Thursday, January 31, 2008

Psychiatrist secretly planned committing Spears to Hospital.

Britney Spears’ psychiatrist has been secretly planning to have the popwreck admitted to the psychiatric unit of UCLA Medical Center for quite some time, according to a Los Angeles Times report. The L.A Times reports that Britney’s admittance was actually a carefully planned event that had been orchestrated over time.

Authorities said the welfare hold was prompted by a telephone call they received from Spears' psychiatrist. It was unclear exactly when they had received the call, but it was apparent that the operation had been carefully planned over a period of time. Unlike the first welfare hold — in which Spears' ambulance was closely pursued by a throng of photographers — vehicles today were blocked from following the same route. The motorcade that whisked Spears to the hospital also showed a large investment in resources. The line of emergency vehicles stretched longer than a football field.
Spears earns an estimated $737,000 a month, or about $9 million a year, and has already built up a fortune estimated at $125 million, according to recent court documents in her custody battle with Kevin Federline. So there is first a question of:

Who controls her money if she is in the funny house? Not that anyone was ever motivated by money in Hollywood. No, they are all pure as the driven snow.

The second question is more general about the overall safety of Britney Spears. Hollywood has a long and sordid history on deaths and suicides while under the care of a psychiatrist or two. Anna Nicole Smith and Marylynne Monroe are merely the tip of the iceberg. [I'm working on a list to follow here shortly]

I merely do not want Spears to become another victim of psychiatrists, with us reading about a tragic death some months from now.

But I will not be entering her name in a dead pool either. Not yet.

UPDATE: In view of a comment we received on this story, this item is of interest.

Spears loses control of her finances under court order.

This is the first third pf the article, more at the link. It should be interesting to see how this plays out as the infighting over her money begins.
Britney Spears has lost control of her assets after a Los Angeles court commissioner placed her estate under temporary conservatorship.

This follows the actions of her desperate parents Jamie and Lynne Spears who went to court this morning to try regain control of their daughter's finances from her manager Sam Lufti.

Her father and a lawyer will now be in charge of the singer's millions and various properties until the next hearing on Febraury 4.

Commissioner Reva Goetz told a packed courtroom: "It is in the best interests of the conservatee to have conservatorship over her person."

Jamie will have the power to "restrict visitors," have around-the-clock security for Britney, and have access to all medical records, Goetz said.

Goetz said conservatorship over the estate was "necessary and appropriate." She gave approval for the singer's father to "take all actions to secure all liquid assets including credit cards."

Meanwhile, the fallen pop princess has been crying in her sleep for her British boyfriend as she struggles to adapt to life at a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital.

Britney was committed to a hospital in Los Angeles in the early hours of Tuesday morning following months of erratic behaviour that saw a court deny her access to her two sons.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Psychiatrist Convicted Of Prescription Fraud Loses Appeal

Report from Maine's WMTW TV

A psychiatrist who founded a methadone clinic in Westbrook has lost his appeal of his conviction and six-month prison sentence for prescription fraud.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston denied the appeal of Dr. Marc Shinderman, who was found guilty in 2006 of writing prescriptions for controlled substances using another doctor's name and drug registration number.

Shinderman, who started CAP Quality Care in 2001, was not licensed to write the prescriptions in Maine and said he believed that the arrangement was acceptable.

In its ruling Tuesday, the appeals court rejected all four of Shinderman's arguments, including the trial judge's refusal to allow jurors to hear his proposed entrapment defense and the use of an obstruction of justice enhancement during sentencing.

Psychologist in Sexual Abuse Case

From the Brattleboro Reformer

Donald Sanborn III, 65, of Bellows Falls, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he sexually abused a patient.

Sanborn, a psychologist, has been accused by a patient of doing "naughty things" with her during her sessions for approximately three to four months, according to an affidavit from Bellows Falls Police Officer Jennifer Carroll.

When Carroll spoke to the alleged victim, she writes in the affidavit, the woman seemed "very frightened and closed off" and "asked me several times if I was her friend and asked if I worked for Dr. Sanborn."

The alleged victim's husband told Carroll he used to attend the sessions with his wife. The woman stated that Sanborn had been helpful in the past and referred to him as "Lancelot."

About six or seven months before the sessions stopped, however, the alleged victim's husband states that Sanborn suggested private sessions.

He said that his wife sometimes resorted to the mentality of a 5-year-old when she was uncomfortable and he often observed her in this state after she left her sessions, Carroll reported.

The woman told Carroll that Sanborn had frequently wanted to talk about sex with her and convinced her to participate in sexual activities with him, although she had told him she did not want to.

He allegedly also told her not to tell anyone. She told Carroll that "she was afraid Sanborn would come to her house and get her if she told anyone."

Sanborn was arrested over the weekend after a DNA test was done on a pair of the woman's socks. Carroll reports, "I received a laboratory report stating that the primary reportable types of sperm portions from some of the submissions of the socks matched those obtained from the standard from Donald Sanborn III."

According to a report from the Vermont Forensic Laboratory, though, "the secondary types are too limited to support meaningful conclusions."

Sanborn was released on conditions Monday that he not contact the victim or her husband and that he not see any female or "younger" patients until the case is closed.

If found guilty, Sanborn could face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,300, or both.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New South Wales acts over alleged fake 'psychiatrist' Vitomir Zepenic

Report from the Daily Telegraph

He was deregistered as a trainee psychiatrist at a major Queensland hospital after his qualifications were found to be bogus.

Now Burwood psychologist Vitomir Zepenic is being prosecuted in NSW - for again allegedly pretending to be a psychiatrist.

Burwood Local Court was told yesterday that the Zepenic - who has never been registered as a medical practitioner in NSW - had been pretending he had medical qualifications.

Zepenic, 54, from the former Yugoslavia, allegedly signed six medico-legal reports to insurance company Allianz with the initials MBBS after his name - indicating he had a bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery.

While Zepenic claimed he had done a medical degree in Sarajevo, the court was presented a document from the University of Belgrade saying he had only completed a philosophy degree, had a masters in science degree in psychotherapy and was a doctor of philosophy.

To become a psychiatrist in Australia, one must have an undergraduate medical degree and complete several years of postgraduate medical training.

He also allegedly told a fellow psychologist that he had a masters degree in psychiatry, and accepted anti-depressant drug samples from a representative of a major pharmaceutical company, who thought he was a registered doctor.

However, the court was told it was medically qualified psychiatrists - and not psychologists - that were allowed to prescribe medication.

Zepinic is being prosecuted by the Medical Board of NSW for eight alleged breaches of the Medical Practitioners Act between 2005 and 2007 for allegedly falsely holding himself out to be a doctor.

The court was also told he was deregistered as a psychiatrist at Queensland's Toowoomba Hospital in 2002 following accusations he gave "materially false or misleading representations or declarations" to authorities.

Pfizer representative Suzanne Lombardo said she met Zepinic in 2005 and subsequently visited his Burwood clinic, where he had diplomas and certificates on his walls.

She said he accepted samples of two anti-depressants.

Zepenic yesterday insisted he had adequate medical qualifications and training but admitted he had never been registered as a doctor in NSW.

Asked to explain why he put the initials MBBS after his name, he said the initials represented his "academic titles".

"It is doctor of medicine, master of medicine and doctorate in medicine," he said.

The case was adjourned until April 14.

Monday, January 28, 2008

How Teenage Rebellion Has Become a Mental Illness

An Interesting Essay from Alternet regarding the marketing of Disease.

Big pharma has some new customers. Not complying with authority is now, in many cases, labeled a disease.

For a generation now, disruptive young Americans who rebel against authority figures have been increasingly diagnosed with mental illnesses and medicated with psychiatric (psychotropic) drugs.

Disruptive young people who are medicated with Ritalin, Adderall and other amphetamines routinely report that these drugs make them "care less" about their boredom, resentments and other negative emotions, thus making them more compliant and manageable. And so-called atypical antipsychotics such as Risperdal and Zyprexa -- powerful tranquilizing drugs -- are increasingly prescribed to disruptive young Americans, even though in most cases they are not displaying any psychotic symptoms.

Many talk show hosts think I'm kidding when I mention oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). After I assure them that ODD is in fact an official mental illness -- an increasingly popular diagnosis for children and teenagers -- they often guess that ODD is simply a new term for juvenile delinquency. But that is not the case.

Young people diagnosed with ODD, by definition, are doing nothing illegal (illegal behaviors are a symptom of another mental illness called conduct disorder). In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) created oppositional defiant disorder, defining it as "a pattern of negativistic, hostile and defiant behavior." The official symptoms of ODD include "often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules" and "often argues with adults." While ODD-diagnosed young people are obnoxious with adults they don't respect, these kids can be a delight with adults they do respect; yet many of them are medicated with psychotropic drugs.

An even more common reaction to oppressive authorities than overt defiance is some type of passive defiance.

John Holt, the late school critic, described passive-aggressive strategies employed by prisoners in concentration camps and slaves on plantations, as well as some children in classrooms. Holt pointed out that subjects may attempt to appease their rulers while still satisfying some part of their own desire for dignity "by putting on a mask, by acting much more stupid and incompetent than they really are, by denying their rulers the full use of their intelligence and ability, by declaring their minds and spirits free of their enslaved bodies."

Holt observed that by "going stupid" in a classroom, children frustrate authorities through withdrawing the most intelligent and creative parts of their minds from the scene, thus achieving some sense of potency.

Going stupid -- or passive aggression -- is one of many nondisease explanations for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Studies show that virtually all ADHD-diagnosed children will pay attention to activities that they enjoy or that they have chosen. In other words, when ADHD-labeled kids are having a good time and in control, the "disease" goes away.

There are other passive rebellions against authority that have been medicalized by mental health authorities. I have talked to many people who earlier in their lives had been diagnosed with substance abuse, depression and even schizophrenia but believe that their "symptoms" had in fact been a kind of resistance to the demands of an oppressive environment. Some of these people now call themselves psychiatric survivors.

While there are several reasons for behavioral disruptiveness and emotional difficulties, rebellion against an oppressive environment is one common reason that is routinely not even considered by many mental health professionals. Why? It is my experience that many mental health professionals are unaware of how extremely obedient they are to authorities. Acceptance into medical school and graduate school and achieving a Ph.D. or M.D. means jumping through many meaningless hoops, all of which require much behavioral, attentional and emotional compliance to authorities -- even disrespected ones. When compliant M.D.s and Ph.D.s begin seeing noncompliant patients, many of these doctors become anxious, sometimes even ashamed of their own excessive compliance, and this anxiety and shame can be fuel for diseasing normal human reactions.

Two ways of subduing defiance are to criminalize it and to pathologize it, and U.S. history is replete with examples of both. In the same era that John Adams' Sedition Act criminalized criticism of U.S. governmental policy, Dr. Benjamin Rush, the father of American psychiatry (his image adorns the APA seal), pathologized anti-authoritarianism. Rush diagnosed those rebelling against a centralized federal authority as having an "excess of the passion for liberty" that "constituted a form of insanity." He labeled this illness "anarchia."

Throughout American history, both direct and indirect resistance to authority has been diseased. In an 1851 article in the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, Louisiana physician Samuel Cartwright reported his discovery of "drapetomania," the disease that caused slaves to flee captivity. Cartwright also reported his discovery of "dysaesthesia aethiopis," the disease that caused slaves to pay insufficient attention to the master's needs. Early versions of ODD and ADHD?

In Rush's lifetime, few Americans took anarchia seriously, nor was drapetomania or dysaesthesia aethiopis taken seriously in Cartwright's lifetime. But these were eras before the diseasing of defiance had a powerful financial ally in Big Pharma.

In every generation there will be authoritarians. There will also be the "bohemian bourgeois" who may enjoy anti-authoritarian books, music, and movies but don't act on them. And there will be genuine anti-authoritarians, who are so pained by exploitive hierarchies that they take action. Only occasionally in American history do these genuine anti-authoritarians actually take effective direct action that inspires others to successfully revolt, but every once in a while a Tom Paine comes along. So authoritarians take no chances, and the state-corporate partnership criminalizes anti-authoritarianism, pathologizes it, markets drugs to "cure" it and financially intimidates those who might buck the system.

It would certainly be a dream of Big Pharma and those who favor an authoritarian society if every would-be Tom Paine -- or Crazy Horse, Tecumseh, Emma Goldman or Malcolm X -- were diagnosed as a youngster with mental illness and quieted with a lifelong regimen of chill pills. The question is: Has this dream become reality?

Bruce E. Levine, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of Surviving America's Depression Epidemic: How to Find Morale, Energy, and Community in a World Gone Crazy (Chelsea Green, 2007).

We Must Awake To This Fraud

We see the man on the street corner conversing with himself and dishelved. Most often turn away in fear. Why are we afraid? Because this man speaks of the human condition- of how a disordered society can break any of us.

What has been termed in the DSM IV as ‘mental disorder’ is entirely subjective and the product of the voting of psychiatric committees. The disorders are often a product of their imagination and designed for their ultimate profit. The diagnoses are categorized under the guise of help, but who benefits? Solely those making the diagnosis.

In the 1970’s Rosenhan and his colleagues conducted an interesting study in which pseudo-patients were sent to mental hospitals across the country. They have no history of psychiatric concerns and were told to tell only one lie to the psychiatrist- that they heard the word ‘thud’ in their heads. Otherwise, they were to behave ‘normally’. All of these individuals were admitted to the hospital. The only means for their release was to submit to the idea they were insane but were getting better by the ‘treatments’ of the psychiatric staff.

The psychiatric establishment was appalled and said this was merely a fluke and suggested Rosenhan send pseudo-patients again and they would be able to identify them. Rosenhan stated he would send 40 pseudo-patients. The psychiatrists stated they had found the ‘fakes’ but the fact was Rosenhan actually sent no one else.

In all of this, we see that experience is ignored. Instead, we have categorized behaviors, all in the eyes of the beholder, and medicalized it. It does not matter any longer what the experience of the person is, the objective of psychiatry is to suppress the behavior, and suppression then leads to oppression.

If we were to truly be pro-active and psychiatrists were motivated by a true desire to do no harm and to seek for person’s mental health, then we would not be merely suppressing, but rather seeking to understand. In addition, we would be targeting those issues which often create mental anguish for persons to begin with. We would be addressing issues of social justice. Instead, psychiatry exonerates institutions from
taking responsibility and blames the brain of the person with no evidence provided that their brains are actually dysfunctional. Theory has become fact in psychiatry.

Psychiatry has its free advertising through the workings of the so called support groups and through its alliance with the pharmaceutical industry. Such groups as NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) and CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit) have received large amounts of funding from the pharmaceutical industry who now have access to many new consumers of their products and who benefit from promoting the concept of ‘chemical imbalances’ to further the sale of their toxic drugs.

Schools have now become not about education at all, but rather mental institutions for children. Children are stifled and are not given the opportunities for critical thinking, but rather to be proper test takers and to become cogs in the industrial machine. When they fall out of line with the desired result, they are labeled and drugged. Social Security payments for ‘ADHD’ or other behavioral disorders become a temptation for poor, struggling families to encourage their compliance with the status quo.

Psychiatry has also taken over the cause of child welfare. In California, it was seen that over 90% of foster children were on psychiatric drugs, often multiple drugs, with no apparent reason to support the use, not to mention that potential for serious adverse events. These drugs are being implicated more and more in causing violence, mania, and suicidal ideation in children. The only reason for these foster children to be treated in such manner is solely greed and to perpetuate a corrupt system geared at control of the vulnerable. The abused are being further abused by the psychiatric system. The elderly are subjected to ECT at 3 times the rate at age 65 than age 64. Why? Because at age 65 Medicare will pick up the tab. Once again, abuse of the vulnerable.

We must awake to this fraud. When we can begin to understand the human condition, work for social justice, and take responsibility for a disordered society, then it will be that ‘disorders’ will fade away and true mental health will arise.

Psychologist files lawsuit against his couple for financial losses. Unfortunately, he's in jail for stabbing them first.

From the Flint Journal

A psychologist and former Mott Community College professor charged with stabbing a Grand Blanc Township woman is suing her and her husband, claiming they caused his financial ruin.

William L. Harshman is asking for damages of $5 million in his five-count civil suit.

Harshman also claims Kurt W. and Lisa N. Heintz caused the loss of his marriage and other woes, his attorney, Michael B. Haley said.

The Heintzes, whom The Journal has been unable to reach, have 21 days to respond to the lawsuit after they are served.

The case has been assigned to Genesee Circuit Judge Geoffrey L. Neithercut, but no trial or other dates will be scheduled until the Heintzes are served.

Harshman, 50, is charged with first degree home invasion and two counts of assault with intent to murder in a Dec. 24 incident at the Heintzes' Grand Blanc Township home.

Police and prosecutors said Harshman went to 8259 Pine Hollow and stabbed Lisa Heintz and Edward Lapine, 17, who was helping the Heintzes move from their residence.

Heintz suffered a broken arm while trying to defend herself from a knife blow. Lapine was stabbed in the back but managed to run and call for help. Neither injury was considered life-threatening.

Haley recently received approval from a judge to have Harshman examined at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry near Ann Arbor to determine if he is competent for trial and can be held criminally responsible for his actions.

"We believe Dr. Harshman was not competent or criminally responsible at the time these alleged acts occurred," Haley said.

In Harshman's lawsuit, Haley alleges that Harshman met Lisa Heintz in May 2005 when he began counseling her and providing psychological treatment.

He said the Harshmans and Heintzes became friends until last year, when mortgage and other business dealings crumbled.

He said Harshman lost $90,000 and began a string of bizarre behavior.

In days leading up to the Christmas Eve assault, Haley said Harshman began drinking heavily and popping pills, and planned to commit suicide in his garage through carbon monoxide poisoning.

Haley said Harshman's wife left, his daughter wants his parental rights terminated and he lost his job at MCC.

The Heintzes also are named as defendants in a bevy of lawsuits alleging they used straw buyers to act as fronts in obtaining bank loans, according to records in Genesee County Circuit Court. Police reports also indicate that Harshman was angry over a mortgage or real estate matter.

Harshman's criminal case is scheduled to continue March 19.

He is being held in the Genesee County Jail without bond.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

$21 billion antidepressant industry is built more on marketing hype than medical science

A letter to the editor seen in the WSJ

Depressed About Results? Science May Explain It
WSJ January 26, 2008; Page A9

Word comes that unpublished studies of antidepressants show the drugs are overrated ("Antidepressants Under Scrutiny Over Efficacy," Personal Journal, Jan. 17). This isn't a surprise to many of us who have prescribed them. Sadly, the $21 billion antidepressant industry is built more on marketing hype than medical science.

The medicalization of depression dates to a "chemical imbalance" theory of the late 1950s, when some patients taking the anti-hypertensive drug reserpine got depressed. Reserpine was known to partially deplete catecholamines, a kind of neurotransmitter in the brain, of which serotonin is one example. This led to the theory that depression was caused by low catecholamine levels. Drugs have been successfully marketed as antidepressants by showing that they enhance catecholamine activity.

While this looks like a neuroscience success story, the truth is that no case of depression has ever been shown to be caused by low catecholamine levels. If you find this hard to swallow, ask your physician what your serotonin level is and how it compares to a group of depressed, suicidal patients. The honest answer is that they are the same.

Psychiatrists can promulgate chemical imbalance theories and sleep well at night because they are devout biochemical determinists, for whom every thought or feeling is caused by chemical reactions in the brain.

To the true believer, good feelings come from good chemistry, bad feelings from bad chemistry. If the science hasn't been worked out yet, it is only a matter of time. What is important is that depressed people keep those catecholamines "balanced." Whether bad theories arise from bad chemistry has not, to this point, generated much interest.

To be sure, antidepressants can be helpful. The sedating ones, for instance, often benefit depressed people who can't sleep. But the real harm of these drugs is the theoretical baggage that comes with them. The more a patient believes that pills are the cure for depression, the less likely he is to think seriously about the meaning of his life.

Michael J. Reznicek, M.D.
Spokane, Wash.
Note the the apparent benefit seems to be from the side effects, not the primary effects, as noted by the sedative example.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Psychiatrist ordered to Mental Hospital after blaming Ritalin for School Violence in Court Cases.

Not sure where to go on this one. Sounds like she is getting into trouble for upsetting the status quo. From the Sydney Morning Herald

A psychiatrist known as a "hired gun" in court cases has been ordered into treatment by medical authorities after being accused of a dubious diagnosis.

Yolande Lucire has been reprimanded by the NSW Medical Board after its professional standards committee disagreed with a diagnosis she made in a medico-legal case and questioned her professionalism.

The eastern suburbs forensic psychiatrist is well-known in legal circles and her testimony in a criminal trial last year sparked a NSW judge to slam doctors for creating a generation of "Ritalin kids", who were now committing violent crimes.

Dr Lucire said she could not defend herself because of a non-disclosure order, but said the matter "did not relate to patient care". She can continue to practise.

Dr Lucire suggested her controversial stance on the links between the antidepressant drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and suicide meant some in the psychiatric fraternity questioned her ability.

Dr Lucire, who is the partner of former federal Labor senator and former president of the Evatt Foundation Bruce Childs, charges upwards of $500 to be an expert witness in criminal and civil cases.

The medical board took issue with her diagnosis of residual organic hallucinosis in a patient and she was ordered to see a board-approved senior psychiatrist "for the purpose of seeking and taking advice with a view to improving some aspects of her practice of medicine".

She said she would comply. Dr Lucire has more than 30 years' experience in psychiatry, including lecturing in universities and 12 years as a forensic consultant at Long Bay prison hospital.

In the trial of a 20-year-old man on assault and indecency charges last April, Judge Paul Conlon relied on Dr Lucire's testimony that the accused showed characteristics of borderline personality disorder when he was taken off an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug at 16 after a decade on it.

His judgement, which made the links between the drugs and violent young offenders, caused controversy.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Second Thoughts About Antipsychotics for Aggression

Snippet from the WSJ Health Blog

A recent study that found antipsychotics weren’t any better than sugar pills in reducing aggressive behavior among people with low IQs fanned the controversy over the broad use of antipsychotic drugs to treat patients with problems other than psychosis.

It wasn’t that the drugs failed outright. Haldol and Risperdal, both from J&J, reduced aggression in patients by 65% and 58%, respectively. But placebos cut aggressive behavior by 79%, the study published in the Lancet showed.

It’s sometimes hard to know how much attention to pay to a single study. But these provocative findings seemed worth a closer look.

Before working at a large psychiatric hospital last year, I didn’t realize just how commonly antipsychotics are prescribed for a variety of psychiatric disorders. On one inpatient unit, I heard Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa being prescribed so often for symptoms such as anxiety that I remember feeling surprised when I finally learned that it was an antipsychotic.
The wonders of modern marketing. It's a situation where being cynical winds up being dead on accurate.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Psychologist's Book Slammed on Amazon After Fox News Debacle

As Reported on Gaming Daily

Syndicated radio talk-show host and psychologist Cooper Lawrence is now getting a taste of the gaming and Internet community following her appearance on Fox News in which she criticized Mass Effect (a game she never played) and appeared to talk in an almost condescending tone to GameTrailers' Geoff Keighley (who was barely given the time of day to defend the game).

In the past few days Lawrence's book The Cult of Perfection: Making Peace with Your Inner Overachiever has been slammed with negative reviews on as backlash for her comments on Mass Effect. As of press time, out of 565 reviews 503 are 1-star and 48 are 2-star. Only 12 people have rated her book with a 5-star review.

Moreover, the tags customers associated with the product were telling: ignorant (350), hypocrisy (286), garbage (284), hypocrite (267), junk (264), hack (254), terrible (231), bigot (217), bigoted (197), bias (168).

Yesterday Electronic Arts (owner of Mass Effect developer BioWare) sent a letter to Fox News requesting a correction.

Oprah’s reportedly furious with Dr. Phil

Report from MSNBC

The fallout from Dr. Phil McGraw’s controversial meeting with pop wreck Britney Spears just keeps on coming. Now it’s not just Brit’s parents and mental health professionals giving the good doc a hard time. Queen of Talk Oprah Winfrey has had it with her tell-it-like-it-is protégé, reports the National Enquirer.

“Oprah is furious,” an insider told the magazine. “She expected Phil to apologize before the situation got out of hand. Instead he used the spotlight to tout his struggling talk show. … Oprah thinks he has completely lost his sense of right and wrong.”

No stranger to her own scandals, Oprah’s upset about how Phil’s handled his public embarrassment. “Oprah has made mistakes but the difference is that she’s known when to step back and apologize,” a friend revealed. “She feels Phil should have done that when he had the chance. … He betrayed her trust.”

A show source told the Enquirer that Oprah warned Phil before, and her angry reaction was “coming for a long time.” Seems the two talk titans clashed over several issues in the past. In 2005, Phil “threw a hissy fit” when Oprah’s close pal Maria Shriver failed to wrangle hubby Arnold Schwarzenegger to introduce him at an obesity conference. He also earned O’s ire after his “Shape Up!” diet products failed to deliver and later led to a $10.5 million settlement.

Phil may have his own show, but getting on Oprah’s bad side caries a hefty price. “Phil got a whopping $75 million deal, but Oprah is still his boss,” another close source explained. “She even has control of what time slots he’s in. If she doesn’t want him around, she can make him disappear.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Lobotomist on PBS

American Experience presents The Lobotomist, the gripping and tragic story of an ambitious doctor, the desperate families who sought his help, and the medical establishment that embraced him. From award-winning producers Barak Goodman and John Maggio (The Boy in the Bubble, The Fight), this one-hour film features interviews with Dr. Freeman's former patients and their families, his students, and medical historians, and offers an unprecedented look at one of the darkest chapters in psychiatric history.

Despite mixed results, by the early 1940s, some fifty state asylums were performing lobotomies on their patients. The procedure was hailed as a miracle cure, Freeman himself a visionary who brought hope to the most desolate human beings.

Yet only a decade later, the story would come full-circle again. Freeman would be decried as a moral monster, the lobotomy as one of the most barbaric mistakes ever perpetrated by mainstream medicine. Through interviews with medical historians, psychiatrists who worked with Freeman, and the desperate families who sought his help, this American Experience episode tells a gripping tale of medical intervention gone awry.

Be sure to check your local listings

Getting ready for a Revolution against Psychiatry

The Last Psychiatrist weblog has an interesting take on the recent study released questioning the effectiveness of antidepressants. Here is a large snippet from an article that deserves to be read in full:

An article like this has consequences, widespread social consequences. They are massive, you just don't see it.

Let's say antidepressants really don't work, and this could/should have been known. Have the last 10 years of psychiatry been a lie? It was all a shell game? If so, is anyone going to step up and apologize, take responsibility? "We were wrong, we've been pushing sham treatments-- sorry?" I don't want to hear, "we suspected this..." I want someone to stand up and announce, "you know, I've been prescribing these for years, and I now realize I was duped."

If it's true, then what were we doing to all those patients all those years?

These guys write this as if to say, "I told you so." It's all so clear to them. And to read the interviews, you'd think they were sipping on a Diet Coke-- poured into a glass, with a lime-- smugly announcing what they've known all along.

These guys are hailed as some sort of heroes, exposing the lies of Big Pharma. But they aren't, they are the worst possible self-promoters; they should be ashamed, they should be ashamed to show their faces in public, let alone practice medicine. They are worse than hypocrites, they are unconscious hypocrites.

Before you email me saying, "what-- you didn't want this published? You want them to simply pretend everything is ok, that the data for the meds really isn't weak? That data isn't really being suppressed?" let me state my point as clearly as possible:


It's the exact same data they had 10 years ago, the exact same data. This isn't a discovery, this isn't Woodward and Bernstein, this is a bunch of academics who are no longer on Pharma payrolls who have now decided that they have nothing further to gain from pushing antidepressants.

Now they can pretend to be on the side of science. We reviewed the data, and found some of it was not published.

You knew that already. You were the ones who didn't publish it-- it's your journal. Turner worked for 3 years as an NIH reviewer. He just notices this now?

Is no one wondering how it is that this study comes out now, when all antidepressants but two are generic?

As suspicious of Pharma as everyone is, no one seems to see that they are no longer getting Pharma money, they are now getting government money-- NIH-- so they're going to push the government line. No one finds it at all suspicious that the two biggest NIH studies in the past two years both found the generic to be the best?

You think that in 2000 those studies would have been published? But now-- 2007, 2008, if they'd found Cymbalta to be the best on the NIH's dime, you think that they'd get re-funded? What's the difference? Same authors, same studies, same data. All that's changed is the climate.

People want a direct financial link to show bias, not realizing that bias is much more prevalent and more powerful elsewhere.

And oh boy, there is going to be hell to pay.

The Committee for Truth in Psychiatry

The Committee for Truth in Psychiatry, or CTIP, is a national organization of over 500 former electric shock patients. They are an important organization in the context of Human Rights. here is a snippet from their front page:

None of us was truthfully informed about the nature or consequences of this treatment before consenting to it, and we have pooled our experience-gained knowledge to provide truthful information about it for future psychiatric patients.

Over the years, many individual recipients of "electroconvulsive therapy" (ECT) (shock treatment) have related their personal experiences, verbally or in writing, emphasizing whatever aspects were most important in each one's special circumstances. What the CTIP has done as a group is to highlight and emphasize the common demoninators in the shock experience. Accordingly, though our members differ widely in the details of their own stories, including how they got into ECT and how much good or (more often) harm it did them, we can agree on the most certain effects of ECT and that future patients should be informed of them before they give their consent to it.

Following are the most important points we make:
  • If a person is in a state of physical suffering of nervous origin, ECT will almost certainly relieve it temporarily. ECT relaxes the nervous system and the relaxing effect lasts from a couple of days to a couple of months. Sometimes people stay well after the relaxing effect has worn off, but, typically, they quickly relapse.

  • Regardless of any beneficial effect, there is always a permanently deleterious effect on memory. This consists of erasure of a good deal of pre-shock memory and dimming of more, and it frequently includes also a permanent reduction in retentiveness for post-shock experience and learning.

  • These two effects in combination---the temporary feeling of well-being and the permanent harm to memory---imply that ECT "works" by damaging the brain. These are the classic symptoms of acute brain injury by any means---strokes, asphyxiation, concussion, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc. In all these events, the patient feels very well for a while but can't remember. If further evidence were needed of the principle at work in ECT's beneficial effect, it could be noted that the memory loss from ECT has always the distinctive pattern of brain damage forgetting (recent memories hardest hit) and that ECT is sometimes followed by other brain damage phenomena (examples common among our members are impairment of sense of direction and a touch of aphasia, or difficulty saying the words you meant to say).
As a vehicle for communicating these few salient points about ECT to future patients, we have incorporated them (along with other information) in a model informed consent statement which we should like to see sponsored by the FDA or some governmental body. All CTIP members have endorsed the statement.
They also note that:
ECT is one of a number of drastic psychiatric treaments, including insulin coma and psychosurgery, that relieve suffering temporarily. All of them "work" by destroying brain tissue. That is their common denominator. In ECT both the electrical shocks and the grand mal seizures are destructive. For some still unknown reason, reducing the size of the brain not only reduces the amount of stored memory but also counteracts states of physical pain and any kind of emotion.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Strange Case of Marek Jantos

On November 18, we published a story from Adelaide Now regarding the case of Marek Jantos.

We have recently receive an email asking that the story be pulled, together with PDF copies of letters offered as evidence that details of the story were horrendously false with regard the matter of sexual misconduct. This was verified with a PDF copy of a letter from the Crown Solicitor who stated in part that "it was not the Registrar's case, nor a finding of the board, that Mr Jantos had been engaged, in any way, in sexual misconduct"

We note that the South Australian Psychological Board still lists Marek Jantos as having received disciplinary action. The reason stated on the government website is "Guilty of gross professional negligence, malpractice and misconduct." This makes us quite curious, and we feel it would be worthwhile to report on the actual reason for the Board's action. We imagine that there were several points of negotiation in order to get an order that Mr. Jantos could live with.

Seeing as they are in Australia, and we are in the USA, it might be difficult to serve us with a lawsuit. That said, and to be fair, we will work to replace any false information with true information regarding the cancellation of his registration. We will probably be contacting the newspaper and agencies involved in order to get more accurate data.

We supply a copy of the legal documents in question here:

Six Months off Medications, and doing fine.

An Interesting look at one man's experience being off his medications for six months.

Seen at Furious Seasons and on the Daily KOS. Snippet:

What's stunning to me is that I remain virtually without symptoms, even of depression--and that's just not supposed to be happening here, especially since I am under massive amounts of stress, personally and professionally. Not according to the medical literature I've read. The course for bipolars who go off-meds is supposed to be highly predictable--they wind up in big trouble and either die or spend time in a psych unit or what have you. And of course they wind up back on meds after wreaking havoc on the Western world. They never get better or do just fine off-meds.

But, then, maybe the unbiased researchers who write the medical literature never talk to or examine people like me. OK, I know they don't.

So what is going on here? Was I a bad diagnosis back in 1989? Did meds somehow cure me while messing me up at the same time? Did therapy cure me? (Um, no since I haven't seen a therapist since the early 1990s.) Did I cure me? Or does bipolar disorder just burn out over time? I am leaning towards the latter two possibilities, but I'm not sure how to explain this except to say that's what seems to be going on.
One of the comments on his state is from a fairly well know psychiatrist who calls BS on BiPolar Disorder to begin with.
"Bipolar disorder isn't actually a disease.

"It's a collection of signs and symptoms lumped together in a diagnostic classification that has no basis or assumption of causation. There is no known neurochemical abnormality associated with "bipolar disorder", and patients with this diagnosis certainly have a plethora of different problems, all lumped together in one convenient/dumb diagnostic classification.

"[...] Your own experience isn't miraculous, it just verifies that much of contemporary psychiatric diagnosis is a bunch of malarkey.

The original author also had in interesting post some months back about a conversation with his shrink. It seems that by definition, nobody is ever cured of a psychiatric disease, because they don't know what is going on with their diseases, and therefore even if a person could be declared cured by any other reasonable standard, they can't say so.

Maker of 'happy pill' Seroxat is sued by man who killed wife while on drug

from this Report

Murderer Colin Dorey, who battered his wife to death with a hammer, is suing pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline over his use of the anti-depressant Seroxat.

From his cell at Gartree prison in Leicestershire, Dorey, 48, has joined nearly 500 other users of the drug in a lawsuit against the multi-national, each seeking compensation of up to £50,000.

Their case is funded by legal aid at an estimated cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds to the taxpayer.

Dorey, a chef, was jailed for life in August 2002 for murdering his wife Christine, 37, at their home in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, while their three young children slept upstairs.

At his trial Dorey, who will be eligible for parole in 2011, admitted manslaughter and told police he had "just flipped" because he believed his wife was having an affair.

She was hit at least ten times with a club hammer.

When Dorey was found in his car shortly afterwards, he had a packet of Seroxat tablets with him. He had dialled 999 to tell police what he had done.

His claim is part of a £30million damages case against the makers of the drug, which is supposed to boost confidence and happiness.

Law firm Hugh James, on behalf of the claimants, alleges Seroxat is "defective" under the 1987 Consumer Protection Act.

Solicitor Mark Harvey said: "All the claimants allege they tried to withdraw from Seroxat and have suffered discontinuation syndrome."

Dorey cannot claim compensation from GSK through alleging Seroxat led to a state of mind that caused him to kill his wife because a criminal act cannot be the basis for such a claim.

Since it was first prescribed in 1990, Seroxat has been linked to at least 50 suicides. GSK, which makes up to £1billion a year from the drug, has been accused of failing to act on warnings that it could have serious side-effects, including personality changes.

In 2003 it was banned for under-18s amid concerns it contributed to suicide among adolescents with depression.

The same year a man arrested for armed robbery had charges dropped after medical reports concluded his behaviour could have been altered by Seroxat withdrawal symptoms.


Monday, January 21, 2008

SSRI Research - What Do I Need to Know about Antidepressants?

SSRI Research is a small but interesting website with a good collection of materials regarding the side effects of SSRIs. They have pages dedicated to

It is also one of several sites dedicated to the cause of Christopher Pittman.

Christopher Pittman (born April 9, 1989 in Huntsville, Alabama) was convicted in 2005 of murdering his grandparents at age 12. The case drew national attention in part because of his age at the time of the crime, and in part because his defense that the prescription drug Zoloft caused him to act.

It is likely that his dosage of Zoloft was absurdly high even by common psychiatric standards.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fox News Big Story with Doug Kennedy on Big Pharma's Lie

A Followup on our report from earlier this past week.

Fox News Big Story with Douglas Kennedy on how Big Pharma leaves out the bad studies and downplays the nasty side effects of their highly addictive drugs. A slam against psychiatric meditations. Via YouTube.

An online transcript can be seen here:

Doughnuts and Prozac - there's no such thing as a free lunch

This is actually a good news report of reform in Maine, moving away from influence peddling in the field of medicine. Hopefully, they will actually follow through with actual effective regulations. Unfortunately, some of those in power sound like they are more inclined to drag their heels. From the Sun Journal.

Not so long ago, free lunches at Franklin Memorial Hospital were as close as the nearest drug rep.

Piping hot pizza. Fresh doughnuts. Gourmet chocolates.

Pharmaceutical salespeople brought it all.

Needed office supplies? They offered those, too.

Free drug samples? You got it.

"If you saw a drug rep in a hospital parking lot, invariably they're on their third trip back to their car to bring their samples in, their bags in, their boxes of Dunkin' Donuts," said Richard Batt, president of the Farmington hospital.

Money ran aplenty, too. Want to bring an expert speaker in? Go to a seminar? Host an educational program? Ask a drug company and ye shall receive - sometimes thousands of dollars.

Until last summer.

That's when Franklin Memorial Hospital instituted one of the most stringent policies in the state limiting the relationship between doctors and sales representatives: No food. No gifts. No money earmarked for the education of a specific doctor.

"You want the doctor ordering the drug or device because he likes the drug or device, not the rep," Batt said.

Nationally, in years past, it wasn't unheard of for drug and medical equipment reps to treat doctors and their spouses to wildly expensive meals and lavish trips in an attempt to curry favor with the keepers of the prescription pad. Local doctors recall catered meals and gifts of alcohol.

That's lessened dramatically over the last 10 years as pressure from patient advocates and watchdog groups has prompted medical and pharmaceutical organizations to come out with guidelines that limit the freebies that reps can give out and that doctors can take. Now, for doctors employed by some hospitals, a stethoscope is OK but a trip to Hawaii is not. Doughnuts are fine, but a filet mignon lunch is not.

Still, the pharmaceutical industry spent nearly $30 billion on marketing in 2005, over $18 billion of that on drug samples and $6.7 billion on gifts and food, according to The Prescription Project, a national group working to get hospitals and doctors to tighten their conflict-of-interest policies.

"That was to tame the wild, wild west. Now they just have the Wild West," said Robert Restuccia, executive director of The Prescription Project.

Franklin Memorial is one of the hospitals taking the lead in Maine. Others, including Maine Medical Center in Portland and Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, are following suit.

Some, like Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, have decided to wait and see.

"Ban everything?" said Marc Perlman, a neonatologist and chairman of CMMC's Ethics Committee. "It's hard to do and it might not be the best thing to do."

Recent research has added significant pressure to sever the ties between doctors and drug reps:

• In 2006, a Journal of Medical Ethics article found that 33 percent of surveyed obstetrician-gynecologists thought accepting a drug sample would influence their prescription decisions.

• That same year, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association urged medical schools and their hospitals to ban all gifts, free meals, drug samples and direct-to-physician educational support, citing research that showed even small gifts can make it difficult for people to remain objective. It said the rate of prescriptions "substantially increases" after doctors meet with sales reps, attend company meetings or accept drug samples.

But for Franklin Memorial and many other hospitals across the country, the tipping point came last spring when an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that nearly every doctor surveyed - 94 percent - had some kind of relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. Eighty-three percent received free food, while 78 percent received free drug samples, 35 percent received reimbursements for the costs of attending professional meetings or educational programs and 28 percent received money for consulting, giving lectures or enrolling patients in drug trials.

"It's always been a situation we've always been slightly uncomfortable about," Batt said. "We read that article and said we should give some serious attention to this."

Soon after, the Franklin Memorial president got some firsthand experience with the issue. He took his parents to their doctor's appointment.

The doctor's notepad advertised one drug company, his pen advertised another. The wall calendar was from a drug company. Their drug samples were from another.

"Just go into any doctor's office and start looking around carefully. It's just loaded. It's stuffed with stuff with logos and names. And they (drug companies) are all doing it not to be nice, but to get a leg up, marketing," Batt said.

His parents' doctor worked in a practice owned by Franklin Memorial.

FMH officials explored the policies of other medical centers, including Stanford University School of Medicine in California and Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut, which had recently tightened their conflict-of-interest rules to ban gifts from drug reps. By summer, the small, rural Maine hospital had come up with a policy whose strictness rivaled those of big-city teaching hospitals. The new rules prohibited every freebie from pizza to pens, and allowed drug companies to pay for educational events only as long as the funding source was fully disclosed and as long as the speaker, not the drug company, chose the content. To Batt's surprise, he found doctors were largely in favor of the change.

"I actually thought it was going to be more controversial than it was," he said.

The most contentious part of the new policy turned out to be not what the doctors received, but what patients were receiving from the doctors: drug samples.

"There are pros and cons to that, and we debated that," Batt said. Ultimately, the decision came down to one thing. "Free samples are very, very helpful to people who don't have financial means."
'Patient safety'

Right now, both Maine Medical Center and Eastern Maine Medical Center - the two largest hospitals in the state - are considering stricter policies.

"Even a pad of paper, a box of donuts can have an impact on people. We don't even know it. It's a subconscious influence. Most of us don't want to admit it, but it's there," said James Raczek, vice president and chief medical officer for Eastern Maine Medical and a member of, a national nonprofit group advocating distance between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry.

If approved, his hospital's new policy would be similar to Franklin Memorial's. But if he had his way, Raczek, who describes himself as "zealot" on the issue, would also ban free samples, which be believes drive up the cost of all medications and gets poor patients tied to the newest, most expensive drugs because that's what they're given as samples.

He'd also refuse all drug company money for education.

"I would argue physicians are compensated enough to pay for their own conference," he said.

Maine Medical and Eastern Maine Medical aren't alone in considering policy changes. The Maine Hospital Association said conflict-of-interest discussions have heated up in recent years and all of the state's 39 hospitals are paying attention to the issue.

St. Mary's Regional Medical Center expects to discuss its policy in the next year.

"We have docs who want us to tighten up," said Dale Morrell, the hospital's education director and organizational integrity coordinator.


"Any doctor who tells you they give me the food and the pens but it doesn't affect what I'm doing, they're fools. Because the bottom line is, if the drug companies didn't have evidence that it did affect what you're doing, they wouldn't spend their money to do it."


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Psychiatrist faces sex assault trial

Yet another child sex case involving a psychiatrist, this time from Wisconsin. As seen in the Journal Sentinel.

A psychiatrist already serving four years of probation for possession of child pornography was ordered to stand trial Friday on a sexual assault charge after a 14-year-old boy tearfully testified that the doctor molested him during a counseling session in 2006.

At a preliminary hearing to determine whether the case against Eric B. Schwietering of Milwaukee should proceed to trial, the boy testified that Schwietering questioned him during a counseling session about his sexual habits and asked him to disrobe July 10, 2006.

When he declined, the boy said, Schwietering forced him down on a couch, partially disrobed him and touched him indecently.

Schwietering, 41, was charged in October with sexual assault of a child younger than 16, a felony.

According to testimony Friday and a criminal complaint, the assault occurred when Schwietering was associated with Cornerstone Counseling, 16535 W. Blue Mound Road, Brookfield. Schwietering no longer practices at the center.

After the assault, the boy testified, Schwietering told him not to tell anyone about what had occurred and said he would hurt him if he did.

The complaint says the matter came to light in the fall when the boy, now living at a residential school in Keokuk, Iowa, told his mother in e-mail that he had been assaulted by Schwietering, who specialized in treating children and adolescents.

Schwietering's attorney, Paul Bucher, sought to have the case dismissed, telling Waukesha County Circuit Court Commissioner Martin Binn that the boy's testimony and statements to authorities were not credible.

But Binn rejected the argument and ordered Schwietering to return to court Feb. 6.

In May, Schwietering was placed on four years of probation in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on two felony counts of possession of child pornography.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Psychology Board Investigates Dr. Phil

Hollywood Tabloid show TMZ has obtained a copy of a complaint against Dr. Phil which was lodged with the California Board of Psychology, alleging the TV doc was illegally practicing without a license when he paid a visit to one Britney Spears. From their report

We've learned the person who filed the complaint is a psychologist. Dr. Phil has never been licensed to practice in California, and he retired his Texas license in 2006.

The shrink believes when Dr. Phil visited Brit in the hospital earlier this month, he was practicing psychology. A "Dr. Phil" honcho told TMZ the visit was never meant to lure Britney onto the TV show -- and that there were never plans to put her on the air.

A Psychology Board rep told TMZ if the Board finds the complaint credible, it would be referred to the D.A. for review. Practicing without a license is a felony in California.

The psychologist who filed the complaint also alleges Dr. Phil violated HIPAA laws by "discussing or divulging a patient's medical condition ... with the media," in reference to a press release issued by Dr. Phil.

The complaint also says, "A petition is being circulated to remove the "Dr. Phil" show from the air." We're told the shrink is trying to get other psychologists to sign.

As for the Dr. Phil show's response -- no immediate comment.
UPDATE: In light of all of this, apparently Dr. Phil has had the bright idea to issue an apology, which will be broadcast on his show on Monday. While we welcome such an apology, the need for one is indicative of either the character of the man, or of the corrupting influence of Hollywood, and the need for Dr. Phil to take a fresh look at his non-functional moral compass. We suspect that it might have long since lost it's magnetic bearings. MTV has this report:
Dr. Phil is sorry. The TV physician has issued a statement apologizing for his controversial visit with Britney Spears while the singer was in the hospital on January 5, as well as a subsequent press release he issued about the incident.

"Was it helpful to the situation? Regrettably, no. It was not, and I have to acknowledge that, and I do," Phil McGraw told his audience Thursday during an episode of Dr. Phil that will run Monday, according to USA Today. "I definitely think if I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn't make any statement at all. Period."


A complaint was filed against McGraw earlier this week that accused him of violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The complaint alleges Dr. Phil practiced clinical psychology without a license and further violated doctor-patient privilege by discussing the pop star's case with the media.


Judge Rotenburg School Destroyed Video It Was Ordered to Preserve of Students Being Shocked

As Reported in The Boston Globe, via the Raw Story Weblog. It seems that the tape was intentionally destroyed because it was incriminating.

A special education school destroyed videotape showing two of its students being wrongly given electric shock treatments despite being ordered to preserve the tape, according to an investigator's report.

One student was shocked 77 times and the other 29 times after a prank caller posing as a supervisor ordered the treatments at a Judge Rotenberg Educational Center group home in August. The boys are 16 and 19 years old and one was treated for first-degree burns.

The Disabled Persons Protection Commission planned to release the report Tuesday concluding that one of the teenagers was severely physically and emotionally abused by the treatments. The commission has referred the case to the Norfolk district attorney's office.

The videotapes compiled footage from cameras inside the home in Stoughton. An investigator with the commission, which examines abuse allegations and can refer cases for criminal prosecution, viewed the tapes and asked for a copy, according to the commission's report obtained by The Boston Globe.

But school officials declined, saying they "did not want any possibility of the images getting into the media." The investigator told the school to preserve a copy so state police could use it in their criminal investigation. A trooper later told the investigator the tapes had been destroyed.

School spokesman Ernest Corrigan said school officials worried the images would be leaked to the public, further disrupting the lives of the two students who were wrongly shocked.

Earlier this week, the school's founder and director Matthew Israel said the tapes were reviewed by several investigators and were not preserved because the investigation "seemed to be finished."

The Judge Rotenberg Center is the only one in the nation that uses shock treatments for its special education students, most of whom are mentally retarded, autistic or emotionally disturbed.

Parents praise the shock therapy as the only treatment that has helped their children, but critics say it's abusive and often administered for only minor infractions. State Sen. Brian Joyce, who has long sought to ban shock therapy from the school, said Israel and his staff should be investigated for obstruction of justice.

"I believe the tape was intentionally destroyed because it was incriminating," said Joyce, a Democrat. "I intend to ask the attorney general to investigate."

Psychiatrist Fired after Death of Patient

A psychiatrist has been implicated and disciplined in the the death of a wounded veteran under going treatment at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The family is understandably upse and demanding investigations, etc. From the Courier journal in Louisville, Kentucky

A psychiatrist who treated Sgt. Gerald Cassidy, the wounded Iraq veteran from Indiana found dead in his Fort Knox barracks, has been "relieved of his duties," a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh said yesterday.

Bayh press secretary Jonathan Swain identified the psychiatrist as Dr. William Kearney.

The civilian doctor, contracted by the Army, is the fourth person to face job action in connection with the Sept. 21 death.
Three soldiers in Cassidy's chain of command have already lost their posts.

Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, has linked the Westfield man's death to inadequate staffing and problems with care at the Fort Knox Warrior Transition Unit, which opened in June and is devoted to healing the wounds of war.

"The fact that (Kearney) has been relieved of his duties confirms the validity of the questions Sen. Bayh and the family have been asking," Swain said.

Although the Army is still investigating the death and its cause, preliminary reports show that the brain-injured National Guardsman may have been unconscious for days and dead for hours before someone checked on him.

Cassidy left a wife, a 5-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.

"This was a beautiful young man who did nothing wrong," said Cassidy's mother, Kay McMullen of Carmel, Ind.

She declined to comment specifically on the psychiatrist, but said: "The Army killed him with incompetent care."

Bayh is seeking clarification from the Army about whether Kearney's departure is temporary or permanent, and Kearney could not be reached for comment.

Constance Shaffery, public affairs officer at Fort Knox, confirmed that the psychiatrist is no longer working at Ireland Army Community Hospital but would not comment further, saying it is a personnel matter.

She also confirmed that representatives of Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut were on the base yesterday, although she said "it isn't primarily about Sgt. Cassidy."

"Staffers from the offices of Senators Lieberman and Boxer came to Fort Knox as one in a series of visits to Army installations to look at mental health care and Warrior Transition Units throughout the Army," Shaffery said. "Our elected officials often send staffers to visit Fort Knox and other Army posts to learn more (about) the Army and our missions."

Lieberman is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Boxer has been working with other senators to examine mental health care for service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Natalie Ravitz, Boxer's communications director, said the visit is part of a series of planned visits to bases nationwide, "but Sgt. Cassidy's death did prompt our staff to move up their visit to Fort Knox.

"One of the issues Senators Boxer and Lieberman have been looking at closely is treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD," Ravitz said.

Cassidy, 32, suffered brain injuries in a roadside blast in Iraq and was assigned to one of 35 transition units that were created after The Washington Post revealed substandard outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Bayh said Cassidy received "substandard care" at Fort Knox and tried unsuccessfully for five months to get transferred to a specialized private facility in Indianapolis that could deal with his condition.


McMullen's voice broke with emotion as she said she hopes Bayh's efforts prevent other families from suffering like hers.

"I think things have gotten better" at Fort Knox, she said. "But I think they've got a long way to go."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Researchers found that failing to publish negative findings inflated the reported effectiveness of all 12 of the antidepressants studied."

An article in the WSJ reports that most research studies reporting negative results for Antidepressants were never published. This is quoting from the New England Journal of Medicine.

The effectiveness of a dozen popular antidepressants has been exaggerated by selective publication of favorable results, according to a review of unpublished data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.

As a result, doctors and patients are getting a distorted view of how well blockbuster antidepressants like Wyeth's Effexor and Pfizer Inc.'s Zoloft really work, researchers asserted in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.

Since the overwhelming amount of published data on the drugs show they are effective, doctors unaware of the unpublished data are making inappropriate prescribing decisions that aren't in the best interest of their patients, according to researchers led by Erick Turner, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health & Science University. Sales of antidepressants total about $21 billion a year, according to IMS Health.

Here's the sidebar snippet:
A review of research submitted to the FDA:

• Of 74 studies reviewed, 38 were judged to be positive by the FDA. All but one were published, researchers said.
• Most of the studies found to have negative or questionable results were not published, researchers found.

Source: The New England Journal of Medicine

Much more at the WSJ Story.

Autism Issues at the Judge Rotenburg Center

A YouTube video on Autism Issues at the Judge Rotenburg Center in Canton, Massachusetts. Human rights abuses against autistics are investigated in this docu-short.

Electric Shock is used and Advocated by the Judge Rotenburg Center. We are of the opinion that Electric Shock is cruel and unusual punishment disguised as therapy. We feel that it should be banned.

The Judge Rotenburg Center has 900 employees and annual revenues exceeding $56 million, charges $220,000 a year for each student.

But how dis it get its name?

In 1985, after representations from the National Society for Autistic Children and other advocacy groups, the Massachusetts Office for Children sought to close the Institute. It was allowed to continue operation using aversion therapy under a settlement agreement approved by Chief Judge Ernest Rotenberg, and subsequently became known as the Judge Rotenberg Center.

But what is this thing called aversion therapy?

Until the late 1980s, aversion therapy was administered in the form of spanking with a spatula, pinching the feet, and forced inhalings of ammonia.

Later the Graduated Electronic Decelerator (GED) was invented to administer painful electric skin-shocks by remote control through electrodes worn against the skin at all times. More conventional treatments such as psychotherapy and psychiatric medication are not provided.

Concerns into the treatment regime prompted investigation by New York City Council[6] and an independent report was commissioned which was critical of both processes and oversight at the facility. In spite of these findings, and the deaths of six students enrolled in the school, the school remains open.

Furthermore, members of the autistic community have expressed great concern that the methods of treatment are ineffective, excessive, and possibly a human rights violation.

Many parents of difficult children are highly supportive of the treatment, especially as they can use the GED on home visits. Said one mother, "[All I have to do is show it to my son and...] he'll automatically comply to whatever my signal command may be, whether it is 'Put on your seatbelt,' or 'Hand me that apple,' or 'Sit appropriately and eat your food,'... It's made him a human being, a civilized human being."
Wonderful, Terrorism as a form of parenting. Kids behaving based on intense fear, not based on education, example, or empathy. Didn't they try this at Abu-Grabe?

All of which sounds like the doctrine of "The beatings will continue until morale improves"

More Examples
Recently, the Center has come under fire thanks to the Mother Jones article "School of Shock, which publicized the questionable treatment used at the the Center.

Dr. Matthew Israel, founder of the JRC, has been known to utilize the GED on children who merely suffer from ADD. The article documents a case in which one of the childcare "professionals" (who don't even possess college degrees) shocked a young girl who sneezed for asking for a tissue.

More severe offenses are punished by strapping the child to the board and shocking them again and again for ten straight minutes. Also, their is a current lawsuit against the center filed by the parents of a former patient.

The Center petitioned the courts to give the plaintiff a court appointed guardian, who authorized the Center to use a GED on the child, thus bypassing parental consent.

Also, although Israel points to the theories of B. F. Skinner as evidence for the effectiveness of aversive therapy, Skinner himself denounced the treatment late in his life.

In light of this new publicity, many activists are now speaking out against the Center. Massachusetts teenagers have formed the group Massachusetts Students United Against the Judge Rotenberg Center, which is based at Brandeis University in Waltham, 20 miles away from the school's Canton campus. Currently, this group, along with others such as the Association of Retarded Citizens, is campaigning for harsher restrictions on the use of aversive therapy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Massachusetts Investigating Electric Shock at the Rotenburg School

As Reported By the Boston Herald, who devotes entirely too little space to the story abou the Rotten-Burg School. Also covered by WBZ radio, who also have an audio report highlighting the activism at the Brandeis University against the practice.

A legislative committee will examine the use of electric shock treatments on students at a controversial special education school.

Today’s hearing follows a state investigation into an incident last summer at a group home in Stoughton run by the Judge Rotenberg Education Center. Two emotionally disturbed students were wrongly given dozens of shocks after a prank call from a person posing as a supervisor.

The Committee on Children, Families and Individuals with Disabilities is considering a bill that would prohibit aversive therapy and another that would restrict its use.

Psychologists and former Rotenberg employees are among those expected to testify in favor of the legislation. But some parents are scheduled to testify about what they say are the benefits of the therapy.

Psychiatrist was insane at time of murder

We somehow suspect that the shrink had been well medicated with anti-depressents, whose side effects include, among other things, homicidal thoughts and ideas, depending on the particular drug involved. Report from the BBC

A psychiatrist who drowned her daughter in a bath has been found not guilty of murder, by reason of insanity.

Lynn Gibbs, 47, admitted killing her 16-year-old daughter Ciara at their home in Gowran, County Kilkenny, in November 2006.

Both the prosecution and defence had argued at Dublin's Circuit Criminal Court that she had been suffering from a mental disorder at the time.

It took the jury 20 minutes to reach its conclusion.

Mrs Gibbs had taken an overdose of sleeping tablets and anti-depressants in an attempt to kill herself after drowning her daughter Ciara.

'Clearly depressed'

The jury had heard earlier from fellow psychiatrist and friend Dr Marese Cheasty, who had visited the house on the night Ciara died.

Dr Cheasty said although Mrs Gibbs was clearly depressed and her thinking distorted, she never thought she was a danger to herself or anyone else.

She said she had urged her to go into hospital, but Mrs Gibbs did not want to because she wanted to be there for Ciara, whom she feared was suffering from anorexia.

The court also heard from Mrs Gibbs' younger sister and her stepmother, who both told of their concerns for Lynn and Ciara's wellbeing in the preceeding weeks.

Ciara's father and brother found her body lying on the floor of an en-suite bathroom, while Mrs Gibbs was lying on the bedroom floor.

Mr Gibbs tried to resuscitate his daughter, but could not.

Mrs Gibbs told gardai two months later that she remembered running a bath and pushing her daughter under the water.
There are many more details in this report

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What Vague Pharmaceutical Industry-Invented Malady Do You Have?

From the Jezebel Weblog

Fibromyalgia. It sounds so daunting -- like angina! which also sounds like vagina, or chlamydia. And if the pharmaceutical industry's multibillion-dollar marketing machine has any sort of pathway into your consuming psyche, you're probably aware of this hot new disease. Hasn't the industry gotten so much better at naming new maladies since the whole dubious "restless leg syndrome" thing?

Anyway, here's fibromyalgia in brief: it affects primarily women around their middle ages -- potentially 10 million of them in this country according to advocacy group, which means something like one in five. You'll know you have it if you start to feel "chronic, widespread pain of unknown origin." The pain won't respond to anti-inflammatories, and no one knows where it comes from really, so instead of trying to sell you on something to soothe the pain, the pharmaceutical companies -- namely Pfizer -- is trying to soothe your brain's perception of pain. Clever! Okay, so here's the shocker: some people think fibromyalgia is a bit, you know, fictionyalgia. And "some people" includes the doctor who named it in the first place.

Why invent a disease? Well, if you've got a drug with a limited market -- like Pfizer's Lyrica, originally developed for seizures, it's pretty genius business to make up a mysterious new ailment that a lot of people could potentially have or be scared they have. Where do you think ADD came from? What about "bipolar disorder"? "Irritable bowel syndrome"? Oh sure, those diseases affect one in 1.5 Americans, and we have them too, but:
...Those figures are sharply disputed by those doctors who do not consider fibromyalgia a medically recognizable illness and who say that diagnosing the condition actually worsens suffering by causing patients to obsess over aches that other people simply tolerate.
But why tolerate when you can obsess? And speaking of obsessing, did you know ADD makes people obsessive? I should be done with this post already but I didn't have enough amphetamines today. What about you?

Drug Approved. Is Disease Real? [NY Times]

Parents file suit: Agency cleared psychiatric hospital despite autistic boy's deep cuts, dehydration.

An extensive article detailing neglect in a psychiatric hosptial, as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. A truly horrifying case.

The ambulance crew found Vince Allen on the hospital floor, curled into a fetal position, languishing in a soiled diaper. The 15-year-old, an ambulance technician later wrote, was covered with open wounds from "severe body mutilation."

When the technician asked what happened during Allen's 12-day stay at the state psychiatric hospital in Atlanta, a nurse said, "Well ...," and shrugged.

At Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital, where the ambulance crew took Allen for treatment, a physician described Allen as "emaciated." He was dehydrated. His kidneys had failed. Bruises and cuts covered his head, his chest, his abdomen, his legs, his neck, his buttocks. Several wounds, doctors wrote, were "superinfected" —- so badly, they had to be drained surgically.

Deep, black-crusted wounds and inflamed scratches ran across his body, photographs taken at Hughes Spalding shortly after Allen's admission in January 2006 show. Even his teeth were caked with blood.

The agency that operates the state's seven psychiatric hospitals twice documented Allen's precipitous decline. Yet, in separate investigations, it cleared employees at Georgia Regional Hospital/Atlanta of wrongdoing.

"Unsubstantiated," the agency concluded about allegations of neglect and abuse. "Lack of sufficient evidence."

The injuries to Allen, who is autistic, required 36 days of treatment at Hughes Spalding. Last week his parents sued the agency, the state Department of Human Resources, claiming the boy was "neglected and mistreated to the point of death" at Georgia Regional.

What happened to Allen at Georgia Regional reflects a pattern of poor medical care at the state hospitals. An investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that at least 115 patients died under suspicious circumstances and that authorities substantiated almost 200 cases of patient abuse from 2002 through 2006. As many as 21 more questionable deaths occurred in 2007, the newspaper recently reported.

A state-funded study recently questioned the quality of care in the chronically overcrowded and understaffed facilities and recommended more hiring, better pay and closer attention to medical treatment.

What happened after Allen left Georgia Regional illustrates another persistent failing in the state hospitals: deficient investigations into alleged maltreatment or abuse. The Journal-Constitution's review of hundreds of cases found that officials rarely call in police or other outside agencies and often dismiss complaints before compiling all pertinent information.

In Allen's case, the investigator relied only on Georgia Regional's employees and files. The investigator did not examine records from Hughes Spalding or interview doctors there. Her report makes no mention of the photos of Allen's injuries.

A DHR spokeswoman, Dena Smith, declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit and privacy regulations.

The lawsuit, Allen's medical file and other documents depict grim conditions in the state hospital.

Allen, who is virtually mute, was bathed just twice at Georgia Regional. He never brushed his teeth. His arms and head unrestrained, he scratched and gouged and bit himself over and over. Open sores went untended. When a child protective caseworker visited, Allen was lying half-naked on the floor.

He looked, the caseworker wrote later, as if he had been "whipped."
There is much more at the link

Another Psychiatrist Gives up His License

As reported in the Bangor Daily News. Looks like the doctor has taken an attitude similar to Alfred E Neuman of Mad Magazine fame: "What? Me worry?" Surely the complaint heard in some quarters of the decline of psychiatry cannot be helped by some many giving up their license.

After complaints about his professional conduct, longtime Bangor psychiatrist Takeo Kawamura has voluntarily surrendered his license to practice medicine in Maine, according to the state’s Board of Licensure in Medicine. Kawamura’s loss of licensure took effect on Jan. 8 and is permanent.

The complaints include an allegation that Kawamura mismanaged one patient’s medications and failed to competently treat another patient who ultimately committed suicide.

In a public document obtained from the medical licensing board, Kawamura neither admitted nor denied allegations of incompetence and professional misconduct. But he conceded that the board had sufficient evidence to "reasonably conclude" he failed to adequately monitor the medical care and medications of two patients, behavior that "could amount to incompetence and unprofessional conduct, and constitutes grounds for discipline of his Maine license."

In a complaint received by the board in March 2006, a female patient alleged she suffered side effects from her medication because of Kawamura’s failure to adequately monitor the amount of medication in her blood. According to the public document, Kawamura asserted he had treated the patient appropriately.

In March 2007, the board received information about another patient who had committed suicide while under Kawamura’s care. After its review of the case, the board initiated a complaint alleging incompetence. Kawamura denied providing incompetent care to the patient, according to the public document.

In the consent agreement signed Jan. 8, Kawamura agreed to surrender his license permanently in order to resolve the complaints without further board proceedings.

In 2006, Kawamura signed another consent decree that required him to take a board-approved course in medical ethics each calendar year and to obtain ongoing therapeutic counseling himself. He also was required to discontinue treating family members unless they were in joint therapy.

Kawamura is a 1958 graduate of Chiba University in Japan and had been licensed in Maine since 1962. He served as the chief of psychiatry at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and as the head of outpatient services at Acadia Hospital in Bangor.

Kawamura’s office was closed Monday because of the snowstorm. An answering service operator said Kawamura had "resigned" but had no further information. The call was not immediately returned. Kawamura’s home phone number is unpublished.

Psychiatrist denies murdering her teenage daughter

As reported in the Irish Independant

A jury of nine women and three men has been selected to hear the trial of a psychiatrist charged with murdering her teenage daughter.

Lynn Gibbs (46), a psychiatrist from Killure in Gowran, Co Kilkenny, is charged with murdering her 16-year-old daughter Ciara at Killure, in November 2006.

Mrs Gibbs denied the charge when she appeared at the Central Criminal Court at Dublin yesterday morning.

The court heard the trial will start today and turns on a single issue that will be determined by expert psychiatric evidence.

Brendan Grehan, for the Director of Public Prosecution, said the case is expected to take between one and one-and-a-half days.

Mrs Gibbs is represented by Patrick Gageby.

262 freed from Irish psychiatric hospitals in the past year.

Around 20 Irish psychiatric patients are now being released every month after pleading their case before special tribunals. They were originally detained in mental hospitals against their will, and now have the option of independent tribunals. The mental health tribunals were set up over a year ago to allow patients who were the subject of involuntary detention orders to make their case to have it lifted. Previously, they had to rely on the sympathy of psychiatrists to deem if they were suitable to have the order lifted. Apparently, there was an obvious need for this sort of procedure in the name of ordinary justice and human rights. From the Irish Idependent

New figures from the Mental Health Commission show that 262 involuntary patients had the orders removed after appearing before the tribunals between December 2006 and November 2007. There have been a total of 2,227 hearings to date.

The tribunals are made up of doctors, members of the public and psychiatrists. The patient is able to appear in person to put their case forward.

There were 1,504 people detained against their will during that time -- down on the previous year following the introduction of more complex procedures for admission.

The detainee can opt for a Mental Health Commission-appointed solicitor and can appeal a tribunal ruling in the circuit court.

Since the beginning of the new legislation, 216 children have been detained in adult psychiatric facilities because of a lack of beds. Five of these children were detained against their will, and 12 were aged between 13 and 14.

However, psychiatrist Dr Patricia Casey said this situation was unacceptable.

"The HSE and also the Department of Finance need to be reminded that this situation is in breach of all international standards for the treatment of children with mental health issues. Children need facilities of their own," she said.

Monday, January 14, 2008

SSRIs and Dangerous Drug combinations

As seen in this quick article, SSRIs can be dangerous when used used in certain combinations with other drugs. The article also covers other drugs, but we have selected the quote on the psychiatric use of SSRIs.

Dangerous Drug combinations are putting many people at risk, a fact few realize. As Americans take more and more medications for everything from upset stomachs to depression, drug clashes have fueled a new epidemic of unexpected, sometimes dangerous side effects and complications. One recent study suggested that at least 1.3 million Americans have prescriptions for drugs that could cause problems if taken together—and that only counts people with health insurance. Although the overall toll is unknown, it’s undoubtedly huge, experts say. And growing. Taking many medications at the same time, or large doses of a few, can result in a conflict according to Marietta Anthony, PhD, associate director of the Center for Education Research and Therapeutics at the University of Arizona. Common items like drugstore pain relievers can clash with other meds.

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can conflict with a triptan drug used to treat migraines because triptans and SSRIs both increase serotonin levels and too much serotonin can cause serotonin syndrome resulting in mania, increased heart rate, seizures, and death.

Chronic use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause bleeding ulcers and other stomach troubles. Adding an SSRI increases this risk since serotonin encourages blood platelets to stick together, but because platelets soak up less serotonin when one is on an SSRI, they may have trouble clumping together to form clots and prevent excessive bleeding.
Of course, as documented elsewhere on this site, SSRIs are dangerous all by themselves, due to various other side effects.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

An Open Letter to Dr. Phil

Hopefully this should be the last nail in the coffin of the Dr. Phil and Britney Spears fiasco. But knowing Hollywood, the crazy train hasn't even left the station yet. That said, this open letter by shrink Patricia a Farrell nicely sums ups some of the issues.

The news about Britney Spears and her many problems hasn’t been good and now there’s another problem and it is related to ethics, a person’s right to privacy and their legal right to decide who they want visiting them in a hospital.

Then there’s the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) matter where hospitals and their personnel aren’t supposed to reveal anything about any patients or even that someone is a patient there.

If they don’t follow HIPPA regs, they leave themselves open to a lawsuit. Of course that only applies to licensed professionals and you're not licensed. Numerous violations seem to have been committed, perhaps, by ignorance. So, let’s set some of the record straight.

Phil, if you look back to the time when you were a licensed psychologist in Texas (which you’re not now because the California licensing board has decided you’re an “entertainer” not a psychologist), you probably remember that confidentiality was the backbone of the field. No psychologist would reveal anything about their patients, but since you’re not a psychologist anymore, I guess talking to the media about someone’s psychiatric problems is permissible. I mean, for an entertainer it is, isn’t it?

You might also remember that after about the age of 16 (depending on the state), everyone has a right to make certain decisions free from the wishes of their parents. That might have been something you ran across when scheduling guests for your entertainment TV show.

So, Britney really should have been the one to invite you to her hospital room, or you should have asked her permission to come to see her. Didn’t you think you were blindsiding her by showing up that way and did any of your prior clinical experience not kick in?

To use a phrase of which you are quite fond: What were you thinking?

Now that the chance to really help Britney has gotten a bit more difficult and has been pushed so publicly away, give your actions some thought and forget about the entertainment value of all this. Britney doesn’t deserve to be dogged the way she is being presently and she doesn’t need to be fed up and served to an audience in all her vulnerability.

Final word: Don’t kick someone when they’re down. It’s really a cheap thing to do and shows no class.
Also of interest is this blog item reflecting on the Britney Spears case:
Actress Frances Farmer came to my mind as I was driving home. She was a famous actress in the '30s and '40s and she was haunted by how cruel the tabloid press could be. She was an easy target. Like Britney, Francis Farmer was drawn to alcohol and drugs and therefore prone to mental illness and self destruction. Farmer had a mother who used her and betrayed her according to her sister's biography. Farmer was in and out of mental institutions her whole life. The tabloid-Hollywood-press loved her tirades and pictures of her often alcohol induced inappropriate behavior garnered top dollar.

What kind of people use the personal carnage of another for entertainment without a thimble full of sympathy? We have devolved into a strange fruit indeed. During one famous episode when Frances Farmer was taken away in hand cuffs, she yelled at the police, "Haven't you ever had a broken heart?" Clearly some part of Britney's heart is broken.

Julia Roberts was recently quoted as saying she knows what it's like to be hounded by paparazzi. Regarding Britney she said, "I just want to hug her." Apparently Britney threw Dr. Phil out of the hospital room 10 minutes after his arrival. So Julia and anyone else with a heart that Britney might listen to, now is the time for the hugs.