Friday, March 28, 2008

Pfizer Executive Faces Charges In Child Porn Probe

As reported in The Day Pfizer is well known as a manufacturer of many medications, including psychiatric drugs.

Federal agents have charged Pfizer Inc.'s global patent director with receiving, distributing and possessing child pornography and are holding him without bond.

Alan Hesketh, 61, of 202 Montauk Ave., Stonington, is accused of posing as a 28-year-old female while trading hundreds of images of children engaged in sexual acts.

He allegedly traded the images with a man from Buffalo, N.Y., while chatting with him online between June 2006 and May 2007.

The two men discussed, “among other things, the sexual molestation of children involving the use of human defecation,” according to a court document.

Hesketh allegedly used the screen name “Suzibibaby” during the online sessions.

Federal agents found he signed on as “Suzibibaby” from his home in Stonington and from several other Internet addresses, including one registered to Pfizer in New York and another at the Tudor Hotel at the United Nations, where he was a guest for three days in December 2007.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Hesketh at JFK International Airport in New York on Wednesday.

Hesketh is a British citizen and a permanent resident of the United States, where he has lived since 2002. It did not appear he was trying to flee the country at the time of his arrest, according to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

Hesketh was presented in U.S. District Court in Hartford on Thursday, where Judge Donna F. Martinez scheduled a bond hearing for Monday afternoon.

Pfizer spokeswoman Liz Power said Thursday that Hesketh, whose office is in New London, is on a leave of absence from the company.

“Pfizer will cooperate with authorities in any investigation,” she said.

Hesketh is the company's vice president and global head of patents, which is a part of the legal division of Pfizer Inc.

According to an affidavit prepared by Special Agent Jason P. Dragon, an investigation that began in Buffalo in June 2007 led authorities to Hesketh.

Federal agents suspected Buffalo resident Gregory Nadolski of sharing and receiving images of child pornography via the Google “hello” file-sharing program, which enables users to share digital images with one another while chatting online.

The authorities seized two computers from Nadolski, who admitted to possessing child pornography and trading images online using the screen name “mrko9850.”

Nadolski's computer contained 27 “hello” chat logs between the screen names “mrko9850” and “Suzibibaby” — Hesketh's alleged screen name. The two shared more than 1,000 images, many of which appeared to contain child pornography.

The Buffalo office on Feb. 22 turned over a disk containing the images and video files to Dragon, the Hartford agent.

Dragon prepared a 40-page affidavit, dated March 26, that requests a judge's permission to search the Montauk Avenue, Stonington, home where Hesketh resides with Jan Hesketh and to seize Hesketh's computer. It was unclear Thursday evening whether the search has been conducted.

The affidavit contains the text of a “hello” chat conversation that allegedly took place between Hesketh and Nadolski in the early-morning hours of April 24, 2007. The two sent 85 photos back and forth to one another while carrying on an explicit discussion involving babies, feces and sexual acts.

At one point, “Suzibibaby” sent “mrko9850” a picture of “herself.” The pictured depicted a 25- to 30-year-old woman, according to the court document.

As a defendant in a federal court case, Hesketh is entitled to have the case presented to a grand jury. If he is indicted and convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and maximum term of 20 years for receiving and distributing child pornography and a maximum of 10 years in prison for possession of child porn. He also faces as much as $500,000 in fines.

Hesketh is being prosecuted as part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation.

Vermont spent millions on suspect drug Zyprexa

From the Barre Montpelier Times Argus

As the lawsuits against Eli Lilly over its top-selling anti-schizophrenia drug Zyprexa began piling up in 2006, Vermont's state-run insurance program spent nearly $4 million on the drug, according to documents.

That amount may seem like a drop in the bucket when compared to Zyprexa's 2007 sales of $4.8 billion in the United States, but the payments through Vermont's Medicaid program came at a time when 10 states and upwards of 30,000 people were suing the company over the drug.

Launched in 1996, Zyprexa has become the top-selling medication for drug-maker Eli Lilly. But those sales are dropping as lawsuits and leaked corporate documents reveal a decade-long effort to downplay the side effects, including weight gain and an increased chance of diabetes, in the company's promotion of the drug.

Just this week the state of Alaska, population 670,000, settled its lawsuit against Eli Lilly for $15 million over what it claimed were increased Medicaid costs due to health problems associated with taking Zyprexa. That was the first state to settle with the company in the lawsuits.

Vermont is not one of the states now suing Eli Lilly. But on Thursday, the Vermont Association for Mental Health, a Montpelier-based advocacy organization, urged the state to pursue that legal option. Executive Director Ken Libertoff said this case was a "sad commentary" on the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.

"No one doubts that psychotropic medications can be an important part of treatment, but as this case will show, improper marketing, concealment of important health information and huge financial payments have polluted the environment," Libertoff said.

While it may not be suing Eli Lilly, Vermont is investigating how the company marketed its drug to doctors and others here, according to Julie Brill, Vermont's assistant attorney general. She said the state subpoenaed marketing materials and internal company documents detailing its marketing plan in January 2007.

Brill said that inquiry is still on-going and she was mum on further details. She said she did not know when more informa-tion on their investigation could be made available to the public.

"We do have an ongoing consumer protection investigation," she said.

The $3.96 million spent on Zyprexa by Vermont in 2006 appears to be an unusually high number – and impacted because that financial year was the start of the new federal Medicare Part D program that subsidized the cost of prescription drugs, according to Ann Rugg, the deputy director of the Office of Vermont Health Access, which oversees the publicly-funded insurance programs.

The spending has since dropped, although it is still in the millions. In 2007, $1.5 million was paid by the state and during the first three quarters of the current financial year, the state is on track to pay about $1 million.

Michael Hartman, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Mental Health, said Thursday that all medications have potential side effects, but the situation with Zyprexa is especially troubling due to the allegation that the company went out of its way to downplay its health consequences.

He faulted the Food and Drug Administration for its lax authority over the testing of new drugs, saying the federal organization needs to rely more on independent tests as opposed to the ones submitted by the drug-makers.

"A patient needs to understand and have all the information about the medication to make an informed decision," he said.

Hartman said Zyprexa was likely marketed in Vermont in the same way that the drug was marketed in other states. He said there is an "awful lot of trust or acceptance that the information provided" to mental health professionals in the field is accurate.

"If we can find that there is reason to believe that this wasn't done properly … show a purposeful pattern of deceiving people, that is a door that could be explored," Hartman said when asked if Vermont should join other states in the Zyprexa lawsuits. More than 23 million people have taken Zyprexa since it hit the market as a medication to soothe hallucinations and delusions. But company documents leaked to the New York Times show that the company encouraged doctors to prescribe the drug "off-label," meaning for uses not approved by the FDA.

Federal law prohibits such off-label marketing, although doctors are allowed to prescribe drugs more freely.

Tens of thousands of lawsuits have also been filed over the side effects of the drug, which include massive weight gain and blood sugar boosts – all known risk factors for diabetes. So far, the company has paid out $1.2 billion to settle many of the lawsuits.

So far, Eli Lilly has maintained its innocence. The company did not return a phone call for comment Thursday, but an executive told the New York Times this week that "a settlement helps us get back to what we want to focus on as a company …"

Zyprexa has been an effective medication for some patients, but its use has dropped in recent years once reports of the side effects surfaced, according to Jonathan Wecker, a Montpelier psychiatrist.

"I don't remember any talk of these side effects when the drug first came out," he said. "And clearly, the association we've seen since to diabetes has caused this drug to drop off a bit."

The ironic twist to the surge and fall of Zyprexa is that a government-funded study has shown that the older antipsychotic medications can be just as effective as the newer, more expensive medications, according to Adrianne Fugh-Berman, an associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

"The pharmaceutical companies have really gone out of their way to cast doubt on this government-funded trial in order to decrease its credibility in physicians' minds," said Fugh-Berman, who is also the director of PharmedOut, an independent, physician-led organization that provides information on pharmaceutical drugs.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Half of Americans are in some way mentally ill, and one-quarter of the population has taken anti-depressants, not including that one time at a rave

Another person is waking up to the fraud the is Modern Psychiatry. An Editorial in the NY Sun, by Christoper Lane

America has reached a point where almost half its population is described as being in some way mentally ill, and nearly a quarter of its citizens - 67.5 million - have taken antidepressants.

These statistics have sparked a widespread, sometimes rancorous debate about whether people are taking far more medication than is needed for problems that may not even be mental disorders. Studies indicate that 40% of all patients fall short of the diagnoses that doctors and psychiatrists give them, yet 200 million prescriptions are written annually in America to treat depression and anxiety.

Those who defend such widespread use of prescription drugs insist that a significant part of the population is under-treated and, by inference, under-medicated. Those opposed to such rampant use of drugs note that diagnostic rates for bipolar disorder, in particular, have skyrocketed by 4,000% and that overmedication is impossible without over-diagnosis.

To help settle this long-standing dispute, I studied why the number of recognized psychiatric disorders has ballooned so dramatically in recent decades. In 1980, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders added 112 new mental disorders to its third edition, DSM-III. Fifty-eight more disorders appeared in the revised third edition in 1987 and fourth edition in 1994.

With over a million copies in print, the manual is known as the bible of American psychiatry; certainly it is an invoked chapter and verse in schools, prisons, courts, and by mental-health professionals around the world. The addition of even one new diagnostic code has serious practical consequences. What, then, was the rationale for adding so many in 1980?

After several requests to the American Psychiatric Association, I was granted complete access to the hundreds of unpublished memos, letters, and even votes from the period between 1973 and 1979, when the DSM-III task force debated each new and existing disorder. Some of the work was meticulous and commendable.

But the overall approval process was more capricious than scientific.

DSM-III grew out of meetings that many participants described as chaotic. One observer later remarked that the small amount of research drawn upon was "really a hodgepodge - scattered, inconsistent, and ambiguous." The interest and expertise of the task force was limited to one branch of psychiatry: neuropsychiatry. That group met for four years before it occurred to members that such one-sidedness might result in bias.

Incredibly, the lists of symptoms for some disorders were knocked out in minutes. The field studies used to justify their inclusion sometimes involved a single patient evaluated by the person advocating the new disease. Experts pressed for the inclusion of illnesses as questionable as "chronic undifferentiated unhappiness disorder" and "chronic complaint disorder," whose traits included moaning about taxes, the weather, and even sports results.

Social phobia, later dubbed "social anxiety disorder," was one of seven new anxiety disorders created in 1980. At first it struck me as a serious condition. By the 1990s experts were calling it "the disorder of the decade," insisting that as many as one in five Americans suffers from it. Yet the complete story turned out to be rather more complicated.

For starters, the specialist who in the 1960s originally recognized social anxiety - London-based Isaac Marks, a renowned expert on fear and panic - strongly resisted its inclusion in DSM-III as a separate disease category. The list of common behaviors associated with the disorder gave him pause: fear of eating alone in restaurants, avoidance of public toilets, and concern about trembling hands.

By the time a revised task force added dislike of public speaking in 1987, the disorder seemed sufficiently elastic to include virtually everyone on the planet.

To counter the impression that it was turning common fears into treatable conditions, DSM-IV added a clause stipulating that social anxiety behaviors had to be "impairing" before a diagnosis was possible. But who was holding the prescribers to such standards? Doubtless, their understanding of impairment was looser than that of the task force. After all, despite the impairment clause, the anxiety disorder mushroomed; by 2000, it was the third most common psychiatric disorder in America, behind only depression and alcoholism.

Over-medication would affect fewer Americans if we could rein in such clear examples of over-diagnosis. We would have to set the thresholds for psychiatric diagnosis a lot higher, resurrecting the distinction between chronic illness and mild suffering. But there is fierce resistance to this by those who say they are fighting grave mental disorders, for which medication is the only viable treatment.

Failure to reform psychiatry will be disastrous for public health. Consider that apathy, excessive shopping, and overuse of the Internet are all serious contenders for inclusion in the next edition of the DSM, due to appear in 2012. If the history of psychiatry is any guide, a new class of medication will soon be touted to treat them.

Sanity must prevail: if everyone is mentally ill, then no one is.

Who Does Your Doctor Really Work For?

In a sidelight from another medical field, TIME Magazine has an interesting article regarding the fallout from a US DOJ investigation into kickbacks in the filed of Orthopedics. We note that the Psychiatric field is probably also great fodder for this sort of thing. But the DOJ is probably just getting warmed up ....

The past year has been a tough one for the business of orthopedics, one in which it has taken a hard, public slap from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ, you see, has discovered the "relationships" that so many orthopedic companies have established with orthopedic surgeons. Companies give money to doctors to test products, to help design or tout products and sometimes just to use a particular product (as in kickback). Orthopedists are hardly the only doctors paid by medical companies, but when the sheer amount of money being given to orthopedists came out of the shade into the sharp San Francisco sunshine last week, it did make quite a few of us blink.

The DOJ's slap was felt acutely by everyone at the convention. No more free dinners, shoulder bags, flashlights and pens. Way fewer models in leotards draped across operating tables and traction equipment. A new ruling requires every research presentation to begin with full disclosure of all monetary relationships the speaker has with any company. Every single fully trained doctor I heard speak was getting paid by a company; many of the bigger-name doctors were getting paid by three or four. How much money was still the subject of gossip — the exact amount is not required to be broadcast in these podium confessionals. The DOJ has, however, ordered companies to list the doctors in their employ, as well as the amounts paid them, on their websites. Judging by those figures, it adds up to plenty. And it got our attention at AAOS. Some doctors thought it immoral; others lamented the doubt it cast on the integrity of research. But I think most just wanted in.

Psychiatrist Publishes Do-It-Yourself Suicide Guide

As seen here, probably from a Dutch news report

A Netherlands psychiatrist who assisted in the suicide of a grieving mother that ultimately led to the Dutch Supreme Court ruling that the depressed should have the right to kill themselves has now published a do-it-yourself guide to committing suicide.

The guide is expected to go on sale soon in the European nation and it contains detailed information on how people can use drugs to kill themselves.

It also contains information on how to perform other acts of suicide using starvation techniques and describes the quickest and least painful ways to do so.

"Doctors learn little about this subject during their training," author and psychiatrist Boudewijn Chabot says, according to the London Telegraph. "This book is for people who want to make their own decisions about ending their own lives."

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal in the Netherlands and, together, there are already about 4,400 suicides annually.

For noted bioethics watchdog Wesley Smith, that number is high enough already without the publication of a book encouraging more deaths.

"Not content with thousands of euthanasia and assisted suicide deaths a year, the Dutch are about to have access to a suicide guide," he said. "The Dutch have a high suicide rate already."

About Chabot, Smith said he's concerned such a prominent euthanasia advocate would be encouraging more people to kill themselves.

"The author is a true villain in the modern story of euthanasia and assisted suicide," Smith said.

Smith indicated the guide is the slippery slope of euthanasia that promotes death as a solution to any depression or medical ailments.

"The culture of death is like heroin: Once you start to mainline, it is never enough," Smith concluded.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shocking cost of mental health assesment

People are shocked, simply shocked, over the the staggering amount of extra income psychiatrists are making as part of the routine work they do for the work of committing someone involuntarily to a mental institution. As reported in the Norwich Evening News

Doctors are paid an additional fee of £175.97 for every assessment they carry out under the Mental Health Act, new figures have revealed.

Around £200,000 is paid out each year by the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Foundation Trust in addition to doctors' salaries when they carry out an assessment to determine whether an individual should be “sectioned”, meaning to compulsorily detain them.

The figures revealed to the Evening News through a request under the Freedom of Information Act, show from April 2005 to March 2006 £198,682 was paid out to doctors, £208,910 the following year and from April last year already £170,514 has been paid.

A person is sectioned if they are perceived to be a threat to themselves or other people. Two approved doctors, or a doctor and social worker has to be present. One of the doctors is usually a psychiatrist and the other - or social worker - is someone who knows the patient.

Sandra Flanagan, deputy chief executive from mental health charity MIND, said the figure “seems a lot of money” and could pay for an assertive outreach team of six people working with 20 patients.

She added: “I'm quite shocked by the figures.

“There should be some review of how much doctors are getting paid. They can demand any amount because of their professional status. That money could be much used to help people - £200,000 a year could run an intense assertive outreach team regularly supporting about 20 people. That would give people home visits and pay for social inclusion projects.

“It should be taken that a doctor should only be paid for their expenses.”

The trust argue that the approved doctors are “not paid twice” and the assessments take place outside their normal working hours, but they are in addition to their salary.

Dr Hadrian Ball, medical director at Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Assessments under the Mental Health Act can only be carried out by specially trained and experienced doctors, who have expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Such doctors are 'approved' by the Secretary of State under the terms of Section 12 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

“Doctors are paid the assessment fee only when the work involved falls outside of their normal contractual duties. The cost per assessment has been determined through national negotiations, between the British Medical Association and the NHS.”

But Dr Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North, said more needs to be looked into these fees - and other fees in addition to doctors' salaries.

He added: “This needs to be taken up within the department of health at a time when we are trying to find money.

“Doctors get a lot of extra money - that isn't really known about. If they get to a patient before they've died by get a fee known as ash cash - there are all sorts of extras.”

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shrinks say sex with their patients is an "occupational hazard" they just have to deal with

As reported in the NY Post

Shrinks are now labeling sex with their patients an "occupational hazard."

On the heels of the popular HBO series "In Treatment," in which a handsome 50-year-old psychologist played by Gabriel Byrne falls for a gorgeous 30-year-old patient who reveals her love and lust for him, psychiatrists are airing their own dirty little secret.

About 12 percent of therapists admit to sexual contact with patients, and many who cross the line are "the last person we would expect," Dr. Glen Gabbard told a crowd at a recent Manhattan conference.

"We all have to practice as if this could happen to us - it's an occupational hazard to which we are all vulnerable," said Gabbard, a psychiatrist who treats peers for sexual misconduct.

The conference focused on the HBO show and "erotic transference," a Freudian phenomenon in which patients develop romantic feelings for their therapists.

Sex with patients is a felony in California and eight other states, but not in New York.

Sultry prison psychologist Magdalena Sanchez, 35, pleaded guilty this month to lying about having sex with a 29-year-old alleged Bloods gang member in the Brooklyn federal lockup. Sanchez, married to a Wall Street trader, was caught on tape in steamy cellphone conversations with the prisoner.

Kips Bay psychologist Mary Anastasiow, a 55-year-old married mom, had sex 10 times in her office and minivan with a smitten female patient distraught over her dead cat, Peaches.

"It was the most passionate kissing and hugging I have ever been involved in," patient Susan Yellin said of the writhing and "moaning" on the therapist's couch.

But when Anastasiow suddenly dumped her - as both a lover and a patient - Yellin was crushed. "I felt so deeply abandoned," she said.

Yellin sued and settled for a confidential sum. Anastasiow lost her license.

Adolfo Hernandez, Psychiatrist, arrested after a 13-month investigation, faces up to 20 years in prison, facing 8 counts of unlawfully dispensing painkiller

From a report in the Indianapolis star.

An Indianapolis psychiatrist was arrested Friday at his Noblesville home after a federal grand jury indicted him on eight counts of dispensing medicine without a prescription.

Dr. Adolfo P. Hernandez, 67, is charged with eight counts of unlawfully dispensing the painkiller Percocet, according to Timothy M. Morrison, acting U.S. attorney for the Indianapolis-based district. Hernandez allegedly dispensed the drug outside the scope of his medical practice and not for legitimate medical purposes, Morrison said. Federal law identifies the drug, known generically as oxycodone, as one with a high potential for abuse.

The indictment issued Wednesday alleges Hernandez, a licensed physician in Indiana, unlawfully dispensed the drugs on at least eight occasions from Dec. 20 through March 13.

Mary Bippus, assistant to the U.S. attorney, said in a news release that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Drug Task Force arrested Hernandez after a 13-month investigation.

Undercover police called Hernandez on his home or cell phones to secure appointments at his office in the 700 block of East 52nd Street, the news release said. The officers paid $125 in exchange for prescriptions for oxycodone and Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug. Oxycodone is a controlled substance that may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence.

Hernandez conducted no medical examinations and created no medical records during the visits, and no medical staff or employees were observed, the release said. Records obtained through the investigation indicate the doctor has written more than 8,400 prescriptions in the past year.

Undercover officers observed that Hernandez’s office had the basics of a medical office and a security camera and monitor, but no telephone or fax machine, the release said.

The indictment asks that property acquired as a result of the unlawful distribution of the drugs be forfeited to the government. Hernandez is believed to own land and a home that was built in the past two years, valued at about $500,000, the release said.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry D. Glickman, who is prosecuting the case, Hernandez faces up to 20 years in prison on each count and a maximum possible fine of $8 million if found guilty. Hernandez was ordered to stay in the Marion County Jail until a hearing Thursday in Indianapolis federal court

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Some Psychiatrists Addicted To Diagnosing Internet Addiction Syndrome

With a shout out to the TechDirt weblog who has this short item on Shrinks and 'Internet Addiciton Syndrome

from the must-be-good-for-business dept

Over the past few years, we've seen so many "calls" to label the use of certain technologies as "addictions" that we've noticed something of a... well... addiction by some to call for new technology addictions. Among the long, long list of possible addictions has been email addiction, web addiction, online porn addiction, video game addiction, internet addiction, and mobile phones or other gadget addictions. Almost every time, the call for addiction comes from a psychologist or psychiatrist trying to build up a reputation for treating such "addictions." It must be good for business (and perhaps a lot less harrowing than treating some other types of addictions).

So it shouldn't come as any surprise to see a psychiatrist now calling for internet addiction to become an officially classified addiction in the next version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (basically the official rulebook for such things). Of course, there are a few problems, including the fact that research has shown little evidence that the internet is really addictive, and almost every story of internet addiction really tends to be about deeper issues that resulted in someone seeking an outlet on the internet (from depression, bad family situations, alcoholism, etc.). Focusing on the "internet" part tends to have people trying to treat a symptom, not the disease. Hopefully, this new push will follow the same path as the one last year to have video games declared an addiction too. It didn't take long for that idea to get shot down.

State board bans psychiatrist from prescribing meds to children

From a Report in the Grand Forks Herald

Dr. Thomas Peterson, a Grand Forks psychiatrist who is CEO and medical director of the Richard P. Stadter Center, cannot prescribe psychotropic medications to children after the North Dakota State Board of Medical Examiners found he overprescribed doses to two children younger than 12.

“Peterson was found to have prescribed excessive amounts of atypical antipsychotic medications to two children under his care,” according to Duane Houdek, executive secretary for the state board. The stipulation to Peterson’s license was made during the board’s regular meeting Friday in Bismarck.

These atypical antipsychotic medications include Risperdal, Zyprexa, Geodon and Seroquel.


The board found, and Peterson agreed, that he’d prescribed to one child “such an excessive amount of atypical antipsychotic medications (that) are beyond the acceptable standards of prescriptive practice for a child in this age group.” For the other child, the board found he prescribed a “particular combination of medications” that was “injudicious and an excessive use of atypical antipsychotics.”

Specific information, such as who filed the complaints, is not publicly available. Both complaints are from incidents that occurred in 2006, but Houdek declined to say when the complaints were filed with the board. “We act on them as soon as we get them,” he said.

On Tuesday, Houdek provided the Herald with a copy of an amended complaint filed Jan. 25 detailing specific medications and dosages each child was prescribed. The complaint asked for Peterson’s license to be revoked, but the parties reached an agreement Feb. 19 to place the restriction on Peterson’s license until he can show he attended the class on how to dose children.

Houdek said the board “didn’t have information of immediate harm” to the two children, identified in the complaint only as Patient A and Patient B.

Details, According to the complaint:

Patient A — whose birth date is redacted from the complaint, but who officials say is younger than 12 — was admitted to the Stadter Center under Peterson’s care and diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder. The child had “suicidal threats, physical aggression toward his mom and trouble sleeping at night,” and medication sheets indicated the child’s diagnosis as nonspecific depression.

“During (Patient A’s) hospitalization, he continued to struggle with aggression and other behavior issues, but at no time was there any documentation of psychotic symptoms, hallucinations, delusions, paranoia or any other symptoms suggestive of manic spells.”

But the child was prescribed antipsychotics, including Seroquel, Risperdal and Zyprexa.

Patient A continued to take the medications during hospitalization and when discharged from the center.

Patient B, whose age also was redacted from the complaint, was admitted to the Stadter Center under Peterson’s care after “exhibit(ing) agitation, aggression and behavior issues at home and in the school setting.”

This child was diagnosed with “bipolar disorder, mixed, severe, pervasive developmental disorder and borderline intellectual functioning.”

The child already was taking two atypical antipsychotic medications and two mood stabilizers when admitted to the center for care. The child’s mother “called and complained to (Peterson) about (Patient B) being on too many medications, and on one occasion, even requested a transfer to a different facility.”

The child was discharged “on a high dose of Depakote” which equaled “1,375 milligrams, higher than commonly used for a 5 year old (sic)” and two separate prescriptions of Geodon (an antipsychotic medication). Peterson “in effect, sent (Patient B) home with two atypical antipsychotic medications, which is injudicious and an excessive use” of them, according to the complaint.

Peterson and the board agreed that his authority to prescribe these medications to children would be suspended at the end of February, according to the complaint. The board didn’t act on the agreement until Friday.

Peterson “looks forward to appearing before the board at a special telephone hearing on his petition to satisfy the board that he has complied with the agreement,” according to Schreiner.

The board hadn’t received a copy of the petition for review Tuesday afternoon, so it was hard to say when a special hearing would be scheduled, Houdek said.

Disciplined before

Peterson has been disciplined by the board before, Houdek said.

He received a “letter of censure” from the board after the 1997 flood “because he had put out an ad that implied the offices of other psychiatrists were closed,” Houdek said.

Once a review is complete, and if the board reinstates Peterson’s license with no restrictions, Peterson’s license will remain on probation for three years.

Peterson has been licensed to practice in North Dakota since 1991, according to Houdek.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Schoolboy found hanged in his bedroom after Ritalin prescription was increased

A report from the Daily Mail.

A schoolboy who was taking Ritalin has been found hanged in his bedroom.

Anthony Cole, 15, had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and recently had his prescription for the drug increased.

Recent research claims that Ritalin, also used to combat hyperactivity in children, has led to many developing "manic and psychotic" symptoms.

The drug has previously faced criticism for side effects that include mood swings and sleeping difficulties.

Anthony's father said he had noticed the schoolboy becoming snappy and acting as if in a trance shortly before he died.

Days earlier, he had asked his mother how to write a will and enquired about life insurance.

On Saturday, an hour after cuddling her and telling his family he loved them, Anthony was found dead by his father.

Colin, 51, of Conniburrow, Milton Keynes, said yesterday: "He was just so cheerful and always smiling, but I think he bottled a lot of his feelings up.

"He had said he was worried about his GCSEs and that bigger boys at school had been picking on him.

"He had his problems but on school holidays he seemed so much calmer and happier.

"But when he went back to school after the recent half-term break he became really snappy and tense. Sometimes he acted like he was in a trance."

"He was a very inquisitive boy, he was interested in electronics and mechanics. On Saturday he was watching me fix a plug and asking lots of questions.

"He disappeared to his bedroom and about an hour later we called him down for lunch. But when he didn't reply I went upstairs and found him hanging there."

Anthony's mother Tina, 45, added: "I was peeling potatoes with him when he asked me about making a will.

"I was really shocked but I thought it was just his inquisitive nature. We have a lot of unanswered questions.

"Sadly Anthony has taken many of the answers with him."

Anthony, who leaves his twin brother and sister, ten, and sister, 13, was prescribed Ritalin six years ago when he was diagnosed with ADHD. An inquest into his death will take place in June.

Two years ago, an investigation by the U.S. authorities said the drug should carry a warning that those taking it could suffer from mania and aggression.

The drug and related brands have been blamed for 11 children's deaths in the UK.

State suspends area psychiatrist - License yanked after incident at UMMC

Apparently she didn't feel like leaving a party to do her job, and then was acting offensively and arrogant, etc -- well you read the story. As reported in the Worcester Telegram

State medical regulators last week suspended the license of a local psychiatrist, who practiced at UMass Memorial Medical Center and at a private practice in Westboro, after the doctor allegedly ignored an on-call assignment last spring and then assaulted two hospital police officers and a nursing supervisor later that day.

Dr. Perveen Rathore, 51, of 5 Arrowhead Lane, Westboro, voluntarily agreed not to practice medicine in early June 2007, shortly after the fracas at UMass Memorial. The state Board of Registration in Medicine yanked her medical license March 5, according to state records.

The board’s order alleges Dr. Rathore was the on-call psychiatrist for UMass Memorial on Sunday, May 20, but refused to come in to evaluate an uncooperative patient because she was at a party at the time.

When she showed up at the hospital later that day — after another psychiatrist had been summoned to do the competency evaluation — Dr. Rathore refused to leave the building and grew increasingly belligerent, according to the order. A nursing supervisor called hospital police when she found Dr. Rathore typing an e-mail in the building after being told to leave several times.

“Two UMass police officers approached the respondent and instructed her to leave the hospital, but the respondent ignored them and kept typing,” the order states. “One of the police officers reached over to shut off the computer monitor, and the respondent struck him.”

When the officers moved to arrest Dr. Rathore, she screamed and fought with them and also struck the nursing supervisor, according to the order.

Dr. Rathore was charged with three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot), disorderly conduct and trespassing. The charges were later dismissed in Central District Court, according to court records.

UMass Memorial spokeswoman Alison Duffy said the hospital accepted the state board’s disciplinary action against Dr. Rathore.

“She did not practice here after the May 2007 incident. She was removed from service at that point,” Ms. Duffy said.

Dr. Rathore also had a private practice called Child and Family Services of Westborough, according to the report. The West Main Street psychiatric office’s telephone number has been disconnected.

After the incident with UMass Memorial police, the doctor was taken to the emergency room complaining of chest pain. She was civilly committed to Wing Memorial Hospital in Palmer that day and released two days later, according to the order.

Dr. Rathore’s home telephone number in Westboro is unlisted, and her Boston lawyer didn’t return a call yesterday.

The suspension of her medical license could be lifted if she successfully completes a program of behavioral modification and treatment, according to the order.

“The board’s primary goal is always to ensure patient safety, but it always wants to help physicians return to health practice,” said Russell Aims, spokesman for the Board of Registration in Medicine.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Murrieta psychiatrist suspected of wrongly prescribing medications

From a report in the Desert Sun

A Murrieta psychiatrist accused of violating federal drug laws for allegedly prescribing pain medications without performing the required medical exams is scheduled to be arraigned today in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

Joel Stanley Dreyer faces federal narcotics distribution charges for allegedly making prescription opiates like OxyContin and Vicodin, as well as anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax, available to patients in return for a $100 fee -- and free of any diagnostic procedures, according to prosecutors.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office has also charged Dreyer with multiple felony counts of filling false prescriptions.

The 70-year-old psychiatrist, whose license to practice medicine in California has been suspended, was arrested in July on state charges, posted bail, then was taken into custody by FBI agents on Feb. 14 while appearing for a scheduled hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Akrotirianakis said the defendant is free on a $50,000 federal bond but must wear an electronic ankle bracelet with GPS tracking technology at all times.

``He can go to the doctor, attend religious services and meet with his lawyer, but in all instances he is restricted to traveling within the Central District of California,'' which includes Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange counties, Akrotirianakis said.

He said between December 2005 and last summer, it's believed Dreyer wrote thousands of prescriptions for painkillers and anti-anxiety pills.

A joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency, California Medical Board, California Department of Justice and Murrieta Police Department got under way after one of the doctor's former patients died from an overdose of OxyContin on Christmas Day 2005, according to a federal criminal complaint.

The victim's brother, apparently conducting his own investigation, went to Dreyer for painkillers and sleeping aids, which the doctor allegedly prescribed without hesitation, or even a cursory exam, according to the complaint.

Undercover law enforcement agents, posing as patients, visited Dreyer's Murrieta office in 2006 and 2007, allegedly telling him they did not suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, but still wanted something to help them ``relax and decompress,'' the complaint stated.

Some agents requested pain-relieving narcotics -- while admitting they
were not in any significant pain -- and, in both instances, were given what they asked for, according to the complaint.

``Even though they indicated they were not experiencing serious pain, or were actually seeking the drug for another person, they were prescribed the pills in exchange for $100 cash payments,'' Akrotirianakis said.

Dreyer is expected to appear before U.S. District Court Judge Oswald Perata at 3 p.m.

If he's convicted on the federal charges, the doctor could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

He is scheduled to appear for a felony settlement conference at the county courthouse in Murrieta on April 1.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who loves psychiatry?

An Editorial, as seen in the March 2008 Bridge by Rod Bercaw, from the Enough Room weblog (We do recommend that he reorganize the color scheme, and correct some of the text formatting)

Organized crime families love psychiatry because it only takes an allegation of psychiatric illness to discredit a person. If no one is listening to the victim of criminal abuse the criminals can do whatever they want. Who is going to believe or listen to the victim?

Kate Millett has written*

*(Kate Millet, “Legal Rights and the Mental Health System,” Queen's Law Journal, Vol. 17, (1992), No. 1, pp. 215-223)

“Psychiatry [. . .] functions as an arm of social force, ultimately an arm of the state, with state powers, police powers, real locks and bars, drugs and torments.

“[It embodies] an idea, the idea that the individual carries an invisible disease, or taint, which no pathology can prove, but which experts can intuit and cure by force. This idea prevails by common consent, by publicity and propaganda, by the borrowing from the prestige of science itself and applying the force of the state and its overwhelming armory of physical power. [. . .] The system would not work without force. [. . .]

“Here the ideology is a perversion of reason and science, the medical model of mental illness. [. . .] The medical model [. . .] is not based upon any reality, nor is it medical, though it uses the prestige of physical medicine and the reality of physical disease to mystify us and to command a general social consent, lay or legal.

“[. . .] our communal faith in the existence of mental illness is completely religious and unscientific. We believe without any proof whatsoever. Without any evidence of what science means by illness. [. . .] In medicine, there is no disease or illness without pathology, and pathology is something one can see and prove. Physical medicine and science itself rest on proof.”

In February 2008 David Tarloff went to the New York office of a psychiatrist to rob the man who had put him into the mental hospital in 1991. He wanted money to get his mother out of a nursing home and to take her to Hawaii. He brought along women's clothing for her and some adult diapers. He also brought nine-inch knives and a meat cleaver to persuade the psychiatrist to part with his money. While waiting for the shrink the psychologist partner of the psychiatrist confronted Tarloff, who proceeded to kill the psychologist.

No politician wants to ban nine-inch knives or meat cleavers. What ordinary cook needs nine-inch knives and meat cleavers? What about pillows, which are used to kill?

Police say Tarloff stopped taking his psychiatric medications. The student shooter at Northern Illinois University, who killed five students then himself, also stopped taking his medication. Few journalists recognize this pattern as the cause of violence. Medications.

When will the States and the U.S. Congress question the drug companies persuading humans to take medications that make them violent when they stop taking them? When will politicians recognize that psychiatrists can’t function without police forcing people to accept treatment of imaginary illnesses?

Therapeutic Efficacy of Cash in the Treatment of Anxiety and Depressive Disorders: Two Case Studies

A report from the Bonkers Institute for Nearly Genuine Research that discusses two cases in which complete relief from depression was achieved following the administration of large sums of money to the patients. Methodius Isaac Bonkers, M.D., Principal Investigator

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders in America, affecting more than 60 million patients every year. Pharmacological interventions dominate the medical management of these disorders and may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Prozac), norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (Strattera), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (Emsam), benzodiazepines (Valium), azaspirodecanediones (BuSpar), and any number of similarly efficacious drugs or drug combinations prescribed in accordance with strict FDA guidelines, or not, based on the treating physician's better judgment.

Since mental illness is a lifelong condition with no known cure, the successful psychopharmacological management of disorders such as depression or anxiety can be challenging. Treatment with medication almost inevitably results in side effects requiring additional medications leading to additional side effects necessitating still more medications in a self-perpetuating cycle that finally ends when the patient dies or the insurance runs out.

This report discusses two cases in which complete symptomatic relief was achieved following the administration of large sums of money to the patients. The comparative safety, efficacy, and tolerability of cash is assessed. Based on our findings, the clinical utility of monetary incentives in the form of cash deposits or lump sum payments directly to patients should be reappraised as a viable alternative therapeutic modality for the treatment of mild, moderate or severe cases of anxiety with or without co-occurring depression. Cash payment should also be considered the treatment of choice for all major depressive disorders including mild, moderate and severe clinical or sub-clinical depression, depressed moods, or any and all dysthymic, cyclothymic or depressive symptoms appearing with or without comorbid anxiety disorders.

Case report 1:

The patient is a 52-year old male with a history of depression. He reported feeling sad at various times throughout his life but did not seek treatment until age 51, when the factory where he had worked for 23 years was permanently shut down, costing him his pension and health insurance the same year his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The patient was initially prescribed Paxil 20 mg, but after complaining of sleeplessness and expressing suicidal ideation, the dosage was increased to Paxil 40mg with Ambien 10mg prescribed for insomnia. Depressive symptoms improved somewhat, but constant diarrhea, headache and nausea grew intolerable, so a switch from Paxil to Zoloft 50mg was tried. Within 5 weeks the therapeutic effects of Zoloft became readily apparent: the patient stopped worrying about the future and no longer seemed concerned about his wife's failing health. Numerous treatment-emergent side effects were observed but the patient was reassured by his physician that chest pain, skin rash, constipation, tremor, dry mouth, hypertension and palpitations were not life threatening. One month later, pharmacotherapy was discontinued because the patient refused further treatment, claiming to be cured after winning $200,000 in the Illinois State Lottery. A computed tomographic brain scan confirmed the patient had indeed fully recovered (see images below).

[image] Brain scan of depressed patient.
[image] Brain scan of lottery winner

Case report 2:

The patient is a 27-year old female diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. She reported feeling nervous and fearful most of the time, constantly worried about one thing or another, and doubted her fitness as a single mother of four children aged 1-4. The patient responded well to Xanax 0.25mg with only minor side effects including dizziness, impaired coordination, and blurred vision. One month into treatment, the positive effects of Xanax 0.25mg diminished noticeably, but symptoms again improved when the dosage was doubled to 0.5mg. Two weeks later, following a traffic accident for which she was ticketed, the patient reported feeling more anxious than ever, complained of nausea and vomiting in addition to increased dizziness and blurred vision, and now exhibited signs of depression as well. After several difficult weeks the patient was weaned off Xanax, whereupon combination therapy with Lexapro 10mg and Cymbalta 60mg was initiated. At the regularly scheduled 3-month follow-up examination, all symptoms of anxiety and nervousness had completely disappeared. The patient reported zero medication side effects, explaining that she had discarded the unopened packages of Lexapro and Cymbalta upon learning she had inherited $250,000 from a distant relative. Laboratory tests were unable to verify any causal link between the inheritance of a quarter of a million dollars and the patient's subsequent recovery, but ongoing clinical evaluation and comprehensive reassessment confirmed significant improvement from baseline. Positive outcome was corroborated by visual examination of a mood ring worn by the patient (see images below).

[image] Suffering from chronic anxiety, patient's mood ring appears green, indicating tension.
[image] After inheriting $250,000, patient's mood ring appears blue, indicating tranquility.

Analysis and Conclusions

The brain chemistry of depression and anxiety is not fully understood. However, a growing body of evidence supports the view that people with these disorders have an imbalance of the brain's neurotransmitters. (Lexapro Product Brochure, Forest Pharmaceuticals, 2007.)

Psychiatric medications relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety by restoring chemical balance within the brain, but exactly how these drugs restore the brain's chemical balance while simultaneously wreaking havoc on every other organ in the body remains a mystery. Equally mysterious is the mechanism by which cash payments provide therapeutic benefit to depressed and anxious patients. The receipt of a large sum of money may somehow stimulate, increase, block, adjust or otherwise act upon the level, supply, transmission, inhibition, secretion or bodily excretion of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, dihydrogen monoxide, propylene glycol or some other chemical compound yet to be discovered.

Elation and euphoria are the most common side effects associated with cash. The favorable side effect profile and high response rate compared to placebo are the main advantages of cash over standard pharmaceutical treatment, while the major disadvantage of cash would appear to be its prohibitive cost. However, retrospective analysis supports the hypothesis that over the long haul cash is not only safer but also more cost-effective than any medication currently on the market.

A depressed and/or anxious patient is typically maintained for an indefinite period of time on two or more psychiatric drugs simultaneously, in addition to numerous other medications prescribed to control side effects ranging from diabetes to high blood pressure to urinary incontinence to insomnia to everything in between. The cost of maintaining a patient on a standard treatment regimen of half a dozen or more prescription drugs might easily surpass $1,200 per month, amounting to roughly $150,000 over the course of ten years, or nearly $300,000 after 20 years. Seen in this light, a lump sum payment of $100,000 or even $200,000 would be a genuine bargain by comparison. Cash-strapped state Medicaid programs squeezed by escalating pharmaceutical costs would be well-advised to adopt formulary guidelines and preferred drug lists authorizing pre-approved cash payments as a treatment alternative.

In a random survey, 3,964 Medicaid patients were asked whether they would prefer to receive various combinations of prescription drugs for the rest of their lives, or a single lump sum payment of $250,000. The vast majority (99.93%) chose the cash option. A total of 3 patients (0.07%) elected to continue receiving medications in lieu of cash. All three of these patients appeared to be truly sick, and in each case the illness was iatrogenic (i.e., resulting from treatment).
Of course, this is a satire.

Dr. Phil has nervous breakdown during taping of his show psychoanalyzing reasons for Miley Cyrus's name change

Satire from the Spoof website:

Although Miley Cyrus's name change barely registering on the media's radar as a blip, Dr. Phil may have just finished taping his last show dedicated to examining the tidbits of the fractured life of yet another celebrity. All in a vain attempt to appease his (and our) subconscious fetish with them.

At this last taping, the studio audience must have sensed Dr. Phil's Achilles heal as they sat nervously quiet during the entire three hour marathon taping without being permitted leave their seats even to take a bathroom break behind chain locked studio doors.

"Come on people, if I have been over this once, I have been over this a thousand times today," said Dr. Phil, his wife noticeably missing from the studio and looking disheveled wearing a short sleeved shirt without his customary tie and business suit jacket. "Now I'm not letting you all out of here until you agree with me."

"Dr. Phil acted like a mad man," said Marie Hernandez, who finally was released from the Dr. Phil studio after the fire department cut the chains from the studio doors, citing the show's producers for a safety code violation. "We were all scared to death. We didn't know what to think or do. So we just sat there the entire time hoping somebody would notice that 100 people were missing for over three hours."

The show's producers attempted to explain that Dr. Phil just could not seem to get over the Britney Spears incident and in recent months had been unsuccessfully treating himself.

"In my experience, as a fully credentialed psychiatrist," said Dr. Phil. "It is not too uncommon of a practice for an individual to change their name to psychologically distance themselves away from their family and so-called friends that stab you in the back on a national morning TV show. That's why I'm taking this opportunity to announce that I have decided to support Miley Cyrus's decision to change her name by joining her in changing my name too. From now on, I'm no longer Dr. Phil. I am Dr. Punxsutawney Phil."

Dr. Phil then existed the studio stage floor as the fire department entered through the doors, but before he disappeared from sight, Dr. Phil turned back glancing over the studio once more and saying to the audience, "You won't be seeing me around here for a while. Not even my shadow."

No one has filed charges against Dr. Phil for false imprisonment; or are any expected ever to be filed because audience members all signed waivers, said the show's producers.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Drug giant Pfizer tries to force New England Journal of Medicine to reveal anonymous sources

An interesting attempt by drug maker Pzifer to stop the bleeding of bad reviews and bad news related to its products. Report seen in the Independent

A multinational drugs company is trying to force a medical science journal to reveal the confidential statements made by the journal's expert reviewers in a test case that could undermine one of the central tenets of the scientific process.

Pfizer, the manufacturer of the anti-impotency drug Viagra, is trying to force the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) to release the names and comments of its anonymous peer reviewers who judged a dozen studies into two of the company's pain-killing drugs.

Pfizer has issued a subpoena demanding that the journal release the identities and comments of its referees, who normally remain anonymous so that they will feel free to give their honest opinions.

A US district court judge is expected to rule this week on whether the drug company can force the NEJM to release the information, which some scientists claim would damage the confidential peer-review system that science uses to evaluate the merits of prepublication research.

Pfizer, which is based in New York, is being sued for damages allegedly caused by the drugs Celebrex and Bextra. Both pain killers belong to the same class of Cox-2 inhibitors as Vioxx, which was withdrawn in September 2004 because of fears that it had caused thousands of heart attacks and strokes. Although Bextra has been withdrawn, Celebrex is still on sale.

As part of its defence, Pfizer is seeking any additional information that may support its case. "Scientific journals such as NEJM may have received manuscripts that contain exonerating data for Celebrex and Bextra which would be relevant for Pfizer's causation defence," the company says in its motion.

But Donald Kennedy, the editor of the journal Science, said that this amounts to a fishing expedition. "If this motion succeeds, what journal will not then become an attractive target for a similar assault?" he wrote in a signed editorial. At stake is the public's interest in a fair system of evaluating and publishing scientific work.

The motion filed by Pfizer claims that the public has no interest in protecting the editorial process of a scientific journal.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

8 Reasons to RUN from Anti-Depressants

While we DO NOT advocate for any alternatives in treatment for Depression, since we are, after all, not medical professionals, this video and related text is mostly valuable stuff - Reason 8 is a plug for the author's own system of how to breaking out of depression, which is available through the original link, so we will not list it here, (he plugs it in the video) As seen as on YouTube:

About This Video

1. They Don´t Work!
• Anti-depressants have no impact...

Almost 50 clinical trials were reviewed by psychologists from the UK's University of Hull, who found new-generation antidepressants worked no better than a placebo for most depressed patients.

See a few BBC Videos on this research and some other cool stuff:

The Original Research Document

• The UK Newspaper The Guardian reported on Feb.27, 2008 that the government yesterday released details of its £170m plan to train 3,600 more psychological therapists in the wake of a study showing that antidepressant drugs such as Prozac are no more effective than a placebo.
2. Big Pharma Lies!
• They routinely suppress the results of research which have negative results for their products.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the effectiveness of a dozen popular anti-depressants has been exaggerated by selective publication of favorable results, according to a review of unpublished data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.

Among the many drugs that were found to have increased their effects as a result of selective publication and/or data manipulation:

Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor

Wall Street Journal link:
3. You are a Victim of Marketing!
• The New York Times reports that the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder has increased 4000% in 10 years!

• USA Today report shows that as ad spending goes up, the more you ASK for specific medications:

• Big Pharma routinely pays many Psychiatrists:
Pharma paid $57 M to Medical Staff in Minesota alone (1997-2005)
4. Harmful Side Effects: Suicide, Murder, School Shootings

• Among people under 25, the risk of suicide doubles for those on anti-depressants:
The New York Times article:

• Unless you have been living under a rock....They are connected with most school shootings and many other murders.

Great ABC Report on School Shootings, Suicide, Murder

Here´s a link to SSRI Stories - a never-ending list of new items connecting anti-depressants to murder, suicide, etc...
5. Shrinks Still Have NO Test!
For More Info:
6. Quitting is a Bitch!
• This video shows just how bad the situation is:

• See also, Bipolar Blast and Furious Seasons among countless other blogs on this subject:
7. Long Term Therapy Works!
• The New York Times reports that psychotherapy for as long as nine months is significantly more effective than short-term treatment for alleviating depression associated with bipolar disease, new research suggests.

Reason 8 is a plug for the author's own system of how to breaking out of depression, which is available through the original link

Psychiatrist pleads guilty to 5 misdemeanor charges

A former Albany Psychiatrist pled guilty to issuing blank prescriptions, and faces only a fine. Prosecutors say they are satisfied that the doctor no longer has his medical license.

Dr. Gerald Dariah pled guilty to five misdemeanor counts of issuing blank prescriptions, or attempting to issue blank prescriptions. He was originally arrested and charged with 67 counts. Under the plea agreement, Dariah will have to pay less than two thousand dollars in fines and court costs to satisfy his sentence. Then his record is cleared under a first offender style program.

Investigators say he signed dozens of blank prescriptions, and would let his staff fill them out for patients.

When he was arrested, Prosecutors say the Board of Medical Examiners suspended his medical license. He did not renew it in 2005.

Psychiatrist loses license due to 'predatory behavior'

We have this report from the Republican American Prospect, out of Waterbury, Connecticut. The bureaucratic speak in the news story just spin talk for "He is suspected of screwing his patients"

Jeremy August, a psychiatrist with a practice in town for 27 years, has lost his license because of what a state board called "predatory behavior and repeated boundary violations" with his patients.

On Feb. 19, the Connecticut Medical Examining Board revoked his license to practice medicine and surgery.

The board's decision came after reviewing allegations that August had been seen hugging and kissing a patient and continued to speak with her on the telephone after she moved to Illinois, according to documents filed by the board in February.

Combined with previous complaints against the psychiatrist dating back to 1999, August's actions established "a pattern of predatory behavior and repeated boundary violations that pose a real and current danger to psychiatric patients," according to a memorandum of the board's decision.

August, who closed his Waterbury Road office after his license was suspended in June, said he plans to challenge the medical examining board's decision, which he says is based on unsubstantiated allegations.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A former prison psychologist has acknowledged having an affair with an inmate under her care and lying to federal investigators about it.

I just don't know what is is about prison psychologists who fall in love with prisoners. From

A former prison psychologist has acknowledged having an affair with an inmate under her care and lying to federal investigators about it.

Magdalena Sanchez faces up to six months in jail after pleading guilty Friday to making a false statement. Her sentencing date has not been set.

She was originally also charged with sexual abuse of a ward, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

An indictment filed in April accused Sanchez of having a sexual tryst with an inmate at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn between October 2005 and February 2006, and then denying it to a federal agent in September 2006.

"I was asked if I had a sexual relationship with the inmate, and I said I had not, when in fact I had a sexual relationship with the inmate," Sanchez, who is married, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes Jr. on Friday. "I knew I was not telling the truth."

Sanchez has resigned from her prison job. She told the judge she was getting "support therapy" from a doctor.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is invalid as forensic lie detector, courts rule

The original Wall Street Journal article on all this can be seen via the WSJ Blog here (here's a snippet)

Today, a WSJ front-pager looks at a psychology test, used increasingly by defendants in personal injury lawsuits, called the Fake Bad Scale. In hundreds of cases, says the story, expert witnesses have testified that the test provided evidence that plaintiffs were lying about their injuries. The test gained credibility recently after being endorsed by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.

But now psychologists and plaintiffs’ lawyers claim that the Fake Bad Scale identifies too many real victims as fakers, known as malingerers, people who exaggerate their symptons to win judgments in court. “Virtually everyone is a malingerer according to this scale,” says a leading critic, James Butcher, a retired University of Minnesota psychologist who has published research faulting the Fake Bad Scale. “This is great for insurance companies, but not great for people.”
We now have an extended article on this mess. As found and reposted from Karen Franklin's Forensic Psychology Blog, linked from the Sentencing Law & Policy blog, with a tip of the hat to one of our readers
Psychology's most widely used personality test, the MMPI, jumped into the national spotlight today in a fascinating David-and-Goliath controversy pitting corporate interests such as Halliburton against the proverbial little guy.

At issue is the "Fake Bad" scale that was incorporated into the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory last year for use in personal injury litigation. A front-page critique in today's Wall Street Journal includes publication of the items on the contested scale, a test security breach that will no doubt have the publisher seeing red.

Although a majority of forensic neuropsychologists said in a recent survey that they use the scale, critics say it brands too many people - especially women - as liars. Research finding an unacceptably large false-positive rate includes a large-scale study by MMPI expert James Butcher, who found that the scale classified high percentages of bonafide psychiatric inpatients as fakers.

One possible reason for this is that the scale includes many items that people with true pain or trauma-induced disorders might endorse, such as "My sleep is fitful and disturbed" and "I have nightmares every few nights." Yet hearing the term "Fake Bad" will likely make a prejudicial impact on jurors even if they hear from opposing experts who say a plaintiff is not faking.

The controversy came to a head last year in two Florida courtrooms, where judges barred use of the scale after special hearings on its scientific validity. In a case being brought against a petroleum company, a judge ruled that there was "no hard medical science to support the use of this scale to predict truthfulness.” Other recent cases in which the scale has been contested include one against Halliburton brought by a former truck driver in Iraq.

The 43-item scale was developed by psychologist Paul Lees-Haley, who works mainly for defendants in personal injury cases and charges $600 an hour for his depositions and court appearances, according to the Journal article. In 1991, he paid to have an article supportive of the scale published in Psychological Reports, which the WSJ describes as "a small Montana-based medical journal."

The scale was not officially incorporated into the MMPI until last year, after a panel of experts convened by the University of Minnesota Press reported that it was supported by a "preponderance of the current literature." Critics maintain that the review process was biased: At least 10 of the 19 studies considered were done by Lees-Haley or other insurance defense psychologists, while 21 other studies – including Butcher's – were allegedly excluded from consideration.

Later last year, the American Psychological Association's committee on disabilities protested to the publisher that the scale had been added to the MMPI prematurely.

Lees-Haley, meanwhile, defends the scale as empirically validated and says criticism is being orchestrated by plaintiff's attorneys such as Dorothy Clay Sims, who has written guides on how to challenge the Fake Bad scale in court.

Even if the scale was valid before today, questions are certain to arise about the extent to which it will remain valid once litigants start studying for it by using today's publication of all 43 items along with the scoring key.

The lesson for forensic practitioners: Be aware of critical literature and controversy surrounding any test that you use in a forensic context, and be prepared to defend your use of the test in court.

The article, "Malingerer Test Roils Personal-Injury Law; 'Fake Bad Scale' Bars Real Victims, Its Critics Contend," which includes ample details on the controversy, is only available to Wall Street Journal subscribers, but you can try retrieving it with a Google news search using the term "MMPI Fake Bad." The University of Minnesota Press webpage on the contested scale is here, along with a list of research citations.

Here are citations to the major pro and con research articles:

"Meta-analysis of the MMPI-2 Fake Bad Scale: Utility in forensic practice," Nelson, Nathaniel W., Sweet, Jerry J., & Demakis, George J., Clinical Neuropsychologist, Vol 20(1), Feb 2006, pp. 39-58 (pdf available here)

"The construct validity of the Lees-Haley Fake Bad Scale: Does this measure somatic malingering and feigned emotional distress?: Butcher, James N., Arbisi, Paul A., & Atlis, Mera M., Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, Vol 18(5), Jul 2003, pp. 473-485. (pdf available here)
The original source of the scale is known, see this item:
Dr. Paul Lees-Haley, a psychologist, who makes his living primarily helping insurance companes in personal injury cases has designed a "Fake Bad Scale" psychological test to challenge personal injury claimants. An article in the March 5, 2008 Wall Street Journal describes how Dr. Lees-Haley developed the test and convinced the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, MMPI, to make the Fake Bad Scale an official subset of the MMPI. This Fake Bad Scale has been used by the KBR unit of Halliburton Inc. to deny disability claims of truck drivers who worked in Iraq by labeling them as malingerers.

However, the court in two Tampa, Florida auto personal injury cases has rightly excluded the Fake Bad Scale from the courtroom. The scientific basis of this test has not been properly demonstrated. Furthermore, it has long been the jury's job to evaluate the credibility of courtroom witnesses.

Using a psychological test such as the Fake Bad Scale as evidence in a trial invades the proper province and job of the jury to make that evaluation. The use of a lie detector test is not admissible in court for the same reasons.

In essence, Dr. Lees-Haley and the auto insurance companies are attempting to use this Fake Bad Scale as a lie detector test. Our jury system does and should provide justice though jury trials on all the issues, not through a machine or a test designed by an insurance company consultant.

Psychologist Charged with Manslaughter in Drug Death

As seen in this Legal Blog

Last week Miami-Dade prosecutors charged psychologist Adam Feder with manslaughter in connection with the death of a woman who overdosed on painkillers. Feder was also charged with one count of trafficking illegal drugs and seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance.

Rachel Finzi began seeing Feder after she became depressed over the health of her boyfriend who had been severley injured in a car accident. Two years after Finzi started attending sessions with Feder, she overdosed from painkillers that were given to her by psychologist. The two had also begun dating; Feder was almost 40 and Finzi was 20.

On Monday, Finzi's family announced they were filing a lawsuit against Feder and the clinic he worked at, Compass Health Systems, with negligence. The lawsuit alleges that Feder used his sexual relationship with Finzi "to exert dominion and control over her." The suit also claims that the clinic was negligent because they failed to supervise Feder and let him have access to other doctor's prescription pads that he used to write Finzi prescriptions.

According to the State Attorney's Office, Feder was illegally writing prescriptions to supply Finzi with oxycodone. She died May 24, 2006, at his Miami apartment after swallowing several pills "at the conclusion of a heated argument" over a breakup. Feder told Miami-Dade police that Finzi vomited, complained of hearing problems and slept for much of the next 24 hours, but that he did not call for medical help because "she asked me not to," according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

When police asked Feder why he was illegally writing prescriptions, he claimed to not have a good answer to that. Police also recovered 27 grams of oxycodone and prescriptions in other names in his apartment.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Practical Advice for Police, Fire Fighters, EMTs, and others taking Civil Service Psychiatric Exams.

This is a repost of an earlier article, with a new title to make it easier to find for police, fire fighters, and others taking civil service psychiatric exams. Oriented towards fire fighters, there is still good advice for other public servants. See also this commentary by Physicist Richard Feynman on his own government psychiatric exam back in the day when he was just starting out.

More municipalities are increasingly relying on psychological tests - not only in the hiring phase but also in the entry-level examination format. For example, numerous fire fighter candidates with stellar credentials (including degrees in fire science technology, EMT and Paramedic certifications) doing well on all other portions of the exam yet failing the psychological part.

As noted here:
The psychological test is changing the fire service. Sure there are some folks who have a lot of baggage and shouldn’t be hired. But most of the red-hot’s, the back bone of the fire service, can’t make it through the process. Surprisingly, the evaluations are based on the performance of those in already in the fire service.

More and more agencies are using the psychological test in their hiring process. Psychologists are competing for this lucrative business and agencies feel they need the service to hire the right candidates. In one large department forty-percent of candidates were eliminated from the hiring process through the psychological tests. Fire administrations feel theirs hands are tied and get frustrated when they see a high percentage of their superior candidates that were eliminated by their physiological test and then being hired by other agencies.

"Psychologists are given more power then they should," says Robert Thomas Flint, Ph.D., who sometimes does re-evaluations of potential peace officers and firefighters who have failed psychological tests. Although he tends to agree 40-50% of the original decisions were valid, he finds that another 30-50% of the rejected candidates are acceptable and can handle the job.
It sounds that they would do just about as well using a coin flip to screen the candidates, if you think about it. In the rush to protect themselves from liabilities, the use of psychological testing is interfering with public safety. So much so that a cottage industry is growing up telling people how to pass the psych test. Check this out
You Have to Pass The Psych Test First Time Out!

Most candidates are more than surprised when I tell them up to 40% fail the psychological test given by many departments.

I received one phone call and two e-mails from relatives of a firefighter/medic candidate who failed a psych test before the candidate called asking "What can I do now?" He had been testing for 5 years and this was the first job offer. I asked him if he knew who we were? Yes. Did you know we had a preparation program for the psych? Yes. Why didn't you get it? I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard this, "Things were going so great I didn't think I needed it."

Imagine after all the education, experience and time preparing to get this job like the above candidate . . . and you're eliminated. Then no one will talk to you to find out what happened. I've talked to too many candidates who were devastated and didn't know what to do next. This is a critical part of the testing process you need to prepare for and pass the first time out.

You've jumped through all the flaming hoops and made it through the background check. Then, you're conditionally offered the job pending the medical, which includes a psychological test. You take the test, no big deal right? Then the phone stops ringing.

You are out of the hiring process. You are told that you didn't meet the profile. What profile?

What do you mean I didn't meet the profile? I've got training, experience, education, every degree, certificate, merit badge, and a paramedic certification. I've been a volunteer, paid member of another department for 10 years, and lived and breathed this job. And, I don't meet the profile?

What's included in the psych test? There is a written test that sets up a profile of you. Then, there is an evaluation by a psychologist.

Written Test: The most common written portion of the psychological evaluation is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory interview test of up to 1000 questions. The aim here is not to pass the test but to go into the job fully prepared. Put your pride and natural defensiveness aside. They ask a few questions in several different ways. You want to answer questions "strongly for" or "strongly against" instead of being in the middle undecided. Answer questions to present yourself as a more social, interactive, team playing type of person, i.e., you would rather be in a conversation with others than reading a book alone.


The Evaluation: This is where the wheels start coming off the wagon for too many candidates.

Before the interview, the psychologist will often have you take a separate personality test, fill out a personal family history, a biography and additional information forms.

The biggest error candidates make during the psychological evaluation is thinking there is a patient/doctor confidentiality even when the doctor has them sign a release that there is not. This is not your family doctor. Guess who's paying the bill?

What gets candidates in trouble here is they want this job so bad that they will say and do almost anything to get it.

Although I don't encourage candidates to be less than truthful, those candidates who are honest to a fault diminish their chances of passing the psychological interview! That's right. You folks want this job so bad you will tell the psychologist anything they want to know. Even stuff they didn't ask you. Once you start down this road of total honesty, creating trails where you don't have to, tossing out more information than was asked for thinking this guy is your friend is where you get into big trouble. Especially when the psychologist says, "Everyone has skeletons in their closet, this interview is not designed to eliminate you from the process", or "you don't want to be too squeaky clean." So you open up. Then the phone stops ringing and no one will talk to you. You are out of the process Mcfly. And, you don't know why.

So what should you do?

Only answer the question you're being asked. Before you volunteer information, think before you speak. If they want to know more they will ask. Don't appear to be closed but warm and cordial. Present your ideas clearly. Don't ramble or chat. Be articulate. This is how you're going to be in the field. Believe it or not this is part of the job interview. You are making an impression of who you are going to be as a firefighter.

Make sure you dress up and don't slouch. Be prepared to audition for the part of being a firefighter. Know your strong points. Be prepared to demonstrate you are a team player.

A large city fire department called in twelve candidates for the psychological interview. Only three passed. They sent in six more, only two passed. Another six more were tested. Again, only two passed. All those who passed were our candidates. They prepared in advance with our special report that took us over a year to compile to let them know where the land mines were before they went in. Ask them if it was worth knowing what was a coming?

This from a new firefighter:

I want to comment on your psych test information and report. I had to take one for two departments. Well all I know is that I went into the test and followed your advice. I tried to answer the questions as honestly as I could, while presenting myself as a very positive social person. Some of the "experts" out there say that you should be brutally honest on the test. Well 3 good guys I know did just that, and they did not pass either test. We lost 10 out of 25 guys on one test! In all honesty I might not have passed either if I hadn't followed your advice. I feel that is a very dangerous test, and some of the advice these people are giving out is costing great candidates a job. I wanted to let you know that your advice worked, and I owe you much thanks! Steve.

This from an in service firefighter:

During the last hiring process 2 years ago the psychologist passed 10 people. Of those 10, 2 have quit, 2 have been fired, and 1 committed suicide. I wonder if he is worth what the city pays him to evaluate prospects? Have a nice weekend.
So obviously, the shrinks aren't worth the money they are charging. And they are not delivering the results needed to protect the public and the professionals whose lives depend on each other.

Mental Health Screwup: Girl Must Repeat High School

Another fine example of how the mental health industry keeps screwing things up, this time in the realm of public education. Seems like a typical bureaucratic attitude of typical attitude of "Not Our Fault, Not Our Problem".

From this report from WGCL-TV, CBS 46, Atlanta Georgia.

A Gwinnett County teenager will have to spend another four years in high school while other teens her age go to college, her family said Tuesday.

Daphne and Brian Adams said that several years ago, Gwinnett County schools improperly placed their daughter in classes for the mentally impaired, instead of addressing her language disability.

The school district has told the family that the girl must start over to get a diploma. Her family said their daughter, who is 18, is embarrassed to be in classes with students who are 13 and 14.

“The track that she's on, she's set up to fail,” said Daphne Adams.

Special education attorney Chris Vance said Tuesday that the school system should have realized their mistake. Tests have shown that the girl has an average IQ score of 91.

Her parents said they have spent their retirement savings to help their daughter catch up. They said they want Gwinnett County to reimburse them and pay for private schooling until their daughter graduates.

“She wants a real diploma. She doesn't want a piece of paper,” Adams said.

Tuesday, the school district issued this statement: "There are legal constraints on what a school system can say about individual students. That said, we can assure you that processes and procedures are in place to address students' educational needs and placement."

Whistle Blowing in Australia - a Report from the Australia

We have recently received two documents from someone who appears to be Dr Yolande Lucire, who offers them as evidence that they are a whistle blower in Australia. They point to a pattern of corruption in the Australian Medical System the should be troubling to anyone. (We also point people to her site, as there are a number of interesting documents pointing out the hazards os SSRIs)

The first is a text of a troubling letter sent to Sun Herald on 28 Feb 2008. Here is the text of that letter, as I received it


The Professional Standards Committee (PSC) judgement, said that I needed to consult a senior colleague about deficiencies in my knowledge and communication. It concerned 3 patients out of 30 whose pharmacological treatment I had reported to the area health service and to the NSW Medical Board.

Before I saw them, all had displayed suicidal, homicidal, psychotic, violent or otherwise peculiar behaviours both caused and aggravated by high doses of 'SSRI' antidepressants to which had been added to other medicines which have been well documented interactions with them. Two were on Aropax which its maker, GSK had admitted, a fortnight ago, had increased suicides eightfold in clinical trials over placebo, but they had not disclosed this catastrophic side effect when Aropax was licensed as an 'antidepressant.' The third was on three drugs together with Luvox, a drug so interactive that it had been withdrawn from use in the United States.

The NSW Medical Board had declined to investigate my 30 complaints as prescribing issues. The HCCC used the services of a psychiatrist who was a 'peer' of the prescribers, who found nothing unusual in a series that soon involved four deaths and several more suicides and deaths which were not investigated either and a dozen near lethal suicide attempts and a variety of bizarre behaviours on these drugs. On legal advice, I made the reports prospectively, at a rate of two or so each week, as the doctors of concern continued in their prescribing after I had issued formal warnings supported by documentation to the Superintendent. The first deaths occurred very soon after the prescriber had been ‘exonerated’ by the HCCC for the first group of suicide attempts but the reports of the deaths were ‘lost’ for two years at the HCCC, then not investigated either, or not by relevant experts. .

These same ‘side effects’ have been reported tens or possibly, hundreds of thousands of times to the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) which issued Public Health Advisory in March 2004 and many before and since about worsening depression, suicidality, mania, akathisia, violence, insomnia, agitation, panic and anxiety caused by antidepressants. The Area Health Service, the PSC and the various ‘peers’ all failed to acknowledge the significance and legal importance of such high level advisories.

The PSC was not concerned that one of the three went on to stab a man and attempt suicide when he was given even more of the very drugs that I had warned (in writing) had already caused a ‘serotonergic reaction.’ Nor were they concerned that he had been abandoned by his treaters and re-diagnosed with an ‘antisocial personality disorder’ after he had done that.

That complaint was bizarre in that it was I, who had tried to prevent such a catastrophe by warning in writing, was alleged to be somehow responsible for causing this behaviour. The PSC was advised that I was unethical for making so many unjustified reports and for informing a patient’s mother about her son’s problems, although that information led to his full recovery.

Since 1997, that Area Health Service had increased its mental health beds from 30 to 42 and it was promised another 12 in 2006, after yet another inpatient suicide.

Hospitalised suicide attempts have trebled from 55 to 155/100,000. Suicides under mental health care in NSW (a relatively new phenomenon) run at between 100 and 150 annually and violence and homicides by mental health patients have hugely increased. 194 such patients were admitted to one ward during 2003-4, but it took a psychiatrist with 42 years of experience to see that this was a population which did not exist before this new batch of serotonin altering psychiatric drugs came into use, antidepressants and ‘atypical’ antipsychotics which have the same side effects at double the rate of antidepressants.

We have a Crisis in Mental Health. The Department of Health has installed nearly 500 more mental health beds and there are 1100 more on the drawing boards.

Finding and relieving such patients has been a Mental Health priority in the UK for three years now and in Canada where I had lectured on this problem.

In the USA, 40 State Attorneys are suing the makers of these drugs for criminal fraud, to get funds to compensate patients who had suffered and to recoup costs so generated, and settlements run in billions of dollars. Doctors, when sued, say they were not properly warned, and thus pass the responsibility successfully onto the drug companies.

The Department of Health has been told many times that the causes of this crisis are: new drugs which have suicide attempts, homicidal thinking and hallucinations among their listed side effects. It prefers to kill the messenger by repeated acts of defamation.

The Health Care Complaints Commission is the only body available to look at treatment complaints. It had been was set up in the wake of the Chelmsford Royal Commission to ensure that malpractice of such magnitude could not happen again. Thirty years ago, 26 deaths and suicides were occasioned by pharmacological treatment delivered by the late Dr Harry Bailey over some twenty years.

Today's drugs are far more dangerous inductive of suicide. They are given to a million Australians, 14% of whom do not have the metabolism to deal with them at all. Huge numbers who are at risk of these catastrophic side effects which, more often than not, are taken for schizophrenia, bipolar illness or borderline personality disorder and the patient is given more drugs. Persons seeking mental health care doubled in the decade since Prozac was released in 1992 to 2003 and the numbers are still increasing, as the number of people whose SSRI side effects were taken for schizophrenia, etc mounts up.

I reported this series of suicides deaths and suicide attempts over 6 months, after which I was advised by lawyers to stop reporting because the Medial Board has decided to pursue me. The series was far worse than anything that Dr. Bailey and Chelmsford produced in that short period time and every complaint was dismissed in a cavalier fashion. One senior administrator apologised to me for not dealing with my reports. He explained that it was ‘The System.’

We also have a copy of an interesting report. This report concerns how the Greater Southern Area Health Service (at the time the Greater Murray Area Health Service) has dealt with nearly 40 reports of suicides, dangerous suicide attempts, a homicide, a serotonin syndrome death and many episodes of violence and psychosis due to how certain drugs were prescribed and co-prescribed by certain practitioners. These reports were made initially in 2002 but mostly from September 2004 to April 2005 and again from September 2005 to December 2006. The report notes this as a pattern of cover-up of repeated acts, which caused serious adverse events including deaths.