Lieberman Calls Whitaker “A Menace to Society”

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On Canada’s popular national CBC radio program The Sunday Edition, psychiatrist Jeffrey Lieberman today described Robert Whitaker as “a menace to society.” Lieberman is the Chairman of Psychiatry at Columbia University, a former head of the American Psychiatric Association and author of the new book Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry. Whitaker is the publisher of this website, whose 2010 book Anatomy of an Epidemic focused on what science is showing about the long-term effects of psychiatric medications.

During the interview, CBC host Michael Enright asked Lieberman if he was familiar with Whitaker. “Unfortunately I am,” answered Lieberman. Enright then played a clip of Whitaker discussing medication withdrawal problems and research showing that long-term outcomes for people taking psychiatric medications were on average worse than for people who never received any treatments.

Asked for his reaction to Whitaker, Lieberman said, “I have nothing against him personally.” Lieberman then added, “What he says is preposterous. He’s a menace to society because he’s basically fomenting misinformation and misunderstanding about mental illness and the nature of treatment.”

Lieberman then compared taking antidepressants to taking insulin for diabetes.

“Whitaker, he ostensibly considers himself to have been a journalist,” added Lieberman. “God help the publication that employed him.” (Whitaker’s CV is publicly available.)

Enright then asked, “What about his contention that the unmedicated patients did better than the medicated patients?” After a pause, Lieberman responded, “I’d say that’s absolutely wrong. If you do a controlled study with various illnesses, whether it’s schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and you do a randomized study, assign one group to receive whatever the state of the art is in psychiatry including medication, and you assign the other to some innocuous, non-medical type of supportive therapy or whatever, and you follow the people for a period of time, the outcomes will be extraordinarily superior in the treated group… There’s no doubt about it.”

Lieberman did not point to any of the actual studies of long-term outcomes that have been done, and it’s unclear if he was using the conditional future tense as a way of acknowledging that the evidence to support his assertion does not currently exist. It’s also not clear how much time Lieberman meant when he said that treated patients would fare better for “a period of time.”

The Sunday Edition (CBC Radio, April 26, 2015) (Interview with Jeffrey Lieberman begins at 40 minutes, and discussion about Robert Whitaker begins at 51:30.)

See also:

A Challenge to Dr. Lieberman — Robert Whitaker Responds (Mad in America, April 26, 2015)

32 COMMENTS

  1. excellent article. thank you. scary that ISPS (the organization that first connected me with robert whitaker, back in 2005) wanted lieberman to be a keynoter at their big NYC conference last month…”to dialogue with him.” like that was ever going to happen… regardless, he dropped out before the conference. scary guy…but not coincidental that he rose to power in his field of choice, psychiatry.

    • I almost didn’t go to the IPSP conference because he was orginally scheduled to speak on the opening plenary panel so I wrote off the entire conference. Someone persuaded me to go anyway and to my delight, he wasn’t present at the conference. Does anyone know if he cancelled or withdrew and if so, why?

        • Ha, that’s funny that you mentioned ISPS meeting, because I was going to comment to Robert Whitaker, not to feel bad that Lieberman hasn’t been in touch with him because he didn’t show up for ISPS either!
          However, I would like to state that Lieberman was never invited to give a keynote address at ISPS. He was asked to be part of a panel during a plenary session with people with quite different viewpoints about psychiatric treatment. Given his interactions with Whitaker and Tanya Luhrmann, I don’t see that he is someone interested in dialoguing about psychiatry, so its for the best that he backed out for reasons he never specified. Its safe to assume that he wanted to be on a panel with people who would challenge him… or even return their phone calls!

  2. It’s funny how these are the guys who are supposed to figure out what is an isn’t delusion.

    At this point, not even trying to engage in any kind of debate in regards to psychiatry shows only delusion or corruption.

    Maybe he isn’t lying though, maybe in his mind the current mental health paradigm is simply too big to fail and so if you’re asking difficult questions, you really are a menace.

  3. I think this is wonderful, because Lieberman sounds like a fool.

    A short while back, the New York Times ran an article that was mildly critical pf psychiatry, and Lieberman actually demanded that the Times give him space for rebuttal. Of course, they refused, and Lieberman threw a virtual tantrum. But here, he has made a personal attack on someone, and a chance for rebuttal makes a lot of sense. Since it appears that the moderator of the program was openminded enough to give exposure to Bob’s ideas, a request for a rebuttal is likely to be successful, I would think.

    Lieberman’s book appears to be ghostwritten. Too bad for him he can’t carry around his ghostwriter with him to keep him from putting his foot in his mouth once again.

  4. “Lieberman then compared taking antidepressants to taking insulin for diabetes.”
    I still cringe whenever I hear this analogy.
    This specious, pithy piece of disinformation helped victimize so many people into starting, maintaining, and prolonging the use of these toxic drugs!

  5. And the meta-message here is: It is true because Liebermann said it is so. It irks me incredibly that a journalist lets him get away with that. Easy response: “I hear what you’re saying, but Whitaker has given us several long-term studies to back up his contention – do you have any studies saying the opposite?” And continue to ask for studies if he tries to deflect, finishing with the clear statement, “So am I understanding that you don’t actually have any studies you can cite that say this?”

    That being said, being cursed by Liebermann is proof that Bob is really making an impact and the psychiatrists are running scared.

    “Insulin for diabetes…” What a crock!

    — Steve

  6. I just wanted to say as a physician and as a patient (due to early, severe, prolonged childhood abuse and neglect) and having suffered the wrecking ball of psychiatry… my personal opinion is that psychiatry is the menace to psychiatry. Not once have I been asked about childhood trauma and every time I bring it up, I am told it is unimportant including from a top and well financed researched based medical school. Every time, I shake my head in dismay….But I just cannot seem to get through, even when I bring the ACE study graphs or when I bring information from SAMHSA on the ACE study and I just wonder, why doesn’t psychiatry want to know more that will probably help patients. Why do they always want to give a pill (typically for someone with my childhood history — an antipsychotic or mood stabilizer for PTSD). And why did they rebuke the diagnosis proposed by Bessel van der Kolk and group, Developmental Trauma Disorder which is being verified by the work of the NCTSN?

    • I suppose there isn’t as much profit in trauma, besides which, they’d have to admit they have no tools to actually deal with it. I actually had a psychiatrist (one I even have some respect for) tell me that PTSD isn’t caused by trauma, because if it were, everyone who was traumatized would develop it, so there must be something wrong with the person who develops PTSD beyond being exposed to the trauma. Seems to presuppose that there is a “right way” to respond to being traumatized, and those who “overreact” are somehow wrong or deficient for doing so.

      I also read a recent study (I think on MIA) where they discovered that over 80% of the kids in a psychiatric residential facility (or maybe it was more than one) had trauma histories, but less than 20% had any documentation of this in their files. So 60% of the residents either had reported trauma and it wasn’t considered important enough to write down, or simply weren’t asked, despite their residing in a facility for kids who have major behavioral or emotional issues that are very highly associated with trauma.

      I’d suggest you listen to Van der Kolk and send the psychiatrists packing. There really is nothing they have to offer to trauma victims in the vast majority of cases, even though trauma is present in the vast majority of cases they encounter. They just don’t appear to think it’s important enough to bother with, if only because they can’t sell drugs as easily if working from that frame of reference. But it does seem like they often do the opposite of what would be helpful, doesn’t it? Makes you wonder how invested they are in people actually getting better…

      —- Steve

      • I understand your point. I am convinced (from experience) that few who work in these places are “trying to help” or “make a differnce”….The training varies from state to statem etc. For some (maybe more than some) its an income where accountability is next to none.
        By not taking the child’s (or adult’s) experience into account, it surely sends the message that its ok to be abused and then causes more abuse by “blaming the brain”
        Where is scientific proof of these drugs, and where is the reasoning and ethics
        in this type of treatment?

      • “everyone who was traumatized would develop it, so there must be something wrong with the person who develops PTSD beyond being exposed to the trauma”

        That is exactly the prevalent thinking. Even if we go from broken brain causes that to trauma plus “susceptibility” causes that it’s still essentially the same dehumanizing and abuser-friendly machine. It’s not a rapist, a murderer, an abuser, a corrupt banker who is the problem – it’s the victim who is not resilient enough. Afterall it is “normal” to just suck it up, shut up and keep going, right?

        For psychiatry anyone who is even a little bit more emotional than a highly functioning psychopath is mentally ill. Psychiatry is in the business of protecting bad people and the evil inhuman system.

        • Too true! The distinction between what they think of as “mentally well” and “I just don’t give a crap” is remarkably fine, if there is one at all. It seems the goal is to never be upset about anything that happens, no matter how bad. Very convenient for the promoters of the “status quo!”

          —- Steve

          • There is something that ‘niggles’ at me when I think about the link between abuse and these so called ‘illnesses’.

            I heard that guy Petersen speaking about the link between hatred and what was done in National Socialist Germany recently. He added that the issue also contained an element of “disgust”, and that what was done to the Jews, homosexuals, communists etc was a result of the disgust that was felt towards them. It’s one thing to hate someone, but quite another to feel disgust for them.

            This of course would not be documented either? A simple label would speak for itself with such people who had been conditioned to feel that level of disgust for others? Label – treatment would keep all of the emotions out of the ‘transaction’.

            This being the question raised in the issue of the Camp Prison Guard. How could they do such terrible things and still remain human? Easy, just don’t get bogged down in the reasons for your disgust of the individual who presents before you, and process them according to the way the system has been set up.

            How dare you say such things about Harvey? Bill would NEVER do anything of the sort. And Jimmy? He has been Knighted so that speaks for itself. The system is set up to ‘fuking destroy’ truths which are not preferred by those in positions of power.

            Orwell once wrote “If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened—that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death?”. It is certainly true for victims of abuse, the “editing” of reality much more damaging than any torture or death, and possibly why torturing them simply doesn’t have the desired effect (okay, call it medicine if you must, but that’s only because they are called ‘patients’, otherwise it’s considered torture [“inherent in or incidental to lawful sanction” means that the label “patient’ justifies acts of torture as medicine]), and quite possibly why many of ‘us’ chose to die at our own hands. The gaslighting from these people with such ‘high ethical standards’ who are disgusted by our truth too much to bear.

            I feel certain that the deaths being caused by the Operations Manager who is arranging the “editing” of legal narratives before she “fucking destroys” anyone with a legitimate complaint about human rights abuses means that they don’t end up with blood on their hands. But the poison in their hearts is there should you ever care to examine them.

    • I think the pharma psychiatric drug industy is in the publice business of psycologically raping the public. They have conned their way into public schools and before that the judical judical system,,,making hugh profits along the way.
      If someone made a documentary (except substitute a foreign country for USA) , no doubt people would get upset. The unquestioned trust (not to mention funding) that people give to psychiatry is beyond discust.

    • Ameen.

      “Lieberman responded, “I’d say that’s absolutely wrong. If you do a controlled study with various illnesses, whether it’s schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and you do a randomized study, assign one group to receive whatever the state of the art is in psychiatry including medication, and you assign the other to some innocuous, non-medical type of supportive therapy or whatever, and you follow the people for a period of time, the outcomes will be extraordinarily superior in the treated group… There’s no doubt about it.””

      And because there is no doubt about it, there is no need to do the controlled study in the first place, because we already know the outcome because Doc L said so. Phew, glad we sorted that out. Now, best we leave Doc L to go and make his rooster crow or the sun won’t come up in the morning.

      • If such studies existed, you’d think he’d have the decency to refer to at least one of them in his retort. But of course, he does not, because such studies do not exist, or if they do are not able to be replicated. He’s using the “resort to authority” approach to prevent further investigation into what is actually going on.

        • Precisely Steve.

          I can see parallels in other current discussions, with regards the people who are being called something similar to a ‘menace to society’. You know, the ‘conspiracy theorists’? (‘Healthcare’ based on politics and profit, not on science and facts. Familiar?)

          Our Premier tells us last week that he spoke to an ‘aboriginal person’ and that this person tells him that right wing extremists are spreading anti vax information in the aboriginal community in an attempt to eradicate these people from our communities. (resort to authority. Anecdote presented as proof)

          The same Premier who is concerned about the conspiracy theories spreading in our community.

          If I were an aboriginal person i would be more concerned about the people who have a ‘history’ of trying to eradicate them from our communities……. the government. You know, the slightly right wing mildists who are dismantling our human and civil rights at present? Might this not be the reason for the lack of trust in the information they are being provided? There are still people alive who remember having to ‘cheek’ the poisoned candy which was given to them as children. Lest We Forget huh?

          How ironic that our now Attorney General, when speaking about the torture of an aboriginal man by Police back in 2010 was wearing a t shirt with a quote from Ben Franklin on it.

          “Those who would sacrifice liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security”

          and like magic, those words have come to haunt us.

  7. Based on my observations, I conclude, Psychiatry is more of an art, than anything. Unfortunately some are bad at this healing art, however Whittaker is not one of them. Thank Goodness.

    If you are not getting better, change Psychiatrists. It really can be that simple. God Bless America.

    There’s a common phrase about Mental Health professionals doing more harm than good, because they are not being put back in the silo’s of which they belong and delving out things that actually heal, when you need it.

    As a consumer, I shouldn’t have to work for them. They should have to work for me.

    When did it all go wrong?

    ~LARK

    • “If you are not getting better, change Psychiatrists. It really can be that simple. God Bless America.”

      I realise that we are in different countries but ……. change psychiatrist? I can’t even be told who my Doctor is by legal representatives (Shine Lawyers) for reasons of confidentiality.

      I gave them the documents showing that I had been ‘spiked’ with date rape drugs, and that a Community Nurse had simply lied to police and told them I was an “Outpatient” of his hospital. This before Police jumped me in my bed pointing weapons at me. (acute stress reaction spiked with benzos = you going to talk to mental health services now right? At least until they forge the statutory declaration to justify arbitrarily detaining you).

      So I ask the lawyers if they can possibly help me, and provide them with the documents. They tell me regarding the ‘spiking’ with benzos that “your Doctor authorised it”. My obvious response knowing I didn’t actually have a doctor (and therefore wasn’t considered a “patient” and that I was actually kidnapped and tortured, not ‘referred’) was “and who is my Doctor?” to which they responded with “we can’t tell you that for reasons of confidentiality”.

      Now it seems to me that the burden of proving that I didn’t have a Doctor (and that the prescription for my “Regular Medications” which was forged to conceal the State sanctioned acts of torture) leaves me having t prove I didn’t have a Doctor, rather than they having to prove I did.

      Such gaslighting does tend to push people to suicide (Hi Ms Brokovich by the way, still the peoples champion I see) but it does provide assistance to the State in regards their human rights abuses.

      Change Doctors? These guys are snatching people they didn’t even know existed from their beds, prescribing date rape drugs administered without knowledge to people they don’t even know post hoc, and making the false claim that they are their “Outpatients” to conceal their criminal conduct (the lie to Police quite handy in that regard, because Police will maintain the falsehood while they sort the matter out in the E.D….. woops sorry, little accident. Someone call the document ‘editor’ before the Coroner looks).

      There is a system in place here where Doctors are free to Shanghai anyone they wish using these methods (the laws protecting the public not understood by the Chief Psychiatrist and so they are worth nothing. Justification for such ‘treatment’ done on the basis that what Doctor wouldn’t be acting in good faith. What if they thought they were to be held accountable for such criminal conduct?)

      ‘High ethical standards’ used to justify virtually anything. We needed to get him the help he required.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZ9UQKBUrsg

      And what if this guy didn’t have a doctor……. yet. I’m sure they can “edit” the legal narrative and change all that while he is in an ‘induced coma’ in the E.D. of course. It’s what they did with my documents before providing them to my legal representatives. And then the Chief Psychiatrist uses the statutory declaration produced via and act of torture, and the corrupt practice of ‘verballing’ as justification for the ‘referral’ (having had the documents “edited” to ensure that the ‘verbal’ can not be proved. Make it so the fraud can be used as proof of justification, commonly referred to as uttering)

      If your not allowed to know who is and isn’t your Doctor, how on earth are you going to change them? Solves the problem of informed consent of course if you can drug people with date rape drugs to incapacitate them and then claim they didn’t have the ability to consent. Nothing the local football team pack rapist isn’t doing (‘spiking’ with date rape drugs and using the ‘gang’ to threaten with weapons that is. Informed consent? Goes a little beyond ‘coercive interrogations’ methinks).

      I know, I know, report it to the Police. They tell me they don’t have a copy of the Criminal Code and refuse to take the documented proof (in fact threaten to arrest me for having my medical records), and instead make an automatic referral to the people who did this in the first place, mental health services. Seems they are flagging their corruption on the system for ‘treatment’ by ‘friendlies’, so that option is out. Especially when the witnesses are being threatened by Police to say “It never happened”. All part of the “editing” and perverting the course of justice which …. no copy of the Criminal Code so no accountability see?

      Lets start with the lie to Police. Create false belief and procuring the apprehension or detention of a person not suffering from a mental illness. Bit of prison time there, and the documents alone prove the offending. Lets add in the ‘spiking’, intoxication by deception, and the conspiring to stupefy and commit an indictable offence, namely kidnapping and the fraudulent prescription written to conceal the original offence of ‘spiking’ hours after it occurred…….. wow, were up in to some big double figures there. Then we have the ‘cover up’ offences…….

      And the explanation given for this occurring? “We were trying to save your marriage” (the Operations Manager after her ‘formal investigation’ and “editing” of documents for the Law Centre). And that justifies it all. I had no idea they provided such a service. I thought they were running a hospital, not a torture and kidnap facility.

      The Ariel Castro Memorial Hospital lol. Such a shame they are hiding behind people who are actually trying to do good. And the ‘pillars of protection’ (ie Chief Psychiatrist, Council of Official Visitors) turn their backs and pretend they don’t have a duty because they are neglecting it. Ensure the fraud and product of torture can not be proven and run with the lies. Such a document can only be used as proof that the torture occurred, and nothing more(Convention against the use of Torture Article 13?)….unless you can remove the documents showing the ‘verbal’ and ‘spiking’ before anyone else gets to see the facts that is.

      • And you know what I find humorous about all this?

        These are the people who are wandering the corridors of their ‘hospital’ calling the likes of Mr Whitakker a ‘menace to society’.

        I wonder if they feel a little misunderstood. I guess when you can use police to stomp on the heads of anyone who dares question anything you say, why on earth would you feel otherwise? Simply have a Community Nurse tell Police they’re your “Outpatient”, and they will comply no doubt.

        “And when you see them, their forms please you, and if they speak, you listen to their speech. [They are] as if they were pieces of wood propped up – they think that every shout is against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?” Qur’an Surah Al Munafiqun (the Hypocrites) ayat 4.

        With regards to the legal protections not recognised by the Chief Psychiatrist in his letter (the “reasonable grounds” standards set out in the Mental Health Act s. 26 Criteria, which becomes “grounds they believe to be reasonable” which has no standards at all) it does seem that someone is aware of the legal protections afforded the community, or they wouldn’t have known how to “edit” the documents for the lawyers to conceal the human rights abuses. Just not the person charged with that duty. Maybe the Community Nurse should be acting as the protector of the community, because he (the FOI Officer and Operations Manager) is fully aware of what fraud to commit to subvert the laws protecting ‘us’ from arbitrary detention and torture.

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