Psych Meds Found in the Home of Woman Killed in D.C. Car Chase


Miriam Carey, who was shot and killed yesterday by D.C. police after she attempted to drive through a White House barricade with her 1-year-old child in the back seat, had antidepressant medication and antipsychotics in her apartment. The drugs were apparently for the treatment of postpartum depression. Relatives and co-workers, stunned by Carey’s behavior, describe her as having no history of violence, and as “always happy.”

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. She also fell and hit her head before becoming pregnant which of course is not being emphasized in the news headlines. Mentioning a TBI as a cause isn’t sensationalistic like stressing psych meds is.

    CBS News’ John Miller, a former FBI assistant director, reports that the people who worked with Carey said she was upbeat, happy and normal, but in April 2012 she fell on some stairs and injured her head

    Questions the media needs to be asking:

    1. What type of treatment did she receive for her brain injury other than meds which is usually what is offered?
    2. What type of symptoms did she have?
    3. When she suffered post partum depression, did anyone follow up on her brain injury? What antidepressant was she given?
    4. Why was she prescribed what I assume was antipsychotics along with antidepressants?
    5, How long was she on the antidepressant and how quickly did she taper off of it since it a too quick taper can cause psychosis.
    6. What was the overall timeline for all her meds?

    Do I need an antipsychotic for being delusional in thinking this is really going to occur?

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    • “Do I need an antipsychotic…for thinking this is going to happen…?” Yeah, you probably do. I knew the media would react this way. The same old crap. She’s on psych drugs, and the drugs make her irrational. Then the media say, “If only she had gotten the proper treatment, this wouldn’t have happened.” Of course, she already DID get what the average psychiatrist says is the proper treatment.

      Next, E. Fuller Torrey and NAMI go back on national television saying how this shows we have to be able to force drugs on everyone.

      People, I think we are in the worst crisis our movement has ever seen. There will be more and more incidents like this, feeding into the demand that anyone who is “mentally ill” must have their constitutional rights taken away. That we are not asked at all for our point of view is the result of so-called leaders taking our movement from being about human rights to being part of the mental illness system. The media, and the general public, really couldn’t care less about a “peer” or “recovery” movement. When we were about human rights, we had plenty of media coverage.

      I urge you also to read Tina Minkowitz’ new article on MIA about “blood libel,” where she points out that what is being systematically done to us now is very similar to the way the Nazis attacked the Jews, in preparation for the Holocaust. While I don’t expect death camps here, because drug companies can’t make money from dead people, what is happening now is in spirit very close to what the Nazis did.

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      • Ted:

        Thank you for calling this accurately the ‘worst moment of our movement’ This is the point that potential allies, dissident psychologists and psychiatrists, open minded parents and NAMI advocates who are critical of the mental health system’s one-size-fits-all treatment model of which is label and medicate, even mental health peer service providers will have their courage and mettle tested. There is a tendency for mental health activists to defend the rights of people who are the ‘worried well’ such as the suicidal, depressed, anxious, etc. but those same individuals turn their backs on people who are in the criminal system because they were violent or they committed a felony while under the influence of a psych drug or while withdrawing from one. This is why our movement needs to make bridges between the other large movement, the movement to dismantle the prison industrial complex. The prison industrial complex, and the disability industrial complex and the psychiatric industrial complex are very similar. They are less about helping people and they are more about social control.

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      • Erin burnett on CNN and Jane valez mitchell’s panel just “diagnosed” this woman based only on some of the indications for the medications Carey was reportedly at least prescribed. the focus, if there is one, seems to be postpartum depression and of course a defective mental person in general.

        Why don’t we boycott the networks until they drop drug and alcohol ads? let’s just not click.

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      • Hi Ted,

        I have thought alot about what you said as you always make some excellent points.

        I don’t doubt you when you said that the movement had plenty of media coverage when it was about human rights. But it seems to me if journalist outfits cared about human rights, they wouldn’t have had an opposing viewpoint for Fuller Torrey when he was on 60 minutes.

        Also, many people have tried in vain to point out on vain to the media that there were civil right issues during all the movements to strengthen civil commitment laws. It didn’t seem to matter, particularly in my state.

        It just seems that all the media cares about is getting the highest ratings that they can and focusing on the human rights of people with a mental illness label is not going to help achieve that goal.

        I would love to be proven wrong. Meanwhile, I will look for that antipsychotic that you suggested that I take. 🙂

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        • Well, it’s a little more complicated than just raising human rights issues now. The problem is that after nearly thirty years of being almost invisible, suddenly raising human rights issues now doesn’t make it. When we were a human rights movement, we were consistently protesting, out in the streets and in the media. I myself (not meant as a boast) appeared on national television fifteen or twenty times. If we had continued to do that, the media would not be ignoring us now.

          So I’m saying that we can’t expect instant results, but if we don’t fight for our rights, we will lose them. Talking just about “recovery” or “peer support,” though I don’t disagree with those ideas, will get us nowhere. I say that because anyone who has been around in our movement for a while has seen that this approach has completely failed to protect us.

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      • Ted you are so right! “The same old crap, with the media saying, “If only she had gotten the proper treatment, this wouldn’t have happened.”

        YEAH! the proper treatment would have been NOT to put a woman with Postpartum depression on an ANTI-PSYCHOTIC drug!

        As reported “Carey apparently did not have a weapon, but did have a 1-year-old girl in the car with her. The child — Carey’s daughter — survived the chaos unharmed, officials said.”

        SURVIVED THE CHAOS UNHARMED? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? TRAUMATIZED FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE most likely! This could have been me, or any one of us who have been put on psychotropic drugs by the medical community. This woman was on RISPERDAL, for one, an ANTI-PSYCHOTIC! If she had postpartum depression what was she doing on an anti-psychotic? That in and of itself is enough to cause one to have a psychotic break!

        I am ENRAGED at the injustice! Couldn’t they just have shot out her tires?

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      • “Carey’s boyfriend had told police in December that she appeared to be delusional, believing that President Barack Obama had placed Stamford, Connecticut, where they lived, under lockdown and that her home was under electronic surveillance, a law enforcement source involved in the investigation said.”

        She certainly isn’t the only person in this country (or in the whole world) who “believes” in electronic surveillance.

        Interesting though – what really drove / motivated her action? The belief or the drugs? In other words, could she have had those same convictions and beliefs and NOT acted upon them, if she had NOT been taking the drugs?

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  2. The “medications” caused me to go manic and get the cops called.

    My record will never be cleared and so far no apoplogy letter from big pharma !

    All of the classes of psychiatric drugs can cause violent, irrational, and/or manic behavior. Among other effects, these drugs cause a neurological condition called “akathesia,” which means that persons who take them can’t sit still and feel like they are jumping out of their skin. They behave in an agitated manner which they cannot control and experience unbearable rage, delusions, and disassociation.

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  3. I totally called this one as soon as I read about it. It looks like a very clear case of antidepressant-induced mania, though I did not know about the head injury, which of course adds even more of a complication and should have been carefully evaluated before someone decided to give her SSRIs.

    Who in the media will point out the obvious conclusion?

    —- Steve

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  4. I just read the article and it says this (in contrast to what is written above):

    “Earlier, sources said investigators found medications, but that proved later not to be accurate.”


    I want to point out to people a few things about head injuries, as it was reported elsewhere that she had one.

    First of all, it seems likely her license should have been revoked if she had one. I don’t know how things work in the US but in the country I live you can have your license taken for good if you see a doctor for a head injury. This would be completely justified as head injuries can cause all kinds of bizarre behavior. Had this simple precaution been taken and her access to a vehicle limited this whole tragedy would have been avoided.

    Second, there is such a thing as differential diagnosis. Though I am sure doctors get away with this, there is a good chance she should not have been getting slapped with labels of “mental illness” if she had a known head injury.

    Here is a relevant case which touches on differential diagnosis just posted on the site under the article “How Clean Underwear Saved a Life”. It involved a man who hit his head and suffered a subdural hematoma, who eventually went on to develop bizarre behaviors which were at first presumed by one doctor to be “schizophrenic”, a diagnosis which would have proved disastrous:

    “…our patient—had staggered and stumbled, fell to the ground and hit his head, but rose up again, as if nothing had happened. Hence, no action was taken at the time. The neurosurgery service reported that the patient was doing well and was expected to recover.

    It all made sense in retrospect. Subdural hematomas are high on our list of differential diagnoses. They are nowhere near as common as chronic schizophrenia, but identifying their presence, and acting on that information, can be lifesaving and can prevent permanent damage.

    The friends and family did not know that subdural hematomas bleed gradually, sometimes taking months before their size increases enough to put pressure on the brain and change behavior. In this case, the bleed was still circumscribed and caused expressive aphasia alone.

    It’s always fun to reminisce about good cases. I can’t help but think of the present and the future, when many think that psychiatry is all about writing prescriptions and practicing psychopharmacology. In this case, it was the medical differential diagnosis that made the difference. As psychiatrists, we rotate through neurology. We get certified by the Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (and not by the non­existent board of psychiatry and psychopharmacology). What if someone with “prescriptive privileges” looked at superficial symptoms only, and ordered antipsychotics without considering the bigger picture? By dawn, the patient would have been dead.”
    – See more at:

    I’m not a doctor, but I’d like to know why this woman was being diagnosed as mentally ill if she had a head injury. It seems to me there is a good chance that a major mistake was made.

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