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.

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

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 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

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

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.”

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

Liar Liar Pants on Fire Big Pharma

Another example of their deception is carefully documented by Jonathan Leo and Jeffrey Lacasse in the December 2005 Public Library of Science Journal article entitled “Serotonin and Depression: A Disconnect between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature”, A news brief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal includes comments on this article by leaders in the field at ( A leading expert in the field admits, “Biological psychiatrists have looked very closely for a serotonin imbalance or dysfunction in patients with depression or obsessive compulsive disorder and, to date, it has been elusive,” says Dr. Wayne Goodman, Chair of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee. Goodman was reacting to a recent article (December 2005, PLoS Medicine) about the growing body of medical literature that casts doubt on the “serotonin hypothesis.” Co-author Jonathan Leo, associate professor of anatomy at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, says the FDA should prohibit SSRI manufacturers from making these claims.
GlaxoSmith-Kline (GSK), for example, claims ( that paroxetine (Paxil) can “help restore the balance of serotonin — which helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.” GSK officials refused to comment.
In 2003, Ireland’s drug regulator banned GSK from stating on its patient information leaflet that paroxetine “works by bringing serotonin levels back to normal.” Officials stated that “There is no scientific investigation to measure what are normal serotonin levels in the human brain receptors. As such, claiming that a particular medicinal product works by bringing serotonin levels back to normal is not accurate.”
(End quote)

Can You Trust Big Pharma? Read this and decide.

The Boston Globe reports: 9/28/07

“Bristol-Myers Squibb and a subsidiary have agreed to pay more than $515 million to settle civil suits over fraudulent drug marketing and pricing schemes, including illegally promoting an anti-psychotic drug to children and the elderly, US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said yesterday. …
The agreement says Bristol-Myers Squibb gave kickbacks to physicians and healthcare providers from 2000 through mid-2003 to get them to prescribe the company’s drugs. The kickbacks came in several forms, including consulting fees and trips to luxury resorts.
“Patients are entitled to unbiased decision-making from their physicians and should not have to worry that financial inducements or lavish entertainment have influenced their physicians’ prescribing choices,” Sullivan said. …
Bristol-Myers Squibb participated in pricing schemes, including one involving its anti-depressant drug Serzone, that defrauded the Medicaid program, prosecutors said.
Bristol-Myers Squibb and Apothecon also inflated prices for a wide assortment of cancer-fighting and generic drugs, deceiving federal healthcare programs that established reimbursement rates based on those prices, prosecutors said. …
Dr. Jerome Kassirer, a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and outspoken critic of drug companies, is skeptical.
“A lot of these companies, when they get sued for a few million dollars, they just consider it loose change,” he said. “I haven’t seen any let-up in what they’re doing. Most of the time, when they’re caught, they’ll often say, ‘It was a renegade, someone who wasn’t following the instructions. Our policy says we shouldn’t do that.’ “

Seroquel Sales

Although Risperdal is probably the reigning Neuroleptic seller, (perhaps the Abillify add campaign has propelled it into the lead, I don’t have up-to-date facts on this),  this post still gives us a good idea of the money involved.  These millions and billions sadly outweigh the welfare of psychiatric victims.

We must not be naïve, and forget the large sums of money that are made by the consumption of these medications. The original neuroleptic Thorazine made millions of dollars for Smith Kline and French. One of the current atypical antipsychotics is a leading money-maker for Astra Zeneca. The Wall Street Journal Online reported the drug’s annual sales of nearly $5 billion, “Seroquel was the fifth biggest-selling drug in the world last year (2009), according to IMS Health, a research firm.” (Whalen, Stovall)
USA Today 2009: Much is at stake. Antipsychotics, which had $14.6 billion in sales last year, were the top-selling class of U.S. medicines; antidepressants brought in $9.6 billion, says IMS HEALTH.

God bless- Alex

Mom, what’s a Neuroleptic?

Two insightful descriptions of Neuroleptics (also known as ‘Major Tranquilizers’, or Antipsychotics) from two anti-psychiatry greats…..

On the Origin of Neuroleptics
Robert Whitaker has written about the origin of the neuroleptic drugs, which are derived from a group of drugs known as phenothiazines, “In the 1930s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture employed phenothiazine compounds for use as an insecticide and to kill swine parasites. Then, in the 1940s, phenothiazines were found to sharply limit locomotor activity in mammals, but without putting them to sleep. Rats that had learned to climb ropes in order to avoid painful electric shocks could no longer perform this escape task when administered phenothiazines.” (“Mad in America” 142) This profound disinterest and disconnect in the brain led researchers to use neuroleptics in France for surgical patients to strengthen the effects of anesthesia. The term “neuroleptic” means to take hold of, or clamp down on, the nervous system. The initial researchers realized that the drugs affected the brain in a way similar to lobotomy by causing disinterest in one’s surroundings and general passivity (Whitaker, “Anatomy of an Epidemic” 49-50; Breggin, “Brain Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry” 35-36). They also recognized that the compounds affected the brain in a way identical to a disease called encephalitis lethargica, the symptoms of which are very similar to Parkinson’s disease (Breggin, “Toxic Psychiatry” 73-74; Whitaker, “Anatomy” 50). Researchers referred to the state induced by neuroleptics as a “vegetative syndrome” (Whitaker, “Mad” 144). The drugs were then tried on the mentally ill, and their effects were welcomed on psychiatric wards where agitated and disruptive patients would be reduced to passive, disinterested people who were much more easily controlled.
Peter Breggin compares the effects of neuroleptics, and their inhibiting of the dopamine pathways to the frontal lobes, to prefrontal lobotomy. Since the same dopaminergic nerve pathways that are cut in lobotomy are blocked by the neuroleptics, the effects are identical. People lose interest in their surroundings, other people, and in their symptoms as well (“Toxic” 53-60). He cites several experts who state that the effects of neuroleptics and of lobotomy are identical. The doctors who first used Thorazine on people in France describe the patients as flat, withdrawn, unmotivated, and disinterested in their surroundings (“Toxic” 54).

Great info on the Killer Drug Seroquel from the New York Times

New York Times:

AstraZeneca Pays Millions to Settle Seroquel Cases

Published: October 29, 2009
The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Thursday that it had reached a $520 million agreement to settle two federal investigations and two whistle-blower lawsuits over the sale and marketing of its blockbuster psychiatric drug Seroquel.

One of the investigations related to “selected physicians who participated in clinical trials involving Seroquel,” AstraZeneca disclosed in a government filing. The other case related to off-label promotion of the drug.

As a result of aggressive marketing, Seroquel has been increasingly used for children and elderly people for indications not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Doctors are permitted to prescribe any approved drug for off-label uses.

Seroquel was the top-selling antipsychotic drug in America. It had $17 billion in sales in the United States since 2004, according to IMS Health, a research firm.

Tony Jewell, a company spokesman, declined to be more specific about the physicians or clinical trials under investigation. He said the company was in final negotiations to settle the whistle-blower suits and reach a corporate integrity agreement with the Justice Department.