The science is settled.
Have you heard this proclamation before about a controversial medical topic?
I have, and it makes me smile. Or maybe smirk. It feels almost like my toddler frothing up a tantrum and yelling with a furrowed brow, when she knows, deep down, that she’s backed herself into a corner.
We’ve heard it about the benign nature of GMOs & glyphosate, about vaccine safety and efficacy, about the danger of homebirth or the necessity of ultrasound. It is dangerous to be certain, let alone so aggressively and dismissively certain about science, which, by definition is a process rather than a destination.
Psychiatry, in particular, has trafficked in proclamation-based medicine, and is fast become the proving ground for corporate interests. With no objective tests preceding diagnosis and prescription of habit-forming medications, the field of psychiatry is a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry.
You almost have to hand it to these corporations for their largely unfettered success in supporting the financial interests of their shareholders. The job of Big Pharma is not to care for you, protect your wellness, or heal your children. The job of Big Pharma is to win – win at the game of unbridled capitalism – and they have.
But, the Tide May be Turning.
This week alone, three articles crossed my desk that reinforce my faith in the ultimate correction that will take place.
- On madinamerica.com, voices are echoing, discussing the turning tide and loss of confidence in psychiatry. There is a growing loss of faith in the field on the part of other specialists, a lack of interest in pursuit of the speciality by current medical students, and dissent in the ranks, exemplified by the likes of Allen Frances, former DSM taskforce chair. It’s no longer just the rants of the fringe alternative folks, it’s a rumble from inside the fortress.
- With 7% of boys and 5% of girls medicated with psychotropics, and 10,000 toddlers under 3 prescribed stimulants, it is time to ask ourselves, what are we doing to our children? We need to look no further than the 2001 Study 329, a ghostwritten, data-manipulated propaganda tool designed to promote the prescription of SSRIs to children. Eleven years after its publication, Glaxo Smith Kline was ordered to pay a 3 billion dollar fine (part of the largest health care fraud settlement in US history) for misrepresenting evidence of increased suicidality in treated children (11 of those treated engaged in suicidal behavior vs 1 in the placebo group), in addition to falsely representing Paxil as outperforming placebo. This lack of efficacy was reflected in the results of two other unpublished GSK studies – 377 and 701. The results of the reanalysis of data by independent researchers has now been published in the British Journal of Medicine, asserting the opposite conclusion to that papered by industry. Dr. David Healy has dedicated a website to the exposure of this crime, stating:
“Thousands of North American children and adolescents were seriously harmed by taking SSRIs like Paxil. Many died. Neither doctors nor parents had the information they needed, and the FDA only reluctantly issued the appropriate warnings, as might be expected from a regulator that has “corporate partnership” in its mandate.”
Incredibly, study 329 has not been retracted.
- Last but not least is Johnson & Johnson, the company that markets the iconic but carcinogenic baby wash for your newborn, has now been “caught” looking at a multibillion dollar settlement for illegally marketing Risperdal to the elderly, to children, and hiding risks of male breast growth. In this incredible series that reads like a crime novel, Steven Brill details J&J’s journey with Risperdal, a mainstay of my Bellevue training, and the host of many a 5-star dinner during my weary days as a resident. A particularly shocking detail he recounts, is that:
“In 2003, the company had a “back to school” marketing campaign for Risperdal, and a manager discussed including ‘lollipops and small toys’ in sample packages.”
Because of its sordid history of enmeshment with industry, I bring a skeptical eye to the FDA’s corrective efforts in this case. I have to wonder if these minor scoldings are but a charade-like show of force to maintain the confidence of the populace in the FDA’s protective efforts. Either way, paying billions in criminal fees appears to simply be the “cost of doing business.”
Dr. Peter Gotzsche, head of the Nordic Cochrane Collaboration, one of the few research outlets free from industry influence, has come out strongly on the lack of efficacy and safety of psychiatric medication. He also has analyzed the behavior of pharmaceutical giants comparing it to that of organized crime. He speaks clearly about his conclusions, on video, in his book, and in interviews, stating:
“Our citizens would be far better off if we removed all the psychotropic drugs from the market…It is inescapable that their availability creates more harm than good.”
What are we to do with all of this information? We must start to get more comfortable with these truths:
- The pharmaceutical industry uses fear to engage customers.
- It relies on a one-pill-one-ill model that ignores root causes and never asks why a given patient is suffering.
- It overpromises and underdelivers. It may be a wonderful idea to have a pill that sweeps symptoms away without leaving wreckage in its wake. This is not reality. It is not supported by the literature, and is why I have let go of any application of psychotropics. They don’t do what they say they do and they exact harm in the process.
- There is an easier (ultimately) way to help, to heal, and to resolve psychiatric suffering. It involves looking at the person in their journey, in their environment, and in their bodies.
Because until there can be oversight that engages the precautionary principle, is truly regulatory, and is free from industry influence, we must look upon pharmaceutical claims with appropriate discernment. They have won your trust because they use doctors as their messengers, and because we still want to believe in the white-coated religion of medicine. It’s time to shift our beliefs back where they belong: to the native intelligence of a body that wants to heal when supported, and a mind that will be free once it is.
* * * * *
This blog is slightly revised from a version on
Kelly Brogan’ website.
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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Another truth is that consumers must become more educated and take more of an active role in deciding whether or not they take medications/neuroleptics. With more accurate information, hopefully many existing users will choose to titrate off and many newly distressed people choose to never take psych meds in the first place.
As long as the majority of consumers remain ignorant that medications have not been proven to confer reliable long-term benefit, that their use often correlates with worse long-term outcome and dangerous side effects, etc…. then the biggest potential weapon against Big Pharma, the minds of the masses, remains untapped.
When I read the title of this article, “Organized Crime”, it made me think of a fascinating experience I had recently. Underground organized crime groups are in fact a major player in promoting neuroleptics; it’s not just psychiatrists and Big Pharma. A technologically savvy friend took me on a trip to the dark side of the internet – the Dark Web (.onion websites), accessible via the Tor Browser. On here there are dark Amazons (illegal marketplaces), such as Alpha Bay, Middle Earth, and Nucleus, which sell thousands of psych meds illegally and off-prescription.
Neuroleptics can be bought in huge quantities anonymously using Bitcoin and shipped secretly to one’s doorstep in unidentified Fedex packages, without ever involving a psychiatrist. Meds like Klonopin, Abilify, and Prozac are sold right alongside heroin, cocaine, and speed. Of course, I don’t think one should buy/use any of these psych meds legally (let alone illegally), but it was fascinating and disturbing to see them all sitting there at cut-rate prices, that anyone can order without leaving their house. This all shows that crime will use whatever means it can to profit, legally (Big Pharma) or illegally (dark internet, street sales), from these drugs, regardless of the effects on the end user.
I wonder if this post is going to get me in trouble :-/ Psych meds’ being sold illegally on the dark web is information that’s freely available on the regular internet, as well as on the .onion marketplaces themselves.
BTW, on Netflix the series Cybercrimes with Ben Hammersley Season 1 Episode 1 talks about the Tor Brouser yes on Netflix for all to see.
Thanks for your courageous post. One thing I’ll mention. When whistleblowers started coming down on Big Tobacco, they were only a fraction of the size of Big Pharma. I’m not saying you need to watch out for your life, but the bottom line is that speaking up this way to these kinds of companies can be dangerous. I just spent 4 months in a psychiatric hospital, where the first thing I told them was that I was an MiA author and an author of books about Hearing Voices, and they kept me a prisoner for much longer than could ever be justified.
Also, while I was there, a young woman came in who was a whistleblower on Medicare and the health industry. She was concerned when her family was overbilling Medicare, and she reported it to the FBI, I believe. The next thing she knew, she was a psychiatric “patient.”
People who speak up on these issues are in danger. Big Tobacco used to threaten people’s lives, and I wonder how Jeffrey Milligand, who blew the whistle on Y-1, is doing now. People who speak up when there is this kind of money on the line — $24 billion to market drugs to doctors in recent years, as opposed to the merely $4 billion it takes to paralyze the evening news with drug ads — tend to have problems. I can only caution anyone who speaks up, or they might have a fate like I did.
For 4 months I raged, argued, and tried to fight back. In the end I was drugged, against my will, and all the people who told me how “normal” I seemed came and went. I can only hope that this author, and others who speak out, will take precautions against the Big Pharma machine. It may not be very long before you too are “having problems,” according to the people around you.
In China, this is called being “mentally illed.” They actually have a word for it. It’s like when, in Russia, a dissident was jailed and sent off to a gulag, called a “psychiatric hospital.”
Please take all the cautions you can. You have a little too much courage for the current “system.”
I’m sorry you were in their hands for 4 months . Your’e right they have more power then ever. They want us to be isolated and not to act and to allow fear to take us over . See the movie “Ethos” on Youtube . We must stick together and outsmart them in the battle for our freedom. I hope soon you will find yours . In solidarity,
I’m sorry you were redrugged again, too, Eric.
Thank you for speaking out against the current criminal psychiatric / medical system, Kelly. Absolutely the psychiatric defamation and tranquilization system does behave as organized crime. The FBI, who arrested (only) one of my former doctors … finally, ignores most the medical crimes against patients. And the attorneys and states attorneys are involved in this crime syndicate, as well as judges, the Dept of Prof Reg, the insurance companies and other large corporations, including the religious leaders. It’s an organized criminal system from top to bottom, based completely on fraud – just like in pre-WWII Nazi Germany.
My sympathy goes out to you, Eric. I’ve encountered some of what you describe, but not to the extent that you have.
I think the title Organised Crime is very appropriate, how can drug companies knowingly get away with killing children?
It’s ridiculous – even the poorest countries in the world wouldn’t allow this.
4 fucking months as a psychiatric inmate and goodness knows how many more on psychiatric probation? There’s no way that Mr. Coates was or is “disabled” enough or “dangerous” enough to merit all of that. I just hope that the state is too lazy to troll the Internet and read these comments. Right now, freedom speech is a serious liability for this man. If Mr. Coates works the system and doesn’t let the system work him, he may be able to get away from this persecution within a year or so. Keep your head up Mr. Coates, but not too high, eh. You don’t want the pro-force psychiatry goons to label you as “grandiose”.
This is not the first time I’ve heard on MIA of such blatant in-our-face suppression of activists in the name of “mental health.” If we don’t develop an effective legal and political support system for those of us who are targeted for “treatment” they will pick us off one by one as has happened with other movements. Those who crave martyrdom may be fine with that but don’t count me among them.
You are right , but how do we develop an effective legal and political support system for those of us targeted for “treatment” . You are right they will pick us off one by one as has happened with other movements. Is their such a thing as legal protection for civil disobedience anymore to hold back over reacting retaliation . Who pays lawyers that protect activists . And how many of these lawyers exist . In the present reality can they be effective? In the documentary “Cowspiracy” on Netflix ( maybe it’s on youtube also) they mention that over a thousand activist’s trying to expose the extent of pollution caused by the cattle industry have been murdered in Brazil by members of this profitable industry.
My dad told me experiences about before World War II in Lodz Poland when he was a youth and member of Betar a group that defended Jewish communities . He said in the beginning they were able to successfully defend against small group incursions of Jew haters . He said eventually the haters killed off the strongest defenders .
Yes there are those that will do anything to continue to profit from lies . In a fascist state like this one, for the truth to surface (which interferes with vested profit interests) and get a real hearing in this state that supposedly at the same time also values free speech and science and freedom of and from religion has ,to say the least, become very problematic.
How to expose the lies without becoming a martyr ? How not to be paralyzed by fear when your own government is using Shock and Awe as a weapon to control it’s own population and when there seems to be no limit on how far they will go, Even targeting the youngest ?
Maybe the alternative to not fighting back somehow against the false is worse.
My teacher of Traditional Naturopathy used to say ” In nature scum alway’s rises to the top . It’s the same among people. Don’t we see it ? “
In Germany you can apparently spend the best of 8yrs as “paranoid schizophrenic” if you dare to go against banksters.
But it’s not even the worst – in 3rd world countries people who fight corporations end up dead (like people trying to protect Amazon against foreign corporations).
I guess one has t be prepared for what it takes to fight back.
And here in the U.S. it seems the banksters may have chosen to proactively attack the ethical American banker’s children and grandchildren, at least my child was attacked by a rich Bohemian Grove attendee, then I was misdiagnosed and drugged to cover that up, right after 9.11.2001.
I hadn’t initially consciously realized that 9.11.2001 was a bankster’s war for control of the US monetary supply, I did have a nightmare that event may bring on WWIII, however. I have no specific proof I was attacked because I was an ethical American banker’s daughter, but it’s now looking like it’s possible.
And my drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity “manic psychosis” / awakening certainly did include a walk by a Federal Reserve bank and an internal screaming at Greenspan for spanning the green to the point it was no longer relevant to reality – although that, of course, was just a scolding within the “collective unconscious.” But I did, around that time have a pastor say to me, “some people can’t pray in private.” And lots of others came up and talked to me, as if they were aware of my thoughts, or commented they could “feel the power,” too. What is the psychiatric industry’s proof there is no “collective unconscious”?
But we do need to break up the “too big to fail” banks and corporations, and get rid of the corrupt Federal Reserve system. I’m glad lots of people now see this problem. And now that lots of people share my concerns, doesn’t that mean my concerns are no longer “delusions” or “psychosis”?
My Jewish psychiatrist defamed and drugged me, so he could aid and abet in handing over complete control of the US monetary system to the exact same bankersters who financed the Holocaust. The irony is staggering to me. Is it possible you can take the child out of the banking industry, but you can’t take the banking industry out of the child? Who knows? certainly the psychiatrists don’t have the correct answers.
ERIC, I, too, am very sorry for what you have endured, a vivid reminder, if one was needed, of the danger of speaking out and the likelihood of retaliation against anyone who challenges the prevailing “treatment” paradigm. As brave and honest as that is, I am not sure it is the best way to go while one is in their clutches.
KELLY, you are the hope of psychiatry. May you be an inspiration to other young psychiatrists who actually want to help patients instead of serving as Big Pharma’s distribution channel.
As for your reference to “unbridled capitalism,” well, sure, the problem with capitalism is capitalists who behave badly in the pursuit of profits. But that’s what capitalists do. It is the government, at least in theory, that should be the steward of the public interest, to ensure that the game (the workings of the free market, competition) is played fairly and honestly, that what is promoted as treatment is backed up by honest science, that the public is given complete and truthful information about all treatment options. Is the government fulfilling its responsibility to the public rather than serving powerful special interests (such as, Big Pharma that wants to sell its poisons, or the NRA that needs a convenient scapegoat to deflect a debate on gun violence)? It is, after all, a government agency (the FDA) that refuses to ban the drugging of children, a nightmare scenario if there ever was one. It is the government (the U.S. Congress) that allows direct consumer advertising by Big Pharma, effectively ensuring the industry’s monopoly on the dissemination of information. Big Pharma’s ubiquitous and relentless peddling of its offerings is not only annoying in the extreme, it pretty much ensures that mainstream media (mindful of the untold advertising dollars at stake) will continue their self-imposed blackout on covering psychiatry honestly, making it that much harder for the truth to get out. (Not impossible, in the age of the Internet, but much harder.) It is the government that facilitates the worst aspects of psychiatry: — the coercion. That would be the legislators who enact the euphemistically misnamed assisted outpatient treatment laws, and the clueless judiciary that enforces them. Remember the Justina Pelletier story. The psychiatrists were clearly the villains there, but they could not have done what they did without the enforcement machinery of state government. And is it not possible (or, actually, likely) that deep down, the government might like the option of drugging people as a means of social control? Today, it might be people with mental illness labels; tomorrow it could be anyone who thinks and speaks out. We are all at risk.
Who checks on or polices the regulator or, for that matter, on corporations? I believe there is only 1 answer: we the people; people who are informed. We are from from having the critical mass of support that was necessary to put an end to tobacco company advertising and bring about a settlement with the tobacco companies. I believe that we have to keep working at this, educating people, one by one. I salute you for doing all that you do, to build awareness of the harm posed by mainstream psychiatric treatment, to show that non-drug treatment options work and to grow the critical mass of knowledge and resolve.
A quick correction for my post above. I meant to say: We are FAR from having the critical mass…
the problem with capitalism is capitalists who behave badly in the pursuit of profits. But that’s what capitalists do. It is the government, at least in theory, that should be the steward of the public interest
The problem with capitalism is not that it’s misused by some, but in its basic structure, just as with psychiatry. When the government, as it does now, acts as the enforcement arm of capitalism what we have is known as fascism.
Oldhead, I don’t want to go too far afield with politics. The only reason I posted my comment is because of the reference to unbridled capitalism in the article, and the fact that the issue comes up from time to time on MIA. You know, the idea that to fix psychiatry we need to abolish capitalism. No one ever says what we would replace it with (central planning? government dictates?), or how this would lead to excellence in mental health care. Or, for that matter, who would produce the stuff that we rely on the market economy to produce. Overthrowing capitalism makes no more sense than doing away with democracy when it allowed awful things like slavery.. I do not like what is done by the likes of Big Pharma and Monsanto, and would rather focus on making them accountable instead of trying to become the next North Korea. As it stands, the only people who have a shot at good care are those who have the choice and the means to select what they want. I would like everyone to have those options.
You know, the idea that to fix psychiatry we need to abolish capitalism. No one ever says what we would replace it with (central planning? government dictates?), or how this would lead to excellence in mental health care. Or, for that matter, who would produce the stuff that we rely on the market economy to produce.
OK my aspiration is not to “fix” psychiatry but to expose and hopefully defeat it. Nor is my goal “excellence in mental health care.”
My short answer to your other questions is socialism.
Oh, and what gave you the idea that capitalism is needed for production? Actually what we have long had in practice is socialized production but private ownership. If there’s one thing workers can do it’s produce.
Dr. Brogan’s defense of public safety and the scientific method are examples of the Hippocratic Oath in action. If patients could take for granted that their doctors will assist them in taking care of their basic needs, we could dispassionately read Dr. Brogan’s article and not give a second thought to the liberties we enjoy that are secured for us by clinicians like Dr. Brogan who commit their professional, and sometimes also their personal lives, to policing psychiatry. But since patients can’t just expect that their doctors will be proactively honest instead of reactively or reluctantly honest, we have to commend Dr. Brogan for helping to make medicine safe for people who either can’t or don’t want to use medical science to feed their greed-and-power trips. Dr. Brogan, we treasure your intelligence, your courage and, your unconditional obedience to the rules for the study and practice of medicine.
“Our citizens would be far better off if we removed all the psychotropic drugs from the market…It is inescapable that their availability creates more harm than good.”
He’s totally correct.
Big pharma won’t go away. Someday they will make pills that actually work and don’t cause birth defects, obesity, insomnia, boobs on boys, mania, psychosis, and suicide. And history will look back on all of us as victims of a heartless industry. Worse than the lobotomy era.
Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe a pill will never be the answer.
The families of the children who have killed themselves because of ssri are the victims. The boys with the boobs are the victims. I am a victim.
More truth telling must occur. More Healy more Brogan more Whitaker. Let’s work to expose these perpetrators for what they are.
Dr. Brogan mentions the loss of faith in psychiatry. Is it possible that the involvement of D. Ewen Cameron who served as President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, American (1952–1953) and World Psychiatric Associations, the American Psychopathological Association and the Society of Biological Psychiatry during the 1950s in MK ULTRA?
The horrors that were committed by Dr. Cameron and his colleagues included completely wiping adult patients minds, and giving LSD to children with mental disabilities. The Church Committee’s investigation into intelligence agencies abuses revealed the involvement of many universities and psychiatric institutions. The fact remains that these atrocities were committed for money.
These misdeeds had a great affect on the decline of trust in mental health professionals.
Dr. Brogan mentions the loss of faith in psychiatry. Is it possible that the involvement of D. Ewen Cameron who served as President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, American (1952–1953) and World Psychiatric Associations, the American Psychopathological Association and the Society of Biological Psychiatry during the 1950s in MK ULTRA was a catalyst for the decline in faith in psychiatry?
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