public mental health system in Montgomery County, Md., but not without a fight from friends of the drug industry. The Maryland Psychiatric Society asked that a state pharmacy committee review my credentials and prescribing practices to make sure that Montgomery County patients would receive proper (read: drug) treatments. In addition, a pro-drug family advocacy organization arranged for more than 250 furious letters to be sent to the elected county executive who had hired me. Fortunately, my employers were not drug industry-dominated, so I kept my position.
“Why does the world of psychiatry find me so threatening? Because drug companies pour millions of dollars into the pockets of psychiatrists around the country, making them reluctant to recognize that drugs may not always be in the best interest of their patients. They are too busy enjoying drug company perks: consultant gigs, research grants, fine wine and fancy meals
“Pharmaceutical companies pay through the nose to get their message across to psychiatrists across the country. They finance symposia at the two predominant annual psychiatric conventions, offer yummy treats and music to conventioneers, and pay $1,000-$2,000 per speaker to hock their wares. It is estimated that, in total, drug companies spend an average of $10,000 per physician, per year, just on “education”.
“And, of course, the doctors-for-hire tell only half the story. How widely is it known, for example, that Prozac and its successor antidepressants cause sexual dysfunction in as many as 70% of people taking them?...
“Recently, it was dues-paying time for the American Psychiatric Association, and I sat there looking at the form. I thought about the unholy alliance between the APA and the drug industry. I thought about how consumers are being affected by this alliance, about the overuse of medication, about side effects and about alternative treatments. I thought about how irresponsibly some of my colleagues are acting toward the general public and the mentally ill. And I realized, I want no part of it anymore.”
The demise of the Soteria Project is just another of the multitude of daily examples of amoral, non-human, sociopathic corporations doing what is best for their bottom line and not doing what is best for the people. We are all the poorer for their actions.
Rest in peace Loren.