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.”
Psychological abuse and childhood neglect are strongly associated with depression in adulthood, according to a meta-analysis of childhood trauma and depression published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders. “The findings clearly highlight the potential impact of the more ‘silent’ types of childhood maltreatment (other than physical and sexual abuse) on the development of depression,” the researchers conclude.
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.”
The Scientific American reprints their interview with psychologist and terrorism expert John Horgan following the attacks in Paris on November 13th. “An issue I find problematic right now is the idea that to prevent terrorism, we have to first prevent radicalization… There are far more people who hold "radical" views than will ever become involved in terrorism, and there are plenty of terrorists (who are already small in number – a point we tend to forget) who don’t initially hold radical views but drift into terrorism regardless.”
Different types of child abuse have equivalent psychological effects, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry. It has previously been assumed that emotional and verbal abuse could have different or less harmful impact on a child’s psychology than physical or sexual abuse, but research now suggests that these forms of abuse can be just as damaging.
Reuters covers a new study in JAMA Psychiatry that suggests that children exposed to physical abuse and emotional abuse suffer from similar psychological and behavioral problems. “Even though doctors and parents often believe physical or sexual abuse is more harmful than emotional mistreatment or neglect, the study found children suffered similar problems regardless of the type of maltreatment endured.”
Researchers recently completed a first of its kind, large-scale international survey of attitudes about mental health and they were surprised by the results. According to their analysis published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders, people in developed countries, like the United States, are more likely to assume that ‘mental illnesses’ are similar to physical illnesses and biological or genetic in origin, but they are also much less likely to think that individuals can overcome these challenges and make a full recovery.
Former president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR), Roy Eidelson discusses efforts to undermine the Hoffman report which revealed the American Psychological Association’s collusion in torture. "First, from a familiar playbook, we have the obligatory attack on the patriotism of Hoffman and those who have criticized psychologists’ participation in abusive detention and interrogation operations,” he writes. “The most outrageous example comes from two retired military officers, David Bolgiano and John Taylor. In a recent piece they described the Hoffman Report as a ‘classic attack of cowards’ and also stated, ‘By the publication and release of this report, the APA becomes a willing co-conspirator to the likes of al Qaeda and ISIS.’”
At CounterPunch, Joseph Natoli connects Big Pharma, mass shootings, and rampant inequality. He writes: “The Brave New World soma strategy to deal with a population that, were they not doped up, might violently disrupt that brave new world, is useful if a society is ‘creatively destroying’ a growing number of its population each day. While the poor have daily evidence of their poverty, a collapsing middle class live in the illusion that they are middle class and just a short distance, not from ruin, but from fame and fortune. They are, in short, heading for a catastrophic break-down. Big Pharma is already set to give us all a ‘soft landing.’”
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.”
Over at CounterPunch, Carl Boggs takes on the knee-jerk mental illness response that pervades the airwaves after every mass shooting. He writes: “What the mental-health fixation lacks is any semblance of historical or social context. Given the persistence of U.S. imperialism and militarism — and mounting fascination with combat and guns in a society transfigured by its warfare state — Washington remains a thriving center of global violence: repeated armed interventions abroad have found their domestic parallel in the world’s largest prison system, a deepening gun culture, home-bred terrorism, police atrocities, and a media culture filled with spectacles of warfare and bloodshed.”
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.”
“Genetic explanations for violent crimes may encourage jurors to support an insanity defense, but jurors may also believe the defendant is a persistent threat who will commit more crimes in the future,” Science Daily reports. A study on over 600 participants found that when people read a genetic explanation for a violent murder they attributed less blame to the defendant but recommended a longer sentence.
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.”
Matthew Cooper, writing for Newsweek, reports that despite the preponderance of political rhetoric about “mental illness” after mass shootings, a review of the research suggests that the connection between mental health and gun violence is dubious.
On Tuesday morning, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of three former detainees against the psychologists who collaborated with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to oversee the torture program. According to the Intercept, psychologists James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen and their employees collected over $85 million dollars for designing and implementing techniques, based off of the work of Martin Seligman, that combatted torture-resistance techniques by creating a state of “learned helplessness.” There is, however, no evidence that these techniques gleaned any useful intelligence.
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.
“Although there is no established connection between autism and murder, some eagerly leapt to causality and scapegoating,” Andrew Solomon writes in the New York Times. “Tarring the autistic community in this manner — like presuming that most black people are thieves or that most Muslims are terrorists — is an insidious form of profiling. It exacerbates the tendency for people with autism to be excluded, teased and assaulted in childhood and adulthood.”
One of psychiatry’s most obvious vulnerabilities is the fact that various so-called antidepressant drugs induce homicidal and suicidal feelings and actions in some people, especially late adolescents and young adults. This fact is not in dispute, but psychiatry routinely downplays the risk, and insists that the benefits of these drugs outweigh any risks of actual violence that might exist.
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.”
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.
Individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 are more likely to commit a violent crime if they are taking an SSRI antidepressant than if they are not, according to new research out of Sweden. The study published in PLoS Medicine on Tuesday, suggests "warnings about the increased risk of violent behavior among young people taking SSRIs might be needed.”
“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%.”
In exchange for pleading guilty to murder, a young soldier received a 45-year sentence with the possibility of parole. The plea resulted from evidence that Chantix, a smoking cessation drug manufactured by Pfizer, can increase hostility and agitation, according to the SunHerald. “Several experts provided some evidence that Chantix affected (the soldier’s) ability to appreciate the nature and quality or wrongfulness of his acts,” the SunHerald noted.
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