A Profession Run Amok

By Nicholas Regush

February 16, 2002 - There is no drug that can cure modern psychiatry. This is a profession that is close to routinely practicing medical terrorism by shamelessly over-prescribing drugs to people of all ages, often for phantom diseases and for purposes that have no rational basis in science.

Whatís needed is something akin to a War Crimes Tribunal to investigate psychiatryís relationship to major pharmaceutical companies. Haul all the big product champions and psychiatry associations in and determine their involvement with money-grubbing schemes and the abuse of patients. And let me re-emphasize this point: this is a medical specialty that is second to none in ripping off and abusing patients.

The situation has long been out-of-control. It is no longer a matter of a few bad apples screwing everyone left and right. Itís become a full-scale assault on humanity.

The sad part of this story is that some people with moderate problems can be helped Ė however scattershot the effects of various drugs on the brain are Ė when thoughtful doctors truly prescribe carefully and conservatively and cut back or stop the medication at the first signs that there are problems brewing. But thatís not how she blows. Psychiatric drug prescription has become a free-for-all.

The companies are very bold about their products because they know they have a sizeable portion of the so-called "profession" on the take. They have bought the opinion leaders. They have bought the journals, the editors and reviewers and they have bought the science. They have made peer review a joke. The companies know that these drones will come out of hiding at the drop of a dollar bill and defend the product unequivocally and also attack those who have the nerve to raise fundamental questions about prescribing habits.

Which brings to mind an incident that occurred when Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, wrote a book a couple of years ago called Prozac Backlash. Not a bought physician, Glenmullen raised some important issues about Prozac, including the fact that the numerous side-effects of Prozac and the other antidepressants are very poorly tracked. In other words, pepper patients with drugs and then forget about what may be happening to them.

I got interested in the book because I have, over the years, found so few doctors willing to raise issues, particularly those that challenge drug companies.

Eli Lilly and company, Prozacís manufacturer, denounced the book as loaded with "omissions," "half-truths," and "anecdotes."

I contacted Eli Lilly about their claims and they referred me to several "impartial" doctors who could comment on Glenmullenís claims. One of them told me that there were "gross exaggerations" in the book, although after hitting him with some direct questions, he fessed up that he had only skimmed about 70 of the 386 pages. This "bought" bozo was obviously shilling for Eli Lilly. And so were the other two drones who I interviewed.

On the subject of Eli Lilly, I once received a call from a company bigwig after I produced a piece on Prozac for World News Tonight With Peter Jennings. The report essentially indicated that much of Prozacís action could be explained away as being no more stirring than what could be expected from a placebo. The caller tried to intimidate me. You know, Mr. Offended. My Drug Company I Live For Thee. I told him that if he had contrary data that he should ship it to us at World News immediately. That had pretty much the same effect as telling him to take a hike.

This is what it has come to: a huge marketing enterprise that tries to control the reality surrounding what little science there is to prove its product claims. Add to the recipe all the "professional" sycophants and movers-and-groovers with their grubby little hands held out for their next perks, and thatís modern psychiatry.

Back in the 70s, there was indeed a sign of hope that this "profession" could make great progress. Moderately-effective drugs began to appear on the market. But unfortunately, the brain, that extraordinarily complex communications system, in our skull has proved to be much more protective of its secrets, and remains poorly understood.

At a time when it appeared that brain science would rapidly begin to unlock some of those secrets, psychiatry got bold and became co-opted by a drug industry that behaved as though some of the mysteries had actually been solved. And that co-optation is at the heart of psychiatryís grand collapse. It opted for filthy bucks and lies, and the inevitable explosion of drug prescriptions, rather than slow and careful progress.

Is it any surprise that the "profession" has gone full-tilt at children? The vast overprescription of Ritalin and other mind drugs to kids, even babies, is an obvious indication of just how far the corruption has festered in psychiatry. Children with problems that often may be related to bad home environments and rotten teaching are now being criminally abused with Ritalin. Given half a chance, modern psychiatry will have 50 per cent or more of school kids on attention deficit disorder-type drugs before long. In one recent report from the National Institute of Environmental Health Resources, as merely one example, "more than 15 per cent of boys in grades one through five had been diagnosed with ADHD and about 10 per cent (or two-thirds of those diagnosed) were taking medication.

The American Psychiatric Association, a whorish group with huge ties to industry, has been claiming that three to four percent of those kids were diagnosed as ADHD.

In fact, bring on a War Crimes Tribunal, first for the abusive prescription of Ritalin and then letís work our way through the abusive prescription of antidepressants.


From Nicholas Regush, Editor,

February 23, 2002 - After hearing from hundreds of people this week who read my column, Insane Psychiatry, it comes as an easy task to award this week's SCREAM to the American Psychiatric Association. There are obviously many people who believe they have been the victims of this medical society's preoccupation with questionable pharmaceutical approaches to illness, both real and imagined.

A couple of years ago, I had written one of my regular columns at about the vast over-prescription of mind drugs. One of my critics was Dr. Rodrigo Munoz, then President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). For example, he defended the prescription of mind drugs to children and teens unequivocally. My retort was that he was way in over his head and was clearly unaware of how inadequate his knowledge was of scientific issues related to such widespread prescription, particularly the prescription of antidepressants to teens. I then challenged him to a debate on the merits of the science.

Over a period of several weeks and a back-and-forth of emails, Munoz finally agreed to meet me in a debate at an APA function in New Orleans. The idea was to web-cast this event so that people around the world could listen to and watch the debate. For reasons that are still unclear to me, the event never took place - and I never heard again from Munoz.

I might have expected as much. As someone who has reported on medicine for more than twenty-five years, I have learned that an MD attached to someone's name can sometimes mean as little as buying a degree at some mill. The public should never assume that all those years in medical school produce someone whose intellect is functioning on a reasonable number of cylinders. Not to put too fine a point on it, I have discovered in my years as a medical journalist that psychiatrists often compensate for their lack of intellect by turning pretentiously to a body of incomplete and questionable esoteric knowledge about how the brain works - which is, of course, the gateway to pill prescription.

So, here's the challenge to the American Psychiatric Association. Volunteer your best expert on your staff and I'll debate him/her on the scientific merits underlying the widely-held viewpoint in psychiatry that one of five individuals in the United States suffers from a diagnosable mental illness in any six-month period. I consider this statistic to be monstrous and fueled by what some people might refer to as "pig pharma."

Contact me at and we'll set up the conditions of the debate and the location. Let's see if we can actually pull this debate off. Let's see if the APA has the guts to face an experienced journalist.