Psychiatry and a Near Mass Shooting at Cornell

Peter Breggin, MD
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On March 7, 2018, an alert Walmart worker in my hometown of Ithaca, New York called the police after becoming suspicious of a young man who purchased a large amount of ammunition. The twenty-year-old suspect, Maximillian Reynolds, looks in his photograph like many other socially able and attractive young men at Cornell, many of whom I help in my psychiatric practice in downtown Ithaca. He had recently been a Cornell student and continued to live in the same apartment on the outskirts of the campus in Collegetown. From his eighth-floor window, Reynolds had a panoramic and potentially death-dealing hilltop view of Ithaca and Collegetown.

I have great respect for the Ithaca police. Along with the FBI, they raided Reynold’s apartment on the same day they received the tip. They found an AR-15 rifle, 300 rounds of ammunition, explosives, a gas mask and other telltale paraphernalia. Because he had been committed to a mental hospital in the fall of 2017, Reynolds could not obtain a gun legally and instead paid to have someone else illegally obtain it for him.

Once Again—Psychiatry and Psychiatric Drugs Are Involved

As I have emphasized in earlier writing, nearly all perpetrators of mass violence have had some contact with psychiatry or related mental health services. The idea of giving more power and money to psychiatry to prevent violence is a great political talking point but it is disastrous for public health and safety. Psychiatry seems averse to recognizing violent patients but eager to give them violence-inducing drugs.

Based on a Cornell Daily Sun report, Reynold’s lawyer said that his client had been diagnosed with “schizoaffective bipolar disorder with paranoid features.” Reynold’s girlfriend was alone in her apartment when the authorities first arrived, “and she told investigators that he seemed manic, was not getting enough sleep and had stopped taking his medications.”

Congratulations to the Cornell Daily Sun for providing this information about Reynold’s psychiatric and medication background. Meanwhile, consistent with big media’s devotion to the Pharmaceutical Empire, the same information was absent from a recent New York Times article.

But His Girlfriend Said He Had Stopped Taking His Medications

As already noted, Reynold’s girlfriend said he seemed “manic,” was not getting enough sleep, and had stopped taking his medications. Assuming this report bears some resemblance to the truth, it does not matter whether or not Reynolds had recently stopped taking his prescribed psychiatric drugs. When psychiatric medications drive an individual into violence, mania or psychosis, these drastic adverse effects can last for days or weeks, or even longer, after the medication stops. Because of the drastic changes these neurotoxins impose on the brain and mind, many victims require hospitalization and treatment lasting long after the offending drug is out of their system.

James Holmes, the Aurora theater shooter, ran out of the antidepressant Zoloft 20 days before his rampage, but his psychosis was already overwhelming him and driving him to violence. Holmes and Columbine shooter Eric Harris were both in medication–induced manic-like psychoses at the time they perpetrated horrendous violence. If Reynolds was in a similar state, which seems possible given his girlfriend’s description, then the odds increase that the quick work of the Ithaca police and the FBI in pursuing a tip may have saved an untold number of lives in and around the Cornell campus and my hometown of Ithaca.

My Firsthand Experience

All this sounded very familiar to me from my psychiatric practice as well as from extensive courtroom experience, where I have been a medical expert in cases surrounding some of the grimmest mass murders. I have written extensively about psychiatric drug-induced violence in my book Medication Madness. Recently my widely read blogs on the subject of psychiatric drugs and mass murders have appeared here on Mad in America. I have been writing about the Michelle Carter case (the girl who supposedly texted her boyfriend to his death), the horrific mass murder in Las Vegas, and the recent Florida high school shooting—all of which have involved antidepressants or benzodiazepines. Most recently, I appear in a new video, released just yesterday, where I discuss the connection between psychiatric drugs and school shootings.

Some of my blogs, like my books and scientific articles, have substantial references to FDA publications and scientific research confirming that antidepressants, benzodiazepines, stimulants and other prescribed medications can cause or contribute to violence. My most recent blogs and commentaries can be downloaded for free at the Frequent Alerts on my website, www.breggin.com.

Cover Up on the Dr. Oz Show

Partly in response to my research and seemingly provoked by my recent blogs, the producer of the Dr. Oz show contacted me in February of this year. The show filmed me via Skype on February 27 and then aired live with a panel on March 14, 2018, a week after the episode in Collegetown on the edge of Cornell.

I devoted several telephone conversations and sent emails preparing the producer with scientific information, including published articles on psychiatric drugs as a cause of violence. The Oz show filmed me for a sufficient time for me to make many important points about psychiatric drug-induced violence.

When Dr. Oz went on the air, the film clip of my comments lasted approximately 20 seconds and did not allow me to finish a full sentence. The show cut me off mid-sentence before anyone could hear my conclusion that even the FDA recognizes the risk of antidepressant violence.

When the March 14 Dr. Oz show was put on its website the next day, my brief appearance had been deleted. Poof—and it looked like I was never on the air! Also eradicated was the live show’s brief mention that some experts believe that psychiatric drugs cause violence. No one would know that the entire show was in large part rebutting what I was saying at the start of show and in my publications and legal testimony. Instead, a panel of four experts, who literally knew nothing about psychiatric drugs and mass shootings, were seen working hard to defend the drugs without a hint of an opposing opinion.

If the Dr. Oz show had gone better for the Pharmaceutical Empire, I imagine they would have kept my face and brief comments on the post-show version. I think they realized that in their bumbling they had not disposed of those of us who are telling the scientific truth, so they simply eradicated me.

A Victory in the End

You might think the Oz show was a disaster in whitewashing the drugs, but the more I thought about it afterward, the more obviously it was a disaster for the Pharmaceutical Empire and psychiatry, and a victory for reform. Despite how often Dr. Oz said that the drugs were wonderful and that there was no evidence they caused violence, he was clearly ambivalent. It was as if, for split seconds at a time, Dr. Oz’s heart and brain grew bigger than his wallet.

As a big blow to big pharma, Dr. Oz named the show, “Is There a Connection between Psychiatric Drugs and Violence?” In doing so, he gave life to the question in a major television show by a celebrity doctor. Then in a television moment many will remember long after, Dr. Oz held up a list of mass murders with highlighting to show that most of the shooters were taking psychiatric drugs!

To add to the confused messaging, the panel seemed unable to come up with rational arguments to defend the psychiatric drugs. Anyone with a modicum of skepticism must have wondered why these know-it-alls knew so little and were spouting such desperate drivel.

For example, one “expert” said that when a prescribed psychiatric drug seems to make people violent, the drug is actually bringing out their underlying violence, and so it is not the drug’s fault. In reality, of course, many people struggle to control their violent feelings. Almost none massacre other people. Psychiatric drugs can become the tipping point. In many instances, the drugs cause mania and psychosis that drive the individual into making vast, grandiose plans for extensive violence.

Another expert agreed that giving an antidepressant to a “bipolar patient” was dangerous. The pundit agreed that antidepressants in a bipolar patient could cause violence. But… the panelist concluded, the actual violence was not “the drug’s fault.” The violence was caused by the misguided doctor who prescribed an antidepressant to a bipolar patient.

These strained arguments seem to echo the defense of gun ownership that says guns are not to blame for violence, people are. However, there is a huge difference between guns and psychiatric drugs. The ready availability of guns increases the potential for large-scale violence, but guns cannot get inside the brain to make people violent. In tragic contrast, psychiatric drugs do get inside the brain to make people behave violently in ways they would not otherwise do.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article, Dr. Breggin! I’m so happy that you keep writing articles and talking about this terrible tragedy. I find that major newspapers remain mum about what drugs were being prescribed to shooters. In the case of benzodiazepines, I have found complete ignorance (or not wanting to face the truth) from doctors. They seem to assume it’s not the pill’s fault. In fact, they side with the drugs and not the patient who is suffering. This has GOT TO STOP.

    THANK YOU for your continuing fine work!! You are a real gem!!

  2. Thanks Dr. Breggin! Looks like these “experts” that were put on a pedestal on the Dr. Oz show, while showing off their fancy wares, inadvertently mucked up.

    If they’re going to dress up on TV in New Clothes, maybe they need to learn a bit more about their garments before they show them off. I’ve heard you can get into a bundle of trouble exposing yourself.

    Thanks for the info.

  3. It’s time to repeatedly frame this in terms of the cover-up. Even “conservatives,” who should appreciate it being pointed out that guns per se are not the problem, seem to either miss or deliberately disregard the significance of psych drugs to the debate. This is likely not a coincidence. Nonetheless when they start disarming vets because they’re “depressed” there may be a sea change.

    • I put up a YouTube saying though the kids’ effort to march against guns was admirable they really missed the real cause of the problem. You would think Big Pharma is in cahoots with MoveOn et al, as MoveOn, an organization that speaks strongly about the NRA, is also silent about pharmaceuticals. It is almost like a gap in their logic.

      • There is a definite disconnect on the left (as well as the right) about this issue. It is regarded as “pill shaming” by many on the left to criticize the psychiatric establishment, and those who don’t feel this way are afraid of being labeled by those who will attack them for doing so. The left’s general approach seems to be “let’s advocate for more money for the “mentally ill,” without realizing that grouping people as “the mentally ill” is a highly oppressive action. It’s a big blind spot, and I have not yet figured out how to reframe this as a civil rights/social justice issue for people coming from that viewpoint.

          • I agree. What passes for “the left” in the USA would be center-right in most European countries. Most Americans are completely ignorant about this. Although neoliberalism is having its effect over there as well.

          • The everyday people in most of the world have a much more sophisticated understanding of class politics than do those in the U.S. This is what allows Hannity/Limbaugh to call Obama, Clinton and other Democrats “leftists” and get away with it.

        • Steve I am noticing (since I am getting older) that elder issues are a hot spot for both right and left. I would say that both are extremely concerned about elder abuse and are on the same page. If we can state that many elders are psychiatrically abused and state how this is done (gaslighting especially!), then I think we can win over both sides.

          Tell them…How would you feel if your mother or father was abused in a facility? You will get a reaction. Then you can state that abuse can mean accusation of suicidality, or incarceration not only in a nursing home but on a mental ward, or shocked to death, or given pills that kill them. And state how often this happens. On both left and right they are aware of nursing home abuse….we can tell them about psych abuse and that it runs rampant.

          • The elderly are abused in regular hospitals, too. They fall down at home and some idiot thinks they need stitches. Some idiot calls an ambulance. They go to ER, get or don’t get stitches, and are mercenarily admitted for a 3 day observation period during which countless tests and scans are done to determine why they fell. Ignored are the 5 to 12 drugs they are taking to reduce their 5% odds of a heart attack to 4.79%, etc. This doesn’t happen to younger adults. They did not want to be admitted and when they say they want to go home, they are commonly lied to with the assertion “Medicare won’t cover this visit if you leave “against medical advice.” ” If they try to walk out they are tackled, deemed combative, injected with haloperidol (which interferes with recovery from any brain injury they might have sustained) and restrained. If haloperidol works, why the dehumanizing, humiliating, rage-provoking restraints? After three days of that, they can’t walk properly (“ataxia” ha ha ha) and are sent to a skilled nursing / rehab facility for four or five weeks, during which they must not arise from bed without supervision, which means once a day if they’re lucky. Their muscles atrophy and their brains are damaged by the continued drugging in the skilled nursing place. Medicare has to pay out $30,000 or more for this BS. They leave in a wheelchair and require round the clock care, whereas they lived independently until the fall. The victim foots the bill for the round the clock care until they are forced to sell their home, spend the proceeds down and then enter whatever “home” Medicaid will pay for. Or, the victim’s adult offspring take on caregiver duty at the expense of careers and salaries (neither of which are likely to be restored after a multi-year stint as a caregiver in one’s 50s).

            Exploited and damaged by our wonderful healthsnare establishment: the victim, the taxpayer, the victim’s family and heirs.
            Enriched: Hospital execs, nursing home execs

  4. Thank you, as always, for speaking the truth, Dr. Breggin. I haven’t seen the Dr. Oz program yet, but a friend taped it for me so we could watch it together. I’ll print this out and give it to her prior to watching the show.

    I particularly got a kick out of this “expert” opinion, “… the drug is actually bringing out their underlying violence,” this is kind-of like “unmasking” the “underlying violence.” How exciting! Just like how the “mental health experts” believe antidepressants ‘unmask’ bipolar disorder itself? Despite the fact the DSM-IV-TR said:

    “Note: Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.” (p 332)

    Although, due to the heartbreaking in scope, completely iatrogenic US only “childhood bipolar epidemic” pointed out in Whitaker’s 2010 book, the psychiatrists made this kind of completely iatrogenic pathway to a “bipolar” misdiagnosis completely acceptable in their DSM5. Now that Note says:

    “Note: A full manic episode that emerges during antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy) but persists at a fully syndromal level beyond the physiological effect of that treatment is sufficient evidence for a manic episode and therefore, a bipolar I diagnosis.” (p. 124)

    And this one is rather a kick, too. “Another expert agreed that giving an antidepressant to a ‘bipolar patient’ was dangerous … But… the panelist concluded, the actual violence was not ‘the drug’s fault.’ The violence was caused by the misguided doctor who prescribed an antidepressant to a bipolar patient.”

    Well, that “misguided doctor” is misguided by the “best” of hospitals. Here’s the Mayo Clinic’s misguided treatment recommendations for “bipolar,” which still recommend antidepressants for “bipolar.”

    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355961

    “For the love of money is the root of all evil….” When will the psychiatric insanity end?

  5. It Is The Drugs Fault.

    https://www.everydayhealth.com/schizophrenia/specialists/is-drug-free-schizophrenia-treatment-possible.aspx

    “…One way to protect persons with schizophrenia from frequent relapses due to complete or partial adherence with treatment is to use long-acting intramuscular injections of antipsychotic medications (a shot every two to four weeks) which can keep the symptoms under control without the need to take pills every day. This may be the best treatment approach for some persons with schizophrenia, including your brother…”

    This was my Experience of Long Acting Injection 1980 to 1984:-

    Suicide Associated with Akathisia and Depot Fluphenazine Treatment

    https://insights.ovid.com/clinical-psychopharmacology/jcps/1983/08/000/suicide-associated-akathisia-depot-fluphenazine/6/00004714

    Not This:-

    “Depot Antipsychotic Revisited”
    https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ps.49.10.1361-b
    …from my Historical Irish Psychiatrist + Psychopath P A Carney, et al.

    €9.6 Million from Bristol Myers Squibb
    http://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/partners/

    I made Recovery in 1984 as a result of carefully coming off Long Acting Injection, and have remained well since.

    • DRUG DANGER COVER UP

      I do have an allergy warning regarding Fluphenazine Decanoate recorded on my present day UK records, but that’s about all – there is no background explanation.

      When I reported my suicidal reaction to my then regular (doctor) Dr Dominic Dock, at Newton Medical Centre London W2 in 2011 he took it on board but did not write it down. I was never too confident of this doctors original “balance” but he developed psychosis within a year and was asked to leave the Medical Centre.

      https://youtu.be/bSxzVWjhchM

      When I discovered that Dr Dominic Dock had placed my name on a Severe Mental Illness Register, (I’m a registered subcontractor in the Building industry and have never been “Ill” in my 30 years in the UK), I took matters up with his replacement Dr Simons in October November 2012.

      Dr Simons promised (in a very distressed state) to remove all evidence of historical diagnosis, but I discovered by chance in December 2012 that he had not kept his word. I made an internal complaint to Newton Medical in 2013, and Dr Simons attempted to justify his Behavior. To me this was unacceptable so I complained shortly afterward to the UK General Medical Council.

      The UK General Medical Council acknowledged my complaint but told me that in their opinion Dr Simons behaviour would not affect his ability to do his job.

      Shortly afterward on July 13 2013, Dr Simons was involved in a patient homicide which went to The West London Coroners Court

      https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/sailor-died-from-internal-bleeding-after-ae-sent-him-to-minor-care-unit-10288447.html

      My hunch is that Dr Simons was under orders from Superiors to cover up evidence of Suicidal Reaction to Fluphenazine Decoanate, because of the potential death scale involved, and that he was Absolutely Terrified.

      • UK Regulators

        When the UK ICO (Information Commissioners Office) recently carried out a raid on Cambridge Analytica Offices in London they looked like the FBI.

        https://news.sky.com/story/court-grants-warrant-to-search-cambridge-analyticas-office-11301691

        When I asked the ICO about having my work history entered into my Medical Records to substantiate my Longterm Wellness the ICO suggested I take matters to the High Court.

        The Building Industry has been regulated since the Labour Party returned to office in 1997 and operatives are required to be certified and documented.

        From an Email to my GP Surgery in
        September 2017

        “….Dear Manager/Partners,

        Please find attached 9 attachments:-

        1. A character reference from Ireland from 1986
        2. An employer’s reference from Ireland 1986

        3. A Subcontractors Inland Revenue ID Card from 1997

        4. A House of Commons Subcontractors ID Card from 2003

        5. A Construction Skills Certification Scheme ID Card from 2003

        6. A Construction Skills Certification Scheme ID Card from 2008

        7. A Construction Skills Certification Scheme ID Card from 2016

        8. CSCS ID Card 2008 Reverse Side

        9. CSCS ID Card 2016 Reverse Side..”

        (2002 was when my name was put on a Severe Mental Illness Register by Dr D. Dock).

        • Reliability of UK Mental Health Diagnosis

          If the UK General Medical Council is prepared to allow doctors to lie about the removal of Mental Health Diagnosis (as above) then this does not say much for the reliability of any UK Mental Health Diagnosis.

  6. Great article, as usual Dr. Breggin. Thank you.

    I am predicting that we will see many more of these mass shootings in the not too distant future. The casualties will mount even more in the future if psychiatry attempts to drug more and more of the so-called “mentally ill.” Here’s how it works: Psychiatry drugs and labels people, the neurotoxins CAUSE these same people to act out violently, and then psychiatry claims that there is a great problem with “mental illness” in this country. Then psychiatry will claim that more people need to take their “meds.” More people need “hospitalization.” Once these same people are turned loose from the “hospitals” with brains and bodies filled with neurotoxins, they will be more likely to perpetrate horrendous crimes. And the cycle continues… at least until psychiatry is abolished.

    “Because of the drastic changes these neurotoxins impose on the brain and mind, many victims require hospitalization and treatment lasting long after the offending drug is out of their system.”

    This is one of the only statements in the article that doesn’t quite ring true to me. While it is true that neurotoxic psychotropic drugs damage the brain and CAUSE people to lash out in violence, it is not true that such victims REQUIRE “hospitalization” or “treatment.” I understand that this is the kind of psychiatric jargon that the masses will understand, but it’s simply not true. What these poor souls require is an environment of healing in which to withdraw from the dangerous neurotoxins. “Hospitalization” is a euphemism for involuntary incarceration. “Treatment” is a euphemism for torture, abuse, drugging, and labeling. In fact, many victims of psychiatry are pumped full of neurotoxins during their “hospitalization” and “treatment.”

    Considering the astronomical figures of victims of psychiatry, and the millions whose brains are saturated in neurotoxic chemicals… in terms of mass shootings and rampages of violence… we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

    • “Because of the drastic changes these neurotoxins impose on the brain and mind, many victims require hospitalization and treatment lasting long after the offending drug is out of their system.”

      My theory is that the side effects are so bad (such as mania), one has to be hospitalized to stop the side effect from occurring. They then use a powerful sedative to knock you out. And therefore creating a nice “little” bill for the insurance company to pay for, blaming your defective brain, all the while, it was the side effect of the pharmaceutical company drug the whole time that started this roller coaster ride. Everyone wins on profiting off of a side effect that should have gotten the drug taken off the market decades ago.

      Although I do believe that permanent brain damage does occur after taking these toxins for a long time. I think it was in the book “Anatomy of an Epidemic” that stated 10 years in one of the studies. I don’t recall the source though.

      • There are a number of us who seem to have permanent insomnia from taking the drugs. People are saying heavy doses of sedating drugs will totally destroy one’s natural ability to fall asleep and sustain the sleep state even with drugs, or without them. Ten years on the drugs does sound about right to cause permanent rebound insomnia. I have been affected and I have great difficulty sleeping at all. I noticed this starting to happen while I was still drugged many years ago. It never ever resolved nor got any better. I waited a full five years and saw no improvement, and tried everything I could. I had to make a decision finally. I did not return to psychiatry nor resort to prescribed drugs, mainly because staying unlabeled is very important to me. But I didn’t want to be an exhausted bitch, either.

    • What they need are safe places to taper off those demonic neuro-toxins.

      I remember envying heroin addicts while I tapered off my Effexor. There are half way houses for them to dry out and get support. And they CHOSE to use a mind altering substance knowing the risks.

      Shrinks are dealers disguised as doctors who sell heroin disguised as penicillin. Yes–I know the analogy breaks down at the end of that sentence. But they sold us mind altering, addictive drugs claiming they were life-saving medicines! Horrible people! No sense of shame or conscience. No empathy for the victims they directly create with drugs and labels–or even those who die in mass shootings.

      Here’s a question. If a doctor knowingly puts a “bipolar” on SSRIs knowing they make him loopy and apt to act out why isn’t he held criminally responsible when a mass shooting occurs?

      There are shrinks who might (reluctantly) support this concession when you quote their own works against them. When a mass shooting happens investigate the shrink “treating” the shooter. If he is known to have dismissed warning signs and/or put someone with known sensitivities to SSRI’s on a large dose or experimented without proper monitoring, let him be tried for 3rd degree murder of all those slain in the shooting. Or an accessory to murder.

  7. Actually, that poison turns you violent through design AND through habit.

    Psychiatric narcotics are loaded with toxic chemicals that suppress the body’s natural response to EVERY feeling, including anger. When the dope wears off, AS ALL DOPE WILL, your body will explode with emotion. That’s what happens whenever you rob a body of what it needs. Rob it of sleep and you get narcolepsy. Rob it of a place to expel waste, and you get incontinence. Rob it of rest, and you collapse. These quacks KNOW they’re disrupting healthy human processes, and they KNOW that disruption is psychiatric torture. It disgusts and infuriates me whenever the media enables their biosiege on Mad people.

    And we weren’t told WHY this guy felt angry. For all we know, he had GOOD reasons for feeling that way. I know I did. Suppressing ALL anger is what quacks strive for. They’re aware that you’ll reject their #FAKESCIENCE, if you ever assert your RIGHT to feel anger and ACT on it. So, they try manipulate you out of the survival-focused instinct to resist injustices in your life. Not surprisingly, that manufactured passivity always backfires. People’s default mode is peace, but they’ll only exist there, quid pro quo. Oppress them in that default mode, and they’ll retaliate. I mean, what are their other options? More abuse or death? No thanks! Treat a person like an object, and you turn them into a weapon. That’s a law of human nature. Flout it at your own risk.

    • A lot of mass shooters were bullied.

      In high school I was bullied/sexually harassed nearly every day. At one point I felt so helpless I fantasized taking a butcher knife to school and going stabby stabby on the guys who tore me down daily. It was horrific.

      I didn’t because I knew it was wrong. Often I thought about suicide to escape school. When I dropped out the relief was overwhelming.

      Got my high school diploma and went to college, but the taunts followed me everywhere even in my new, friendlier environment. Kept reliving events from high school. Then I wound up at the shrinks.

      Bullies are never “diagnosed” as hopelessly insane. Just their victims. Bullying is a sign of good mental health in America I guess.

  8. Regarding Holmes in Colorado, a timeline created by journalism students at the Boulder campus of University of Colorado states that he was prescribed 45 tablets of sertraline (Zoloft) on May 27. If started that day and taken daily, they would have lasted until July 9. He killed 12 and injured dozens more in the wee hours of July 20. If a few days passed before he filled the prescription, had some pills on hand from previous prescriptions or if he missed a day or two of doses after filling it, his last dose could have been much closer to the crimes. https://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/479410/Aurora-Theater-Shooter-Timeline-Prelude-to-Mass-Murder/

    He apparently told the arresting officers that he had taken 100 mg Vicodin. (Telegraph, in a 2012 article)