Mental Health Survival Kit, Chapter 5: Survival Kit for Young Psychiatrists in a Sick System (Part 1)


Editor’s Note: Over the next several months, Mad in America is publishing a serialized version of Peter Gøtzsche’s book, Mental Health Survival Kit and Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs. In this blog, he begins a discussion about how young psychiatrists can stand up to the system. Each Monday, a new section of the book is published, and all chapters are archived here.

I wrote this book for patients and their relatives to help them avoid becoming trapped by psychiatry and becoming snowed under by psychiatric drugs, thereby wasting years of their lives, or, in the worst case, dying. But what about psychiatry as a medical specialty; can it be saved from itself?

It cannot. Many books, including this one, have documented that the psychiatric leaders have given up rational thinking for the benefits they acquire themselves from supporting a totally sick system. The only hope we have is if the people protest so vigorously that it becomes an unstoppable revolution.

Given the pervasive indoctrination this is unlikely to happen. There will always be too many patients who think psychiatric drugs have been good for them and who will side with the psychiatric guild, and this force, coupled with the obscene wealth and power the drug industry has accumulated by selling useless pills to us, is so great that our politicians, even if they have realised how bad it all is, don’t dare act accordingly. The system is locked, as if it had been forced into a straitjacket.

It is also very convenient for politicians that there is a profession that deals with the most disturbing elements in our societies and exerts tight social control over them, much tighter than the criminal system allows, sometimes with indefinite sentences, in a closed system where the screams of the victims are not heard, like in the Soviet Gulag system or in the Nazi concentration camps, where the deaths caused by those who held the power were called natural deaths, and where the appeal system was a total sham. What is the difference to psychiatry, that also calls its killings “natural deaths,” where the appeal system is a total sham, where the law is being systematically violated, and where independent researchers end up getting fired after a show trial if they try to find out why people died?

But we have another source of hope than the people: the young psychiatrists in training whose brains have not yet been deadlocked into all the false beliefs. Some of them had become so desperate that they contacted me, even though I didn’t know them beforehand, to discuss their intense frustrations about a system that so clearly makes matters worse for its patients.

One of them, 46-year-old chief physician Klaus Munkholm from the psychiatric department at my own hospital, had realised, after reading books by Robert Whitaker and myself, that what he had believed in for so many years was plain wrong. He wrote to me in July 2017 and explained that he was concerned that biological psychiatry had not been helpful for understanding bipolar disorder, which was his main research interest. He had the same concerns about other psychiatric disorders and wanted to do meaningful research.

I am very quick at judging people and immediately arranged a meeting that went very well. We started a fruitful research collaboration, but it had repercussions for Klaus. One month after our first meeting, he had—both in an email and at a meeting—already been discouraged from collaborating with my research group, and he had been warned that it would have consequences for his career.

I responded: “Can you see the similarity to religious fanatism? This is precisely how Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, and all the others react. This is unheard of in an academic context but tells us a lot about where psychiatry is.”

Klaus didn’t budge, and from December 2017, I employed him one day a week, to the great chagrin of his boss, professor Lars Kessing.

Klaus was a treasure. Bright and kind, a great asset for all the psychiatric projects I had started. It didn’t take long before I told him that I wanted to employ him full-time. He finally abandoned psychiatry and became full-time employed, a year after he first contacted me. Some of psychiatry’s silverbacks, who had previously held him in high regard, now treated him like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientology treat defectors.

The same month, another chief psychiatrist, Kristian Sloth, also unknown to me, asked to have a meeting, and he drew my attention to an announcement from Psychiatry in the Capital Region that depression pills could prevent dementia. They of course cannot do this; research has shown that it is more likely that they cause dementia (see Chapter 2).

Kristian also noted that he had reduced drug expenses by 35% in just one year since he started working at the department. He told me about a patient who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, received a high dose of Leponex (clozapine), became psychotic, got even more Leponex, and ended up in a maximum-security ward. When they stopped Leponex, all her psychotic symptoms disappeared.

Kristian has opened a section in his department that he calls “force-free department” where his patients are guaranteed that no force will be applied to them.

Another psychiatrist quit her job at a department where chief physician Lars Søndergård had overdosed the patients so monstrously, and against the guidelines, that he was no longer allowed to work as a psychiatrist because of his dangerousness.1 She went to another hospital, but in the meantime, Søndergaard had been allowed to practice again, under close supervision, and he showed up at the hospital where she now was.

Søndergaard continued to overdose his patients monstrously. His boss, Michael Schmidt, didn’t supervise him, and it was pure luck that all his patients survived the huge overdoses, often with several neuroleptics simultaneously. The nurses and his psychiatrist colleagues were very concerned about what they saw and contacted Schmidt about it, but nothing happened.

Schmidt replied that, “Many of the patients we meet today in the emergency department are very outgoing and extremely difficult to treat within the current guidelines. It will always be so that the individual physician/ specialist can deviate from guidelines and instructions based on his own experience and the patient’s condition.”2

As the culture at the department was one of fear and intimidation, the nurses decided to involve their union.

Søndergaard’s malpractice included suspending correct treatment instituted by another doctor of alcoholic delirium, which is a very dangerous condition, and prescribing two neuroleptics, which markedly increase the risk of convulsions, sudden cardiac arrhythmias, and death.3 One patient received methadone, which can cause lethal arrhythmias, which is why the National Board of Health recommends against concomitant treatment with neuroleptics, but this patient was prescribed three neuroleptics simultaneously, and was dismissed the same day.3

Schmidt’s reply was extremely arrogant.4 He could not recognize any of the horrible examples of overdosing the journalist sent to him.

It took four months for the Patient Safety Authority to respond. The verdict was harsh.5 Schmidt was placed under strict supervision and Søndergård could no longer work as a psychiatrist. Schmidt had approved a proposal from Søndergård that meant that the patients became hugely overdosed, and he had not been able to interpret a scientific article professionally but concluded the opposite of what the article said about dosage. Schmidt had failed to inform the Authority of the excessive doses even though he had a duty to do so, and although the staff had made him aware of it several times.

Schmidt had even written to the Authority that Søndergård “has a sharp analytical approach” and had “brought the department to a higher professional level,” contrary to the Authority’s opinion, which was that Søndergård in several cases had exposed the patients to serious danger.

Deputy Director Søren Bredkjær, the Psychiatry Management in Region Zealand, immediately issued a press release emphasizing that they still had full confidence in Schmidt and that he had only received a “mild decision.”

The young psychiatrist in training who had reported Schmidt to the Authority after having tried for months to solve the problems by taking them up with him, Schmidt had labelled “an insane cantankerous person” in front of colleagues.5

Eventually she gave up and went to Bredkjær, whom she encouraged to examine the relevant patient files. She showed him a list of the patients who were admitted on a day she was on duty and let him see her personal notes. She asked him to investigate the matter, but nothing happened. Then she saw no other option but to go to the press.

To the journalist, Bredkjær beat about the bush all the time and he didn’t want to apologize to the nurses and doctors who had constantly warned about the problems but had been ignored.

All the young psychiatrists that have come to see me really appreciated working with their patients. I told them they were exactly the type of doctors the patients and psychiatry needed, and that they should not leave psychiatry.

One of them was seriously reprimanded by her boss when she began to slowly withdraw the drugs the patients didn’t need any longer, but which he had started in the outpatient facility.

Another wrote to me: “Can you imagine how it is to share coffee and lunch with these people day in and day out, for weeks, months and years? I am forced to listen to the receptor purists’ mad ramblings until I cannot stand them anymore and ask them for their scientific references for their claims, and that only makes them angry.

“I am forced to listen to those that always want to talk about some psychiatrist that annoys them because he is bad at making correct diagnoses until I ask them how they know that their particular brand of diagnostics is the correct one, which makes them angry.

“Worst of all, I need to listen to the lifestyle-oriented psychiatrists’ talks about their latest apartments, cars and travels, and they get angry with me if I even mention psychiatry. What I have painfully learned about these people is that most of them are completely uninterested in reading the actual articles about the clinical trials we have. Instead, they simply follow their leader.”

As noted in Chapter 2, Danish filmmaker Anahi Testa Pedersen got the diagnosis schizotypy when she became stressed over a difficult divorce. She joked about this diagnosis in her film, and as I had no idea what this odd thing was supposed to be, I looked it up on the Internet and found a test for schizotypal personality disorder.6

It is defined in various ways in different sources, but the test reflects quite well how this thing is described on the Mayo Clinical website,7 and as they say that the symptoms are published by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,6 I went ahead. There were nine questions and you should reply true or false, or yes or no, to each one.

1: “Incorrect interpretations of events, such as a feeling that something which is actually harmless or inoffensive has a direct personal meaning.” This is a very vague question, and many people interpret events incorrectly, particularly psychiatrists, or take them personally.

2: “Odd beliefs or magical thinking that’s inconsistent with cultural norms.” That’s an interesting one. When a young psychiatrist disagrees with the odd “cultural norms” at the department about preventative treatment of schizotypy, is he then abnormal? And what about Søndergård’s monstrous overdoses, which was a “cultural norm,” as his boss accepted it? It seems that the normal people in the staff who protested should be considered abnormal according to question 2.

3: “Unusual perceptions, including illusions.” I have provided evidence in this book and earlier books that most psychiatrists would need to say yes to this question. Just think about the illusion called the chemical imbalance.

4: “Odd thinking and speech patterns.” Surely, most psychiatrists display odd thinking, maintaining the lie about the chemical imbalance and many other lies, and also denying totally what other people see clearly, including their own patients, e.g. that psychiatric drugs do more harm than good.

5: “Suspicious or paranoid thoughts, such as the belief that someone’s out to get you.” If you are detained in a psychiatric department, such a reaction is totally normal and understandable. The staff surely is out to “get you,” namely to treat you forcefully with neuroleptics against your will. When psychiatric leaders use terms about their opponents such as “antipsychiatry” and “conspiracy,” can it then be considered a “yes” to question 5?

6: “Flat emotions, appearing aloof and isolated.” This is what psychiatric drugs do to people, so if they weren’t abnormal to begin with, the psychiatrists will ensure that they become abnormal.

7: “Odd, eccentric or peculiar behaviour or appearance.” As noted in Chapter 2, one definition of madness is doing the same thing again and again expecting a different result, which is what psychiatrists do all the time. I would call that an odd, eccentric and peculiar behaviour.

8: “Lack of close friends or confidants other than relatives.” This is what psychiatric drugs do to people, particularly neuroleptics; they isolate people and can make zombies out of them.

9: “Excessive social anxiety that doesn’t diminish with familiarity.” If you are detained in a psychiatric department, such a reaction is totally normal and understandable.

There is an amusing spelling error on the website.6 It says: “Our test will clearly and accurately calculate your points and will give impotent suggestion.” I agree that the test is impotent. It is useless and bogus. Many, perhaps even most, psychiatrists would test positive. Perhaps they should try a preventative neuroleptic for their schizotypy?

What is less amusing is that the test provides circular evidence for the patients who, even if they are normal, might test positive when they have been treated inhumanely by psychiatrists, including being forcefully treated with neuroleptics.



To read the footnotes for this chapter and others, click here.


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.


Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.


  1. This article is overall meaningful, but includes a stinging accusation that I see all the time on the internet.

    While young psychiatrists are urged to question or dismiss the false beliefs that are rampant in their profession, the author perpetrates just such a belief about my church!

    And so, in his attempt to bring together or strengthen a coalition that will stand up to the lunacy known as “modern psychiatric practice,” he slaps in the face one of the most important members of that coalition.

    What an irony!

    Report comment

    • l.e. cox, I am really sorry that he said such derogatory comments about your church. Unfortunately, many forget that old line about “politics making strange bedfellows.” I say that because I am of the thinking that no matter what one’s religious or even political beliefs, we need to work together to expose and end psychiatry. This psychiatry has a far greater evil impact on our society than we would like to admit. I still assert that psychiatry is the main villain, at least on this site and this is where our energy and our fight needs to be. There are some good points to this article; but, the good points are something most of us know from experience—it is the drugs (neuroleptics, SSRIS, and the others) that make you sick. Psychiatry is definitely an industry that one can go in well and come out sick. Thank you.

      Report comment

  2. Thank you, Peter, you are getting quite good at pointing out the mockery, that are today’s psychiatric criminals. And, most definitely, we need ethical doctors like you speaking out.

    Just a few points I’d like to make, in agreement with your harsh criticism of today’s psychiatric industries’ lies and mass murders.

    I’m glad you used the term “snowed … by psychiatric drugs.” Since a now FBI convicted doctor – that I’d had the misfortune of being medically unnecessarily shipped to – did have me, and God knows how many other patients, “snowed.” He was having his psychiatric partners-in-crime “snow” people, in the hopes they couldn’t breath, so he could do unneeded tracheotomies on people, for profit. Here’s his conviction announcement, unfortunately he was only arrested for fraud, instead of his systemic harm of many of his patients.

    Personally, as a “compliant patient,” I had the misfortune of dealing with four psychiatrists. And only two didn’t put me on multiple neuroleptics, at above recommended doses.

    Why did these psychiatrists do this to me? To cover up a “bad fix” on a broken bone, for some incompetent doctors. And to cover up medical evidence of the sexual assault of my four year old child, according to my and my families’ medical records.

    Psychological and psychiatric systemic covering up of child abuse, in my case was done for a pastor. But covering up child abuse does seem to be the number one actual societal function of all the “mental health professions.” And it’s all by DSM design.

    And those systemic child abuse covering up “mental health professionals” have turned the leaders of my former religion into systemic child abuse cover uppers, too.

    And all this systemic child abuse covering up does, indeed, also function to aid, abet, and empower the pedophiles and child sex traffickers. Leaving us all now living in a “pedophile empire.”

    So when I thank you for harshly criticizing today’s psychiatric industry. I know from first hand horrendous experiences, and have the documented medical proof, that they are indeed criminals; most definitely working in a very sick system. You are absolutely right to harshly condemn their crimes.

    And quite honestly, I think we – as a society – really need to have a discussion as to whether we actually should have a, primarily child abuse covering up, scientific fraud based, group of “mental health” industries, at all? As one, who was grateful for finding Whitaker’s book, “Anatomy,” which explained the etiology of how I’d been made sick.

    Plus I found the medical proof that the antipsychotics / neuroleptics can create the positive symptoms of “schizophrenia,” via anticholinergic toxidrome; as well as the negative symptoms of “schizophrenia,” via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome.

    So I can say with absolute certainty, psychiatry’s two most “serious mental illnesses,” are iatrogenic illnesses, created with the psychiatric drugs – NOT “genetic” illnesses, as psychiatry fraudulently claims.

    But I don’t think any country, and most definitely the entire world, does not need a bunch of scientific fraud based, primarily child abuse covering up, “mental health” industries. Albeit, I do understand it’s a tough battle, since the “mental health” industries are a multibillion dollar group of industries today.

    And it breaks my heart that even my childhood religion is “in partnership” with them. For God’s sake, they’re teaching the DSM “bible” in the seminary schools in my area. It’s downright shameful the mainstream Christian religions have fully “partnered” with the DSM “bible” believers.

    But I don’t believe having any, scientific fraud based, primarily child abuse covering up, DSM “bible” believing industries, are in the best interest of any society, or any country, at all. Since covering up child abuse is illegal, so we shouldn’t have multibillion dollar industries, systemically, committing these crimes.

    Report comment

  3. Psychiatry is like the Titanic. Please leave now before you find yourself sinking and drowning in something you did not deserve. I would say that many people have experienced trauma in life and think they need psychiatry, but, psychiatry only compounds that trauma over and over and over again. Try to find other ways to help you overcome your pain.

    Power is the ability to take advantage of others despite their opposition.

    Our free choices are when we act in threads with an influence we are aware of.

    “In reality, psychiatrists refuse to answer questions and refuse to accept or discuss side effects.”

    Report comment

  4. Thank you for your efforts Peter Gøtzsche,

    I am in admiration of your work and all you do!! So much gratitude. The issue in my eyes is that most psychiatrists believe in their treatment methods, as people used to believe the world is flat .

    Mine for instance does, and although I nearly died because of what he prescribed and over a decade of suffering followed, I cannot be mad at him. He didn’t/ doesn’t know better (and some have an idea but are not conscious/ courageous enough to act on it).

    It’s easier to approach the matter from this perspective because it allows for compassion and reconciliation rather than creating a bigger divide. A bigger divide is created when demeaning the other party, e.g. comparing them to Jehovah’s Witnesses , Scientology or Church in general.

    It’s human to write passionately and certainly many parallels make perfect sense but it’s important to not create a larger gap and set up even higher boundaries : “this is us” and “this is them”, “we are right” and “they are wrong” and we have nothing in common. Let’s not forget it affects us all. It’s only through finding that common ground that we can grow.

    To give an example ..the church of Scientology is a hundred percent anti-psychiatry and when I was in great distress admitted forcefully, didn’t know who to contact for help, cchr (the only organization I knew at the time), replied to my email immediately. Even if subsequently all was taken away from me and I was allowed no contact to the outside world, even these few words already meant a lot in my situation.

    While I have nothing to do with the church of Scientology and this was my only contact , I just wanted to give this as an example. Because in that same way “religious fanatism” can also affect. Comparing it to psychiatry, where do you draw the line? When is someone a religious fanatic? Maybe a person is very religious and that actually helped them stay alive through the innumerable hospitalizations and suffering? As a matter of fact, many people’s reality is that mental illnesses are of spiritual and or religious matter.

    It would be beautiful to grow as a community , including absolutely everyone so that anyone can feel welcome (even those unethical/unconscious psychiatrists) which works better when no one is diminished and made completely wrong; because everyone’s experience is unique and valid. Getting together in a place of trust, to empower each other and grow together is the only way out <3

    Thanks again so much for all you do!
    I don't even want to know what the world would be without you, Peter , Robert Whitaker and such individuals, waking up the world.

    Report comment

    • I agree, well stated, kelly.b. And as one who, for some unknown reason, can tell my experience with psychiatry, in the lyrics of music. Your reminder that “creating a bigger divide,” is unwise … is a very wise comment.

      And it reminds me of a song named “the great divide,” that was popular when I escaped psychiatry. But in trying to find it, I noticed that’s a very popular song title in general.

      I could list more, and I’m still not certain any of those are the song that was popular in late 2005 or early 2006.

      But we are all now dealing with seemingly corrupt governments, who use a “divide and conquer” war strategy, to try to divide the populous, to maintain their control. And I agree, we do need to find common ground, since we’re all just people. Including those who believe they’re “the elite.”

      I agree, likely most of the psychiatrists are just fools. Who go off to their big Pharma’s pep rallies, drink the Kool-aid, take their gifts, and do as they’re told by big Pharma. But given that’s all they are, they need to stop calling themselves “professionals,” in an attempt to claim they are above others.

      Especially since good salespeople, in order to actually behave in a “professional” manner. We do extensive research into our products, we try to sell only the best products, but have a diverse selection, to accommodate various people’s pocketbooks. We give our customers various choices, but always with our customers’ best interest at heart.

      None of that is true about psychiatrists in general. And what’s worse is our corrupt governments have unjustly given psychiatrists the right to force their products on people. If you have good products, you don’t need to force them on others. And it should be illegal for any salesperson, of any product – including big Pharma’s products – to force people to pay for a product or service, in a supposedly free market economy.

      “A bigger divide is created when demeaning the other party, e.g. comparing them to Jehovah’s Witnesses , Scientology …” Or defaming others with “invalid” disorders. Or dismissing all those of us, who don’t choose to be so defamed, as “anti-psychiatry.” And this is exactly the kind of un-professional, immature behavior, that almost all psychiatrists’ exhibit.

      “… waking up the world,” hopefully we’re doing it.

      Report comment