ADHD Stimulant Nearly Kills Child


As mentioned in the subject line, this is a personal account of a negative effect of a psychiatric drug on a patient in an Emergency Room in the U.S.  where I work as an R.N.  My hope and prayer is that this dramatic look at a negative effect of this drug will help you understand that the risks of these drugs outweigh the benefits.
    I was working day shift in the ER.  We were rather slow in the Pediatric dept. of the E.R. where I was assigned for the day, so I took the opportunity to leave the dept. and go to another area to help a nurse draw blood from a patient described as a “difficult stick”.  The experienced R.N. who was in the Peds (pronounced peeds) dept. called me over our walkie-talkie like communication piece,  “I need you back over here now,” she said in a firm, serious tone.  I asked a co-worker to send the blood for me and headed back to the Peds dept. about a 30 second walk.  As I entered the area, I saw a young white boy (prepubescent) being wheeled on a stretcher from a regular room, to the “trauma” or “code” pediatric room, where more emergency equipment is located.  Our ER tech had the ambu bag over his mouth administering oxygen to him.  The boy became unconscious just as he was being wheeled next door, and became very pale with blue lips.  These are signs of lack of blood flow, so as other co-workers began to join us, he was placed on a heart monitor, and I briefly attempted to find a pulse.  The monitor showed ventricular tachycardia, and I could not find a pulse, so I began CPR with chest compressions.  Defibrillation pads were placed on the boy, and the defibrillator was charged to 50 joules in preparation for electronic defibrillation of the heart.  His stunned parents were left outside of the room as we concentrated on their son.  The Doctor hit charge on the monitor, and there was the sustained, high pitched ‘woo’ sound indicating the machine was charging.  He called “clear”, and I stopped the compressions and we all stepped back.  The boy was shocked and his body jerked upward.  I could see on the monitor that his Ventricular Tachycardia had broken, and a more normal looking beat appeared as I immediately moved in to resume compressions.  The boy immediately “pinked up” (his color returned to his face neck and entire body).  He experienced what is known as ROSC (return of spontaneous circulation).  We stopped compressions and checked the monitor.  It was normal.  He began moving his head slightly as well.  Over the next few minutes, he remained in a normal rhythm on the heart monitor, only slightly fast, and had a normal blood pressure.  He had responded well to being defibrillated.  The Ventricular Tachycardia (V-Tach) which looks like thin tall mountain peaks on the monitor was gone for now.  Those thin, continuous mountain peaks indicate that there is a serious malfunction of the heart electrical system, which is usually, but not always, accompanied by pulselessness.  This young boy had the more lethal variety of V-tach which does not produce a pulse and therefore quickly results in brain and organ death.  The electrical shock in defibrillation stops the whole electrical system briefly in hopes that when the electricity “comes back on”, it will start and go through the normal pathways again, causing normal beating which produces a pulse.
    As I carefully examined this young man we had just brought back from the brink of death (by the grace of God), I noticed that he was only moaning and not making any purposeful eye contact.  We brought his parents back in and they hovered over him stroking his head and trying to console him.  They were in a state of shock, fear and confusion asking for answers, that for the most part we could not give, at least not yet.  We listened to his lungs, which were clear, and his oxygenation was normal with the supplemental oxygen we were giving him. He was breathing on his own without any difficulty.  However, 15 minutes later he was still moaning and occasionally thrashing on the bed and not speaking coherently.  His eyes were rolling around aimlessly.  At one point he was coherent enough to communicate to his mother that he could not see anything.  “Oh dear God” I thought to myself, “was he deprived of oxygen to his brain to an extent that he has suffered brain damage”.  This tall thin 11 year old boy reminded me of my tall, thin 12 year old son.  They informed us that he recently had a growth spurt.  The Nurse who received the patient had informed me that he was speaking normally on arrival, and that he had had a couple of unconscious episodes at home and was discovered by his mother sweating and ‘passed out’ on the couch.  She had called 911, but he had awakened on his own (probably a self-limiting episode of this cardiac abnormal rhythm, i.e. the grace of God that it was self-limiting).  The Children’s Hospital in the nearby major city was called, and they prepared to send the Helicopter up to us which is about a 15 minute flight. However getting everyone (Pilot/ Dr./ Nurse/ Paramedic) on the helicopter took longer.  At least 5 of us staff members stayed at his bedside riveted with concern for this child.  More frequent PVC’s began to occur on the heart monitor, and then short runs of V-tach also occured.  This all indicated potential trouble.  We called the Doctor in the room just in time for a sustained V tach to appear.  The boy’s body went limp and lifeless again, and I again performed chest compressions until the defibrillator was charged and discharged.  He again responded well to 1 shock at 50 joules.  We tried an emergency anti-arrythmic drug called Amiodarone, at an appropriate dose for a child, but he again for a third time went into this lethal dysrhythmia.  Thankfully for a third time, he was shocked back to life.  We tried another drug called Lidocaine which is an older drug for this type of problem, and it may have helped stave off any further episodes until the team arrived from the Childrens Hospital.  Also thankfully the boys vision returned after about 45 minutes, and he left to go on the helicopter speaking normally to his mother.  During the wait for the Childrens Hospital team we performed an echocardiogram which is an ultrasound that shows general size and function of the heart.  His was perfectly normal, which ruled out a possible cause like cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), or valve disease, which could potentially cause these types of lethal dysrhythmias.
    This was one of the top five intense moments I have had in 20 years of nursing.  Every “code” is intense, but caring for children in life-threatening situations is the most intense for me, and most nurses.  While we were caring for this child, we sought to determine the cause of this problem.  Was he dehydrated? No.  Did he have any heart defects?  No.   Any other serious medical problems?  No.  Could he have ingested any drugs?  No….. except he did take one drug prescribed for his ADHD.  The drug is a Central Nervous System stimulant that has been known to cause sudden cardiac death.  There is a warning from the FDA about the increased risk of death if you have a known heart problem.  I mentioned to our staff Pyschiatrist later about this case and his use of that particular stimulant.  He said, “that is probably what did it”(he is exceptionally candid about the negative effects of these drugs on kids).   Although our ER Doctor was in some denial about this as a possible cause.  I did mention to the mother that this drug could cause this problem, so hopefully he will not be put back on it.  She voluntarily suggested that not taking it would be best for him.  I talked to our ER Pharmacist about the incident, and he agreed it was probably the CNS Stimulant which caused the problem, and the data source he checked confirmed that this drug causes these lethal heart dysrhythmias.  These drugs are amphetamines, or derrivatives of them, commonly known on the street as Speed.  However he said that since we did not administer the drug, that we were not the appropriate ones to fill out a medication adverse reaction report.  He suggested that I go online and file the report at FDA medwatch, which I did under the section of health care provider.  At the end of the submission a pop-up appears stating that my report “has been submitted to a data base”.  Not very reassuring.  There was also an option as to whether or not I wanted to be contacted by the manufacturer, and by choosing ‘no’, I might be impeding their ability to monitor possible adverse reactions.  This reminded me of the practice of the FDA of relying on drug companies themselves to monitor and report adverse reactions of their drugs.  I wonder what effect self-reporting of adverse reactions might have on sales? “It might kill your son, but we think its a really great drug, assuming he doesn’t die of course.”  That does not seem to be a wise or effective practice of the FDA to say the very least!
 How many times has something like this occurred, and it has not been reported?  Many times I’m sure.  What a shame and ironic tragedy, to be killed by your Doctor.   God help us.

Interdose Withdrawal. Clear with Alcohol, Not So Clear with Benzos for Sleep

In Peter Breggin’s Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, he mentions “interdose” withdrawal symptoms as a problem with benzodiazepam use.   I knew someone once who may have had this problem.  They were taking a relatively high dose of a benzodiazepam for sleep.  Because they were taking it just once a day, the medication was eliminated/ metabolized from the body prior to the next dose.  I.e. the level of the drug in the body went down to the extent that the body began having withdrawal symptoms between doses.   This person was experiencing high blood pressure.  I cannot be certain that the interdose withdrawal was the cause of this hypertension, but at least it is a real possibility in someone who has not had high blood pressure in the past.  In a similar (not identical) way to the interdose withdrawal of alcohol use, i.e. the daily tremors, anxiety, increased HR and BP, the sedative hypnotic benzodiazepam could also be the cause of this new physiological problem.  Increased BP is known to occur with typical benzodiazepam withdrawal after cessation of the drug.  Benzodiazepams (Benzos) are drugs like klonopin, xanax, ativan, etc.  Part of the problem is that people do not recognize these Physician prescribed drugs as addictive and dangerous like they do with cocaine, heroine or alcohol.  Physiological problems from interdose withdrawal from alcohol are commonly recognized by essentially everyone.  “He’s got the shakes”.  However interdose withdrawal from those taking nightly doses of benzos is practically completely unrecognized.  Yet both are powerful sedatives that have known withdrawal problems upon cessation.  Be careful when using a nightcap whether a benzo or a few shots of alcohol.  You could have more problems than anticipated.  In both cases you can expect real interdose (between doses) withdrawal symptoms from these powerful sedatives.

Peter Breggin Lays his Axe to the Root of the Tree

Poisonous Potions

From Medication Madness

The New Ultimate Resource

The last ten to twenty years have seen a drastic change in viewpoint regarding the ultimate resource of moral and psychological guidance: Regardless of their religion or philosophy, many educated and informed people have come to believe that psychiatry and psychiatric drugs provide the best last resort for themselves when in psychological distress. Indeed, such drugs are increasingly the first resort. It appears that we have replaced reliance on God, other people, and ourselves with reliance on medical doctors and psychiatric drugs. The ultimate source of guidance and inspiration is no longer life itself with its infinite resources but biopsychiatry with its narrow view of human nature.
This view of ourselves is a most astonishing one. It suggests that most if not all of our psychological, emotional, and spiritual problems are “psychiatric disorders” best treated by specialists who prescribe psychoactive drugs. Our emotional…

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The Idolatry of Psychiatric Drug Use pt. 2

Notice how God kept Paul dependent and looking to Him to meet His needs in 2 Cor. 1:8-10: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,”

I want to point out a few things about what Paul says here. 1. Notice that Paul ascribes a reason for his suffering, and that he looks at that suffering as being controlled by God to produce a good result. Paul says that they were burdened excessively so that their trust would move from themselves to God. The words “so that we would not trust in ourselves” indicate the purpose or reason for Paul’s suffering. 2. Notice also that the suffering was intense and involved severe, negative emotions. Paul said that his difficulty was “beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.” The fact that God promises us His joy does not mean that we will never suffer intensely painful emotions. Another writer of Scripture—Asaph—in Psalm 77:4 demonstrated this when he wrote that “I am so troubled that I cannot speak”. Nevertheless, God is always moving us in the direction of joy and contentment. The end result of Paul’s divinely controlled trial was that He trusted in God, and He steadfastly set his hope on God. Notice again his confident words of hope in God his Deliverer at the end of the verse.
God clearly became more real to Paul through his sufferings. He learned to go directly to God to “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Paul’s appreciation for God in his life as his Rescuer and Savior increased in a very practical and real way. Paul’s personal love for God undoubtedly also increased as he came to lean more on God in His daily life. As Paul’s trust and hope became more cemented in God, God lifted Paul’s emotions of despair. Notice how encouraging, and even thrilling, it is to see that Paul describes God as the One who “raises the dead”? If God can do the impossible and raise the dead, then He is the all-powerful, miracle working God who can meet your deepest needs in your darkest hours. God is glorified as God as we come to rely on Him and rejoice in His amazing power and provision. However, as we have seen, we only get to the point where we have this attitude through intense trials and painful suffering. If that is what is necessary in order to more steadily trust in God and hope in His wondrous, life-giving power, then we should entrust ourselves to our loving Father and be willing to endure the trials. We can say, “I’m yours Father, I’m willing to go through the trials, because I want more of You”.
Over and over again the psalmists talk about finding refuge and strength in God in their personal lives. Psalm 18:1-2: “I love Thee, O LORD, my strength.” The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge”; Psalm 28:6-8: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.”
Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. (See also Psalm 29:11; 37:39; 118:14) It is an invigorating and uplifting experience to find inner strength for living the way these Psalm writers have in their personal lives. The Apostle Paul also reported experiencing this strengthening when he endured trials another time, and said, “but the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” Jesus talked about this experience of finding personal relief and rest in Him when He said, Mat. 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The “heavy laden” can find relief from their burdens in learning about and following Jesus Christ. Isn’t it obvious that as we find relief in Christ from our burdens that we will learn to turn to Him in our hours of need? As He shows Himself faithful to His promise of lifting the load of the heavy laden, and supplying His light and easy load, He is glorified and our trust and dependence on Him increases. His role as the great Provider, and the one and only Sovereign and everlasting God is more firmly established in our minds and hearts. He already is the divine Ruler over all things whether we acknowledge it or not. However, we are able to bring more glory to Him as the great Provider and Sustainer of all things as we look to Him alone to meet our Spiritual needs. Sometimes He does this through His word, and even through other people as the Scriptures clearly teach. It is an unbelievable stretch to believe that he also does it through something never mentioned in the Scriptures like psychiatric medication.

The Idolatry of Psychiatric Drug Use pt. 1

The Idolatry of Pyschiatric Drug Use.

If mood and self-control are areas specifically addressed in the Bible as areas where God will provide solutions through His Word, Spirit and church, then to look to the Psychiatric community to meet these needs through their drugs is idolatry. Lets begin by refreshing our memories about the topic of idolatry in general. In the Bible mankind is commanded to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind. (Luke 10:27; Deuteronomy 6:5)” God deserves and rightfully demands complete and exclusive adoration and devotion. The first of the Ten Commandments is to “have no other Gods before Me”. This is clearly repeated in the New Testament in many places like 1 John 5:21 where John says, “little children, guard yourself from idols”. The Bible is full of instruction not to worship anything in the place of Almighty God (Isaiah 40; Romans 1).
Hopefully you are already aware of the fact that you do not have to bow down before a statue or image of some creature or god in order to commit idolatry. We commit idolatry when we set our affections on, or are in awe of anything more than the living God. This can be obvious in situations like our fanatical devotion to a sports team, or infatuation with a member of the opposite sex, however it may also be more subtle. It may involve things like our expections for our children, or our desire to please superiors or co-workers which grows to an unhealthy and idolatrous level. Whenever we are more concerned about what others think, than we are about the opinion of God, even that is a form of idolatry. This should remind us of the fact that we all struggle with idolatry on a daily basis. John Calvin stated it this way, “The human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual forge of idols.” Institutes Book I.XI.8-9 A forge is the old furnace where metal would be heated and shaped into various objects. Calvin is saying that our hearts are like that furnace where idols are produced. Idols are created and born there and ‘pumped out’ with regularity. Idolatry does not only come in the form of things that we desire in the place of God, or things that we fear more than God, but also in the form of things to which we look to meet our needs.
This form of idolatry recognizes that whatever it is to which we look to meet our needs is that which we worship. Let me explain. Part of God’s role as God in our lives is fulfilled when He meets our needs. There are many things which we need which can only be provided by God. Things like forgiveness, power over sin, peace of mind and etc. It may be somewhat difficult to recognize God’s providing for our needs as having a direct connection to our worship of Him. I think we more readily think of words like sovereign, almighty, lordship, and ruler when we think about God as being the One true God who deserves exclusive worship. While these concepts are fully Biblical and should be emphasized more, there is also another way in which God establishes His place as the one true God in our lives. He does this through meeting our needs. God is glorified, and honored as God when we look to Him to supply what we need. That is why He says things like, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” The One who does the rescuing gets the honor and glory.
God is the source of all blessing, power and goodness in our lives. When we look to Him to provide these things for us, He is glorified as our Provider. God’s role as the supplier of what we need causes us to look directly to Him like a small child looks dependently to his parents. Or as the Bible says, as a servant-girl looks to the lady of the home to meet all of her needs. “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us. (Psalm 123:2)” He is thus magnified in our hearts and minds as the One on whom we depend, and as the One to whom we turn both for direction and for provision.
If we were to look to someone else for forgiveness that would clearly be idolatry. If we were to look to someone else to provide us with the power to love others, we would quickly recognize that as idolatry. For some reason, many of us do not recognize that looking to other sources for other fruits of the Spirit, such as peace, joy and self-control, is also idolatry.
God delights to meet our needs, and is glorified in the process. This is what John Piper is talking about when he says that, “God is most glorified in me, when I am most satisfied in Him”. God, in His role as the all-sufficient Provider, is glorified through our satisfaction and delight in the marvelous way in which He gives us what we need. The more we find our needs met in Him, the greater He is glorified. We unknowingly resist this truth when we overemphasize a man-centered idea of sanctification which centers on what we do for God rather than what He does for us.
In Isaiah 45:22, God instructed Israel and all of mankind to look to Him alone for salvation. He says, “Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22). Notice that “salvation” is tied to His exclusivity as God. There is no one else who can save us. He is telling us that it would be futile to look elsewhere because He is the only One who can provide salvation. Our primary need is for salvation from our sins through the death and resurrection of Christ. However, we also need salvation in our daily lives. God demonstrates His ability to save us, and receives glory, when He rescues us from difficult circumstances. This includes rescuing us from negative emotions and behavior. In fact, it especially refers to our inner lives, as God has not promised us with immunity from persecution and suffering in this life. God is glorified through providing us with this practical salvation as well as with His eternal salvation. This practical salvation includes things like strength for overcoming sin, the power to love and forgive others, and the courage to speak the truth. God keeps us constantly looking to Him to meet our needs so He will be continually glorified as God in our lives. He also deserves to be worshiped for supplying us with joy and self-control because He is in fact the only One who can give us these aspects of victory in our daily lives. Thankfully, Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”  John 15:11

Psychiatric Horrors in History pt. 3

Rosemary Kennedy (JFK’s sister) was the most famous of Freeman’s patients. There is controversy regarding Rosemary’s condition prior to the Lobotomy. Naturally, the more normal she was, even if severely troubled, the more inappropriate and barbaric the treatment appears to have been. It is widely reported today that she was mildly retarded, and emotionally disturbed. Kessler and others have argued that she was not retarded at all. Her diary and performance at school also seem to back Kessler’s claim (246). Even if she was mildly retarded, and it does not appear that she was, the treatment was a dramatic failure. She was left as an invalid, incontinent and unable to communicate intelligibly. Prior to the surgery she wrote in a diary, performed math and played tennis all at levels beyond what could be considered retarded (Kessler 246, 251). Opinions about her father, Joseph Kennedy’s role in the matter range from him being viewed as either cruelly selfish or honestly naïve. Either way, this attempt at a physical remedy for mental, emotional and behavioral problems was a complete failure—from Rosemary’s perspective at least. Her brother did go on to fulfill the political aspirations of their father without the distraction of their troubled family member. From that perspective the operation achieved one of its ends, albeit with more severe harm to Rosemary than anyone wished.
Howard Dully was another of Freeman’s victims who was lobotomized when he was only 12 years old. He obviously did not experience the same extent of injury to his brain that poor Rosemary suffered from this procedure. The extent of damage done to Rosemary by the surgery was disclosed through a description by someone who assisted in the operation, “”We put an instrument inside,” he said. As Dr. Watts cut, Dr. Freeman put questions to Rosemary. For example, he asked her to recite the Lord’s Prayer or sing “God Bless America” or count backwards. … “We made an estimate on how far to cut based on how she responded.” … When she began to become incoherent, they stopped. (Kessler 243-244)”
Since the procedure was so imprecise, varying levels of damage could occur. The surgery would even be repeated if necessary to create a more passive and subdued state in some patients. Dully’s more mild effects are evident in that he was recently working as a school bus driver and appears, and sounds, relatively normal. However, the account about what led up to his lobotomy is chilling and telling about the amount of “science” and good “medicine” that were being practiced. NPR reports:
“A search of Dully’s records among Freeman’s files archived at George Washington University turned up clues about why Freeman lobotomized him
According to Freeman’s notes, Lou Dully said she feared her stepson, whom she described as defiant and savage looking. “He doesn’t react either to love or to punishment,” the notes say of Howard Dully. “He objects to going to bed but then sleeps well. He does a good deal of daydreaming and when asked about it he says ‘I don’t know.’ He turns the room’s lights on when there is broad sunlight outside.” On Nov. 30, 1960, Freeman wrote: “Mrs. Dully came in for a talk about Howard. Things have gotten much worse and she can barely endure it. I explained to Mrs. Dully that the family should consider the possibility of changing Howard’s personality by means of transorbital lobotomy. Mrs. Dully said it was up to her husband, that I would have to talk with him and make it stick.” Then on Dec. 3, 1960: “Mr. and Mrs. Dully have apparently decided to have Howard operated on. I suggested [they] not tell Howard anything about it.” In an entry dated Jan. 4, 1961, two and a half weeks after the boy’s lobotomy, Freeman wrote: “I told Howard what I’d done to him… and he took it without a quiver. He sits quietly, grinning most of the time and offering nothing.” Dully says that when Lou Dully realized the operation didn’t turn him “into a vegetable, she got me out of the house. I was made a ward of the state.”
From bleeding patients, starving brain cells until coma ensues, inducing brain damage through metrazol and electric shock therapy, to directly cutting nerve fibers in their brains, the history of Psychiatry has certainly been a disturbing one. One thing that all of these errors have in common is a belief in a bodily remedy to mental and emotional problems. As Christians we should be able to recognize the evils that have been done to psychiatric patients and not turn a blind eye. This record of psychiatry should help remind us that just because someone wears a white coat, and graduated from Medical School does not mean that they are a compassionate person with good judgment. Our Christian world-view allows and even compels us to recognize the capacity of men and societies to commit great acts of evil. After all, the Scriptures describe mankind as living “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (Eph. 2:2).  The history of psychiatry displays the awful abuse of a weak and disadvantaged group by their would-be care-takers. It is one example out of the many demonstrations of the sinfulness of man in history. I should add, that not all Psychiatrists participated in these barbaric treatments. God’s common grace which prevents unsaved men from being as bad as they could be also applies to Psychiatrists.
From my discussions with advocates of psychiatry, I know that some will raise the objection that this is creating a false dichotomy. In other words, it is not necessarily an either/ or situation, and we can address both our physical and ‘spiritual issues’ with help from the medical and pastoral communities. While that solution sounds good, it does not stand the test of examining what types of symptoms apply to which of these two realms. Sorting out the differences between “psychiatric” and “spiritual” problems will be the focus of  another post.

Kessler, Ronald. The Sins of the Father. New York: Warner Books, 1996. Print. ‘My Lobotomy’: Howard Dully’s Journey. November 16, 2005
Whitaker, Robert: Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill. Cambridge, MA: Basic Books, 2002. Print.

Breggin, Peter. Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, empathy, and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock, and Biochemical Theories of the “New Psychiatry”. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991. Print.

Psychiatric Horrors in History pt. 2

Metrazol induced seizures came in vogue in the 1930’s. This therapy induced violent convulsions, which often resulted in fractured bones, and was practiced by 70% of the nations hospitals in the U.S. in 1939 (Whitaker 96). Patients were naturally terrified by this treatment, and this terror was thought, like Benjamin Rush believed one and a half centuries earlier, to play a role in the purported benefits (95). Like insulin coma, metrazol treatment was known to cause brain damage, but this very destruction was rationalized to be involved in the so-called healing. The behavior of patients was radically changed for a brief period after the treatment, but whether those changes were beneficial or not was a matter of debate. Patients behaved in infantile ways and were more subdued from the brain damage inflicted by this “therapy”. Yet because these changes were short-lived, multiple treatments were deemed necessary (94).
A simpler and more efficient way to reduce psychotic symptoms by traumatizing the brain, and hence the person, was introduced in 1940 in the form of electric shock treatment. Like insulin coma and metrazol induced seizures, electric shock caused patients to act in more docile ways, but this was also the result of direct damage to brain cells (99). The ‘beneficial’ confusion and disorientation from electric shock were also short lived as the brain recovered from the traumatic injury (100). Researchers noted that the effects of ECT on the brain and the behavior most closely resembled another patient population—victims of severe head injuries (102). Brain damaging therapies like insulin coma, metrazol and ECT made mental health wards temporarily more manageable, and thus provided a perceived benefit to the practitioners. However, the resulting brain damage had a devastatingly negative effect on the potential for real recovery on the victims inflicted with these torturous remedies.
All of these therapies were done in the name of science and under the guise of being curative and helpful to patients. We cannot lessen the barbarity of these treatments by assigning them to the primitive, unscientific years of blood-letting and patented medicine. Most of these treatments were inflicted on people long after the scientific and industrial revolutions were underway. In fact ECT has been practiced to varying degrees up to the present day. Let these treatments serve as a red flag for you as you consider whether or not you should place your confidence in the medical expertise of Psychiatrists.
Can you imagine the extent that someone’s conscience must be seared to inflict multiple episodes of these treatments on patients while observing the traumatizing and brain damaging effects on them? We can and should sympathize with desperate patients and family members who have dealt for years with intense mental suffering. We can understand that their anguish could lead them to attempt drastic measures in the hopes of recovery. However, it is more difficult to understand how trained medical experts could inflict such damage on their fellow human beings with so little benefit to show for their efforts. While justice has been sought for those who have suffered crimes during various wars, shouldn’t similar justice be sought on behalf of those who have been harmed by the grandiosity, callousness, and mistreatment of these psychiatrists?
This horrid history becomes yet even more disturbing. While the twentieth century moved forward, technology moved forward, modern medicine moved forward, psychiatry took another step backward with the introduction and practice of prefrontal lobotomy in the 1930’s to 1960’s. In 1949 Egas Moniz was awarded the Nobel Prize for using this procedure on humans. He and the other doctors who first performed the procedure claimed that the vast majority of their patients were cured or improved by it (Whitaker 114-116). It wasn’t until several years later that it became more widely known that their report of improvement included patients who were listless, unmotivated, and emotionally childish (121-124). Some would not stir from their beds even to use the toilet (123). The frontal lobes are known to be the center of higher thinking. When pathways to these parts of the brain are severed in prefrontal lobotomy, it is inevitable that the distinctively human traits and abilities are diminished. Doctors and state authorities even admitted that Mental Hospitals used lobotomy to subdue difficult patients (135). Walter Freeman was an early proponent of pre-frontal lobotomy in the U.S. traveling to state mental hospitals in his car to perform the procedure. He had the operation streamlined to the point that it took only 10 minutes to drive the ice picks beneath the patient’s eyebrows and jiggle them around destroying parts of the frontal lobe (134). He even performed the procedure on at least 11 troubled youths, one of them being only four years old (135). An NPR feature gives us a description of the surgery.

“As those who watched the procedure described it, a patient would be rendered unconscious by electroshock. Freeman would then take a sharp ice pick-like instrument, insert it above the patient’s eyeball through the orbit of the eye, into the frontal lobes of the brain, moving the instrument back and forth. Then he would do the same thing on the other side of the face.” (, November, 2005)
Rosemary Kennedy (JFK’s sister) was the most famous of Freeman’s patients.

Psychiatric Horrors in History pt. 1

This review of the History of Psychiatry is indebted to Robert Whitaker’s Mad in America and Peter Breggin’s writings.
We begin our overview of the history of psychiatry with one of its founders—Benjamin Rush. Rush can arguably be considered the “Father” of Psychiatry. His face is even on the seal of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Rush was also a famous statesmen, signer of the declaration of Independence, and friend of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. In his care for the insane he mixed humane treatment with that which by all estimates came to be regarded as torture. He once stated that “Terror acts powerfully on the body, through the medium of the mind, and should be employed in the cure of madness” (Whitaker, 3). Ironically, he believed in treating the mentally ill with respect in comfortable surroundings, but he also believed in using the latest techniques that were being employed by the Physicians in Europe.
The medical advancements in Europe that Rush wanted to employ included, bleeding and emetics—vomiting inducing agents. They also included the ‘spinning chair’, dunking in water, and an immobilizing device coined ‘the tranquilizer chair’(Whitaker 7; Breggin, “Toxic 108). These were designed to weaken the raving mad and make them more docile and submissive. Wounds were sometimes created on the bodies of the mentally ill and caustic substances would be rubbed on them to induce pain. The pain was thought to be a beneficial distraction. In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s various forms of water therapy were practiced. These included spraying the patient with streams of water, dunking them in cold water baths, and even “drowning therapy” which brought back victims from the verge of death in an attempt to renew their sanity (Whitaker 11-12). As a result of Rush’s belief that mental illness was caused by an abnormality in the blood flow to the brain he would bleed his patients almost to the point of death (Breggin “Toxic” 108-109). He believed that up to four fifths of the body’s blood supply should be removed (Whitaker 14). Rush was also a general Physician, and while modern medicine has moved away from his unscientific treatments (he was the Doctor who bled George Washington to death for a sore throat), Psychiatry has carried on his tradition of experimental mistreatment.
In the 1890’s to the early twentieth century gynecological surgeries were thought to have benefits on the insane. Hysterectomies and oopherectomies (removal of the ovaries) were performed in mental institutions and reported to have therapeutic effects on patients (78-79). Injecting hormones from sheep glands was also used because insanity was thought to be caused by abnormal hormones in corresponding human glands (79). After recovering from the feverish illness caused by the injections the patients were reported to have improved. Other directors of Mental Hospitals injected toxic chemicals into the spinal fluid of patients (80). Henry Cotton performed surgery on the patients at his mental hospital in Trenton, NJ. He believed that bacteria were involved in causing insanity. This idea led him to extract his patient’s teeth, but he eventually moved on to the colon, appendix, gall bladder and other various organs. He confidently trumpeted his success rates, but was later found to be falsifying his results (80-81). Other doctors attempted drug induced sleep for up to days at a time. Fever therapy was also tried by inducing higher temperatures physically and with injectable substances. This was followed elsewhere by cooling and refrigeration therapy which lowered the temperatures of patients to hypothermic states (83-84).
In the 1930’s insulin coma therapy was championed as a revolutionary breakthrough. Insulin lowers the blood sugar which is necessary for normal body processes including brain functioning. With the injection of excessive insulin, the blood sugar drops and coma eventually ensues. This is normally a life threatening medical emergency to be avoided at all costs. However when it comes to the mentally ill, apparently the most dangerous experiments are fair game. Reader’s Digest, Time and Harper’s magazines all heralded it as an effective advancement in therapy (86). The technique was soon shown to cause significant brain damage, as could be expected, and yet it spawned other therapies which also destroyed brain cells like replacing needed oxygen with nitrogen (89-90).
Don’t forget, by this time, antibiotics and other advancements in modern medicine were providing wonderful benefits for people. Psychiatry was eagerly searching for its scientific breakthroughs. Over and over again the latest treatment would be loudly proclaimed to be a revolutionary finding, and then with the passage of time, sometimes a few years, at other times decades, that treatment would be discredited and outdated. Isn’t it shocking and amazing that Psychiatry did not recognize and learn from this horrid history of failed treatments? On the contrary, as we shall see, the profession not only failed to learn from such harmful practices, but recklessly marched on to even more barbaric treatments.

Peter Breggin Lays his Axe to the Root of the Tree

From Medication Madness

The New Ultimate Resource

The last ten to twenty years have seen a drastic change in viewpoint regarding the ultimate resource of moral and psychological guidance: Regardless of their religion or philosophy, many educated and informed people have come to believe that psychiatry and psychiatric drugs provide the best last resort for themselves when in psychological distress. Indeed, such drugs are increasingly the first resort. It appears that we have replaced reliance on God, other people, and ourselves with reliance on medical doctors and psychiatric drugs. The ultimate source of guidance and inspiration is no longer life itself with its infinite resources but biopsychiatry with its narrow view of human nature.
This view of ourselves is a most astonishing one. It suggests that most if not all of our psychological, emotional, and spiritual problems are “psychiatric disorders” best treated by specialists who prescribe psychoactive drugs. Our emotional and spiritual problems are not only seen as psychiatric disorders, they are declared to be biological and genetic in origin.
The propaganda for this remarkable perspective is financed by drug companies and spread by the media, by organized psychiatry and individual doctors, by “consumer” lobbies, and even by government agencies such as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). As a result, many educated Americans take for granted that “science” and “research” have shown that emotional upsets or “behavior problems” have biological and genetic causes and require psychiatric drugs. Indeed, they believe they are “informed” about scientific research. Few if any people realize that they are being subjected to one of the most successful public relations campaigns in history.”

You Go Fred! Neurologist ‘Fighten’ Fred Baughman on PBS Frontline explains why it should be called Adult Disciplining Disorder (ADD)

Fred Baughman on PBS Frontline:

PBS: Establishing whether it’s actually a biological brain disease seems to be a less important issue. The question is whether there aren’t certain conditions with symptoms that can’t be aided and addressed with psychotropic medications. What’s wrong with that?
Fred:  Well, what they’ve done essentially is to propose that there are children who, up to the time they walk down the schoolhouse path, seem to everyone to be entirely normal. But what they have proposed is that there are children who are misbehaving at school and at home who are inherently unable to achieve self-control because they’ve got something wrong in their brain. This ignores whether or not their parenting is optimal, and whether or not their de facto parenting in school or disciplining at school in the hands of a teacher is optimal or not. There aren’t many schools, or homes for that matter, where one can say that parenting and schooling are optimal. I know our schools in California are in just horrible straits.
PBS:  But in the real world, parenting will never be optimal. Schooling is rarely optimal. But we’ve got a class of people telling us, psychiatrists and family physicians, that there is a drug that can help children that have a certain set of symptoms. What’s wrong with that?
Fred:  I think that the deficiency is, in fact, in the adults … To maintain that the deficiency is in the child and not to require any correction of the adults who are responsible for the development of the child is a terrible misstep. … By denying that there is any problem at all in the adults, and just accepting that it’s a chemical imbalance and you’re going to take a pill for it, I think you’re going to leave unaddressed and undone … things that must be done, and should be done, and are being done in proper homes, and are being done in parochial and private schools throughout the country. …
There are no miracle drugs. Speed–these drugs are forms of speed–don’t improve human life. They reduce human life. And if you want less of a child, these drugs are very effective. These parents have also been lied to: flat-out lied to. They’ve been told that children have a neurobiological disorder. They’ve been told their children have biochemical imbalances and genetic defects. On what basis? That they fit into a checklist of attention deficit disorder, which is just a list of behaviors that teachers would like to see stopped in a classroom? That’s all it is. . . .
One of the really obscene things that has happened is that psychiatry has sold the idea that if you criticize drugs, you’re making parents feel guilty. What an obscenity that is. We are supposed to be responsible for our children. . . . If we’re not responsible for raising our children, what are we responsible for? If children aren’t entrusted to us for the specific purpose of our turning ourselves inside-out to be good parents, what is life about? It is a disgrace that my profession has pandered to the guilt of parents by saying, “We’ll relieve you of guilt. We’ll tell you your child has a brain disease, and that the problem can be treated by a drug.”
That’s pandering to the worst desires that we have as parents–all of us–which is to say, “I’m not guilty of this problem.” . . . I’d rather be guilty as a parent, and say, “I did wrong,” than say, “Son, you have a brain disease.” Sure, we’re all tempted. We’re all tempted, when we’re in conflict with our children, to hold them responsible. And how much easier it is if we don’t even have to hold them responsible. . . .