People Are Dying Prematurely Due to Polypharmacy

Stan Truskie, PhD
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A study published in the January 2016 Behavioral Health Roundtable Discussion, by Kenneth Anderson, MA, found that psychiatric medications are killing more Americans than heroin. One of the major contributors to this alarming statistic is what is known as “polypharmacy.” This practice must be counteracted with measures to help protect the health and safety of those who are diagnosed as being mentally ill, and who are victims of overmedication with life-threatening drugs.

Very simply, polypharmacy is the prescription of two or more psychiatric medications at the same time. In cases involving psychiatric treatment, there is little research to back up advantages of utilizing polypharmacy, but alarmingly, inappropriate polypharmacy can be harmful, or even deadly.

Our son, Mark, is an example of the deadly effects of polypharmacy. He died at the young age of 46 and his death was caused by toxicity/cardiac failure from two of the five medications he was taking, at higher than recommended doses, as prescribed by his psychiatrist.

He was treated as an outpatient at a clinic for over four years, up until the time of his death, and was prescribed a mixture of five psychiatric medications, some at increasing dosage levels throughout his treatment. The treating psychiatrist completely ignored the warnings of the dangerous side effects of these medications, including sudden death.

These precautionary physician messages were clear and succinct, warning that the medications being prescribed separately, and in combination, could cause toxicity, dilated cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmia, coma, and sudden death. The warnings appeared on the prescribing information of the medications, and some were included in special warnings issued by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

In addition to ignoring the warning signs, the psychiatrist never conducted monthly blood draws to measure the concentration levels of these powerful medications being prescribed; the psychiatrist never monitored his heart with an ECG or EKG; and never checked for signs and symptoms of known side effects, even though there were published recommendations to do so. And inexplicably, the psychiatrist never warned him, or us, about these dangerous warning signs, including FDA published warnings.

Mark lived at home with us, and was diagnosed as having a schizoaffective disorder. He was a wonderful person and a great son; he was the perfect patient. He never smoked, drank alcohol, or took street drugs. He made all his appointments and took his medications, following his psychiatrist’s instructions, almost to the letter, and yet he died. We were very much involved in his treatment, and he, as did we, believed that his clinic, hospital and mental health care staff would do no harm, and protect him. Unfortunately, and sadly, we were wrong.

A study by Moitabai and Olfson (2010) found major increases in psychiatric polypharmacy in office-based psychiatry practices in the United States. The median number of prescriptions doubled within a ten-year period.

Relatedly, studies have shown that the likelihood of death is directly proportionate to the number of medications a person with a psychiatric disability is taking, and helps explain the reason why patients diagnosed as mentally ill and taking multiple medications die 25 years sooner, on the average, than the average death age of the general population. This is a well-known fact within the mental health care community, but is seldom shared with patients, or their caregivers. And what is more disturbing is that nothing is ever done about it.

Kevin Pho, MD, an American physician of internal medicine, and founder/editor of KevinMD.com, a website visited by medical professionals, states this: “Polypharmacy has never been, and will never be, systematically studied in controlled clinical trials… It is impossibly impractical to do studies comparing multiple drug regimen, because these would require too many cells and too big a sample size to test all the possible permutations. The result: Polypharmacy is rarely ever evidence-based, almost always a shot in the dark.”

“Shot in the dark” treatment is equivalent to voodoo medicine, and it must be addressed immediately to ensure that those patients diagnosed as mentally ill are not harmed, or worse, die from this method of treatment. I am not a mental health professional, but my own research since my son’s death, plus my over 25 years of experience in dealing with a flawed mental health system, leads me to conclude that families, government agencies, policy makers, insurers, and health care providers must address this crisis to protect the health and safety of those diagnosed as mentally ill.

Family Involvement. The family should not solely rely on the psychiatrist to properly treat the patient. Instead, the family needs to be fully engaged with the mental health patient’s treatment plan. The family should insist on a multi-disciplinary approach to the patient’s treatment, to regularly include communications involving the patient, family members, psychiatrist, mental health counselor, pharmacist and primary care physician. The family should be aware of the medications, the indications for use and the risks, side effects and warnings associated with the medications. The family should ensure that the health care professionals are regularly questioning the patient’s physical as well as behavioral condition with these concerns in mind. This team approach should be in effect until the patient no longer requires psychiatric medications.

The FDA. The FDA issues reports of known and proven adverse effects of certain psychiatric medications, individually and in combination with other medications. The FDA should institute stricter regulations. Currently, FDA warnings are essentially useless because many psychiatrists/physicians often ignore them. The FDA should require appropriate and periodic health exams including heart monitoring, drug concentration measurements, liver enzyme testing and other appropriate tests when medications with known, dangerous side effects are being prescribed.

Less Is More. Clearly, overmedication is not the solution to treating those diagnosed as mentally ill. Newer, more effective treatment strategies, focusing less on psychiatric medications, are being used elsewhere. An example is the mental health program in Northern Finland that has had an extremely high rate of recovery for patients with severe mental disorders. Their program uses a technique that began over 25 years ago called Open Dialogue. The approach de-emphasizes the use of drugs and focuses instead on developing a social network of family and helpers and involving the patient in all treatment decisions. Ongoing research shows that over 80% of those treated with the approach return to work and over 75% show no residual signs of psychosis. Unfortunately, only a few small programs are offered here in the U.S.

Integration Is Needed. There is a large body of knowledge showing that those patients classified as mentally ill fare best when their physical and behavioral health needs are addressed in tandem. But the current health care delivery systems are disjointed and fragmented. They tend to operate independently, without coordination between them, and gaps in care and inappropriate care can result. What is needed is a cohesive framework that enables providers to deliver integrated care to patients with physical and behavioral health needs. There should be accountability for the whole person. A single provider, care team, or health care entity should be responsible for coordinating or delivering the full spectrum of physical and behavioral services, and to the extent applicable, long-term support services, such as housing and employment assistance.

The problem of overmedication of those diagnosed as mentally ill is similar to the opioid crisis in the US, but receives far less national attention because people labeled as mentally ill in our society have historically been stereotyped, ignored, and forgotten. Many stigmatized as “mentally ill” will continue to die at a young age unless and until our society recognizes that our most vulnerable and ignored merit the same attention and care as those suffering from other physical ailments and addiction disorders.

Editor’s note: An Allegheny County jury returned a $2 million verdict on Wed., May 16 in favor of Stanley and Marianne Truskie as a result of the death of their son Mark who died at the age of 46. 

44 COMMENTS

  1. thanks for this. I am sorry about your son’s untimely death. Many “mental patients” I know are on ever-expanding cocktails of psych drugs, plus other prescriptions as they get older (statins, blood pressure meds, etc.). My own combination of 2 prescriptions seems to be the exception to the rule. All too often, it seems that those labeled with “severe mental illness” are given more and more drugs as time goes on, often at ever increasing doses, also.

    I’m blessed that my parents “take good care” of me and also that they keep on an eye on my treatment. Not to sound too Marxist, but I’m also fortunate in that my parents are now “well-to-do” (for this area), and I think their status has allowed me to have more of a voice in my treatment (and in general). I’ve seen how poor, vulnerable people/”patients” are treated, especially at community mental health clinics, and I find it disturbing. Even though I get reasonably humane treatment, I’m still considering just going to a family medicine doctor, instead of dealing with the clinics.

    Thanks again for this well-written article.

  2. First of all I’m sorry about the loss of your son. I understand all too well about psychiatric polypharmacy. The day I saw my psychiatrist I was profusely sweating and not feeling well but he just brushed it off saying I was anxious. A few hours later I was fighting for my life with Seroquel Induced Acute Pancreatitis in the ER. I was transferred to a hospital that had an ICU and told I would not to live. As they say it wasn’t my time and I was given a second chance.

    I had been on polypharmacy for numerous years and my psychiatrist never did the needed blood work or exams. It’s such a travesty. My story in its entirety is on Survivingantidepressants.org site under Aria (My Success Story). If I had stayed on the psychiatric drugs I wouldn’t be alive today. What was even more unbelievable was I was told that I had NOT been mentally ill. It was the psychiatric drugs causing me to appear bizarre (a neurologist said I had the worst Akathisia he’d ever encountered). There are many of us on Mad in America site who have experienced what I have. Psychiatric drugs ARE dangerous.

  3. First off, I am SO sorry for your son’s untimely and very preventable death. It is hard to imagine a more painful kind of loss, and my heart goes out to you.

    Second, I REALLY hope you can and do take legal action against the psychiatrist. While they are protected by the “standard of care” language, so that doing stupid things is not malpractice as long as your colleagues do the same stupid things that you are doing, this psychiatrist appears to have violated informed consent standards and failed to do standard tests, and I believe that should be sufficient to make him legally liable for his negligence. The courts appear to be the ONLY area of viable accountability for doctors, and finances appear to be the only motivation to get them to avoid bad behavior.

    Finally, I’d add to your analysis that CORRUPTION is at the center of this problem. The reason doctors prescribe off label and the reason the psychiatric drug crisis is ignored and that things like Open Dialog are suppressed is because Big Pharma and many, many physicians are profiting massively from keeping the status quo in place. Unless this is addressed, tragedies like your family’s will continue to occur.

    Thanks for sharing your story and helping push for some much needed changes in the system!

    — Steve

    • I work at Surviving Antidepressants, and we find people on a lot of duplication in categories. So someone on 5 meds might be on 2 mood stabilizers, 2 neuroleptics, 2 antidepressants – and don’t forget benzos and sleep aids. Additionally, when someone is polydrugged, they get foggy and listless, so often an amphetamine is added to the mix.

      Stan, I am so sorry for your loss, and it is laudable you are writing here. Yet another reason to be quite grateful that we have a place such as MIA.

      I am curious – when someone is on 5 drugs – remember 5 + 5 = 120 possible interactions (an estimate) – how was it determined which 2 caused the cardiac and other problems? Yes, these symptoms will be listed on the drug information pamphlet, and might even be in a Black Box – but the synergy of all of these drugs would have to make the 2 “baddies” far more dangerous.

      In other words, by calling out the 2 “baddies,” again, the doctors are overlooking polypharmacy as the direct cause of your son’s death. There’s still a blind eye here.

      You have addressed it in your fine article, but somehow I don’t think that the doctors have resolved their cognitive dissonance.

  4. Great article. Just think how many lives would be saved if psychiatrists stopped prescribing multiple drugs. People need to read this, and to make sure pressure is applied to do just that. Until it is done, there are going to be innumerable premature deaths that were, not only completely avoidable, but basically senseless. All you have to do, for one thing, is to realize that so-called co-morbid conditions, multiple diagnoses, more often than not, in the mental health field, have more to do with marketing drugs than they do with actual diseases. As you put it in your post, in this case, less is more, less diagnosing and drugging, that is, is more health and longevity. It’s a message that I hope begins to register with a few medical doctors. For until that happens, the tragic consequences of poly-pharmacy are not going to go away.

  5. Really sorry to read about your story, it’s appauling and it is such events that motivates us. We know, we have been there.

    Tried to make a complaint myself re polypharmacy to the Health Trust, Care Quality Commission, General Medical Council, Nursing and midwifery Council, Information Commissioners Office and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. I had to do all that because the Health Trust just would not reply to me, they had to be forced into making a reply, and when they did, they lied and I proved it with their own letter headed discharge letters, and have got away with it: The General Medical Council just dismissed it, put it back to them with new evidence and it’s under their rule 12, I do not hold out any hope. These psychiatrists can pretty much do what they like. God knows how many have died under the pretense of ‘mental illness’ As far as I’m aware at this time, in the UK, if you die in the MH unit there is no independent investigation.

    You can see just how deluded these psychiatrists are, I do not suppose it ever occurred to him that the benzodiazepine usually prescribed ‘as needed’ would trigger toxic psychosis, I guess he never read the British National Formulary. Useful idiots get the top jobs:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89vYuVeeb0U&feature=youtu.be&t=461

  6. My sincere condolences to you and your family. Your son was a victim of psychiatric abuse and suffered under the label of a fictitious disease. Like many who have gone before him, he is a psychiatric martyr. Without the false label of “schizoaffective disorder,” he might not have been drugged to death, but we can honor his memory by continuing to defy the system, and to slay the dragon of psychiatry. God bless you.

  7. Stan Truskie:
    I’m very sorry to hear about the death of your son. And I don’t want to cause you any unnecessary pain. So do I withhold the TRUTH I KNOW, to spare your feelings? Or should I be honest? You’ve heard the expression, “the truth hurts”; and that phrase is often used as an excuse or justification to cover up unpleasant or inconvenient information. But I think that just points out another, deeper truth: “We’re only as sick as the secrets we keep”. And psychiatry is one of the sickest secrets there is! The TRUTH, Mr. Truskie, is that psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drug racket, and a means of social control. It’s 21st Century Phrenology with potent neuro-toxins. Your son did NOT “have schizoaffective disorder”, simply because there’s no such thing. It’s an imaginary “disease” that was INVENTED, (note: NOT “discovered”), to serve as an excuse to $ELL DRUG$, and maintain the power and influence of PhRMA, the shrinks, and the larger “mental illness industry”. Your son was KILLED. Active voice. He did not just “die”,- passive voice. What I think you need to realize, is that “the system” really does NOT care about your son in particular, or about “mental patients” in general. PhRMA does NOT care about you, or me, either. The system which killed your son only cares about money, power, and control. That’s a harsh TRUTH. I think you need to understand, Mr. Truskie, that the DSM-5 is a catalog of billing codes. ALL of the so-called “diagnoses” in it were invented, – or created, – to serve as excuses to sell drugs. Now, I’m not saying that your son didn’t have some difficulties, or painful experiences, or whatever you want to call it. But that doesn’t mean that he had a “mental illness”. And that diagnostic label is itself the very “stigma” which the system itself so often decries!
    Like your son, I’ve seen several friends and acquaintances die too soon, after being multi-drugged. I myself was a victim of that, too. I was taken to a psychiatrist, and “diagnosed”/labeled/stigmatized in 10th grade. Wasted the next 20 years of my life. I read Dr. Peter Breggin’s “Toxic Psychiatry” in the early 1990’s, and he helped expose much of what I’d already figured out for myself. That’s what I’m trying to explain to you here. You’ve been lied to by psychiatry & the “mental health/illness industrial complex”. I think the best way to honor your son’s sacrifice is to work to end the whole sad charade of psychiatry once and for all. How many more needless deaths will be required to stop the carnage? Looking at the parallel “heroin/opioid crisis”, all I’m hearing is “talk, talk, talk,” but nobody wants to actually walk the walk. I’m truly very sorry. This is about all I can do….

  8. Dear Dr Truskie,

    I am very sorry about the avoidable death of your son, in Psychiatry.

    Dr Peter Gøtzsche of the Nordic Cochrane Institute, says that Psychiatric drugs are dangerous in the hands of doctors, and I believe with him.

    I experienced Polypharmacy myself in the early 1980s in Southern Ireland. It disabled me at the time, and I never fully physically recovered. I did recover mentally though, some years further down the line as a result of carefully cutting “medication” and moving to “psychology” – where the solutions were.

    Theres plenty of evidence out there that people can completely recover, without any Psychiatric Drug intervention whatsoever:

    http://connachttribune.ie/highlighting-power-peer-support-mental-illness-recovery-300/

    http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/voice-hearing-rte-documentary-3595916-Sep2017/

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/the-great-illusion-1.662763

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/a-first-class-recovery-from-hopeless-case-to-graduate-1808991.html

    Thank you for your good work.

  9. Stan, very sorry to hear about the life and death of your son.

    Anyone who is being convinced that they have something wrong with them is at risk of premature death, and even suicide. If not prescription medications, it will be street drugs and alcohol.

    Saddle Back Church Founder Rick Warren said after his 27yo son Matthew shot himself in the head, that Matthew had had the best Psychiatrists, Psychotherapists, and Prayer Warriors in the world.

    We must get these drugs off the market and eradicate psychiatry and incarcerate the perpetrators.

    Psychotherapy, being just talk, and between consenting adults, we cannot really outlaw. But we should not be allowing our government to license it, as this is what gives it its life destroying effect.

    The Recovery Movement is a con. We need to discredit it and anything which promotes the idea of Recovery from supposed mental illness or emotional disorders.

    Political consciousness raising and political action are the ways we must go.

    a work in progress
    https://sites.google.com/site/stompingthecockroach/

  10. I’m very sorry for your loss, Stan. Thank you for speaking out about the impropriety of polypharmacy. Like your son, and many here, I should be dead – given the above recommended doses and massive numbers of drugs I was inappropriately coerced and forced to take.

    When I was illegally hospitalized against my will, by a now FBI convicted criminal doctor, I was forced to take willy nilly drug cocktail combinations of up to nine different drugs a day. And that hospital, to this day, believes this criminal doctor’s behavior is “appropriate medical care.” Polypharmacy does need to be ended. Thanks for speaking out against it.

  11. Maybe your foundation will be able to raise more funds than other psych survivor foundations. One of those foundations says they work for our community, but they pay their CEO $167,000 a year and secretarial staff $67,000 a year on average. It’s hard for donors to pay above market costs. Maybe that’s why they can’t raise much funds.

    If your foundation really works for our community, maybe you can raise enough funds to make a difference instead of spending over 50% of receipts on fundraising and staff like the other foundation does.

    It’s hard for advocates living in poverty to see people use our name and our cause to fund their own luxury living.

    Maybe you will do a lot better than that.

  12. I’m sorry for loss. Thank you for going public.

    On your foundation’s website I found the following:

    “Mental Heatlh First Aid teaches you you how to idenity, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in your community. Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches you how to help someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. The training helps you identify, understand and respond to signs of additictions and mental illness. To find a Mental Health First Aid Course close to you, check out this website https//www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/. (I left in the mispellings)

    I wish you would promote emotional CPR instead.

    The problem with mentalhealthfirstaid is it is just another early screening program, the darling child of NAMI, a corrupted organization which promotes the false narrative of psychiatry. Early screening programs, rather than destigmatizing and teaching people about alternatives that ‘first do no harm’ are simply funnels to a faulty treatment paradigm.

    The epistemic authority of mental health system is considered to be the person who is a board certified psychiatrist. Psychiatry holds that all ‘mental illnesses’ are chronic brain diseases with biological origins, namely, an imbalance of neurotransmitters. This is a false narrative of human suffering that is promoted by the industry that benefits from sales of drugs, which sedate and do nothing to ‘correct’ imbalances of neurotransmitters. In fact, neuroleptics like the clozapine which your son was taking causes a shrinking of the brain.

    My daughter was hospitalized in a state hospital several times for schizoaffective. We are desperately trying to help her taper off clozapine because we could see immediately how negatively it has impacted her heath: weight gain, heart burn, lowered cognition, disorganization sedation, fogginess, goiter, labored breathing, incontinence, prone to infections, etc. But there are virtually no psychiatric drug withdrawal support systems in place due to the corruption of the field of mental health. Even the so-called consumer advocacy organizations like NAMI receive corrupt funding from big Pharma. Where is a parent supposed to turn to?

    As a parent I feel that all the cards are stacked against young people with a psychiatric diagnosis trying desperately to live a drug free existence. Our entire culture has bought the false narrative of psychiatry hook, line, and sinker that sedating people with mental and emotional problems is the first line of defense against ‘mental illness.

    Just as young criminals become hardened when they are sent to large prisons and come out career criminals, involuntary treatment and forcing drugging hardens and makes individuals experiencing trauma distress, and grief much, much worse!

    My daughter experienced extreme civil rights violations in the mental health system: restrain, isolation, seclusion, institutionalization, and forced medication. The drugs she was forcibly injected with caused adverse reactions and caused her to become uncharacteristically violent giving her a criminal record. Her forced drugging also caused her to experience new psychiatric symptoms! Instead of removing her from an offending drug, arrogant doctors completely and willfully ignorant, would treat her with contempt, raising her dosage to ever higher levels, nearly killing her!

    There is not a single case of trauma, anxiety, and distress that cannot be made worse by psychiatry, forced drugging and institutionalization.

    Your use of the word voodoo treatment is spot on. These drugs are shotgun approaches that should be used judiciously for very short periods of time but instead psychiatrists are so corrupt they are not willing to admit that patients get chronically dependent and often become much worse after being put on these drugs. Consequently our children are suffer ing great harm when they try desperately to come off these drugs without any support.

    Usually patients like my daughter are stigmatized as ‘non compliant’ and they attempt to secretly coming off their deadly cocktails without any social supports. Consequently, many pf our most iatrogenically harmed children end up relapsing going back to the hospital where they are even more drugged up.

    Drug solutions to emotional and mental problems are nuclear solutions.

  13. “taking, at higher than recommended doses, as prescribed by his psychiatrist.”

    Just to say even a recommended dose can be way wrong. This is because we all have different phenotypes (normal, intermediate, poor, rapid, ultra rapid) of drug metabolising enzymes. And guess what.. there has been a pharmacogenetics test to predict an adverse drug event for some time, in fact it was the first genetics test available as far as I’m aware. But even this is not enough.. there are common food stuffs, herbs and spices which block inhibit and attenuate the enzymes as common as: black tea, curcumin, black pepper, garlic and valerian (found in nytol and other ‘natural’ sleep aids). So even if you have normal phenotype, what you eat/ingest can make a massive difference. But that is still not enough, when you have polypharmacy you have drugs that themselves inhibit the enzymes, two very popular ones are Sertaline and Citalopram. So you can see that the likelihood of toxicity from polypharmacy is more likely than not.

    And guess what else, these ‘doctors’ know all this. They pretend they do not, but they do. It is why they need to be put before a court, judge, a jury, the public and the facts be explained to them of why this is a very serious crime, and so serious.. vast numbers, it is a crime against humanity. Psychiatrists try to hoodwink and shift the emphasis to meet their own deluded ends, they get away with it because the people they try to influence and address do not have specialised knowledge nor the horrific experience of the drugs. Unfortunately for them, we do.

    References:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/704577.stm

    http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/121610p26.shtml

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnNI6JEFf38

    https://www.ebmconsult.com/content/pages/medications-herbs-cytochrome-p450-cyp-enzyme-inhibitors

  14. To all

    One small but important way to fight against the system that killed Stan’s son is to stop calling psychiatric drugs “medications.” These are mind altering drugs that have many toxic “main” and “side” effects that harm the human body, especially if taken for long periods of time.

    Real medications treat real diseases and other cellular abnormalities in the human body. Psychiatry and Big Pharma have spent hundreds of billions of dollars convincing the public that their psychiatric drugs are actual “medications.” Let’s stop letting them get away with this deadly unscientific charade.

    Changing language is a big part of making systemic and paradigm changes in the world. Let’s start now!

    Richard

  15. Stan, I’m grieved by your son’s story. I’m also greatly angered though not at you. I’m 44–a little younger than your son was. I managed to escape the psychiatric industry in October, 2016. I had been weaning myself off my cocktail since May of that year. I have been psych drug free since August 31 of this year! 🙂

    My parents tried to help me, but all that happened was the “experts” got angry at them and tried to manipulate me into signing all my rights over to them. I don’t think so!

    Since 2012 I had been reading books by real doctors–many psychiatrists–that the “meds” I had been taking religiously for years were mind altering drugs just like the kind you buy off street dealers. This blew my mind–what wasn’t drugged asleep by my cocktail.

    I always wondered why there were no tests to check my brain’s chemical balance since that’s what they claimed to be correcting. But I figured they knew what they were doing.

    Like your son I was the “perfect patient” but got frustrated when my mind, body, and life went rapidly downhill. The experts thought my horrible life was cool. Not one of them would have been happy living it, but they were “normal” people who counted. The kind of people where it would be scandalous if standard medical practice consigned them to an early grave.

    I am recovering my ability to write now. When I listen to music I can actually FEEL it again. When I go outside I can enjoy nature. For over 20 years I felt nothing, Stan. There’s a reason we hate our “meds” even when we take them. I took mine because my mom said she couldn’t stand me otherwise (once a month or two I would miss a dose by mistake and have withdrawals though part of it was in her head.)

    I also felt I deserved to suffer for those around me. But I was not up to playing the part of Jesus forever. Considering myself helplessly insane and taking mind altering drugs did not make me a better person in the long run sadly.

    Struggling with how to explain this to my parents. Maybe never would be a good time. They’re clueless I quit my drugs since I am not acting “crazy” though Mom worries how physically ill I am now. I told her I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but she has no idea going off my “meds” could cause such a thing. The drug commercials ain’t telling.

    • TF, you want justice. We aren’t likely to get either mercy or justice from our society. They see us as vermin–and you don’t show mercy or justice to roaches. Just the sole of your shoe!

      I’m trying to inject anti-psychiatry subtly into my writing. It’s fiction and poetry. It can infiltrate the psyche of our culture in a way that ordinary medical journals and books won’t. Mad In America is interesting, but it’s not dumbed down enough to compete with the idiot box. I may be able to talk my dad into reading it, but Mom REFUSES to read anything longer than a preview of a television show or maybe a recipe for exotic bread.

      When I talked to my friends about my readings they laughed at me, refused to hear anything I had to say or look at the book, and said Bob Whitaker was just lying for money (Writing books can make you filthy rich. Ha ha.) It’s easier than taking the time or trouble to read something other than a cookbook or Amish romance.

  16. I’m listening to the Rush L show as I write — a caller just ran down the recent mass shootings committed by people on antidepressants, to a sympathetic substitute host. If these right wing talkers start jumping on this it could be a major breakthrough in our efforts to publicize this drug/murder link.

    • Alex Jones been screaming about it for years, perhaps even decades. Sadly, it only makes our movement seem more fringe, like the “Scientology effect.” I even believe the Resident of the United States has proclaimed anti-pharma things – but – hasn’t said a peep since taking office.

      I have learned this, my tree-hugging friends on the left are Pro-Treatment. To “help” the downtrodden and suffering with “treatment.” Ugh.

      The Right wants to abandon the downtrodden to the streets. It’s not “treatment,” but it’s not very helpful, either.

      • You summarize the problem succinctly. The neolib solution to “mental illness” is to try to make the downtrodden “feel better” about their subordinate role in society through chemical means. The neocon solution is to “leave it to the free market,” aka social Darwinism. Both sides protect the business class and the wealthy. Neither gives a crap about the victims of our current social institutions.

        • Yes, I’ve been concerned to see my liberal friends promote the chemical imbalance theory, talk about how their brains are broken and traitorous, and compare psych drugs to vitamins or contact lenses. Lately I’ve seen a lot of talk that anyone who doesn’t agree with this is “pillshaming” or “mental illness shaming”. Although their intentions are noble, this doesn’t sit right with me because it closes us psych survivors out of the conversation. Without our input, more people will come to harm.

          What they assume must be some physical defect in the brain, I see as the effects of abuse on the abused person’s thought processes.

          That said, I think liberals might be receptive to conversations about drug harm, if they are held in a certain way. In the end they want people to be well and functional. They’ve just latched on to a lot of logical fallacies and have been so desirous of not causing harm that they are overlooking reality.

          • Lately I’ve seen a lot of talk that anyone who doesn’t agree with this is “pillshaming” or “mental illness shaming”.

            Yeah, the old “anti-shaming” ruse. These people need to be mercilessly shamed for promoting hate speech, i.e. psychiatric labeling.

          • Say, “Funny.I didn’t know pills had feelings.” 🙂

            It’s noteworthy how strongly these people identify with the pills they take. Just like their defamatory “diagnoses.”

            Hi. I’m Bipolar Jane who takes Effexor, Abilify and Latuda. Those drugs are who I am. Quit insulting them. At least lower your voice so you won’t traumatize them.

      • Alex Jones has no credibility. It’s not the same.

        The “mainstream” right encompasses a large percentage of the population. To ignore that is strategically foolish.

        Additionally, many so-called “conservatives” (a meaningless term, like “liberal,” unless one has power and/or wealth) have a reverence for individual freedom. While I am myself some sort of socialist, it is clear that educating the so-called “left” (as well as the real left) is a bigger problem; they heartily support “more money for mental health.” This is a bigger problem for us, since those who identify as “leftists” generally see themselves as compassionate idealists fighting the good fight. (My guess is that they need something “scientific” to believe in that takes the place of religion.)

        In the end the defeat of psychiatry will serve all the people, no matter who is primarily responsible for that defeat. So we should reach out to anyone with ears to hear.

          • When I read Anatomy of an Epidemic, I thought that was a really solid treatise that the drugs were causing problems. I thought, “Wow, this will change things!” When I presented that treatise to others, I was stunned to find out that it was easily dismissed.

            We have tons of evidence, and yet nothing is changing. The last election was proof that facts are not important any more. How does one make an evidence based, scientific argument in a “post factual” world?

            Whitaker’s second book – again, I thought – this will change something. Gotzsche’s book – I thought – this will change things, surely, maybe in Europe.

            But the corruption just builds, and still the drugs are the “go-to” practice. And that doesn’t even address the horrors of forced treatment. People believe in the TV and what it tells them. People believe in the drugs. This one will be as difficult to overthrow as religion.

            In the face of belief, the facts haven’t had much sway. That seems to be happening here, too.

          • Jan, people are idiots who refuse to read. When I talked to a couple friends about Anatomy of an Epidemic they laughed at me,said the writer was in it for the money, and refused to look at the book. Willful ignorance and stupidity.

        • In order to progress as a society, we’re going to have to transcend this liberal/conservative axis anyway. Those designations don’t mean what they once meant, and we need to reorient. The new axis, I think, is authoritarian vs. non-authoritarian, and their are authoritarians on both the left and the right. The question is whether you believe some other person smarter or more powerful than you has the right to boss you around or not. This goes to the very heart of what is wrong with psychiatry, and even to the internal struggles within the field. Those who are non-authoritarians rebel in ways they can, but the authoritarians are in control and punish any deviation from the party line, whether rational or not. That’s what we have to overcome, and it will require both the traditional left, favoring protecting the rights of the poor and downtrodden and regulation of big business/big money, and the traditional left, favoring maximum freedom from unwarranted intrusion and direction from the government or other groups pretending to “help” for those who aren’t looking for it.

          • I agree up to a point. Authoritarianism is an important aspect of paternalism, and paternalism is, in large measure, much of the problem. I think at this point, in the USA anyway, we probably have more allies on the right than we do on the left, and this makes a right left coalition more feasible than calling it a right or a left issue, according to one’s politics, or expecting revolution to deliver us from psychiatric force and control. I happen to be a leftist, but among the left ours is very much a minority issue. as it is even among the right. I consider it my task to persuade leftists, when possible, but that’s a tall order, and not entirely within my control. Psychiatry being one of the lower paying positions in the medical profession, psychiatrists tend to be liberal, and to vote democrat, and due to this, and similar matters, such as so-called patient advocacy organizations calling for more government funding of the “mental illness” industry AKA the “mental health” treatment system, etc., I can’t call liberalism any sort of a solution.

        • A lot of conservative churches are replacing sermons with psychiatric drug commercials. I visited one while suffering a headache from my effexor taper. Pretty horrific in my situation.

          The preacher was nice. But when he told the congregation,”Never go off your psychiatric medicine without your doctors orders!” I grew nauseated and trembled.

          Naivete is no virtue. I will never return. No one has the right to be so willfully ignorant.

          Am I harsh? They claimed to want to help and educate people. But…the talk would also drum up business for the Mental Illness Center.

          Two members of the church worked there–the ones who did the spiel about how wonderful psych drugs were…that science had proven a chemical imbalance causes mental illness. They earned generous salaries–and tithed.

          If you’re that ignorant you have no business teaching others.