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Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Business of Madness


"All psychiatric drugs 'work' by obstructing normal brain function, causing dysfunction.  All substantially interfere with normal thinking and feeling.  All alter the brain's chemistry and structure, to varying degrees, fundamentally damaging the brain.  

All alter the size of the brain, making it (or some part of it) either expand in size or shrink.  All are addictive.  All work in ways that make withdrawal difficult, in some cases, arguably, impossible.  
All cause dysfunctions (and in some cases disorders) in various parts of the body. All work by 'deactivating' to some degree, though some primarily activate.  
What is experienced as improvement, correspondingly, is invariably one or more of:  sedation, stimulation, and the placebo effect. The drugs to varying degree inherently mask the very dysfunctions that they create.  
They obscure people's appreciation of their psychic state, and by extension, of the damage.  What goes along with this, there is a perilously close relationship between the purported 'therapeutic effect' and the 'toxic effect,' with the two at times being identical.  
The toxic effect itself can manifest itself in mania and psychosis." (p 195-196)
"…the pharmaceuticals are the kingpin, the mainstay of the regime of ruling.  Successfully problematize that and the edifice crumbles.  
"So what in point of fact does the research establish?  In short, that ECT is a profoundly injurious treatment that damages the brain, that substantially impairs memory, that gives rise to global cognitive dysfunction – and in the final analysis, it has no lasting efficacy." (p 214)
"While in the final analysis readers must reach their own conclusions, what the logic of this investigation indicates – and indicates powerfully – is that not just parts of psychiatry, but the discipline and the regime as a whole is epistemologically flawed and ethically unacceptable.  Nor is it 'fixable,' for the problems are fundamental, at the core. My invitation, accordingly, is that we as a society do what may have once seemed unthinkable – that we acknowledge that our approaches to problems in living and to 'problematic others' are tragically misguided and muster up the courage to begin again." (p 227)
"What we concluded is that tinkering will not serve us, that not only must we break with psychiatry, we have to rid ourselves of rule by experts, we need to stop 'othering,' we have to stop imprisoning, and beyond that, we need to fundamentally alter how we live with one another." (p 264)
This book is scholarly, in the sense that it examines the issues, painstakingly, fearlessly, and with impeccable logic. But, more than scholarly, it is human-centered and compassionate. There are lots of stories.  Some are tragic; some are hopeful; all are instructive.  
Bonnie has drawn on her own personal and professional experiences to bring the issues vividly to life, and to help us see that the victims of psychiatry are not just the people who have experienced physical damage from the drugs and the electric shocks, but all of us who live in this psychiatrically pathologized, and alienated, world of "us" and "them."
Psychiatry and the Business of Madness reads seamlessly, and is a difficult book to put down.  I cannot think of a single issue in the psychiatric debate that is not covered – and covered thoroughly and convincingly – within its pages.  For those who wish to explore the various topics in greater depth, there are thirteen pages of references.
This book is a major milestone in the antipsychiatry effort, and stands as a monumental challenge to psychiatry's continued existence as a branch of medicine.

Psychiatry and the Business of Madness: An Ethical and Epistemological Accounting April 16, 2015

Il boom della malattia mentale nell'era degli psicofarmaci November 11, 2013

Psicofarmaci: Storia di un business di successo May 7, 2014

Antidepressant-Induced Mania January 13, 2015





A deadly combination of anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs, painkillers and alcohol were responsible for the death of a teen living in an Antioch foster home late last year, a county coroner has found.
A report released tby the Contra Costa County Sheriff-Coroner's office concludes that the 16-year-old died in his bed Dec. 19 after ingesting a slew of over-the-counter and prescription medications. It isn't clear where Steven obtained the drugs, because only one of the medications found in his system -- the antidepressant Zoloft -- was prescribed to him.

There were no signs that Steven "ingested the substances in an attempt to end his life," the coroner's report states.
The lanky, curly-haired skateboarder received no medical attention -- even though the day before he died, a social worker had difficulty waking him up and relatives later filmed him struggling to walk and even keep food in his mouth. Antioch Police have forwarded their investigation into the teen's death to county prosecutors, and Deputy District Attorney Bruce Flynn said he will soon review the case for possible child endangerment or related criminal charges.

"Nobody paid attention to this child," said Steven's grandmother, Karla Garvey of Pittsburg who had long cared for Steven until social workers removed him from her home in August after a sibling's explosive outburst. "I don't care if he drank a gallon of bleach, they ignored a child in physical distress and refused to give him medical attention."

Although the death of a foster child is extremely rare, an investigation by this newspaper, "Drugging Our Kids," into the excessive use of psychiatric drugs in foster care revealed the youth are often poorly monitored for health concerns and side effects from the medications.

The state agency that licenses foster parents has moved to permanently prohibit Steven's foster mother Dorothy Brown from caring for children in the system. Brown has appealed the case, which an administrative law judge will consider in June.

Joan Miller, interim director of the county's department of Children and Family Services division, said she could not comment on the specifics of the case. But she offered her sympathies. "It's our job to protect children and when we can't, we grieve for those children and we grieve for that family," Miller said. Responding to the ongoing investigations into whether Brown and Steven's social worker David Schwartz, failed to seek medical help, Miller added: "We share in those concerns."

Both Schwartz and Brown have left their posts with the nonprofit adoption and foster family agency, Families for Children, and efforts to reach them have been unsuccessful.
Steven had been prescribed psychiatric drugs while in foster care -- including Zoloft, Trazodone and Vistaril to treat anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, records show. He told friends and relatives in the months leading up to his death that he desperately wanted to return to his grandmother. Zoloft, an antidepressant, was found in Steven's bloodstream after he died, but not in a fatal dose by itself.
Steven abused prescription drugs, but there were signs of his overdosing well before he died that caregivers ignored, the county reports show.
The day before his death, Steven slept until noon and missed school. Later that afternoon, Brown dropped the teen with Schwartz at a Subway sandwich shop for a supervised visit with Steven's grandmother and the boy's father.
His relatives were instantly concerned, when Steven staggered out of Brown's van and had to be propped up just to enter the restaurant. In a cellphone video reviewed by this newspaper, Steven slurs his words and can barely keep his eyes open. The family members implored Schwartz to get the boy to a nearby hospital just minutes away. Instead, he took Steven back to the foster home.
Other foster boys in Brown's home told investigators Steven had been using Xanax and pain pills in the weeks before his death, and in his room officers found 80 pills "and a large amount of money consistent with 'dealing' pills to other people."
Berkeley child psychiatrist Ed Levin, who has treated foster youth for decades and reviewed portions of the coroner's report, said Steven showed clear signs of impairment that required immediate medical attention. "Somebody," he said, "needed to get him to an emergency department."

East Bay foster teen overdosed on combination of painkillers, anti-depressants, alcohol 04/16/2015


Over 1% of preschoolers on Medicaid in 36 US states studied, including hundreds of infants and thousands of children aged four or younger, are being given antipsychotics, antidepressants, amphetamine stimulants and other psychiatric drugs, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health.
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers examined 2000-2003 Medicaid Analytic Extract data from 36 states. They found that overall 1.19 percent of children aged 0-4 received a prescription for a psychiatric drug. Specifically, 0.17 percent of infants younger than 1 year old and 0.34 percent of children between 1 and 2 years were being prescribed psychotropics.
"Across ages and cohorts, 0.61 percent of children received a prescription for ADHD, 0.59 percent for depression or anxiety and 0.24 percent for psychotic illness or bipolar disorder," stated a press release about the study.
In their study, the researchers described the absolute numbers as "small" and did not specifically discuss them. However, the data apparently indicated that over 20,000 children in 36 states under the age of four were taking psychiatric drugs in 2003. "Although the absolute numbers and percentages of these drugs were small, these findings are worrying in so far as they indicate the use of psychotropic drugs among very young children," wrote the researchers. "Preschoolers are receiving psychotropic medications despite limited evidence supporting safety or efficacy."
"The fact that any children this small are using psychotropic drugs is very worrisome," commented one of the authors in the press release.
Study finds 1. 2 percent of preschoolers on Medicaid use psychotropic drugs(Washington University in St. Louis press release on ScienceDaily, April 13, 2015)









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