Forced-Treatment Advocacy Group Cherry-Picks Data to Support Agenda (Again)


As I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline last weekend, I came across this tweet from The Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), a mental health nonprofit that promotes and lobbies for stronger involuntary commitment laws. The tweet reads:

“#ICYMI [in case you missed it] New research finds poor medication adherence is a significant factor in predicting future violence for those with schizophrenia.”

TAC and its founder, E. Fuller Torrey, regularly publish and promote this type of research, which implies that people diagnosed with mental illness are more likely than the general population to become violent, and thus need to be subjected to involuntary treatment on occasion.

While a fair portion of TAC and Torrey’s research has been debunked (including in an MIA report I co-authored with Robert Whitaker), the talking points they distribute still get referenced almost daily by news publications across the country.

The September 21 tweet linking poor medication adherence to violent behavior piqued my curiosity: Did TAC actually uncover research proving that poor psychiatric medication adherence plays a “significant” role in whether people diagnosed with schizophrenia become violent? If such research does exist, is it compelling and clear-cut?

I clicked the tweet’s link, which redirected me to an article on TAC’s website titled “Violence and Schizophrenia, Infrequent but Clinically Important,” accompanied by a cartoon of two people fighting. Written by TAC’s Director of Research, the article summarized the results of a “new analysis” of an early 2000s, 18-month randomized control trial (RCT) of 1,435 individuals in the U.S. being treated for schizophrenia. The goal of this new analysis, according to TAC, was to examine “factors that may predict violence that hurts someone else or violent behavior that does not injure anyone such as violence towards objects or verbal assaults.”

Halfway down her summary of the study, TAC’s research director noted that the researchers (unaffiliated with TAC) found that:

“Only 14% of the enrolled individuals with schizophrenia reported displays of violence in the 18-month follow-up period, and the majority of the violence was non-injurious. Therefore, 1,204 of the 1,435 individuals with schizophrenia exhibited no violent behaviors at all.”

In fact, according to the original study, only 77 (5.4%) of the 1,435 study participants reported that they engaged in “injurious violence” during the 18-month follow-up period. Associating violence with mental illness based on the behavior of a small group of individuals (which E. Fuller Torrey has done before) seems imprudent. Yet, that’s what TAC did with its tweet linking poor medication adherence to an increased risk of violence.

The small pool of individuals who reported engaging in injurious violence wasn’t the only problem with TAC’s assessment of the study: In its summary and tweet, TAC failed to mention that the study’s researchers found that poor medication adherence was the least impactful of six “significant” factors that could be used to predict injurious violence in individuals being treated for schizophrenia. The five other factors more predictive of injurious violent behavior included, in order, baseline injurious violence, recent violent victimization, severity of drug use, baseline noninjurious violence, and childhood sexual abuse.

Poor medication adherence wasn’t just less impactful than the other five factors in predicting violence in people with schizophrenia—it was significantly less impactful. The “hazard ratio” of poor medication adherence was 1.39 (a hazard ratio of 1 means the factor had no impact on study participants’ likelihood to become violent). The hazard ratios of three of the other five factors were at least double in size, and a fourth factor’s hazard ratio was nearly double the size.

Finally, the researchers warned against using involuntary hospitalization to manage the risk of violence in people being treated for schizophrenia (see the article under the heading “Indications for Risk Assessment and Management“). TAC conveniently withheld this warning from its summary and Twitter post.

Confronted with a study showing that only a small subset of people diagnosed with schizophrenia become violent; that violent behavior is often the result of being a victim of violence, being in the throes of a drug addiction or being a victim of childhood sexual abuse; and that involuntary hospitalization is not an effective tool for managing the risk of violence, the Treatment Advocacy Center cherry-picked a single data-point about poor medication adherence to promote its forced treatment agenda.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. So people who were abused as children are more likely to commit violent crimes? Funny how upset folks would get if we suggested punishing survivors of child abuse as though they were violent criminals regardless of their behavior. Yet this is what happens in “mental health.”

    Torrey conveniently ignores this since it would draw attention to the fact that his profession exists to punish the weak. Primarily abuse victims.

    Psychiatry’s function is penal; not medical. Only they punish for crimes the accused MIGHT COMMIT in the future (according to themselves.)

    By treating the law abiding who exhibit signs of emotional trauma as if they’re violent criminals psychiatry punishes the unlucky. Just like the courts of Samuel Butler’s Erewhon.

    TAC is the law of the jungle. No justice since they don’t punish for actual crimes–but the mere existence of those they brand “defective.” No mercy either.

    Eugenics lives.

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    • “Funny how upset folks would get if we suggested punishing survivors of child abuse as though they were violent criminals regardless of their behavior. Yet this is what happens in ‘mental health.’”

      And allowing psychiatry to proactively drug all child abuse survivors is the direction the “mental health” industry is taking us, because they need to cover up the huge percentages of their patients who are misdiagnosed child abuse survivors.

      Why all this systemic misdiagnosis of child abuse survivors, and child abuse covering up, by our scientific fraud based “mental health professionals”?

      The DSM “bible” was designed as a child abuse covering up “religion.”

      As the mother of a child abuse survivor, who was able to keep my child away from the psychiatrists and social workers who wanted to drug him. Because he healed and went from remedial reading in first grade, shortly after the child abuse, which concerned me, but NOT the “mental health” workers. To getting 100% on his state standardized tests by eighth grade, that’s when the “mental health” workers wanted to drug him. They wanted to drug a child abuse survivor … because he’d largely healed!

      We need to point out the psychologists and psychiatrists as the massive in societal scope, primarily child abuse and rape cover uppers, that they actually are. Which, by the way, is illegal behavior. Psychiatry and psychology exist “to punish” primarily child abuse survivors. But child abuse survivors are NOT necessarily “the weak.” Despite being “abuse victims.”

      My, largely healed with love, abused child went on to win a psychology award upon his undergrad graduation, as well as graduating with highest honors (Phi Beta Kappa). That would never have happened, if I’d not pointed out the insanity of the “mental health professionals,” who’d desired to drug my healing child.

      Our child rape covering up “mental health professionals” need to be seen for whom they really are. And our society should really get rid of our scientific fraud based, primarily child abuse and rape covering up, “mental health” industries. In part, at least, because all of our child rape covering up “mental health” workers’ pedophile aiding, abetting, and empowerment is destroying America, western civilization, and the entire world.

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  2. It’s interesting that having been a recent victim of violence was an important factor. It would seem that people are also likely to see forced treatment as a form of violence against themselves, so in that way forced treatment would increase the risk of future violence.

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  3. Knowing when to use violence, and knowing how to use it, are just normal parts of life. No reason survivors should ever be asked to renounce violence, or to show that they are opposed or incapable of it.

    Someone who is being labeled by the ~Mental Health System~ is more likely to be in situations where they will have legitimate cause to use violence.

    In opposing the legislation of Tim Murphy, it was wrong to try and appease him by making it look like violence was completely off of the table.

    Those labeled by the ~Mental Health System~ are seen as deficient. Being willing to absorb abuses, or to take the position towards them which Psychotherapists advocate, is part of this problem.

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  4. Well, with most psychiatric drug based treatments, the patient never recovers, but now has this beef against anything claiming to be treatment and will do anything to avoid going back. The only plus about this stuff is that the treatment zombifies patients so they can’t do anything while you keep them around, vegetating for the rest of their lives, because you can never tell if the public will be safe from them.

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  5. Mental illness pulls the trigger, right? Is that even possible, since so-called MI is nothing but a metaphor? Maybe poetry pulls the trigger, because it is a metaphor, too. How about music?

    Yeah I know. Illogical. But so is the stuff that MH America keeps spewing out.

    Awesome bit of research, as usual, Micheal. Thanks!

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  6. I’ve read this now three times, and I fail to see what the point is.

    To begin with, to site a study studying people being treated for “schizophrenia,” means you are studying people that are “medicated.” It doesn’t at all state that there were any “schizophrenics,” that weren’t medicated. What this is supposed to have to do with Torey’s statement that poor adherence to psychiatric medications brings bad results is beyond me yet, except that then you can ignore whether no medicating them in the first place turns out to be more helpful and preventative. And there’s of course no study listed comparing “schizophrenics,” that aren’t at all medicated to those having poor adherence or good adherence, regarding whether they get violent. In fact, those with “poor adherence,” you can be sure weren’t given the opportunity to be helped to get off of their medications. So it’s really about people not liking the treatment, being forced on it, and then whether they get violent. Siting a study that “schizophrenics,” have a bit more tendency to get violent without also looking at whether “treating” them with medications they aren’t allowed to dislike ups their chance to get violent is pretentious at best. To magically say it’s because of medication non adherence then is quite unscientific.

    And to treat the whole situation in a way (NOT involving “medications”) which promotes recovery, and logically prevents violence, that isn’t even entertained. That would be a treatment (the treatments that have been shown to work like Soteria House, Healing Homes etc.) other than the “treatment” being tested. But it’s not even entertained. The “treatment” entertained is such that when someone doesn’t like it they have – what the author of this article points out – a minor correlation with violence. Mind you, that’s a “treatment that when it forces a person on medications gives them extreme withdrawal symptoms would they not want such “treatment” or the side effects from it. And they for the most part can’t get or have difficulty seeking help for it (coming off the “treatment”), and probably are told that it’s their moral responsibility to endure the side effects that were making them not want to take the medications. On top of that they are most likely being told that the withdrawal symptoms are symptoms of the disease, not of the “treatment.” And then there’s this big statement that some people seem to get violent (although not as bad as five other criteria).

    This is science?

    And the people that aren’t compliant with “treatment,” that aren’t medicated at all, or weened themselves off, there’s enough evidence that they then have way more of a chance of recovery.

    I REALLY wonder though, why in the whole article, it’s not even mentioned about those people, or that poor medication adherence might mean that those are people that feel that the medications don’t work (which has been proven), but they aren’t allowed to have such awareness, and that that by itself is so suppressive and confusing it could make people violent. And that, when they are not allowed to nor their right to express their dislike for treatment is acknowledged, this echoes severe emotional issues that thus are being suppressed echoing the same coercion towards their behavior of expressing dissent or not.

    In fact, that people who aren’t treated with medications have less occurrence of violence isn’t even entertained. That would of course blow the whole argument, and if there’s more recovery, which has been shown to be the case, then there’s more exposing that’s not supposed to happen. Nor is it looked at regarding all of the evidence that psychiatric drugs cause violence, which there is ample evidence of, which was suppressed for years and still is.

    WHY are we supposed to even read this going around in circles completely ignoring the statistics regarding what happens when people AREN’T put on medications!? And why is “treatment” – whether a person is compliant to it or is seen as having poor adherence but still coerced that they should be compliant – that correlates with violence, not at all seen as a possible CAUSE of that violence!?

    That way you could call I don’t know what treatment!

    WHAT are they saying!?

    “We haven’t even tried this (not forcing treatment or limiting treatment to our treatment), but if it worked what we call needed forced treatment would be shown to not work. So here we’re forcing people on our treatment and when they don’t like it and aren’t helped to try something else that has been shown to promote recovery more, they get violent in an extremely marginal way.”

    And then there’s the venues that when there isn’t enough money for treatment, and people at first forced on treatment suddenly don’t get their “treatment,” their “meds,” then they start acting up, so we need more money for treatment. That you could have ever NOT got them addicted to “meds” that only work for a few years before there’s more relapsing, lack of recovery, more cost, more loss of life, more societal paranoia against people not treated by what doesn’t work!? Oh, and when they have withdrawal symptoms and aren’t helped with them and getting off of the highly addictive “treatment” (which would cost less in the long run and promote recovery) then we need more money to “treat” them.

    There was an article in The Onion about the big hole that everyone’s money ends up in, and when it was argued as to whether they would shovel it in or use another manner to dump money in there, someone said:

    “My father works two jobs so you can dump money in the hole, and I want you to use a shovel, not any other method!”

    Why are we even going on about “schizophrenia,” rather than seeing whether the treatment of it is a causing factor: NOT helping a person who wants another method than what they are forced on and they aren’t allowed to say isn’t the kind of treatment they see as working for them, as well as that there’s strong evidence that it doesn’t work, which is suppressed.

    And I’ve again typed in all of the above, checked it over, adjusted it, and only once mentioned how this “treatment” echoes severe emotional issues that already weren’t tended to.

    But I’m supposed to take up the other flag now, and in not tending to them (severe emotional issues) start fighting the cause, which wouldn’t be there if what actually heals was acknowledged rather than fighting about what doesn’t.

    It gets quite something when what truly heals and has no opposition, and so is there when you stop needing to oppose anything, that it’s thus disqualified because it dissolves the whole fight. WHY!? Because it might be called a miracle, and thus be seen as unrealistic? And then where this fighting can’t exist, where it escapes all of the perceptions of loss, and guilt and whatever else maintains the need for a fight but still exists (possibly in forever where whatever is there can’t be destroyed), and if such a place exists it again wouldn’t be allowed to, whether it’s called Heaven or love. That supposedly exists afterwards, if you’re good and judge others… Can’t ever be just now in the moment…..

    Well, I’m done….

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    • another correction

      And then where this fighting can’t exist, where it escapes all of the perceptions of loss, and guilt and whatever else maintains the need for a fight but still exists (possibly in forever where whatever is there can’t be destroyed), and if such a place exists it again wouldn’t be allowed to, whether it’s called Heaven or love.

      It should read something like this:

      And then where this fighting can’t exist, where it escapes all of the perceptions of loss, and guilt and whatever else maintains the need for a fight, where it escapes all of that but still exists (possibly in forever where whatever is there can’t be destroyed), and if such a place exists it again wouldn’t be allowed to, whether it’s called Heaven or love.

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  7. correction

    “We haven’t even tried this (not forcing treatment or limiting treatment to our treatment), but if it worked what we call needed forced treatment would be shown to not work.

    should read

    “We haven’t even tried this (not forcing treatment or NOT limiting treatment to our treatment), but if it worked what we call needed forced treatment would be shown to not work.

    In other words, we are so sure that the pills will work we won’t try anything else.

    What did Einstein say about being crazy? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

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    • Depends on your definition of “work.”

      If by work you mean crime prevention, suicide prevention, helping people feel better, think clearly, live independently, have better relationships, maintain gainful employment, or add to the quantity or quality of life for those “helped”….no they don’t work.

      But they do work for achieving the number one (and only real) priority for “Doc” Torrey and his fellow quacks. It gives them something to prescribe to maintain their respectable image of honest-to-gosh Real Doctors.

      You say that other stuff is important to you? Pish tosh. You’re a “defective” according to those who ruined your reputation, brain and CNS. What you want doesn’t count as long as ghouls like old “Doc” Torrey can win more awards.

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      • I know, it’s difficult, but Mr. “Doc.” and his associates can’t control everything that comes into a person’s life, and if you let the things be there that do heal (in contrast) then that does show what heals, and that’s that.

        Being oblivious for an interim period because the “medications,” have disabled natural brain functions, and call that healing really ceases to be less attractive in contrast. And the whole epidemic that has been following after the initial interim wears out, with more relapsing, disability, although it (the epidemic) also increases people’s paranoia against normal responses to difficulty, trauma, unusual things in life and challenges by making out that it’s supposedly a chemical imbalance when it isn’t; when it’s shown that not “medicating” people and acknowledging and tending to those natural normal responses heals the person and changes society for the better, than that will be that as well.

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  8. You’re right Anomie. I recommend Peter Breggin’s videos on the “Violence Initiative.” While shrinks are afraid to openly link their eugenics theory to race nowadays they have been taking great pains to target the young men in predomnately non-white neighborhoods. Even tricked members of the NAACP into going along with it. Disgusting.

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  9. Psychiatry and those drugs should not exist. And those who have perpetuated this abuse should not go unpunished.

    We need to get people to move from seeing their experience as an indicator of a need for ~psychiatry~, or for ~psychotherapy~, or for ~recovery~, but rather as indicating a history of unredressed abuse and injustice, and we all need to move for fighting back, punishing perpetrators, seizing reparations, as well as creating new life options.

    Chris Hedges, really interesting voice:

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  10. I know this is a off-topic, but one cannot forget that there is a direct linkage between “psyche drugs” and the increased likelihood of violence.

    This article references the literature review here.

    I just wish they would revisit the literature review and update it with current stats. That is if the data is even being kept anymore for the basis of the review. . .

    Just remember, the instances reported are far fewer than the actual instances occurred.

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  11. To the extent that human evil exists, I believe that E. Fuller Torrey embodies human evil. He does what he does for money, – “fundraising”, – and for the fame and glory of his mis-nomered “Treatment Advocacy Center”. In the “Time” magazine obituary of Dr. Thomas Szasz, the ONLY person quoted is E. Fuller Torrey.
    That’s like having some KKK guy quoted in an obituary for Martin Luther King, jr. Exactly. I’m glad to see MiA further de-constructing the already 100% de-constructed Torrey, even if I’m dismayed he still besmirches the air of loving, sane persons. Torrey is a hater, make no mistake. And yes, he lies about his bogus “studies”.

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    • I wouldn’t call Torrey a “hater.”

      His evil is the icy sort rather than the fiery sort.

      Most of his victims are strangers to him. He doesn’t hate; he is coldly indifferent to the sufferings of his fellow human beings. Whom he perceives solely as means to the end of his own prestige.

      He only actively hates those like Breggin and RW who get in the way of his money, fame and power.

      His evil is decidedly banal.

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      • I agree with Bradford. It’s a philosophical/spiritual issue whether or not people can “be evil.” But they can do evil things for evil purposes. Hatred is not only expressed via rage; maybe in this case you could call it “passive aggression,” but it’s aggression nonetheless. In his first book Torrey explains very articulately that “mental illness” cannot exist. So he can’t be given the excuse of ignorance. The fact that such a meager mentality would be sniffed out by Time Magazine to discredit Szasz says something right there about who he is and why he’s there. Questions of “evil” aside, he’s certainly shameless and weak.

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