Germanwings Pilot Allowed to Fly Based on Psychiatrist’s Letter


The pilot who deliberately crashed a Germanwings commercial airplane was questioned by the Federal Aviation Administration and denied a license to fly. The Agency reversed course in 2010, however, when his treating psychiatrist wrote letters of support indicating that the pilot’s treatment with antidepressants and psychotherapy was a “complete” success, reported CNN and USA Today.

FAA questioned mental health of Germanwings pilot (CNN, April 30, 2015)

FAA once rejected Germanwings pilot due to depression (USA Today, April 30, 2015)


  1. As usual with MIA In The News the interpretation of the articles do not match at all. The article at USA Today tells a story that implies the wrongdoing was in “stopping” the “medication”, while the article at CNN explicitly implies that the problem was that the authorities involved didn’t take “mental health” seriously. The USA Today article is trumpeting the horn for the life-long necessity of “medication” like insulin for diabetes while the CNN article is trumpeting the horn for more aggressive enforcement of policies related to “mental health” and psychiatric mandates.

    Both articles are pro-psychiatry through and through, yet are presented here as throwing psychiatry under the bus.

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    • Sure, what the stories say is no credit to psychiatry, but drawing attention to them, without expressing an opinion, isn’t throwing psychiatry under the bus.

      Psychiatry threw itself under an Airbus, all by itself.

      What interpretation do you see?

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      • And there’s absolutely no mention of the potential cause of the crash being the adverse effects of the antidepressants, or the long run adverse withdrawal effects of these drugs. Despite the antidepressants current black box warning:

        “Suicidality and Antidepressant Drugs
        Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of [Insert established name] or any other antidepressant in a child, adolescent, or young adult must balance this risk with the clinical need. Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24; there was a reduction in risk with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. [Insert Drug Name] is not approved for use in pediatric patients. [The previous sentence would be replaced with the sentence, below, for the following drugs: Prozac: Prozac is approved for use in pediatric patients with MDD and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Zoloft: Zoloft is not approved for use in pediatric patients except for patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Fluvoxamine: Fluvoxamine is not approved for use in pediatric patients except for patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).] (See Warnings: Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk, Precautions: Information for Patients, and Precautions: Pediatric Use)”

        And articles now pointing out the severe adverse withdrawal symptoms of the antidepressants, such as:

        How sad we now live in a society where the mainstream media news is nothing more than propaganda for the unethical corporations.

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    • Hi Jeffrey,

      Just so you know, as author of the In the News items for the past year, I can confirm that your observation has validity. That is, for the In the News posts, I do my best to fairly and accurately present in summary form what I see in an article — but not the entirety of the article (which is next to impossible to do usually), and not always do I do it in a “mindless” fashion. That is to say, the part or parts that I select for summary presentation are not always the same as what the original article highlights. Sometimes, for example, I skip the press release and the abstract, and quote directly from a study, because they are saying different things and I will choose what I think is most important or may be most of interest to our readers.

      In this case, it seemed to me that both the articles I was quoting had included very pertinent information which they chose not to highlight and instead to re-interpret; I chose to highlight it. As you correctly observed, they “implied” certain things for which they had no evidence, and in this case I stated simply what the evidence currently shows. Links to the original sources are always included so anyone can quickly see the entire context for themselves.

      Rob Wipond

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      • I’m sorry if my comment seemed a bit pointed, but it bothers me sometimes because I read the description of the MIA news articles and get all excited, possibly even hopeful, thinking that maybe the mainstream media is finally at a turning point… then I read the articles and am crushed back down to Earth. Sometimes it may be a day or two before I evn get around to reading the article(s), which makes it even worse.

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  2. Another psychiatry’s success story. They are really so good in making predictions about human behaviour. The worst part is that these quacks actually can decide about people’s lives in court.

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  3. In a way, this is true. The pilot’s “treatment” with “antidepressants” and psychotherapy was a “complete” success. Just think how successful (in terms of $) the pharmaceutical companies have become by marketing psychotropic drugs, and just think of the prestige (guild influence) garnered by psychiatrists who diagnose and “treat” “mental illness.” It might destroy a few lives… it might cause a plane with 150 people aboard to plummet, crash and disintegrate in the Alps, but what are a few hundred lives when compared to the power, prominence, prestige and pecuniary advantages of the psychiatric profession? In this sense, each tragedy can be seen as a feather in the cap of psychiatry.

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