Peter Holley reports for the Washington Post that a powerful and highly addictive amphetamine drug known as fenethylline or Captagon is being used to fuel ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq. “Captagon has been around in the West since the 1960s, when it was given to people suffering from hyperactivity, narcolepsy, and depression.”
In this short audio clip, psychologist Sheldon Solomon discusses what research on our unconscious fears about death can tell us about terrorism, intolerance, and radicalism. “In the wake of the Paris attacks, we examine the worm that some people think is eating away at our core — our fear of death.”
A new study suggests that service members who take stimulant medications to stay alert are five times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the LA Times reports. “Those who had been prescribed multiple stimulants and the biggest supplies of the drugs were the most likely to have PTSD.”
Despite the promises of two successive governments to end forced shock treatment in Ireland, unwilling patients are still being forced to undergo the therapy, according to the Sunday Independent. “Writer Ernest Hemingway, who committed suicide shortly after ECT, is reported to have said before his death: ‘It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient.’"
The UK Times reports that pharmaceutical companies are actively lobbying to limit the release of clinical trial data to the public. Rather than limiting results and data to medical journals, new transparency initiatives are pushing for making the information publicly available. The push for transparency comes in the wake of the reanalysis of the Study 329 data on paroxetine (marketed as Seroxat and Paxil), which found that the industry study had misconstrued its results.
Existential therapist and writer, Jason Dias, claims that there is something deeper and more pervasive than guns, drugs, or mental illness at the bottom of the United States’ mass shooting problem. On aNewDomain he writes: “We have to acknowledge that people who are despairing right now, they’re the sane ones, the normal ones. It makes sense to despair when you’re looked down on, tormented, bullied. When you feel different and you’re alienated. When your culture is alienated. When violence is glorified not by movies and games and television, but by the government, by the news. When violence is fetishized by political parties.”
Writing for the conservative website The New American, C. Mitchell Shaw reports that more and more evidence is pointing to psychiatric drugs as a potential cause of mass shootings. “Of course anecdotes are not proof, and most people who regularly take antidepressants do so without becoming violent,” but, he adds, it appears “that young people are particularly at risk of developing violent tendencies, suicidal tendencies, or both while taking these drugs.”
A massive number of meta-analyses of antidepressant clinical trials have financial conflicts of interest and are unduly influenced by pharmaceutical companies, according to a review to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. Researchers also found that meta-analyses with industry ties almost never report any negative findings in their abstracts.
The Scientific American reports on a new analysis of antidepressant trials revealing that the vast majority of meta-analyses have industry links and suppress negative results. The results show that meta-analyses with industry support were much more favorable to the drugs than independent studies. For example, “meta-analyses by industry employees were 22 times less likely to have negative statements about a drug than those run by unaffiliated researchers.”
On her blog, A Disordered World, psychiatric survivor Jeanene Harlick writes that “prejudicial rhetoric about the mentally ill, following mass shootings, is exacerbating the already-overwhelming stigma, discrimination and oppression we experience as an unrecognized and disadvantaged minority group.”
Statistics from the UK reveal that prescriptions for painkillers and antidepressants continue to rise despite concerns over dependence and debilitating withdrawal effects. The British Medical Association (BMA) Board of Science has released a report that acknowledges changes to medical practice, research and policy necessary for addressing the dependence and withdrawal effects of benzodiazepines, opioids, and antidepressants.
Nunavut, Canada’s largest and northernmost territory, is suffering from a suicide rate that is 10 times the national average. “In the case of Inuit boys 15 to 19,” CBC News reports, “the suicide rate is 40 times higher than those of their peers in the rest of Canada.” A judicial inquest was ordered to examine the issue. The results revealed the underlying risk factors—“from the effects of historical trauma and its symptoms to the high rates of child sexual abuse, alcohol and drug use, poverty, high school dropout rates, and the cultural losses brought about by residential schools and forced relocations.”
After the 2009 suicide of a seven-year-old foster kid who had been on two “black box” medications intended for adults, Florida updated its policies to protect vulnerable children from over-prescription. Unfortunately, according to a report by Orlando Weekly, “foster children are still being put on psychotropic medications without caregivers following proper procedures.”
Writing for the Atlantic, David Dobbs examines how much harm has been done in the 14 years since Paxil was wrongly determined to be safe and effective. “Study 329, as it became known, helped spur a huge increase in Paxil prescriptions,” Dobbs writes. “In 2002 alone, over 2 million prescriptions were written for children and teens, and many more for adults.” “Thousands of children, teens, and young adults attempted or committed suicide while on Paxil,” and the reanalysis of Study 329 in BMJ makes it seem “more likely than ever” that many did because of the drug.
In a major story, the New York Times presents the re-analysis by David Healy, Jon Jureidini, Mickey Nardo and others of Study 329, published in the British Medical Journal yesterday, that finds "five of six adverse events labeled 'emotional lability' in the original study involved suicidal thinking or behavior but were not presented as such." The re-analysis, according to the Times, "reverses an earlier conclusion that caused a long-running dispute, and opens the way for journals to post multiple interpretations of the same experiment."
“In Gallup's annual measure of 25 major U.S. business sectors, the percentage of Americans with a positive view of the pharmaceutical industry dropped from 40% in 2014 to 35% this year, while the percentage with a negative view rose from 36% to 43%.”
According to an analysis by the Washington Post, police, on average, "shot and killed someone who was in mental crisis every 36 hours in the first six months of this year.” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum called it “a national crisis.” “We have to get American police to rethink how they handle encounters with the mentally ill. Training has to change.”
Jeffrey Lieberman, past-president of the American Psychiatric Association, authored an Op-Ed in last Friday’s New York Times, calling for improved mental health screenings in schools and emergency rooms in the wake of the murder of Virginia journalists Alison Park and Adam Ward. In support of forced treatment mechanisms, Lieberman claims: “Almost every mentally ill perpetrator of mass violence had been symptomatic and untreated for lengthy periods of time before their crime, because they (or their families) did not seek treatment or they refused it.” More →
The Intercept illustrates the growing insecurity of our medical and mental health data in an age of privacy breaches. Individual stories detail instances of electronic therapy notes being shared between all doctors in a practice, employees being fired after mental health information is disclosed through workplace wellness programs, and police data on past suicide attempts being used to prevent Canadian citizens from crossing the US border.
An influential 2007 US National Institute of Mental Health-led study included a statistical manipulation that disguised the fact that youth taking antidepressants were actually over four times as likely to experience suicidal events as those taking placebo, according to a study in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine. This new published analysis has appeared several years after the revelations were first publicly discussed. More →
In The New Yorker, Rachel Aviv writes about the physician-assisted euthanizing of Godelieva De Troyer, a Belgian woman who decided to kill herself because she had long suffered in depression. And in Everyday Health, Therese Borchard discusses the article and writes about moments in the past when her depression made her want a physician-assisted suicide. Meanwhile in Canada, a year after the country's Supreme Court struck down a ban on physician-assisted suicide, the government has yet to draft any guidelines for the practice. More →
"A&E staff are often unsympathetic to patients suffering a mental health crisis and judgmental about injuries they have inflicted on themselves," stated The Guardian about a report from the Care Quality Commission. After investigating the country's hospital emergency departments, the Commission found doctors and nurses to be "unhelpful," and lacking in "basic respect" towards people suffering emotional crises. And those professionals with higher levels of mental health training were often rated the worst by patients. More →
Members of The Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective have been engaged in ongoing online discussions about the pathologization of suicidal feelings in contemporary Suicidology. Many of the authors have been asking whether the psychiatric approach is seriously hindering understanding of feelings that were historically more often seen as having "theological, philosophical, legal, and aesthetical" import. More →
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