Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Who created the USA Drug Problem?

Conspiracy theories abound, and while many can be dismissed with the wave of a hand, sometimes you need to check things out. Bring along your grains of salt, and check out this detailed and well documented essay first seen on

Eighteenth-century German philosopher Georg Friedrich Hegel long ago developed, among other things, what he called the principle of "thesis, antithesis, synthesis" to explain the process of deliberately enacted social disorder and change as a road to power.

To achieve a desired result, one deliberately creates a situation ("thesis,") devises a "solution," to solve the "problems" created by that situation ("antithesis,") with the final result being the ultimate goal of more power and control ("synthesis.") It is unsurprising Karl Marx and his disciples like Lenin and Trotsky, as well as the US government in its so-called War On Drugs, made this process a keystone of their drive for total control of all individual actions that, in their views, were not, in Mussolini s terms, "inside the state" and thus controllable by the same.

In September 1942, OSS director and Army Maj. Gen. William "Wild Bill" Donovan began his search for an effective "truth serum" to be used on POWs and captured spies. Beginning with a budget of $5,000 and the blessing of President Franklin Roosevelt, he enlisted the aid of a few prominent physicians and psychiatrists like George Estabrooks and Harry Murray as well as former Prohibition agent and notorious Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) director Harry Anslinger. [...]

It is fairly long, but an interesting read. Readers are on their own as far as deciding what to think of it.

Here is a Short Bibliography

Originally published in April 2001 by Michael E. Kreca. Mr. Kreca lives in San Diego and has been a financial reporter for Knight-Ridder, Business Week and the Financial Times of London.

Yet another death linked by 'coincidence' to antidepressants

As reported in the Chicago Tribune, and reported here, here is another anecdotal story of yet another death linked by 'coincidence' to antidepressants. Oh wait, there are black box labels now, aren't there?

A Kane County woman charged last month with fatally stabbing her disabled adult daughter with a kitchen knife sought medical treatment for depression just days before being arrested for murder, according to police.

A police detective who testified Wednesday at a Kane County coroner's inquest into the death of 34-year-old Nyakiambi Whitten said Betty Whitten, the dead woman's mother, had complained of depression to her physician two or three days before the April 3 fatal stabbing in the family's home in the 42W500 block of Hawk Circle in unincorporated Campton Township.

According to St. Charles Police Detective Robert Bobinski, who interviewed the physician, the 58-year-old Whitten, whom he said the doctor had described as usually bright and happy and easygoing, reportedly told him she was "feeling like she can't get out of a hole."

In addition to prescribing an antidepressant, the doctor recommended that Whitten seek help from her church community, Bobinski testified.

St. Charles police became involved with the case, along with the Kane County sheriff's office, after city police saw Whitten drive her car off a bridge in downtown St. Charles with her daughter's body inside the vehicle.

According to forensic evidence presented at the inquest, the physically and mentally disabled woman was stabbed three times with a kitchen knife. One of the wounds penetrated her heart, said Bobinski.

The coroner's jury ruled the death a homicide.

Sheriff's investigator Craig Campbell said the stabbing appears to have taken place in foyer of the family home. After putting her daughter into her car, Whitten drove east into St. Charles where "she had indicated it was her intention to drive into the Fox River," said Campbell.

Bobinski said the dead woman's bloodied T-shirt had no puncture wounds, indicating the shirt was moved out of the way before the stabbing. "I don't think [the daughter] had the mental capacity to defend herself,"
said Bobinski said.

Fearing that she might be harmed, Whitten's other daughter called police to the home.

Whitten, who has been on a suicide watch since her arrest, has been transferred to a state facility for psychological treatment after being declared mentally unfit to stand trial on the murder charge.

A court filing by Kane County Diagnostic Center psychologist Alexandra Tsang indicated Whitten could become mentally fit for trial with treatment.

Glad to see the labels worked

Psychiatrist Accused Of Soliciting Sex From Undercover Detective

As reported here:

Followup link, with Picture

Update: We now have a Local TV Video Report

Police have arrested a psychiatrist who they said was sending illicit pictures over the Internet to a detective posing as a 14-year-old Tequesta girl.

Miami police arrested Dr. Jose Gustavo Valladares at his apartment Tuesday morning. Authorities said he had been the target of a two-month-long online predator investigation.

Investigators said that during that time, Valladares, 38, was communicating with an undercover Tequesta Police Department detective who was pretending to be a 14-year-old girl.

Valladares, who is employed by Jackson Memorial Hospital, allegedly used a Web camera to masturbate and send pictures of his penis. Police said he also discussed traveling to Palm Beach County to meet the girl.

"A psychiatrist certainly knows the emotional sequela that comes from this type of abuse to a victim -- a child," said Miami police spokesman Bill Schwartz. "It's a lifelong emotional problem, but clearly this guy doesn't care."

Valladares is charged with distribution of harmful material to a minor and online solicitation of a minor for sex. A charge of lewd and lascivious exhibition is pending.

He has been suspended from JMH without pay.

Thumbs up to the Miami Police for their excellent work.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Recovering from Psychiatric colonialism

As seen here, with an online audio of an extended interview

When it comes right down to it, the Jamaican psychiatrist doesn't like too much about psychiatry as it is practised in the West. As far as he is concerned, the psychiatric textbooks were written by colonizers. And he goes even further, arguing that the mental illnesses those texbooks define have nothing to do with the reality of a black person's life. In fact, he says, those so-called illnesses are just an extension of colonial control. In short, Dr. Hickling doesn't think psychiatry, as it is traditionally practiced, works for black people.

Psychiatrist tries to buy a victim's silence

As described here

Psychiatrist John Owen Honey from Footscray in Victoria, Australia is being investigated by the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria for sexually taking advantage of one of his femal patients, and then buying her silence with $100,000. Apparently the price for a gross abuse of trust is a bit higher.

Austalian news item here

Parexel back in hot water over drug trial errors

Although clearing Parexel from contributing to the recent drug trial disaster, a final UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) report slammed the US firm for making a number of basic errors during the trial process.

As reported here, the MHRA has accused global contract research firm Parexel of breaking a number of safety rules during the trial by failing to follow correct procedures and of making errors over contracts and patient records.

According to the report, Parexel did not adhere to documentation procedures during the trial.

Alarmingly, there was also no contract in existence for the bank-screening physician at the time they were employed (although one was subsequently issued). Parexel's principal investigator failed to authorise in their log the full work remit for the bank-screening physician at the start of their employment, the investigation found.

At the time of the drama, the MHRA also found that Parexel was non-compliant with the unblinding procedure, meaning that the placebo volunteers were allowed to leave the trial before appropriate checks were taken to confirm that they were the two subjects that had received the placebo.

Surprisingly, prior to beginning the trial there was also no contract in place between TeGenero and Parexel, although again, one was subsequently issued, and there was only a draft contract in existence between Parexel and the private laboratory they had engaged.

In addition, Parexel had failed to review TeGenero's insurance policy to ensure that one was in place and that there were no exclusion categories within it that might impact upon their volunteers. There was also no formal system in place to provide 24-hour medical cover, the report stated.

The proper colloquial term for a mess like this is "it's a dog's breakfast"

'Punitive Psychiatry' Alive and Well in the 'New' Russia

As noted here

If you're incensed by corruption in Russian life and politics and you're bold enough to try to do something about it, you must be crazy. No, this is not Solzhenitsyn's Soviet Union in 1976 -- this is Vladimir Putin's Russia in 2006.

There's a difference. It's not the all-powerful KGB or its successor, the Federal Security Service, locking brave dissidents away for months or years, "drugged into tranquillity and prevented from talking to lawyers or family." (At least, not yet.) It's a patchwork of "regional authorities in localized disputes" and "private antagonists who have the means [ . . . ] to bribe their way through the courts."
And as reported in the LA Times (registration may be required)
Albert Imendayev collected the signatures he needed to run for the legislature last fall in this city on the banks of the Volga River. He met with supporters, prepared his campaign material. [ . . . ]

Only days before he was required to appear at the local election commission to finalize his candidacy, an investigator from the prosecutor's office met Imendayev at the courthouse with three police officers. They kept him locked up until a judge could be found to sign the order committing him for a psychiatric evaluation.

"The hearing took place, and I was taken straight off to the asylum," said the businessman and human rights activist. By the time he was released nine days later, the election filing deadline had passed and he was out of the race.

Imendayev's act of insanity was filing a series of legal complaints against local officials, police, prosecutors and judges, alleging corruption, violation of court procedures and cronyism — charges that are far from rare in today's Russia. The prosecutor, a frequent target of Imendayev's darts, called his behavior "paranoia." [ . . . ]

"This has only just resurfaced in recent years, and for a time we couldn't even believe it was happening. But now it seems quite clear that such abuses are on the rise, and that this is a trend," said Yury Savenko, president of the Independent Psychiatric Assn., an advocacy group of professional psychiatrists that has pushed for mental health reforms in Russia.

The ranks of the "insane" over the last three years have included women divorcing powerful husbands, people locked in business disputes and citizens, like Imendayev, who have become a nuisance by filing numerous legal challenges against local politicians and judges or lodging appeals against government agencies to uphold their rights.

And there is so much more to it all.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Therapists Just Don't Get It!

It is always interesting to consider the ethical responsibilities of therapists for the larger world around us. Yes, folks need to deal with their personal problems. But there are other issues that put some personal issues into some sort of perspective.

With that, As seen on this blog

As you probably know from bitter experience, therapists get endless brochures advertising workshops, seminars, continuing education events, conferences on psychology and psychotherapy.

Almost all of them focus exclusively on the human-human relationship and nature is never mentioned.

Take the latest brochure I’ve received. It’s touting the upcoming Psychotherapy Networker conference on “The Creative Leap.” [...] The conference will offer everything from “Creativity Day” to the latest on ADHD, couples counseling etc. etc. plus words of wisdom from various gurus but only one workshop that acknowledges maybe our world and planet are in a BIG mess.

And nothing on the importance of healing the human-nature relationship before we extinguish ourselves and take that big creative leap into dodo-land!

Al Gore gets it. Even George W. Bush gets it (he admits we’re addicted to oil). But what about the experts in the dysfunction of the human psyche?

THEY STILL DON’T GET IT!! Talk about fiddling while Rome burns…

Anatomy of media hype

As seen here, by Chris Rangel.

When the media begin operating with a mob mentality it's easy to understand how this skews the public's perceptions of the reality of these stories.

Media swarms or clustering and over-reporting on stories is one side of the problem. On the other side is selective reporting that is a hugely practiced but little known phenomenon.

For example, in the late 80's and early 90's the media was swarming over reports that silicone breast implants were being linked to autoimmune diseases but when several epidemiological studies were published that found no links what-so-ever, hardly anyone in the media noticed.

But what about media hype contained within a specific article? Jack Shafer from Slate takes a look at the latest media swarm; the "epidemic" in methamphetamine abuse and picks apart the "reporting" by the Washington Post.

Apparently poor reporting tends to cherry pick from the statistics buffet, use broad terms that are open to interpretation like "epidemic" without being more specific, and avoids details and exact information.
"Health officials say 75 percent of patients in some clinics have abused the drug, a big increase from a few years ago"

Which health officials?
How many clinics?
What clinics?
An increase of how much?
How many years ago?

Best of all is the use of sources who at first glance should be "experts" on this topic but at best have only anecdotal data and at worst have a conflict of interest in saying something that contradicts the slant of the story!

The use of law enforcement personnel as sources for stories on drug abuse trends is about a useful as a sports announcer who informs us that the team that scores the most points is going to win. Have you ever met a police officer who actually knows national or regional crime rates (or a doctor who knows national shifts in HMO enrollment rates)?

And what department spokesperson is going to admit to a trend that would result in lower funding for their department?

Best of all is the habit of "reporters" in assuming that their "expert" sources are actually experts who get their ideas and opinions strictly from data, independent of previous media hype! All of this likely results in the following;
  1. Law enforcement official reads about the latest "epidemic" in drug abuse
  2. this article focuses his/her attention on relevant cases in the department
  3. reporter interviews official about these cases and asks opinion on trends
  4. official confirms that these cases are increasing without providing hard data or only partial statistics or anecdotal data
  5. reporter reports that official confirms that these cases are on the increase
  6. official reads this story that confirms the latest "epidemic" in drug abuse.

And so on and so forth.

Chicken or egg? Are they creating the news or just reporting it?

Is Drugging Grandma Forever better than Psychotherapy?

When the press trumpet, "Drugs trounce psychotherapy", it's probably wise to find out what the leader of the study says, instead of a headline hunting sub-editor. Apparently, there recent was a story promoting the drug angle over a talking therapy, and even this psych has issues with the news item:

Found vis the blog BoBo Hits Back

The headlines below demonstrate the profound limitations of getting reliable information from the news. Certainly if it involves any sort of complexity. The links to the four newspaper articles purport to give details of a study on the treatment of elderly people with depression, comparing prolonged drug treatments to a course of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT).

Drugs trounce psychotherapy for blocking depression's return: Gives it you straight and lightweight. It's pretty much worthless in telling you what when on, but conveys a strong and simplistic message.

Elderly with depression benefit from continuing drugs and psychotherapy: This is a better article, but still doesn't really give you a clear sense of what actually happened.

Drugs better for depression: This article mentioned that the psychotherapy treatment was for only 45 minutes, once a month. What sort of therapeutic relationship - the key to all forms of psychotherapy - can be built up which such a fractured
therapy experience. I doubt that I could maintain much therapeutic continuity if I only saw a therapist once a month, and I'm not over 70
(nor depressed).

Maintenance meds cut depression relapse: This articles was the best. It did at least mention the form of psychotherapy being compared - IPT (Interpersonal Therapy) see UK Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Though it didn't mention the monthly timescale.

But there's more: You might expect that if you stuff someone full of antidepressants every day, that they wouldn't get depressed again.
Yet - not really highlighted by any of the articles - 37% of patients who were continually being given anti-depressants over a two year period actually did have another depression. What's going on with that?


Of course, pushing pills is quick and easy. Being elderly and depressed: facing the breakdown of your bodies functions, facing the isolation that comes with burying your own friends and family, facing the end of your own life narrative and that it's too late to undo the past or live a new better life, facing the scrap-heap of old age in a youth obsessed culture, and facing death. They all seem like perfectly sound reasons for experiencing depression in old age. Thank goodness we have some pills to take the existential pain of it all away!

Sarcasm noted

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Collection of Articles on Disease Mongering in PLoS Medicine

The International Conference on Disease-Mongering was held in Newcastle New South Wales, Australia on April 11th to 13th 2006. Highlights included a 'mockumentary' on 'motivational deficiency disorder', which was highly entertaining and very funny.

A large number of the papers presented at the conference are now freely available online, thanks to the online journal PLoS Medicine. PLoS Medicine is an open-access journal published by the nonprofit organization Public Library of Science.

You can even download the entire collection as a PDF.

Conferance DVDs will be available shortly, including one with the entire mockumentary.

Psych Professor in drug study fraud claim, potential charges of unethical studies in the wings

As reported in the Guardian, with a lot more information

A professor who taught at one of Britain's most prestigious medical institutes while appearing regularly as an expert on the BBC online, has been accused of being a fraud and has a warrant out for his arrest. Tonmoy Sharma, who was a senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, is accused of deceiving the NHS and some of the world's largest drug firms, and lying about his academic credentials.

Sharma, who denies all the claims, is being accused by the pharmaceutical companies' trade body of taking part in wide-ranging research fraud involving tests of powerful drugs on schizophrenic patients.

He says the firms have targeted him as 'a scapegoat' to cover their own failures and protect people in the industry. He also believes he is the victim of academic rivals jealous of his success.

The high-profile dispute is to come before the General Medical Council (GMC) in September. It will be embarrassing for the medical and academic establishments and raise questions about how UK drug trials are conducted.

At one stage Sharma was offered the chair of psychiatry at University College London, and over a period of years from 1996 he was paid hundreds of thousands of pounds by drugs giants such as Novartis and Sanofi to conduct trials of anti-psychotic drugs on patients with schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease.

The firms belong to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), which will ask the GMC to find him guilty of professional misconduct. The association is expected to allege that he failed to obtain proper approval from ethical committees to conduct a number of major studies. These approvals are a vital component in any trial to protect the patients taking part.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Therapist closes Atascadero practice amid sex allegation

[We just came across this story, but it is worth posting all the same]

Michael Cooksey, charged with sexually exploiting a female patient, ‘took advantage of her emotional state,’ says deputy district attorney.

An Atascadero family therapist arrested last week and charged with sexually exploiting a female former patient has closed down his practice and faces arraignment April 28, authorities said Monday.

Michael Cooksey was arrested Friday afternoon by Atascadero police and posted $5,000 bail later that day.

Investigator Frank Root of the state Department of Consumer Affairs said the woman, 46, sought out Cooksey as a therapist in September 2003 after enduring an abusive marriage for years. After three months, Cooksey told her he could no longer be her therapist, Root said.

The following month they began an affair, Root said, which lasted a year. She filed a complaint against Cooksey in September 2005.

Root says that under state guidelines, therapists cannot get intimately involved with their clients until at least two years after they last saw them professionally. Therapists taking advantage of their patients is "something we don’t see that much of," he said. But, he added, it is a "predator-type activity."

Cooksey could not be reached. No one answered the phone at the number listed for his professional office on El Camino Real. His criminal attorney, Jeffrey Stein, said he needs more time to look into the case before commenting.

Mark Connely, an attorney representing Cooksey before the state board, said the therapist has turned in his license.

Paul Riches, executive officer of the state Board of Behavioral Sciences, said he could not comment on the Cooksey case. But he said his board investigates 10 to 15 cases a year involving inappropriate behavior between therapists and patients. Most of those involve alleged sexual misconduct, ranging from inappropriate touching to sexual interaction. If a therapist is convicted of sexual contact, the department will revoke his or her license, Riches said.

County Deputy District Attorney Jerret Gran said Cooksey violated a provision of the state business and professions code.

"He took advantage of her emotional state," he said.

While one case of sexual exploitation is a misdemeanor, two or more is a felony, said Root, the state investigator.

Eduardo Bernabe Ordaz, a psych turned torturer, dead in Cuba.

As reported on Medicina Cubana

Dr. Ordaz was a close friend and collaborator of Fidel Castro and was named by him director for life of Cuba's psychiatric hospital known as Mazorra.

Many Cuban dissidents were sent to Mazorra to be tortured and several of them received electroshocks while lying on bare floors that were wet from their own urine. Dr. Armando M. Lago and Charles J. Brown wrote a book in 1991 titled "The politics of psychiatry in revolutionary Cuba" describing many of the abuses that occurred at Mazorra while Ordaz was Director.
"In the former Soviet Union, with a population of three hundred million, there were 300 well documented cases of psychiatric abuse against political dissidents (1 per million). However, Cuba's eleven million inhabitants, with 371 cases is a shocking contrast (1 per 30,000)," said Dr. Lagos, one of the authors of the book.

One of those torturers who used to work at Mazorra, Eriberto Mederos, later came to Miami in 1984 and became a US citizen in 1993. Mederos was identified by one of his victims while working as a nurse at a local hospital and was arrested, brought to trial and convicted of crimes against humanity.

Among those who testified against Mederos was Belkis Ferro, who was only 15 years old when he tortured her with electroshock treatments and insulin shots. Belkis was deemed a “rebellious teenager” an was punished for denouncing Castro’s oppressive regime at school.

Ex-Lake Alice Psych boss in Australian sex inquiry

As reported in the Manawatu Standard of New Zealand, and elsewhere.

Lake Alice's former head psychiatrist, who's facing charges in Australia on the use of electric-shock treatment and pain-inducing injections on children at the hospital, has also been accused of sexual misconduct by a Melbourne patient.

Selwyn Leeks, who was in charge of Lake Alice's child and adolescent unit between 1972 and 1977, is being investigated by the Victorian Medical Practioners' Board over what happened in New Zealand.

The adolescent unit closed in 1978.

In 2001, Prime Minister Helen Clark apologised to 100 former patients for their treatment at Lake Alice, including the use of electric-shock treatment and pain-inducing injections. The government paid $10.7 million in compensation.

Since leaving Lake Alice, Dr Leeks has been practising in Australia and Canada.

He has been under investigation by the Victorian Medical Practioners' Board since July 2003.

The board has yet to set a date for a hearing, but it is understood a preliminary hearing was held this week.

Board spokeswoman Nicole Newton verified the investigation and told the Manawatu Standard no formal hearing date has been set, but proceedings may begin this year.

"I certainly hope so."

Melbourne journalist Bill Birnbauer, of The Age and The Sunday Age, has been following the case for five years.

He said the other charges have been laid by a female former patient and relate to when Dr Leeks treated her for anxiety in 1979 and 1980.

He said the board is also reviewing another 50 former patients' complaints of misconduct against Dr Leeks.

Mr Birnbauer said the practitioners' board is taking a considerable time to investigate the matter and set a hearing for both the Lake Alice claims and the other complaints.

"But at least it's doing something. The New Zealand medical authorities chose not to."

In a story in The Sunday Age, he said the woman bringing the complaint told the paper Dr Leeks told her he was hounded by authorities in New Zealand.

"He said the children he had treated were feral and psychotic and were future murderers and thieves. Society would realise one day that he was ahead of his time," the paper reported her as saying.

The investigation before the practitioners' board is being conducted by Melbourne law firm Minter Ellison, but it referred inquiries by the Manawatu Standard back to the board.

A criminal inquiry by the New Zealand police into what went on at Lake Alice is ongoing.

Psychologist surrenders licenses

As reported in the Traverse City Record Eagle of Traverse City, Minnesota

A Traverse City psychologist surrendered his practice licenses after pleading no contest to allegations he had a decade-long sexual relationship with a patient as he treated her.

Dr. David Halsted was ordered to surrender his psychologist and a marriage therapist licenses in March, following an administrative complaint that alleged he had sex with a Kingsley woman who became his patient in 1990.

State assistant attorney general Paul Jones filed complaints last October against Halsted with the state boards of psychology and marriage-and-family therapy (MTS) on behalf of the state Department of Community Health.

The woman filed a civil suit last year against Halsted, his wife, Judith Halsted, and her counseling business, Halsted Academic Advisors, seeking damages for alleged "negligent professional psychotherapeutic care" provided by David Halsted.

The license complaints alleged Halsted started the sexual relationship although he "knew" the woman was "psychologically fragile," to the point of being suicidal. The relationship apparently ended in September 2003.

In a March 17 memo signed by Jones, both boards ordered Halsted's licenses — both of which had lapsed — to be surrendered and Halsted "permanently" banned from practicing as a psychologist or a therapist.

Halsted could not be reached for comment. He did not contest the allegations, according to state documents.

The civil lawsuit alleged that the sexual relationship went on for 10 years and was dismissed by 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers after the plaintiff's counsel failed to appear for a March 22 hearing.

Attorney Linda Atkinson, who represents the woman, would not comment on the status of the lawsuit or whether it would be refiled.

See also these related stories:

Friday, May 26, 2006

Justifying Electroshock

I came across this special quote:

"Thus a patient who chose to undergo some mild brain damage, which would result in mild persistent memory deficits, in order to escape from severe psychic pain that could not be relieved in any other way would not be making an inherently irrational decision."

(‘ECT and Special Problems of Informed Consent,’ Culver, Ferrell & Green,
American Journal of Psychiatry, 137: 1980)

ECT - the therapy of releiving pain through Brain damage

ADHD drugs send thousands to the ER

As reported on MSNBC

Accidental overdoses and side effects from attention deficit drugs likely send thousands of children and adults to emergency rooms, according to the first national estimates of the problem.

Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated problems with the stimulant drugs drive nearly 3,100 people to ERs each year. Nearly two-thirds — overdoses and accidental use — could be prevented by parents locking the pills away, the researchers say.

Other patients had side effects, including potential cardiac problems such as chest pain, stroke, high blood pressure and fast heart rate.

Concerns over those effects have led some doctors to urge the Food and Drug Administration to require a "black box," its most serious warning, on package inserts for drugs such as Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall. Yet even doctors advising the FDA don't agree on whether that's warranted.

The issue was discussed in a series of letters in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, including some from doctors worried about the dangers of not treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"The numbers (of side effects) are puny compared to the numbers of stimulant prescriptions per year," said Dr. Tolga Taneli, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark. "I'm not alarmed."

An estimated 3.3 million Americans who are 19 or younger and nearly 1.5 million ages 20 and older are taking ADHD medicines. Ritalin is made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. of East Hanover, N.J.; Concerta by Johnson & Johnson of New Brunswick, N.J., and Adderall by Shire US Inc. of Newport, Ky.

Twenty-five deaths linked to ADHD drugs, 19 involving children, were reported to FDA from 1999 through 2003. Fifty-four other cases of serious heart problems, including heart attacks and strokes, were also reported. Some of the patients had prior heart problems.

Still, there hasn't been a clear estimate of the scope of side effects. The CDC report, while not a rigorous scientific study, attempts to provide that by using a new hospital surveillance network.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Another psychiatrist sentenced in drug and fraud case

As reported in the Charlotte Observer

Former Charlotte psychiatrist Warren H. Williams was sentenced this week to a year and a day in federal prison after pleading guilty to health care fraud and illegal distribution of a controlled substance without a medical purpose.

U.S. District Judge Robert Conrad Jr. ordered Williams to be placed in a substance abuse program and to surrender his license to practice medicine and dispense medicines, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

He will not be allowed to reapply for his medical license until after completion of three years of supervised release after prison.

Williams was also ordered to pay restitution of $59,885.64 to insurance companies that were victims of his fraud and was barred from being a Medicare or Medicaid provider, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Williams, 55, pleaded guilty to the charges in July and remains free on bond. He'll report to prison once the Bureau of Prisons designates the location.

According to the indictment, Williams billed insurance companies for patient visits that did not occur, billed for higher levels of services than he provided and illegally distributed the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam.

Williams began practicing in Charlotte in 1994. He surrendered his N.C. medical license in October 2004.

He got off lighter than the first guy.

Psychiatrist gets 3½-year term in drug and fraud case

As reported in the Virginia Pilot

A former Virginia Beach psychiatrist was sentenced Wednesday to 3½ years in federal prison for unlawfully distributing prescription narcotics and improperly billing Medicaid.

Jeremy A. Stowell, 64, had pleaded guilty to illegally prescribing OxyContin, methadone and vicoprofen and to charging Medicaid, including for some patient visits that never occurred.

District Judge Raymond A. Jackson ordered Stowell to pay a $20,000 fine and $32,929 restitution to the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services. The judge also barred Stowell from employment in any medical profession.

“The court would probably consider you a blue-chip drug dealer,” Jackson said. “No sound physician would do what you did.”

In April 2004, Stowell distributed 10 tablets of vicoprofen to a person “not having legitimate medical need,” according to court papers, and in January 2005, the physician prescribed 60 OxyContin tablets and 150 methadone tablets for a patient who was purportedly out of state rather than at an appointment. That patient was an undercover officer.

In the health care fraud charge, Stowell billed Medicaid for an appointment that a patient already had paid for, appointments the patient did not attend and appointments in which the patient sent someone else on their behalf. In those cases, too, the patient was an undercover officer.

Stowell also charged Medicaid after he was barred from participating in federal health care programs after a mail fraud conviction in 1994.

Stowell, who acquired a Virginia medical license in 1970, surrendered it last summer at the behest of the state Board of Medicine.

According to reports from the board, Stowell had prescribed drugs to patients with histories of narcotics abuse without properly monitoring them and to patients who he knew were sharing the drugs with others. In some cases, he didn’t document the reason the drugs were needed, according to the report.

After the hearing, Stowell’s attorney, Franklin A. Swartz, said his client was relieved. “He wants to get his sentence over with and get on with his life.”

Political Diagnosis by Conservative Psych labels Liberal Al Gore Insane

While I try to maintain a politically nuetral stance, I am sometime reminded of the old soviet practice of labelling critics of the State as crazy. With that, we get this column by Henry I. Miller, a physician and fellow at the Hoover Institution, as seen in the Investor's Business Daily:

I don't know of a prominent politician less suited psychologically than Mr. Gore to be the leader of the free world. [...] Mr. Gore is disturbed, and on the basis of his actions and writings over many years my guess is that he suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is not treatable with medications.

The criteria for this diagnosis, as described in the psychiatrist's bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, include a "pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts," as indicated by the following:

He goes for quite a bit, and in an interesting fashion, seems to display precisely the conditions and symptoms that he is diagnosising Mr. Gore with.

It is up to your own sense of politics to determine for yourself if this is a case of the Pot calling the Kettle Black. I know many Americans who would think that other famous politicians would be better candidates for this diagnosis.

In any case, this political diagnosis of insanity is quite dangerous.

A slightly abridged version of the column is seen here on the National Review Online

Psychiatric drugs fare favorably when companies pay for studies

As Reported in USA Today

Drug companies fund a growing number of the studies in leading psychiatric journals, and drugs fare much better in these company-funded studies than in trials done independently or by competitors, researchers reported Wednesday.

About 57% of published studies were paid for by drug companies in 2002, compared with 25% in 1992, says psychiatrist Igor Galynker of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

His team looked at clinical research in four influential journals: American Journal of Psychiatry, Archives of General Psychiatry, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

In the report, released at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Toronto, reviewers did not know who paid for the studies they evaluated, Galynker says. There were favorable outcomes for a medication in about:

• Eight out of 10 studies paid for by the company that makes the drug.

• Five out of 10 studies done with no industry support.

• Three out of 10 studies done by competitors of the firm making the drug.

Is anybody surprised? Really?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Psychiatric Labels Plague Women’s Mental Health

May is mental-health awareness month, but sadly, much of the publicity and public “education” connected with it consists of trying to persuade people they are mentally ill and need medication and psychotherapy. What is little known but frightening is the damage often done to many women simply by giving them psychiatric diagnoses. [...]

Because they received psychiatric diagnoses, women have lost health insurance or had skyrocketing premiums, lost jobs, lost the right to make decisions about their medical and legal affairs and lost, or nearly lost, their lives. Last month, a woman on the West Coast went to court after losing child custody on the basis of having been psychiatrically labeled. [...]

It should not be surprising, then, that the psychiatric field is riddled with diagnoses that are used to demean and pathologize women.

Read the full OpEd piece on Women's News here

Seen via

Psychotherapy for Infants

From My Button Down Mind

Now researchers have concluded that there could be long-term benefits of providing psychotherapy to patients in infancy. (Yeah, the long-term benefits could include a country club estate and a sports car in the psychiatrist's future.......wink, wink).

Here's a link to the entire article on MSN's website. Meanwhile, I'm including some "choice" quotes from the article.

"With a growing amount of research focusing on early brain development, more youngsters — even infants — are being targeted to receive the services of mental-health professionals."

"Psychological research on this age group is a hot topic at major universities, and last year the American Academy of Pediatrics launched a task force with at least part of its purpose to push more infant/toddler mental health intervention."

"This may cause some readers to roll their eyes — especially those who believe Americans have a tendency to pathologize and treat the slightest blip of a bad mood. "
I confess....I'm one of those "eye-rolling American readers."

It's another attempt to expand the market.

Please give extra special attention to this MSNBC site on Children and Learning

Psychiatry's Human Rights Violations


In the Name of Mental Health - Psychiatry's Human Rights Violations

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is holding its Annual Meeting this year in Toronto on May 20-25. On May 26-27, a "Conference on Ethics in Mental Health:" endorsed by the APA, is also being held Toronto. Since psychiatric survivors have not been invited to speak at these conferences--with 1 exception of an unnamed "client" at the mental health conference--we feel it's appropriate to distribute this document as our contribution to public education about many human rights violations in the psychiatry-dominated "mental health system", This is a short list of many of psychiatry's unethical practices or human rights violations minimized or denied by the APA and the Canadian Psychiatric Association.


The right to voluntary informed consent is enshrined in virtually all mental health laws, it's a key principle of medical ethics. This right means that when prescribing any treatment or procedure, the physician must, a., not use any pressure, threat or coercion to obtain consent; b., tell you the nature of your condition or illness; c., inform you of the immediate risks and other common risks of the treatment ("side effects"); d., inform you of alternatives to the treatment; and e., inform you of your right to refuse. Psychiatrists frequently violate this right - especially when prescribing psychiatric drugs ("medication") and electroshock ("ECT").


Psychiatrists frequently administer brain-disabling antidepressants and neuroleptics and addictive tranquilizers ("medication") without informed consent of their patients. This is unlawful. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, "unwanted touching" is an assault. Forced drugging is assault. Many psychiatric survivors have been traumatized and disabled (sometimes permanently) by forced drugging (e.g. injections). Many more women than men are drugged; women diagnosed as depressed, "bipolar" or suffering "postpartum depression" are the main targets of this psychiatric assault.

3. ELECTROSHOCK ( "electroconvulsive therapy"/ECT")

As one of the most disabling and inhumane procedures in psychiatry, electroshock is increasingly used in several countries including Canada, United States, and the UK. ECT's immediate effects include seizure, convulsion, coma, severe headache, disorientation, nausea, and physical weakness. Its long-term effects include permanent memory loss, learning and reading disabilities, impaired concentration, and brain damage. "ECT" consent forms are a sham, since patients are misinformed or not informed of most of these serious health risks. Women and the elderly, especially elderly women, are the main targets. Anti-shock campaigns advocating abolition are growing in the United States (Texas, California), the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. "ECT" should be banned


Involuntary committal is the psychiatric imprisonment of people labeled and believed to be "mentally ill", dangerous to themselves or others, and/or "incapable". Locking up citizens on the belief or opinion they might commit a violent act or criminal offence - without being charged and denied a trial - is preventive detention, which is prohibited in international law. Many involuntary patients are poor or homeless, with little or no community support. Although involuntary committal violates several rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (sections 7, 9,15), it is legal in all provinces, all states in the United States and many European countries.


Under these "leash laws", psychiatrists have the power to force psychiatric patients to be treated in the community - the treatment is usually powerful, brain-damaging antidepressants and/or neuroleptics. If patients refuse to obey community treatment orders (CTOs) or "take their meds" (sometimes ordered by judges in the United States), they can be locked up again for longer periods or indefinitely. These psychiatric orders are enforced by community treatment teams of mental health professionals. In Ontario, patient appeals are rarely successful; CTOs may soon be challenged as Charter violations.


Child psychiatrists frequently prescribe health-threatening antidepressants and neuroleptics to young children (some as young as 2 or 3 years old) as a treatment for "behavior disorder" or "mental illness". Some researchers have used children as guinea pigs in hi-risk drug experiments. In Canada and the United States, hundreds of thousands of children have been fraudulently diagnosed with the label attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and prescribed highly addictive stimulants like Ritalin. The United States government's national "teen screening" program targets and tests youth suspected of being "mentally ill". A similar program is recommended in the current mental health report of the Canadian Senate ("Out of the Shadows - Highlights and Recommendations", 2006, p.19)


Adults and children labeled "non-compliant" or "unmanageable" are frequently subjected to 2-point, 4-point and sometimes 5-point restraints ordered by psychiatrists. Hundreds of patients have been seriously traumatized or died while restrained (see "Deadly Restraint" series in The Hartford Courant). Many have also languished in "seclusion", a form of solitary confinement. "Seclusion rooms" exist on virtually all psychiatric wards and hospitals. Patients experience restraints and seclusion as cruel and degrading punishment or torture. Physically and chemically restraining children is child abuse - a serious violation of the UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In April 2005, the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA), sponsored four days of public hearings on the effects of psychiatric drugs and electroshock Approximately 40 psychiatric survivors courageously testified about many of these rights abuses and violations they personally experienced. (see "Inquiry Into Psychiatry": -

We demand that governments immediately call public hearings into these psychiatric abuses - human rights violations the American Psychiatric Association and Canadian Psychiatric Association minimize or deny - in the name of "mental health".

You May Already Have a Mental Disorder

As Reported here

As many of you may have read in your "news"papers, apparently there is concern that many of our new vets are susceptible to mental disorders. (Note: Entirely possible, and a valid concern, and something we should look out for.)

Now, the solution for this is...

(a) Mental Health Screenings at all bases
(b) Mental Health Screening via website

Yes, all of us can now go to the
You May Already Have a Mental Disorder Website
and see what we qualify for.

One person has already tried several of the screenings, and found she qualifies for all she's tried, including alcoholism. Amazing, I never knew she was such a lush since she doesn't drink.

Nice to see the profit motive hard at work.

We encourage everyone to take the tests, and see how many diseases you qualify for. Take the Tests with your industrial size ten ton grain of Salt.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Problems with Modern Psychiatry

As seen here

Whenever the specific, biological basis of a formerly psychiatric disorder is fully understood, the disorder tends to leave the realm of psychiatry and become the province of neurologists, or possibly some other kind of doctor such as an infectious disease specialist. I mentioned recently that tertiary syphillis used to be conflated with schizophrenia. Now that we know it is an infectious disease, it is no longer considered a psychiatric disorder. Similarly, the dementias associated with aging used to be considered "insanity," but today people with Alzheimer's Disease and vascular dementia see neurologists, not psychiatrists. (The neurologists can't do anything for them either, but we still pay for visits.)

Psychiatrists want to be credible within the medical profession. In the past, there was little or no demand that psychiatric treatments be proven efficacious by the methods used for medical treatments. For that matter, medical treatments didn't have to be shown to be effective either, but psychiatry came to the evidence-based game comparatively late.

The theories used by psychiatrists were firmly held and passionately defended, but they were largely speculative and often quite fungible and vague. Psychiatrists used to be convinced that schizophrenia was caused by suppressed conflicts and desires, and that autism was caused by emotionally distant mothers. Now they give drugs for schizophrenia and autism has been handed to the neurologists.

Oh yes, drugs. Although psychiatric disorders, almost by definition, are of unknown etiology, in order to be considered "scientific" psychiatry needs randomized controlled trials. It's a lot easier to do one for a drug than it is for talk therapy.

For one thing, drugs are perfectly standardized -- a specific dose of a specific chemical. Counseling is very difficult to package as a standard product in a standard dose.

For another, although psychiatrists nowadays like to talk about "rewiring neural circuits" by talking to people, they don't really have any way of proving that they have done so.


So it seems that psychistrists are the folks who treat people when doctors do not know what the medical condition is that causes their 'condition'. Not very encouraging, is it?

UMass Boston Study Reveals Financial Links Between Mental Health Guide Advisors and Pharmaceutical Companies

From the University of Massachusett Press Release

Experts on mental disorders who serve on a leading medical manual’s advisory panel have undisclosed financial ties to drug companies, according to a new study written by a team of UMass Boston and Tufts University professors and graduate students.

Lisa Cosgrove of UMass Boston’s Department of Counseling and School Psychology in the Graduate College of Education, Tufts University Professor Sheldon Krimsky, and UMass Boston graduate students Manisha Vijayaraghavan and Lisa Schneider authored the study, which was published April 21 [2006] in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, a leading medical journal in Europe.

A number of UMass Boston students participated in this first-of-its-kind study, according to Cosgrove. Over a year and a half, the team researched the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) panel members and their financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

Before this study, no one had looked at the financial ties between the DSM panel members and the drug companies, according to Cosgrove.

But wait, there's more:
The study examined 170 DSM panel members and revealed some startling results. According to the findings, all of the members for panels on mood disorders, schizophrenia, and other psychotic disorders have financial ties to drug companies. Most drugs are prescribed for these two categories of mental illness, the study states.

According to the study, of the 170 panel members, 56 percent had one or more financial ties to companies in the pharmaceutical industry

In 2004, antidepressants and antipsychotics were the fourth- and fifth-leading class of drugs, generating a total of over $34 billion in sales worldwide, according to the findings.

“Nowhere in the DSM is there a conflict-of-interest policy,” Cosgrove said. One hundred percent of the panel experts on mood disorders and schizophrenia had financial ties to drug companies, she said. “It’s so outrageous,” she said of the findings.

“Probably what the general public isn’t aware of is in order for drug to be approved by the FDA, there must be a disorder for it to be approved,” Cosgrove said.

A marketing of disorders and psychiatric disorders exists because the drug companies have a vested interest in them, she said.

To quote a pair of famous lines from a movie:

"I am shocked that there is gambling going on in this establishment."
"Here are your winnings, Inspector"

Monday, May 22, 2006

Discovering a 'poverty gene'

Scottish scientists have discovered a "poverty gene" which causes people from deprived areas to age rapidly, pass on health problems to the next generation and might even explain negative attitudes to employment. Research in Glasgow has established that deprivation can lead to an overactive immune system which quickly uses up the body's supply of spare cells needed to keep ageing at bay. It means a typical 55-year-old from the city's East End might have a "biological age" closer to 70.

Most astonishing of all, it is suspected that a hyperactive immune system floods the brain with a cocktail of chemicals which suppress the natural desire for self-advancement.

Of course, the idea that a depressing enviroment could have a depressing effect on a depressed and repressed population seems to have escaped their "minds", such as they are.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A man went to a psychiatrist and said

A man went to a psychiatrist and said,

"Doc, "I've got trouble. Every time I get into bed I think there is somebody under it. Every time I get under the bed; I think there's somebody on top of it. I think I'm going crazy!"

"Just put yourself in my hands for two years," said the psychiatrist.

"Come to me three times a week and I'll cure you."

"How much do you charge?"

"A hundred dollars per visit."

"I'll think about it."

The man never went back. Some time later he met the doctor on the street.

"Why didn't you ever come to see me again? asked the psychiatrist.

"For a hundred dollars a visit? A bartender cured me for 10 bucks."

"Is that so! How did he do that?"

"He told me to cut the legs off the bed."

Courtesy of Flash 8 Bug

Friday, May 19, 2006

Love Sick

From the halls of the Kangaroo Court weblog

Dr. Frank Tallis, a practicing clinical psychologist in Britain, wants us to take the mentaphor of "love sickness" seriously. He wants it to be considered a mental illness and the people suffering from this terrible malady to be "treated" for their sickness.

Psychiatry is a creation of the modern era, as the practice of mad doctoring is only a few hundred years old. But this fact never stops believers in the psychiatric religion like Tallis from claiming that their beliefs were also held by the ancients. Yes, the ancient Greeks believed that love is a mental illness and they aggressively diagnosed and treated it. To check Tallis' argument out, all you have to do is take in some ancient Greek literature, like the Illiad. There you'll read about characters in love, like Paris, who are quickly carted off by the men in white coats and taken to the local psychiatric hospital once their illness has been discovered.


Tallis wants all romantic love to be classified as a mental illness so that the last obstacle in the way of his crusade to save people from the plague of love sickness can be removed. Tallis understands that if the people he sees as mentally ill continue to be seen as normal, then his crusade to agressively diagnose and treat them with government sponsored psychiatric violence won't get anywhere. This raises "substantial ethical issues" for Tallis.

Of course, maybe Tallis is suffering from some malady himself. Maybe he wasn't loved enough when he was a child. Maybe he only needs enough electro shock to feel loved. Who knows?

Zyprexa and Quack Psychiatry

Excellent article by Rick Davis. We hope to see more by him.

Since its approval, Zyprexa has been exposed as responsible for a high incidence of stroke, diabetes, endocrine, cardiac problems and movement disorders. And yet, the drug has been routinely prescribed to adults of all ages and to children, despite the fact that the FDA has not approved Zyprexa for pediatric use.

In the July 2002 issue of Pharmacotherapy, P Murali Doraiswamy, the chief of biological psychiatry at Duke University, published a review of adverse events reported to the FDA by Zyprexa patients that found 289 cases of diabetes, 100 patients with ketosis (a serious complication of diabetes), and 22 cases of pancreatitis, a life-threatening condition. The review documented 23 deaths, including a 15-year-old adolescent who died of necrotizing pancreatitis.


Sales of Zyprexa, dwindled in the last quarter of 2005, as news of the drug's lethal side effects made headlines. In June 2005, word got out that Lilly had agreed to pay $690 million to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of about 8,000 Zyprexa patients who alleged they had not been warned of the drug's increased risk of diabetes.


In every state, Zyprexa represents a big line-item expense to Medicaid at a time when most states are facing a budget crisis. US sales of all antipsychotics doubled between 2001 and 2004, largely because of purchases by Medicaid. On September 29, 2005, Bloomberg News reported that Medicaid programs may reduce the $5.5 billion it spends annually on schizophrenia drugs for the poor after a study found a cheaper generic about as effective as nongenerics, including Zyprexa. "The 40-year-old drug perphenazine costs less than $1.50 a day," Bloomberg wrote, "while the newer medicines can cost 10 times as much."


The state of Georgia has removed Zyprexa from its preferred drug list and any Georgia doctor who wants to start a Medicaid patient on Zyprexa, must now submit a clinical rationale stating why it's the only drug appropriate for the patient, according to the November 28, 2005 Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ). Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Louisiana also require doctors to obtain prior authorization before prescribing Zyprexa, according to the November 2005 Indianapolis Business Journal. Georgia spokeswoman Julie Kerlin told IBJ that removing Zyprexa from the list in 2004 has saved the state nearly $7 million, which means Lilly lost $7 million in one state alone.

FDA Committees Examine Concerns About Psychiatric Drugs Used by Children

The Psychiatric Times takes a look at the continued FDA investigation of Psych drugs used on children. Of course they put up a brave face regarding the possible effectiveness of the treatments.

But on the other hand, they admit that they do not know what they are doing without realizing it. Thomas Laughren, MD, director, division of psychiatry products at the FDA says it is more difficult to conduct reliable clinical trials with antidepressants:

"That is because we don't understand most psychiatric disorders at a biological level," he explained. "All we have is the phenomenology of the disease. It is not like some types of heart disease or cancer where you understand the disease at the pathological level and have a better chance of distinguishing between different subgroups of patients who might respond differently to one drug or another."

The problematic nature of the trials is also discussed, although it sounds like they are definitely getting nervous. Maybe they should take a pill. They certainly have enough of them.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Convicted French psychiatrist asks Russia for political asylum

Only at the hands of a professional....

Remember psychotherapist = Psycho The Rapist

MOSCOW,(RIA Novosti) - A senior European psychiatrist arrested in Moscow by the Interpol on sexual abuse charges has asked for political asylum in Russia, his attorney said Friday.

In May 2005, a French court sentenced Dr. Jean Andres Hoareau, a specialist in forensic psychiatry and sexual disorders and deputy chairman of the Association of European Psychiatrists, to 15 years in jail for raping a client while she was under hypnosis. The verdict was passed in Hoareau's absence.

"My client has been detained by the international department of Interpol, which acted on the decision of French justice," Igor Trunov said, adding that Hoareau was being kept in a detention center for foreigners.

Trunov said the detention of his client in Moscow was a "political decision."

He said Hoareau, also the founder of the European Center for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in Moscow, had been living in the Russian capital for 15 years. He also said his client was married with three children.

"We are going to appeal the detention decision, most likely with the Moscow City Court," Trunov said.

Now the Russians have him under house arrest and are thinking about what to do with him.

New psycho-diagnostic manual no better than the old

Summarrized from here

A coalition from various psychodynamic associations has produced a new diagnostic manual as an alternative to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the main one currently used by psychiatrists and therapists to give patients a code number for purposes of treatment, research, and prognosis — but mostly health insurance reimbursement.

The new group's manual is the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM), which allegedly “attempts to characterize the whole person — the depth as well as the surface of emotional, cognitive, and social functioning.”

The PDM editors also claim to “require a fuller description of the patient's internal life to do justice to understanding his or her distinctive experience.”

Yeah, well, okay. Beautiful thought. But how it actually executed?

Actually, it seems to be more of the same old thing, with slightly shinier packaging, and an overly complex design philosophy.

How To File A Health Information Privacy Complaint With The Office For Civil Rights

"Hello Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights? I'd like to report a violation of confidentiality. Sure, I'll hold."

Yes, You can utter these words, and here's the instruction sheet

If you believe that a person, agency or organization covered under the HIPAA Privacy Rule ("a covered entity") violated your (or someone else's ) health information privacy rights or committed another violation of the Privacy Rule, you may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR has authority to receive and investigate complaints against covered entities related to the Privacy Rule. A covered entity is a health plan, health care clearinghouse, and any health care provider who conducts certain health care transactions electronically. For more information about the Privacy Rule, please look at our responses to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and our Privacy Guidance. (See the web link near the bottom of this form.)

Complaints to the Office for Civil Rights must: (1) Be filed in writing, either on paper or electronically; (2) name the entity that is the subject of the complaint and describe the acts or omissions believed to be in violation of the applicable requirements of the Privacy Rule; and (3) be filed within 180 days of when you knew that the act or omission complained of occurred. OCR may extend the 180-day period if you can show "good cause." Any alleged violation must have occurred on or after April 14, 2003 (on or after April 14, 2004 for small health plans), for OCR to have authority to investigate.

Anyone can file written complaints with OCR by mail, fax, or email. If you need help filing a complaint or have a question about the complaint form, please call this OCR toll free number: 1-800-368-1019. OCR has ten regional offices, and each regional office covers certain states. You should send your complaint to the appropriate OCR Regional Office, based on the region where the alleged violation took place.

Tots Used as Human Guinea Pigs?

Courtesy of the ABC News Blog, via

ABC News has learned that a Massachusetts hospital is currently recruiting pre-schoolers to test the safety and effectiveness of a powerful antipsychotic drug called Quetiapine.

The study, conducted by the Department of Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital, is testing subjects from four to six years of age with Bipolar Disorder. An earlier Massachusetts General study of the antipsychotic drugs Risperidone and Olanzapine recruited children as young as three years old.

These antipsychotic drugs are only approved for use by adults and are so toxic they carry a "black box warning." The drugs have been found to cause diabetes; a life-threatening nervous system problem called Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome; low blood pressure; and have also led to higher death rates in the elderly. Despite these serious potential side-effects, a patient recruitment video obtained by ABC News contains no mention of any of these risks.

Vera Hassner Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection said, "Antipsychotics were never approved for use in children whose developing brains and central nervous system may be irreversibly harmed. We believe that physicians who subject children to the toxic effects of these drugs...are practicing outside medically accepted standards."

Bigger and Better: How Pfizer Redefined Erectile Dysfunction

In the pursuit of profits, pharmaceutical companies are continuously looking to expand the market for their products. Drug companies have identified lifestyle drugs as a “growth market.”

The problems that they are designed to treat are easily self-diagnosed—we can all see if we are bald or fat—and as the baby boomers age, the population looking to these drugs will continue to grow. Drug companies, driven by profit, go where the money is.

Because of the potential size of the market for Viagra, paying for it in unlimited quantities will be very expensive. Viagra may only be the tip of the iceberg.

This article examines how Pfizer transformed Viagra from an effective product for erectile dysfunction (ED) due to medical problems, such as diabetes and spinal cord damage, into a drug that “normal” men can use to enhance their ability to achieve an erection and to maintain it (in a “harder” state) for a longer period of time.

To make Viagra into a lifestyle drug, Pfizer needs to convince men that it is the first choice for therapy for any degree of ED, whatever the genesis of the problem. However, drug therapy may not always be the most appropriate treatment option.

The National Health and Social Life Survey data indicate that emotional and stress-related problems such as a deteriorating social and economic position generate elevated risk of experiencing sexual difficulties.

In these cases, Viagra may be less important than counseling or help in finding a new job. These possibilities are never mentioned on the Viagra Web site.

The initial television ads in the US for Viagra used an aging Bob Dole (born 1923) as a spokesman, a 1996 Republican presidential candidate. Since then, Pfizer has refocused its advertising campaign to match the lifestyle message on its Web site.

There is now advertising of Viagra at NASCAR races, and Pfizer hired 39-year-old Rafael Palmeiro, a former Texas Ranger baseball player as a spokesman. Pfizer teamed up with Sports Illustrated magazine to create the Sportsman of the Year Trivia Game.

Between 1999 and 2001, Pfizer spent over US$303 million in direct-to-consumer advertising to get its message about Viagra to men. Besides the large promotion budget, Pfizer has also paid a number of doctors to act as “consultants,” delivering public lectures and appearing in the mass media to expound on ED and Viagra

Pfizer denies that it is targeting younger men or that it is positioning Viagra as a lifestyle drug. Mariann Caprino, a spokeswoman for the company, is quoted in the New York Times as saying, “Have we gone out and given our advertising agency instructions to speak to this young population? No, we haven't” . But the message from the pictures on the Web site, in magazine ads, and from people like Rafael Palmiero is that everyone, whatever their age, at one time or another, can use a little enhancement; and any deviation from perfect erectile function means a diagnosis of ED and treatment with Viagra.

Increasingly, the age profile of men using Viagra reflects the younger audience that Pfizer denies it is targeting. Between 1998 and 2002 the group showing the largest increase in Viagra use was men between the ages of 18 and 45, and only one-third of these men had a possible etiologic reason for needing Viagra (i.e., actually based on a legitimate medical diagnosis)

Overdosed America

The conflict of interest inherent in corporate medicine has attracted its critics:

"American health care may not be the best at improving health most effectively and efficiently but it is certainly the best in the world at generating profits for the drug industry"

So says Doctor John Abramson on his OverDosed America Website. As described in his online biography.

After he had been practicing for about 10 years, Dr. Abramson started teaching Harvard Medical School students in his office. As his students became comfortable with the basics of primary care, he helped them to develop their skills in the "art" of medicine - understanding that the person-to-person connection they were making with their patients was not just a pleasant amenity but an integral part of good medical care. He also taught a course for several years at Harvard Medical School with Dr. Herbert Benson of the Mind/Body Medical Institute exploring the importance of the doctor-patient relationship in the healing process.

As the 1990s progressed, Dr. Abramson became aware that patient care was increasingly being compromised by the growing waste and commercialism in American medicine. By "researching the research," he found that the clinical studies presented in even the most respected medical journals were often biased by drug and medical device company sponsorship, and that the medical information available to even the most dedicated doctors often differed from what the scientific evidence really showed about the best way to take care of their patients.

In 2002, Dr. Abramson left practice to devote himself full-time to researching and writing Overdosed America, with the goal of helping patients and doctors to reclaim the basic mission of medicine, optimizing health most effectively and efficiently.

Now when you calculate the cost of this as applied to the field of Mental Health ...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Police investigate child psychiatrist

A lauded child psychiatrist, who settled a lawsuit last summer with a former patient claiming he was molested by the doctor as a teen, is currently the subject of a criminal investigation, San Mateo police confirmed.

A search warrant was served on the home and office of Dr. William Ayres on March 10, according to Capt. Mike Callagy. He declined to comment on the nature of the investigation, and said the affidavit in the case has been sealed.

While police would not discuss the circumstances of the case, four people say they were interviewed for the investigation last fall after coming forward with their own molestation allegations. None of those incidents can be criminally prosecuted because the statute of limitations in each has expired.

A former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Ayres, 74, for decades had patients referred to him through local school districts and the county's juvenile court system. He also maintained a private practice.

The police have seized his files. The investigation continues.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Saudi Psychiatrist Sexually Preys Upon Toddler in California

As Reported in AXcessNews
Via Psychiatric News

A 37-year-old Saudi psychiatrist made his initial appearance in federal court in Sacramento, California, on Friday to face charges that he traveled to Vallejo, California, on Thursday to sexually molest a two-and-a-half-year-old girl after exchanging numerous emails with an undercover agent posing as the toddler's father.

Nabil Al Rowais, who entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visa issued in Canada, was arrested Thursday night by agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as well as with the California Bureau of Investigation at a motel in Vallejo, California.

Rowais is charged with traveling in foreign commerce with the intent to have sex with a minor, a charge that carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of up to 30 years. Magistrate Judge Dale A. Drozd ordered Al Rowais held without bond pending his next court appearance May 12.

According to the affidavit filed in the case, an undercover agent posing as the father of a toddler daughter exchanged numerous emails with Al Rowais in which the suspect expressed a desire to travel to California to sexually molest the child. When the suspect, who claims to be a practicing psychiatrist, arrived at the Vallejo motel for the agreed upon meeting yesterday evening, he was taken into custody. The case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California.

The initial lead in this case came about as a result of an ICE investigation known as Operation Babynet, a probe targeting an El Dorado Hills man who ultimately pleaded guilty to molesting his infant daughter and distributing the images over the Internet.

After receiving the lead, ICE agents teamed with the California Bureau of Investigation, the Sacramento Sheriff's Department, and the Sacramento Police Department to investigate the allegations. The agencies are members of the Safe Streets Task Force, an ongoing initiative partnering federal, state, and local agencies to target violent street gangs and child sex predators.

"Whether a sexual predator is on the Internet exploiting our virtual borders or is an alien who has preyed on children, ICE is using all of its law enforcement authorities to identify them and bring them to justice," said Rick Eaton, assistant special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Sacramento. "We are working with our law enforcement partners to do everything possible to prevent the exploitation of children both here and abroad."

Al Rowais' arrest is part of Operation Predator, an ongoing ICE enforcement initiative to identify, investigate, arrest and, in the case of foreign nationals, deport child sex predators. Since the initiative began almost two years ago, ICE agents have arrested more than 7,800 individuals nationwide, including almost 2,000 here in California.

Read more about Operation Predator here

Friday, May 12, 2006

How a Massachusetts psychotherapist fell for an e-mail scam

In which a Massachusetts Psychotherapist falls for a Nigerian Email scam:

Every swindle is driven by a desire for easy money; it’s the one thing the swindler and the swindled have in common. Advance-fee fraud is an especially durable con. In an early variation, the Spanish Prisoner Letter, which dates to the sixteenth century, scammers wrote to English gentry and pleaded for help in freeing a fictitious wealthy countryman who was imprisoned in Spain. Today, the con usually relies on e-mail and is often called a 419 scheme, after the anti-fraud section of the criminal code in Nigeria, where it flourishes. [...] The scammers, who often operate in crime rings, are known as “yahoo-yahoo boys,” because they frequently use free Yahoo accounts. Many of them live in a suburb of Lagos called Festac Town. Last year, one scammer in Festac Town told the Associated Press, “Now I have three cars, I have two houses, and I’m not looking for a job anymore.”


In May, 2005, Worley went on trial in U.S. District Court in Boston on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and possession of counterfeit checks. Worley’s overseas correspondents, whose real identities he never knew, disappeared, and were never located or charged. With them went more than forty thousand dollars of Worley’s money and nearly six hundred thousand dollars from the checks. Including credit-card interest, money-wiring fees, long-distance telephone charges, and the tax lawyer’s bills, Worley’s losses may have been closer to eighty thousand dollars.

The prosecutor, an Assistant U.S. Attorney named Nadine Pellegrini, urged the jury to reject suggestions that Worley had simply been scammed. At best, she said, Worley “got in over his head.” Pellegrini portrayed Worley as the puppeteer, not the puppet, and said that he knowingly passed bad checks, in the belief that he was entering into a “mutually beneficial arrangement.” She focussed on Worley’s recognition at various points that he was dealing with liars, and said that he displayed “willful blindness” by ignoring the warning signs of their criminality and his own. Pellegrini said that Worley’s claims of innocence were undermined by consistent bad conduct—lying to his wife, borrowing from a patient, plotting to avoid taxes, posing as an aviation contractor, claiming to have cancer, and agreeing to bribe Nigerian bank officials. She was unsparing during her cross-examination. “So you don’t have any integrity either, do you, Dr. Worley?” she asked. He answered, “No, I don’t.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she told the jury, “it’s clear John Worley understands behavior of people and motivation of people, and he could and he can manipulate both behavior and reaction. . . . There is only one story here, and that’s the story of John Worley’s greed.”

All of which shows that the benefits of psychotherapy do not include increased intelligence or an improved sense of morality.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Denver Psychologist Arrested for Sexual Assault

As reported on CBS4 in Denver, as well in the Loveland Herald Reporter

A psychologist who had been on professional probation for alleged contact with a patient turned himself in Wednesday after being accused of having sex with developmentally disabled women under his care, authorities said.

Donald Ellsworth Fish, 66, faces three felony counts of unlawful sexual contact of an at-risk adult, and three misdemeanor counts of sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist, Fort Collins police spokeswoman Rita Davis said.

An investigation began Feb. 7 when two 43-year-old women told Loveland police that Fish sexually assaulted them during therapy sessions in their home, Davis said.

A 31-year-old woman made a similar complaint to the Larimer County sheriff's deputies on Feb. 23. Fort Collins police on March 3 received a report about a 57-year-old woman who reported inappropriate touching to the Colorado Department of Human Services.

The phone number for Fish's Fort Collins office had been disconnected and messages left by the Colordoan at his home phone Wednesday were not returned.

Fish was released from the jail after posting a $50,000 property bond. His next court date was not immediately available.

Fish has been a licensed psychologist in Colorado for nearly 30 years. According to records from the State Board of Psychologist Examiners, his license was on probation from July 1995 to April 1999 after a complaint was lodged against him alleging he engaged in sexual conduct with a patient.

Update: This report also has a picture

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kids On ADHD Drugs - Dangerous Path To Addiction

Article by Evelyn Pringle of the Sierra Times

Experts say the stimulant drugs prescribed for the treatment of ADHD are not only dangerous, they are highly addictive. And although no drug has been approved for the treatment of autism, drugs are routinely prescribed off-label to treat autistic children.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over the period of 5 years between 1997 and 2002, the number of children between the age of 3 to 17, diagnosed with ADHD went from 3.3 million to 4.4 million.

In direct correlation, the number of children prescribed ADHD drugs also rose steadily. In fact, spending on these types of medications for children is now higher than spending on antibiotics and asthma drugs. In February 2006, the FDA revealed that between 1999 and 2003, seventy-eight million prescriptions for ADHD drugs were written for children between the ages of 1 to 18. Terry Davis, a member of an FDA advisory committee, has said prescriptions for ADHD drugs filled annually have a value of $3.1 billion. [...]

More recent statistics show a 369% increase in spending on ADHD drugs for children under five. From 2000 to 2003, the rise in the use of attention deficit drugs by children under 5 contributed to an overall 23% increase for all children, according to an analysis by the nation's largest prescription benefit manager, Medco Health Solutions. [...]

A report by the FDA released in February 2006, said that between 1999 and 2003, there were 25 deaths in persons using ADHD drugs, including the deaths of 19 children. The FDA also reported receiving more than 50 cases of cardiovascular problems, including stoke, heart attack, hypertension, palpitations and arrhythmia.

An extended article, worth reading

Psychiatrist dumps evidence of sex attacks and child abuse

Former police surgeon Dr Kader was working as a forensic psychiatrist at Strangeways prison in Manchester, England, when he dumped hundreds of confidential statements from victims of sex attacks and child abuse by a public rubbish bin, according to testimony heard by a British medical tribunal.

As reported by the BBC, Dr Kader is accused of breaching his responsibility to the police, failing to secure patient and client confidentiality and failing to maintain the integrity and security of his notes. The documents included personal details of sex abuse victims, a full witness statement from a victim of child abuse and records of patient examinations. He admitted dumping the papers but said he had put them in the bin and denied his fitness to practise was impaired.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Husband sues marriage counsellor for having affair with his wife, then giving him bad advice so that the couple would divorce

As reported in the Chicago Sun-Times

A McHenry County man is suing his marriage counselor, contending the therapist he hired to help improve his marriage instead began an affair with his wife.

That relationship eventually prompted the couple to divorce, according to the breach-of-contract suit filed by 35-year-old Scott Buetow of Lake in the Hills.

His lawsuit seeks more than $200,000 in punitive damages from his former counselor, Dan Blair, and the Arbor Counseling Center where Blair works.

"He [Blair] had an obligation to provide services, and he willfully abused that for his own benefit," said attorney Hans Mast, who represents Buetow.

The lawsuit filed by Buetow in McHenry County also accuses Blair -- a state-licensed clinical professional counselor -- of fraud and professional malpractice.

Buetow and his wife began seeing the counselor in April 2004 to "strengthen and stabilize" their 10-year marriage, the suit contends.

While providing both joint counseling and individual therapy sessions to Buetow and his wife, Blair allegedly started a a romantic -- and secret -- relationship with Buetow's wife.

Despite the alleged relationship, Blair continued counseling Buetow and worked "to undermine the marriage to his benefit by tendering poor advice," the suit contends.

Buetow filed the suit because he believes "he got a raw deal from the person he trusted and confided in," Mast said.

Buetow and his 36-year-old wife, who have four children, were granted a divorce earlier this year, Mast said.

Blair, who has been licensed as a counselor since 1998, didn't return phone calls seeking comment on the suit.

He hasn't been disciplined for any professional complaints since being licensed, according to records from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.


Is any body surprised?