How Many Deaths Will It Take Till We Know?

Alice Keys, MD
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Each time I see the initials for Mad In America, MIA, I think of the Vietnam war and lost young men. I remember engraved steel MIA bracelets, each with the name and birthday of one man lost to our world. We girls wore the ID bracelets of those lost men as if we were going steady with them.

Men. They seemed older to me then. But they were men only because they fought in a war. Had they stayed home, they would have been teenagers and college students waiting to be old enough to drink and vote.

They’re lost boys to me. They were eighteen or nineteen when they were sent away from home to kill and die.

Today, forty-five sounds young to me. Forty-five is a young age to die an unnecessary death.

I listened to a recent talk by Robert Whitaker that’s posted on Mad In America. Although I feel troubled by his report of the increasing numbers of Americans receiving disability payments for mental disorder diagnoses, I am more troubled by all the early deaths.

These deaths are very early deaths among patients taking psychiatric drugs. When I heard Mr. Whitaker quote one recent study that put the average age of death among a group of medicated patients at 45, I was stunned. Forty-five years old.

With such a large percentage of the American population taking psychiatric drugs, this is a deadly epidemic. This is a medical emergency.

Why aren’t we all wearing bracelets engraved with the names of these dead and lost children, brothers, sisters, parents and neighbors? Where are the black armbands like those we wore after the shootings of student war protesters at Kent State University?

In the spring of 1969 we sang about the “dawning of the age of Aquarius” and “the mind’s true liberation”. Our music almost seemed to transform the nightly death counts into the birth pains of a new age.

Then, in December of 1969, we watched television while they picked birthdays for the draft as if they were winning lotto ticket numbers. Except the prize was a one-way ticket to the killing fields.

The nightly news reports kept the reality of war in our faces every night. “Our boys” were dying on the six o’clock news.

Because of this media coverage, a public outcry arose.

We had peace marches and war protests, armbands and bracelets. People spoke up on the news against the deaths. As a nation, we managed to shut down that “unpopular war” at last. But before we stopped the killing, over five million people had died.

How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died?

There is a woman I see when I walk. Beth. She walks a lot too. She seems a gentle woman and wears a soft name. I guess the prescription drugs she takes from the way she moves and the things she says.

Each time I see her and say hello, she asks if she knows me. I introduce myself again. We shake hands. Each time we meet, she wants to know if she’s ever said anything that would make me think she’s “a nutso”. She encourages me to let her know if she says “anything crazy”. Each time, I reassure her of my pleasure at our meeting.

Since we spoke last, I can think only of Beth’s increased risk of an early death. She leaves the soft shadow of a real person on my mind. But a year from now I may not remember her.

The war and the muddy soldiers in their blotchy-green fatigues crouched a world away and, at the same time, crouched with us at our round oak dinner table. While we nine ate our boiled potatoes from heavy plates in our kitchen, those young men died far from home.

I remember them. The television made certain of this.

My head can’t tell the difference between my memories of digging our potatoes in the fields behind town and my recollections of the faces of those men who walked with their guns slung loose in their hands at dinner time.

When I listen, in my memory, to the sound of machine-gun fire on the evening news from half a century ago, I compare it to my memory of the blue jay’s summer screech. They both sound equally real to me. My memories of stitch-lines of dirt plumes raised by bullet strikes are more compelling than my memory of that jay’s blue feathers.  

Television left a false reality trail as bright as real life even before advertisers got really, really good at it.

Mr. Whitaker said that eighty percent of Americans in a survey reported believing that chemical imbalances in the brain are the cause of emotional distress. My customers walked in the door proud to have this knowledge. They came prepared to engage with me in scientific discussions of neurotransmitters with information they had gleaned from television commercials and the internet.

Not one of them talked about signing up in a lottery for the chance at an early death.   

I see the initials MIA and recall images of tropical forests, men wading the muddy Mekong delta, red blood and a man trapped inside a low, close cage in the tropical sun far from the fields of home.

These images are imprinted forever inside me, courtesy of television.

There have to be faces on the numbers, names on these statistics for there to be a public cry of outrage large enough to stop the advertising and give us a chance to put the brakes on this deadly epidemic.

It took faces every night on the evening news to stop the Vietnam war.

But who will show us their faces?

We’ve lost access to the ordinary media channels. Money speaks louder than truth in America.

These are actors’ faces we see over dinner now. Tragic faces bloom with new happiness after a kind doctor lets them have helpful pills developed by scientists.

Today’s commercials are more compelling than ordinary life. Their messages are bigger, louder and more seductive than anything real can ever be. Their messages grab hold and dig in.

Real life is made of quiet, soft, forgettable people.

How many deaths will it take before we change how we do business in America?

 

Thanks for reading.

Alice

 

 

 

 

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182 COMMENTS

  1. Millions will have to die before this. Luckily for psychiatrists they’ll die old, wealthy and happy, and with legal immunity just like Defense Secretary McNamara did after being responsible for Agent Orange and the escalation of Vietnam.

    No one is safer than a psychiatrist from becoming one of these millions.

    I like the Vietnam analogy though. You’ve got the people who thought they were signing up for the good fight (people who walk into your office indoctrinated with neurotransmitter mythology) and then on the other hand the people who were drafted. Really drafted. By coercion. The POWs.

    And then there’s the whole powderkeg of how psychiatry has lined up with government and military to medicalize the sorrows of war. If actual soldiers don’t die on the front lines, they’ll die 20 years younger from the drugs they are sold by psychiatry to numb the memories of war.

    It’s like ‘here kid, take this gun and go over to Afghanistan’ and then when they get back it’s PTSD labels and hospitalizations and then they take the guns off them.

  2. Genocide is a very strong word but accurate. We pulled Vioxx off the market for a 4 fold increase in heart attacks. By contrast, combining antidepressants with antipsychotics causes an 18 fold increase in heart attacks. But our lives are supposedly worth less than older people with arthritis who vote so we haven’t heard about this yet.

    The total deaths due to the increased mortality from Vioxx equaled all the Americans who died in the Vietnam war. I think if someone crunches the numbers, we’ll find that the number of people killed by psych meds equal the number of Americans who died in all the wars in all the history of our country.

    But how are we going to stop it? Why complain without a solution? I think entrepreneurship points to many more solutions than begging governments and charities for funding. Let’s start some new, innovative, effective, businesses! Some businesses that can grow big enough to reach across this whole problem. There is a time to grieve our losses and a time to create solutions, and both times are NOW!

    • If we can’t use the word “genocide” what is the word to use when a group of people are singled out, labelled and then systematically poisoned. Nazism? That’s a strong word that comes from another country in another century. You are aware of course, from reading Whitaker that there is a strong connection between eugenics and the treatment of the labelled. The gas oven technology was first tested on crazy people in the United States.

      I have been a peer worker/advocate for over 20 years. I believe I was drugged by a misogynistic male doctor because he was threatened by the fact that I took my kids and left my husband and then sued my father for 12 years of childhood rape. I am watching my peers become demented and experience multiple organ damage from the drugs they are prescribed. I took the drugs for 20 years until I realized that I was being euthanized for profit. I am 59 years old and I expect to die of stroke or heart failure at any moment because of the systemic damage to my entire body.

      I am not invisible. But nobody will look at me or listen to me because as a labelled person I am categorically invalid. When I die no-one is going to hold the doctors and drugs companies accountable for their eugenic practices.

  3. It is good to see a psychiatrist who actually has empathy and feelings of concern about people in the mental health system If only there were more of them.

    And I think she is right to focus on the early deaths that the drugs cause. Deaths make people pay attention. Or do they?

    Because as long as we are seen as less than human, the general public, blissfully convinced that it could never happen to THEM, really doesn’t care.

    But I have a suggestion about strategy here. Yes, definitely, talk about deaths. But let’s focus on what is done to children by the system. People get very concerned about what is done to children even when they ignore the same atrocities that adults experience.

    In 1982, I led the successful ballot measure to ban shock treatment in my hometown of Berkeley. I’m convinced that one of the main reasons we won was my own personal story of being experimented upon with shock at the age of six.

    And a few years ago, the death at four years old of Rebecca Riley from psychiatric drugs made national headlines.

    But in her case, in spite of all the evidence, the doctors responsible for this were not prosecuted. And that leads to a second suggestion. We need to demand the criminal prosecution of the doctors who commit crimes like that. Even one criminal prosecution will lead to big changes. Right now, criminal doctors act with impunity, thinking there will be no consequences for what they do.

    We must demand that our lives be valued, and that these criminals go to prison.

      • True. Part of this has to do with the idolatry of fabled childhood innocence. People are oblivious to the fact that child is usually man at his most primitive. Yes children are sweet, but they are very often merciless bullies towards other children and insensitive to the feelings of others, and only concerned with themselves. Sorry to play the iconoclast, but it is true, although of course, this doesn’t warrant abusing them.

    • Ted, My family member was killed by these drugs, by a psychiatrist who got away with it. It wasn’t that I didn’t try to find justice, I really did try. I raised the alarm, I shot the flares, I did everything you can imagine, but to no avail. Why is that? Probably because, in part, of what you said, and that is, people just don’t care because of the stigma of mental illness (“it happens to them, not us” delusion). In my search for justice, I followed the money trail, and it ended at the FDA. They are the ones who approve deadly toxins, they are also the culpable ones, at least in legal currency. I know there are more culpable ones, such as the psychiatrist who kept my brother a prisoner and would not release him on many occasions, kept upping the drugs, changing the drugs, changing the labels, you name it, it was done with wanton abandon of any hint of ethical anything. It didn’t happen over night. It was an insidious, torturous painful death that took at least 6 months to occur. As the feds said when they read the files “Yep, they cooked him”. If I were able to go after the psychiatrist, he would just point the finger at the FDA, and then what…the FDA is not going to answer to this. They just do not care. Why should they, there aren’t enough protesting this. If we get together in a “million man” march, I doubt that would be enough…

      It doesn’t help either, when the coroner writes “natural causes” on the death certificate, as in my loved one’s case. There was nothing natural about his death. But there you have it, that’s their power. So, a word to add to this devastation is “coroner”. because coroner’s can and often do contribute to psychiatry’s killing machine. They just rubber stamp the death certificate,and then a grieving family is left having to fight this first, to get a hearing on this, something called a FIAT, which nobody from the states attorney’s office claims to understand…and all the while the statutes are winding down. It is dizzying to go through the walls and red tape and bureaucrazy (yes, thats a z). All this to get to a lawsuit against the psychiatrist, which will surely eat the statute of limitations up. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

      So, there are really many ways of looking at how this criminality is happening right under our noses, This is a short simplified list, and is definitely not exhaustive: Look at social factors (complacent people convinced it only happens to the “mentally ill”); political factors (FDA approving toxins as a rule, Feds only care about federal money that was robbed, not human lives); criminal factors (psychiatrists robbing medicaid and medicare and only getting fined by the feds, so they can keep killing our families and keep taking more federal money. Also, FDA accepting research known to be fraudulent); and familial factors (the systemic evolution of the original emotional overwhelm that lead to bringing our loved one to a psychiatrist in the first place-we need to talk more about prevention but that’s for another day)….

      Genocide? It is absolutely a genocide. And we as a society sat back for decades and criticized the Germans for following Hitler, as if we could never do that! And here is history repeating itself again. Make absolutely no mistake, we have another Hitler, its alive and well. Re-dressed, re-branded, but the fall out is the same.

      The one point that really does seem to grab “them” is when it happens to children. And isn’t it tragic again, to know that children are very much caught up in this genocide. Ted, I agree with your idea of a strategy here. I agree the way to get “them” to stop and listen is to show them pictures of children, to let them know this can happen to their beloved children at any time, and any day. It really pains me to have to agree with this. But there, I’ve said it. I think most families who have lost someone would also agree. Do what it takes. But do it.

  4. “Currently, these people are not being sorted by genetic or ethnic similarity (unless you believe there is a genetic predisposition for “mental illness”)but rather by access to third party payment for drugs. You don’t have money, you don’t get the drugs.”

    This may be so in the U.S.. It isn’t in countries with socialised medicine, like Denmark for instance. You don’t have money, you’ll get the drugs, anyway. Genocide is a strong word, yes. But I do see a high correlation between holding the belief that it’s genetic and holding the belief that drugs are the answer among your colleagues. You may want to read Olga Runciman’s post: https://www.madinamerica.com/2012/04/fe-fi-fo-fum-i-smell-the-wiff-of-a-eugenics-drum/

  5. OK, here it goes again. I greatly appreciate the concerns about early deaths, and have not heard Mr. Whitakers talk, Alice, but early in my career, well before the explosion of prescribing psychiatric medication, I was taught that the lifespan of those diagnosed (I know, I know that such diagnoses are suspect) were much less than the general population. This apparently had more to do with factors other than the medication. We were much more cautious about medication in that time (late 60s, early 70s, even for so-called schizophrenia). Has this been re-considered by Mr. Whitaker or others? Are we sure this is from psychiatric medication solely or mainly?

    • Yes, other factors (causes) outside of “medications” exist (psychiatry does not use medications, psychiatry uses drugs. Lets please all get that right once and for all. If psychiatry were a proper medical discipline, it would be able to prove an empirically scientific etiology of disease, but because it does not empirically prove any etiology of disease, it cannot then be a proper medical discipline). Okay, having said that, I would like to say of course people die from other means outside of drug toxicity. They die from being tied in restraints which leads to asphyxiation and petechiae hemorrhage, which causes cardiac arrest, which causes sudden death. They can also die from ECT. They used to die from insulin induced coma. There are many ways in which psychiatry kills people, not just from the drugs they use. But mostly, people are dying from anti depressant drugs and anti psychotic drugs.

    • I think one open question is whether the statistics related to early death involve chronicity of problems, as opposed to just first-time diagnosis. I’m guessing they do.

      – If chronic use of psych meds contributes to greater chronicity of problems (a central theme of “Anatomy of an Epidemic”), and
      – If greater chronicity of problems contributes to early death,
      – then yes, I think the logic correctly follows that chronic use of psych meds contributes to early death.

      So psych meds might be one contributing factor, along with others.

      • Among the others are trauma – please see Kaiser Permanente’s work with the ACE study that found that early childhood trauma was linked to every kind of disease and unwellness later in life, physical, mental, emotional including our darlings of CV disease, all kinds of organ stuff and “mental illness.” http://www.acestudy.org/ I know this is very familiar to most people reading here, but bears repeating in this context.

    • Steve Moffic,

      People with “schizophreniia” died 12 years earlier before the drugs. It rose to 25 years ealier after they were introduced into the paradigm.

      If you go to the top of the Mad in America site, you will find a tab, ‘Source Documents’.

      Please read each of the citations, the data, scientific literature.

      Ironically, many of the docs on this site are behind the learning curve, and the dialogue continues to get stopped mid-stream because psychiatrists have not taken time to read the studies that many non-medical people are rather well-versed!

      You say, “We need psychiatrists?”
      (the conventional, bio-psychiatric version)

      I say, “Like hell, we do!”

      Duane

    • When someone, who was also “taught” that people have a chemical imbalance; says “I was taught that the lifespan of those diagnosed (I know, I know that such diagnoses are suspect) were much less than the general population;” not only is this showing a certain inability to look at the source, which has proven to be highly corrupt; but it’s truly distressing for people who come here on this blog, and HAVE listened to Whitaker’s speech, HAVEN’T first gone to be “taught” things which they aren’t willing to let go of, and then are expected to have to deal with the squeamishness of someone who easily has many times more money than they do to do research, buy books, go to talks… And I would think that for someone who has any intelligence and willingness to look at the subject matter, it wouldn’t be too much to look at the overwhelming data that points out what kind of toll these “medications” take on the body, and added to that the immense billions the drug companies have had to pay out because they tried to cover up these side effects. I have no clue how someone could conclude otherwise than that these drugs decrease a person’s life span considerably. I would advise Mr. Moffic to show more responsibility before he posts such questions. If nothing else, listen to Whitaker’s talk, which I believe is abundantly available online. It becomes more that a bit odd when people who haven’t ever studied “psychiatry” are much more informed that someone who dares to promote himself as being “open minded” or “radical.”

      One simple google search, points out that in the 50s already, Thorazine, which was widely used as a psychiatric drug, was so toxic that nurses administering it had to wear rubber gloves to protect their skin. Is THAT what’s meant by: “We were much more cautious about medication in that time (late 60s, early 70s, even for so-called schizophrenia).” And Thorazine wasn’t the only highly toxic drug used…

      Here’s another article http://www.stopshrinks.org/reading_room/drugs/dark_side_1.htm

      I’ve been reading through these blogs for more than a few weeks, and I have to say that reading Mr. Moffics responses (I stopped reading his blogs) is more than disruptive. It’s not necessary to repeat propaganda by the drug companies and the psychiatric industry. All the people here that have truly studied such books as Whitaker’s and Peter Breggin’s have no need to hear sentimental references to propaganda they know doesn’t add up.

      And no. Psychiatric drugs aren’t going to magically cure homelessness. I haven’t even heard that Monsanto corporation has come up with a seed that will grow into a house, not even a hospital; although they say that they have seeds which will magically fix the economy, the result of course is exactly the opposite.

  6. I thought I should probably add an example and explanation for the prior comment. Take PTSD. We now know that is a full-body disorder, that severe trauma not only takes a mental toll, but makes one more vulnerable to all sorts of medical diseases. Now add the research that suggests that more trauma is also in the background of those diagnosed with so-called schizophrenia and you’ve got a reason other than medication for very early deaths. The same may be true for depressive disorders.

    • It’s a tough question to answer experimentally as it hasn’t and won’t be considered ethical to randomly assign folks medications for severe mental illness to determine effects of medication on length of life. A case has to be with other methods.

      That symptoms of psychiatric disorders affects someone’s entire body/well-being I don’t think is a surprise or new to many. I can see how being hyper-vigilant can lead to disorders related to high stress (ex. heart disease) or how being depressed may lead people to not take much of an interest in their own health, increasing the risks someone with depressive symptoms to experience decreased overall health and increased health problems. Just like psychiatric disorders are associated with other health problems of the whole body, however, so to are psychiatric medications known to affect more than someone’s minds. Weight gain, metabolic problems, increased blood sugars and cholesterol, kidney issues, interactions with other medications/substances, and other psychiatric symptoms that are associated with poorer health (low energy, sleep issues, etc.). From all of this, I don’t think that being diagnosed with a mental disorder has a greater claim on affecting bodies more than drugs do.

      And while also not addressing the question directly and with some methodoligical issues, some of the comparative outcome studies on natural course vs. medicated course of many people with particular diagnoses showing higher likelihood of recovery without medications (ex. Harlow). Because psychiatric symptoms are associated with poorer health and medication use can also affect people’s bodies negatively, if people recover and never take meds, that means they are less likely to experience negative health effects of psychiatric symptoms and were never exposed to the damages some of the meds can take on the body. If taking medications is associated with less recovery, than many of those people experience continued symptoms of psychiatric distress that are associated with poorer health as well as being exposed to toxic effects of meds without all that much benefit.

      We also know that many interventions can reduce severity of some mental health symptoms and actually be positive for people’s physical health (nutrition, exercise, etc.) These are routinely not included in psychiatric care planning and people who experience body and energy affecting side effects of medications may find engaging in these interventions more difficult.

      Related to what you were taught during your training, lifespans can be shortened for all sorts of reasons. Lifelong effects of trauma and its toll, lack of familiar and social support, lack of access to quality health care, environmental stressors, etc. These may all be associated with being considered mentally ill, but they are not necesarily (and I think not likely) caused by having a particular illness. People who are labelled ill and experience significant symptoms, regardless of medication use, can face isolation, added trauma, poor housing, poor healthcare access, limited employment, limited opportunity, stigma, etc. These are not symptoms of a mental illness, are symptoms of systemic injustice on many levels to people considered mentally ill, and I bet can negatively influence lifespan significantly. If you throw medications into the mix that have limited efficacy and all sorts of body damaging side effects, it does not surprise me at all if medication use can generally reduce lifespan even more.

    • Psychiatric diagnosis is so vague, I question whether studies showing a relationship between diagnosis and ill health make any sense at all.

      How extensively were pre-existing conditions controlled for in those studies? Don’t we all have a pre-existing condition — aging?

      You may have a lot of people with “depression” who may also be, for example, sedentary, which is a health risk in itself. Is it the “depression” or the sedentariness that causes poor health?

      I shudder every time I see one of those studies purporting to link a state of mind to ill physical health, as though bad thoughts lead to disease. This smells like another thread in psychiatry’s campaign for medical credibility, and an argument for prophylactic psychiatric medication.

    • Give me a break! PTSD is not a mental illness. It is the normal response of a human being to horrible and traumatizing experiences! PTSD is a creation of the DSM and pathologizes something that is a normal human response. Can’t you turn loose of your diagnosing for just a little while?

      • “PTSD” isn’t even an acceptable acronym IMO, because of the “D”. Post-traumatic stress is a natural (“normal” is an arbitrary cultural concept, and doesn’t need to have anything to do with what is natural), and actually also purpose- and meaningful response to trauma. There’s nothing “disordered” about experiencing post-traumatic stress.

        • Thanks for pointing out the difference between “normal” as opposed to “natural.” You’re right, natural is a much better word to use here and words are vitally important. I just get really worked up over this particular issue because we’ve sent so many people to Iraq and Afghanistan to get maimed and broken in so many senses of these words, and when they come home and begin exhibiting difficulties in dealing with what they went through, the mental health system tells them that they are ill! It just really chaps me. My roommate has a severe case of this due to things that were done to him as a child and I can guarantee you that he is not ill. It just really chaps me to no end. Thanks for the help.

    • There’s no evidence that psychiatric “medications” are organically anything but controlled substances that cause trauma (that interfere with natural processes in the brain) and are disabling. There’s also considerable evidence showing how much damage they do, how addictive they are, how they interfere with recovery, how they cause more relapses, how they cause a lessoning of life span… At what point is this supposed to add up to not being a contributing factor to trauma that causes a loss of life!?

      It is also quite operative when Mr. Moffic says about PTSD: “We now know that is a full-body disorder. No, that is what “psychiatry” knows because of the lack of effectiveness of THEIR treatment. This doesn’t make it a “full-body” disorder. This points out to the lack of effectiveness of their treatment. AS IS ALREADY KNOWN, by looking at the Open Dialogue method in Finland, the Soteria Project, the Data from the WHO in regards to those who AREN’T medicated with “schizophrenia,” and their greater rate of recovery, and their less rate of relapse; people who aren’t “treated” by those Mr. Moffic includes when he says “we know,” they do BETTER. But the people Mr. Moffic includes with “we” don’t accept this.

      And this has been going on long enough for any sane person to determine that Mr. Moffic isn’t a good source for information. And for him to take these “medications” he still thinks work for “some” people, isn’t going to magically change that!

      • I forgot to finish a quote with the second quotation marks. So, I’m adding that here:

        It is also quite operative when Mr. Moffic says about PTSD: “We now know that is a full-body disorder”. No, that is what “psychiatry” knows because of the lack of effectiveness of THEIR treatment. This doesn’t make it a “full-body” disorder. This points out to the lack of effectiveness of their treatment. AS IS ALREADY KNOWN, by looking at the Open Dialogue method in Finland, the Soteria Project, the Data from the WHO in regards to those who AREN’T medicated with “schizophrenia,” and their greater rate of recovery, and their less rate of relapse; people who aren’t “treated” by those Mr. Moffic includes when he says “we know,” they do BETTER. But the people Mr. Moffic includes with “we” don’t accept this.

        And in reference to “psychiatric” treatment. It’s quite interesting that a person who has been labeled as “schizophrenic,” and has “non reality based” thoughts; by nature choses things that are so incredulous that they (with just a little bit of empathy) will learn within a short period how their mind attached onto fear in order to learn how fear doesn’t work. I’ve been reading these phobic responses by Moffic for perhaps a month now or a little bit more, or less.

        I would even go so far as to say that his beliefs aren’t flexible enough to be “psychotic.”

        I, um, wonder whether that would be considered a “personal attack.”

        Regardless, I don’t really interest myself in such people. There’s enough of that around Ad Nauseum every day in “civilization.” I prefer “crazy” people. The ones who are in danger of being treated in a way which shortens their life span only to be told that it’s them not the treatment. You see, if it was a “psychotic” person doing this, it would have stopped by now…

  7. You don’t need any studies to know that psychiatric drugs are very detrimental to general health and well-being. I was on psychotropic drugs for the most part of 20 years and I was dying a slow, tortuous death. I managed to detox just in the nick of time. I know many people now whose lives are destroyed by poisonous drugs. Poisons kill people.

    Are psychiatrists so desperate that they need poisons to help people? The drug companies would not be so successful at selling their drugs at enormous prices if the medical profession did not help them so much. No one can get these toxic substances without a prescription. We need true healing doctors. Maybe the doctors who post here might have some suggestions as to how doctors might do more than write prescriptions? Doctors who care might join together and lobby for change. They might encourage other doctors to turn their back on the fraudulent, corrupt pharmaceutical industry and seek to provide true healing for all those people who seek their help and of course never force it on anyone.

  8. Alice,

    How many deaths?

    The death will continue until we begin to get serious about organizing and DEMANDING that things change –

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2012/05/11866/

    I don’t see a serious committment to do so.
    Maybe the timing’s not right?
    But we better all get together and come up with a way to stop this madness; and we better do so sooner, rather than later.

    Re: The Vietnam War… My brother-in-law served in the Marine Corp shortly after the Tet Offensive. He was one of the fortunate ones who made it home – injured, however. Three purple hearts worth of injury, in fact.

    My best,

    Duane

  9. Fraud that results in misery, harm, and death while enriching a priveleged few is a staple of the US economy and isn’t going away any time soon. As Chris Hedges says, we have experienced a coup d’etat in slow motion by a corporate criminal class. And if you don’t like it, too bad. Quebec just essentially criminalized peaceful protest and expect such laws to be implemented here. What i have noticed is that if something does not directly effect someone’s life in an adverse manner, most people do not care. Justice, truth etc. be damned. So, depsite this mass murder being committed by psychiatry before our eyes most people have no clue and, if you were to tell them, wouldn’t care. As Winston from 1984 has said, “If there was hope, it must lie in the proles”.

    • Agreed. If people don’t know about the evils of psychiatry or the pharmaceutical industry, they don’t know because they don’t want to know. The only stimulus for their concern would be to be personally involved on the side of the victims. Until then, it is pull the ladder up and sod the rest!

      When will people get out of this deplorable habit of assuming that people are just merely unaware and start conceptualising this problem in terms of a kind of elective blindness.

      Then again, why should these people care when psychiatry confers upon them the honour of saneness and rationality, which I believe has lead to sane pride, similar to national pride, only these people use psychiatric mythology as opposed to national mythology as an inexhaustible source of pride and ethnocentrism.

  10. Hi Alice,

    Isn’t this the reason why there is a movement now to offer primary care services in community mental health clinics, to better integrate physical health care and mitigate some of this risk (from metabolic syndromes, smoking, etc.) that is contributing to the earlier death rates?

    I suppose I was “fortunate” that I developed Type II Diabetes 3 years before the onset of my psychosis, because I already had a low carb/low glycemic diet physical health routine well in place.

    It seems though that many patients aren’t getting counceling on the type of lifestyle changes that are needed to go on an atypical anti-psychotic successfully (as most will induce metabolic disorders fairly quickly if you don’t follow dietary restriction). I haven’t come across any research on which diets work best with medication. I have learned a lot though reading about natural medicine approaches for schizophrenia, which are primarily diet and vitamin based approaches. I’m not sure if they have any direct effect on the underlying causes of the psychosis itself, but as general diets they are good.

    • The clinics are a real hit and miss thing in my state. When I was in the Northwest part of the state I got really great help with some of my issues from the community mental health clinic. Then, I moved to the capital city of our state and both clinics here are absolutely awful; it takes over six weeks to get in and then you are seen once for maybe half an hour but usually it’s fifteen minutes and this is at the hands of a social worker who doesn’t give a damn about the people she’s working for. At least she doesn’t seem to give a damn. She lied to me and when I reported what she’d said the person heading the clinic agreed that she’d lied. So many people going to this clinic don’t know how to speak up for themselves nor do they know who to go to. They’re afraid too on top of everything else. Of course, almost all of them fall into the disenfranchised of our fair city and people don’t care about what happens to them, as long as they don’t cause “trouble” on the streets.

  11. Alice,

    Great column and I definitely agree that the drugs are primarily responsible for these early death rates.

    However, another possible factor is that people with “mental illness” are not taken seriously by physicians as all symptoms are seen through the MI label. Even though I stopped taking psych meds a few years ago, this happened to me because I stupidly disclosed my psych med history since it had some relevance to my current medical situation. Lesson learned as in the future, hell will freeze over before I disclose this information again.

    Steve, I would be careful about believing what you were taught in medical school regarding people with mental illness since so much information is biased.

  12. The other more obvious factor I didn’t mention if that the stigma of being identified as having a mental disorder clearly influences negatively the response of most primary care physicians, so you don’t generally get good medical care. This is still true, though worse in the past.

    • No, The label isn’t “still true but worse in the past”. I had to carry a file from my PCP’s office to the lab with big letters Hx PSYHOSIS on it.
      I might as well have had a label that said “Don’t believe anything I say”. It was humiliating and dehumanizing, and had nothing to do with the lab work I needed.

    • Steve Moffic,

      Are you telling us (with a straight-face)that General Pracitioners are the problem when it comes to stigma?

      Really?

      And if they would just get out of the way, and let board certified psychiatrists do thier thing, we could straighten this entire out this entire mess, right?

      Wow.
      Unfreakingbelieveable!

  13. Boy, this brought a lot of memories back for me. I think you said you went to school in Louisiana? It’s obvious that you’re not from Louisiana because you’d never talk about potatos; you’d talk about rice. Anyway. I think that once again, you’ve brought up something of vital importance here. I suspect that many people on these toxic drugs are “dead” long before their bodies die. I’m speaking spiritually and emotionally here. Their physical deaths are just the final event in a long line of “dying” experiences. I work in Admissions in a state hospital. One afternoon we admitted a man who was fiesty and lively. Four months later I watched him as he was discharged in our department. He stared into space, could barely move, and had to be physically helped to stand and shuffle out the door. I wanted to punch a nurse who said, “Oh, Mr. So-and-So, how much better you’re doing!” The drugs are killing people’s lives, hopes, dreams, you name it and it’s all dead. As for who is responsible for these deaths, I think that’s a very complicated thing. So many of us have our own pet peeve group that we want to see strung up as the responsible party. Some want the psychiatrists prosecuted, others want the drug companies brought to trial, some point to the FDA, a few see other medical doctors being the culprits, some attack the media. I think the point is that it’s one, huge, convoluted mess where all of these groups have gotten into bed with one another. It’s all of these groups together contributing to the problem. When you go after only one group out of the many you’ve only cut off one of the Hydra’s heads and all the others are still there to bite you in the butt while the one you cut off grows back. I think this is what you’re trying to point out. However, I can’t assume to speak for you but it’s the message I’m beginning to pick up through the combination of all your posts. Am I right?

    I know for a fact that you are correct about how Americans clamor for the drugs. My threapist and my psychiatrist both said that I was the abnormal patient in that I wanted talk therapy and I wanted to do the “work” necessary to change my life so that it was more balanced and functioning properly. I think the key word here is “work” because many people would rather have the quick fix rather than do the hard work of restructuring their lives to be more productive and satisfying. I think that as a society we’ve become very lazy, even when it comes to our own well-being.

    Another thing that strikes me is that people labeled as mentally ill really do not count for anything at all in our society. WE DON’T COUNT! Things can be done to us that no other group can have done to them. We are the one group in America who have no rights at all; we can be forced by the law, at the drop of a hat, to subject ourselves to forced durgging and incarceration, with no recourse. Until we change this I think we’re just blowing smoke through our hats. I try to do something about our situation and about the drugs by sharing all of the information that I’ve gathered for the past two years. I don’t try to tell people they need to get off the drugs but I’m willing to share, in as nonthreatening a way as possible, all that I know about the drugs and their effects. I myself am drug free but my roommate, who is one of the most impressive and wonderful men I’ve ever known in my entire life, insists that he’s “ill” and needs the “meds.” It saddens me greatly to watch him struggle on a daily basis in a life which, to me, could be so much more rewarding. But it’s my judgment and that doesn’t mean that it’s true or valid. It’s his life and I try to respect his choices in all things. I will always support him in his decisions, but it still makes me very, very sad to watch him take the drugs and be miserable.

  14. Also, the US has so many corrupt and evil things going on right now. It would almost be nice, if mass drugging was the only evil. At least, there would be something to focus on. Someone above mentioned a hydra, but they forgot that it has many more heads than the FDA, drug companies, and psychiatry.

  15. Allen Francis, the guy who led the creation of DSM-IV stated at a talk he gave in Canada that 80% of psychiatric drugs are prescribed by medical doctors and not psychiatrists. You can watch the video here on MIA in the right side of the page in the video section. What do you think about his percentage? He still supports the idea of giving the drugs to what he calles the severe cases but seems to have some reasonable things to say about diagnosing and how to go about helping people with issues. Anonymous may smack me for saying this, but it might be interesing to involve him in the discussion to see what he has to say on all of this. Anyway, all I know is that it was extremely easy for me to get the antidepressants from my family practice doctor without ever going to a psychiatrist. Going to a psychiatrist was not an option for me since my insurance at the time woulnd’t pay for any of it. I was placed on doses high enough to knock a horse down. He kept trying me out on different ones because every one we tried would stop working and we’d up the dose. He stopped with Zoloft at 250 mg. When I finally ended up on Effexor XR I was on 350 mg. a day. People now tell me that this was crazy, being on doses that were that high. It was normal for me and twice I had to go off of the Effexor cold turkey because I had no insurance and no money. I didn’t suffer any side effects from stopping abruptly but now know that doing so was quite dangerous. I’ve been very lucky and am now totally drug free.

    • Forgive me. The drugs never “worked” but I was under the impression at the time that they did. I was not informed of the placebo effect at the time. I’ve become so much more aware and informed after slogging my way through the system. Anyway, I’m lucky that I survived the huge doses

  16. I sad down for a little TV distraction. The REBA rerun from years ago was about the use of antidepressants to correct “the chemical imbalance that many people have” and “is nothing to be ashamed of” with ensuing family argument and REBA admitting she used antidepressants and stopped when she no longer felt she needed them.
    Has any other medical phenomenon (myth) been embraced by and deeply pervaded our culture that it is a topic of TV sitcoms? These tapes will never be erased regardless of the actions of the medical community. Disturbing.

  17. >With such a large percentage of the American population taking psychiatric drugs, this is a deadly epidemic. This is a medical emergency.

    Why aren’t we all wearing bracelets engraved with the names of these dead and lost children, brothers, sisters, parents and neighbors? Where are the black armbands like those we wore after the shootings of student war protesters at Kent State University?<

    Combing these two thoughts:"medical emergency" and "wearing bracelets" I came up with a great idea. Why not get a law passed that anyone taking a psych drug has to wear a medical alert BRACELET. There will be lots of stimulating debate around the law passing process. Enough talk to get everyone on psych drugs worked-up. Some will rebel at being forced to wear a bracelet that advertises their mental illness, while others will be grateful for free-trendy jewelry. The promise of another business venture will capture the enterprising mind of a CEO who will create more jobs- in China, and make a killing on the sales to pharmaceutical companies who will BY LAW be forced to buy these bracelets and provide one for each patient who is prescribed one of their magic bullets. That will jack up the price of the drugs and piss off the health insurance companies…
    Stay with me-the big hoopla that results from this brings the PUBLIC into unavoidable contact with psych drug talk- with the whole big ugly mess…No more guessing about the percentage of the population on these drugs- or the 'medical emergency' alert that is needed- everyone will know something is going on that should be looked into.By someone. Somewhere. It will be discussed on "The View"- there will be skits on SNL- The media commentary will be endless….
    … a way to recreate the END -the- Viet- Nam-War movement.

    That's a rap!

  18. I happened to post this someplace else, and here I’m posting it again, because it involved non violence…

    …of course Whitaker’s book does a lot of good. But really, there’s more to helping people heal then speaking against drugs, and then making it a political issue; that’s still distracting from what the problem is. Drugs don’t help at all, but they have really nothing to do with it, except that they are a convenient way for many people to ignore that there’s a big problem. Sort of like taking the battery out of the fire alarm and being happy it won’t alarm you; and then, when the house burns down, saying it was a genetic disorder. But the people worse off are the ones that aren’t getting any help whatsoever, are forced on drugs instead, can’t speak against this, and need real help the whole time. Fortunately, we have a spirit that’s beyond time and space and that is free of this the whole time. Isn’t even phased. Could never even add up all the time that amounts to suffering as if it meant anything. That part of yourself is found in letting go of fear, in not investing in hatred, fear based tactics of trauma control…. The aboriginals say that EVERY meeting with another person is from forever, and when you hold onto resentments it will repeat over and over again until you let go. And these Aboriginals could look at the person with a gun intent on killing them, and when they didn’t respond with fear and sent love energy instead that had no resentments, and energy that rose out of the earth to the hands at their sides and rose up white and pure to the higher self of their attacker, and instead of hatred they thought: “I don’t judge you, you haven’t done anything wrong, you’re working from the highest that you have in you, I just can’t condone what you’re doing,” and then, because they didn’t invest in any fear, because they didn’t fall into thinking they needed any violent force to protect themselves, because they didn’t invest in any trauma based method of disciplining others, and because they know that they come from forever, that the real part of themselves is already beyond time and space,; their attacker stopped seeing them. There was a disconnect with the higher self of the attacker and the earthly brain. And they stopped seeing the person they wanted to attack, although they were still there. You see, we’re not separate. We’re all part of the human condition. And when you don’t judge the human condition, and a person has this split between their higher self that can only exist because of such love (which we all are, otherwise we wouldn’t exist), their earthy brain can’t see what it doesn’t believe can exist. It’s doesn’t believe someone could respond with such love. And it doesn’t believe that such love transcends anything we think we need to defend ourselves from, instead it believes in fear, and doesn’t see the love, the love from forever that can’t be destroyed at any point in time or space and that consequently can’t be defended, that doesn’t need such fear. You see the brain goes either way. If you decide to use it for love you are part of forever and everything there is real. If you decide to use it for hatred or fear then nothing is real and nothing is what you think it is. So, there’s a myth that aboriginals can disappear into the desert. A myth that comes from their attackers when they couldn’t “see” them (or themselves) anymore. But you see, in reality it’s just your ideology that you can be attacked and that you need defenses and that such defenses create safety that in the end cause the very things you think you need to defend yourself from. The real part of you is beyond time and space and is from forever, that means that there’s no point in time or space that it can be destroyed; and so it can’t be defended by fear either. Fear only causes the things that you think you need fear in order to protect yourself from. Those things exist in time and space but they’re just part of the ideology, the fantasy that you can be defended by fear, so they aren’t real….

    But learning forgiveness, learning to let go of fear, learning to stop investing in the fear based energy that demands a reason for it’s existence causing the roles of victim and perpetrator at the same time…When you see you’re from forever and that there’s no point in time or space where you can be destroyed and that you can’t defend that, that you can only discover that by making yourself vulnerable; then you start to let go of all the thoughts which would cause the distress, the paranoia, the depression, the hopelessness, the anxiety, the restlessness, the insecurity; all the things which then are cause for people to think that there’s something wrong with them, which there never was. And all the things that are then called symptoms of a mental illness. And it’s silly really because being psychotic actually you have at the same time a very spiritual thing going on where a person can let go of the inhibitions getting in their way, and allow a whole different relationship with time and space to come into being; and at the same time can be acting out how ridiculous their inhibitions and fears are. But if you let a person act out how ridiculous their fears are, they find this out; and they move on. Make it out to be a genetic disease, and their mind isn’t allowed to do this. Or they are terrified of it, and constantly think that they’d rather be normal. And so hopefully we are the fore runners. When we let go of the fear that creates silly paranoid thoughts, and we become part of society; perhaps we can get people to question some of their strongly held beliefs they think are sane. Beliefs that military conflict solves problems rather than that it what puts weapons into anyone’s hands (whether they are the good guy or the bad guy). They might see that traumatizing people and controlling them with fear doesn’t create upstanding moral citizens that have compassion for each other; that having an enemy to fight against as a group doesn’t create a community or a society; that judging another person as morally inferior and giving yourself the right to traumatize them doesn’t make you the better person or a hero. These are just a few examples of beliefs ingrained in society that show more signs of paranoia, distress, anxiety, irrational fear, insecurity then these incredulous thoughts that go along with what’s called “psychosis,” or any other “mental illness” that’s “treated” by the system deciding who’s sane and who isn’t….

    As crazy as we all are, perhaps we’re closer to reality than the sane people…

  19. Dear Alice

    Thank you so much for your important article. Perhaps my documentary film project “Cause of death:unknown” could be of interest to you – it is a film about my sister who died 34 years old while being treated with antipsychotics. The film explores the issue of the many thousands of deaths caused by there drugs, and examines how this has been allowed to happen. Have a look at our facebookpage

    https://www.facebook.com/CauseOfDeathUnknown

    the project is in production and will feature a website on the topic that will be launched soon.
    Thanks again for an important article! Best, Anniken

  20. It really only takes one death. To fully acknowledge and account for just ONE death will make all the others …

    In my mind, I see what looks like a “birth” / “delivery”. It’s hard to describe but my mind is showing me. Vividly. It’s like, something that amasses. Almost like … a surfacing. It’s overwhelming. (I have to close my eyes to see). To genuinely acknowledge even just ONE death would be an instant act of unification. I see an “offering up of”. A flooding. Swarm. Accumulation. Death will offer up all it has, if you ask it to. Acknowledge Death. Just One. The Rest Will Surface, Flood, Accumulate, Amass. They’ll pour forward.

    Most likely will be prevented from happening.

  21. This post started out with Vietnam…
    These are some resources for military service members and veterans… People heal in various ways, not always with psychotherapy and counseling, by the way –

    http://discoverandrecover.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/recovery-resources-military-service-members-and-veterans/

    “Watching the world series would be good therapy too, wouldn’t it… ?” – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

    Duane

  22. “When I heard Mr. Whitaker quote one recent study that put the average age of death among a group of medicated patients at 45, ”

    But wouldn’t average mean that just as many were dying at 30 as were dying at 60? So then why think of the number 45? There are kids dying from these drugs, kids as in little children. I had several near-death experiences on these drugs myself as a kid, including an unidentified and untreated case of neuroleptic malignant syndrome from mellaril when I was 7 or 8. I don’t doubt that a lot of these kids who are forced to stay on these drugs growing up, will die in their 20s or 30s.

  23. psychological defenses, such as denial and rationalization, function to protect habits from change. Narratives, (such as the chemical imbalance theory, the validity of diagnosis, the effectiveness of modern treatment, etc) are habits. This is why they persist despite all evidence.

  24. My first response was to admit that I dont know how to provoke this change. Ive been trying to provoke it here for at least two years now, and have been discouraged, and baffled by the lack of reaction. But the more I think about it, the more I agree with mjk, in the previous post. Change may very well be triggered by one “representative” tragedy. Its happened before.
    The narrative about “Jarrod” who shot that senator in arizona, was that he “fell through the cracks”. my guess is that he has been in treatment all along. no one seems to question it

    • There are a multitude of people who have tried to organize and bring about “change”. Plenty of people on YouTube go through their own “court & evidence” sessions. But who is collecting their testimonies?

      As of yet, there is no public knowledge of any official “legal” undertaking to validate the suffering of SO many people. All I ever see are the occasional “class action lawsuits” against specific drugs, but I hardly think that’s even a beginning.

      The major focus right now has been the new DSM. That indicates a willingness to move forward with psychiatry’s operations; policy, practice & procedure. Maybe it isn’t wise to crash the train, but isn’t it still on the wrong track?

  25. Another idea would be to export some of this discussion into more of the mass media, and “contribute” to those discussions.
    I was particularly disturbed by the recent comment that “the biggest problem facing psychiatry today is untreated illness”. I believe it was the current APA president who stated this. There were over 100 comments following the article and, although some debated about the diagnosis, very few seem to question the basic effectiveness of treatment, and the validity of the science behind it.

    Perhaps if more of us here contributed to those discussions, more in the general public will understand and question the narratives.

    one outcome of doing this would be that more of us anonymous bloggers would get a chance to see how Dr Moffic feels contributing here sometimes.

  26. Thanks Alice,

    I am naive – I admit, I am horribly naive. It is strange, because there has been some trauma in my life, and I remain naive.

    I am just now starting to resurface after having lived through the trauma of a psychiatric hospitalization 6 years ago. Trust me, it was a bad experience. As I try to work through what happened, I keep thinking that those who did wrong could probably be taught something and would want to do better – right?

    So, Yes, I warn you, I am naive. I called the hospital that I was hospitalized at and told them I had written some things about my experience at their fine institution. I offered to let them read it to see if they could learn something from my experience.

    They seemed less than interested. And, much in line with my previous experience at this wonderful institution it seemed to me that their attitudes reflected a disregard for my experiences – IE, it was because there was something wrong with me that I didn’t enjoy their particular brand of torture.

    Which is the problem in a nut shell – Once we have been hospitalized it is easy to invalidate our experiences. Labels abound, we are “difficult”, must make us borderline, right? We are psychotic and don’t know what we are saying. It is due to the mental illness that we don’t get it that the horrific amounts of poison being rammed down our throats aren’t appreciated. We are damaged, worthless, less than human. It is ok to dehumanize us.

    It is a powerful hold those institutions have over us, and in society in general. As long as we are shamed, made to believe we are horribly ill or that there is something wrong with us for not enjoying our psychiatric treatment we will be less outspoken. As long as we are less outspoken these fine institutions will not be forced to make a change.

    The strange thing is, I desperately want to become involved now. I want to lead the charge with an outcry – but where do I go to do that? I am even willing to volunteer my time to fight against abuse happening in mental health, but there seems no place, no foundation for me to work from.

    I have told very, very few people about the hospitalization though. My mom doesn’t know. Two friends and my therapist knows, that is it. If I become outspoken I will have to live with the stigma, but I am willing to do it. I just need some platform to work from.

    I am outside all statutes of limitations so I can’t sue the hospital. I would love to though, just on principle. Not for the money, but for the effect, the discussion.

    Malene