Los Angeles, CA. Nov. 14-16, 2014
Posted by Maria Mangicaro
The International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry- ISEPP annual conference is in its 16th year and our esteemed membership spans the entire globe. For nearly 40 years ISEPP members have been educating, researching and informing professionals, the media, lawmakers and the public upon the impact of “mental illness” theories, biopsychiaric interventions, changes to public policy and personal freedom. Often they have been one of the only professional voices highlighting the peer reviewed evidence on adverse side effects of psychotropic medication usage, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), and other bio-psychiatric practices.
Dr. Toby Watson, ISEPP’s former Executive Director, recently received an invitation to provide expert testimony to the Federal Congress and Health Ministry of Mexico. The session attracted concerned mental health providers the past University Psychology Department Chair in Mexico City, multiple national media outlets, educators, administrative staff, citizens of Mexico and local mental health advocates.
Dr. Watson is among the few clinical psychologists in the U.S. with forensic expertise enabling him to testify upon the research supporting an individual’s right to refuse psychotropic drugs commonly used to control extreme emotional and behavioral disorders. His expertise in the area of clinical outcome research as it applies to psychotropic medications, forced orders to treat, and fundamental psychotherapy or counseling is sought out nationally. He has been an expert witness for both the State and for individuals seeking to educate the courts upon best evidence based practices.
In this letter Dr. Watson shares part of his recent experience in Mexico City:
A special thank you to the many advocates and legislators who helped organize my trip to Mexico City where I provided an hour and a half testimony at Mexico’s Congress, Chamber of Deputies. During my visit I was honored to participate in a national morning radio and television program highlighting the concern many professionals are having about psychotropic medications causing extreme violence in children and teens. The Citizens Commission of Human Rights (CCHR-Mexico) members Mrs. Rosanna Fernandez and Gisela Galicia were integral in coordinating with legislators like Guadalupe Flores (Congresswoman) and the Ministry of Health (equivalent to the United States F.D.A.) for arranging my testimony.
Dr. Al Galves, ISEPP’s current Executive Director, was helpful in supporting this important educational work. During the hearing, I reviewed research on child and adolescent depression, the use of anti-depressants and violence, and how we understand what is and has happened to caring and treating our children. Below is a summary of the material and studies covered within my talk. Once again, thank you all for the tremendous support and help.
Summary of Testimony:
The introduction of my testimony highlighted ISEPP’s long history of critical peer review analysis of psychiatric and psychological research. I acknowledged the help of ISEPP members and the numerous university co-sponsors we have had over the years, which included the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., University of Illinois-Champaign, and Syracuse University, N.Y., and how I have been researching and lecturing upon the above topics for 15 years.
The 31 drugs included an anti-smoking drug, 11 of the most widely used antidepressants, 6 of the hypnotic sedatives, and 3 drugs used on children for Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder (ADHD). That means that approximately 67% of all the “adverse” reports reported were from psychiatric drugs. Antidepressants were responsible for nearly 600 case reports of violence toward others, the ADHD drugs and sedatives also accounted for approximately another 200 violence cases. Of the nearly 2,000 total case reports of violence toward others, there were almost 400 cases of homicide, about 400 physical assaults and 223 cases of other types of “violence”. There were also approximately 900 reports of homicidal ideation! It is noteworthy these numbers do not include the thousands of people who develop suicidal ideation (self violence).
I highlighted the reports given to the FDA are known to represent only a tiny fraction of all real adverse events, and it estimated they only represent a few percent of the total number of real cases. This means we are talking about hundreds of thousands cases of homicides and other acts of violence. The study simply identified 31 drugs responsible for most of the FDA case reports of violence toward others, with drugs they give to depressed people all being at the top portion of the list.
Following the review, I noted the growing list of over 30 school shootings that had documented the shooters were taking psychotropic drugs, and that it puzzles me why so much focus is on gun control and not the possibility that the drugs were responsible for changing the shooter’s perception, thoughts, feelings and ultimately their behaviors. I noted medications overall kill roughly 100,000 people each year, and for guns to be as deadly as medications, you’d need a Newton, Connecticut style massacre 10 times a day, every day for an entire year. I recognized there is a need for appropriate gun control, but I noted Americans are now calling for and working upon needed psychiatric medication control. In turn, the US President has indicated our government will add an additional 155 million dollars for mental health care and research, which will include $10 million to study mental health and violence, something that will need to include psychotropic drugs.
“Mental Illness” and Violence:
Given the stigma of “mental illness” and that those labeled as such are often seen and viewed as violent in general, I reviewed research on this topic. Overall, the rates of violence are small for people who are labeled “mentally ill”, and the rates are even smaller for those diagnosed with depressive disorders. 90% of those labeled “mentally ill” (i.e. meeting the subjective criteria and check-off list we use in the DSM-IV) have no history of violence whatsoever.
In 1988 Department of Justice studied all homicides in our nations largest counties and indicated only 4.3% of all homicides were committed by assailants with a history of mental illness. 10 years later, the state of Washington evaluated more than 300 mentally ill prisoners releasing and found that only 2% committed any serious violent crime over at a scheduled 5 year follow-up. In 2009 the lead author Dr. Fazel published a review of 20 studies that assessed violence by those labeled mentally ill. This massive study included nearly 2 million people, and over 18,000 patients. He wrote, “”the increased risk of violence in schizophrenia and the psychoses co-morbid with substance abuse was not different than the risk of violence in individuals with diagnoses of substance use disorders (pp7-8)….people with schizophrenia are not dangerous…. If a person is an alcoholic or a drug addict, he is less likely to be violent if he also has schizophrenia….So, in this context, you could say schizophrenia is actually protective” when it comes to being violent.”
I ended this section with highlighting mental health patients are 6-23 times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime than the general public, and that even for those who take the 31 psychotropic drugs that are most likely to lead to violence, the rate is quite small. However, if you look at the FDA numbers, and acknowledge it may only represent a few percent, then your talking about hundreds of thousands of people that are literally ticking time bombs waiting to explode on a given day.
Benefit to Anti-Depressants?
I questioned the cost benefit analysis people cite as justification for the use of these dangerous anti-depressant medications, and highlighted the work of Dr. Irving Kirsh, a leading researcher on anti-depressants and placebo, a man who was featured on 60 minutes for his review of this research. His review of all the clinical trials for these drugs given to the FDA showed that of the most widely used antidepressants, the positive effect seen with people using these drugs, it could be reproduced by giving patients sugar pills (i.e. called placebos). There was literally no clinical difference, and thus, no ethical or moral reason to give a psychotropic drug when we know that even telling a person they are getting a sugar pill, with no pharmacological benefit, would still lead to the reduction in depressive symptoms. The only major difference noted, would be the non drug treated group would not have the aggression, homicidal rage, suicidal thoughts, behaviors and actual completed suicides.
Diagnosing and Rates:
I continued with educating their legislation on how we identify and diagnose children, noting:
*there are over 7 million customers now labeled,
*10% of all children between 12-17 meet the label for a Major Depressive Disorder,
*at least 10% of all boys between 6-14 are diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,
*10% out of every MD visits for any visit leads to a psychotropic drug being given and 30% of MD visits led to a diagnosis of ADHD,
*that if you just take the poor or Medicaid children, in some communities it reaches close to 100% of those children being given psychotropic drugs
*that Poor Foster Children are 4-5x more likely to be drugged if they are get government assistance Medicaid,
(and that in 2004 the Centers for Disease Control stated the number of children taking 3 or more prescriptions doubled between 1994 and 2000, and now over 4 percent were taking more than 3 medications.
I indicated that we use a check off list in a book called the DSM-IV, that there is no biological test for depression or labels like Attention Deficit Disorder, ADD, that there is there is no blood work, no scan, nothing other than a check off list of things they do or do not do to decide if they meet the agreed upon diagnosis. If they wiggle in their seat, if they make careless errors, if they do not pay attention, if the do or do not do certain behaviors than I put that on the list, then they meet the criteria to be labeled ADD or ADHD. The same is true for depression.
Labeling something is not unlike being labeled or identifying as being Catholic.
If you believe in Jesus Christ, if you go to mass, if you take communion, if you kneel down when you pray, if you do or do not do or think certain things, you adopt or identify with the name or label Catholic. No one in this room would say “I have Catholic”, and therefore you also can not “Have” ADD or “have” depression.
It is not something physical you can touch. You can have a broken bone, you can have diabetes, you can have cancer…doctors can see those things, can touch it, and can take it out of you, but ADD, Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder is not something you have, it is a phenomological label that a group doctors made up by sitting at a table without any actual patient. It is a group that has direct financial ties to drug companies who will benefit from the labels they make up. When a label becomes unpopular, they remove it from their DSM book and it no longer becomes an “illness”.
I highlighted the labels started with only a few and over the past 50 years it has grown to over 300 labels to use for financial profit. I noted, no mental illness has ever been discovered like other real illnesses, they were created. The behavior, thought, feelings are real and can be very problematic, but in order to understand it, we must really get to know the person and learn what is actually causing it. I stated, you can not treat depression with a drug any more than you can treat socialism, being atheist or a capitalist with a drug. You certainly can use drugs to make a thought, feeling or behavior go away, but the result does not justify the means when you are talking about a developing brain and soul that has not yet found an acceptable way to cope with their environment.
Baseball Bat Therapy & Little Frog:
To drive the above point home, I stated I could take a class of distracted sad boys being silly in a class and stand at the back of the room with a baseball bat and pound it on the table. I would “cure” every silly acting out boy instantly. Even if I tapped the boy on the back of the head to ensure they listened and became motivated, I would do less damage to the brain than the medication and drug often put inside of them. I closed this portion highlighting I, nor any of them, would allow this to be done, but yet we sit quietly by when a doctor says it is OK to drug a child.
I indicated there has been a huge change on how we treat and understand child and their behavior. When a child became depressed, heard a voice, saw a vision, or became behaviorally disruptive they used to bring the child to the elder of the community. They talked to them, talked to the family, talked to relatives, the priest and they gathered lots of information about their life and relationships. The child was viewed not as the problem, but rather as the symptom of the problem in the community, which was the school, church, home, neighbors, economics. When we see changes in a environmental ecosystem and then see the little frog or lizard has 3 arms or 6 legs, we do not blame the frog and say it is the problem, we look to the toxins or changes to the environment. The little frog is the most vulnerable of the animals in the system, just like our children are the most vulnerable of our society.
The most vulnerable struggle first.
Our children are beacon lights and letting us know something is not right in our society.
Rates of Medication & New Markets:
I noted what is likely to happen in Mexico should they follow the United States: 20% of our adults take a psychiatric drug, 10% of all people in the US take an anti-depressant drug, and yet according to UNICEF, the US children are 2nd to last place in developed countries for emotional well-being.
I noted that as psychiatric drug companies begin to lose billions of dollars in lawsuits for the harmful effects from these medications, they will look to new markets to expand into, namely Mexico. I noted that psychiatric drug sales account for at least 16 Billion dollars for antipsychotics, 11 Billion dollars for antidepressants, 7 Billion dollars for ADHD drugs. I shared that 90% of the worlds Ritalin was used in the United States, even though was not made here, and that 4 out of 5 psychotropic drug prescriptions are written by general doctors, non psychiatrists, who often have as little as 30 hours of training in psychiatric medications. In 1990, 90% of people who went to MD, for say something like mild sadness or feeling anxious, got referred to mental health therapist or counselor. In 2000, anyone want to guess what it dropped to? It was only 10%. Research indicated doctors typically see a patient for less than 15 mins. before handing them a prescription for a psychotropic medication, and although in 1996, 33% of those psychiatrically medicated also were in Treatment, by 2005 it dropped to only 20%. To further drive the point home that they are trying to find new markets, between 1991-1995, there was a 300% increase in psychotropic drugs used in 2 to 4 year old children. In the early 1990’s Brandies University indicated anti-depressants increased for teens by 250%. Between 1999-2003, antidepressant prescriptions for all children in the U.S. increased 500%, and it doubled and continued to rise until the research showed how deadly these drugs could be, when the FDA put the strongest warning on the side effect labels.
Those warnings indicated, if you take this medication, you could become suicidal and violent. In 1987 a study showed that severe inner emotional agitation that can not be reduced, something called Akathisia, is a leading cause to suicide, violence and aggression. However, it was missed 75% of the time by doctors.
Psychotropic Medication Problems Become Mainstream:
I noted what I am saying is not out of the mainstream media or not known by many, as Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and famous chief medical correspondent on CNN…indicated recently “It is worth pointing out that over a seven-year period there were 11,000 episodes of violence related to drug side effects.” I noted that ISEPP, formally ICSPP, has been highlighting these dangers for years, as noted on Fox News in Nov. 2002, whereby CCHR spokesperson appeared separately with Dr. Peter Breggin, Past Director of ICSPP, and highlighted confidential documents belonging to the maker of Paxil, an anti-depressant medication, a drug a prior school shooter was taking, increased a person attempting or committing a suicide by 7-8x , a 700-800% increase than if they simply took a sugar pill. I noted that again just a few weeks ago, Dr. Breggin again appeared on Fox Business News and again exposed how damaging these psychotropic drugs can be for people suffering.
Ideas for Legislation:
I concluded by providing specific ideas for legislation that could help reduce the harm caused by their current practices, noting they may want to consider:
1) Not allowing anyone to give a psychotropic medication to an individual prior to that person being referred by a psychologist.
2) Only allowing a psychiatrist to prescribe psychotropic medications, unless the practitioner could demonstrate specific advanced training in psychotropic medications.
3) Not being able to prescribe a psychotropic drug to a child unless it was approved by a recognized compendia that showed minimum safety and efficacy per that compendia.
4) Not giving a psychotropic medication to a person outside the normal dosing range which was demonstrated to be effective and safe (per the compendia).
5) Not allowing a doctor to allow more than two psychotropic prescriptions for a psychotropic medication to any one patient at any one given time.
6) Having the Health Ministry publishing all side effects in a easy to locate website and require pharmacists to provide those effects to the patient when they request the medication (currently you can walk into any pharmacy and simply ask for Prozac, 40mg, and get it without ANY side effect information and or doctors note).