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.
NPR.org. ‘My Lobotomy’: Howard Dully’s Journey. November 16, 2005
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5014080
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.” (NPR.org, 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. . . .

Thomas Szasz, Brief Bio, and Potent Zingers

Szasz, Thomas: Reason Magazine, Curing the Therapeutic State
Born in Budapest in 1920, he immigrated to the United States in 1938 and attended the University of Cincinnati, where he majored in physics as an undergraduate and earned an M.D. in 1944. After a residency in psychiatry, he underwent psychoanalytic training at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, where he remained as a staff member for five years. In 1956 he took a position as a professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York in Syracuse, where he is now a professor emeritus. Shortly thereafter, he began to publish articles that questioned the basic premises of his profession, work that would lead to his classic The Myth of Mental Illness in 1961.

Reason: In recent years, we’re told, this country has been hit by an epidemic of “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” What are the roots of this epidemic?
Szasz: I would first say that the epidemic doesn’t exist. No one explains where this disease came from, why it didn’t exist 50 years ago. No one is able to diagnose it with objective tests. It’s diagnosed by a teacher complaining or a parent complaining. People are referring to the fact that they don’t like misbehaving children, mainly boys, in the schools. The diagnosis helps tranquilize the parent, tranquilize the school system. It offers them the sense that they are doing something about the problem, that they are dealing with it in a rational, scientific way. It’s a kind of pharmacological magic.
Reason: What do you think the consequences of prescribing Ritalin for all of these kids will be?
Szasz: We may not know all of the medical consequences for another 20 or 30 years. In social terms, it gives the impression to people that behavioral problems are medical and should be handled with drugs; it imposes a certain stigma on the child, possibly on the family. It medicalizes educational and child- rearing problems, and it may cause biological problems in the person taking the drug. I don’t know if the average person on Main Street realizes that if a 30-year-old man has a pocketful of Ritalin, he can go to jail for years. This is called “speed.” And this is what they give as a treatment to schoolchildren when there’s absolutely no laboratory or medical evidence that they are sick.

“Whatever ails ya” Pt. 2

Now let’s concentrate on one aspect of this comparison between the patented medicine’s of yesteryear and the antidepressants of today. Let’s look at the problems which some of the patented medications claimed to correct, and compare them to the problems allegedly addressed by today’s antidepressants. We will see that the symptoms which both the older, and the newer, panaceas claim to correct are both unreasonably broad.
First we will take a look at 2 more of the medicines sold around the turn of the twentieth century. This information is taken from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Website. The Smithsonian’s Website states, “Unscrupulous manufacturers greatly exaggerated the curative powers of their remedies, selling them as “panaceas” or “cure-alls.””

Dr. E. C. West’s Nerve and Brain Treatment

Date made: 1870-1906: The indications or uses for this product as provided on its packaging:
For hysteria, dizziness, convulsions, fits, nervous neuralgia, headache, nervous prostration caused by the use of alcohol or tobacco, wakefulness, mental depression, loss of memory, softening of the brain resulting in insanity, premature old age, barrenness, loss of power in either sex, involuntary emissions and spermatorrhoea caused by over exertion of the brain, self-abuse or over indulgence.

http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object.cfm?key=35&gkey=51&objkey=4676

Dr. Fuller’s Electro Spiral Magnetic Vegetable Vapor Cure

The indications or uses for this product as provided on its packaging:
For headache; neuralgia; catarrh; hoarseness; asthma; hay fever; colds in the head; pleurisy and sciatica; nervous headache; dizziness; clouded memory; loss of nerve power, and all diseases of the mucous membrane
Maker: Fuller & Fuller
Date Made: 1888-1906    Place Made: Chicago, Illinois  http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object.cfm?key=35&gkey=51&objkey=4679

These medicines and titles are pretty amusing aren’t they? I especially like “Dr. Fuller’s Electro Spiral Magnetic Vegetable Vapor Cure”. It is hard to imagine how someone could have been impressed by this ridiculous sounding jargon. And yet look at the years of production 1888-1906. Almost 20 years! We need to remember that both electrical and magnetic technologies were new, and so these buzz words pushed buttons for the audience at that time. But before we get too haughty, and scoff too loudly at these absurd substances, let’s take a look at today’s miracle drug Prozac, and the way it is marketed to us.

Below is the information page on symptoms of depression from prozac.com. Observe for yourself whether or not the authors are trying to sell the idea of being depressed to you and as many of your loved ones as possible. Notice how they are very reluctant to exclude anyone from their target audience.
Disease Information
Symptoms

Depression is a medical illness that disrupts your life. It involves your whole body. Depression affects your thoughts, emotions, behavior, and the way you feel about yourself. Depression can also change the way you think and feel about other people, about situations at work or in a social setting, or even about things such as your garden, your house, or your clothing.

Everyone is different, and the symptoms you experience may vary from those experienced by others. Does one or more of the following symptoms sound familiar to you?
• Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day. Depressed mood and crying spells are symptoms of depression. However, many people who have depression are not sad, although they may have difficulty describing the way they feel.
• Lack of interest or pleasure in your usual activities and a lack of motivation. Depression makes it difficult to care about things that used to be important. You may have to push yourself to get things done. Even little things can seem a burden. Many people who have depression say they are bored and sluggish, and even if they have no sleep problems, they are tired all the time. Reduced interest in sex is also common.
• Changes in appetite. Depression can increase or decrease appetite, so people who have depression may gain or lose weight.
• Sleep problems. Some people who have depression are unable to fall asleep; some awaken often during the night and may be unable to get back to sleep. And some have sleep that is restless and dream-filled. Other depressed people may sleep too much, or find they need frequent naps in addition to their usual night’s sleep.
• Anxiety or restlessness. People who have depression are often restless and anxious to the point of agitation. The anxiety can cause impatience and anger, and make people less able to deal with even a low level of stress.
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and insecurity. People with depression often feel negatively about themselves, the world around them, and the future. They may feel guilty about things in the past. Many people with depression feel that they are worthless or that their depression is a punishment for something they have done or left undone. Depression can lead to feelings of insecurity and the need to be dependent on others. It can also lead to poor grooming and personal hygiene.
• Difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly. Depression makes it hard to think clearly, and decisions about even small things may be difficult to make. Often, people who have depression cannot concentrate easily – so work and daily routines become less efficient, and feelings of failure and disgust may appear.
• Fatigue or lack of energy.
• Thoughts of suicide. Many depressed people think about death. Thoughts and actions related to death may occur as part of a wish to end pain, suffering, and confusion.
Can an intelligent reader consider this information and not recognize that the authors are deliberately trying to include as many people as possible under the umbrella of depression.

From the Eli Lilly and Co. web site, 2008. Excerpts from the information section about the symptoms of depression. Notice that it would be impossible to exclude anyone from the introductory statement and the information that follows. “Does one or more of the following symptoms sound familiar to you?” Also notice that the terms disease and illness are used without any definition or hard scientific proof. The flavor of propaganda is in the air with unwarranted dogmatic statements like, “Depression is a medical illness that disrupts your life.”

The list of symptoms becomes downright amusing when a particular symptom, and also the opposite of that symptom are listed as signs of the “disease”. Notice that “depressed mood and crying spells are symptoms of depression. However, many people who have depression are not sad.” Sadness can easily be understood as a symptom of a depressed mood, however, how can not being sad also be characteristic of depression? Sleeping too much and not being able to sleep are also both symptoms of depression. Notice again that “Many people who have depression say they are bored and sluggish.” And yet, “People who have depression are often restless and anxious to the point of agitation.” Under the subheading “Changes in appetite” we read, “Depression can increase or decrease appetite, so people who have depression may gain or lose weight.”
So, you are depressed if you are sad or not sad, sluggish or agitated, sleeping too much or unable to sleep, and gaining or losing weight. Needless to say these are not hard and fast diagnostic criteria. These symptoms seem so purposefully elastic so as to include anyone thinking that they might be depressed. Do you get the feeling that you are experiencing something like what happens when a psychic tries to connect with someone by speaking in such broad and evasive terms so as to include almost everyone?

The promoters of this medication tread on overtly religious grounds when they explicitly claim to help people who “may feel guilty about things in the past. Many people with depression feel that they are worthless or that their depression is a punishment for something they have done or left undone.” Do the writers of this “helpful information” about depression believe that such feelings may be legitimate and may, in fact, require forgiveness from a Holy and forgiving God? We don’t know absolutely for sure. However, the implication here is that the drug Prozac will help alleviate these symptoms. If, as a Christian, you are not deeply offended by these claims, then there is something seriously faulty about your conception of God. You should recognize that it arouses Him to jealousy to claim to be able to provide the forgiveness and cleansing of the conscience that He alone is able to provide. He gave His Son to die a horrible death on the cross to gain these benefits for you. To attempt to find them in a bottle or to associate yourself with those who claim to be able to provide relief from these things in pill form is insulting to God and His Son who suffered for you to have these blessings.
After this list of symptoms, which clearly has a broad recruitment objective, we find another revealing propaganda statement. Since common sense would suggest that these are normal problems of living, it seems as if the authors of this advertisement want to replace that common sense with their agenda by saying, “Remember, these are real symptoms of a real illness. Don’t blame yourself for feeling awful. Instead, see your doctor, follow his or her treatment advice, and begin taking your life back.” It is so easy to forget that these are “real symptoms of a real illness” because they are such common problems of the human condition, and they cover such opposing symptoms, that the authors need us to “remember” their claim.

The Traveling Medicine Show and Prozac and Paxil for “Whatever ails ya” pt. 1

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the United States experienced a forgettable and embarrassing phenomenon. This was the time of the traveling medicine show. A salesman would come to town, along with an entertainer, or otherwise famous person and set up a portable store in a prime location. This was the era of patented medicine. Without a formal regulating body, medicine was created and sold to a populace eager for relief from various afflictions. Outlandish claims were often made. Shamefully, sometimes the local preacher would even be recruited to add credence to the huckster’s claims.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Website contains pictures and descriptions of some these patented medicines. Here is a description of one of them.
Bromo Soda:  For sick and nervous headache, indigestion and insomnia, sleeplessness, excessive study, dyspepsia, acute migraine, nervous debility, mania, depression following alcoholic and other excessives, mental and physical exhaustion, brain fatigue, sea sickness.

Date made: 1906-1908
http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object.cfm?key=35&gkey=51&objkey=4680

The Smithsonian web site sums up the practice of patented medicines, “Unscrupulous manufacturers greatly exaggerated the curative powers of their remedies, selling them as “panaceas” or “cure-alls.” The aptly named Swaim’s Panacea purportedly cured all “blood diseases” including scrofula, chronic rheumatism, ulcers, old sores, boils and carbuncles, diseases of the spine, catarrh, and wasting.”
http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object.cfm?key=35&gkey=51&objkey=4680

We would never be so gullible today would we? We are far more advanced than those backwards folks from 120 years ago, aren’t we? Sadly, we are not. Despite our advances in technology, and education, we can be just as gullible as that crowd gathering around to watch the juggling act prior to that salesman’s pitch. However, we do not have to leave the confines of our own home to experience such marketing. It comes to us via our televisions, radios and computers. Even though the physical setting has changed, many of the sales techniques have remained the same. Some of those techniques which are employed today are: an appeal to science, an appeal to a trusted authority, the use of technical language, or the use of a celebrity. Isn’t it both amusing and sad how much people are influenced simply because a famous person suggests to them that they should use a product, even though that person may have no qualifications whatsoever to speak as an authority on the given subject.

One Harvard Professor recently wrote that, “Prozac and the other Serotonin boosters–Zoloft, Paxil, and Luvox–have been the panaceas of the past decade.” Page 13. Joseph Glenmullen, Prozac Backlash. Clinical Instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and on the staff of Harvard University Health Services.

The first potent antidepressants of the modern era were cocaine elixirs, introduced in the late 1800s. (PB, 12).

Robert Whitaker Reveals Research Showing that Antipsychotics Shrink the Brain

Post published by Robert Whitaker on Feb 08, 2011 on the site Mad in America.

In 1991, Nancy Andreasen began a long-running study of first-episode schizophrenia patients, which involved periodically measuring their brain volumes with magnetic resonance scans. In articles published in 2003 and 2005, she reported finding “progressive brain volume reductions” in her patients, and that this shrinkage was associated with a worsening of negative symptoms, functional impairment and cognitive decline. But the implication was that this shrinkage was due to the disease, and that the drugs simply failed to stop it.

“The medications currently used cannot modify an injurious process occurring in the brain, which is the underlying basis of symptoms,” Andreasen wrote in her 2003 paper.

However, even as she was publishing those findings, other research–in animals and schizophrenia patients–indicated that the drugs might exacerbate this brain shrinkage (or be the primary cause of it.) Then, in a 2008 interview with the New York Times, Andreasen confessed that the “more drugs you have been given, the more brain tissue you lose.”

This was something of a bombshell, particularly since it came from Andreasen, who was editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry from 1993 to 2005. Now, in the February issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, she has published those findings, and thus the bombshell has officially landed in the scientific literature.

In this study, Andreasen took periodic MRI scans of 211 schizophrenia patients treated from seven years to 14 years. She found that long-term use of the old standard antipsychotics, the new atypical antipsycotics, and clozapine are all “associated with smaller brain tissue volumes.”

Moreover, she found that this shrinkage was dose related. The more drug a person is given, the greater the “association with “smaller grey matter volumes,” she reported. Similarly, the “progressive decrement in white matter volume was most evident among patients who received more antipsychotic treatment.” Finally, Andreasen reported that this shrinkage “occurs independent of illness severity and substance abuse.” Those two factors–illness severity and substance abuse–had “minimal or no effects” on brain volumes.

In this February report, Andreasen does not tie the drug-related brain shrinkage to an increase in negative symptoms, functional impairment, and cognitive decline. But in earlier articles, she did just that. And it is that larger context that makes this February report such a bombshell: When pieced together, this is a story of drug treatment that, over the long-term, causes long-term harm.

The other reason this is such a bombshell is that antipsychotics are widely prescribed now to children, often to control their “behavior,” and to adults with bipolar diagnoses. They are being used to treat “non-psychotic” conditions. The risk-benefit analysis for those patients will be dramatically changed by the findings of this study.

One hopes that the study will be widely publicized in the media, and it will stir a vigorous discussion. Here are a few of the questions that I believe need to be asked:

Does long-term use of antipsychotics for people diagnosed with psychotic disorders need to be rethought?
Is there reason to prescribe these drugs to people with non-psychotic disorders?
Should the prescribing of these drugs to children and youth, whose brains are still developing, be halted (or, in essence, banned?)
Many adults diagnosed with psychiatric disorders are mandated by court orders to take antipsychotics. Should society have the right to require such treatment, given that the drugs shrink brain volumes and this shrinkage is associated with cognitive decline?
For some time, here has been reason to believe that antipsychotics shrink the brain, and I wrote about this in Anatomy of an Epidemic. But this worry has largely been kept out of the public domain. Perhaps now it will become a public concern, and in particular, one hopes that our society now takes a hard look at whether prescribing such drugs to children is a good thing to do.

A Basic Question

Does it make sense that drugs could make us happier?  Calm our hearts?  Give us self-control?  Reduce our anger?  Do you have such a low view of the human spirit that you think drugs are the solution to our mental/ emotional/ spiritual struggles?  Isn’t there something in you that instinctively reacts against this materialistic view of man that suggests that drugs can correct our chemical imbalances and therefore heal our broken souls?  It is NOT science that proves that this is the case.   Science has shown that there is no solid evidence for the chemical imbalance theory.  Shake yourself out of the delusive spell that has worn down your natural God-given instincts to reject the idea that drugs can heal our souls and spirits.   If there is a God, then relating to Him plays a far more significant role than you have previously imagined.  Your life-style and beliefs, and dependence on God are the major factors affecting your mood and behavior.  These complex issues cannot be solved with PILLS!!  You know that in your heart.  Stop falling for this false and easy fix, which is really no fix at all.

May God bless you,

Alex Freid