Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Anti-Depressant Defense for Murder

The case of a Chester County (South Carolina) teenager accused of killing his grandparents is gaining national attention, including a front page story Monday in The New York Times. The Times ran a lengthy story detailing the case of Christopher Pittman, who police say shot and killed his grandparents in 2001 at age 12. The story looks at the alleged link between the boy's behavior and an antidepressant he was taking at the time of the killings.

The newspaper cited Pittman's case because it will be among the first to be tried amid a debate over the safety of antidepressant use among children. Pittman is charged with killing his grandparents, Joe Frank Pittman and Joy Roberts Pittman, in November 2001. Each had been shot in the head while sleeping in their rural Chester County home, and their house was then set on fire. Pittman is being tried as an adult and could face up to life in prison if convicted.

Ocala Star Banner
Washington Times Report
New York Time via the International Herald Tribune

Monday, August 23, 2004

Psych Doctor Richard Boylan and your Space Alien Child

Dr. Richard Boylan is a former California psychologist who had his state psychology license revoked over allegations of improper sexual interaction with female patients in his hot tub (hydro 'therapy'?). He still uses the title doctor, even though he might not be legally licensed for mental therapy anymore.

He may have had gotten into trouble back on the old Art Bell late night radio show. He rode the American Indian 'Star People' mythos for several years and claims to know of secret government/UFO testing spots in Nevada desert. He has engaged in countless character assassinations against UFO researchers who disagree with him. Boylan has conveniently claimed to have been gifted with a brand new and, no surprise, anonymous 'inside source', and to have been the confidant of the late 'government MJ-12 insider' Michael Wolf (also not trusted in some quarters.)

He is now planning to hold a summer camp for "star kids" - children who are alleged to have been genetically-altered by aliens (aka: money-in-my-pocket).

Parents everywhere should beware...

Bell's successor George Noory might not have done his homework, as he is being featured on an upcoming show.

SEE: Full Transcript of California Board of Psychology revoking Boylan's license to practice in Nov 1996

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Caution Urged on Antidepressants and Children

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Friday that it had revisited data regarding antidepressants and suicidal thinking and behavior in children, and said the data may have enough merit to warrant new labels. Specifically, an analysis by senior FDA epidemiologist Dr. Andrew Mosholder found that, overall, children using antidepressants were 1.8 times as likely to have suicidal tendencies as depressed children taking placebos.

This is just the latest chapter in a controversy dating back to last year, when British health officials declared that all antidepressants except Prozac should not be used in children and adolescents.

Regardless, earlier this year two expert advisory committees to the FDA recommended that labeling be changed to reflect the need to monitor all patients more closely. The agency then asked manufacturers to change the labels of 10 drugs.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

'Psychiatric services failed me'

Many people who have used mental health services have been unhappy with the care they received, a British Healthcare commission survey has revealed.

This BBC Article details what it is like to be incarcerated in a modern psychiatric warehouse. To sum it up, there is no respect,and no results, or so it seems.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

American Psychiatry and the Old Soviet Model of the Mind

As reported at Tech Central Station [by Irwin Savodnik]

The old Soviet psychiatry subscribed to a harsh biological determinism. The psychiatric physician was an absolute authority while the patient's words mattered little more than raindrops at sea. That the patient might have something to add to the doctor's assessment of him made little sense since the origin of his difficulties was thought to be a disordered biology that had to be set right. The idea of a person was quaint but irrelevant.

Part of Soviet psychiatry involved the well-known use of psychiatry as an instrument for political ends. Indeed, there were few other ends in the system. The brothers Zhores and Roy Medvedev offer a shocking, though typical, picture of what things were like in the Stalinist era. In the Soviet scheme of things, political dissent was interpreted as a psychiatric disorder, a difficulty in reality testing, which justified confinement in a mental hospital. Such niceties as due process, length of stay and an appeals process meant nothing. In a state where individual freedom was a bourgeois myth, there was no need to respect basic human rights.

Today in Russia, there are patient protections against involuntary psychiatric hospitalization similar to those in the United States. While some may argue that unwilling confinement is always wrong, such hard-core legislation recognizes the freedom of the individual, which represents a radical change from the pre-Gorbachev era. [...] The great irony is that American psychiatry is moving in exactly the opposite direction. In the past 30 years, the overriding ideology of American psychiatry has shifted to a biological model. Psychopharmacology has become its therapeutic backbone.

The problem, however, is that this model doesn't tolerate free agency. It views psychiatric problems -- moral problems, really -- as medical ones, just as Soviet psychiatry did. It has become more prominent in the courts as the hefty influence of medical diagnoses has replaced the literary-like "assessments" of psychoanalysts. Always, the emphasis is on relieving the individual of moral responsibility. Interpersonal problems, family conflicts, sexual malaise, even shyness, have become medical problems.

So, as the Soviet system came undone and its psychiatrists freed themselves from the confines of a strangulating ideology, American psychiatrists have embraced uncritically the same narrow vision. But as the Soviet example demonstrates with distressing clarity, a conception of people as little more than biochemical bundles fails to address those aspects of ourselves that make us human -- the moral and esthetic dimensions of our lives about which chemical equations have little to say.

[Edited from a longer article]

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Health Canada advises of potential adverse effects of SSRIs and other anti-depressants on newborns

Women who take some anti-depressant drugs during late pregnancy may be putting their babies at risk, Health Canada is warning. The department issued an advisory Monday about the following SSRI anti-depressants: bupropion (used for depression or for smoking cessation), citalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, mirtazapine, paroxetine, sertraline and venlafaxine.

International and Canadian reports reveal that some newborns whose mothers took medications containing Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors or other newer anti-depressants during late pregnancy developed complications at birth requiring prolonged hospitalization, breathing support and tube feeding.

Reported symptoms include feeding and/or breathing difficulties, seizures, muscle rigidity, jitters and constant crying. In most cases, the anti-depressant was taken during the last three months of pregnancy. The symptoms could indicate a direct adverse effect on the baby, or possibly a discontinuation syndrome caused by sudden withdrawal from the drug.

Health Canada said it issued the advisory to increase awareness so symptoms can be recognized and addressed quickly. The agency is working with drug manufacturers to update labelling with new warnings. To report an adverse reaction, consumers and health professionals may call 1-866-234-2345 or fax 1-866-678-6789.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Prozac in Britain's Drinking Water

Environmentalists are deeply alarmed: Prozac, the anti-depression drug, is being taken in such large quantities that it can now be found in Britain's drinking water. Environmentalists are calling for an urgent investigation into the revelations, describing the build-up of the antidepressant as 'hidden mass medication'.

The Environment Agency has revealed that Prozac is building up both in river systems and groundwater used for drinking supplies. The government's chief environment watchdog recently held a series of meetings with the pharmaceutical industry to discuss any repercussions for human health or the ecosystem. The discovery raises fresh fears that GPs are overprescribing Prozac, Britain's antidepressant of choice. In the decade up to 2001, overall prescriptions of antidepressants rose from nine million to 24 million a year.
<>A recent report by the Environment Agency concluded Prozac could be potentially toxic in the water table and said the drug was a 'potential concern'. However, the precise quantity of Prozac in the nation's water supplies remains unknown. The government's Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) said Prozac was likely to be found in a considerably 'watered down' form that was unlikely to pose a health risk.

Dr Andy Croxford, the Environment's Agency's policy manager for pesticides, told The Observer: 'We need to determine the effects of this low-level, almost continuous discharge.' Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat's environment spokesman, said the revelations exposed a failing by the government on an important public health issue. He added that the public should be told if they were inadvertently taking drugs like Prozac. 'This looks like a case of hidden mass medication upon the unsuspecting public,' Baker said. 'It is alarming that there is no monitoring of levels of Prozac and other pharmacy residues in our drinking water.'

Experts say that Prozac finds its way into rivers and water systems from treated sewage water. Some believe the drugs could affect their reproductive ability. European studies have also expressed disquiet over the impact of pharmaceuticals building up in the environment, warning that an effect on wildlife and human health 'cannot be excluded'.

'It is extremely unlikely that there is a risk, as such drugs are excreted in very low concentrations,' a DWI spokesman said. 'Advanced treatment processes installed for pesticide removal are effective in removing drug residues,' he added.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Disgraced Paediatrician faces ‘child experiments’ rap

 Here we have a case from the BBC involving a paediatrition

Leading paediatrician Professor David Southall was been found guilty of serious professional misconduct after accusing solicitor Sally Clark's husband of murdering their children. [...] During the GMC hearing, Richard Tyson, counsel for Mr Clark said Professor Southall was an arrogant, dogmatic and "very dangerous doctor" who did not deserve his place in the medical profession.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Murder by Psychiatry?

An article by Arianna Huffington, worth reading again

After Littleton: Antidepressants In The Bloodstream.
Filed May 6, 1999 by ARIANNA HUFFINGTON
(Los Angeles Times)

In the aftermath of the Littleton massacre, President Clinton has already proposed new laws to restrict the marketing of guns to children, and on Monday (May 10) he will host a conference to examine the entertainment industry's marketing of violence to children. But no one is planning a conference or introducing laws to deal with a third problem -- the marketing of mood-altering prescription drugs to children.

Despite disturbing evidence of drug-induced manic reactions, the number of antidepressant prescriptions for children continues to soar, reaching 1,664,000 in 1998. And buried in the Littleton coverage was the announcement this week that traces of Luvox, a sibling of Prozac, were found in Eric Harris' bloodstream. The presence of Luvox, the coroner said, ``does not change the cause and manner of death.'' Yes, but did it change the cause and manner of Eric's life?

Luvox was approved by the FDA in 1997 for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive dis- orders (OCD) in children, but not for the treatment of depression. Indeed, no antidepress -ant -- Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil or Luvox -- has been approved for pediatric use. Solvay, Luvox' manufacturer, declares it ``safe and effective.'' Yet the Physicians' Desk Reference reports that during controlled clinical trials manic reactions developed in 4 percent of children on Luvox. Another clinical trial found that Prozac caused mania in 6 percent of the children studied.

Mania is defined as ``a form of psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur ... and overproduction of ideas.'' There were plenty of delusional statements on Harris' Web site. ``My belief,'' he wrote, ``is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law. If you don't like it, you die.'' This should have troubled any doctor who was following Harris after he was put on Luvox. Or was Harris one of the tens of thousands of children cavalierly put on antidepressants without either a proper psychiatric evaluation or ongoing monitoring of side effects? The news that Harris had been on Luvox came on the heels of the revelation last summer that Kip Kinkel, the Oregon school shooter, had been on Prozac. These antidepressants clearly did not exorcise the teenagers' demons. The question we should be urgently asking is: did they embolden them?

At a congressional hearing on media violence this week, we were reminded that 95 percent of children are never involved in a violent crime. Most children whose parents own guns do not steal them; most children who watch ``Natural Born Killers'' do not go on shooting rampages; and most children on antidepressants do not kill their schoolmates. But while there is saturation coverage about the dangers of guns and media violence, there is no debate about the dangers of antidepressants on our most vulnerable children's growing brains.

Dr. Leon Eisenberg of the Harvard Medical School described the Prozac/Luvox family of antidepressants as ``potent medications that change nerve transmission.'' ``What happens,'' he asks, ``after two to three years of that?'' But even mildly skeptical voices from within the medical community are routinely ignored as if they were attacks on scientific progress itself.

We are in desperate need of more information -- not just more clinical studies but more data released to the public about the medical histories of children charged with acts of violence. For starters, in the same way that kids are examined for the presence of illegal drugs and alcohol in their bloodstream, they should be routinely examined for mood-altering legal drugs. ``I have testified as a medical expert,'' Dr. Peter Breggin, author of ``Talking Back to Prozac,'' told me, ``in three teenage cases of murder in which antidepressants were implicated in playing a role. In one case where a 16-year-old committed murder and tried to set off multiple bombs at the same time, the comparisons with Littleton are obvious and ominous.''

The response from drug manufacturers echoes that of gun manufacturers: ``Prozac and Luvox don't kill people, people kill people.'' And like gun manufacturers, drug manufacturers are facing growing legal challenges. Littleton was followed by other shootings and bomb threats that closed schools and evacuated students across the country. Were any of the adolescents involved on antidepressants, and was that information made available to the authorities? Did, for example, the probation officer who wrote a glowing report on Harris after his arrest for breaking into a van know if he had been diagnosed with OCD before he was put on Luvox? And wouldn't it have been useful for him then and for us now to know what he was obsessive and compulsive about?

Following the news about Harris being on Luvox, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who sits on the Government Oversight Committee, sent a letter to the FDA calling for ``comprehensive clinical trials by the pharmaceutical companies'' to establish ``the behavioral effects of antidepressants on our youth.'' How much Luvox and Prozac have to be found in the bloodstreams of our child-killers before the FDA takes action -- and the rest of us take notice?

Monday, August 02, 2004

Police are Taking too long to Investigate Criminal Complaints Against Shrink

New Zealand police are taking too long to investigate criminal complaints against psychiatrist Selwyn Leeks, say supporters of patients behind the claims. The Weekend Herald revealed that the Government had paid a further $4.2 million in compensation to former psychiatric patients at Lake Alice Hospital, in addition to the $6.5 million paid to 95 others in 2001. More than 30 former Lake Alice patients are still waiting after two years for police to decide whether to prosecute former staff, including Dr Leeks.

Three years ago, the Government began compensating and apologising to numerous former patients of Lake Alice Hospital's child and adolescent unit who claimed they were tortured and sexually abused. The unit closed in 1978. The scale of their mistreatment at the hospital near Wanganui was unveiled in a report for the Government by retired High Court judge Sir Rodney Gallen.

The document revealed allegations of electric-shock therapy being used to punish children, youngsters being locked away with insane adult patients, sexual abuse and painful injections of paraldehyde, a sedative-hypnotic drug.

"I am satisfied that in the main the allegations which have been made are true and reveal an appalling situation," Sir Rodney wrote. More than 30 complaints have subsequently been sent to police by Christchurch lawyer Grant Cameron and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

Ex-psychiatry prof guilty in slaying

A former college psychiatry professor has been found guilty in the shooting death of the Portsmouth's development director.

John M. Adams, 60, of Barboursville, W.Va., was sentenced to serve at least 26 years in prison after being convicted Tuesday of murder with a firearm specification, aggravated burglary and kidnapping in the slaying of Bobby Burns on July 2, 2003. Adams' lawyer, Jim Banks of Columbus, said he plans to appeal.

During the trial, witnesses testified that Adams entered Burns' home and shot him as Burns' wife watched. Adams told police he had learned from a law firm that Burns and his wife, Michele Burns, had filed a malpractice complaint over his treatment of Michele. Adams was an associate professor of psychiatry at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va. His contract with the university expired in June 2003, school officials have said.