Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Irish Psychiatrist leading campaign against use of 'archaic' electro-shock therapy in hospitals

And now for a small bit of sanity from Ireland. As seen in the Irish Independent.

According to a leading doctor, thousands of Irish psychiatric patients experiencing psychological distress have had electric shocks of up to 400 volts administered to their brains, frequently against their will.

This controversial treatment, known as electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), works by artificially inducing epileptic fits.

Those who endorse it believe that the seizure triggers a surge of "well-being" which soothes the symptoms of the psychological distress being targeted, such as depression, schizophrenia, mania, obsessive convulsive disorders and anorexia.

The last recorded figures reveal that, in 2003, 1,483 people here were treated with ECT, 859 of whom were in the south of Ireland and 624 in the north.

Dr Michael Corry, consultant psychiatrist at the Institute of Psychosocial Medicine, contends that the state of confusion, sometimes tinged with a mild euphoria, that is regularly encountered in the aftermath of some types of head injuries, temporarily obscures the patient's original symptoms, which is then erroneously classified by psychiatrists as an "improvement".

"The fact that these results wear off is underlined by the reality that some patients have literally had hundreds of shocks. Why is this terrible and devastating human rights abuse allowed to go on?" he asks.

Dr Corry is leading the Irish campaign to abolish ECT. "It's irrational, archaic and barbaric it has no place in the 21st century" he says.

"It is universally agreed that the occurrence of seizures in a patient is always harmful to their brain. Within neurology as a speciality, every effort is made to prevent seizures but, incredibly, psychiatry stands out as the only branch of medicine that specialises in deliberately causing seizures."


He first witnessed ECT being administered during his psychiatric training at St Brendan's Psychiatric Hospital in the Seventies, where the shock of what he saw caused him to faint.

"I couldn't work out how this could possibly be done to human beings," he says. "I saw it as abuse from very beginning, because it was being given to people on the premise that they had a disease of the mind. When I realised that people were basically being given it to control behaviour, it was just like the end of the world to me."

He refused to fulfill the compulsory ECT component of his course and ended up transferring to Guy's Hospital in London to complete his studies. After he qualified as a GP, and prior to embarking on his psychiatry studies, he achieved higher qualifications in obstetrics and paediatrics.

His long-held belief is that mental distress is a valid human experience that doesn't emanate from a malfunctioning, diseased brain.

He believes that abolishing ECT would allow a psychosocial, humanistic understanding of mental distress to emerge, paving the way for prevention and healing, and facilitating a person-centred approach, through counselling, cognitive therapy, and other techniques that are based on individual hearts and souls.

"Mental distress results from the problems of living," he says. "Using ECT is the equivalent of sending the TV or computer for repair if the programmes are not to one's liking."

Many studies have demonstrated that memory loss is the first obvious result of electric shock treatment, plunging the patient into a state of confusion, fear and vulnerability. Other areas of intellectual functioning are also compromised, as is the ability to experience the full range of feelings, creating a state of emotional numbness.

"To isolate a depressed, suffering human being from their thoughts, behaviours, and the workings of their world is a tragedy beyond words, as it reduces them, and the rest of us, to a chemical soup encapsulated in skin.

In this soup, there is no place for uniqueness, imagination, will, acceptance, compassion, love, peace, creativity, personal freedom and the unfathomable depths of the human spirit."

Aside from the mental damage ECT causes, brain autopsies on patients have revealed physical damage. Some elderly people have died from strokes and pneumonia in the days and weeks following a course of ECT treatment, as they are known to do after any major trauma.

"Given these effects, it would be inconceivable that anyone in their right mind would sanction such a procedure for administration to a developing foetus as it floats in fluid suspended within the uterus, with the goal of improving its 'well-being'," says Dr Corry. "You'd have to ask whether the adult brain is any less fragile? It is self-evident that ECT is unsustainable, because if it were seeking a licence today, it would be rejected on safety grounds."

"ECT is a holocaust of the brain, and a brutal final solution which must be stopped," he says. "The time to abolish electric shock treatment is now."

If you would like to share your experiences of ECT as part of a research study, please contact the Institute of Psychosocial Medicine in Dun Laoghaire (01) 2800084 or email ipmed@eircom.net. You can also visit a website, wellbeingfoundation.com, which is dedicated to the abolition of ECT
As one clever person noted:A *psychiatrist* asks "Why is this terrible and devastating human rights abuse allowed to go on?"!!!

Of interest: "I am also against the forced use of ECT on any human being." Which forced psychiatric procedures (treatments?) are you not against?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Psychiatrist faces complaints from patients, former business partner. Ethics rulings months away

From the Topeka Capital Journal

The state Board of Healing Arts ended a closed-door session Saturday by delaying action for six months on the latest round of ethics complaints against a Johnson County psychiatrist.

Douglas Geenens, trained at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, opened the hearing by declaring he would withdraw a request that the board terminate a 2004 disciplinary agreement resulting from a finding that he crossed professional boundaries by having a sexual relationship with a one-time patient.

Geenens said he would voluntarily remain under medical observation of another doctor.

"I felt it was reasonable to continue with my psychoanalytically based supervision," he said.

The board met with Geenens in executive session before ordering a formal hearing on a series of pending allegations against him. A former business partner and at least two former patients submitted recent complaints.

Responsibility for the upcoming review would fall to a judge at the state Office of Administrative Hearings, which would be expected to issue a decision by September. If that occurred, the board would place Geenens on its October agenda.

"This would give the board the opportunity to know all the relevant facts," said Mark Stafford, the board's general counsel.

Geenens was among four Kansas-licensed doctors profiled in a series in The Topeka Capital-Journal in March. Each had sparked regulatory challenges for the Board of Healing Arts, which regulates more than 20,000 health professionals in Kansas.

The board has been widely criticized for its slow reaction to allegations of professional misconduct.

In early April, the Kansas House and Senate unanimously approved resolutions calling on the 15-member board to institute personnel changes and other reforms to restore public confidence in the agency. The board's top administrators — Larry Buening, executive director, and Stafford — resigned. Stafford departs June 1 and Buening on July 1.

Debbie Holscher, a Johnson County resident and former patient of Geenens, said she filed a formal complaint last week against the psychiatrist. She said one element of her grievance focused on Geenens' instruction — not heeded — to obtain a divorce and move to the Plaza area of Kansas City, Mo., so that Geenens and Holscher could regularly have breakfast together.

"I think it's very unprofessional," said Holscher, who attended Saturday's board meeting in Topeka. "I think he should lose his license."

Holscher stopped attending counseling sessions with Geenens four years ago, but her complaint mirrors the content of complaints filed by other people who were clients of Geenens.

Andrew Jacobs filed a complaint with the Board of Healing Arts after Geenens began an intimate relationship with Jacobs' wife in 2003. During counseling, Jacobs said, Geenens urged Jacobs' wife to get a divorce. Geenens is now married to the woman.

In the consent order signed by Geenens in 2004, the psychiatrist accepted a one-week suspension of his state license and agreed to supervision of his practice for two years. He was publicly censured and required to attend a course on "maintaining proper boundaries" with patients.

Geenens had requested Saturday's hearing with the board to vacate that consent order.

"We received a letter from Dr. Geenens who asked to withdraw his request," said Betty McBride, the board's president.

Geenens holds a full license to practice medicine in Kansas. In September, he closed his clinical office in Johnson County. Geenens agreed in October to "retire" his medical license in Missouri while regulators in that state looked into allegations of his out-of-bounds associations with women.

He continues to see patients privately and remains on the payroll at Pfizer, the world's largest research-based biomedical and pharmaceutical company.

"We can confirm that Dr. Geenens is an employee of Pfizer," said Chris Loder, a company spokesman in New York City. "However, as a matter of company policy, we do not comment on personnel matters."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

NIU Shooting Sharpens Debate Over Effects of Antidepressants

From the LA Times via the Lakeland Ledger

A young man reportedly taking the antidepressant Prozac has a history of significant psychiatric troubles, including self-cutting, obsessive thoughts and anxiety. But among the 27-year-old's current teachers and acquaintances, he has a reputation as a caring, dependable friend and a highly motivated student.

Surely, say mental health professionals, this recovery was brought about by Prozac.

The same young man, saying the drug makes him feel "like a zombie," abruptly discontinues his antidepressant and begins to behave erratically. Three weeks later, he steps from behind a curtain in a classroom at Northern Illinois University, his alma mater and begins shooting, killing five students and himself.

Just as surely, say critics of antidepressants' widespread use, this unraveling was brought about by Prozac.

Steven Kazmierczak's bolt-from-the-blue shooting rampage Feb. 14 reignited a long-running debate over the benefits and risks of antidepressants - taking them and discontinuing them.

"It's sad to watch this," says Ann Blake Tracy, executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness and co-founder of a Web site, SSRIstories.com, that catalogs violent crimes like Kazmierczak's and links them to psychiatric drug use. "You find suicide, murder, rape, arson" - all caused by drugs such as Prozac, she says. "How did they convince us that this is therapeutic?"

Most in the psychiatric profession would counter that antidepressants overwhelmingly save lives, and salvage those hobbled by sadness and anxiety. They doubt that coming off these drugs - especially Prozac, which Kazmierczak was reported to have taken - led the Illinois man to kill.


Twenty years after Prozac appeared on the U.S. landscape, roughly 10 percent of American women and 4 percent of American men take an antidepressant regularly. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, and their close cousins have revolutionized attitudes toward mental illness and its medication. But they remain a lightning rod for controversy.

The role that antidepressants played in Kazmierczak's violent end probably will never be clear. Did Prozac, which Kazmierczak's girlfriend, Jessica Baty, said he had recently discontinued, help keep the 27-year-old's mental illness in check and, when halted, allow it to roar back? Or did it distort his personality, contort his thoughts and, when abandoned, cause a chemical storm in Kazmierczak's brain that spawned a fury of aggression?

The weight of clinical observations and psychiatric research favors the view that antidepressants helped Kazmierczak until the time he abandoned them. But skeptics charge that antidepressants may have caused or contributed to Kazmierczak's spasm of violence. And mental health experts acknowledge they cannot rule out that possibility.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What happens when the Doctors are Crazy

A review of a BBC Documentary raising two points, the exploitation of the film makers, and the apparent incompetence of a shrink in the the British mental health system.

So, how do we all feel, knowing that somewhere in Britain is a junior doctor who has lied both about the extent of her mental illness (she hears a voice that tells her to kill herself and other people) and her refusal to take prescribed medication in order that she might keep her job at an NHS hospital? Not great, in my case.

I reserve my fury, however, not for this vulnerable young woman, but for the man who encouraged her to tell such lies - the clinical psychologist Rufus May - and for the film-maker Leo Regan, who not only brought such activities to our attention in his documentary The Doctor Who Hears Voices (21 April, 10pm), but who seemingly had no compunction about his failure to inform the relevant authorities of what was going on. I would be interested to know what the Bradford District Care Trust, May's part-time employer, makes of this project. As for Channel 4's decision to screen it, complicity in this kind of stuff is extremely serious. The channel says it is in the public interest to expose the lengths to which people will go to disguise their illness, but the time for "debate" when it comes to mental health issues ends when human lives start to be at risk - as the last Tory government found out to its cost when it introduced its "care in the community" policy.

Rufus May is a psychologist who believes, though he was diagnosed with it himself at 18, that there is no such thing as schizophrenia. He thinks that psychotic experiences are "meaningful", that people can "learn" from manic behaviour, and that the drugs used to treat severe mental illnesses simply "shut patients up". In this film, we saw him treating, in his own time, a junior doctor called Ruth. May was going to help her "recover" without the aid of drugs and thereby survive the panel that would decide if she was fit to work. His view of this panel was that she would have to lie about the voice in her head; he did not think it affected her ability to be a doctor, and believed that if she admitted to it, she would lose her job.

His approach to her care was alarming. When her delusions grew more serious - she believed that the fish in the old people's home where she worked part-time were controlling the residents' heartbeats - he took it as a sign of progress. When the voice in her head grew louder, he simply talked to it using a "radical dialogue technique" to discover its identity, as though it were a real person.

The increasingly distressed Ruth (played by an actress to protect her identity, though other footage was real and her lines came from real transcripts) briefly went missing. Did he think she'd killed herself? Oddly, May was suddenly lost for words. He didn't want to "incriminate" himself, he said. I felt like punching him, and wondered how Leo Regan, sitting there beside him, managed to desist from doing just that.

Ah, yes. Leo Regan. We never saw him, but we heard him. His voice-over made you think that he was treating the whole thing as a huge lark. When May was evasive, which was often, he would say things like "Rufus was pissed off with me" or "I knew he was bullshitting me". He did not push May to justify his regime, nor did he ask him if his work had its roots in any kind of scientific research, preferring simply to titter at his somewhat antic behaviour.

But most appalling of all was the moment when he went to see Trevor Turner, a consultant psychiatrist who disagrees with May's techniques, to talk about Ruth's case. He duly told Turner her symptoms - though he did not explain, at least not on camera, that she was a real person - and asked what he would do with such a patient. Turner said she should be detained under the Mental Health Act for her own and the public's safety. And what did Regan do? Nothing. Meanwhile, May went on "talking" to Ruth's voice. That Ruth is still - or so I read - successfully working as a doctor does not make any of the above behaviour acceptable. May and Regan were lucky, that's all. This time, the experiment didn't blow up in their faces.

The Doctor Who Hears Voices Channel 4

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

VA faulted in diagnosing suicide candidates, Senators want VA's mental health chief to resign

There are plenty reports on this to choose from. Here's one from the Seattle Post Intelligencer

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Tuesday called for the chief mental health official of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to resign, saying he tried to cover up the rising number of veteran suicides.

Murray, the senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's mental health director, deliberately withheld crucial information on the true suicide risk among veterans.

"Dr. Katz's irresponsible actions have been a disservice to our veterans and it is time for him to go," Murray said. "The number one priority of the VA should be caring for our veterans, not covering up the truth."

Murray and other Democratic senators said they were appalled at e-mails showing that Katz and other VA officials tried to conceal the number of suicides by veterans. An e-mail message from Katz revealed at a lawsuit this week starts with "Shh!" and refers to the 12,000 veterans per year who attempt suicide while under department treatment.

"Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?" the e-mail asks.

A lawyer for a veterans group showed the e-mail as part of a lawsuit being heard in San Francisco that alleges the VA failed to properly treat thousands of veterans for mental illness.

An e-mail revealed at the trial said an average of 18 military veterans kill themselves each day - and five of them are under VA care when they commit suicide.

"It is completely outrageous that the federal agency charged with helping veterans would instead cover up the hard truth - that more and more Americans coming home after bravely fighting for their country are suffering from mental illnesses and in the most tragic circumstances, committing suicide," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "Anyone at the VA who is involved in this cover-up should be removed immediately."

Harkin, Murray and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., introduced legislation Tuesday calling on the VA to track how many veterans die by suicide each year. Currently, VA facilities record the numbers of suicide deaths and attempts in VA facilities - which have increased from 492 in 2000 to 790 in 2007 - but do not record how many veterans overall take their own lives.

The new bill would require the VA to report to Congress within 180 days the number of veterans who have died by suicide since Jan. 1, 1997, and continue reports annually.

"We are looking at a real crisis among our veterans and it is high time the VA recognizes it," said Harkin. "Tracking the number of suicides among our veterans will help us to better understand the true depths of this crisis, so we may ensure we are doing everything we can to address their mental health needs."

A spokesman for the VA declined immediate comment Tuesday.

A government lawyer on Monday urged a judge to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against the VA, saying the agency runs a "world class" medical care system.

Two veterans groups filed suit against a sprawling VA system that handled a record 838,000 claims last year. A federal judge in San Francisco is hearing the case in a two-week, non-jury trial.

Psychiatrist Admits Kissing Patients Stomach

Report from The Times on NJ.com

In tearful testimony yesterday, a 24-year-old patient of a Hamilton psychiatrist said that her doctor had kissed her abdomen with an open mouth and put his hand down her pants.

Dr. Alvaro Argueta, 66, of Yardley, Pa., is charged with one count of criminal sexual contact in the Dec. 7, 2006, incident, said Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Downing.

The woman, a resident of Langhorne, Pa., said she began treatment with Argueta for depression, insomnia and severe headaches after her grandmother, who was also his patient, recommended him. She testified she thought it strange that he kissed her at the end of each visit. She testified that on the day in question, he began to kiss and touch her in inappropriate ways.

"I was frozen," she said. "He kept saying, how beautiful I was."

She testified that at one point he grabbed her face and tried to kiss her but she pulled away.

"Then he went back behind his desk like nothing happened," she said. Argueta handed her some prescriptions and she said she left in a daze.

Before that visit the woman, whose name is being withheld by The Times, bought Argueta a Christmas card and statuette of a saint as a present because he had helped her so much with her headache pain.

She testified that after the incident, she walked out to her car, threw up, then drove away but realized she had not given him the gift. So she returned and handed the gift bag to the receptionist, saying she was in shock and denial.

About a month later, after talking with her parents and grandparents, the woman reported the alleged incident to Hamilton police. The woman played a cell phone message from Argueta for Detective Frederick Moore.

"I spoke with your grandmother and, well, (I am) very sorry for all that happened today and to hear that I don't have any excuse," Argueta said on the message, which was played for the jury.

Working with Mercer County Detective Brian Cottrell, the woman called Argueta back. He was with a patient but returned her call within minutes and that conversation was recorded.

In that phone call, which was played in court, Argueta, who was raised in Guatemala and speaks with an accent, said: "I want to ask you your forgiveness. It was something. I don't have words to express how sorry I have been. Christmas and the holidays have been very, very painful."

He continued, "I'm real sorry that that happened and poor judgment on my part."

Argueta also asked her to forgive him as a Christian.

The woman's 73-year-old grandmother, a Hamilton resident, testified that her granddaughter, who was distraught after the office visit with Argueta, drove to her home for solace.

Argueta also testified yesterday and admitted he kissed the woman's stomach but said it was be cause she told him she was fat. He said he put his hand on her stomach as well, but said he stopped immediately, realizing he had gone beyond normal boundaries.

Argueta said the woman suffered from bipolar disorder, borderline personality and post traumatic stress disorder from an abusive relationship with a boyfriend.

His defense lawyer, Lawrence Popp, told the jury in his opening argument the accuser is "emotionally troubled" and his client had nothing to hide.

"He is a man of intelligence and character," Popp said. "He dedicated his life to the mentally troubled."

Argueta's testimony is expected to continue when the trial, before Superior Court Judge Charles A. Delehey, resumes today.

Psychiatrist investigated for illegal drugs and for giving a false name to police

Report from the BBC

A doctor has denied providing false personal details when he was caught with drugs at a music festival.

Police found 14 ecstasy tablets and small amounts of cannabis resin and amphetamine in Dr Fraser Gibb's car at the event in Dumfries and Galloway.

He told a General Medical Council (GMC) hearing that he initially thought the officers were security staff.

However, the Dumfriesshire doctor said he gave them full and correct personal details. The hearing continues.

Dr Gibb said he was told that if he admitted he had drugs in his possession then they would be confiscated and he could go into the Wickerman Festival in July 2006.

If drugs were found after a search he would be escorted from the premises.

Dr Gibb, 41, kept quiet as officers found the drugs in a black case on the back seat of his silver Hyundai.

Giving evidence, he said he "gradually realised" that he was dealing with police, before the illegal substances were discovered.

Robin Kitching, cross-examining for the GMC, asked: "Why didn't you tell them you had drugs?"

He replied: "I should have said that. I deeply regret it."

Mr Kitching accused him of further deceit by telling the officers his name was Fraser Duncan McKay and his address was The Old Schoolhouse, Steilston, Dumfries, when he had recently moved from there to the neighbouring The Old School.

Dr Gibb, a locum consultant psychiatrist at Crichton Royal Hospital, Dumfries, insisted he gave his full name, Fraser Duncan McKay Gibb.

Personal use

He added: "I gave them the address that all my identifiers were registered to - I told them where I worked.

"I said I was a doctor. I told them things that were likely to get me into trouble."

He was cautioned and later arrested when he admitted to officers the drugs were for his own personal use.

Dr Gibb was convicted at Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court of possessing ecstasy at the event in Dundrennan in July 2006 and was fined £400.

The GMC alleges Dr Gibb's fitness to practise is impaired because of his conviction and alleged misconduct in being misleading and dishonest with the questioning officers.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Merck wrote drug studies for doctors, who simply signed their names.

As reported in the International Herald Tribune

The drug maker Merck drafted dozens of research studies for a best-selling drug, then lined up prestigious doctors to put their names on the reports before publication, according to an article to be published Wednesday in a leading medical journal.

The article, based on documents unearthed in lawsuits over the pain drug Vioxx, provides a rare, detailed look in the industry practice of ghostwriting medical research studies that are then published in academic journals.

The article cited one draft of a Vioxx research study that was still in want of a big-name researcher, identifying the lead writer only as "External author?"

Vioxx was a best-selling drug before Merck took it off the market in 2004 over evidence linking it to heart attacks. Last fall, the company agreed to a $4.85 billion settlement to resolve tens of thousands of lawsuits filed by former Vioxx patients or their families.

The lead author of Wednesday's article, Dr. Joseph Ross of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said a close look at the Merck documents raised broad questions about the validity of much of the drug industry's published research, because the ghostwriting practice appears to be widespread.

"It almost calls into question all legitimate research that's been conducted by the pharmaceutical industry with the academic physician," said Ross, whose article, written with colleagues, was published Wednesday in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and posted Tuesday on the journal's Web site.

Merck acknowledged Tuesday that it sometimes hired outside medical writers to draft research reports before handing them over to the doctors whose names eventually appear on the publication. But the company disputed the article's conclusion that the authors do little of the actual research or analysis.

The final work is the product of the doctor and "accurately reflects his or her opinion," said a Merck lawyer, James Fitzpatrick.

And at least one of the doctors whose published research was questioned in Wednesday's article, Dr. Steven Ferris, a New York University psychiatry professor, said the notion that the article bearing his name was ghostwritten was "simply false." He said it was "egregious" that Ross and his colleagues had done no research besides mining the Merck documents and reading the published journal articles.

In an editorial, JAMA said the analysis showed that Merck had apparently manipulated dozens of publications to promote Vioxx.

"It is clear that at least some of the authors played little direct roles in the study or review, yet still allowed themselves to be named as authors," the editorial said.

The editorial called upon medical journal editors to require each author to report his or her specific contributions to articles. "Journal editors also bear some of the responsibility for enabling companies to manipulate publications," the editorial said.

JAMA itself published one of the Vioxx studies that was cited in Ross's article.

In that case, in 2002, a Merck scientist was listed as the lead author. But Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, JAMA's editor, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that, even so, it was dishonest because the authors did not fully disclose the role of a ghostwriter.

"I consider that being scammed," DeAngelis said. "But is that as serious as allowing someone to have a review article written by a for-profit company and solicited and paid for by a for-profit company and asking you to put your name on it after it was all done?"

Although the role of pharmaceutical companies in influencing medical journal articles has been questioned before, the Merck documents provided the most comprehensive look at the practice yet, according to one of the study's four authors, Dr. David Egilman, a clinical associate medical professor at Brown University.

In the Vioxx lawsuits, millions of Merck documents were supplied to plaintiffs. Those documents were available to Egilman and Ross because they had served as consultants to plaintiffs' lawyers in some of those suits.

Combing through the documents, Ross and his colleagues unearthed internal Merck e-mail messages and documents about 96 journal publications, which included review articles and reports of clinical studies. While the Ross team said it was not necessarily raising questions about all 96 articles, it said that in many cases there was scant evidence that the recruited authors made substantive contributions.

One paper involved a study of Vioxx as a possible deterrent to Alzheimer's progression.

The draft of the paper, dated August 2003, identified the lead writer as "External author?" But when it was published in 2005 in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the lead author was listed as Dr. Leon Thal, a well-known Alzheimer's researcher at the University of California, San Diego. Thal was killed in an airplane crash last year.

The second author listed on the published Alzheimer's paper, whose name had not been on the draft, was Ferris, the New York University professor. Ferris, reached by telephone Tuesday, said he had played an active role in the research and he was substantially involved in helping shape the final draft.

"It's simply false that we didn't contribute to the final publication," Ferris said.

A third author, also not named on the initial draft, was Dr. Louis Kirby, currently the medical director for the company Provista Life Sciences. In an e-mail message on Tuesday, Kirby said that as a clinical investigator for the study he had enrolled more patients, 109, than any of the other researchers. He also said he made revisions to the final document.

"The fact that the draft was written by a Merck employee for later discussion by all the authors does not in and of itself constitute ghostwriting," Kirby's e-mail message said.

The current editor of the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, Dr. James Meador-Woodruff, the chairman of psychiatry at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, said he was not the editor in 2005 but planned to investigate the accusations. "Currently, we have in place prohibitions against this," Meador-Woodruff said.

Normal man held for 55 years in a mental institution. He was not ill..

We came across this case of a person held in a mental hospital for 55 years despite no mental illness.

Can you be held for 55 years without any charge?

Yes, if you are in Sri Lanka. Last Thursday, eighty three year old Thantriye Singho was released from police custody after 55 years. He was arrested in 1953 and all this time he was never charged with any crime.

Why was he arrested in the first place in a time so long ago that none of us can even remember? He was caught carrying a sword in a suburb near Sri Lankan capital Colomo. It is not clear if possession of sword was even a crime at that time. Soon after his arrest, the court sent him to a government hospital for psychological evaluation and treatment.

He was declared mentally healthy and transferred to regular unit of the hospital. But he spent next 55 years of his life in that hospital without the authority bringing any change against him.

A human rights group uncovered his case while doing work on mental patients. They informed the man’s relatives and got a court order for his released.

It is not the fist time this happened in Sri Lanka. Only few months ago another man was released after spending 50 years in custody without any charge. By the time he got out he was 80.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Florida Taxpayers ripped of for a Billion Dollars by Psychiatric conflict of interest

The Psych Data Weblog has this short item on psychiatric conflict of interest in Florida.

Rajiv Tandon, Chief Psychiatrist, State of Florida, needs to be fired as an employee of the State. Check out the story in the St. Pete Times and then write a letter. Tandon received undisclosed amounts of money from every atypical antipsychotic maker.

As the "Chief Psychiatrist" Tandon invited only those psychiatrists who had been funded by atypical antipsychotic makers to a meeting where it was decided which antipsychotics to use in Florida. He neglected to invite anyone such as Yale professor, Dr. Robert Rosenheck, who said "There was never any evidence that warranted the amount of money we spend on atypicals," he said. "If you look at it independently, it is very clear the results say there is no benefit'' to atypicals (newer antipsychotics) over typicals. (older antipsychotics)

The cost to Florida taxpayers for these new atypical antipsychotic drugs over the last 5 years? $1.1 BILLION. These "new" antipsychotics at $8 per pill are no more "effective" than the older antipsychotic drugs such as Haldol and Thorazine at 5 cents per pill and have just as many horrendous side effects.

Naturally we had to follow the money

California child psych facility closes following 518 state violations

As Reported in the San Jose Mercury News

The region's center for emotionally disturbed children is abruptly shutting its doors, following scathing reports of unsafe conditions and multiple violations of state law governing locked treatment facilities.

Although owners of the Starlight Adolescent Center in San Jose said its closing was not connected to recent complaints, records show the facility was cited by state officials in recent months for 14 violations that placed children in "immediate risk" and 12 others that posed potential harm.

State records show one youth had his arm broken in January while being restrained; a bulimic teenager lost 15 pounds at the facility, and staff complained to state investigators of inadequate training.

In addition, in February, an outside agency charged the Starlight facility with "unlawful and irresponsible" behavior for its use of physical restraint and seclusion to subdue the teenage mentally ill patients, including 518 violations of state law. "Starlight must be sanctioned for its failure to protect vulnerable children," said the second critical audit of the facility in two years by the Mental Health Advocacy Project, which the county funds to monitor the rights of mentally ill patients.

The decision to close the facility in June comes amid a growing concern among experts about the wisdom of keeping mentally ill youth in locked facilities on a long-term basis. The average stay at Starlight is one year.

Santa Clara County began sending youth to the 36-bed center in South San Jose seven years ago; children 12 to 18 years old are placed there by county foster care, mental health and juvenile probation officials. The facility also accepts youth from other counties, as well as some children brought there by distraught parents.

No contract renewal

Nancy Pena, director of the Santa Clara County Department of Mental Health, said Wednesday the county decided not to renew its contract with Starlight, beginning this June, and instead to rely on unlocked group homes and supervised family care. Because the county owns the building and local residents are a significant portion of the clients, this made it impossible for the facility to remain open, Pena said.

Both Pena and Mary Jane Gross, the founder and head of Stars Behavioral Health Group, the for-profit parent company that owns Starlight, flatly denied that recent reports contributed to the decision to permanently shutter the facility.

Gross said the agency is a victim of its own success. "The reason is that we have been successful at graduating close to 300 youth over the past seven years and there is a reduced need for this high-level program," Gross said. "We have been able to transition many of these children into community settings."

Her firm "vehemently" denied the conclusions reached by investigators. On March 18, Stars Behavioral Health Group challenged the Mental Health Advocacy Project's reports as "sensationalized and irresponsible," and ultimately harmful to the children served by Starlight.


Pattern of violence

But Mental Health Advocacy Project senior attorney Brenna Silberstein described a "nearly daily pattern of violence" at Starlight. "For us, this is really about the safety of the children," she said.

Since January, state officials have had similar concerns, following the incident where a child's arm was broken by a Starlight staff member. In one 90-minute spot check, agents with the Community Care Licensing division noted a total of 14 California law violations, including poor supervision of children attempting to harm themselves, a lack of documentation for a girl so over-medicated she slept all day, and the failure to monitor the food intake of the bulimic child.

Staff members told state investigators they do not feel adequately trained to work with the population and meet their clients' needs, specifically regarding behavior management. The state also found Starlight failed to report, or under-reported incidents of restraint and seclusion, and has cited Starlight for the violations in addition to requiring multiple corrective action plans.

"We're always concerned with any kinds of deficiency or violation and we move to take immediate action," said Shirley Washington, spokeswoman for the California Department of Social Services. "These are disturbing reports, absolutely. And that's why we went in to take the appropriate action."

Santa Clara County agency directors said Wednesday they are now pulling children out of the facility, moving them to group homes or back with families supported by social worker help. Currently, only 20 of the beds are filled.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Unborn Child Diagnosed With Fetal Bipolar Disorder

Great Satire, as posted on this Blog. Again Tip of the hat to Furious Seasons

Jake and Mandi Donaldson were overjoyed when they learned that their dream of building a family would soon be realized. That joy rapidly turned to concern when the fetus began to exhibit bizarre behaviors that kept Mandi Donaldson awake late into the night. Doctors could not explain these episodes, despite numerous ultrasounds and maternal serum testing. The expectant couple finally found answers to their questions when the fetus was diagnosed with Fetal Bipolar Disorder.

The fetus, who Mandi Donaldson has named Piper, demonstrated extreme mood swings as early as 20 weeks. “Sometimes she would just lie there for hours, and other times she just couldn’t be still. She was completely erratic.” The symptoms worsened as the weeks went by with Piper’s agitation growing progressively stronger. “She started kicking me in the kidney over and over again. I knew something was definitely wrong, but I never suspected mental illness. I thought she was just a little shit.”

Dr. Matthew Pearson, chair of the newly developed Fetal Psychiatry Department at Johns Hopkins, says this type of behavior is characteristic of Fetal Bipolar Disorder. “These fetuses are very sick and very difficult to care for. They rapidly cycle between depression and mania, causing extreme distress for their mothers, including heartburn and frequent urge to urinate.”

Although the diagnosis of Fetal Bipolar Disorder has been in use since 2005, it gained much attention last month when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing that the number of new diagnoses had increased 300% in the past two years. The rising rates of Fetal Bipolar Disorder have been met with alarm by obstetricians who say that more research is needed in the field now that the diagnosis is being applied on a wide scale. Bart Mohan of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that the current estimates of the prevalence of the disease may fall drastically short of the true number of cases.

“Look, we don’t know how many fetuses are affected by this disease. It could be thousands. There may be thousands more with subclinical symptoms. We need to develop standards of practice in treating these cases, but we can’t do that until we have accurate and reliable screening procedures. Obviously, the standard of practice is going to be immediate C-Section, but we at least need to give the impression we’re being scientific about it.”

Dr. Pearson agrees. He says treating a fetus with antipsychotics, the class of drugs often used for Bipolar Disorder, isn’t ethical. “We can’t force a fetus to take potentially harmful medications. We can force pregnant women to take the pills, but the drugs don’t pass the placental barrier well enough to be effective. We can more easily force infants to take medication, which is why we recommend delivering the baby early so that psychotropic therapy can start as soon as possible. Once they’re outside of the womb, we really don’t see it as an ethical problem.”

Still others question the validity of the diagnosis itself. Mary Jensen, spokesperson for Ohio Advocates for Mental Health Care Reform, believes there is little basis for diagnosing fetuses with psychiatric disease. “Are you ######## kidding? Seriously. Are you ####### kidding me?”

For Mandi and Jake Donaldson the evidence is clear. After weeks of worry, Mandi Donaldson is scheduled to deliver her baby on Monday. The Donaldsons say they were saddened at first, but now they feel comfortable raising a special-needs child.

“We will do everything possible to make sure our baby gets the best treatment available. She may never be normal, but we will always find joy in her,” said Mandi Donaldson.

Jake Donaldson added, “It’s just such a relief to finally have a diagnosis.”

Brits To Ban Food Colors Linked To ADHD In Kids

Report from the Independent, tip of the hat to Furious Seasons

Food regulators moved to ban artificial additives from hundreds of products yesterday, three decades after parents began complaining that their children suffered mood swings after consuming brightly coloured sweets, cakes and drinks.

The Food Standards Agency recommended ministers call for manufacturers to remove six artificial colours by the end of 2009 and lobby for a European Union-wide ban. The FSA's advice to parents will be strengthened to warn them about the dangers of the E-numbers tartrazine (E102), quinoline yellow (E104), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), ponceau 4R (E124) and allura red (E129).

These colours and the preservative sodium benzoate (E211) were linked to hyperactivity in a £750,000 study by Southampton University, which found they made primary school children become distracted and fail a computer attention test.

The researchers estimated that 30 per cent of cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) would be prevented if companies removed the colours used in the £13bn-a-year global additives industry.

The decision means the country's biggest confectioners and supermarkets, such as Cadbury and Haribo, will have to reformulate hundreds of products including ice cream, sweets, milkshakes and fizzy drinks.

Some products for which replacements have not yet been found – mushy peas, Turkish delight, and battenberg and angel cakes – may be taken off the shelves temporarily or permanently. The Southampton researchers had warned the seven additives were as harmful as lead in petrol, which was banned after it proved to lower children's IQ by five points. Their research, in The Lancet in September, was the evidence that artificial additives worsened the behaviour of normal children as well as those diagnosed with ADHD.

The European Food Standards Agency dismissed calls for action on the additives last month but at a meeting in London yesterday, the FSA's board decided to back the most stringent of five options recommended by officials.

Dame Deirdre Hutton, who chairs the Food Standards Agency, said: "It is the agency's duty to put consumers first. These additives give colour to foods but nothing else. It would therefore be sensible, in the light of the... study, to remove them."

The board decided to take no action on sodium benzoate because it was "a preservative" rather than a colour. E211, which is linked with other potential health problems, is found in many soft drinks including Diet Coke, Irn-Bru, Lucozade and Fanta, and its removal would pose a significant technological and financial challenge to drinks companies.

The FSA stressed that its decision "does not mean there is an immediate ban".

Campaigners welcomed the first decisive move in the UK against additives, whose effect on hyperactive children were first identified in 1975. Richard Watts, of the Children's Food Campaign, said: "This decision is good news for children and parents, who have known for many years that these additives affect children's behaviour." Anna Glayzer, an Action on Additives campaigner, said the FSA had put the consumer first. "We will be keeping a close eye on the industry to see what effect the voluntary ban has."

The Food and Drink Federation said the recommendation was "bizarre", as manufacturers were already removing the additives. "[Most] products don't contain these colours," a statement said.

The six colourings facing a ban

Tartrazine (E102)

Description: Synthetic yellow dye found in sweets, biscuits, mushy peas

Products: Disney Winnie the Pooh Cake Kit, Lidl orange jelly, Bacardi Breezer tropical lime, Asda mushy peas

Health effects: causes hyperactivity, linked to allergic reactions and migraine.

Quinoline Yellow (E104)

Description: Synthetic dye in sweets, pickles, smoked fish

Products: Aero orange, Galaxy Minstrels, M&Ms, Bassett's Sherbet Lemons

Health effects: Causes hyperactivity and is linked to rashes. Banned in US.

Sunset Yellow (E110)

Description: synthetic yellowdye found in sweets, ice cream, fizzy drinks

Products: Cadbury Creme Egg, Haribo Jelly Beans, Irn-Bru

Health effects: causes hyperactivity and linked to stomach upsets and swelling of skin.

Carmoisine (E122)

Description: Synthetic red dye found in ready meals, sweets

Products: Love Hearts, Galaxy Minstrels, Cadbury Mini Eggs, various lollipops

Health effects: causes hyperactivity and is alleged to cause water retention in those allergic to aspirin. Banned in US.

Ponceau 4R (E124)

Description: synthetic red dye found in sweets, biscuits, drinks

Products: Bassett's Pear Drops, Halls Blackcurrant Soothers, Supercook Alphabet Icing

Health effects: causes hyperactivity and is believed to cause problems for asthmatics. Banned in US.

Allura red (E129)

Description: synthetic red dye found in sweets, soft drinks, Turkish delight

Products: Fry's Turkish Delight, Cadbury Mini Eggs, Maynards Wine Gums

Health effects: causes hyperactivity and may bring on allergic reactions.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

TV Shrink Dr, Phil pays bail for the ringleader of the 8 Florida teens arrested for beating another teenager and videotaping it

This sounds like "Doctor" Phil has gone and got himself involved in another sordid case for fun and profit.

A bondsman says TV's Dr. Phil has posted $30 thousand bond for the ringleader of the eight Lakeland teens accused of kidnapping and beating a girl in front of a video camera.

It's believed Mercades Nichols will be talking about the case on his nationally syndicated show soon.

Some parents had complained earlier this week that they could not afford the high bond set by the judge.

However, six of the eight were out of jail Saturday.

All eight teens face kidnapping and battery charges. Kidnapping carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Dr. Phil's show now admits that paying for Nichols bail was a mistake, stating that "certain staff members went beyond show guidelines." While it is not clear as to whether or not those staff members were disciplined, the statement says they've been spoken to.

We of course remember his statement regarding his interaction with Britney Spears

Friday, April 11, 2008

Psychiatrist charged with child pornography

From the St Tammany News

A Covington psychiatrist whose years of philanthropic work was recently recognized for an "Angel Among us Award" fell from grace Wednesday after he was arrested and charged with 107 counts of child pornography.

Dr. Steve Martin Taylor, 68, of 420 First Ave. E. in Covington, was arrested Wednesday by at least three armed St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies outside his home.

“I never would have guessed this,” said Judy Bird, a neighbor who watched the events unfold, her mouth dropping, hands on her face. “He just seems like such a friendly, good neighbor.”

Taylor, whose volunteer work included caring for 300 special needs patients in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and founding a suicide prevention organization in St. Tammany, was still in jail this afternoon in lieu of a $100,000 bond.

Seizing Taylor’s computer, deputies found the 107 images of children under the age of 17, Sheriff Jack Strain said in a press release. No evidence indicates any of the children were local victims, Strain said.

"I live here and have children here, and I know people look at this and are shocked," Strain said. "There’s no evidence to support this individual was taking advantage of children."

"This should send a clear message to any other member of the community, if you do this in St. Tammany you will get caught," he added.

Strain would not comment on what led to the investigation.

Taylor was set to receive the Angels Among Us Award, better known as the Hospice Foundation of the South’s Connie M. Husley Community Volunteer award, at a ceremony April 24. The event has since been canceled.

Taylor, a contract employee who performed emergency psychiatric commitment referrals for the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office, was also vice-chairman of the State Mental Health Advocacy Service and a member of the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Ethics Committee.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Growing Scandal - The Money Spent on Psych Drugs for Kids in New Jersey

As seen in this report from Pharmalot

New Jersey’s Medicaid program spent more than $73 million on antipsychotic medications for children less than 18 years old between 2000 and 2007, according to state records, even though the drugs weren’t approved by the FDA for treating kids. And a state official acknowledges the drugs may have been prescribed for conditions other than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the approved uses. As a result, a state legislator is calling for an investigation and is formulating legislation.

“There are horror stories about these meds and there’s a reason they’re not prescribed for kids,” says New Jersey assemblyman Pat Diegnan, who adds that he plans to draft a bill to change the practice and to hold talks with the New Jersey attorney general’s office, which recently formed a task force to examine interactions between pharma and docs. “The entire issue is frightening and the state should be taking a closer look at this. I’m concerned about the casual prescribing by doctors and the enormous amount of money being spent.”

The disclosure comes amid growing debate over antipsychotics. At issue are fears that children are misdiagnosed; drugs are inadequately studied; some docs presribe the pills too readily, and drugmakers promote the meds improperly. As reported previously, a growing number of states are suing various drugmakers over marketing that led Medicaid programs to pay unnecessarily for the meds.

Florida, for instance, is reviewing whether antipsychotics were prescribed improperly for ADHD. “There are no studies that have shown they (atypicals) are safe, or for that matter, that they are effective for children,” Ronald Brown, a Temple University pediatric psychology professor who headed an American Psychological Association committee that examined the issue, told The St. Petersburg Times last year. “The bottom line is that the use of psychiatric medications far exceeds the evidence of safety and effectiveness.”

Money Spent on Psych Drugs for Kids in New Jersey
Product 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Abilify $0 $0 $0 $309,257 $1,420,414 $3,081,174 $4,984,463 $6,115,322
Geodon $0 $41,565 $129,088 $212,560 $295,085 $390,794 $437,207 $397,331
Haldol $6,655 $8,558 $13,311 $18,172 $17,206 $13,764 $8,113 $9,448
Risperdal $1,954,461 $3,259,323 $4,022,473 $4,885,024 $4,986,423 $5,419,384 $5,797,825 $5,522,290
Seroquel $150,717 $422,674 $905,333 $1,556,533 $1,882,016 $2,375,059 $2,732,248 $3,011,707
Thorazine $36,905 $41,403 $36,226 $26,881 $14,458 $14,027 $15,009 $18,100
Zyprexa $751,867 $1,270,683 $1,504,897 $1,719,372 $1,594,270 $1,282,623 $1,271,629 $1,107,777

Psychiatrist 'let crazed bodybuilder free to kill and dismember two women,' tribunal hears

We often assume the psychiatrists are capable of fulfilling their duties regarding public safety at a basic level, especially regarding real, not imagined threats. It seems that our trust was unwarranted in this case involving the gruesome murder of two young women. Report from This Is London

A schizophrenic killed two women after a senior psychiatrist discharged him from hospital against the advice of other doctors and the man's own family, a medical tribunal heard yesterday.

Dr Eric Birchall, 70, released bodybuilder Mark Corner into the community, telling GPs he posed little risk to the public. But less than a year later 29-year-old Corner - who was a cannabis smoker, had a history of violence and harboured murderous thoughts - killed two prostitutes in separate attacks.

He butchered Hanane Parry, 19, and 25-yearold Pauline Stephen before dumping their body parts in bin bags in a Liverpool alleyway. Other parts were found in his freezer. Both women were so badly mutilated that police were unable to say exactly how they died.

Corner was sentenced to indefinite detention under the Mental Health Act after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Yesterday, a hearing of the General Medical Council in Manchester was told that Corner, who had mental health problems from the age of 12, had been sectioned in 2002 after trying to stab a female neighbour with a kitchen knife.

Corner told one doctor he had an "abnormal interest in girls who died and were dismembered".

Experts concluded he was likely to become dangerous if he went back to using alcohol, cannabis and cocaine. A mental health tribunal ruled that Corner, from Everton, should not be released.

But Dr Birchall agreed to discharge Corner from the Ferndale mental health unit in Liverpool less than a month later, telling his GP the risk to others was low.

Within a fortnight Corner had taken an overdose of paracetamol. He told doctors he had stopped taking medication for his schizophrenia and had begun drinking and smoking cannabis.

Corner's father pleaded with the doctors to readmit his son, but again Corner was discharged.

In the months before the killings he missed two of three outpatient appointments and was seen just once by his GP. He also admitted taking up to 70 Ecstasy tablets a week and hearing voices again.

The panel was told that Corner was arrested in July 2003 and charged with the murder of both prostitutes.

He was convicted of their manslaughter and detained indefinitely in that December.

An inquiry said Dr Birchall had committed "grave errors of judgment" when he discharged Corner. His claim that the risk was "low" was "inaccurate and misleading".

Yesterday, Craig Sephton, for the GMC, told the tribunal: "It is not part of my case to say that Dr Birchall was responsible for those murders but it is our job to find out what happened.

"We suggest that he did not devise an adequate care plan. We say that Dr Birchall did not adjust the care plan to accommodate the new features of the case."

If found guilty of misconduct Dr Birchall, who no longer works for the Mersey Care NHS Trust, could be struck off the medical register and banned from practising.

The tribunal continues.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Couple sue psychiatrist, claiming he tried to seduce the wife.

I thought I had reported on this case earlier, but it appears not. There are a number of similar cases which we have previously reported in Georgia. As reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution over the weekend. Main allegations given below, with more info at the link

An Alpharetta couple who sought out a psychiatrist to help their 4-year-old son contend they were emotionally victimized by their therapist's efforts to break up their marriage and seduce the wife.

Beverly Wilhelm contends in a lawsuit filed late last month in Fulton County State Court that Dr. Jonathan Lauter's improper advances drove her to depression. Her husband, Madison Wilhelm, alleges Lauter preyed upon his insecurities in therapy sessions.

The couple's lawyer, William G. Quinn of Decatur, said the case represents a horrific violation of trust even though Lauter and Beverly Wilhelm never had sex.

"In this case, my client came to me feeling decimated emotionally and betrayed," Quinn said. "Psychiatric literature confirms that when a patient feels they have been exploited by a trusted professional therapist that the psychological consequences are very similar to incest or child molestation."

Lauter, who moved to New York in 2006, was practicing in Roswell at the time. He acknowledged the Wilhelms were his patients and that Beverly Wilhelm confessed her love for him during a therapy session but said he did nothing wrong.


The lawsuit doesn't contend that Lauter consummated the relationship, just that he took advantage of a confused patient by pushing her toward romance, even pursuing her from afar after he moved.

The suit claims the Wilhelms went to Lauter in August 2005 thinking their son had issues adapting to a new sibling. The therapist saw them for about six months before deciding he no longer needed to treat the boy. By early 2006, Lauter began couples counseling for the Wilhelms and eventually individual sessions for both.

By April 2006, Beverly Wilhelm confessed to Lauter she had fallen in love with him, the suit says.

"Beverly, you have to know that I feel the same way about you. Nothing exists in a vacuum," the suit contends Lauter told her. The suit alleges Wilhelm wanted to break off therapy, but Lauter convinced her to continue the relationship.

Lauter "had targeted her and had embarked upon a plan to sexually seduce and exploit her in order to meet the defendant's own personal sexual and emotional needs," the suit states.

The suit contends that in June 2006 he told Wilhelm, "I would love to make love to you. I have always been attracted to you. I saw doors opening when you told me how you felt."

Lauter moved to New York in August 2006 but continued to call her in Alpharetta, including an invitation to rendezvous in New York; the contacts continued through July 2007, when Lauter told Wilhelm he no longer matched her feelings, the suit says.

"Rather than strengthen her marriage, and increasing her self-esteem, the defendant caused the plaintiff to feel unworthy, depressed, isolated and at times suicidal," according to the suit.

It further claims Lauter was counseling her husband, in part, because of stress from a prior marriage that ended after unfaithfulness. Rather than helping him, Lauter was trying to undermine the couple's marriage, the suit maintains.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

My Kid Doesn't Have ADD, Etc. But I Had Him "Labeled" Anyway

A sad commentary seen in the rant section of the Burbia Blog

When I meet a mother these days who does not have a child in occupational or physical therapy, I have the urge to shake her violently, maybe slap her, and say, "Are you mad, woman? Don't you know that something is wrong with your child?! Don't you care about Seamus/Suri/Maeve/Shiloh (take your pick)?"

OK, that was a joke, but it goes to the dilemma I've faced over the past 6 months. I had to decide whether to "label" my child, something that caused a bit of family strife and internal conflict. I came to the conclusion that, like it or not, the new normal of childhood is abnormal. And I found my near 40-year-old self caving to peer pressure, like an insecure teenager at a beer pong party.

My toddler has always been tightly wound and when he began preschool the director made it clear within two days she thought something was wrong with him. (Back story: at 3 years old, he had never been in any childcare, and because we are sadly lacking in grandparents or family close by, my son had never been in the care of anyone other than his parents. And I mean no one, not once, ever.) When pressed, the director used the phrase “Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified,” and then tried to console me about this by saying "all of us could be diagnosed with something!"

At home minutes later, furious googling ensued, showing PDD to be on the autism spectrum. Since you can see that I am splaying out this sorry saga for perfect strangers to read, you might suspect that I am not one to suffer through problems silently. After I got this news from the preschool director, I proceeded to tell everyone I knew about it, and even people I didn't know, like my unsuspecting seat mates at Starbucks.

The first thing I noticed was the stark generational difference.

Anyone over the age of 50 (including a close relative) believed strenuously that we had medicalized every normal trait of childhood, that "rambunctious" had become ADD, that "sassing back" had become Oppositional Defiant Disorder, that "shy" and "nervous" had become mild autism, "sensitive" had become Sensory Integration Disorder, "awkward" had become Asperger's, "klutzy" had become a gross motor deficit. And they believed that medicalizing the natural diversity of child behavior was one step away from medicating the child, which they viewed as an unmitigated travesty (their view, not mine).

The second thing I realized was that among the parents I knew, well over 50 percent had their child in some form of therapy (I counted), hence my assertion that the new normal was in fact abnormal, a claim that would certainly make a statistician's head spin.

So it was with these competing impressions that I entered the evaluation process with our public school district. Frank was not found to have PDD, but rather a fine motor deficit and also a lack of "body awareness" (known to the pros as proprioception), which, in the evaluators' eyes, explained an array of seemingly disparate behaviors.

Did I believe any of it? Without question, I knew my son was well behind on fine motor skills. As for proprioception, well, I'm not sure I buy it. I'm not saying there aren't behavioral challenges for my son (which, by the way, have greatly improved after six months of school), but I'm not positive that lacking body awareness is at the root of them all. I should also say that my natural contrarian inclination would lead me to side with the older generation, who think we run the risk of turning borderline quirks into maladies.

But here's the ruthlessly honest truth of how I decided what to do. I did something because everyone else was doing it; I was undeniably a lemming. I chose to accept therapy and the attendant label because, frankly, more than half of my friends or acquaintances had done the same (even the ones like me who view the labels for marginal problems as faintly absurd).

I felt as if my son would be at a disadvantage if he did not get the therapy offered by the school district. I wish I could say my decision-making had more integrity. Maybe I can blame my lack of spine on my (diagnosed) pre-menopausal anxiety disorder. I just hope my son doesn't one day read this. I can hear myself saying to my rebellious teenager, "well, if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?" And his answer, rightly, would be "well YOU did, Mom!"

Linda Keenan is a contributing writer at Burbia. Linda worked 7 years as a head writer/senior producer for various programs on CNN. Before that she worked as a writer/producer for Bloomberg TV. She now writes satire, primarily about parenting culture, at Thoroughly Modern Mommy

Court orders this slime to pay for his crimes

Two reports, the first from the Vancouver Sun

A Vancouver psychiatrist who was in 1998 found guilty of infamous conduct for engaging in sexual relations with a female patient has once again been disciplined by the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. James Christopher Anscombe Morrant "acknowledged that he breached various terms and conditions of his temporary registration which were imposed in January, 2006 following his return to practice after disciplinary action," the college said Friday in a press release.

"Specifically he breached conditions that required that he limit his practice of psychotherapy to short term interventional pscyhotherapy focusing on consultation, assessment and pharmacotherapy to a maximum of 12 sessions per patient, that he see patients only when other clinic staff are present in the clinic, and that he not initate contact with former patients out of the office."

For the breach, the college issued a "formal reprimand," fined Morrant $10,000 and ordered him to participate in a treatment program including further assessments, counselling and monitoring, the release said.

"The future professional conduct of Dr. Morrant must be beyond reproach in every respect," the release said.
Morrant was found guilty in 1998 of infamous conduct for engaging in a sexual relationship, including sexual intercourse, with a female patient.

Morrant was suspended from practice for 18 months, ordered to pay costs and undergo various assessments before being allowed to return to practice.

Morrant fought the conviction and the case spent five years moving up to the Supreme Court of Canada which upheld the college's findings.
The second is from the Vancouver Province
As long as ousted Vancouver psychiatrist Richard Golden continues to dodge criminal sex charges, there can never be complete justice for the mentally fragile women he sexually abused.

But, hopefully, his former patients now feel their fight for reparation for the torment he caused wasn't all in vain given the recent legal judgments against the deviant.

Court documents filed in late February show the disgraced shrink -- who was booted out of the College of Physicians and Surgeons after an inquiry determined he was a sexual predator -- must pay three of his abused victims sums totalling several hundred thousand dollars.

Because the consent judgments amount to confidential out-of-court settlements, the lawyers for all parties remain tightlipped.

But I do know one of the victims is a 22-year-old awarded $120,000. The young woman was a 16-year-old West Vancouver student when she first went to Golden in 2001 for treatment for depression, an eating disorder, self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts.

She alleged that Golden, who ran the Westside Family Psychiatric Clinic on West Broadway, along with his wife, Susan Joy, sexually assaulted her and kept her on drugs for almost four years to ensure she was more compliant and submissive.

Another victim, a Vancouver single parent, took her child to see Golden in 1999 but subsequently sought treatment for her own emotional issues and for drugs.

According to the records, Golden assaulted her on numerous occasions at his office beginning in 2000.

She now holds a judgment against him amounting to $50,000.

Details of the third order, involving another woman underage when she first went to Golden for treatment, are as yet unknown.

Back in 2006, the college held an inquiry into complaints from three unnamed former patients of

Golden and found their evidence of abuse, manipulation and coercion credible and reliable.

For the record, those who testified before the college committee are not necessarily the same three who filed lawsuits.

"[Golden] selected the complainants . . . for sexual exploitation because of the fragility of their family backgrounds, particularly the absence of a strong role model in two cases, and their depression," the 2006 disciplinary report states.

"After selecting his subjects [he] began 'the grooming process' for his subsequent sexual advances."

The slime had it all mapped out: First, he buttered them up, saying warm, fuzzy things about their bodies, their hair and appearance.

He said he was their confidant and had their best interests at heart. They could call his personal cellphone anytime, night and day.

Then the serious courting began.

He professed feelings for them, telling them his marriage was over and they'd soon be meeting freely.

To reduce the risk of detection by staff or other psychiatrists, Golden booked many of the appointments late Friday or early Saturday.

Yet another victim, a single woman on a disability pension for mental-health issues, launched a complaint with the college after it had permanently removed Golden from its membership. A disciplinary panel was set to hear evidence on that file last July but the college adjourned the hearing without reason. No new date has yet been set.

Golden has since managed to get a court order deeming him mentally incompetent. His wife has taken charge of his personal and financial affairs.

Wrongful death suit filed against psychiatrist who treated Rebecca Riley

As Reported in the Patriot Ledger. See our some of our earlier reporting on the Rebecca Riley case here.

The estate of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley, who died after an overdose of psychiatric drugs, has sued her psychiatrist for medical malpractice, claiming the doctor is responsible for the girl’s death.

The attorney who represents Rebecca Riley’s estate said that Tufts Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. Kayoko Kifuji misdiagnosed the girl as bipolar and having attention deficit disorder when she was less than 2 1/2 years old, then prescribed a series of powerful drugs that eventually killed the girl. Kifuji diagnosed Rebecca’s brother and sister, now 13 and 7, with the same illnesses and prescribed drugs for them as well.

The siblings are the beneficiaries of Rebecca’s estate. They are together in a foster home in Massachusetts, a relative told the Patriot Ledger today.

Rebecca Riley died at her parents’ apartment in Hull in December 2006. The family formerly lived in Weymouth.

Her parents, Carolyn and Michael Riley, are awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges, accused of killing their daughter by intentionally overdosing her with powerful drugs, including Clonidine, a blood-pressure medication used as a sedative in children. Clonidine was one of several drugs prescribed by Kifuji.

Andrew Meyer Jr., the attorney who represents the estate, says the battery of powerful drugs Kifuji prescribed made the girl a “4-year-old zombie” and eventually killed her.

The suit was filed Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court.

Investigators in the Riley case said that a school nurse at the Johnson Early Childhood Center in Weymouth where Rebecca was a student had talked to Kifuji and Carolyn Riley about the girl’s medication. The nurse said that the staff was concerned because Rebecca was too lethargic from the drugs to fully participate in school, investigators said.

Kifuji has not been charged in the case but voluntarily surrendered her medical license while the case is being reviewed by state regulators.

Tufts Medical Center said it supports Kifuji and the care she provided.

The defense attorneys for both Carolyn and Michael Riley have from the start blamed Kifuji for overmedicating the little girl.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Psychiatrist ordered imprisoned for Medicare fraud

A report from the Belleville News Democrat out of Decatur, Illinois

A Metro East psychiatrist is headed to federal prison for two and a half years for defrauding Medicare of $1.75 million.

Fifty-five-year-old Ajit Trikha (ah-JEET' TREEK'-ah) pleaded guilty last June in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis to two counts of health care fraud.

Trikha overbilled Medicare and Medicaid for services that weren't performed, including when he was out of the country. He also billed for group-therapy sessions that far exceeded the 12-person limit set by Medicare and Medicaid.

A federal judge has ordered Trikha to reimburse the government for the money he bilked.

Trikha established his TRX Health Systems in 2000 in Belleville, Illinois.

Psychologist pleads not guilty to rape

From the Times Union out of Albany, NY.

A 32-year-old psychologist Wednesday pleaded not guilty this morning to felony charges of raping a 14-year-old Tamarac High School freshman on days she was counseling him.

Jennifer A. Hastings of Sand Lake was arraigned before Judge Patrick McGrath. She and her attorney, Steven Coffey, did not comment after the court appearance. Hastings, who quit her $52,426-a-year job as a court-assigned counselor for the teenager, is free on bail.

Last Friday she was indicted by a Rensselaer County grand jury on second-degree rape and criminal sex act felony charges and endangering the welfare of a child and third-degree sexual abuse misdemeanors. Police said the relationship turned sexual during September and October last year. Trysts allegedly occurred at the Brunswick school, in a parking lot across Route 2 from the school, in Schodack and Colonie motels and at Hastings' Sheer Road home.

She allegedly took the boy to a hotel in Colonie but has yet to be indicted by an Albany County grand jury.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

BBC Talking Head Psychiastrist Tonmoy Sharma Is Banned From Practising In Britain - Did Studies for Eli Lilly

As Reported in the Telegraph

A psychiatrist who regularly appeared as an expert on the BBC has been struck off the medical register after he lied about his academic qualifications and performed unethical drugs tests on mentally ill patients.

Tonmoy Sharma, who was a senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, has been exposed as a fraud who repeatedly referred to himself as a "professor" when records show that he had never completed a PhD thesis.

Despite this, Sharma, who was registered at the Clinical Neuroscience Research Centre in Dartford, Kent, regularly used the letters PhD after his name and managed to deceive the NHS and some of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies.

He also appeared on the BBC2 series Mind of a Murderer in 2000 and was often used as an expert commentator on BBC News Online stories.

A General Medical Council panel yesterday found Sharma guilty of "serious failings of personal integrity" after hearing that he recruited mentally ill patients to test drugs without seeking proper approval.

Andrew Popat, chairman of the panel, told Sharma: "Your persistent and wide-ranging dishonesty and untruthfulness, spanning a number of years, together with your lack of insight, is so serious that it is fundamentally incompatible with your continuing to be a registered medical practitioner."

Mr Popat said Sharma, the author of several books on mental illness, had "contributed significantly towards the advancement of medical science" and was highly regarded by his colleagues.

However, after a 10-month hearing, the GMC Fitness to Practise panel found Sharma guilty of serious professional misconduct and struck him off the medical register.

The 42-year-old, who trained in India, was found to have acted unprofessionally in relation to five major studies between 1997 and 2003, involving four leading pharmaceutical companies including Eli Lilly and the Janssen Research Foundation.

He also misled the companies when he chose to use identical patients in different studies, subjecting them to MRI scans and tests that had not been approved by an ethics committee. In 2003, he recruited mental health patients in unsolicited telephone calls and without consent from their doctors. He then failed to give them proper information about the trials - one schizophrenic was simply handed a leaflet.

His misconduct was first uncovered by the drugs company Sanofi, and a complaint resulting in his temporary suspension was made to the Institute of Psychiatry in 2001, prompting an investigation.

Sharma, who represented himself at the hearing, denied the claims and insisted that he "believed in ethics in medicine".

Child Psychiatrist Arrested on Charges of Criminal Sexual Conduct

Based on data from these three reports from the state of Michigan

A child psychiatrist is facing criminal sexual conduct charges with someone who is not one of his patients.

Dr. Carlos Marcano, 58, of Byron Center was charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct. Kent County sheriff's detectives this week arrested him on one charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two charges of second-degree sexual assault.

He is a child psychiatrist for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, as well as Community Mental Health for Central Michigan. The alleged crime did not involve a patient, or happen on Pine Rest property, police said.

He was arraigned in Grand Rapids Township District Court, and held in the Kent County Jail on $50,000 bond.

In a statement released to the media, officials from Pine Rest said, "We have been informed by the sheriff's department that this matter did not involve any Pine Rest patients and did not arise from the performance of any duties at Pine Rest. Dr. Marcano has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation."

UPDATE: The criminal sexual conduct charges were for acts committed with an adolescent. He is charged with 1st and 2nd degree criminal sexual conduct against a child 12 to 15 years old. Community Mental Health of Central Michigan says it has suspended Marcano's contract indefinitely.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Where are they now? Psychologist Richard Boylan

This is not an April Fools post, although it should be.

Dr. Richard Boylan is a former California psychologist who had his state psychology license revoked back in 1995 over allegations of improper sexual interaction with female patients in his hot tub (hydro 'therapy'?). He still uses the title doctor, even though he is not legally licensed for mental therapy anymore.

Boylan, Richard J., Ph.D. (PSY 10047)
Sacramento, CA
Interim Suspension Order issued June 3, 1994 - no practice. Partial stay granted July 21, 1994 - may treat male patients only.

Boylan, Richard J., Ph.D. (PSY 10047)
Sacramento, CA
B&P Code §2960(j). Gross negligence in the practice of psychology. Decision effective August 4, 1995. License revoked.

When we last checked in on the revoked Doctor, we found him peddling various oddities, such as helping your Space Alien Child adapt to life on Earth.

Never fear, he now assures us with a straight face
It is my pleasure and joy to announce that the 12 environmental scientists from the planet Altimar have now arrived on Earth.

Oh Joy ....

SEE: Full And Detailed Transcript of California Board of Psychology revoking Boylan's license to practice in Nov 1996 (via Archive.org)

See also this link

Buyer Beware.

Former Boston Children's Hospital doctor accused of sexually abusing patients

As Reported in the Boston Globe. While not a psychiatrist, since this involves allegations of child abuse, we might be able to make an exception in our reporting this time

A renowned pediatrician and best-selling author who served for 14 years as chief of ambulatory pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston was accused of sexually abusing at least seven children in his care in a lawsuit filed today in Suffolk Superior Court.

The lawsuit, filed by one unnamed plaintiff, alleges that Dr. Melvin D. Levine "sexually assaulted, battered, and abused" him between 1980 and 1985.

"Levine, during his treatment sessions, under the guise of performing repeated but unnecessary physical examinations, sexually assaulted John No. 5, including numerous acts of genital fondling, masturbation, and other attempted and threatened acts of assault," the lawsuit alleges.

In a statement, Levine’s Boston lawyer Edward Mahoney said the doctor is innocent.

"Dr. Mel Levine has provided pediatric care to more than 15,000 children over 40 years and categorically denies that he has ever been abusive in any way toward any patient," Mahoney said. "He adamantly denies these claims. Dr. Levine is distressed about the distorted or misinterpreted memories from decades past, and questions the motivations. He prefers not to participate further in counsel’s efforts to obtain free advertising for his legal practice."

In a separate statement, officials at Children’s Hospital said Levine worked there between 1971 and 1985, specializing in children with developmental and educational issues.

"This work led to Dr. Levine developing a national reputation as an expert in these fields," according to the statement.

Hospital officials said they "never had any complaint from any patient or parent of any patient suggesting inappropriate conduct of any nature by Dr. Levine."

They added: "Children’s Hospital’s most important goal is to protect children’s health and promote their well being. Our staff is trained and experienced in detecting abuse and mistreatment of children. Such behavior, if identified, is treated with the utmost seriousness and addressed immediately."

Levine, who trained as a resident at the hospital starting in 1965, went on to practice at the University of North Carolina Medical Center.
As noted here:
Dr. Mel Levine is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Dr. Levine is also the co-founder of All Kinds of Minds, a non-profit institute for the study of differences in learning, with financier Charles R. Schwab.

Over the past thirty years, Dr. Levine has pioneered programs for the evaluation of children and young adults with learning, development, and/or behavioral problems. In 1995, Dr. Levine received the C. Anderson Aldrich Award for outstanding contribution to the field of child development. In 2005, he was named the most admired person in education by Scholastic Press.

Dr. Levine graduated summa cum laude from Brown University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford in England. He later graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed his pediatric training at The Children's Hospital in Boston. Dr. Levine served for fourteen years as Chief of the Division of Ambulatory Pediatrics at The Children's Hospital and was an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at The Harvard Medical School before moving to North Carolina. Dr. Levine served as Director of the University of North Carolina’s Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning for 21 years.
We can only hope that he was not infected with the "psychiatric disease"