I am sick of seeing friends who are seriously mentally distressed neglected and damaged by mainstream psychiatry. I am fed up hearing about people being detained, locked up and forced to take damaging medication before anyone has found out why they are distressed. I am angry about children being forced to take addictive psychoactive drugs by health professionals because no one could be bothered to work out why they are playing up. I met some others who wanted to change things and together we formed an organisation called Speak Out Against Psychiatry.
The term “mental illness” is heavily charged, politicized, and ambiguous. I prefer to talk about “anomalous experiences,” “extreme emotions,” and “emotional distress.” The main reason I don’t use medical language is that people who are suffering often don’t find it very helpful. No one experiences “schizophrenia” — that’s just a technical name for a lot of complicated feelings.
People who have been taught that “mental illnesses are brain diseases” see psychiatric patients as dangerous and unlikely to recover. And those in crisis are often understandably reluctant to consult mental-health professionals, because the stigma of mental illness is so severe: it’s possible to lose your job, your home, and your family as a consequence of being diagnosed with a mental illness. In cultures that take a social view of emotional distress, by contrast, people more readily seek help because they aren’t as likely to be ostracized and are assumed to be capable of full recovery.
Has America become a nation of psychotics? You would certainly think so, based on the explosion in the use of antipsychotic medications. In 2008, with over $14 billion in sales, antipsychotics became the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States, surpassing drugs used to treat high cholesterol and acid reflux.
Once upon a time, antipsychotics were reserved for a relatively small number of patients with hard-core psychiatric diagnoses – primarily schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – to treat such symptoms as delusions, hallucinations, or formal thought disorder. Today, it seems, everyone is taking antipsychotics. Parents are told that their unruly kids are in fact bipolar, and in need of anti-psychotics, while old people with dementia are dosed, in large numbers, with drugs once reserved largely for schizophrenics. Americans with symptoms ranging from chronic depression to anxiety to insomnia are now being prescribed anti-psychotics at rates that seem to indicate a national mass psychosis.
“Because psychiatrists frequently cause harm, permanent disabilities, death— death of the body-mind-spirit.”
Even though AstraZeneca’s antipsychotic Seroquel is the fifth best-selling medication in the US according to drugs.com, exceeded only by Lipitor, Nexium, Plavix and Advair diskus, its safety, effectiveness, clinical trial and promotion records are highly checkered. An original backer, psychiatrist Richard Borison, was sentenced to a 15-year prison sentence in 1998 for a pay-to-play Seroquel research scheme. Its US medical director Wayne MacFadden had sexual affairs with two different women involved with Seroquel research, say published reports. Chicago psychiatrist Michael Reinstein received $500,000 from AstraZenenca and wrote 41,000 prescriptions for Seroquel reports the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica. Psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff who left Emory University in disgrace after a Congressional investigation for unreported pharma income, promoted Seroquel in continuing medical education courses according to the web site of psychiatrist Daniel Carlat. Psychiatrist Charles Schulz’ high profile pro-Seroquel presentations are suspected of being colored by his AstraZeneca income says the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Florida child psychiatrist Jorge Armenteros was chairman of the FDA committee responsible for recommending Seroquel approvals while a paid AstraZeneca speaker himself, said the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2009.