Psychiatric Drug Facts via :

“Most psychiatric drugs can cause withdrawal reactions, sometimes including life-threatening emotional and physical withdrawal problems… Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done carefully under experienced clinical supervision.” Dr. Peter Breggin

Sep 18, 2012

Mental Health Advocacy and the Ethics of Journalism

The above quote could and does apply to many aspects of human life. I don't believe I will ever become adjusted to the manner in which mental health issues are reported by mainstream journalists. Specifically, the manner in which "the news" is presented is as if speculation, supposition and gossip are in "news."

Ethical journalism or reporting the news is (at least theoretically) an unbiased presentation of facts and information of interest to the public. Much of the journalism in our country is biased, it's used by some as a tool to further a specific agenda, or promote an ideology, idea, or perspective; i.e. as propaganda.

When there are fatalities and the supect is known to have, or is suspected of having a psychiatric diagnosis, the vast majority of what is initially reported is gossip and speculation. Depending upon the event, the amount of morbid or prurient interest, fear or revulsion that can be generated; influences how accurately "the news" will be reported. When a story titillates, awakens fear, revulsion or morbid fascination in the general public, our individual biases are reinforced. An individual’s biases are based on ignorance and fear; fed misinformation, our biases become bigotry. When the source of misinformation is the evening “news,” our biases are in effect, "validated." Our subsequent discriminatory perspective is in this way basically justified as "natural" or "normal;" if  recognized at all.

The subtle changes are gradual and because the changes are based on shared experiences the shift in our perspective is almost imperceptable. Biases grow into bigoted perspectives and discriminatory treatment. When our biases are fed and validated by the media, endorsed by advocacy groups, the people who do not agree with the biologically biased perspective or condone the discriminatory treatment, are "uninformed;" or perhaps even, one of those "mentally ill" people the advocates are advocating for. In the case of "advocates for the seriously mentally ill" individual members and individual groups can have self-interests that are contrary to the best interests of "the seriously mentally ill" they are advocating for. One major glaring Conflicts of Interest is being funded by pharmaceutical companies and advised by the unethical "professionals" who sell their products through the advocacy group's education and advocacy programs; these groups fail to advocate for the people who are disabled and otherwise harmed by the “safe and effective” drug or electro-shock treatments.

In some cases, the people are in fact Court Ordered to treatment that never "worked" or "successfully treated" their symptoms. Self-appointed advocates enthusiastically support and insist coercive treatment "saves lives;" and proclaim it is "necessary medical treatment. Some people say their lives were saved, or that involuntary treatment "helped" them personally; how do these anecdotes justify court ordering other individuals? While it is true that some people are "successfully treated," i.e. get better, become more functional; it is equally true that some are harmed grievously, including being permanently disabled and killed by psychiatric treatment.

Court Ordering people to special treatment with teratogenic drugs and/or electro-shock devices that are not safe, only minimally effective, illegally marketed or never safety tested, when the "treatment" risks are both disabling and fatal, is despicable; morally reprehensible.

When a person with a psychiatric diagnosis is the victim of interpersonal violence due to their symptoms making someone target them, it's not reported as a hate crime; incredibly, reporters and self-appointed advocates alike seem to believe it is acceptable to blame the victim, or to blame the victim's "untreated mental illness" for having been victimized. Advocates do not advocate for the victim by demanding that perpetrators be held accountable for victimizing people who are already in distress... In reality, it is tragic when anyone is victimized and a victim is killed. It is particularly heinous when the victim and/or their psychiatric diagnosis is used to excuse the criminal acts of a perpetrator who victimized them.

Psuedo-reporting compounds the tragedy, and inevitably it leads to calls for increased forced treatment, as if forced psychiatric treatment is the panacea which will cure society. Do people really believe that coercion, subterfuge, and inflicting distress is required to simply provide ethical "necessary medical treatment" eve that it is acceptable to mislead patients and the public about the subjective, (not scientific) nature of psychiatric diagnostic criteria and standard psychiatric treatment protocols, are based on subjective observations of psychiatric professionals which are then put to a vote to develop a consensus. Empirical data must be the foundation of a "standard" treatment; having  a statistical record of successfully treating a variety of patients for a particular illness or symptom it is HOW a particular treatment becomes the "standard" of care for a particular condition or symptom.

An ethical standard of care would not require using deceit, or justify it with an abuse of power and authority. An ethical standard of care would not rely upon coercion, force, and deceit; no ethical physician would purposely mislead or misinform a patient and/or their family members about the nature of their diagnosis and the actual effects of the recommended treatment, much less claim that it's a using subterfuge and social control tactics actually successfully treats "seriously mentally ill" people! We don't even count how many psychiatric patients are iatrogenically disabled or killed; there is no way to accurately, ethically, balance the hoped for benefits of psychiatric treatment against the potentially disabling, and fatal risks. Without considering all the data, including the adverse event data, there no way to ethically determine whether the benefits are worth the risks to and for a particular patient.

As a result of unethical reporting, the general public is misinformed, and consequently, is at a disadvantage when attempting to analyze the issues involved; unethical reporting in the main stream media misinforms the general public. Journalists are not reporting the news if they merely sharing of press releases from marketing departments or public relations firms. The results of psychiatric research, clinical trials, people with a diagnosed mental illness and pharmacological  treatments, are seldom reported ethically; i.e. reported after an independent verification of the facts. Just as importantly, when the results are controversial or disputed, the controversies are seldom reported; as the Ethics Guidelines for Journalism suggest. Reports in print or broadcast news are frequently only press releases written by marketing departments of the drug company that funded the study, or public relations departments of the University where research was conducted. Regardless of the source, without independent verification of the facts, this practice, is not ethical reporting. The failure to even attempt to provide an unbiased recitation of the facts or the issues involved when mental illness and the treatments used, is simply irresponsible, and it is not ethical journalism. It is in recognition of the fact that reporting events and issues without bias is difficult, since all people and groups of people have biases; that a Code of Ethics for Journalism was developed.

Mainstream media's quest for market share, increased ratings and profits contribute (unintentionally) to the innate biases of the uninformed general public. These biases are further fanned into flame when the pseudo-news reports misinform and the product of lax journalism ultimately becomes propaganda used by extremists, “grassroots” advocacy groups, columnists and other rightwing extremists to advocate for increasing the number of people legally compelled under Court Order to receive forced psychiatric treatment.

Lax ethical standards in journalism are intended to garner higher ratings, which in turn lead to increased revenue. Low standards are used because the intended goal of increased profits are realized. While I understand this is how business is 'done,' this is pseudo-reporting disseminating misinformation. This type of misinformation is used to put a veneer of legitimacy on bigotry; and used to gain the general public's acceptance of the mistreatment of people with a psychiatric diagnosis. It serves to increase the discrimination experienced by people with a psychiatric diagnosis in general; and in particular, of the people who are targeted for forced treatment.

From the Ethics Code for Journalism Preamble:

"Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice." more here.

Rightwing extremists in the United States "reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority." Rightwing extremists, "may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue,"  according to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Assessment Analysis. One example would be advocates who are propoments of forced psychiatric treatment, inpatient or in the community. Court ordering people to take neuroleptic drugs to prevent violence is a seriously flawed strategy. Many advocacy groups for the mentally ill appear to see nothing wrong when the Constitutional Rights of individuals Court Ordered to Involuntary Treatment are violated, because their intent is to be helpful. These protections must be effectively preserved and defended for all people; they are Human Rights.

It appears rightwing mental health advocacy extremists reject government authority entirely. When I read the document the above bold face statements are in, I could not help noticing the description is applicable to right-wing mental health advocates who focus their efforts almost exclusively towards the strengthening and implementation of forced psychiatric treatment laws. This is due to an apparent belief that forced treatment is THE Holy Grail which will save the general public from being victimized. The outrageous claim that their advocacy is only to ensure these "poor unfortunates" receive needed “medical treatment.” These advocates further claim the only reason that the “seriously mentally ill refuse or object to "medical treatment" is because they have NO INSIGHT WHATSOEVER; and protest because they "don't know what is good for them." It is further claimed this lack of insight is due having a "brain disease." The fact of the matter is, there is no evidence that "serious mental illness" results from "brain disease." Besides, in medicine, brain diseases are treated by neurologists, not psychiatrists!

via The Free Library:
The loss of client agency into the psychopharmaceutical--industrial complex

Those disorders listed in the DSM-IV-TR for which a clear, undeniable disease process is present (e.g., Alzheimer's disease and other various forms of dementia) or a clear genetic defect has been located (i.e., Rett's disorder) fall under the purview of neurology, not psychiatry (Ducommun-Nagy, 2003; Encyclopedia of Mind Disorders, 2005; Glasser, 2003). Psychiatrist Kenneth Kendler (2005), co-editor-in-chief of Psychological Medicine, stated, "We [psychiatrists] have hunted for big, simple neuropathological explanations for psychiatric disorders and have not found them. We have hunted for big, simple neurochemical explanations for psychiatric disorders and have not found them. We have hunted for big, simple genetic explanations for psychiatric disorders and have not found them" (pp. 434-435).

"Despite the lack of clear evidence for neuropathological, neurochemical, or genetic explanations for psychiatric disorders, the beliefs in such are heavily perpetuated by psychopharmacologists and physiological psychiatrists (Valenstein, 1998), who differ from the declining number of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who appreciate the contextual factors affecting mental health. Psychopharmacologists and physiological psychiatrists believe that mental health problems reduce down to chemical and electrical exchanges between brain cells (neurons). With this philosophy, psychotropic medications are marketed aggressively and prescribed indiscriminately (Rosenheck, 2005; Schultz, 2004, Wazana, 2000) with the message that these medications will correct alleged brain defects related to psychiatric disorders." read more here.

The US Constitution is the preeminent law in the United States; the provisions and protections of this document supersede any and all State, County, or Municipal Laws and Codes whether passed by legislation or statutory authority. Any Laws which diminish Individual Liberty must only be undertaken when such infringement has been determined necessary by a Court of Law, and is only done lawfully when the individual's Constitutional Rights to Procedural Due Process of Law are protected. These Rights include: Proper Notice given and Affidavits of Service being filed, Rules of Evidence followed, Standard Court Procedures used and Effective Assistance of Counsel provided. The Constitutional Rights of those who are court ordered are in fact NOT preserved, by being described within the law. These individual rights can only be effectively preserved and defended for individuals that are properly served, notice filed with the Court clerk, Rules of Evidence followed, Standard Court procedures adhered to, and Effective Assistance of Counsel is available. When any of these protections are denied an individual, Justice is conspicuously absent.

It is common for the Rules of Evidence to be modified by Involuntary Treatment statutes; an effective lowering of the standards required to deprive individuals of their Liberty. Mental health professionals and advocates believe that using coercion and gossip is not only acceptable, but that it's necessary to facilitate obtaining these Court Orders which deprive an individual of their liberty. In these cases, proper notice is often ignored altogether. When people are Court Ordered in this manner, whether it is to inpatient or outpatient involuntary treatment, the commitment orders are illegal since using these lower standards violates the individual's Constitutional Rights as a matter of course.

Mainstream media becomes complicit by the using biased reporting to garner ratings or sell more copies. Failing to report relevant facts in an unbiased ethical manner is irresponsible and capricious. The reasoning of right-wing extremist advocacy groups who claim to be advocates “for the seriously mentally ill” seems to be based on bigotry; and is fueled by ignorance and fear. It's no surprise that this type of advocacy effectively serves the advocacy groups primary benefactor's financial interests. The majority of mainstream advocacy groups receive a significant percentage of their financial support from drug companies, and it is the drug companies who are the primary beneficiaries of compulsive psychiatric treatment.

Right-wing extremists in the "Mental Health Advocacy" movement exploit a variety of social issues and political themes to increase visibility and recruit new members; this has always been the case with extremist groups throughout history. These extremists remain focused on a predetermined agenda, forced treatment, regardless of new information, legal ramifications, financial and societal costs, or the real world outcomes of the individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis who are victimized. It is patently absurd for any advocate to claim that any negative effect of their advocacy is justified by their altruistic intent.

Why does psychiatry, with it's history of lobotomies, water tortures, Electric Shock, forced sterilizations and other outrageous tortures and it's ongoing collusion in pharmaceutical fraud have Police Powers? What has this profession done that could conceivably justify granting it such power? How has society allowed psychiatry to effectively gain unprecedented authority and society's passive participation in the inhumane treatment of an entire class of people?

I doubt the families of American Veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq traumatized who have died in their sleep, here and here or who commit suicide/homicide here due to drug induced psychosis, would agree the drugs are "safe and effective." In 2008, 52 Marines taking psychiatric drugs took their own lives.

Children are given psychiatric drugs that are approved and not approved for pediatric use; psychiatry calls drugs which are not approved for pediatric use, "off label" drug use, the FDA, "experimental" drug use. Would the parents of children who have died suddenly from cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, other drug induced causes; or parents whose who child is now brain damaged and/or disabled by iatrogenic illness or disease from psychiatric drugs agree the drugs are "safe and effective?" Between 2000 and 2004 the FDA adverse drug reaction reporting system linked antipsychotic drugs to 45 child deaths and 1,300 serious adverse reactions, such as convulsions and low white blood cell count. These are the very same drugs recently approved by the FDA for widespread use in children. Child Deaths here and here.

Psychiatry does not, and never has held itself to the Ethical Guidelines of the Medical Profession, or to any law or social norm recognized. The tactics utilized and the position of power granted to psychiatry validate oppression, elevated the oppressors; placing them above the law.

Lobotomies and mass sterilizations were still happening when I was a kid, and I am the mother of a son who was used in Drug Trials. Drug trials of the "new safer more expensive" antipsychotics; now APPROVED based on these trials for WIDESPREAD use in children!? I am horrified. I am my son's caregiver, and I am grateful he is still alive. How many children will die or become disabled before the FDA and the Department of Justice prosecute the psychiatrists and other "mental health professionals" are complicit in a massive criminal enterprise that is defrauding public health systems and who fail to disclose the risks, and fail to obtain Informed Consent?

Psychiatry is a specialty whose methods are unethical; they are often not therapeutic, but harmful. These methods and treatments are killing our children, our traumatized Veterans and our elderly; with impunity. Claiming to be treating “brain diseases,” yet failing to provide any empirical data, e.g. scientific evidence “brain diseases;” even exist! Any and all signs and symptoms of distress are now considered evidence of "brain diseases;" if they actually were diseases, these "diseases" would be treated by a neurologist.

When will the general public realize that the "special treatment" provided by force is not therapeutic; not only does it not enable recovery, but it can cause those "treated" to die? Psychiatry now has been given Police Powers and has perverted the Court System to sentence people to treatments which can cripple and kill them; without preserving their individual rights to Procedural Due Process of Law. It is inhumane, unjust and is unconstitutional!

Members of America's Armed Forces take an oath to defend Our Country and The Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Some of those lucky enough to return home have then been killed by psychiatrists "practicing medicine." None of them have been jailed for their crimes, it is unconscionable. 

Jon McClellan, the psychiatrist who gave my son huge amounts of neuroleptic drugs without Informed Consent for either the drugs or for inclusion in the TEOSS drug trials; repeatedly stated my consent was not needed; my opinion was irrelevant, my parental rights denied. My boy's protests were met with coercive tactics: specifically, he was told he would never get to leave the locked psychiatric facility he was held in as a “voluntary” patient, if he did not take the drugs. The fact is, no psychiatrist who has caused death or iatrogenic illness and disability with "safe and effective treatments," drugs or Electrical Shock, has been held accountable.

Incredibly, unethical research psychiatrists like Harvard’s Biederman, can become a Scientific Advisor to the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, a "patient advocacy" group. Psychiatry continues to use his fraudulent research to teach those who diagnose and treat our Nation’s children. No articles in psychiatric journals from this or any other discredited researcher are redacted out of psychiatric journals. Jon McClellan is still the Medical Director of a Washington State Psychiatric Facility, and a professor at the University of Washington, and has participated in an ethics workshops at the The Hastings Center.

Psychiatry is more a system of political and social control than a "medical" specialty; of this, I have no doubt. Whether you agree with me or not, I urge you to consider if it's prudent to allow psychiatry to use the Police and the Courts as it's medical instruments of treatment compliance. These are the very same tactics used in Germany that enabled the Third Reich to "legally" torture and kill millions of people; and the very same standards that psychiatry utilized in the United States to "legally" strip people of their dignity and their Human Rights in order to lobotomize and/or sterilize them.

Psychiatry is still using the same tactics, calling the new ways of causing brain damage, terror, trauma, iatrogenic injury and iatrogenic disease "safe and efficacious medical treatment" for "brain diseases;" without producing any evidence of a disease pathology that is being treated, or even exists. Psychiatry has a history when carefully considered, does not justify the position of power and authority that it wields with impunity. As a medical specialty, it has not demonstrated the integrity required to be trusted or respected.

If psychiatry's treatments are safe and effective, why are so many children, the elderly and traumatized Veterans, (among others) disabled before dying prematurely? More importantly, why are the Courts and the Police needed to practice medicine? Why are psychiatric diagnoses legally adjudicated instead of medically diagnosed? Psychiatric diagnoses become a permanent legal record, even though the diagnoses are the result of subjective opinion, and are not verified by facts that would comply with the Rules of Evidence required for every other Civil or Criminal Court proceeding.

Do journalists who simply "report" without independently verifying facts have a conscience? Do they not remember World War II? It was psychiatry that provided the efficient methods of control used to exterminate millions--it was psychiatry that was already killing the "mental defectives" in institutions so efficiently that the Third Reich asked psychiatrists to help carry out Hitler’s diabolical plan.

People are inundated with direct-to-consumer marketing pf prescription drugs on the internet, in print and broadcast news stations; does this contribute to the type of "reporting" that is done by journalists? Has the income from the advertising and direct-to-consumer marketing of drugs created a Conflict of Interest and compromised the integrity of the Journalism profession?

My sense of morality will not allow me to adjust to unethical psychiatric standards. Advocacy groups champion unethical psychiatric standards and pharmaceutical fraud and corruption. Extremist mental health advocacy groups ignore victims whose lives are laid to waste, while proclaiming they are advocating for what is in the victim's "best interest." Victims are further traumatized and victimized in no small part due to this type of advocacy. I will not adjust to the Constitution being set aside for psychiatry to "safely treat" emotional and behavioral difficulties they rename "brain diseases" in an effort to validate their questionable practices. I will not adjust to psychiatry being given the power to maim and kill under Color of Law, by Court Order.

It is definitely unethical for advocacy groups for the seriously mentally ill to be funded by the pharmaceutical industry, and use the information developed by marketing departments of the pharmaceutical industry in educational and advocacy activities conducted "in the public interest."

If I were to adjust to how psychiatry is currently practiced, I would in effect be approving and supporting crimes against humanity, crimes that have been perpetrated by mental health professionals which have seriously harmed my son and my fellow man.

"I believe we must speak our conscience in moments that demand it, 
even if we are but one voice" 
Richard B. Sanders

"God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless." 
Chester W. Nimitz

"Whenever a doctor cannot do good, he must be kept from doing harm." 

I pray for Humanity to heal and hope to see evidence of it in my lifetime
Until then, I can only imagine...

First posted on January 21, 2011 in response to the shootings in Arizona, and titled, 
"Mental Health Advocacy Extremists are Aided by Lack of Journalism Ethics"


Duane Sherry said...


You addressed it all, in one post.
Well-thought out, well-written.

Thank you,


Unknown said...

Great post Becky. I will be sharing it.

Keep up your amazing work Becky and your fight for Human Rights.:)

Unknown said...

Thank you both for your support and encouragement!

Unknown said...

Becky - have you considered looking into how to become a regular blogger on the Huffington post on these issues? If not, I sure hope you continue to comment on Jaffes posts:)

Great post Becky. The day after Az - I saw a psychiatrist on tv touting once again that one of the symptoms of mental illness is denial that one is "sick".

I have no words to describe the disgust I have for those kinds of statements.


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