My name is Bryan Sutherland and I am currently suing my former psychiatrist for damages of various degrees. I am 29 years old and a licensed private investigator. In my early years, I was bullied in school which caused me to experience some minor anxiety from my negative school environment and the judgment of my peers. In 2001, at age 13, I was referred to a psychiatrist for an assessment, given my increased absenteeism from school because of playground torment. The psychiatrist at the time was not interested in the abuse in my environment and decided that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain which needed to be corrected with a chemical balancer — that being big pharma psychotropic drug products. I was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder (NOS), meaning not otherwise specified, and we left with a prescription for an antidepressant to remedy my supposed chemical imbalance which was never tested prior to treatment.
The antidepressant Zoloft is manufactured by Pfizer and is not approved for patients under the age of 18. Instead of disciplining the bullies, the mental diagnosis and stigmatizing labels only armed the abusers with more names to call me. Immediately after I was administered the psychotropic drug I started hallucinating. Not being warned about the risks and the dangers of the psychotropic drug effects, my family had no idea what was happening to me. In less than one month after starting the medication, my mother called the psychiatrist requesting services ASAP. I was seen just weeks after being placed onto the drugs and instead of the psychiatrist discontinuing the drugs that started causing hallucinations, he informed us that my mental illness was worsening and I was re-diagnosed with full anxiety disorder with psychotic features. The psychiatrist doubled the dose of Zoloft and placed me on a very powerful antipsychotic known as Risperdal. Heavily sedated, I was cycled around the mental health system, one diagnosis after another, more drugs to remedy those diagnosis, and many unwanted, unnecessary, and undesired billings for medical goods and services.
After the loss of my biological father in 2005, the psychiatrist added new drugs to his already existing prescription cocktail. Following an emergency room visit in early 2006 for worsening anxiety and adverse drug effects, I first met the psychiatrist who was on call (now the defendant in my lawsuit). He claimed to be an adult psychiatrist and noticed that I was turning of legal age in the coming days. Despite the contradiction of turning 18 and being able to make my own decisions of treatment as an adult, he met with my family and told them to return me to the hospital right after my 18th birthday for testing. Still having no informed consent about the risks and dangers of the adverse reactions that I was experiencing and not knowing that the term “hospitalization” meant an adult psychiatric unit, my parents followed the directions of the psychiatrist. We were informed that there would be a test.
Days after my 18th birthday my parents brought me to the hospital. We were never informed that I was admitted to the hospital as a voluntary patient, nor was I informed of my right to be able to leave as an adult voluntary patient. I was thrown in a psych ward and my parents were told to stop coming to visit me. I was refused my release for six weeks and I lost my grade 11 school credits as a result. I was never given a lawyer to represent my legal rights, never had due process, and never had a day in court; no judge, no jury. I just disappeared in a locked unit for six weeks. Since I was on-the-books deemed as a voluntary patient, it was never covered in the discharge summary that I was involuntarily deprived of liberty, even though the clinical notes taken by staff admit that I was refused my release. Seeing how I was not involuntary, I was not even granted my right to a psychiatric patient advocate nor was there a tribunal to plead my case to leave. I was stripped of my legal rights and I was stripped of my medical rights. You have more rights as an involuntary patient because at least people who are detained under the mental health act are given a tribunal. I was not detained under the mental health act, so no tribunal was ever heard or existed.
I was forced and coerced into taking more intense remedies of drugs which caused me to experience muscle spasms and body aches and pains. The medication administration records report the high doses of drugs, but the doses were suppressed and not reported in the discharge summary. The defendant psychiatrist diagnosed me with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and various other serious conditions. My family and I were told that my schizophrenia was genetic and that I had a brain disease. We were informed that there was no cure for what I had, only treatment. My mother was informed that I would be a full-blown schizophrenic by the age of 25. Only a few years left of living before my degenerating brain disease would take over my mind for good. I thought, what I would do with seven years left to live?
After the six-week hospitalization, I was released into my parent’s care. I was heavily sedated and slept all the time. Since the higher doses of drugs hindered my cognitive functioning, not only did I lose my school credits, but I could not return to school and was placed on permanent disability. The psychiatrist’s abuse continued for years. I was threatened with re-hospitalization if I ceased my medical treatment. I was told that he was going to give me electroconvulsive therapy to treat my schizophrenia if I relapsed. He kept upping and upping my dose, billing for more and more goods and services. There came a point where the dose of drugs was so high that I was taken out of my house by ambulance for having a seizure in the bathtub. As the doses increased, my hallucinations from drug effects kept getting worse and worse. Because it was so inhuman and because I was so sedated, my mother lowered the dose of drugs on her own.
In late 2009 or early 2010, I was able to escape the psychiatrist’s grasp. I ceased all of the prescription drugs, and quit cold turkey without a creepy psychiatrist threatening me. I had cold sweats from withdrawal, but the side effects of the drugs were so bad that I didn’t care. After stopping the drugs, I was cured. I NEVER HAD HALLUCINATIONS AGAIN. It was a miracle. No more voices in my head, no more body aches and pain, no more being sexually controlled with chemical drugs, no more cognitive impairment. When the psychiatrist found out that I was no longer on any medication, he was nasty and sought my mother out. He attempted to cover his tracks by stating that I was in remission but the schizophrenic symptoms would return, and they never did. Shortly after discontinuing drugs, and no longer experiencing life-threatening adverse reactions, I started working a steady job at a security company, and there I remain today. I was promoted from security guard to private investigator within just a few years.
In 2013, I requested my medical chart, but the psychiatrist refused me my right to see my own personal health information that by law belongs to me. This prompted an investigation into the tests that were utilized to diagnose my supposed genetic brain disease. There was a six-month battle to obtain my medical information and in February of 2014, our family retained a lawyer and the defendant was forced to surrender my personal health information.
What we found made our blood run cold — longstanding acts of fraud. I was completely physically healthy, the CAT scan of my brain showed no evidence of disease, my EEG brain waves were normal. There was no evidence that I had a genetic brain disease as the psychiatrist had told my family and I. My life flashed before my eyes as my entire medical history over the last decade was rewritten from having a genetic disease to being a victim of a medical scam. It was the most bittersweet taste that I ever experienced, for I realized that I was not sick and dying, but I had been robbed of so many years of my life due to the psychiatrist’s lies. A twisted fate and crooked reports, which led to a huge civil lawsuit against the defendant psychiatrist. I moved from private investigator into the highest trial court in the Province. As I kept going up in the world, more and more information kept coming out against the defendant psychiatrist in litigation. I also moved for termination of mental disability.
I commenced the civil action on January 20th, 2015. It was amazing to me when I saw the Statement of Defence for the first time. The defendant psychiatrist who was always so vigorously arguing and telling me that I had a brain disease, brain disorder, brain defect, brain disability, and brain abnormality, was now denying all of those claims. That which is the fundamental claim of the mental health system, which it constantly promotes to the public, was now being denied by the defendant psychiatrist in a court of law? Biological disease, chemical imbalance, biochemical imbalance, low serotonin, dopamine excess, genetic and hereditary illnesses, all now denied in pleadings, and I knew that soon I would have to face my attacker in depositions.
I was ready — the truth was on my side. As a self-representing litigant I went to be interrogated by the two Defence solicitors from a top law firm on December 1st, 2015. I went through their good-cop/bad-cop routines. I saw the good lawyer hold his heart to try and lure me into a false sense of security; I witnessed the bad lawyer get up and lean over the table and ask me questions rudely because his actions weren’t going on the record; the mean glares and nasty sneers, the twitches of intimidation. Lawyer to lawyer, act to act, I saw it all. And I got through it, somehow.
The next day was my turn — I got to examine the defendant psychiatrist under oath. Of course the main talking points were his physical claims of brain disease, disorders, defects, disabilities, and abnormalities, to which he surprisingly confessed under oath, just like he had told my family and I years ago. He spilled his guts so much that we wrapped up early. What was supposed to be another eight-hour day was done in four hours; I didn’t need anything else, he confessed to it.
There was still an underlying question, which was why did the defendant psychiatrist deny the allegations in the statement of claim, but admit it under oath? Why? This prompted more investigations. I filed for admissions. Since the defendant psychiatrist had changed his story from denial in pleadings to confessing under oath, I wanted these confessions in the admissions phase of litigation, so I could establish these as legal facts. What I got was more twisted than anything I could imagine. I didn’t get denials, nor did I get confessions. I got the truth for the first time, and for the first time, I was vindicated in my life. The Defence admitted that while it was a theory (the chemical imbalance theory) that I had a brain disease, the test results were negative, and that the defendant psychiatrist had never validated his claims. But why was I never told this? Why was my family never told this fact? The defendant denied the allegations in pleading, confessed them in my medical chart and under oath, and then said it may have been and he never proved it in admissions. I knew that this was going to be the hugest trial of the century, but I was wrong — not about the facts, but about having my day in court.
This lawsuit has uncovered that: the defendant psychiatrist was not trained in Canada; he had no liability insurance which covered his medical practice while treating me; he left the country in the middle of this civil proceeding, and has left town twice that we can prove; he had never validated his claim of genetic brain disease prior to treatment; he diagnosed me while I was being administered drugs (side effects, not subjective symptoms). The reason that he said there was no cure was because he never found anything wrong with me to begin with.
I knew too much; the Defence filed a motion for summary judgment. I fought tooth and nail, but the court threw out the claim because I could not afford enough expert evidence. Since the Defence could not win on the facts, they covered up the case based on my economic hardships. How could a judgment be based on the money in a person’s pocket and not based on the facts of what the defendant psychiatrist first denied, then admitted, and then suspected? I appealed.
I am currently in the appeal process and since then I have obtained five expert reports which are being introduced to the court via motion for further (or fresh) evidence. As of right now, the appeal is set to be heard on March 20th, 2018 in the highest Court of the Province of New Brunswick (the Court of Appeal). I have filed a motion seeking various remedies from the court. All the submissions are locked in. Attached hereto are the Appellant’s Submission, the Respondent’s Submission, and the Further Submission. Also linked hereto is the Appellant’s Notice of Motion and Affidavit in support thereof.
Since the summary and technical judgment, it has come out that the defendant psychiatrist’s legal defence has been paid for in whole (or at bare minimum, in part) with taxpayer money. I have not received any taxpayer money to fund the plaintiff’s side. Doctors pay fees to the federal statute and those fees are then refunded by the province. Now while all of the Rules of Court are provincial and all of the insurance acts are provincial, the Canadian Medical Protective Association (the CMPA hereinafter) was created over 100 years ago via federal statute. While for insurance, people pay premiums, to be a member of the CMPA, doctors pay fees, which are then reimbursed by the province. Since the CMPA is legally not an insurer, the defendant psychiatrist never had any liability insurance which covered his medical practice, as required by law, and as required by the Medical Act of New Brunswick. My life was ruined by a doctor who had no liability insurance, no test, and no cure.
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.