Friday, March 25, 2005

Ritalin Death

The Story of the death of a child due to Ritalin, as told by a parent.

My name is Lawrence Smith; I am here to let you know about the death of our fourteen-Year-old Son Matthew. He died on March 21, 2000. The cause was determined to be from the long- term (age 7-14) use of Methylphenidate a medication commonly known as Ritalin.

The Certificate of Death under due to, (or because of) reads. Death caused from Long Term Use of Methylphenidate, (Ritalin). According to Dr. Ljuba Dragovic, The chief pathologist at the Oakland County Medical Examiners office in Michigan said upon autopsy, Matthew's heart showed clear signs of small vessel damage, the type caused by stimulant drugs like amphetamines.

The medical examiners told me that a full-grown man's heart weighs about 350 grams and that Matthew's heart weight was about 402 grams.

Matthew did not have a preexisting heart disease

Mass drugging of schoolchildren remains dark secret of public education, psychiatry

As reported on News

Believe it or not, until recently, it has been perfectly legal for schools to force schoolchildren to be put on psychoactive mind-altering drugs as a condition of attending that school. That is, the school administrator or counselor could insist that a certain child be dosed with mind-altering drugs. It sounds bizarre, but it was absolutely true until just recently.

Finally, Congress has passed legislation that bans schools from forcing parents to drug their children for behavioral problems. This law was even signed by President Bush, believe it or not.

Now you may think that, gee, this wasn't a problem, I never heard about this. But in fact it was a huge problem. There have been many cases where children were denied an education because their parents refused to put them on narcotic stimulants, antidepressants and other drugs that we now know cause violent behavior and increased risk of suicide. There were schools actually forcing parents to put their children on drugs that would cause aggressive behavior and suicidal thoughts.

And, in extreme cases, these drugs actually caused or contributed to the kind of mass murders like we saw in Columbine where the two high school students picked up assault rifles, went to school, and blew away teachers and classmates. These two kids were on antidepressant drugs -- it's still one of the most censored stories of the last decade.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Another Teen Killer was on Prozac

The 16-year-old Minnesota outsider who killed nine people before taking his own life on Monday was being treated with the controversial anti-depressant Prozac. The revelation yesterday by Jeff Weise's aunts, Shauna and Tammy Luscher, on CBS News' "The Early Show" revived the debate over whether such drugs induce homicidal and suicidal thoughts in children and teens.

Eric Harris, one of the teen gunmen in the infamous Columbine massacre in 1999, had been prescribed Prozac, as had Kip Kinkel, who killed his parents and classmates at Thurston High School in Oregon in 1998.

His grandmother, Shelda Lussier, 54, said he saw a mental health professional at Red Lake Hospital on Feb. 21, the same day his prescription was refilled for 60 milligrams a day of Prozac, which he had been taking since last summer, the Washington Post reported.

Studies have linked Prozac and similar antidepressants to a greater risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in kids. In October, the Food and Drug Administration revised the drugs' packaging to warn health professionals that they should closely monitor young patients when an antidepressant is prescribed or the dose is changed. Prozac proponents maintain that that association is all just a bad coincidence

Friday, March 18, 2005

Are your children crazy?

Congress and President Bush apparently think that a lot of children have a "mental health" problem. Or that enough of them do to justify taking millions of dollars from taxpayers to fund a universal "mental health screening" for children, and eventually for everyone.

Personally, I think -- from the perspective of a person who never had any -- that almost all children act crazy. Those who don't are, by definition, abnormal, because they don't act like the others.

The main problem with about half of them is that they are boys. Such children are obviously made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails. On the farm there is a solution for that: a procedure for turning boy lambs into non-ram lambs. After a quick little operation, they act like peaceful little lambs instead of aggressive, disruptive rams.

We don't do surgery like that on little boys, of course, but we do have our methods: such as behavioral therapy and chemicals. [...]

Teams of experts are awaiting the infusion of cash. They'll be ensconced in your child's school before you even know it. A bonus is that your little darlings will probably give them quite a bit of information about you also, and then you too can receive therapy you didn't know you needed.

Do you sometimes raise your voice? Ever spank them? Hug them inappropriately? Have politically incorrect attitudes? Use forbidden words? Own a gun? Smoke cigarettes, especially indoors? Read extremist literature? Refuse to recycle? Prepare for a knock on the door.

As Seen in the UPI Article
Outside View: Are your children crazy?
By Jane Orient, M.D.
Outside View Commentato

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Alliance for Human Research Protection

The Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP) is a national network of lay people and professionals dedicated to advancing responsible and ethical medical research practices, to ensure that the human rights, dignity and welfare of human subjects are protected, and to minimize the risks associated with such endeavors.

Over the past decade, the explosion of biomedical research has not been accompanied by an effective system of oversight or enforcement to protect those who volunteer. A body of well-documented evidence shows that in numerous instances the rights of human subjects have been violated. Unsuspecting research volunteers have sometimes suffered grievous injuries and even preventable death.

The causes are clear:

  • Research is increasingly driven by commercial concerns.
  • Conflicts of Interest are ubiquitous.
  • Disclosure of risks may be incomplete.
  • Regulatory safeguards have been violated.

Lax oversight by Institutional Review Boards has failed to prevent ethical violations even at major research institutions (e.g., University of Rochester, University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, University of Oklahoma, Johns Hopkins University, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Harvard University, and the National Institutes of Health).

This year, more than 15 million Americans will be recruited into clinical trials.

The AHRP mission is to stand up - and speak out - for the human rights of research subjects of human experiments, especially those who are vulnerable and /or susceptible to manipulation and exploitation. Those who are incapable of exercising their right to informed consent are in greatest need of protection from research abuse
  • children (some as young as preschool age),
  • elderly residents of nursing homes, and others with impaired reasoning capacity, and
  • people suffering from a disabling mental illness.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Psychiatric Failure in Cannibalism Case

As seen in this report, a pychotic criminal who was inside the Broadmoor secure mental hospital in Britain [for a hideous crime which included cannibalism] was being assessed for a possible return to the community by the mental health esperts there.

The court was told that the mental health system had let the public down after Bryan was released from Rampton special hospital where he was sent after the manslaughter of shop assistant Nisha Sheth, in Chelsea, in 1993.

Aftab Jafferjee, prosecuting, said: “The last two killings have taken place when the defendant was under the care of the mental health regime which has manifestly failed to protect the public. That there was a significant failure within the mental health care regime in recognising the danger that the defendant presented is plain.”

And David Etherington QC, defending, agreed, saying Bryan “should have been kept in conditions of the highest security”.

Sentencing him to two life sentences today, Judge Giles Forrester told Bryan he would never be released because he was too dangerous.

He said: “You killed on these last two occasions because it gave you a thrill and a feeling of power when you ate flesh. The violence on each occasion was extreme and unpredictable, accompanied by bizarre and sexual overtones.”

Referring to Mr Cherry, he added: “You ate his flesh. You fried his brain in his kitchen.”

Abuse of Power by a depressed, suicidal psychologist who lies to have people committed

News from our friends in Florida that a psychologist has been convicted of lying on committal forms so that she could have a pesky neighbor put away for a few days. Psychologist Holli Bodner was feuding with neighbor Jean Pierre Villar for a year, and apparently got fed up enough to actually have him committed to an institution for a three day evaluation against his will. Florida law provides that such committals may be made when someone is a danger to himself or others, but clearly there is ample room for abuse.

A psychologist accused of making false statements has pled no contest to a perjury charge Monday afternoon. The false statments led authorities to wrongfully involuntarily commit a Longboat Key, Florida man that she was having a dispute with.

Sitting inside Circuit Judge Douglas Henderson's [Florida] courtroom, Ana Villar coddled her weeping daughter-in-law, Erika Villar, as they listened to Holli Bodner explain why she impulsively asked authorities to arrest Jean Pierre Villar and have him undergo an involuntary mental evaluation in April 2003.

Prosecutors were seeking 10 days imprisonment, three months of probation and termination of Bodner's medical license. "Taking somebody's freedom away is egregious," assistant state attorney Darlene Ragoonanan told the court.

Henderson sentenced Bodner to 10 weekends of jail time starting at 6 p.m. March 25. She was also sentenced to six months of probation. An appeal bond was set at $10,000.

Bodner was scheduled to stand trial on Monday. Her license to practice psychology is under review by the Board of Medicine, attorneys said.

After the Longboat Key Police Department failed to register Bodner's complaint against Villar, Bodner turned to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, filing a Baker Act against Villar at the courthouse on April 9, 2003.

"I was so in fear for months of the ongoing barrage of this man," Bodner told Henderson. "I just wanted somebody to stop it."

Villar, who had a back injury, was taken into custody for mental evaluation. Family members claimed sheriff's deputies used excessive force while taking him into custody, causing his condition to worsen. Villar died in November.

"I just think 10 days in jail is not enough for what she did," Erika Villar told Henderson, as she cried. "He really couldn't do anything after that."

While issuing his sentence, Henderson noted that judges usually place more weight in issuing a Baker Act that is filed by a physician. Bodner never medically evaluated Villar as a patient.

Is it me or is there something disturbing about a depressed, suicidal psychologist who lies to have people committed and is still working?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Psychiatrist on trial for Child Molestation

As reported in the Chicago Tribune

Dr. Gary Almy, 61, of the 3100 block of Old McHenry Road, (in Long Grove, IL) is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Almy allegedly molested a 14-year-old boy in summer 2003, a 10-year-old boy in October 2000 and a 14-year-old boy between October 2003 and last April. The boys attended Almy's Truth in Action Academy, which he operated in his home, authorities said. Judge Victoria Rossetti scheduled Almy's trial for May 31.

Almy, who was a staff psychiatrist at LYDIA Home Association, a child welfare agency in Chicago, until he resigned last month, is being held in Lake County Jail in lieu of $600,000 bail.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Temple University Sued for Hauling a Christian Student to Psychiatric Ward

Jury selection and trial began this past Monday, March 7 in the Marcavage vs. Temple University federal civil case. Temple University Vice President of Operations, William Bergman, and the Managing Director of Campus Safety, Carl Bittenbender, will stand trial for attempting to have Michael Marcavage committed to a psychiatric ward in 1999. The legal filling can be downloaded here in PDF format

Eighty years ago the Soviet Union developed a novel method of dealing with dissenters: it labeled them insane and committed them to mental institutions. A Temple University student contends that his school resorted to these very tactics in response to his objections to a school-sponsored performance of a play that depicts Jesus as a promiscuous homosexual.

Michael Marcavage filed suit against Temple University in December 2000 for a an incident in which he alleges that University officials censored an event he had organized, roughed him up, and involuntarily committed him to the psychiatric ward of the school's hospital. His only offense, he claims, was to organize an event to counter a play that mocks Christianity.

The civil rights suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and contends that the plaintiff's First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated. The defendants in the suit are Temple University, its vice president for operations, William Bergman, and its managing director of campus safety services, Carl Bittenbender. Attorneys for the plaintiff include lawyers for the American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy.

The controversy began in the fall semester of 1999 when Marcavage learned that the play Corpus Christi would be staged on campus. The play, which generated a great deal of controversy when it ran on Broadway in 1998, portrays Jesus as a homosexual who indiscriminately beds his disciples. As a Christian, Marcavage decided to protest the play, which he considers blasphemous.

"I didn't want to bring negative attention to this play or to this university," Marcavage maintains. "Rather, I chose to use this as an opportunity to show students who the real Jesus is." Showing his peers "who the real Jesus is" included organizing a counter-event to Corpus Christi, instead of a protest. The prospective counter-event was to consist of gospel singers, speakers, and the presentation of a Biblically based play about the life of Christ called Final Destiny. This pro-Christian play would be performed by members of the Temple University chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ. Although Corpus Christi was performed without incident , school administrators blocked Final Destiny and the accompanying speakers and gospel singers.

Carl Bittenbender is the Deputy to Temple Vice President William Bergman. He signed a form to have Marcavge committed. In signing the form to have Mr. Marcavage involuntarily committed, Carl Bittenbender checked-off boxes claiming that the Dean's List student had "inflicted or attempted to inflict serious bodily harm on another" and had "attempted suicide and that there is reasonable probability of suicide unless adequate treatment is afforded."

These claims made by Bittenbender are at odds with his own handwritten statement, however, which only noted his opinion that Maracavage exhibited "irrational," "agitated," and "confrontational" behavior. There is nothing about Marcavage hurting or threatening anyone. Nor is there mention of Mr. Bittenbender witnessing a suicide attempt. Bittenbender only claims that Marcavage locked himself in the bathroom. "I felt that he was going to hurt himself" and "may be suicidal," was his characterization of events. Yet, Bittenbender's subjective claims that he "felt" that the broadcast journalism major might be a danger to himself or that he "may" be in a suicidal state are quite different from claiming that the patient being committed had "attempted suicide" and "inflicted or attempted to inflict serious bodily harm on another."

This contradiction may prove to be the University's undoing in court. Above the boxes that Bittenbender checked on the form is a warning in bold capital letters: "Any person who provides any false information on purpose...may be subject to criminal prosecution and may face criminal penalties including conviction of a misdemeanor." The suit alleges that Bittenbender did just what the form warned him not to do.

Marcavage, who has no history of mental illness and shows no outward signs of being anything but a normal student, displayed no bodily evidence of any suicide attempt. No complaint was filed claiming that Marcavage attempted to harm any specific person. Nor is it clear how Bergman or Bittenbender could deduce how a suicide attempt or any mental breakdown was taking place on the other side of a locked bathroom door.

The mental status exam conducted by doctors at the hospital told a different story than the boxes checked off by Carl Bittenbender. The two doctors who examined Marcavage cleared him of any mental health problem. Although the examining doctor noted that Marcavage was "Tense" and "Sad," the evaluation described the 20-year-old junior as "Calm," "Cooperative," "Coherent," "Healthy," and "Mild." The examining physician noted that there were "no apparent grounds" for holding Marcavage and released him at 3:15 p.m., ending the ordeal that began more than five hours earlier in William Bergman's office.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Former Stripper posing as an Unlicensed Psychologist

Channel 25 Fox TV in Boston is reporting on the travails of Lucy Wightman, who is getting into trouble as an unlicensed psychologist. Much has been made about her previous life as a stripper performing under the name of Princess Cheyenne, and her appearance in Playboy magazine some years ago. Wightman used to strut her stuff as Princess Cheyenne in Boston's notorious "Combat Zone." She was briefly engaged to singer Cat Stevens in the mid-1970s before he converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam. Wightman turned to bodybuilding in the '90s, winning a state title in a 1993 competition.

Five years ago, she was pursuing a more mainstream profession. In 2000 and 2001, she worked as an intern for the private agency that provided sex offender treatment for state prisoners, according to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Diane Wiffin.

Wightman told a reporter for a Boston TV station, WFXT, that she was a psychologist. Now that the news story has hit, people are coming out of the woodwork complaining about the quality of her work as a therapist. Too bad they don't realize that there are problems with the effectiveness of psychology to begin with, as documented by the many stories on this site.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Soldier Who Reported Abuse Was Sent to Psychiatrist

As Reported by the Washington Post

An Army intelligence sergeant who accused fellow soldiers in Samarra, Iraq, of abusing detainees in 2003 was in turn accused by his commander of being delusional and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in Germany, despite a military psychiatrist's initial judgment that the man was stable, according to internal Army records released yesterday.

The soldier had angered his commander by urging the unit's redeployment from the military base to prevent what the soldier feared would be the death of one or more detainees under interrogation, according to the documents. He told his commander three members of the counterintelligence team had hit detainees, pulled their hair, tried to asphyxiate them and staged mock executions with pistols pointed at the detainees' heads.

The Army intelligence sergeant subjected to a psychiatric evaluation was serving with Detachment B, 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, and told investigators that he witnessed an escalation of violence against detainees shortly after arriving at the unit's Samarra detention facility in April 2003.

Although his name is not listed in the documents, the episode precisely matches events described publicly last year by California National Guard Sgt. Greg Ford, a former state prison guard and Navy SEAL team medic whose complaints were dismissed by the Army in October 2004 as lacking sufficient evidence. Ford said last night, after hearing what the documents stated, that he is the sergeant described.

The soldier complained that he had had to resuscitate abused detainees and urged the unit's withdrawal. He told investigators that the unit's commander, an Army captain, responded by giving him "30 seconds to withdraw my request or he was going to send me forcibly to go see a psychiatrist." The soldier added: "I told him I was not going to withdraw my request and at that time he confiscated my weapon and informed me he was withdrawing my security clearance and was placing me under 24-hour surveillance."

A witness in his unit told investigators that the captain later pressured a military doctor -- who had found the soldier stable -- into doing another emergency evaluation, saying: "I don't care what you saw or heard, he is imbalanced, and I want him out of here."

The next day, after the doctor did another evaluation, the soldier was evacuated from Iraq in restraints on a stretcher to a military hospital in Germany, despite having been given no official diagnosis, according to the documents. A military doctor in Germany ruled he was in stable mental health, according to the documents, but sent him back to the United States for what the soldier recalls the doctor describing as his "safety."

The soldier depicted the evacuation as part of an effort to cover up wrongdoing. But other members of his team denied the allegations, saying that the unit was professional and that they never saw abusive behavior at the facility. Investigators closed the case without filing charges, writing that the investigation "did not identify any witnesses" to the abuse and did not "produce any logical subjects."

The new documents also describe allegations by a military interrogator, who was not named, that members of Task Force 626 -- an elite U.S. military unit assigned to hunt in Iraq for senior officials in Saddam Hussein's government -- used harsh interrogation tactics and abused detainees at a secret detention facility called Camp Nama in Baghdad in April and May of last year. The Army's criminal investigators turned the investigation over to Special Operations and closed the case; the Special Operations probe concluded the allegations of wrongdoing were unfounded.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Study links Ritalin to Chromosomal Changes

A new study conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has found that every one of a dozen children treated for attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder with methylphenidate (Ritalin) experienced a threefold increase in levels of chromosome abnormalities—occurrences associated with increased risks of cancer and other adverse health effects.

In a small but startling preliminary new study, Texas researchers have found that after just three months, every one of a dozen children treated for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with the drug methylphenidate experienced a threefold increase in levels of chromosome abnormalities—occurrences associated with increased risks of cancer and other adverse health effects. The researchers say that to their knowledge this is the first study addressing the potential chromosome-breaking effects associated with treatment of children with methylphenidate, the generic name for a group of drugs that includes Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate CD and others.

Methylphenidate is the most widely prescribed of a class of amphetamine-like drugs used to treat ADHD, with more than 10 million prescriptions written for it in 1996 alone. Between 1991 and 1999, United States sales of methylphenidate increased more than 500 percent.

Researchers at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) reported their detection of the chromosome abnormalities in the journal Cancer Letters. Their peer-reviewed paper is to be published several months hence, but the journal editors have made it available online in the journal’s “articles in press” section.

The authors said they undertook the study because, even though methylphenidate has been approved for human use for more than 50 years, “there are surprisingly few studies” in either animals or human beings “on the potential for serious side effects,” such as causing mutations and cancer. In 1996, a report discussing several two-year-long animal studies showed that the highest levels of methylphenidate tested caused liver tumors in male and female mice. However, similar studies in rats showed no such tumors.

The new Texas study involved researchers drawing blood from children diagnosed with ADHD before they began taking methylphenidate in order to get a baseline level of chromosomal abnormalities. Three months after the children had begun taking the drug, the researchers drew the children’s blood and tested it a second time. Chromosomes are the bodies within cells that carry the genes and genetic information. All 12 of the children whose before-and-after blood cells were studied were treated with normal therapeutic doses of methylphenidate.

Most of the abnormalities found in the studied blood cells consisted of chromosome breaks “and a higher frequency of aberrations is reported to be associated with an increased risk of cancer down the line,” said lead author Randa A. El-Zein, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at M.D. Anderson who performed the blood studies using several techniques.

“It was pretty surprising that all of the children taking methylphenidate showed an increase in chromosome abnormalities in a relatively short period of time,” El-Zein said.

UTMB Professor of Environmental Toxicology Marvin Legator, the study’s principal investigator and senior author, cautioned, “This study doesn’t mean that these kids are going to get cancer, but it does mean they are exposed to an additional risk factor, assuming that this study holds up.” Of the 53 known human carcinogens, Legator said 48 could be detected using the chromosome analysis methods employed in this study.

The Cancer Letters article by Randa A. El-Zein, Sherif Z. Abdel-Rahman, Matthew J. Hay, Mirtha S. Lopez, Melissa L. Bondy, Debra L. Morris and Marvin S. Legator can be found on the Web by clicking the “Articles in Press” button on ScienceDirect’s Cancer Letters page.