Violence Caused by Antidepressants: An Update after Munich  

Peter Breggin, MD
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The media is now reporting biographical details about the 18-year-old youth who shot and killed nine and wounded many others before killing himself on July 22 in Munich.  Reportedly, he was suffering from multiple “mental health” issues, underwent treatment in a psychiatric facility for two months in 2015, and was currently taking unspecified psychiatric medications.  There is no indication he was psychotic.

The mass murderer was born in Germany of Iranian parents.  He left behind a manifesto, as yet to be released, reported focused on personal humiliations rather than religious convictions.

Many mass murders are driven by two distinct and largely separate sets of motivation.  One set can be called personal ideology, where the individual develops a rationalized hatred for his family, peers, or other groups, often attributed to acts of bullying and humiliation.   Their manifestos may also include outrage against society, but without identifying with a particular political/religious viewpoint.   The other set of motivations can be called political/religion ideology.  It will be important to determine if the Munich shooter is among the first who is obviously motivated by both personal and political-religious ideologies.

My clinical and forensic experience leads to another distinction among people who murder under the influence of psychiatric drugs, especially antidepressants.  Those who kill only one or two people, or close family members, often have little or no history of mental disturbance and violent tendencies. The drug itself seems like the sole cause of the violent outburst, with only minimal provocation or family conflicts.  On the other hand, most of those who commit mass violence while taking psychiatric drugs often, but not always, have a long history of mental disturbance and sometimes violence.  For these people,  the mental health system seems to have provoked increasing violence without recognizing the danger.

The Munich shooter, according reports, possessed written materials about American mass murderers who were similarly driven by personal ideologies, including Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the 1999 Columbine High School shooters who murdered 12 classmates and a teacher, and Cho Seung-hui, a student who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.

My present report about five different murderers who were taking antidepressants presents new facts and new conclusions based on my involvement in civil or criminal legal cases surrounding their actions. These five represent only a fraction of the cases I have evaluated and testified in concerning psychiatric drug-induced violence.

James Holmes (Aurora, Colorado)

On March 16, 2012, Holmes was a 24-year-old graduate student who was having trouble with his studies and whose girlfriend was breaking off from him. He sought help from the university clinic where the social worker quickly noted that he had feelings of violence toward people in general.  On March 21, the social worker questioned whether Holmes might have psychotic thinking but did not diagnose him with a psychotic disorder.

From many sources, including his computer purchases and notebooks, there is no evidence that Holmes at this time had begun the elaborating planning and purchases that would lead up to his assault on the theater.  Instead, he was seeking psychiatric help, something he would not have been motivated to do if he was already making concrete plans for mass murder.

On March 27, he saw the clinic psychiatrist prescribed him Zoloft (sertraline), an SSRI antidepressant similar Prozac, Paxil and Celexa. Given the doctor’s concerns about psychotic thinking and his obviously violent tendencies, exposing Holmes to Zoloft was like pouring gasoline on a fire.

On May 17, the social worker described Holmes more definitively as suffering from a psychotic level of thinking with paranoid and hostile feelings. She did not consider that the medication could be making him worse.

Holmes’ psychiatrist last saw him on June 11, 2012, six weeks before his assault on the movie theater.  At this time, he had been on Zoloft for 75 days.  His psychiatrist was very concerned about his deterioration, potential for violence, and increasing paranoid, hateful feelings toward people in general.  His psychiatrist was also worried about his long-time fantasies about killing as many people as possible but found no plans.  She wondered if he was having his first psychotic break and noted unspecified paranoid delusions.  Throughout the rest of the day, she was a part of multiple phone calls with school authorities discussing her patient’s potential dangerousness; but she eventually concluded that Holmes was not an immediate threat to himself or others.

According to a written prescription dated April 17, the psychiatrist raised Holmes’ Zoloft dose to 100 mg twice a day with a one-month supply of 60 tablets and one refill.  If taken as directed, this would have lasted through June 17.  A contradictory note in the medication summary chart (the prescription is more likely to reflect reality) states that on April 14 she gave prescribed him a prescription for Zoloft 100 mg, 1 ½ each day, 45 tablets, with two refills.  This would have lasted him through the rampage at a slightly lower dose.  Additional information given to me indicates that he stopped his medication abruptly around June 30, twenty days before his rampage.

An abrupt withdrawal might have worsened his condition, but the main contributing factor to the violence was his lengthy exposure to a drug that worsened his condition and drove him into psychosis.

The point at which Holmes stopped his medication is not critical.  He became increasingly violent while taking Zoloft, during which time he began his plans for the assault.  He had a manic-like psychosis while taking the Zoloft and this would not have abated for some time after stopping the medication.  Patients who develop mania and/or psychosis while taking antidepressants are often hospitalized.  Although the offending drug is stopped, treatment often goes on to require a lengthy hospitalization, antipsychotic drugs, and sometimes restraint and isolation.  I have no doubt that Zoloft contributed to Holmes’ escalating violence and that without it he probably would not have committed mass murder.

Eric Harris (Columbine High School)

Eric Harris’s probably did not start his journals until shortly after he was placed on antidepressants.  He had no history of violence, and based on his journals and other sources, he did not begin planning his violent assault with his co-perpetrator Dylan Klebold until months after being on antidepressants.  Eric’s counselor made the recommendation to Eric’s family doctor to start him on an antidepressant.  The physician diagnosed “possible depression” and ADHD.  The doctor soon switched Eric to Luvox because Eric was becoming “a bit obsessional” with unspecified “negative” thoughts.  Luvox was FDA-approved for 6-17 year-olds for OCD.  Eric filled his first prescription for Luvox 25 mg on April 28, 1998, almost one year before the assault on Columbine High School.  His journal would grow increasingly bizarre and violent over the period in which he continued to take increasing amounts of Luvox.

Eric’s Luvox dose was doubled to 50 mg on May 31 and to 100 mg on July 9. It reached 150 mg on January 7.  In mid-March, approximately one month prior to his attack on his classmates and teachers, Eric’s doctor wrote that his Luvox had been raised to 200 mg per day, and on March 13 Eric filled his last prescription, five weeks before the April 20, 1998 rampage at his high school. His prescription record indicates enough available pills to cover through the April 20, 1998 attack on his high school.

The autopsy toxicology report found a “therapeutic level” of Luvox in his system.  The half-life of Luvox—roughly the time it takes for 50% to be deactivated or cleared out of the body—is only 15 hours.  Therefore, the presence of such an amount on routine toxicology confirms that he recently took the drug.  This is important because the media have reported that Eric was not taking the antidepressant at the time of the mass murder.

Joseph Wesbecker (Louisville, Kentucky)

Joseph Wesbecker, born April 27, 1942, entered his former place of employment on September 14, 1989, where he shot 20 people, killing seven, and then killed himself.  Wesbecker had a long history of feeling persecuted and angry at work, and was hospitalized for making threats.  He was doing relatively well in his psychiatrist’s opinion when he put Wesbecker on Prozac.  One month later when Wesbecker returned for follow-up, he felt the medication was helping him.  However, he was psychotic for the first time, expressing the delusion that he had been sexually abused by one of his bosses in front of his assembled coworkers.   The psychiatrist also observed, “Patient seems to have deteriorated,” that he was “weeping” and displayed “increased level of agitation and anger.”  The doctor wrote “Prozac?” to indicate that he suspected that the antidepressant was the cause of Wesbecker’s new psychosis and delusion, and stopped the medication.  Three days later, Wesbecker brought an arsenal of weapons to his former workplace and reportedly looked robotic as he systematically perpetrated mass murder.  The half-life of Prozac is approximately 10 days, and he would have been experiencing the direct toxic effect more than withdrawal at the time.

The Case of C.P.J. (Canada)

The story of C.P.J. exemplifies overstimulating by antidepressants leading to violence.  Cases where the violence falls short of mass murder provides us many similar examples where the individual showed no signs of violence before taking the antidepressant drug.  C. P. J. was a sixteen-year-old taking Prozac for feelings of sadness that were no apparent to those who knew him.  With no history of violence or serious mental illness, he abruptly and without provocation stabbed his friend to death.

The boy had been taking Prozac for three months, during which time his behavior deteriorated. He became impulsive and unpredictable, and suicidal. He also began to talk at times as if fantasizing about violence. He seemed to become a different person to his distraught parents. His primary care physician and his parents alerted the prescribing psychiatric clinic to the boy’s deteriorating condition, but the clinic continued the Prozac.  At C.P.J.’s last visit to the clinic, he told the psychiatrist that he liked the feelings Prozac gave him.  Despite warnings from his mother at the same meeting, the psychiatrist doubled the dose.  Seventeen days after the increase in dosage, while sitting and relaxing with two friends, he turned and abruptly stabbed his close friend to death.

The great majority of violence cases, like C.P.J., have had a change in dose, usually starting the drug or increasing it, within one or two months of the event.   The FDA label refers to increased danger at the time of dose changes, up or down.

On September 16, 2011, a Canadian judge in a criminal case issued an opinion that concluded, “Dr. Breggin’s explanation of the effect Prozac was having on C.J.P.’s behavior both before that day and in committing an impulsive, inexplicable violent act that day corresponds with the evidence.” He further observed about the youngster, “His basic normalcy now further confirms he no longer poses a risk of violence to anyone and that his mental deterioration and resulting violence would not have taken place without exposure to Prozac.” Also consistent my extensive report and testimony, the judge observed, “He has none of the characteristics of a perpetrator of violence. The prospects for rehabilitation are good.”  The judge came to this conclusion despite the opposition of the government and a respected local expert.

Reynaldo Lacuzong (California)

In 1999, an engineer named Reynaldo Lacuzong was prescribed Paxil 10 mg, the smallest available dose.  Three days later he drowned himself and his two small children in a bathtub.  By most definitions, the murder of two or more people at once in one place constitutes a mass murder or a spree.

The medication was prescribed to Lacuzong by his family doctor for tension that may have been associated with quitting alcohol, although he was taking only one or two drinks in the evening to relax. He had no history of violence or crime. He was described as developing akathisia (psychomotor agitation) immediately after starting Paxil, and akathisia is known to be associated with violence.  From my review of the secret files of GlaxoSmithKline, akathisia and other serious adverse effects frequently develop within the first three days.

How Antidepressants Cause Violence and Suicide 

The most complete review of the scientific evidence showing that medications can cause violence, and the greatest number of case illustrations ever put together, can be found in my book Medication Madness: the Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Crime and Suicide.

In 2003/2004 in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine,  I summarized the scientific literature and described the basic activation or overstimulation syndrome associated with many cases of violence: “Mania with psychosis is the extreme end of a stimulant continuum that often begins with lesser degrees of insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, hyperactivity and irritability and then progresses toward more severe agitation, aggression, and varying degrees of mania.”  I also mentioned the adverse effect called akathisia or psychomotor agitation as contributing to violence and suicide.

The 2004 FDA panel re-evaluated the labeling of antidepressants in respect to suicide and violence.  The administrator of the FDA panel asked me for copies of my 2003/2004 article on SSRI-induced suicide, violence and mania, which she then put into the official information packet of every panel member.  The new language that continues in the Warnings section of the label today closely corresponds to my own.  The section warns about antidepressant-induced “anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania.”  This list of activation or overstimulation effects occurs in the Warnings section which, according to the Code of Federal Regulations, requires a “reasonable evidence of a causal association with a drug; a causal relationship need not have been definitely established” (21 CFR 201.57, p.29, revised as of April 1, 2008).

In addition to warning about this class of drugs causing the activation syndrome, the Full Prescribing Information (the FDA-approved label) also warns broadly about “clinical worsening,” and suicidal thinking and behavior.  When starting to feel worse (“clinical worsening”) while taking a drug that is supposed to help, people can become despairing.  They fear that they must be so “bad off” that even the best medication cannot help them.  This can lead to further despair, and contribute to suicidal and violent feelings.

The Medication Guide for antidepressants — a brief summary that the FDA label urges prescribers to share and discuss with the patient and family — summarizes much of this information and also warns the patient and family to be alert for many dangerous adverse effects, including “acting aggressive or violent”:

  • attempts to commit suicide
  • acting on dangerous impulses
  • acting aggressive or violent
  • thoughts about suicide or dying
  • new or worse depression
  • new or worse anxiety or panic attacks
  • feeling agitated, restless, angry or irritable,
  • trouble sleeping

One study found that 8.1% of psychiatric admissions are for antidepressant-induced mania.  Even the American Psychiatric Association official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) (2010, pp. 123-4, 127-129) notes that antidepressant drugs cause mania and psychosis, and that mania is associated with a broad range of destructive behaviors, including “harm to self and others.”

The Greater, Less Obvious Problem

My emphasis here is on the most severe violence in the form of murder.  However, antidepressants cause harm to millions of patients and their families by making the patients more irritable, angry, and easily frustrated, as well as indifferent toward their loved ones.  Marriages are wrecked by antidepressant-induced mania, domestic violence, hostility, sexual dysfunction, and lack of love.  Although the FDA-approved label emphasizes irritability, akathisia (psychomotor agitation), agitation, and hostility as adverse effects to antidepressants, clinicians often fail to alert patients to these very common adverse effects or to recognize them when they occur.

The Most Definite Study

Several years after the publication of the new FDA warnings, Thomas Moore and his colleagues (2010) reviewed all adverse reports sent to the FDA from 2004-2009.  Their reviewed showed that the vast majority of drugs (84.7%) have two of fewer reports of violence.  By contrast, a few drug classes — antidepressants, stimulants, benzodiazepines, and atypical antipsychotics — have a disproportionately larger number.  The differences remain when the number of prescriptions are factored into the statistical analyses (p<0.01).

It’s not the patient’s “mental illness” that causes violence, it’s the drugs.  Six of the 31 drugs associated with violence in Tom Moore’s study are not routinely prescribed for psychiatric disorders.  Remarkably, by far the most dangerous drug for causing violence is Chantix (varenicline), an aid for stopping smoking.  Similarly, the fifth drug is Lariam (mefloquine), an antimalarial drug, made infamous because it was taken by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales when he massacred Afghan noncombatants.  The FDA label for Lariam states, “Mefloquine may cause psychiatric symptoms in a number of patients, ranging from anxiety, paranoia, and depression to hallucinations and psychotic behavior.”   Not all psychiatric drugs are associated with violence and several non-psychiatric drugs are highly associated with violence. The data proves that the violence is associated with the class of drug and not the condition of the patient.

Closing Thoughts

Four of five of these murders—Harris, Holmes, Wesbecker, and C.P.Z.—had extensive contact with the mental health system.  Clinics and doctors, including psychiatrists, failed to detect and/or to prevent their violent behavior. Instead, the doctors gave drugs that caused violence or amplified any pre-existing violent tendencies.  We can conclude that psychiatric treatment, at least in these cases, was no help in identifying or controlling violence.  My experience teaches that this is a general principle: we cannot rely upon the mental health system to identify and to treat violence.  Instead, it contributes to and causes violence.

Curtailing or stopping the use of SSRIs and other antidepressants would vastly diminish an infinite number of aggressive and violent acts committed by individuals taking these drugs, including the more mundane, everyday acts of ordinary people described earlier.  As I pointed out decades ago in Talking Back to Prozac, and in many books and articles since then, careful scrutiny of the FDA testing for drug approval shows that antidepressants do not work any better than placebo, but that they do make many people very mentally disturbed and increase the rate of suicide and violence.  My observations on the lack of effectiveness of antidepressants has now be confirmed by a series of studies by multiple researchers, most notably Irving Kirsch, the author of The Emperor’s New Drugs. A class of drugs with no proven efficacy that has a vast array of demonstrable adverse reactions, some of which are potentially lethal?   Why should such drugs be on the market?   The continued availability of antidepressants and their growing numbers reflect an avaricious pharmaceutical industry, a collaborative medical and psychiatric profession, and a corrupt FDA.

In 2013, shaken by Adam Lanza’s horrendous Sandy Hook slaughter in Connecticut, Sanjay Gupta, MD on CNN and Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security director on Fox News, briefly spoke the truth.  They admitted that psychiatric drugs can cause violence and deserve consideration as a potential cause of Lanza’s mass murder.  Thankfully, I captured their comments, because they never uttered them again; and we still do not have Lanza’s medical record.

When AbleChild forced a Freedom of Information (FOIA) hearing from Connecticut officials, the state refused to reveal Lanza’s medical record.  At the hearing, Assistant Attorney General Patrick Kwanashie argued that it would not be legitimate to conclude that Lanza’s taking antidepressants had anything to do with his violence. The attorney general refused to divulge the records or the information because it had no legitimate purpose and would cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications.”

Congress and state legislatures must pass legislation requiring the divulgence of the medical records of mass murderers.  Only then will we be able to bypass the lock that the pharmaceutical industry has put on all such critical information. Meanwhile, the evidence, presented in this report and in more detail in my book Medication Madness, cannot be denied—antidepressants can and do cause violence on every level from people who feel more irritable or less loving toward their families to people who commit domestic violence or carry out mass murders.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. Lots of people do have personal factors, items of their history, which give them zero claim to a legitimated identity. So there really is no rational reason for them to for go suicide, or homicide-suicide.

    And there are some who’s actions have had a very positive effect.

    So we have an upwards mobility ethic and motivational doctrines, but these do nothing to redress the kinds of injustices which deny someone a legitimated identity. They are just more layers of abuse.

    And it is very hard to do much on your own, without being labeled as a psychopath. We, the Survivors of the Middle-Class Family need to organize. But to be able to do that we need to have political consciousness.

    But we will never have that as long as people are accepting Therapy, Drugs, Recovery, and Salvation Seeking.

    Nomadic
    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/survivors-of-the-middle-class-family-t243.html

    • “So there really is no rational reason for them to for go suicide, or homicide-suicide.”

      Correction:

      “So there really is no rational reason for them NOT to for go suicide, or homicide-suicide.”

      Addition:

      In this country people who know that they grew up in a dysfunctional family call a psychotherapist, or they go to a Recovery Group.

      In British Columbia they don’t need to engage in such masochism and ritualized self-abuse. They just all a lawyer, to make sure that they are not also disinherited.

      http://disinherited.com/dysfunctional-families/

      For myself though, I don’t go along with the idea that there is anything dysfunctional about these families. They are intended to psychically scar and maim children, and this is exactly what they do. And the last thing anyone needs is lessons in modern pedagogy and the Good Family from a Psychotherapist, or Recovery. But that these things still operate is the reason why we Survivors of the Middle-Class Family are completely unable to organize and establish for ourselves legitimated socio-public identities.

      Nomadic

  2. Dr. Breggin, along with your excellent reiteration of the dangers of psychiatric medications, I also appreciated your mention of the influence of shame on some mass murderers.
    – “The Munich shooter’s manifesto ‘focused on personal humiliations.’”
    “Many mass murders are driven by two distinct and largely separate sets of motivation.  One set can be called personal ideology, where the individual develops a rationalized hatred for his family, peers, or other groups, often attributed to acts of bullying and humiliation.”
    In my work “Self-Acceptance Psychology” (www.SelfAcceptancePsychology.com) I highlight the tremendous power of shame to influence human behavior. I identify three main “Shame Management Strategies” people adopt: Self-Blaming, Other-Blaming, and Blame Avoiding. As in your examples, the evidence is often available that indicates mass murderers are severe “Other-Blamers,” perhaps made worse by psychiatric medications and the shaming experience of “diagnosis” and “treatment” for a “permanent brain disorder.”
    “Other-Blamers” have such deep feelings of inadequacy they cannot be resilient when they experience humiliation, embarrassment or rejection. As James Holmes’ case indicates, failing out of graduate school and being rejected by a girlfriend may have been the triggers that overwhelmed his ability to tolerate shame and sent him on a rampage fueled by his desire to blame others for his problems. A deep lack of accountability and inability to hear criticism are key behavioral aspects of “Other-Blamers.”
    We must stop being mired in the false “diagnoses” of the DSM/ICD and look accurately at what drives human behavior or we will continue to fail to understand, assess and predict it — and prevent this type of behavior in the future.

    • “James Holmes’ case indicates, failing out of graduate school and being rejected by a girlfriend may have been the triggers that overwhelmed his ability to tolerate shame and sent him on a rampage fueled by his desire to blame others for his problems. A deep lack of accountability and inability to hear criticism are key behavioral aspects of “Other-Blamers.””

      Might the application of a State sanctioned slanderous label have also affected his thinking about himself? I don’t think many MH professionals consider the effect which this has on an individual. Of course as serial “Other blamers” it might be a difficult aspect to consider lol

      • I didn’t know what shame was till my diagnosis.

        Everyone on campus found out because of the seizures caused by my “safe and effective treatment.” They treated me like a lepor. Eventually my xenophobic dorm mom pretended I was not meds compliant so she could kick me out. 🙁

        Then the shrinks had the nerve to wonder why I became suicidal. It must be due to bad brain chemistry, right? Certainly not because of anything I was going through.

  3. Grateful to Peter Breggin for this post. Society’s complicity with the pharmaceutical industry on every level is astonishing: From high government (an attorney general, no less!), through the medical establishment, continuing all the way through the ranks of the mainstream media. I watched the Gupta clip: he concedes the truth for a brief moment and then returns to the groundless default repeated always: “…but these medications help so many…”, or “…nobody denies that these are lifesaving medications…”, yadda yadda. The truth doesn’t stand a chance.

    I never read about these types of murders anymore without wondering if the killer had contact with psychiatry. And, lo and behold, the media always reports that they did [but blames the crime on the ‘mental illness’, as Peter Breggin noted]. Finally, the tail wagging this dog is the ‘No Stigma’ campaign that follows, whose ultimate beneficiary is, again, the pharmaceutical industry.

    Liz Sydney

  4. I must report to you and your readers that the vast majority of people on Anti Depressants don’t commit violence to themselves or others, and using common sense their risk outweighs their benefits to the public.

    You can’t have an entire population of people removed from their crutch of anti-depressants which helps them be civilized and functioning people of society or you will have too many sad and angry people walking the streets who are unable to be productive and working.

    I need you to be honest about your assessment of anti-depressants, instead of disingenuous by saying they need to be banned.

    Obviously liberals will cite that we need to ban the freedom of gun ownership to continue to allow psychiatric medications to be prescribed for population control of people, who have been oppressed by the rich in their society for greed. They should also be locked up in properly funded psych wards and heavily medicated indefinitely.

    Conservatives believe there is no help for these people and they should be thrown in prison or left out homeless if they can’t work to upkeep themselves.

    • When I was in a state of akathesia I had no control whatsoever and if I ended up in this state again I am quite sure I would behave the same way.

      I have attempted suicide twice on strong psychiatric drugs. I would have attempted suicide in 1980 (the first time I consumed them) had I not been in hospital at the time; and in 1984 (the last time) – had I not “broken” into the local Psychiatric Unit for the purpose of my own self protection.

      After my last hospitalisation in 1984 (which lasted less than two days) I stopped taking strong medication I stopped suffering from extrapyramidal side effects and suicidal reactions ; I became employable and independent; and Psychotherapy also worked for me (- psychotherapy was what I had asked for in 1980).

      Even in the early 1980s I remember a (suffering) friend of mine telling me that he believed that suicidal reactions to psychiatric drugs were fairly well known about but suppressed.

    • I would not be alive if I were not on antidepressants, so the “All Antidepressants Are Bad” mantra which this particular author apparently adheres to annoys me immensely. Fact is, the outstandingly vast majority of people on antidepressants do NOT commit homicide, or other acts of violence, and this article overlooks that crucial fact. As for suicide–well, Mr. Brennan, if I were not on MAOIs–a class of antidepressants created in the 60’s–I would have committed suicide 25 years ago. In fact, while I was on–literally–trial for my life, seeking help for my overwhelmingly severe depression w a variety of fruitless antidepressant “trials”, I attempted suicide four times, b/c nothing whatsoever had yet helped me, and I lost all hope. It is, in my belief, therefore every bit as dangerous to vastly OVERprescribe antidepressants (as is currently done) as it is to cut off a patient’s medications, since many people DO depend, as I do, on their antidepressants for their lives. There is so much stigma about depression and taking meds for it to begin with, and now we have to hear how antidepressants are turning people into homicidal maniacs, as well, from authors w extreme views, like this one. Surely this author could at least have mentioned that becoming a mass killer while on mood disorder medications is not only horrifying, it is also incredibly rare. B/c of how depression and other disorders affect the brain, and how little we know about this correspondence (for instance, who is to say that it is not the condition of the brain, and not the medical treatment, which causes a patient to become violent?) There is no actual proof to substantiate the author’s claims that antidepressants are, indeed, always the culprits in these cases. An irresponsibly one sided article–but I expect nothing more from this site.

      • I am not one for putting all our eggs in one basket and attributing mass murder to psychiatric drugs. However, if you read this site carefully you will see that we have well founded concerns. Issues of life-expectancy, and denial of our basic liberties are two such issues that an out-patient on anti-depressants doesn’t have to face.

      • Playing around with drugs that mess up your brain chemistry is not good for you even if it feels good for a while. Just because someone with an MD made you dependent on them doesn’t change that, nor does it make them “medications.”

        If you were literally facing a death sentence and needed something to get you through that period, be it alcohol, speed, benzos or whatever there’s no cause for judgement. Whatever gets you through the night. But the vast majority of people on psych drugs are not on trial for their life.

      • So that means if it helps (evidence proves otherwise) that it helps 1 in 1000, but causes mania in 8.1% (this won’t include the people that were hospitalized and determined that their diagnosis was not depression but bipolar and isn’t that hysterical) that could possibly cause violence. We should just put up with the school/mass shootings. Love the logic. By the way, exercise gets rid of depression better than pills.

      • caitrin176,

        I am glad antidepressants work for you but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they have been a miserable experience for many people.

        As far as how often they cause homicidal ideation, neither you or I have a monopoly on the truth as to how often it occurs. But consider the fact that only 2 to 10% of all med side effects are ever reported to the FDA, I think it is safe to assume that these particular side effects are greatly under reported since psychiatry has a history of minimizing serious ones.

        And just so you know, I don’t automatically blame the meds for all shootings. I haven’t looked carefully at this latest article by Dr. Breggin but when someone doesn’t have a criminal history and then takes a psych med and goes on a criminal spree, which may tragically involve homicide, I think that calls for a closer look at the role of the psych med.

        You might want to read Dr. Breggin’s book, Medication Madness which is about cases he consulted on regarding people whom he felt the drug played a role in regarding committing crimes. He specifically excluded cases that in which he couldn’t make a direct correlation.

        Regarding you feeling stigma when reading articles like this and blaming Dr Breggin, I feel that is totally unfair. It is actually more stigmatizing to not talk about these side effects.

        Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a psychiatrist, says when he prescribes psych med, he alerts his patients to the adverse effects so if god forbid, they get one of them, they don’t think it is their “illness” and know to contact him immediately. Too bad, most of his colleagues aren’t like him.

        Anyway, I wish you well.

      • I cannot provide any stats on homicide or aggression for these drugs but I am sure they do exist, I agree it would be more helpful to see some facts and figures so that people know that it is not just about personal opinion. One of the problems in getting hard facts and figures on the aggression/homicide issue, is that these drug companies do actively attempt to conceal this information from the public.

        What I can share with you, however, is an article by David Healy which includes a table with rates of suicide and attempted suicides in clinical control trials for each drug, drawn from the FDA (p.11). http://davidhealy.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/2004-Healy-Shaping-the-Intimate-SS.pdf The table shows the comparisons between the placebo groups and those taking the drugs – it is really quite shocking. I understand that a lot of people do benefit from these drugs and feel defensive when they see an article like this, but I think it is absolutely necessary to have these discussions, because for some people these drugs can have incredibly dangerous consequences. Scarier still, is that psychiatry currently has no method yet of figuring out who will respond well to the medications and truly needs them vs. who will go completely off the handle. It seems like the psychiatrists treating these people fail at every possible level to stop the treatment even when there are clear signs of harm. It is all gone about in a completely haphazard, trial and error sort of manner.

        I think people should know the risks, and be aware of potential symptoms like these when they start taking medications because it could very well prevent another tragedy. I really doubt the the FDA would have approved a warning label for these drugs, if there was zero data or proof available on the risks and dangers. This cannot be a matter of just opinion.

        Furthermore, the drug companies will always have that convenient argument on their side that any suicide or act of violence was the result of the mental illness itself, not the drugs. Forget the causative agent that was in the mix, that was supposed to help resolve the problem.

  5. You know, this would happen a lot less often if you used quantitative psych tests like the Hoffer-Osmond Diagnostic or the Experiential World Inventory to monitor the effects of your drugging on your patients. Unlike the usual psychiatric tests, you can give them at intervals to see what your drugging is doing to your patients, though I know this will never be done by either you, or orthodox psychiatrists, because both tests were devised by crackpots who think nutrition and nutritional treatments are effective for treating serious “mental” illnesses.

  6. This article was excellent and one of the most informative that I’ve come across so far on this topic. I wish articles like this appeared in the mainstream media. Seems like everyone is distracted by vitriolic debates about guns, and we may me completely missing a very crucial aspect of this mass shooting problem. I think it would be really interesting if say a popular public figure like John Oliver (known for producing very intelligent, thought provoking expose’s on different social issues) were to do a piece on this very topic.

  7. Tim Murphy has a summary of his “helping families in mental health crisis act” on his home page. In the first paragraph he names individuals who committed mass killings, and presents then as examples of the need for more medications and forced treatment. Included in his list is Jesse Holmes. As far as I can tell everyone on his list were in treatment and on meds when they acted. And none had a history of violence prior to being exposed to treatment.
    The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. One part of the bill is to restrict funding for “anti psychiatric” groups

    • Fortunately no truly “anti-psychiatric groups” receive government funding. The downside of this is that they barely exist at all.

      We’re discussing Holmes & other Murphy propaganda on the “fighting Murphy” thread in the organizing forum, do drop by when you can.

      BTW do you have a link to your most recent podcast?

  8. This is one area of the movement that I don’t fully agree with. In fact, it’s kind of self-defeating. The idea that a drug can *cause* you to do something, that is. Because if biochemical factors don’t cause what we call “mental illness”, then …Well, you see where this is going.

    P.S.: On a related note, I obviously don’t agree with the disease model of addiction either.