The Mothers Act Disease Mongering Campaign – Part IV
Thursday, August 27, 2009 by: Evelyn Pringle, health freedom writer
(NaturalNews) This is part four of an article series by Evelyn Pringle. Find previous parts here: Part One (http://www.naturalnews.com/026634_d…), Part Two (http://www.naturalnews.com/026707_h…) and Part Three (http://www.naturalnews.com/026742_d…). What follows is the full text of part four:
The Mothers Act campaign has evolved into the most rabid gang of disease mongers seen in recent years, likely due to its 8-year existence.
In the 2002 paper titled, “Selling sickness: the pharmaceutical industry and disease mongering,” in the British Medical Journal, Ray Moynihan, Iona Heath, and David Henry, describe the mechanisms of the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign to a tee when explaining that:
“Within many disease categories informal alliances have emerged, comprising drug company staff, doctors, and consumer groups. Ostensibly engaged in raising public awareness about underdiagnosed and undertreated problems, these alliances tend to promote a view of their particular condition as widespread, serious, and treatable.”
“A key strategy of the alliances is to target the news media with stories designed to create fears about the condition or disease and draw attention to the latest treatment. Company sponsored advisory boards supply the “independent experts” for these stories, consumer groups provide the “victims,” and public relations companies provide media outlets with the positive spin about the latest “breakthrough” medication.”
The A Team
In review, the main leaders of the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign include Susan Dowd Stone and Karen Kleiman, two social workers who own treatment centers recruiting customers via their websites, PerinatalPro and Postpartum Stress Center, and who also sell books. The two most prominent “victims” or “human faces” in the campaign are Katherine Stone with the “Postpartum Progress,” website and Lauren Hale with a site called “Sharing the Journey.”
All the websites follow the lead of a group called, “Pospartum Support International,” and parrot the buzz words and phrases invented by the self-interested specialists and experts, such as “women’s reproductive mental health,” and “pregnancy related mood disorders,” and “reproductive psychiatry.”
Old Chemical Imbalance in the Brain Scam
On July 7, 2006, in discussing a press release for book in which: “Mothers share their challenges with sleep deprivation, anxiety, colicky and ill babies, and other issues that sent them into a downward spiral,” Katherine Stone wrote on Postpartum Progress:
“In my opinion, I consider chemical brain imbalances to be the source of sending us into a downward spiral, not colicky babies and sleep deprivation as the press release seems to infer. Those things just make the experience worse.”
Dr David Stein, a professor of psychology and criminal justice at Virginia State University, and author of, “Unraveling the ADD/ADHD Fiasco,” has taught psychopharmacology for 25 years. One of the greatest myths about mental disorders, is that they are caused by a chemical imbalance, he says.
“The myth is founded on some of the tricks that are pulled in so-called scientific research in psychology and psychiatry,” he explains.
“The manipulation of research has become one of the most powerful and most unethical marketing tools ever devised,” he says. “Not one study can be replicated at the testing labs of hospitals or by laboratories involved in clinical patient care.”
“Replication is a basic step for all sciences,” Dr Stein explains.
When a drug alleviates a certain condition, such as depression and anxiety, patients are told that the drug is correcting a chemical imbalance. “However, this type of logic is not permitted in true science,” Dr Stein reports.
To simplify the point, he provides the analogy of people drinking alcohol, which is a sedative drug, and experiencing relief from anxiety. “Can we say that alcohol clears up chemical imbalances that cause anxiety?”, he points out.
If so, Dr Stein says, “then the entire human race is running around with chemical imbalances.”
“This type of logic is not permitted within proper scientific circles,” he says. “Sadly, proper scientific circles are evaporating within psychiatry and psychology.”
As part of this overall disease mongering scheme, the Mothers Act campaign has now taken aim at new fathers. All the gals provide links to the “PostpartumMen,” website. And in return, PostpartumMen dedicates a whole webpage to promoting the Mothers Act, complete with a link that takes readers directly to the website of Susan Stone’s treatment center.
“PostpartumMen is a place for men with concerns about depression, anxiety or other problems with mood after the birth of a child,” according to its website.
Dr Will Courtenay runs the site. Courtenay is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has served on the clinical faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and the University of California, San Francisco, Medical School, according to his bio.
“Yes, men do get postpartum depression,” he writes on PostpartumMen.
“It’s a fact that most people – and even many health professionals – don’t know,” he claims.
“Depression, anxiety or other problems with mood can occur anytime during the first year of your child’s life,” he tells men.
“The truth is, depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are common,” he states. “In fact, they’re just as common – and just as real – as physical problems, like heart disease and diabetes.”
“It really pains me to see so many men suffering alone, in silence,” Courtenay says on PostpartumMen. “Especially since depression, anxiety and the other mental health problems that afflict us are treatable.”
For men, the newly coined disorder is called “paternal postpartum depression,” and referred to as “PPND.”
“Up to 1 in 4 new dads have PPND,” Courtenay tells readers on PostpartumMen. “In the United States alone, that amounts to 2,700 new fathers who become depressed every day.”
And as it turns out, Courtenay hosts a total of six websites for men, accessible with live links from PostpartumMen, including one for his “Men’s Health Consulting,” firm.
In advertising for this firm, he provides a webpage on, “Media Coverage of Dr. Will Courtenay,” and posts selective remarks and comments made regarding himself or PPND and men.
For instance, this description of himself was listed as coming from Newsweek: “An expert on why fathers can also become depressed after the birth of a child, and what couples can do about it.”
“Each day in the U.S., 1,000 new dads become depressed, and according to some studies that number is as high as 3,000,” was posted as coming from CNN.
According to the above, at 3,000 new dads per day, times 365 days year, a potential 1,095,000 new customers could be recruited each year for the “Reproductive Psychiatry” industry, via the PPND component of the disease mongering campaign alone.
On the Media Coverage page, Courtenay also provides a link to a May 14, 2008, Parent Map article titled, “Sad dads: postpartum depression in men,” in which he states: “Men need to know that this can happen to them, and that if it does happen to them, there are other people out there experiencing it, too.”
This article says Courtenay publishes a website about “postpartum depression among dads” called “www.saddaddy.com.” However, when clicking on the saddaddy link, PostpartumMen comes up today.
And surely by coincidence, Courtenay will soon have a new book for sale titled, “Sad Dads,” which he is currently writing, according to his bio on the consulting firm’s website.
“If you’d like to arrange an individual consultation with Dr. Courtenay, please call 415-346-6719,” the PostpartumMen website states.
And apparently postpartum depression in dads is catchy. “If you’re experiencing PPND, it increases the likelihood that your partner is also depressed,” Courtenay informs men on his website.
“It’s important that she get help for herself as well,” he kindly advises.
He then provides a link to a page with resources “specifically for women,” where Kleiman’s Postpartum Stress Center just happens to be listed as specializing “in the diagnosis and treatment of prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety disorders,” along with a clickable link to the center’s website.
On the StorkNet website, where Kleiman dishes out disease mongering tidbits on a regular basis, she does her part to promote PPND by telling readers: “Yes, absolutely dads can get depressed after the birth of a baby. We just don’t hear a lot about it.”
“PPND is a very serious condition,” Courtenay states on PostpartumMen. “But it’s also a very treatable condition.”
“If left untreated,” he warns, “PPND can result in damaging, long-term consequences for yourself, your child, and your family as a whole.”
Men who think they might have it can click on a link and be screened right on the spot, for free no less.
“Do YOU have PPND? Complete the PPND Assessment and find out,” the website tell men.
In fact, Courtenay is running the “Dads’ Postpartum Depression Study,” on his website, “in collaboration with the Center for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School.”
“You are invited to participate in a research study conducted by Dr. Will Courtenay, an internationally recognized scholar in understanding men,” the website tells men.
“Upon completion, you will receive a score from an assessment for postpartum mood disorders,” the consent form states. “This will allow you to determine whether you might be suffering from anxiety or depression.”
Respected Researchers support the Mothers Act
No psychotropic drug is FDA approved as safe for use by pregnant and nursing mothers, meaning every prescription written to these women is off-label. The drug makers cannot legally push their drugs for unapproved uses to doctors or consumers so they simply hire a few highly paid quacks to do it.
Then these quacks will drag a “human face” along for drama when giving seminars or public interviews. For instance, on February 26, 2009, Katherine wrote a Postpartum Progress blog with the headline: “Interview Today on Postpartum Depression & Related Illnesses”.
“Getting ready to go do interview with CNN/Turner Private Networks for the CNN Accent Health Network that appears in doctors’ offices and reaches more than 140 million viewers each year,” she told readers.
“They will also be interviewing Dr. Zachary Stowe from the Emory Women’s Mental Health Program,” Katherine added, with a live link to Stowe’s Emory program.
Not mentioned is the recently revealed matter that Stowe, the director of the Emory Women’s Program, made a quarter million dollars from the Paxil maker alone in 2007 and 2008, and failed to disclose the majority of those earnings to Emory University.
The “National Institute of Mental Health said it is reviewing Stowe’s activities, prompted by a letter from a U.S. Senate committee that said Stowe received $253,700 in 2007 and 2008 for “essentially promotional talks” for the drug maker GlaxoSmithKline,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on June 11, 2009.
One of Stowe’s emails that turned up in litigation, dated September 19, 2003, shows his nicer side when demanding to be paid for promotional talks he never gave for Glaxo because they were apparently canceled due to lack of interest.
“I do not want to be a prick,” he said, “but given the time and frustration, I think she should arrange to pay me for both talks, as noted in my last email to her.”
On October 17, 2008, Katherine appeared at a “Perinatal Depression Conference,” in Chicago with another “prominent speaker,” Dr Lee Cohen, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health, and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, put on by the Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Postpartum Depression Foundation.
Other featured speakers who have appeared at seminars sponsored or co-sponsored by the same Foundation include Zachary Stowe, and Dr Katherine Wisner, according to the Foundation’s website.
In February 2006, Cohen was the lead author on a paper titled, “Relapse of Major Depression During Pregnancy in Women Who Maintain or Discontinue Antidepressant Treatment,” published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association,” for a study that claimed stopping antidepressants could greatly increase the risk of pregnant women relapsing into depression.
A few months after the study was published, the July 11, 2006, Wall Street Journal revealed the obvious motives of the “experts” who authored the paper in wanting pregnant women to stay on antidepressants.
The Journal reported that, “the study and resulting television and newspaper reports of the research failed to note that most of the 13 authors are paid as consultants or lecturers by the makers of antidepressants,” and “the authors failed to disclose more than 60 different financial relationships with drug companies.”
The Journal noted that Cohen was a longtime consultant to 3 antidepressant makers, a paid speaker for 7, and his research work was funded by 4 drug companies. Adele Viguera, associate director of the Mass General perinatal psychiatry program and professor at Harvard, also did not disclose a paid speaking relationship with Paxil maker GlaxoSmithKline.
Among the most significant absent disclosures found, were those of Dr Lori Altshuler, director of the Mood Disorders Research Program at UCLA, who was a speaker or consultant for at least five antidepressant makers. “Two of her colleagues — Vivien Burt and Victoria Hendrick — were also authors who didn’t report financial relationships they have with antidepressant makers,” the report said.
JAMA has required authors to list all financial interests since 1990, and publishes the disclosures. In an online editorial in July 2006, JAMA editor, Dr Catherine DeAngelis, announced her intention to enforce disclosure policies in part, by publicizing any author’s failure to follow the rules and specifically noted that 3 consecutive nondisclosures involved authors from Harvard, and included the Cohen study.
The financial ties of the authors to the drug makers was brought to the attention of JAMA by Dr Adam Urato, and a letter from Dr Urato was published in JAMA, stating that since the study dealt in part with the question of pregnant women stopping antidepressants, the readers should be aware of the potential for pro-drug bias.
In the case of SSRI use by pregnant women, the Journal noted that the industry-paid opinion leaders have become dominant authorities in the field, and explained that:
“They help establish clinical guidelines, sit on editorial boards of medical journals, advise government agencies evaluating antidepressants and teach courses on the subject to other doctors.”
Ironically, the only financial relationships disclosed were for Zachary Stowe and Jeffrey Newport of the Women’s Mental Health Program at Emory. However, nowhere was it revealed that Stowe might be raking in a quarter million dollars from each drug company, and Newport’s list of disclosures on financial ties to drug makers is every bit as long as Stowe’s.
In blogs on Postpartum Progress, Katherine Stone refers to Newport as her shrink.
Emory’s bio page for Newport shows he received an Eli Lilly Fellowship from the Society of Biological Psychiatry, an Eli Lilly Psychiatric Research Fellowship from the American Psychiatric Association, and a “Psychiatry Resident of the Year Award,” from Pfizer.
Newport also received a “Young Investigator Award,” from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD). Eli Lilly’s 2007 grant reports shows a $15,000 donation to NARSAD in one quarter and second $15,000 grant in another. The 2008 grant report lists a $15,000 donation, two $5,000 grants, and another $100,000 donation to NARSAD.
In her book, “Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders,” Susan Stone tells readers: “Respected university medical centers conducting research and offering education include Emory University School of Medicine (website address inserted) and Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health (website address inserted).”
On April 14, 2009, the Harvard’s website for the Mass General program posted a blog with the headline, “Postpartum Depression Legislation Still Needs Your Support,” with the message that “Susan Dowd Stone, fomer president of Postpartum Support International, has taken the lead in putting together a petition of those who support the MOTHERS Act,” and listed Susan’s email address to sign the petition.
The website for the Women’s program also includes a link to the “Screening for Mental Health,” website, where SMH is described as:
“SMH is a non-profit organization that provides screenings for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, suicide intervention, alcohol problems and eating disorders. These programs are designed for community and mental health sites, employers, health care organizations, colleges/universities and high schools.”
Tax returns show drug companies have provided this “non-profit” with at least $4,985,925 up to 2008
Eli Lilly’s grant report for 2007, lists three grants of $24,250, $50,000 and $50,000 to SMH. In 2008, SMH received donations from Lilly worth $100,000.
And Speaking of Harvard
On September 27, 2007, the New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct reported that Dr Jack Gorman, now the former president and psychiatrist-in-chief of Harvard University’s McLean Hospital, in charge of psychiatry at the other Harvard-affiliated hospitals in the Partners HealthCare system, was found guilty of negligence on more than one occasion for engaging in “inappropriate sexual contact with a patient.” A month later he surrendered his right to practice medicine in Massachusetts.
Gorman was instrumental in both selling the diseases, and promoting SSRIs to treat, Social Anxiety Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder, as well as “Compulsive Shopping Disorder,” in conjunction with Katherine Stone’s former employer, the Cohn & Wolfe public relations firm hired by Glaxo.
On June 9, 2008, with a headline, “Harvard doctors’ studies tainted,” the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote: “Harvard Medical School doctors who helped pioneer the use of psychiatric drugs in children violated U.S. government and school rules by failing to properly disclose at least $3.2 million from drugmakers led by Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly & Co., a U.S. senator said.”
An investigation by the US Senate Finance Committee found Dr Joseph Biederman earned about $1.6 million from drug companies between 2000 and 2007, but failed to report about $1.4 million on forms filed with the school. Doctors, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens, raked in a combined $2.6 million in the same time period.
Biederman, Spencer and Wilens are major proponents for the validity of the bogus “Adult ADHD” diagnosis, with claims that over 4% of the population in the US has it.
Moving right along, Dr Jeffrey Bostic, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and the medical director of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project at Massachusetts General, became the “star spokesman” for Forest Labs in the promotion of Celexa and Lexapro for unapproved uses with children from 1999 through 2006, according to a lawsuit filed in February 2009, by the US Department of Justice, charging the company with defrauding the government of millions of dollars by illegally marketing the drugs off-label for kids.
Between 2000 and 2006, “Forest paid Bostic over $750,000 in honoraria for his presentations on Celexa and Lexapro,” the complaint reports. Bostic gave more than 350 Forest-sponsored talks and presentations in 28 states, many of which addressed the pediatric use of Celexa and Lexapro.
On March 13, 2009, Bloomberg News reported that, “Harvard Medical School doctor Lee Simon, accused last year of plagiarizing a scientific article on immune disease, has resigned.”
On April 10, 2009, the Wall Street Journal health blog announced: “More news on the research-fabrication front.” Robert Fogel, “a former assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, fabricated and falsified data in a study of sleep apnea in severely obese patients, the Office of Research Integrity at HHS said,” the Journal noted.
Fogel “has been disciplined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for falsifying as much as half of the data he used for a Harvard study on sleep apnea in morbidly obese patients,” the Harvard Crimson reported on April 9, 2009.
In March 2009, as part of the Senate Finance Committee investigation, Senator Charles Grassley asked Pfizer to provide details of its payments to roughly 150 faculty members at Harvard Medical School since January 2007.
Disease Mongering in the Media
In an April 11, 2006, paper in PLoS Medicine, Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz of Dartmouth, point out that discussions “about disease mongering usually focus on the role of pharmaceutical companies — how they promote disease and their products through “disease awareness” campaigns and direct-to-consumer drug advertising, and by funding disease advocacy groups.”
“But diseases also get promoted in another way,” they note, “through the news media.”
“Unless journalists approach stories about new diseases skeptically and look out for disease mongering by the pharmaceutical industry, pharmaceutical consultants, and advocacy groups,” they warn, “journalists, too, may end up selling sickness.”
Journalists “should be very wary when confronted with a new or expanded disease affecting large numbers of people,” they said, in words certainly applicable to the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign.
“If a disease is common and very bothersome, it is hard to believe that no one would have noticed it before,” they aptly point out.
“Prevalence estimates are easy to exaggerate by broadening the definition of disease,” they advise.
“Journalists should also reflexively question whether more diagnosis is always a good thing,” they said. “Simply labeling people with disease has negative consequences.”
“Similarly, journalists should question the assumption that treatment always makes sense,” they state. “Medical treatments always involve trade-offs; people with mild symptoms have little to gain, and treatment may end up causing more harm than good.”
“Finally,” the authors note, “instead of extreme, unrepresentative anecdotes about miracle cures, journalists should help readers understand how well the treatment works (e.g., what is the chance that I will feel better if I take the medicine versus if I do not?) and what problems it might cause.”
“Sick people stand to benefit from treatment, but healthy people may only get hurt: they get labeled “sick,” may become anxious about their condition, and, if they are treated, may experience side effects that overwhelm any potential benefit,” they point out.
However, relaying any information in the media contrary to the propaganda pumped out by the rabid disease mongers running the Mothers Act campaign has proven to be easier said than done.
Time Magazine Blasted
In July, 2009, Time Magazine published a great article by Catherine Elton titled, “Postpartum Depression: Do All Moms Need Screening?”
Elton reported that “the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act, familiarly known as the Mothers Act, has passed the House and is headed for the Senate.”
“If it becomes law, it will mandate the funding of research, education and public-service announcements about postpartum depression (PPD) along with services for women who have it,” she explained.
In the article, Elton accurately reported the arguments put forth by people for and against the Act, and summarized the story of the Malanie Blocker-Stokes, the woman the bill is named after.
“The legislation has sparked surprisingly heated debate, dividing psychologists and spurring a war of petition drives aimed at either bolstering the bill or blocking its passage,” Elton pointed out.
“At the root of the dissent is the issue of screening,” she noted. “Does PPD screening identify cases of real depression or simply contribute to the potentially dangerous medicalization of motherhood?”
“Although the current version of the Mothers Act does not specifically include funding for PPD testing, an earlier one did (it was based on a New Jersey law that mandates universal PPD screening), and critics say the new act will naturally lead to greater use of screening if it passes,” she correctly reported
“Opponents of the bill contend that mental-health screens are notoriously prone to giving false positives — research suggests that as few as one-third of women flagged by a PPD screen actually have the condition — and say testing is a gambit by pharmaceutical companies to sell more drugs,” Elton accurately pointed out.
“But clinicians and researchers say screening is intended not as a diagnostic tool but as a way to identify patients who need further evaluation,” she said. “Studies suggest that PPD affects as many as 1 out of 7 mothers and that failing to treat it exposes women and their babies to unwarranted risk.”
“Postpartum depression is not a benign, uncommon thing. We screen all infants for [the genetic disorder] phenylketonuria, which is extremely rare. Why don’t we screen women for this?” asked University of Pittsburgh Medical Center psychiatrist Katherine Wisner, in the article.
“Why?” Elton wrote. “Because increased screening could lead to an increase in mothers being prescribed psychiatric medication unnecessarily.”
“That concern lies close to the heart of Amy Philo, 31, of Texas, who has become a leader of the anti–Mothers Act movement,” she reported.
“In 2004, shortly after her first son was born, he choked on his vomit and needed emergency treatment,” the article explained.
“Her son recovered, but after the incident, Philo became preoccupied with his safety and felt severe anxiety about protecting him — a common symptom of PPD.”
“After a one-minute conversation with my doctor,” Amy told Time, “he gave me Zoloft and said it would make me and my baby happy.”
“But Philo says she started having suicidal and homicidal thoughts, which got stronger when another doctor raised her dosage,” Elton wrote.
However, Amy explains that Zoloft caused problems that never existed, it did not “make them worse.”
The drug caused me to turn from “a worried mother after my son almost died in the ER, into a psychotic, homicidal, suicidal person,” she says, and it got worse when the dose was upped.
Eventually, Amy “weaned herself off the drug, and her violent feelings disappeared,” Time noted.
“What TIME failed to disclose is that Dr. Wisner is listed on the speakers bureau for Pfizer and Lilly, makers of the antidepressants, Zoloft and Prozac–drugs that carry Black Box label warnings about increased risks of suicide, ” Vera Hassner Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, pointed out in a June 15, 2009, infomail to the group’s mailing list.
“Doctors who serve on pharmaceutical speaker’s bureaus give “promotional talks” on behalf of the company that pays them–the service they render for pay is to advertise drugs to other doctors–despite the confirmed evidence of these drugs serious hazards,” she explains.
Wisner is a main promoter of mandatory screening of new mothers for mental disorders. In a December 2006 editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Wisner recommended “that the United States take steps to implement a universal screening program, in which all women are screened between two- and 12-weeks postpartum,” her University reported in a December 5, 2006, disease mongering press release titled, “JAMA Editorial Notes Childbearing Presents Unique Vulnerability for Psychiatric Illness, Making Effective Screening, Education and Treatment Essential.”
“Those presenting with symptoms of a psychiatric disorder should be treated immediately after diagnosis,” Dr Wisner said in the news release.
Five months before her editorial called for “universal screening,” Medical News Today ran the headline: “Commonly Used Anti-depressants Safe And Effective For Treating Postpartum Depression,” on August 5, 2006, for a study led by Wisner in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.
The Alliance for Human Research Protection is one of more than 50 advocacy groups in a coalition, organized by Amy Philo, that have come out against the Mothers Act. Other prominent members of the coalition include: AbleChild, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology; International Coalition For Drug Awareness; Law Project for Psychiatric Rights; and Mindfreedom International.
Amy Liked It
“Catherine Elton did a fantastic job of showing both sides in a fair light,” Amy wrote about the Time article in a blog on her website.
“She tells the truth about the treatment given to Melanie Stokes, about my experience with Zoloft, and about screening,” she pointed out.
“People who would otherwise never think twice if their doctor hands them a prescription for psych drugs will see this article and perhaps be saved because of it,” she noted.
“But this does not sit well with people who make a living marketing disorders to the public,” Amy wrote.
Plan of Attack
Likely unbeknownst to even Amy, a well-orchestrated plan of attack against Elton, Time Magazine, and Amy herself, was already well underway.
On July 12, 2009, Lauren Hale sprung into action on her website with the headline: “TIME Magazine misfires debate on MOTHER’S Act.”
Hale went so far as to give women specific instructions to make sure the Time article was not read, and wrote: “I am personally asking you to boycott – even asking if you can take the copy of TIME home from the doctor’s office in order to keep other moms from reading it!”
“And make sure you ASK – because just taking it would be stealing and that’s illegal,” she added.
“I happen to know that Ms. Elton did indeed interview fellow survivors who support the bill,” Hale informed readers of her website.
“One has to wonder then,” she said, “why did their stories not make it into the article? Was it length? Was it editing? Or was it intentional?”
“The only survivor story featured in this article is that of Amy Philo,” Hale wrote, “one of five recipients of an Outstanding Achievement for Mothers’ and Children’s Rights awards from the Citizens Commision on Human Rights or CCHR.”
“CCHR was founded in 1969 by none other than the Church of Scientology, well-known to oppose the entire psychiatric field,” she continued. On July 13, 2009, Amy responded to Hale in a blog on the Hale’s website with the following comments:
“Actually Lauren, I was one of five women to receive a group award called “Outstanding Achievement for Mothers’ and Children’s Rights.”
“The other women include two who lost children to antidepressants and ADHD medications, and two who were targeted by schools and CPS for refusing to allow their children to be drugged with antidepressants and ADHD meds.”
“I am by far the least of these women, but thanks for bringing up my award,” Amy said. “I was honored to be recognized by an amazing mental health watchdog group.”
“I am not a member of CCHR, but I have zero problems with their group,” she continued. “Their membership includes both Scientologists and non-Scientologists.”
“I think it’s hilarious that you choose to bring up Scientology,” Amy said. “Especially considering that many of your friends received awards from drug companies.”
On July 13, 2009, on Postpartum Progress, Katherine Stone ran the headline, “Time Magazine Skips the Facts about Postpartum Depression,” and wrote in part: “Time completely blew it.”
“The editors should really be ashamed of themselves for allowing an article on a topic that they clearly knew so little about to be published,” she stated.
Katherine concluded her blog by telling readers: “If you haven’t already written to them to express your displeasure, you should,” and conveniently provided a live link to send a letter to Time.
“If you’d like to send me your letter I will be happy to share it on Postpartum Progress,” she kindly told letter writers.
Katherine would in fact go on to post a total of 6 such letters (at last count), on PostPartum Progress over the next couple weeks.
On July 15, 2009, Hale reported on her website: “I fired off a letter to TIME over the weekend.”
“Katherine Stone has graciously published the full text over at her blog, Postpartum Progress,” she told readers, and “graciously” provided a link to her letter on Katherine’s site.
On July 15, 2009, Katherine also posted “A Mother’s Letter to Time Magazine,” from a women named Kim Rogers.
“For every Amy Philo, there are 100 women who support and understand the importance of the MOTHERS Act,” Kim wrote.”I was very disappointed to not even see one of them represented.”
On July 15, 2009, Medical News Today highlighted the discussion in the Time article with a report under the headline: “Bill Fuels Debate Over Universal Screening For Postpartum Depression.”
The next day, Hale posted a response on the Medical News website with a heading: “Over 50+ Women’s Advocates And Professionals Disappointed In TIME Article.”
“When the TIME article, “The Melancholy of Motherhood” was first published online, myself and several others immediately rallied to send TIME a letter to point out many of the article’s shortcomings,” she said.
“This letter, authored by none other than Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress, advises TIME of several mistakes and oversights within the article,” she reported.
“All of us were deeply disheartened by the lack of information and one-sided presentation of this debate by TIME Magazine,” she continued.
“I am even further disappointed,” Hale said, “to read an even more lacking rehash of an already inaccurate article here at Medical News Today, a normally reliable resource.”
“I sincerely hope readers of this article will also choose to click the following URL to read our Open Letter to TIME in order to obtain further facts and information regarding the MOTHER’S Act and the TIME article,” she wrote, above a link to Postpartum Progress.
For starters, Katherine’s letter shows only 47 signatures. And of those, eleven women are listed with books to sell. Fifteen are hooked in with Postpartum Support International, as a past or current office holder, coordinator, or chairperson of affiliated groups, and many run websites or support groups
Only four names among the 47 signatures are listed as simply being a mother.
After Katherine posted the open letter to Time on Postpartum Progress, replies to it included one by a John Smith, who stated: “You know Time is abjectly derelict in its duty when it offers, as the “opposing side,” a person who seems to be an obvious Scientology sympathizer, Amy Philo.”
“Did they do no research at all? Do they not understand the importance of vetting sources?” Smith wrote.
“Do they not realize that mentally ill people don’t always have a grip on reality?” he stated, in an obvious dig against Amy, without mentioning that Amy was not mentally ill prior to taking Zoloft, after being screened by a home visiting nurse who told her take drugs to “prevent” PPD.
Internet Battle Breaks Out
On July 13, 2009, with a headline that read, “Motherhood is Not a Medical Disorder,” Dr Douglas Bremner discussed the Time article on a website called the “Drug and Health Safety News Blog.”
Bremner is a professor of psychiatry and radiology at Emory University, the director of the Emory Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, and the director of Mental Health Research at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. He also wrote the not too Pharma friendly book titled, “Before You Take That Pill: Why the Drug Industry May Be Bad for Your Health.”
In discussing the Time article, Bremner pointed out that the Mother’s Act legislation was “initiated in response to the story of Melanie Blocker-Stokes, who leaped to her death from her hotel room in Chicago three months after the birth of her daughter.”
“Officially known as the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Post Partum Depression Research and Care Act, but referred to as the Mother’s Act, this legislation would require screening of all women post-partum for depression,” he wrote, and further explained:
“The problem with this is the attitude that being a mother is a risk factor for a psychiatric disorder. First of all, there is no evidence that women without a prior history of anxiety and depression have any increased risk of getting post partum depression. So to screen all moms as if giving birth is a risk factor for depression is ridiculous.”
“And whenever you start screening the general population,” he warned, “you get into problems with over-identification of people and an increase in the number of people that go on antidepressants.”
“I am opposed to mandatory screenings of the population, like Teenscreen, which are bonanzas for the pharmaceutical industry, but a major intrusion into the privacy and autonomy of American citizens,” Bremner said.
“In the case of Melanie Blocker-Stokes,” he wrote, “she had already been treated with multiple courses of psychotropic drugs and electro-convulsive therapy, so there is no reason to think that her life would have been saved by ‘screening'”.
On July 14, 2009, psychologist, John Grohol, took Bremner to task on the website, PsychCentral, with the headline: “Bremner’s False Claims about Postpartum Depression.”
“My BS alert goes off whenever someone tries to change the argument from a reasonable effort to help increase education and information about a stigmatized mental health issue, to hyperbole, suggesting that a piece of legislation is trying to turn motherhood into a psychiatric disorder,” Grohol reported.
“It goes off again,” he said, “when a professional makes an extraordinary claim like, ‘there is no evidence that women without a prior history of anxiety and depression have any increased risk of getting post partum [sic] depression.'”
“These are objective researchers calling for more screenings,” Grohol claimed. “Not politicians. And not people (or professionals) with a political agenda.”
The Mothers Act disease mongers will often initiate debates about topics like the Time article but then censor the comments of bloggers who try to post contrary views. When Bremner was blocked from responding to Grohol’s comments on PsychCentral, Bremner opened up the debate on his own site and stated: “Motherhood is STILL Not a Medical Disorder: Response to Critics.”
An all-out blogging war then erupted on the competing websites. On July 14, 2009, a guy named Frank Lee wrote on PsychCentral: “As far as I can tell, the ringleaders of the anti-Mothers Act movement are the anti-psychiatry, anti-medication, anti-the-brain-is-an-organ crowd.”
“Legitimate researchers and mental health experts may regard them as “Internet nutters,” in the words of one highly published psychiatrist,” he claimed. “Their views may sound so ridiculous to educated (and sane) people that they are dismissed outright.”
“But, unfortunately,” he noted, “they have a lot of time on their hands, and they gather force on the Internet and make their voices known — and LOUDLY.”
“The fact is,” Lee said, “a significant percentage of the American population has untreated mental disorders.”
“But many of them have been treated — and treated hamhandedly by ignorant physicians,” he added. ‘These former patients are angry — and LOUD.”
“Some, no doubt, blame their current disordered mental state on medication when in fact it is the natural progression of their disorder,” Lee said.
“Some are simply so selfish they will deprive others of the chance for medical care simply because treatment for theirs didn’t work out so well,” he wrote. “Selfish. Selfish. Selfish.”
“But that’s the way many mental disorders are — selfish,” Lee added.
“We need to recognize these people as the sick minds that they are,” he said, “or all progress is lost.”
“It’s a SCREENING, you wingnuts,” Lee announced.
“Learn to read,” he told the wingnuts. “And take your medication. And shut up.”
In writing on Bremner’s site, Gina Pera, who has a book to hawk on Adult ADHD, also basically claimed that statements and opinions about the Mothers Act, by Amy and people like her, should be ignored because these people are mentally ill.
“We cannot make public-policy decisions based on the stories of people who have been diagnosed with mental health disorders and treated for them,” she wrote.
“Sorry, but it’s true,” she added.
“Many mental health disorders limit objectivity,” Pera states, “so these people are just not the best judges of what has been done to them and why.”
“They can have their stories and they can share them,” she said. “But we can’t make policy on this kind of hearsay and paranoia.”
On PsychCentral, the mental health expert Pera further explained: “To those who contend that the mentally ill always know they are mentally ill, that flies entirely in the face of all that we know about anosognosia and the denial of illness.”
“Mental illness can — and often does — limit accurate perception of self and others,” she said. “It’s just a fact.”
In a July 15, 2009, post on PsychCentral, John Smith jumped on the bandwagon and wrote: “These bloggers who pander to the Scientology crowd (and their mentally ill ilk) are simply seeking the spotlight, in my opinion. Shameless self-promotion, at the expensive of accurate information.”
“They’re whipping up the hornets’ nest and taking no responsibility for their actions” he said. “Despicable.”
In a second blog posted immediately after the first, Smith said: “Check out Ms. Philo’s connection with the Scientology front’s ‘Natural News.'”
“As if it’s not obvious she’s mentally unstable,” he wrote.
“The idea that Time magazine would give her a platform is ridiculous, as if she represents the “other side” of the issue,” Smith said. “She sings straight from the Scientology songbook: off-key.”
After allowing all the attacks to be posted on his site about Amy, when Amy posted truthful information such as Katherine Stone being a paid speaker with money from Zoloft maker Pfizer, Grohol wrote a blog basically warning Amy to knock it off or she would not be allowed to post comments on his site.
“We don’t allow ad hominem or personal attacks here,” he said, “So I suggest that if you want to engage in such, you go elsewhere for your enjoyment.”
It was at this point that Evelyn Pringle (me) felt compelled to enter the debate and wrote: “This from a someone who has allowed people to posted snide remarks and inuendoes to discredit Amy, or anyone else with an opposing view, who has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, rightfully or wrongfully, all over the internet, including here.”
“These people verify everything I have warned about in my articles,” she said. “Once a woman is tagged with a mental illness diagnosis via the Mothers Act, she will lose all credibility for life.”
“In the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign we now have social workers, running treatment centers with websites, diagnosing mental disorders, with 2 and 3 question screening tools, and advising women on which drugs they recommend,” Pringle wrote on PsychCentral on July 16, 2009.
“It’s hard enough to accept that the nation’s mental health is gauged on disorders defined by a single 38,000 member psychiatric professional group,” she said, “delegating the treatment of mental illness to social workers, with a doctor signing off on the diagnosis for billing purposes, is not acceptable.”
Pringle’s comments were also soon blocked on Grohol’s website.
But on July 20, 2009, she wrote on Bremner’s website: “I think every blogger who brings up Scientology should identify their religious faith for the record.”
“As I’ve said many times, I am not a fan of any organized religion, and disagree with the practices of many, but I fail to see what religious beliefs have to do with opposing the Mothers Act legislation,” she wrote.
“For instance,” she said, “I always thought it was ridiculous that Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays (when I was young), get divorced, or use birth control (to name a few).”
“However, being my father was a firm believer in the Catholic religion, I never felt the need to belittle his faith,” she wrote. “I simply decided not to be a Catholic when I grew up.”
“Nor do I feel the need to preface peoples’ name with their religion in a low-ball attempt to win a debate,” Pringle said.
“I disagree with the beliefs of many other religions but who am I to say which one of the world’s millions of religions is correct,” she added.
“Trying to use Scientology as a smoke-screen is really getting old,” Pringle said. “Anyone who is a member of an organized religion should be required to identify that affiliation if they want to make Scientology an issue in this debate.”
On July 22, 2009, a blogger on Bremner’s site named Lisa wrote: “Dr. Bremner, just my opinion, but I suspect the reason you riled Dr. Grohol has to do with the fact that he can’t very well blame your opposition to the Mother’s Act on Scientology or Anti-psychiatry.”
“I wish the debate over this bill didn’t have to devolve into that,” she said. “It’s so tiring.”
Grohol’s Internet One-stop
As noted previously in this series, Grohol, the guy supporting “objective researchers calling for more screening,” is operating a profitable one-stop treatment center on the internet with PsychCentral, where people can get therapy from “live” online “experts” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as well as coupons for free samples of psychiatric drugs, with instructions on what to discuss during doctors’ appointments.
Grohol’s one-stop even provides links to quizzes for people to self-screen not only for depression, but for Adult ADHD, anxiety, OCD, PSTD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and just about every other so-called mental disorder known to mankind.
One helpful link takes potential customers to the: “Do I Need Therapy? Quiz”.
A weekly chat with a PsychCentral therapist would cost a mom who screens positive for PPD roughly $120 per hour, billed at $2 per minute, or $6,240 a year.
The Abilify advertised on PsychCentral, to treat depression as an add-on with antidepressants, was recently priced at $1,230 on DrugStore.com. Add Cymbalta, one of the antidepressants Grohol promotes with another ad, complete with a voucher for a free sample, at a cost of $390 a month, and a woman is looking at a yearly tab of $19,440, bringing the combined drug and therapy total to $25,680.
And God forbid, if mom and dad both screen positive, the cost of treatment could double to $51,360. As a psychologist, Grohol can not write prescriptions, and neither can his online “therapists,” so this amount would not include the fees for office calls to the prescribing physician.
However, before heading over to Gohol’s one-stop, perhaps postpartum couples may want to see if a new car could pull them out of their funk. On the “Car Connection” website, the starting price for a brand new 2009 Kia Rio is only $11,495, and the 2009 Honda Fit is listed at $14,750, bringing the total cost to only $26,248 for two vehicles.
If the new cars don’t do the trick, the parents would still have $25,112 left over to spend on a half year of treatment at PsychCentral, based on the estimated costs for drugs and therapy found on the website.
Also, a quick search of the internet turned up a website called, “Live Psychic Readings,” supposedly featured on “Good Morning America,” that only charges $1 per minute, with a toll free number. And better yet, another site with the heading, “The Honest Psychics,” only charges a buck for 10 minutes.
Grohol also allowed Katherine to post a link on PsychCentral to a petition for people to sign in support of the Mothers Act, a process funded by the “Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance,” a Big Pharma front group that serves as a funnel of drug company money to finance disease mongering campaigns.
The DBSA’s 2007 annual report shows the group received between $150,000 and $499,000 from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Wyeth, and between $10,000 and $149,000 from Abbott, Cyberonics, Forest, Glaxo, Organon, and Otsuka American Pharmaceuticals. DBSA also received $37,510 from Eli Lilly in 2007, and another $20,000 from Lilly in 2008.
Lilly’s first quarter grant report for 2009 shows a $5,000 donation to the DBSA. The Rhode Island chapter of the group also received $7,500 from Lilly in the first quarter of 2009.
This article continues tomorrow in part five.
Filed under: antidepressants, Congress, Melanie Stokes, mothers act, pharmacology, PPD, Pregnancy