Our 'Blog'

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Citizens Commission on Human Rights-Florida

Monday, April 26th, 2010

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights-Florida recently asked me to become one of their commissioners and I have humbly accepted. A film crew recently visited my office in Albuquerque, NM, and we shot an interview that will become a part of a DVD to be distributed by the Commission that is expected to be available sometime this summer(2010).

2010 Thomas S. Szasz Award

Monday, April 26th, 2010

In a most surprising and delightful development last week I was notified by Andrea Rich, Chair of the Awards Committee of the Center for Independent Thought, Philadelphia, PA, that I have been granted the 2010 Thomas S. Szasz Award.  In honor of Dr. Szasz’ 90th birthday (April 15th), Ms Rich has authorized me to publicize it ahead of the official announcement. The formal presentation will take place in Philadelphia later this year–probably August.

TeenScreen

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

In order to understand what is driving the push to “identify” teen-agers with suicidal tendencies, it is helpful to look at a little history. First, let’s ask the question: What diseases were the top killers of American 100 years ago; and what are the top killers now?

The US Mortality Data for 1908 show that these diseases were America’s top-ranked killers:

Typhoid fever, measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, diphtheria, and tuberculosis

The top-ranked kilers of Americans in 2004 were:

Heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, and diabetes

It is important to understand how these two groups of diseases differ from each other: the first group is made up entirely of infectious diseases; the second group is composed entirely of diseases brought on by lifestyle: diet, smoking, lack of exercise, etc.

 Now, what has this got to do with TeenScreen?  (to be continued)

Pristiq

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

On Saturday, March 1, 2008 the Business Day section of the New York Times featured FDA’s approval of this new antidepressant. It is interesting that there is no attempt to hide what is really going on here: Wyeth Pharmaceuticals’ patent on Effexor XR is about to expire and, to maintain the company’s profit picture, another drug is needed. While details are still scanty, it is likely that Pristiq (where on earth do they get these names?) will be no more effective than other antidepressants–that is, barely if at all more effective (whatever that means) than a placebo. In other words, it is not patients’ health and well-being that is the goal; it is corporate profits.

It is a fair bet that Pristiq has not been tested “head-to-head” against other antidepressants manufactured by other drug companies. We can also be sure that the FDA approved Pristiq based on a length of treatment far shorter than it will actually be prescribed for. Remember that the FDA approved Prozac on the basis of only 6 weeks’ testing. (The logic was, I believe, that, if any adverse “side-effects” were going to show up, they’d show up sooner rather than later!)

It is probably also a safe bet that the experimental design was tampered with to exclude “non-responders,” and that physicians were paid handsomely for recruiting patients into the pre-approval studies. 

 

Interview on National Public Radio

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Please check out my interview on NPR, February 15, 2008. We talked about family black sheep. The website is weekendamerica.org

Frontline’s story on the excessive medication of children

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

A recent PBS Frontline program described the excessive use of medications such as Risperdal and other so-called atypical antipsychotics with elementary school-age children. The program was notable for its evasion of the most important question in mental health today. 

One might say that any and all psychiatric medicating of anyone, including children, is excessive. But to take this position is to miss the essential point: the unwanted behavior of children (and teens and adults) has nothing to do with illness of any kind. Whether medications ”work” (or do not work), or whether they are being used excessively, diverts our attention from the more important question: What is there in the context within which the child is living his/her life that might account for the distressing behavior?

The re-contextualizing of their child’s behavior is something that families shy away from. It is potentially embarrassing, and a person (like myself) who raises the issue is often accused of blaming or stigmatizing family menbers, or dredging up the past. 

True! I’m guilty! Not of blaming or dredging up the past, but of pleading with families to see how their own unwitting and unintentional actions have contributed to what is in reality a family problem, not an illness that their child has.

It is clear to me that the producers of Frontline are not yet ready to grapple with that issue.

 

Article in People, August 27, 2007, p. 123.

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

An article in People magazine last week featured the struggle by a college professor against her lifelong “mental illness.” Described are her symptoms of paranoia, her delusions, hallucinations, etc., the whole panoply of what modern psychiatry is pleased to call the disease of schizophrenia.

Now well into mid-life, the professor is portrayed as triumphant though haunted by the ever-present threat that these symptoms will probably return. There is, of course, at the end of the short article, a gratuitous sidebar telling the reader that “schizophrenia can be treated with drugs like risperidone” (generic name of Risperdal, one of the atypical antipsychotics).

 This statement is blatantly untrue. The evidence that Risperdal (or Zyprexa, or Seroquel, or Abilify, or Giodon) can in any way ameliorate the bizarre and distressing conduct of the so-called mentally ill is dubious at best: the research upon which such statements are founded is corrupted from the outset by meddling with the data as it is collected by researchers in the pay of pharmaceutical companies. In addition, the research designs are so flawed that any first-year graduate student in experimental psychology could list their weaknesses.

But more to the point: what is important about this article is not what it includes but what it leaves out. And what it leaves out is crucial! With the exception of the brief reference to the professor’s father being an attorney, nothing, repeat nothing, is said about the professor’s family of origin! Not her siblings, their gender, her place in the birth order, whether she came along at an inconvenient time in her parents’ lives, what her parents’ expectations (implicit or expressed) were for her, the trauma that may have occurred in her parents’ generation (or her own), the family rules for dealing with that trauma, how the professor (as a child and teen-ager) attempted to negotiate conflicts over her future with her parents, etc., etc.

Without this knowledge which, I contend, is deliberately overlooked, we can never get a grasp of the precursors of her bizarre behavior. We are left with psychiatry’s self-serving assertions that the professor’s bizarre behavior is somehow symptomatic of a “disease.” This is patent nonsense! It is a delusion which is foisted on unsuspecting Americans because it is profitable for both psychiatrists and their pharmaceutical patrons.

Senate Bill 558

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

It will come as no surprise to Big Pharma watchers that the industry is lining up behind the passage of Senate Bill 558, The Mental Health Parity Act of 2007. AstraZeneca, for example, has a two-page spread in the September Atlantic in which they inform us that, “Today, one in five adult Americans suffers from mental illness.”

“Parity” would mean that insurance companies would have to pay for so-called mental illnesses just as they now pay for physical illnesses. What fair-minded person would question that? The American Psychological Association (an organization from which I resigned several years ago in part in response to its political activism) doesn’t question it. (Albuquerque Journal op-ed article by Russ Newman, Ph.D., JD, August 20, 2007)

In so doing, APA implicitly acknowledges that there are such entities as mental illnesses and that they can be treated by medical means. That is, they acknowledge that the techniques used by psychologists are a sub-set of all medical techniques, and that they should therefore be paid for by medical insurance. This position is an ongoing outcome of the Faustian bargain I discuss elsewhere on this website.

There are, of course, no such things as mental illnesses (but there are, as I discuss in my book, Healing the Hurting Soul, mad-making histories). Establishing parity for their “treatment” is just one more way that Big Pharma is creating captive populations as markets for their products.

If anything, a much better way to heal those people invidiously described as “mentally ill” would be to move in the opposite direction from parity. We should, in my opinion, completely remove the techniques with which we “treat” the so-called mentally ill from insurance coverage. Instead we should fund the healing of these people from public money. In this way we would completely divorce their care from any fee-for-service mechanism.

Look at how well, i.e., more effective and humane, such healing has fared in the past (and to a limited degree in the present). I am convinced, and have been for about 25 years, that the best mental health care in my state takes place not at the largest state university-run mental health clinic (which is partly state-funded but which depends on insurance reimbursements) but at the state hospital.