Consumers Beware!


Twenty-five years ago, I organized a Mother’s Day Protest demonstration at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in NYC. We were 12 mothers and one male. The highlight of that APA meeting was the launching of Clozapine, the first of the so-called atypical neuroleptic drugs, which the APA promoted as a “scientific breakthrough treatment for schizophrenia.” Those atypical neuroleptics proved to be weapons of destruction. 

Leah Harris & Vera Sharav at the 2014 protest
Leah Harris & Vera Sharav at the 2014 protest

These toxic drugs are unsafe and untherapeutic; they disrupt vital bodily functions affecting the heart, liver, metabolism, hormones, and neurotransmitters in the brain. They have caused patients irreparable harm— diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and these drugs have cut short thousands of lives.

Yet, psychiatrists continue to prescribe them widely and irresponsibly. Whoever falls into their clutches is at risk of serious harm—especially children and the elderly.  This year, the APA is again touting “cutting-edge science…new innovative treatment options and new technologies…”

Consumers  Beware!

The truth is, psychiatry fails to meet the basic criteria of a medical profession.

Psychiatric diagnoses have no scientific basis–they lack an objective diagnostic tool or laboratory test. Psychiatric diagnoses are biased opinions, arrived at by committees of the APA—which explains why a person’s diagnosis is likely to change as often as one psychiatrist replaces another.

Worst of all, unlike other medical doctors, psychiatrists feel no empathy for their patients.  

When their treatments fail, psychiatrists blame the patient or the mother—never the treatment.  But people who have recovered from serious emotional distress or from a mental break-down, did so by escaping psychiatry’s toxic treatments.  But others are not so lucky.

  • Rebeca Riley was a 2-year old toddler when a child psychiatrist following Harvard’s guidelines for children, “diagnosed” her as Hyperactive and began to prescribe drugs. By age 3 the psychiatrist changed her diagnosis to the dubious “Childhood Bipolar” disorder and prescribed a heavily sedating psychiatric drug cocktail.
  • Rebeca Riley died at age 4 as a result of the drugs prescribed for her.
  • Rebeca’s parents were blamed and convicted of her murder.  But the psychiatrist received immunity from prosecution for testifying against the mother. She claimed that she had relied exclusively on reports by Rebeca’s mother about her behavior.
  • Gabriel Myers was in foster care in Florida where he was prescribed high doses of psychiatric drugs. When he was 7 years old, Gabriel committed suicide.

How can anyone justify prescribing drugs that are known to do harm with no benefit for patients? How can anyone justify the death of a young child caused by a physician’s prescribed drugs?

The plight of 15-year old Justina Pelletier and her parents should send shutters down the spine of middle class American families. Her case sheds light on psychiatry’s brutal abuse of power backed by State enforcement agencies that shield them from being held accountable.

Justine was treated by a prominent physician at Tufts Medical Center for Mitochondrial disease. She lived with her parents in Connecticut and was brought to Boston Children’s Hospital for treatment by a gastrointestinal specialist at the recommendation of her physician.

Psychiatrists at Boston Children’s Hospital intercepted her admission for care by the gastrointestinal specialist, kidnapped her,  gave her a dubious “diagnosis” of Somatoform Disorder and kept her in a locked psychiatric ward.

The psychiatrists reported the parents to the State of Massachusetts for child abuse. Within 24 hours a judge permanently removed Justina from the custody of her parents and gave custody to the Department of Children and Families. The judge placed a gag order on the parents. Justina is confined to a wheelchair.

American psychiatry has been compared to the infamous Soviet model of coercive treatment. But the scope of Soviet psychiatrists was limited: their use of psychoactive drugs as chemical restraints—was focused on punishing and coercing political dissidents into submission.

By contrast, US psychiatry seeks to medicalize the entire population. APA’s practice guidelines have been formulated to increase the number of patients labeled as mentally ill, expanding the use of psychiatric drugs—without regard for patients’ safety or welfare.  US psychiatrists are servants of the psychiatric drug industry.

  • 10 million American Children are prescribed psychoactive drugs—
    more than one million have been given a dubious diagnosis of “childhood bipolar” for which they are prescribed the most toxic, harmful neuroleptics.
  • Pregnant women who are warned not to drink a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, are widely prescribed antidepressants—despite evidence of harm to the unborn fetus.

Last year, APA launched the DSM-5—its aim is to ensure that no normal human emotion—escapes a diagnosis of mental illness. 

APA declared that profound grief following the loss of a loved one, qualifies as major depression for which antidepressants are the treatment of choice.  The DSM-5 also ensures that No Child is Left Undiagnosed!

Two new “diagnoses”– “Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder” DMDD and “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo” SCT—will ensnare children who are not yet in psychiatry’s clutches. These diagnoses were crafted by the very psychiatrists who had succeeded in concocting an ADHD epidemic that pathologized six million children who were prescribed stimulants.

Psychiatry’s brutal coercive methods—including child abduction—are crimes that are supported by State enforcement agencies lending authority and help cover-up the harmful consequences of psychiatry’s abuse. The outrageous kidnapping and maltreatment of Justine Pelletier and her parents is but the latest publicized case demonstrating the danger posed by psychiatrists—they lack both professional ethics and a moral conscience. 

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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Vera Sharav

Vera Sharav, a professional law librarian turned public advocate for human rights, is the founder and president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP) which serves as an information resource, a public interest watchdog, and a catalyst for public debate whose goal is to unlock the walls of secrecy in biomedical research and to bring accountability to that endeavor.

Ms. Sharav has developed a database to track ethical violations in research and failure to disclose drug hazards. Her advocacy efforts include: suspension of EPA pesticide experiment (CHEERS) on children (2005); federal investigations on the use of children in foster care in experimental AIDS drug and vaccine trials (2004); suspension of smallpox vaccine on children (2002); suspension of "violence prediction" experiment exposing 6-11 year old NYC boys to fenfluramine (1998); organized testimonies by victims of unethical research before the National Bioethics Advisory Committee (1997). These testimonies led to a prize-winning series in the Boston Globe, "Doing Harm: Research on the Mentally Ill" (1998), the shut down of 29 clinical trials at the National Institute of Mental Health (1999), culminating in the prize-winning book by Robert Whitaker, Mad in America (2001).

Mrs. Sharav served on the Children’s Workgroup of the National Human Research Advisory Committee (2001-2002); she has testified before national policy advisory panels including: the Institute of Medicine (against prisoner experiments (2005); against human pesticide experiments (2002); FDA hearings on antidepressants and the risk of suicide (2004 and 2006), the National Bioethics Advisory Committee (1997), military ethics forums and academic forums, and consumer advocacy forums (2006). Among her recent publications: Screening for Mental Illness: The Merger of Eugenics and the Drug Industry, Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry (2005); Conflicts of Interest in Biomedical Research Harm Children With and Without Disabilities,"Journal of Disability Policy Studies (2004); "The Impact of FDAMA on the recruitment of children for research," EHPP (2003); "Children in Clinical Research: A Conflict of Moral Values," American Journal of Bioethics (2003); The ethics of conducting psychosis-inducing experiments," Accountability in Research (1999).


  1. “No Child is Left Undiagnosed” – brilliant way to put it.
    As a matter of fact, eery kid is either too active (ADHD) or too inactive (sluggish). So you can treat both of them with stimulants (because it’s well known that these drugs treat pretty much everything – antipsychotics and antidepressants are given for any kind of “disorder” at random). Sickening, especially when you think about kids who don’t have their parents to protect them…

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  2. Vera,

    You have been a great hero of mine for a long time! I truly appreciate and applaud your great work and your making the effort to appear at the 2014 APA meeting and give a speech since you are a very highly regarded, brillinat and impressive lady who has made an enormous contribution to exposing the many dangers lurking in modern medicine.

    Also, your research and reporting are so excellent, thorough and accurate even those you chastise like Dr. David Healy for his horrible shock book still express their great admiration for you.

    I have been having trouble accessing your web site lately, but I hope you will continue to write your excellent articles and especially continue to expose biopsychiatry since many admit that this is the “specialty” that has the most corruption since it has been based on pseudoscience since the KOL’s of the APA sold the entire field out to Big Pharma to enhance their power, status and income at the horrific expense of those they deceived and harmed with impunity. As you recently exposed, both recent leaders of the NIMH have admitted that the DSM is an invalid sham!

    I look forward to seeing more of your great work and am so grateful and happy that you stood with the psychiatric survivors at the 2014 APA meeting since someone with your honesty and integrity stands in direct opposition to the destructive fraud that comprises most of biopsychiatry today. Thank you again for all of your hard efforts to make medicine safer for everyone and especially the children you fight to protect who can’t defend or speak for themselves.

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  3. Vera , I wish there was someone protesting when they first forced Thorzine on me at the age of 16. I guess today even new borns get the double whammy, vaccines from medical doctors and neuroleptics from psych- pharma witch doctors and down the line a little ways mercury fillings from the dental Quacks. Eugenics is alive and to well in America. Oh yeah GMO’s instead of breast feeding. And more neuroleptics in the nursing homes for an end game. They got us surrounded cradle to grave. Till that time I will fight them till they are gone.
    You are a hero and great example and inspiration to me. Thank you

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  4. Vera, thank you for the great post and for everything that you do in the cause of human rights. Your point about abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union vs. that in the USA is particularly apt. It is well known that the late and unlamented Soviet Union abused psychiatry to crush dissidents. One imagines that that even the likes of the Wall Street Journal would frown on that. But what is being done in the U.S. is much, much worse…abuse of psychiatry for profit. At least the Soviet-era dissidents had a choice: they knew that speaking truth to power would get them labeled crazy — only a mentally ill person would speak out against the motherland. Not much of a choice, but some choice. Rebecca Riley and millions of others had no choice, and our institutions (courts, gov’t agencies) abet and enforce the abuse. Ditto for many in the media. We discontinued our subscription to the Wall Street Journal because we could no longer abide their mental health “coverage.” Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  5. Vera, would you have any objection to cross-posting this article and comments (with attribution to Mad in America and to you by name) to, “The Global Summit for Diagnostic Alternatives”? I believe many of the points you make may have value as that group prepares for a conference on practice issues in contemporary psychiatry and psychology.


    Richard A. “Red” Lawhern, Ph.D.
    Resident Research Analyst
    Living With TN

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