Psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin, M.D.,
at his Empathic Therapy Conference
April 26, 2013, Syracuse, N.Y.
... This is really a battle between good and evil."
Psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin, M.D.
at his Empathic Therapy Conference
April 17-19, 2015, at Michigan State University
E. Lansing, Michigan
Most psychiatry deaths are caused by psychiatry's so-called medications. Psychiatry's most lethal drugs are the so-called antipsychotic, anti-schizophrenic, major tranquilizer or neuroleptic (nerve-seizing) drugs. All these terms are different names for the same group of drugs. Other types of psychiatric drugs also kill people, however.
Dr. Peter C. Gotzsche, a physician specializing in internal medicine at Denmark's Nordic Cochrane Centre, alleged in the May 12, 2015 British Medical Journal:
Psychiatric drugs are responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people aged 65 and older each year in the Western world... Their benefits would need to be colossal to justify this, but they are minimal. ... Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm ... This would lead to healthier and longer-lived populations.
If people under age 65 and those outside the Western world are included, perhaps psychiatric drugs kill more than one million people each year worldwide.
A study by Matti Joukamaa, M.D., Ph.D., et al., published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2006, "Schizophrenia, neuroleptic medication, and mortality" (bjp.rcpsych.org) found that "The number of neuroleptics used at the time of the baseline survey showed a graded relation to mortality. Adjusted for age, gender, somatic diseases and other potential risk factors for premature death, the relative risk was 2.50 (95% Cl1 46-4.30) per increment of one neuroleptic." The study found taking a neuroleptic "medication" more than doubles a person's risk of death.
American researchers using U.S.A. nationwide data reported in a February 2011 article in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety there were 14.3 million "Annual antipsychotic treatment visits" in 2008 in the U.S.A. alone (Caleb Alexander, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, and Randall Stafford, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford Prevention Research Center, et al., "Increasing off-label use of antipsychotic medications in the United States, 1995-2008", Vol. 20, Issue 2, pp. 177-184, also available at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). How many patients those 14.3 million antipsychotic treatment visits represent isn't clear. If we assume each patient sees his psychiatrist once a month, that's 1,191,666 patients taking so-called antipsychotic or neuroleptic (nerve-seizing) drugs in the U.S.A. in 2008 (14.3 million divided by 12 = 1,191,666). Many of these deaths are caused by neuroleptic malignant syndrome, which is when the body succumbs to the toxicity of the so-called medication. In 2012, Eelco F.M. Wijdicks, M.D., Professor of Neurology at Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota reported—
Incidence rates for neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) range from 0.02 to 3 percent among patients taking neuroleptic agents... Mortality [death rate among those contracting NMS] has declined from the earliest reports in the 1960s of 76 percent and is more recently estimated between 10 and 20 percent. ... NMS is most often seen with the "typical" high potency neuroleptic agents (eg, haloperidol, fluphenazine). However, every class of neuroleptic drug has been implicated, including the low potency (eg, chlorpromazine) and the newer "atypical" antipsychotic drugs (eg, clozapine, risperidone, olanzapine). ["Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome", updated April 10, 2012, Wolters Kluwer Health | uptodate.com]
Not all psychiatrists are convinced the so-called "atypical" neuroleptic drugs produce a lower death rate than the "typical" neuroleptics. Some evidence suggests the death rate with "atypical" neuroleptic/"antipsychotic" drugs is higher. In his book Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition, 2008, p. 25) psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin, M.D. says this:
...the newer antipsychotic drugs pose even greater risks of causing potentially life-threatening disorders, including marked obesity, elevated cholesterol, and potentially lethal diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and pancreatitis. Overall, the concept of atypical is a marketing ploy with little clinical reality. These drugs combine the risks associated with the older neuroleptics with the very serious new risks. Nevertheless, health care providers, including sophisticated physicians, seem taken in by the claims.
Similarly, in his book Saving Normal—An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life, psychiatrist Allen Frances says experience has shown "the newer antipsychotics were no more effective than their predecessors and carried much worse long-term risks" (HarperCollins 2013, p. 92). Dr. Breggin's and Dr. Frances' opinion that the newer or "atypical" (so-called) antipsychotics have worse long-term effects than the older or "typical" (so-called) antipsychotics receives support from a report by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, "Morbidity and Mortality in People with Serious Mental Illness", in October 2006, by which time atypicals had become the majority of neuroleptic prescriptions. The report states in bold italics, "People with serious mental illness (SMI) die, on average, 25 years earlier than the general population. State studies document recent increases in death rates over those previously reported." Premature death among those considered seriously mentally ill began at the same time as the the advent of psychiatric drugs, suggesting psychiatric drugs are the reason, and an increase in deaths among supposedly seriously mentally ill persons corresponding with the shift from "typical" to "atypical" neuroleptic/"antipsychotic" drugs suggests there is a higher death rate with the newer, supposedly better "atypical" neuroleptics than with the older or "typical" neuroleptics.
Using Dr. Wijdick's smallest figures, 0.02 percent (0.0002) and my assumption the 14.3 million "Annual antipsychotic treatment visits" represent about 1,191,666 (1.19 million) Americans taking neuroleptic drugs, the resulting estimate of Americans contracting neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) each year is 238, about 24 of whom die if the death or mortality rate is 10%, or 48 if it is 20%. Using his upper incidence rate for NMS of 3% and his upper mortality or death rate of 20% yields an estimate of approximately 35,745 NMS victims, about 7,150 of whom die. The worldwide figure would be a multiple of those numbers.
According to psychiatrist Peter Breggin and clinical social work professor David Cohen in their book Your Drug May Be Your Problem—How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications (De Capo/Perseus Books 2007, pp. 102-103), about 2.4 percent of persons treated (if that's the correct term) with neuroleptic drugs will contract NMS. They also cite the following estimate:
Using a low-end rate of 1 percent, Maxmen and Ward [in Psychotropic Drugs Fast Facts, 2nd ed., W.W. Norton 1995, p. 33] estimate that 1,000 to 4,000 deaths occur in America each year as a result of neuroleptic malignant syndrome [NMS]. The actual number is probably much greater. [Id]
Again, the worldwide "antipsychotic"/neuroleptic death toll is necessarily many times greater than in America alone.
The target of psychiatric drugs is the brain, but psychiatric drugs including neuroleptics reduce the function of nerves all over the body and hence may disable many other parts of the nervous system, resulting in many deleterious effects, some of which are life-threatening. A study of "individuals who had died because of choking" after taking neuroleptic/antipsychotic drugs in the November 2003 British Journal of Psychiatry titled "Choking deaths: the role of antipsychotic medication" found choking deaths in persons taking so-called antipsychotic drugs may result from "compromised neurological competence" and that those taking thioridazine (a particular so-called antipsychotic) were 92 times more likely to die. It was also found that persons taking lithium were 30 times more likely to die (David Ruschena, et al., Vol. 183, pp. 446-50, ncbi.nlm.hih.gov).
One of the ways neuroleptic or nerve-seizing drugs kill people is slowing or deactivating nerve impulses to the heart, causing the heart to lose coordination, which is called arrhythmia, or causing the heart to stop beating, causing sudden death, which is when death is unexpected and without warning. An article titled "Sudden cardiac death and antipsychotics" in the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment in 2006 (Vol. 12, pp. 35-44, by Nasser Abdelmawla, Ph.D. in psychopharmacology & Alex Mitchell) says "Sudden death refers to the unexpected death of a person who has no known acutely life-threatening condition and yet dies of a fatal medical cause." In this article the authors say sudden death is "thought to result from fatal arrhythmias" of the heart and that "Prospective studies show that people with prolongation of the QT interval beyond 500 ms [milliseconds] are at increased risk of serious [heart] arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia [dangerously fast heartbeat] and torsade de pointes" (see below) and that "Most antipsychotics prolong the QTc interval in overdose but some prolong it even at therapeutic doses."
In an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2001, Alexander H. Glassman, M.D. and J. Thomas Bigger, M.D., titled "Antipsychotic Drugs: Prolonged QTc Interval, Torsade de Pointes, and Sudden Death" (Nov. 1, 2001, Vol. 158, No. 11, pp. 1774-1782) say this:
The first report of sudden arrhythmic death with an antipsychotic drug appeared in 1963 ...sudden unexpected death occurs almost twice as often in populations treated with antipsychotics as in normal populations. ... Torsade de pointes is a malignant ventricular arrhythmia that is associated with syncope [loss of consciousness] and sudden death. ... Drugs blocking the IKr channel can induce torsade de pointes and sudden death in apparently healthy adults. ... At this point in time, an atypical antipsychotic without concern does not exist.
Note they say an "atypical" (not typical) antipsychotic without concern does not exist, casting doubt on the claims the newer atypical antipsychotics are safer.
Bruce G. Charlton, M.D. of the School of Biology and Psychology, University of Newcastle upon Tyre, in an article titled "Why are doctors still prescribing neuroleptics?" (QJM 2006; 99, 417-20) says "the so-called 'atypical neuroleptics' which now take up 90 percent of the US market, and are increasingly being prescribed to children, seem to offer few advantages over traditional agents while being highly toxic and associated with significantly increased mortality from metabolic and a variety of other causes." He suggests the harm done by neuroleptic drugs including the newer so-called atypicals "represents an unprecedented disaster for the self-image and public representation—not just of psychiatry—but the whole medical profession."
Health science writer Ethan A. Huff cites a study published in the British Medical Journal by researchers from Harvard Medical School of more than 75,000 dementia patients given so-called antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol (Haldol, a "typical" neuroleptic) and quetiapine (Seroquel, an "atypical" neuroleptic) showing "at least 1,800 additional deaths a year as a result of dementia patients taking antipsychotic drugs." He suggests "These 1,800 deaths, of course, are just the additional deaths caused by antipsychotic drugs when they are used for off-label purposes in those with dementia, which means there are tens of thousands—and perhaps even hundreds of thousands—of deaths every year in other patients taking antipsychotics for other purposes" ("BMJ [British Medical Journal] admits antipsychotic drugs kill far more people than terrorism", March 02, 2012, naturalnews.com, italics in original).
There is evidence SSRI "antidepressants" cause suicide, homicide, and other violence, perhaps by making people feel worse, contrary to their
expectation, perhaps by reducing sleep quality, and perhaps by disabling parts of the brain responsible for people's normal inhibitions. (See Psychiatric Drugs: Cure or Quackery?) How this was discovered is described in Alison Bass' book Side Effects—A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and a Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial (Algonquin Books 2008). Because of these harmful effects, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires a "black box" warning on the package inserts for all supposedly antidepressant drugs about increased risk of suicide in adolescents and young adults (but not older adults) taking them (as if the drugs have different effects in a person of age 20 than they do in a person of age 30 or 40).
In his book Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life (HarperCollins 2013, p. xv), psychiatry professor Allen Frances, M.D., chairperson of the task force that created DSM-IV, says this:
Since 2005 there has been a remarkable eightfold increase in psychiatric prescriptions among our active duty troops. An incredible 110,000 soldiers are now taking at least one psychotropic drug, many are on more than one, and hundreds die every year from accidental overdoses.
Others die from intentional overdoses or other suicide methods. Increased suicidality is one of the effects psychiatric drugs for reasons discussed in my essay Psychiatric Drugs: Cure or Quackery? According to an article in the May 28, 2012 Newsweek magazine, "About 18 veterans kill themselves each day. Thousands from the current wars have already done so. In fact, the number of U.S. soldiers who have died by their own hand is now estimated to be greater than the number (6,460) who have died in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq (Anthony Swofford, "We Pretend the Vets Don't Even Exist", p. 26 at 29). If the psychiatric drugs U.S. soldiers take make them suicidal when they would not be otherwise, psychiatry may be indirectly but truly causing the deaths of more American soldiers than the Nation's enemies on the battlefield.
Others die neither from accidental overdose nor suicide but because of other effects of psychiatric "medication". According to a report by neurologist Fred A. Baughman, Jr., M.D. published electronically December 29, 2011 in the European Heart Journal, many U.S. military veterans have died in their sleep with "no signs of suicide" or overdose while taking Seroquel (an antipsychotic), Paxil (an antidepressant), and Klonopin (a benzodiazepine). Dr. Baughman concluded "psychotropic drug polypharmacy is never safe, scientific, or medically justifiable." It is nevertheless commonplace if not routine in psychiatry.
Whatever the exact numbers are, there is plenty of evidence psychiatry's "medications" cost rather than save lives.
Furthermore, psychiatrists (and other physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and psychologists with prescribing authority) do this for the ostensible purpose of treating nonexistent illnesses and arbitrarily defined "disorders". In the words of Edward Shorter, professor of the history of medicine and psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Toronto, psychiatry today uses "drugs that don't work for diseases that don't exist" ("Why Psychiatry Needs Therapy", Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition), Feb. 27, 2010, p. W3, proquest.umi.com).
Despite the harm psychiatric and particularly neuroleptic drugs do, psychiatrists continue to prescribe them, and American courts, acting on psychiatrists' recommendations, continue to order people to take them. In 2012 a 44 year old woman in Pennsylvania sought my advice about a judicial outpatient commitment order compelling her to appear for injections of Invega Sustenna (an "atypical" neuroleptic), sometimes by a treatment team who came to her home, with a threat of incarceration if she did not comply. Also in 2012 a New Hampshire man sought my advice about his elderly father, who was under the control of a court-appointed professional guardian and was being held in a geriatric psychiatric ward of a private hospital where he was being given food and beverage to which a psychiatric drug cocktail including a neuroleptic was added. In 2013 a 32 year old man in New Hampshire sought my advice about his being required to appear at a Community Mental Health Center every ten (10) days for injections of Prolixin (a "typical" neuroleptic) pursuant to a conditional discharge from New Hampshire Hospital, where he was also required to be supervised simultaneously taking lithium orally to be certain he actually swallowed the "medication". Due to the widespread ignorance or lack of concern about the harm done by psychiatric drugs and the lack of right to jury trial in civil commitment in these states, resulting in court hearings before a single judge who routinely grants (or "rubber stamps") psychiatrists' requests for involuntary inpatient or outpatient commitment orders, there is little legal protection for such persons.
The authors of an article in Psychiatric Services (Vol. 52, No. 8, August 1, 2001), titled "An Analysis of Reported Deaths Following Electroconvulsive Therapy in Texas" by Raj S. Shiwach, M.D., et al. (available at ps.psychiatryonline.org) attempted to minimize the ECT death rate but nevertheless reported "Over the study period, 8,148 patients received a total of 49,048 ECT treatments" and that "Among more than 8,000 patients who received 49,048 ECT treatments between 1993 and 1998, a total of 30 deaths were reported to the mental health department..." 8,148 patients receiving ECT divided by 30 deaths is a death rate of 1 in 271.6 (8,148 divided by 30 = 271.6). If 100,000 Americans receive ECT each year as estimated by ECT advocates, and the death rate is 1 in 271.6 patients, the approximate number of Americans dying each year from electroconvulsive "therapy" or ECT is 368, slightly more than, on average, one American dying from ECT each day. Applying the 1 in 271.6 death rate to the worldwide estimates of one or two million persons per year given ECT is an ECT death toll of 3,681 or 7,363 persons per year. Dividing those figures by 365 days in a year yields an estimated worldwide death rate from ECT of, on average, 10 or 20 persons each day.
In The Myth of Biological Depression I show there is no evidence depression, for which ECT is most often used, is ever caused by biological abnormality (in the brain or elsewhere). In Psychiatry's Electroconvulsive Shock Treatment: A Crime Against Humanity, I show there is no credible theory to explain why inducing seizures by running electricity through a person's head would cure or treat anything and ample evidence it damages the brain.
A 50-state survey by The Courant, the first of its kind ever conducted, has confirmed 142 deaths during or shortly after restraint or seclusion in the past decade. The survey focused on mental health and mental retardation facilities and group homes nationwide. But because many of these cases go unreported, the actual number of deaths during or after restraint is many times higher. Between 50 and 150 such deaths occur every year across the country, according to a statistical estimate commissioned by The Courant and conducted by a research specialist at the Harvard for Risk Analysis. That's one to three deaths every week, 500 to 1,500 in the past decade, the study shows. "It's going on all around the country," said Dr. Jack Zusman, a psychiatrist and author of a book on restraint policy. The nationwide trail of death leads from a 6-year-old boy in California to a 45-year-old mother of four in Utah, from a private treatment center in the deserts of Arizona to a public psychiatric hospital in the pastures of Wisconsin. In some cases, patients died in ways and for reasons that defy common sense: a towel wrapped around the mouth of a 16-year-old boy; a 15-year-old girl wrestled to the ground after she wouldn't give up a family photograph. Many of the actions would land a parent in jail, yet staffers and facilities were rarely punished. [charlydmiller.com, accessed June 24, 2013]
I recall seeing a videotaped interview with the mother of the 16 year old boy, or perhaps who I saw was the mother of another teenage young man who died in a similar way: She said a towel was wrapped around his nose and mouth while he was in 4-point restraints, supposedly to prevent him from biting people (as if he could while restrained in that way even without the towel).
Probably the reason people are rarely punished for torturing or killing supposedly mentally ill or mentally retarded people is the perception of the victims as less than fully human. The human mind is the defining characteristic of a human being, and it is that part of the person that is considered defective or absent in these victims.
"The very term psychiatry (Psychiatrie) was a German invention, coined in 1808 by Johann Christian Reil (1759-1813). ... In addition to coining the term 'psychiatry,' he also coined the term 'noninjurious torture,' to describe the methods of frightening mental patients that he considered effective and legitimate 'treatments'" (Thomas S. Szasz, M.D., "Mental Illness as Brain Disease: A Brief History Lesson", The Freeman, May 1, 2006, szasz.com). Dr. Benjamin Rush, often called the father of American psychiatry, whose face, in 2015, still appears on the official seal of the American Psychiatric Association, implying approval of Dr. Rush's methods, wrote in his book Medical Inquires and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind in 1812 that "TERROR acts powerfully upon the body, through the medium of the mind, and should be employed in the cure of madness" (Kimber & Richardson, Philadelphia: 1812, reprinted by Hafner Publishing Co., New York: 1962, p. 211, emphasis (capitals) in original). Today, torture and terror remain among the primary modes of action of psychiatry's supposed therapies.
Much if not most psychiatry today consists of psychiatrists and their co-workers trying to persuade their patients to take, or forcing their (so-called) patients to take, "medication" and the so-called patients doing everything in their power to avoid being "medicated". The usual explanation is the supposed mental illness prevents those so afflicted from realizing they are sick and need "medication", but the real reason is the torturous effects of the drugs.
In her book, The Myth of the Chemical Cure—A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment, Revised Edition (Palgrave Macmillan 2009, p. 14), British psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff says "the effects produced by most psychiatric drugs are experienced as unpleasant."
Alan A. Stone, M.D., Touroff-Glueck Professor of Law and Psychiatry at Harvard Law School, has said high rates of suicide among hospitalized psychiatric patients "may be a consequence of tranquilizing drugs keeping patients in a state of agony for a long period of time" (quoted in David F. Greenberg, Ph.D., "Involuntary Psychiatric Commitments to Prevent Suicide", New York University Law Review, Vol. 49 (May-June 1974), p. 227 at 259, note 106). Yes, you read that correctly: He said agony.
Alexander D. Brooks, Justice Joseph Weintraub Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law—Newark, in "The Right to Refuse Antipsychotic Medications: Law and Policy", 39 Rutgers Law Review 339 at 350 (1987) says this:
In sum, it must be acknowledged that side effects caused by antipsychotic medications are serious, although more so for some patients than for others. They generate a high order of physical, emotional, and cognitive distress. The fact that most side effects (though not tardive dyskinesia) recede when medication is discontinued provides little comfort for the chronically and severely mentally ill who are currently required to use medication at all times.
Calling the effects of antipsychotic medications "a high order of physical, emotional, and cognitive distress" is another way of saying torture. Permanent neurological diseases such as tardive dyskinesia, akathisia, dystonia, and dementia caused by psychiatric drugs are another kind of torture.
In her book Own Our Own, Judi Chamberlin, says in psychiatric hospitals there is "heavy use of psychiatric drugs, which is often perceived by the patients as torture. But patients cannot object to treatment without bringing on more treatment. Only agreeing that one is indeed ill and in need of help brings the possibility of ending the treatment" (Hawthorn Books, Inc. 1978, p. 111).
Psychiatry professor and psychiatrist Allen Frances, M.D., quotes one of his patients describing the effects of Thorazine, one of the so-called typical tranquilizer/neuroleptic/antipsychotic drugs she was forced to take:
Mindy was put through the horror show that passed for treatment in those days, and I was part of the team directing it. "Three times a day, we lined up for meds and I was given Thorazine, the standard drug for psychosis. If I tried hiding the pills in my cheek, the nurse would search my mouth and I'd be given a bitter-tasting liquid [version of Thorazine to compel swallowing]. Either way, the effect was the same: the drugs would nail you to the furniture, suck your life force, dry your mouth an fill your head with despair. Each time I swallowed the pills I wished the doctors could feel for themselves the deadening effects." [Saving Normal, Harper Collins 2013, p. 46]
Dr. Frances says "in those days" as if people are not forced to swallow or be injected with psychiatry's torture drugs now in the 21st Century.
According to a Radio Free Asia report on October 31, 2012 (http://www.unhcr.org)—
China's new mental health law does little to protect patients or end a long‑running practice that enables the government to silence dissidents by deeming them mentally ill, rights groups and former mental health detainees said. ... Wang Yonglan, a petitioner who tried to file a complaint against officials in her hometown of Chongshan in the eastern province of Jiangxi, had been locked up in the Hougang Psychiatric Hospital near Leshan city "numerous times" during the course of this year, according to her close friend Yu Ganlin. "While she was in the mental hospital, they force‑fed her with drugs," Yu, a fellow petitioner from Hubei province, said in an interview on Wednesday. "If she refused to take the drugs, they would force her mouth open and pour them down her throat," Yu said. "This made her very sick, and she told me that it would be better to die than to live like that." [italics added]
In Washington v. Harper, a U.S. Supreme Court decision about involuntary administration of neuroleptic/antipsychotic drugs to prison inmates, Justice Stevens' says in his dissenting opinion that "Inmate Harper stated he would rather die th[a]n take medication" 494 U.S. 210 at 239 (1990, footnote 2/5).
Better dead than drugged was also the conclusion of a patient of a Canadian psychiatrist quoted by Eric Fabris in his book Tranquil Prisons: Chemical Incarceration under Community Treatment Orders (University of Toronto Press 2011, p. 161). Community Treatment Orders, or CTOs, in Canada are similar to Outpatient Commitment and Conditional Discharge in the U.S.A. according to which people are court-ordered to take psychiatric drugs while living in their own homes. The psychiatrist said her patient "would rather die than be on a CTO."
Tranquil Prisons is both an autobiographical account and a study of forced outpatient psychiatric drugging in which Eric Fabris says "My personal experience of psychiatric drugging (not so much the assault [by hospital employees in the administration of the drug] but the effects of the drug) was the most frightening aspect of my psychiatrization. ... drugging can be understood as torture, according to psychiatric survivor and lawyer Tina Minkowitz and the U.N." (Id., p. 193).
Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, in his statement to the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on March 4, 2013 said this:
...abusive practices in health-care settings meet the definition of torture ... Free and informed consent should be safeguarded on an equal basis for all individuals without any exception ... Any legal provisions to the contrary, such as provisions allowing confinement or compulsory treatment in mental health settings, including through guardianship or other substituted decision-making, must be repealed. ... Despite the significant strides made in the development of norms for the abolition of forced psychiatric interventions on the basis of disability alone as a form of torture and ill-treatment and the authoritative guidance provided by the CRPD [Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities], severe abuses continue to be committed in health-care settings where choices by people with disabilities are often overridden based on their supposed "best interests" ... medical treatments of an intrusive and irreversible nature, when lacking a therapeutic purpose or when aimed at correcting or alleviating a disability, may constitute torture or ill-treatment when enforced or administered without the free and formed consent of the person concerned. ... States should repeal any law allowing intrusive and irreversible treatments when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned. ... Such interventions always amount at least to inhuman and degrading treatment, often they arguably meet the criteria for torture, and they are always prohibited by international law.
In her autobiography, Too Much Anger, Too Many Tears—A Personal Triumph Over Psychiatry (Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co. 1975, pp. 388-399), Janet Gotkin says this of her psychiatric hospitalizations and treatment with psychiatric drugs and ECT following suicide attempts:
If all the years of being a psychiatric patient brought me nothing but pain and increasing torment, who, then benefited from my status? And the final question: Are these men evil? Did they lie when they said "We only want to help you?"
"We only want to help you" is a statement woven integrally into the pattern of lies, semantic farces, and mystification that is the fabric of American psychiatry. ... It is what every psychiatrist says to his patient when he plans to perpetrate another psychiatric torment and he doesn't want any resistance: "I only want to help you." For many years I believed the lie. Now I say, if that is help, we are not speaking the same language.
Someone is continuing to insist that these human garbage dumps called mental hospitals are, in reality, hospitals. Someone is saying that they are places where troubled people can get help. They are calling the guards doctors, the tortures treatments, and the humiliating experience of being a mental patient therapeutic. They are saying that the psychiatric labels that degrade and imprison people are diagnoses. They are the Mental Health Professionals. ... But their help was imprisonment and torture and we allowed the semantic niceties of treatment and hospital to continue to fool us.
Four and five point physical restraints (wrists, ankles, and sometimes chest or head), are used frequently in psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric wards in the U.S.A. and are an obvious example of torture. Imagine being tied down and unable to use a toilet, being unable scratch an itch on your face or back because of restraints holding your hands to your sides, having asthma and being unable to reach for the rescue inhaler in your pocket or purse or attached to your key chain, and preventing raising your inhaler to your mouth, or having chronic, severe nasal congestion and being unable to raise a hand to spray decongestant into your nose, and unable to position your head to use the decongestant as nose drops, choking on mucus from your chronic post nasal drip but being unable to get off your back and into a position gravity would help you dislodge the mucus caught in your throat and help you stop choking, being desperately thirsty but being unable to reach for a glass of water, feeling your lips getting dry and beginning to crack or tear but being unable to use your Chap-Stick or other lip moisturizer because your hands are bound, being cold but being unable to reach for a blanket, or being hot and sweating under a blanket but because your hands are bound you are unable to remove the blanket. Add to this a face mask such as is seen in the below photograph, forcing you to re-breath air you have exhaled, causing partial suffocation, especially if you already have difficulty breathing. When I offered a dust mask similar to this to a healthy 22 year old man spackling and sanding walls in a bedroom in my house, he refused and continued breathing paint-dust tainted air because, he said, the mask made him feel like he was suffocating. Imagine feeling like that but being unable to remove the mask because your hands are bound. Add to this the torturous and life-threatening effects of psychiatric drugs given over your objection while you are physically restrained. All this is a reality for people subjected to physical restraints and forced drugging, supposedly as psychiatric "therapy", in the supposedly human-rights-respecting U.S.A.
In 2013 a man in Keene, New Hampshire left me an answering machine message saying "I'm currently incarcerated in an emergency room facility. I've been here a week now against my will. Been in four-point restraints several times. Was brought in for no good reason whatsoever. I just want to get the hell out of here. ... Thank you very much, Mr. Ramsay." When we had a two-way telephone conversation he told me while at New Hampshire (State) Hospital he was held "spread eagle" in four-point restraints (wrists and ankles) for 24 hours, which he described as "hell".
The use of physical restraints against David Deaton, "a normal 17-year-old when he walked into a National Medical Enterprises (NME) psychiatric hospital in Dallas...for help with depression after his girlfriend jilted him" is described in a July 15, 1996 National Review article:
After four days, when Deaton sought to leave, he was tied down with leather restraints. ... he was held for more than a year, including 333 days tied to a wheelchair or spreadeagled on a bed with leather restraints. He was required to use a bedpan and never allowed more than one arm free to take his meals. ... His muscles...atrophied so badly he could not walk. ... Deaton told a congressional committee hearing in 1994 [about the experience]. [Eugene H. Methvin, "Cuckoo's Nest", p. 38]
According to Juan E. Méndez, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in his Statement to the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on March 4, 2013, "there can be no therapeutic justification for the use of solitary confinement and prolonged restraint of persons with disabilities in psychiatric institutions; both prolonged seclusion and restraint constitute torture and ill-treatment."
Involuntary electroconvulsive "therapy" is no longer a type of physical torture because of the use of anesthesia, but because of its harmful effects, forcing it on people is psychological torture. The lowered IQ and inability to remember or learn resulting from electroshock-induced brain damage may also be considered a type of torture. Listen to the words of the two below quoted women who were subjected to involuntary electroshock, and then imagine yourself in the situation in which they found themselves, and ask yourself if involuntary electroshock is a form of torture. The first is Janet Gotkin (maiden name Moss) in her autobiography Too Much Anger, Too Many Tears: A Personal Triumph Over Psychiatry (Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., New York: 1975, p. 148):
"No breakfast for you, Moss," she said into the smoky light of my room. No breakfast. I repeated the words to myself; they were nonsense syllables; I wouldn't hear what they said. No breakfast. That meant shock. I was on the shock list.
"No!" I screamed, hurling the thin beige hospital blanket off my rubber-sheeted bed. In an instant I was by the door. "There must be some mistake. I'm not supposed to get treatments." How many times had I seen other people perform this same panicky charade? How many times had I heard the frantic terrorized cry? Not me, not me. There must be some mistake. Now it was me, in a frenzy of survival fear, crying the futile cry, clawing on the twelve-foot wall.
"No mistake," the little woman said calmly. "Here's your name, right near the top of the list."
"But my doctor said—" I started to explain. She interrupted.
"No breakfast," she said again. "I'll be back to get you in a few minutes." She turned, as smartly as a new private, and I heard her raspy voice with its message for the doomed, as she moved from room to room.
According to the New Zealand Book Counsel, Janet Frame (1924-2004) is "New Zealand's most distinguished writer". She wrote this about her experience as a mental hospital patient:
Every morning I woke in dread, waiting for the day nurse to go on her rounds and announce from the list of names in her hand whether or not I was for shock treatment, the new and fashionable means of quieting people and of making them realize that orders are to be obeyed and floors are to be polished without anyone protesting and faces are made to be fixed into smiles and weeping is a crime. Waiting in the early morning, in the black-capped frosted hours, was like waiting for the pronouncement of a death sentence. ... If our name appeared on the fateful list we had to try with all our might, at times unsuccessfully, to subdue the rising panic. For there was no escape. ... the fear leads in some patients to more madness. [Janet Frame, "Faces in the Water", appearing in Thomas Szasz (editor), The Age of Madness: The History of Involuntary Mental Hospitalization Presented in Selected Texts, Anchor Books 1973), pp. 203, 204-205, 210]
Imagine yourself incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital, or psychiatric ward of a general hospital, talking with people, other patients, who seem normal when they first arrive at the hospital, but after a few electric shock treatments are so demented they can no longer talk with you. They are still breathing, but their minds are gone. Since the mind is the most essential part of a human being, it can seem, or even be, equivalent to murder. Imagine watching a fellow patient being hauled away by force for electric shock treatment while she resists physically as well as she can while she pleads with the psychiatrist and hospital attendants to stop. Imagine the terror of knowing you might be next, and your mind, your memories, your intelligence, might be the next to be erased, and there is nothing you can do stop it.
Joanna Moncrieff, M.B.B.S., M.Sc., FRCPsych., M.D., and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mental Health Sciences at University College London, in her book The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment (Palgrave MacMillan 2009, p. 2) says—
We have only to look to the relatively recent past to see the proclivity of psychiatrists to subject their patients to invasive, degrading, harmful and not unusually fatal procedures in the name of therapy, and to blind themselves to the real nature of their activities.
A central theme of this series of essays is psychiatry's harmful, cruel, evil, and sometimes fatal "treatments" exist not only in psychiatry's relatively recent past but now in the early 21st century.
Sadly, the torture goes on, and for the most part, lawmakers do nothing.
Psychiatry is evil because in addition to imprisoning (forcibly "hospitalizing"), torturing and killing law-abiding people, damaging brains and causing neurological disease with psychiatric drugs, and ruining people's lives with psychiatric stigma, and deceiving to the public and law makers about what psychiatry is and can do, psychiatrists retaliate against those who attempt to reveal psychiatry as the quackery and violation of human rights it is. In his book Anatomy of an Epidemic (Crown Publishers 2010, pp. 304-312), Robert Whitaker puts it this way:
American psychiatry has told the public a false story over the past thirty years. The field promoted the idea that its drugs fix chemical imbalances in the brain when they do no such thing ... In order to keep that tale of scientific progress afloat (and to protect its own belief in that tale), it has needed to squelch talk about the harm that the drugs can cause.
Whitaker gives examples of actions taken against those on what he calls "psychiatry's hit list". One of them is psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., who for the last few decades has led the fight against biological psychiatry:
Psychiatry's policing of its own ranks began in earnest in the late 1970s... [Dr. Peter] Breggin appeared in 1987 on Oprah Winfrey's television show, where he spoke about tardive dyskinesia and how that dysfunction was evidence that neuroleptics damaged the brain. His comments so infuriated the APA [American Psychiatric Association] that it sent a transcript of the show to NAMI [a drug-company financed pro-psychiatry advocacy group], which in turn filed a complaint with the Maryland State Commission on Medical Discipline, asking that it take away Breggin's medical license on the grounds that his statements had caused schizophrenia patients to stop taking their medications (and thus caused harm). Although the commission decided not to take any action, it did conduct an inquiry (rather than summarily dismissing NAMI's complaint), and the message to everyone in the field was, once again, quite clear. [Quoting Dr. Breggin:] "...what this showed is that...they were willing to destroy your career" [to discourage criticism of psychiatry]. [pp. 304-305]
In a lecture at Tufts University, psychiatrist Daniel Carlat says after publication in 2010 of his book Unhinged: The Trouble With Psychiatry—A Doctor's Revelations About a Profession in Crisis, he "got a taste of just how angry it is possible to make some people that are in your field when your are critical. ... When you are a psychiatrist and you become critical of your field, you're in for a special retribution" ("Daniel Carlat—Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry", YouTube.com at 1:25).
An example of psychiatric retaliation against a physician because he tried to expose psychiatry's mythology about itself is what happened to neurologist John Friedberg (1942-2012). Dr. Friedberg describes what happened to him in his book Shock Treatment Is Not Good For Your Brain—A Neurologist Challenges the Psychiatric Myth (Glide Publications 1976, pp. 10-21), which is both an autobiography and a scientific book about the harm done by electric shock treatment. In 1974, after graduating from Yale University and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and beginning a residency in neurology at Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, Dr. Friedberg became interested in the harm done by electroconvulsive "therapy". He placed an invitation for people who'd been subjected to electroshock to contact him in the April 7 Sunday San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle: "Electric shock therapy is not good for the brain. I would like to hear from anyone who has received these treatments here in San Francisco. Call 668-2085 evenings or 563-4321 noontime. John Friedberg, M.D." Three days later the chairman of the Pacific Medical Center Department of Psychiatry sent a memo to Dr. Friedberg's superior in the neurology department and to the dean of Pacific Medical Center with a photostatic copy of Dr. Friedberg's newspaper notice saying "We believe that this study is inappropriate for a resident at Pacific Medical Center." Dr. Friedberg received word his superior was thinking of firing him. His superior gave him a choice: Either "go into psychotherapy with the chairman of the Department of Psychiatry as a patient, or be fired" (italics are Dr. Friedberg's). Dr. Friedberg refused and was fired. "Residents are rarely dismissed from their training programs," wrote Dr. Friedberg, "Dismissal from residency connotes gross negligence or incompetence. My career in neurology was at stake, my reputation as a doctor was at stake, and my freedom of speech was at stake." He reached the conclusion that "active opposition to ECT is simply not tolerated, even from within" the medical profession because "entire careers in psychiatry were built upon searing the brains of the gullible and the powerless and the unhappy." He appealed his dismissal without success and took a job as an emergency room physician but was later offered and accepted a position in the neurology program at the University of Oregon in Portland and became a board-certified neurologist who spent the remainder of his life writing and speaking against psychiatry's harmful "therapies".
THE TORTURE GOES ON, AND LAWMAKERS DO NOTHING _________________________________________________
According to psychiatrist Ron Leifer, M.D., in "A Critique of Psychiatry and an Invitation to Dialogue" in the December 27, 2000 Ethical Human Science and Services, after the publication of The Myth of Mental Illness by Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1961, "Serious attempts were made to remove him [Dr. Szasz] from his tenured appointment as professor of psychiatry. His two main defenders at that time, Ernest Becker and myself, both of us untenured, were fired" (iaapa.de/zwang/leifer.htm & critpsynet.freeuk.com).
Psychiatry has also been used to retaliate against physicians who criticize their fellow physicians for medical practices unrelated to psychiatry.
Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865) was committed to an insane asylum where he was beaten and died of his injuries after accurately accusing his fellow physicians of causing the deaths of many maternity patients by giving patients infections with the doctors' own dirty hands. Dr. Semmelweis recommended washing hands in chlorinated water before contact with patients. According to psychology professor Robyn M. Dawes in his book House of Cards—Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth (Free Press 1994, pp. 77-78), "Semmelweis ... lost his sanity, begun accosting people on the streets to warn them to stay away from doctors who didn't clean their hands, and died in a mental institution in 1865." Probably what actually happened is not that Dr. Semmelweis lost his sanity but that his warnings seemed crazy at a time people knew nothing about germs, and because his warnings were an affront to his fellow physicians. Only after Dr. Semmelweis' death did the germ theory of disease gain acceptance and vindicate his beliefs. Now, Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, which has schools of medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy, is named after him.
Elaine Kennedy, M.D., is a 1974 honors graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1993 she was named Outstanding Physician of the Year by the Tennessee Medical Association. According to an Associated Press report, later that year, on December 17, 1993, she went to the office of Dr. Ferroll Sams III, an internal medicine specialist of Fayetteville, Georgia to review the medical records of her elderly aunt. Dr. Kennedy was reportedly "hostile, demanding, and interfering" regarding her aunt's medical care. Dr. Sams was apparently displeased by another physician questioning the treatment provided and had Dr. Kennedy committed to a psychiatric facility after writing on the commitment form she was delusional, hyperactive and manic-depressive. Dr. Kennedy remained psychiatrically hospitalized for five (5) days and temporarily suffered loss of her medical licensure, confirmation of which appears on the the Tennessee Department of Health web site, which says Dr. Kennedy must undergo "evaluation by a psychiatrist of the board's choosing" for "an independent psychiatric evaluation of licensee", after which her license to practice medicine was reinstated. In a lawsuit that followed, Dr. Kennedy won a $3.4 million jury verdict against Dr. Sams for wrongful commitment. The jury said the commitment was "unlawful" and that Dr. Sams "did not act in good faith" when he had Dr. Kennedy involuntarily committed.
Both Dr. Semmelweis and Dr. Kennedy were involuntarily committed to an insane asylum or psychiatric facility because of their exercise of the right of free speech.
So was psychologist Al Siebert, Ph.D., during a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical psychology at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas, because he questioned the concept of mental illness and the validity of psychiatry. He describes the experience in a chapter in Dr. William Glasser's book Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health (HarperCollins 2003, pp. 178-203) and in his book A Schizophrenia Breakthrough (Practical Psychology Press 2003), an autographed copy of which he gave me when we met at a conference in 2003. Dr. Siebert was accused of mental illness because he began to speculate "about why a suppressed need for esteem compels people to force unwanted help onto others ... I explained how the perception of mental illness in others is mostly a stress reaction in the mind of the beholder." Psychiatrists in his training program found these ideas unacceptable, ignored (or more likely never even thought about) Dr. Siebert's right of free speech, called him mentally ill, and demanded he go to a mental hospital as a patient. When threatened with involuntary commitment, Dr. Siebert entered a mental hospital "voluntarily" because he believed "a person who goes into a mental hospital voluntarily can get out much more easily than a person who is committed." His like many others was a case of coerced consent and so was essentially involuntary. Like virtually all psychiatric hospital patients, Dr. Siebert was forced to take at least one psychiatric drug, in his case Thorazine: "I saw that they would use force if necessary. Make me take shots maybe put me in an isolation room. I saw that my chances of successful resistance were zero. I reached out for the cup the nurse held out to me. The aides relaxed and stepped back." After his experience as a mental hospital patient Dr. Siebert concluded psychiatry is "a deluded profession" and that psychiatrists are "like members of a cult, their minds controlled by a delusional belief system."
American commentators point an accusing finger at dictatorial regimes in other nations, such as the former Soviet Union, where critics including authors of books who try to correct what's wrong with a society are imprisoned or involuntarily committed to mental institutions. What happened to Drs. Kennedy and Siebert is reason to wonder if some of us in America are equally bad.
When I told Dr. Thomas Szasz about my efforts, as a lawyer, to stop kangaroo court commitment proceedings in the U.S.A., Dr. Szasz replied to me in an e-mail dated 3/19/2012 saying "Writing a book is a good idea. Otherwise, desist. Asking for justice for people against psychiatry is asking for trouble, as you are finding out."
We Americans should ask ourselves what kind of country we've become if critics who call attention to uncomfortable truths in an effort to correct what's wrong in our society are punished. Was Dr. Szasz correct about America having become a nation where asking for justice is asking for trouble?
Psychiatry is evil because dishonesty is a routine part of what psychiatrists and those who work with them do.
For example, in my essay Suicide: A Civil Right, I quote Paul G. Quinnett, Ph.D., a psychologist, in his book about suicide saying "doctors like myself will stand up in court and say something to the effect that, by reason of a mental illness, you are a danger to yourself and need treatment" even when they do not believe the person so accused actually has a mental illness.
E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., a psychiatrist, is one of today's leading advocates of involuntary psychiatric treatment, contrary to the views he previously expressed in his book The Death of Psychiatry in 1974. In later books and through his Treatment Advocacy Center, Dr. Torrey urges legislators to make it easier to subject people to involuntary "hospitalization" for mental illness and outpatient psychiatric drugging court orders authorizing what is in reality a type of assault. In his book Out of the Shadows: Confronting America's Mental Illness Crisis, Dr. Torrey says "It would probably be difficult to find any American psychiatrist working with the mentally ill who has not, at a minimum, exaggerated the dangerousness of a mentally ill person to obtain a judicial order of commitment" (John Wiley & Sons 1997, p. 152, italics added). He quotes Paul Applebaum, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, saying mental health professionals regularly use "discretion to expand the scope of commitment statutes by admitting who might not qualify under strict [legal] criteria but are thought to be in need of [involuntary] care." Dr. Torrey continues:
Families also exaggerate their family member's symptoms to get the person committed to a hospital. In a 1989 study of 83 families in Philadelphia, 18 percent said they had lied or exaggerated to officials in order to get a relative committed. ... In fact a number of local officials with the Alliance for the Mentally Ill (AMI), a nationwide support group for families, say they privately counsel families to lie, if necessary, to get acutely ill relatives hospitalized. . . . They say they were attacked when they weren't, they say their children tried to kill themselves when they didn't... Thus, ignoring the law, exaggerating symptoms, and outright lying to get care for those who need it are important reasons the mental illness system is not even worse than it is.
What Dr. Torrey means is laws should permit involuntary hospitalization and involuntary treatment without evidence the supposedly mentally ill person has ever done anything violent, making it unnecessary for others to make false accusations of violence to get somebody involuntarily "hospitalized" or involuntarily drugged.
Dr. Torrey's current position on forced psychiatric "hospitalization" and forced psychiatric "treatment" is 180° opposite of his opinion in The Death of Psychiatry in 1974 wherein he said "It should not be possible to confine people against their wills in mental 'hospitals.' ... This implies that people have a right to kill themselves if they wish. I believe this is so" (Penguin Books, p. 180). In The Death of Psychiatry Dr. Torrey repeatedly puts the word disease, when referring to mental disease, in mocking quotation marks (as I often do). On pages 150 and 151 of The Death of Psychiatry he puts quotation marks around the word disease six times to indicate he did not believe mental disease is real disease. In The Death of Psychiatry Dr. Torrey leaves no doubt he fully understands the erroneousness of the concept of mental illness, including schizophrenia. (See, for example, quotations from The Death of Psychiatry appearing on the first page of my essays Does Mental Illness Exist? and Schizophrenia: A Nonexistent Disease) In The Death of Psychiatry Dr. Torrey puts the word treatment in quotation marks (e.g., p. 149). He puts quotation marks around the words hospital and hospitals when referring to psychiatric or mental hospitals as a way of indicating they are really prisons (e.g., pp. 154-155).
It is impossible for me to believe someone who so eloquently and convincingly debunked the concept of mental illness, including schizophrenia, as Dr. Torrey did in The Death of Psychiatry, could be sincere now when he promotes these very ideas. In 1990 at the Thomas S. Szasz Tribute Dinner in New York City in a face-to-face conversation with Dr. Szasz, author of The Myth of Mental Illness, I asked Dr. Szasz, "Whatever happened to Fuller Torrey?!" Dr. Szasz answered with a single word, "Funding", and suggested I ask another psychiatrist who was with us that night, Dr. Ron Leifer, who gave me the same answer. Dr. Szasz wrote an article about Dr. Torrey's turnabout titled "Psychiatric Fraud and Force: A Critique of E. Fuller Torrey" in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology (Vol. 44, No. 4, Fall 2004, p. 416).
Although Dr. Torrey intended his above quoted words to be a critique of laws he says wrongfully protect the liberty of supposedly mentally ill people, the important lesson of what Dr. Torrey says in Out of the Shadows: Confronting America's Mental Illness Crisis is dishonesty is an integral and endemic part of involuntary psychiatric commitment of law-abiding but supposedly mentally ill people in the U.S.A. Human nature being the same everywhere, this habitual dishonesty is probably a reality all around the world. This dishonesty undermines rule of law and makes America's or any democracy's promise of liberty a broken promise.
Additional evidence of routine dishonesty in civil commitment of supposedly mentally ill and dangerous persons is found in The Clinical Prediction of Violent Behavior (Jason Aronson, Inc. 1995), by John Monahan, Ph.D., professor of law and psychology at the University of Virginia. The 1981 edition of this book was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880 at 899 (1983), where the Court says "one of the State's experts relied [on Dr. Monahan] as 'the leading thinker on'" the question of whether psychiatrists have the ability to predict future human behavior. In the 1995 edition of this book, Dr. Monahan points out that in Baxstrom v. Herold, 383 U.S. 107 (1966) and Dixon v. Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 325 F.Supp 966 (1971) court decisions caused the release of prisoners detained because of predictions by psychiatrists or psychologists they would be violent if released from custody. If predictions of future human behavior by psychiatrists and psychologists were (1) honest and (2) anywhere close to accurate, a high percentage of these former prisoners would have committed violent crimes after they were released from prisons and mental hospitals. However, of the Baxstrom patients, all of whom were what are now usually called sexually violent predators, when followed by researchers for 2½ years after their release, only 8 percent were convicted of a crime, and "only one of those convictions was for a violent act" (p. 46). Additionally, "Only 14 percent of the [Dixon] patients were discovered to have engaged in behaviors injurious to other persons within 4 years after their release" (p. 47). Dr. Monahan continues:
It is sometimes claimed regarding the Baxstrom and Dixon patients that no one really believed that they would be violent if released—that the predictions were merely a bureaucratic ploy to keep "chronic" patients in the hospital—and so the finding that they were not violent upon release should not be surprising. ... It is difficult to respond to the criticism that mental health professionals were not telling the truth when they predicted violence so that they could facilitate their bureaucratic hold on patients. It may, unfortunately, be true that if the ticket to involuntary treatment is a prediction of violence, many psychiatrists and psychologists are willing to punch it, regardless of whether they actually believe the patient to be violence-prone. [pp. 50-51]
I once told the Assistant Superintendent of a large state mental hospital in Texas it seemed to me doctors were routinely certifying "that the proposed patient is mentally ill and because of his mental illness is likely to cause injury to himself or others if not immediately restrained" when this was not true, and known by the doctor to be untrue, because the Texas Mental Health Code (Article 5547-66, later repealed) required the doctor to say this to get the "patient" forcibly "hospitalized" immediately. If the doctor said only that the proposed patient was mentally ill and needed hospitalization in a mental hospital but did not say the proposed patient was likely, because of mental illness, to cause injury to himself or others if not immediately restrained, the proposed patient remained at liberty until his commitment hearing (pursuant to Article 5547-35, titled Liberty Pending Hearing). In practice, patients were never permitted to remain at liberty until their commitment hearing. They were always certified as likely, because of mental illness, to cause injury to self or others if not immediately restrained and forcibly "hospitalized" (imprisoned) on the basis of an ex parte proceeding, meaning one about which they knew nothing prior to being taken into custody and incarcerated at the Hospital. I thought it noteworthy that the second physician, who was required to concur with the first prior to the commitment hearing regarding mental illness and need for treatment in a mental hospital, usually did not make the statement about imminent dangerousness on the fill-in-the-blank form where he made the required statements that the proposed patient was mentally ill and needed hospitalization. The space in the fill-in-the-blank statement about the proposed patient being likely because of mental illness to cause injury to self or others if not immediately restrained was usually left blank. (Why tell a lie when you don't have to?) Additionally, seeing and hearing the proposed patients at their hearings, and talking with them in the hallway outside the conference room where the commitment hearings were held, they never seemed dangerous. Many seemed old and senile and in need of nursing home care. Many seemed completely normal. I thought the Assistant Superintendent, a physician and probably a psychiatrist, would disagree with my observation that doctors were routinely lying on their Certificates of Medical Examination for Mental Illness regarding proposed patients' likelihood of causing injury to self or others due to mental illness if not immediately restrained. I thought he would insist that under no circumstances would a physician fill out a Certificate of Medical Examination for Mental Illness stating the proposed patient was likely because of mental illness to cause injury to himself or others if not immediately restrained when the doctor did not think so. However, to my surprise, the Assistant Superintendent agreed with me. He admitted psychiatrists and other physicians routinely certified people as likely, because of mental illness, to cause injury to self or others if not immediately restrained, even when the doctor knew this was not true, because this statement was required to prevent the proposed patient from remaining at liberty until his commitment hearing. I said to the Assistant Superintendent it was the intent of the Texas Legislature when drafting the Texas Mental Health Code to allow persons with mental illness who need treatment in a mental hospital but are not imminently dangerous to remain at liberty until their commitment hearings. I asked him why doctors would tell lies to deliberately defeat the Legislature's intent. His answer was bold, candid, blunt and without the slightest trace of apology or embarrassment. He said, "Because that's the way you dumb lawyers wrote the law!" It was a candid admission psychiatrists and other committing physicians are willing to say whatever the law says they must to obtain an involuntary commitment even when they know what they are saying is false.
In his 1,104 page textbook, Mental Disability Law—Cases and Materials, Second Edition (Carolina Academic Press 2005, pp. 26-27), Michael L. Perlin, Professor of Law at New York Law School and for decades a leading scholar in mental health law, makes a similar observation:
...the legal system regularly accepts (either implicitly or explicitly) dishonest testimony in mental disability cases ... This pretextuality—along with sanism [analogous to racism]—drives the mental disability law system. ... the entire relationship between the legal process and mentally disabled litigants is often pretextual. This pretextuality is poisonous. It infects all players, breeds cynicism and disrespect for the law, demeans participants, reinforces shoddy lawyering, invites blase judging, and at times, promotes perjurious and corrupt testifying. The reality is well known to frequent consumers of judicial services in this area: to mental health advocates and other public defender/legal aid/legal service lawyers assigned to represent patients ... In short, the mental disability law system often deprives individuals of liberty disingenuously and for reasons that have no relationship to case law or statutes.
In his book Psychiatry—The Science of Lies (Syracuse University Press 2008, p. 96), psychiatry professor Thomas Szasz says "Whether they talk about platelets or patients, diagnosis or treatment, law or liberty, psychiatrists remain stubbornly estranged from truth-telling."
Some years ago court decisions and statutes (in theory) limited civil commitment to occasions when incarceration is the "least restrictive alternative". In practice, this made and makes absolutely no difference other than requiring the committing physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist to take a few seconds to tell one more lie in his testimony: "Doctor, do you believe involuntary hospitalization is the least restrictive alternative?" "Yes."
The same is true of legislators' attempts to restrict involuntary commitment without prior notice to the affected party and prior to his having any kind of day in court or opportunity to argue for his liberty to "emergencies". As I said in my conversation with the Assistant Superintendent, my observation has been that such "emergency" commitment provisions are used routinely in every commitment, including when there is no emergency. Such statutory limitations are not true limitations: They merely require mental health professionals (or family members) to tell one more lie.
Sadly, legislators refuse to repeal, and continue to write, laws that assume honesty on the part of psychiatrists, psychologists, family members, and other supporters and perpetrators of psychiatric oppression such as involuntary "hospitalization" and outpatient commitment and psychiatric assault such as involuntary psychiatric "medication" and involuntary electroconvulsive "therapy". They do not understand that any law that depends for its proper functioning on the honesty of mental health professionals and others involved in civil commitment will not function in actual practice as legislators intended when enacting the law.
In my essay Why the Myth of Mental Illness Lives On, I point out that we, as a society, employ psychiatry to impose what in reality are punishments for breaking society's unwritten rules of behavior. Psychiatry is evil because its "treatments" are often more cruel than the punishments we inflict on those who violate our written laws, such as against bank robbery. It is as if we had laws (actually, implicitly we do have laws) saying any person whose feelings of sadness are upsetting to other people may be involuntarily "hospitalized" and electroshocked against his will until his brain has been damaged sufficiently to lower his IQ by 30 points, or anyone who expresses ideas that seem irrational to other people may be given "antipsychotic" drugs against his will in sufficient dose and duration to cause permanent neurological injury and brain damage evidenced by abnormal body movements and dementia, or any teenager who annoys her parents may be forcibly administered "medications" that will shorten her life by twenty-five years. We do actually inflict these punishments (called "treatment" or "therapy") on people whose sadness or "depression" or other behavior bothers us or whose ideas seem strange or irrational, with court-ordered imprisonment ("hospitalization") and/or "involuntary medication" erroneously referred to as "antipsychotic" or involuntary electroshock. In The Antidepressant Fact Book, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., says "Damaging the brain to impair brain function lies at the heart of all the physical treatments in psychiatry" (Perseus 2001, p. 155; italics are Dr. Breggin's).
If administered as punishment, psychiatry's physical or biological therapies would be soon declared a violation of the U.S.A.'s Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel or unusual punishment: Can you imagine a criminal law requiring or authorizing administration of brain-damaging drugs or electroshock as punishment for a crime? Yet as "therapy" for supposed "mental illness", such "treatments" are inflicted on unwilling so-called patients. The legislators, judges, jurors, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who impose these punishments on people, or permit them to continue, either fail to see the truth about involuntary psychiatric treatment being punishment, and inflicting injury, and constituting torture, or know it but are not honest enough to acknowledge it.
Psychiatry is evil because it makes alienable, or voidable, human rights that the U.S.A.'s Declaration of Independence says are the God-given and unalienable rights of every human being: "WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". Dictionary definitions of "unalienable" are cannot be taken away, surrendered, or given away; not transferable. When doing research for his biography of actress Frances Farmer, who was probably America's most famous involuntary mental patient before her death in 1970, William Arnold learned something most Americans never think about (Frances Farmer—Shadowland, Berkley Books 1978, p. 125):
Psychiatry gained the extraordinary power to arrest, detain, and sentence any citizen to an indefinite confinement without due process. The mere accusation of insanity was all it took for the suspension of every single human right guaranteed under the Constitution.
In the words a San Francisco, California emergency room (ER) psychiatrist—
As time goes on, I become more and more aware of how awesome that power is. We're able to just grab people and say, "You have to be here for seventy-two hours," with no evidence other than our belief that it's the right thing to do; and we're empowered to do it. We don't have to prove it to anyone. That's a tremendously abusable power... [Paul R. Linde, M.D., Danger to Self: On the Front Line With an ER Psychiatrist, University of California Press 2010, p. 96]
It is also a power nobody should have in a country such as the United States of America that says in its founding document, the Declaration of Independence, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, one of which is liberty, and whose people and political leaders continue to claim is a nation of free people.
IF ADMINISTERED AS PUNISHMENT, PSYCHIATRY'S BIOLOGICAL THERAPIES WOULD BE DECLARED IN VIOLATION OF THE U.S.A.'s EIGHTH AMENDMENT PROHIBITION AGAINST CRUEL OR UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT, BUT AS "THERAPY" THEY ARE PERMITTED TO CONTINUE _________________________________________________
In states with no right to trial by jury in civil commitment, psychiatrists actually have the power to hold people prisoner indefinitely, not only for 72 hours, because what happens after 72 hours is the formerly free citizen, now reduced to being a mental patient in hospital clothes and "medicated" against his will into a state of reduced mental functioning if not outright stupor, gets a hearing before a judge who routinely grants all requests by psychiatrists for continued confinement, with rare if any exceptions. I'm reminded of a justice of the peace in Kerrville, Texas in 2011 who in the conference room where hearings were held at the Crisis Stabilization Unit, a few minutes before hearing the first of four (4) cases, casually mentioned she was going to do whatever the doctor recommended, which is exactly what she did, committing all of the patients whose cases she heard. Hearings before judges who have this attitude, which is most of them, provide only a pretense of due process and do not protect against wrongful commitment. (For reasons previously stated, all civil commitment of law-abiding and objecting persons is wrongful.) Even where the right to trial by jury exists, it is seldom exercised because lawyers supposedly representing patients don't tell them they must demand a jury to avoid a kangaroo court hearing in which commitment is a virtual certainty (see "'Assistance' of Counsel?" in Unjustified Psychiatric Commitment in the U.S.A.).
Few Americans know how tenuous and uncertain is their freedom in America. Few Americans know they can be arbitrarily imprisoned at any time in a place called a hospital merely because someone (often a family member) is willing to pay a mental health professional to question their "mental health". America advertises itself to itself and to the world as a free country. In American public schools children are taught how lucky we are to be Americans because of the freedom we have in America. Almost all of us Americans believe the misleading platitudes about our freedom we hear in speeches by our political leaders, especially presidents, particularly on occasions such as the 4th of July and Memorial Day holidays. We sincerely believe the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who died for our freedom died for something real, but in fact the freedom for which Americans have died has been a myth throughout the Nation's history for many Americans, starting at the Nation's inception with Negro slavery and still today with what has been called psychiatric slavery. Because of psychiatric stigma, the victims dare not speak out, and the myths of mental illness and of psychiatric diagnosis go unchallenged, and America's promise of liberty continues to be false. Psychiatry is evil because it undermines America's most fundamental promise, which is freedom.
Louise Armstrong, And They Call It Help—The Psychiatric Policing of America's Children (Addison-Wesley Pub. Co. 1993). This book is out of print: Try bn.com; look for "marketplace sellers".
Janet & Paul Gotkin, Too Much Anger, Too Many Tears—A Personal Triumph Over Psychiatry (Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co. 1975)
Peter C. Gøtzsche, Deadly Psychiatry and Organized Denial (People'sPress 2015)
Thomas Szasz, M.D., Psychiatric Slavery (Syracuse University Press 1998)
Thomas Szasz, M.D., Liberation by Oppression: A Comparative Study of Slavery and Psychiatry (Transaction Publishers 2003)
Thomas Szasz, M.D., Psychiatry—The Science of Lies (Syracuse University Press 2008).
E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., The Death of Psychiatry (hardcover: Chilton Book Co./paperback: Penguin Books, Inc. 1974), especially Chapter 12, "People as Human Beings: Legal Implications"
Radio Free Asia, "China Holds Blogger, Rights Activist in Psychiatric Hospitals", www.rfa.org, 2014-09-18 (accessed Nov. 8, 2016)
Radio Free Asia, "Petitioner Held In Mental Hospital": case highlights China's use of psychiatric wards to silence dissent, www.rfa.org, 2011-12-28 (accessed Nov. 8, 2016)
"Without Consent" (a.k.a. Trapped and Deceived)(1994), available on YouTube.com. Seeing this movie shortly after reading Louise Armstrong's book And They Call It Help—The Psychiatric Policing of America's Children, the movie seemed to me a fictionalized version of Ms. Armstrong's nonfiction book. A movie reviewer at imdb.com calls it a movie about "the awful, evil people at the psych facility ... It's a sad yet realistic look at what truly goes on behind the closed, locked doors of these 'treatment centers, and psychiatric hospitals. ... It is just SICKENING how innocent people...are treated WORSE than convicted CRIMINALS' ... This movie is a chilling look at the pure injustice that occurs in today's psychiatric facilities." [capitalization in original]
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The author is a volunteer (pro bono) attorney for the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (psychrights.org) and may be reached at wayneramsay (at) mail (dot) com