Germanwings Pilot Allowed to Fly Based on Psychiatrist’s Letter

Rob Wipond
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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)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a Victoria, British Columbia-based freelance journalist who has been writing on mental health issues for fifteen years. His research has particularly focused on the interfaces between psychiatry, the justice system, and civil rights. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, six Western Magazine Awards, and four Jack Webster Awards for journalism. He can be contacted through his website.

7 COMMENTS

  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.

    • 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?

      • 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:

        https://www.madinamerica.com/2015/04/discussion-antidepressant-withdrawal-effects/

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

  2. 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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