Relentless and Tragic Marketing: Psychiatric Drugs from Before the Cradle to the Grave

by John Breeding, PhD and Amy Philo

Working with others, we strive to alleviate distress and to support and enhance the personal growth, transformation, individuation, self-determination, and clear and expanded awareness of individuals. Necessity dictates that we also spend a lot of time challenging aspects of the mental health profession that do the opposite—creating more distress, suppressing growth and transformation, violating self-determination, and dulling and blinding awareness. We call it psychiatric oppression, the systematic, institutionalized mistreatment of those judged as “mentally ill.” This essay focuses especially on the ever expanding encroachment of psychiatric oppression to more and more of the population, and to individuals who are less and less in need of actual help. This encroachment takes the form of mass marketing for psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. One key aspect of oppression theory is the claim to virtue. For psychiatric oppression that claim is the notion that mentally ill people need their treatment; its growing extension is the concept of prevention, that potentially mentally ill people need treatment as well!

The Regressive Progression: Treatment to Prevention

“An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure.” Like all great aphorisms, this one, often associated with Ben Franklin, holds wisdom and is partly true, based on assumption. In this case, one must assume the role of victim of unnecessary malady that necessitates a cure…and that there is a felt connection or empathic relatedness to the one who suffers malady. Where these assumptions are not met, the aphorism is false. To wit, for the giant corporation of Halliburton and its government and military operations group, or for the mercenary army of Blackwater, going to war is worth a great deal more than diplomacy.

Continue reading “Relentless and Tragic Marketing: Psychiatric Drugs from Before the Cradle to the Grave”, Home of the Pro-Pharma Censors

This is certainly not the first go-round with biased articles in favor of The MOTHERS Act from The Record, a newspaper in Robert Menendez’s home state of New Jersey (home to many of the world’s pharmaceutical companies).

Perhaps I’m biased but I don’t see anything wrong with the following comment which was not posted on NorthJersey’s website under the comments section for the article about Brooke Shields celebrating passage of The MOTHERS Act. I would like to open comments up here on this blog since is censoring us (God knows how many of us). So go ahead and comment here and I’ll attempt to post a link. This comment was made in response to Susan Stone’s statement that Carol Blocker is the main supporter of The MOTHERS Act and that they have “thousands” of signatures on a “petition” (the DBSA letter writing software) which has never been made public. Everyone who reads this blog knows the truth about the bill and how it was passed. It’s too bad that is censoring comments on The MOTHERS Act.

My unposted comment (I’ve tried about 5 times in the last 24 hours):

Did Carol Blocker donate between $13 and $16 million to the pHARMa front groups who pushed the bill, or God knows how much to DBSA to have them run the “petition?”

I am so glad I had my mom around to save me from the horrors of psychiatric drugs and I only wish that Melanie Stokes could have been spared the horror that befell her due to the idiotic mistreatment she was given by her doctors in the form of several different triple drug cocktails, cold turkey med switches, and repeated electroshock sessions which according to Melanie, were “killing her.”

We have 3,117 Facebook Coalition members and 13,453 public signatures (Name and State listed) on our actual live petition (and I would also like to thank them all).

It was posted in response to the following comment by Susan Stone:

Wednesday May 12, 2010, 12:08 AM – susan__3932 says:
I would like to thank the many national professional groups and thousands of women who signed the petition in support of the legislation which can be seen here: Please note the research and public awareness campaigns do not require additional funding and will be implemented by HHS and NIH. These life saving initiative – which are now law – will go a long way to informing assessment and treatment of perinatal mood disorders. Thank you all for supporting The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. The bill’s lead supporter was none other than Carol Blocker, Melanie Blocker Stokes’ mother. Susan Dowd Stone, MSW, LCSW

Here is a running log of all the comments on their website so far.

  1. Wednesday May 12, 2010, 5:18 PM – AmyR.Philo says:
    This website is not allowing my comments. That’s ok, we can take our comments over to my blog.
  2. Wednesday May 12, 2010, 5:14 PM – Rebecca.R says:
    It is just so wonderful that this legislation has passed. I am grateful to all the advocates who made this possible. It’s tough to do battle against groups who use mother’s mental health to promote their agenda by instilling shame and doubt into already suffering moms. Thank you to Susan Dowd Stone for her fearless leadership in placing mom’s welfare above all else and ignoring those who would seek to implicate a dark motive to this life saving cause!
  3. Wednesday May 12, 2010, 4:10 PM – farallon says:
    This is just a make believe disease that gives some women an excuse for not taking care of their kids. You need to get off your butts and tend to your kids.
  4. Wednesday May 12, 2010, 2:24 PM – Kaerer says:
    I am appalled by the ignorance of some of the comments herein. It is evident that there are many people who have no idea how debilitating this disease can be. This bill’s passage comes from the blood sweat and tears of men and women who know firsthand what is lacking in the treatment of PPD. We should all be thankful for these advocates who have dedicated their lives and in many cases their own personal finances to help the victims of PPD. This bill is to promote AWARENESS, RESEARCH and EMOTIONAL SUPPORT for those who are suffering. It provides women and their families with different options, medication IS ONLY one of those options. The choice to medicate for any condition is still a choice and yes, the side effects must be taken into consideration but there again RESEARCH comes into play. IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS! Please educate yourselves before making such disparaging comments regarding a bill that so many have worked so hard to pass. PPD victims have suffered long enough!
  5. Wednesday May 12, 2010, 12:41 PM – kkleiman says:
    It is truly rewarding to see how all of the preparation and hard work on behalf of postpartum women can now be put into practice. The effort to promote awareness is not an easy one. It necessitates a deep desire to support and treat women who suffer excruciating levels of distress along with good, accurate information. Without both, there is a great risk for tons of misinformation to get into the wrong hands. Thank you, Susan, for all you have done to facilitate this gratifying outcome.
  6. Wednesday May 12, 2010, 2:42 AM – BTKING says:
    It is estimated that 50% of all Suicides in the USA were those taking Antidepressant medications. My Cousin was one of such Cases. And now I had to have one of my family taken away all because people haven’t woken up to the deadly effects of these medications. Everyone who supports this bill needs to actually do their own research and get the actual scientific data regarding psychotropic medications. If you guys value the lives of your children, their children and the future generation as a whole, you WILL reconsider allowing this bill to threaten the lives of mothers and unborn babies thereof. This information is so hidden because Pharma has paid off media, Congressman, etc. with millions of dollars of drug profits just to keep it so. That is the ONLY reason it is not broadly known. So I implore everyone. Please stop this blatant violation of our basic…human …rights.
  7. Wednesday May 12, 2010, 2:19 AM – LindaKay says:
    Psychiatric drugs harm both mother and child. Babies are dying because their moms took antidepressants while pregnant. Many people get murderous and suicidal thoughts while on them, completely uncharacteristic of the way they were before they took the drugs. There is also a Yahoo forum with over 2300 people, both men and women, complaining of persistant sexual dysfunction after taking SSRIs. Many of them complain of what seems to be permanent genital anesthesia for years after discontinuing the drugs, and they don’t want to live. Antipsychotics and ECT cause major brain damage among other maladies. Melanie Stokes was given all these so-called “treatments” before she jumped out a 12 story window and to her death. Then they named the Mother’s Act after her.
  8. Wednesday May 12, 2010, 2:18 AM – LindaKay says:
    So many women exhaust themselves in trying to live up to the expectations of today’s society. If they are fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with their new babies, they may suddenly find themselves totally alone. If they work outside the home they may come home only to be kept up night after night when their children are sick, and they can become so sleep deprived that they become psychotic, even though otherwise they’d be perfectly normal. I think too much of postpartum depression is attributed to hormones. Much of it can be traced to loneliness, sleep deprivation, and poor nutrition, and I don’t think we need to spend 3 million dollars to find that out. What we DO need to do is encourage moms to take better care of themselves. They need to be with other moms as well as getting enough rest and necessary nutrients. We have to stop pushing them to be supermoms.
  9. Wednesday May 12, 2010, 12:37 AM – AmyR.Philo says:
    I believe I recall a petition you guys started that had about 28 signatures. We also have 4.6% of votes on a survey on my website in a survey for “The MOTHERS Act is life saving” compared to the other 95% opposed – the survey has been running for a while now… Oh and we have 54 groups opposed to the bill. None of them takes any money from pHARMa.
  10. Wednesday May 12, 2010, 12:08 AM – susan__3932 says:
    I would like to thank the many national professional groups and thousands of women who signed the petition in support of the legislation which can be seen here: Please note the research and public awareness campaigns do not require additional funding and will be implemented by HHS and NIH. These life saving initiative – which are now law – will go a long way to informing assessment and treatment of perinatal mood disorders. Thank you all for supporting The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. The bill’s lead supporter was none other than Carol Blocker, Melanie Blocker Stokes’ mother. Susan Dowd Stone, MSW, LCSW
  11. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 11:39 PM – joelfrisco says:
    My wife was misdiagnosed with psychiatric conditions after our first child was born. Simple anxiousness from a formula related choking incident led to drug prescriptions and eventually psychiatric hospitalization due to those drugs. The hospital and doctors who led us through our first birth and post-partum experience educated us almost to the point of death. After the damage of that experience we chose a natural home birth for our second child with much happier results. We don’t need more education, we need the government and medical profession to back off and let Moms be guided by their family, faith and conscience, not pseudo-science and profit motivated businesses.
  12. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 10:43 PM – donnaferr says:
    And how exactly has psychiatry, The industry of Death, helped those who have suffered from depression? It has not. It has done nothing but drug people into apathy so they don’t care. Do not trust any group whose sole handling is to “drug it.”
  13. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 9:47 PM – AmyR.Philo says:
    Spend some time on the UNITE website & blog if you are interested in the full story. Or, you could just keep reading the nonsense from Susan Stone. There are thousands many babies dying from drug exposure and God knows how many mothers dying the same way Melanie Stokes died from drug-induced suicide. This bill does nothing to prevent or lessen that, it will only make it worse.
  14. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 9:47 PM – AmyR.Philo says:
    Susan’s favorite catch phrase is “the bill does not subsidize medication” – whatever that means, the result will be the same, which is more moms being drugged, and more babies being drugged. You would have to be a fool to think fewer mothers will wind up on medication as a direct result of the bill’s passage. Last point for this comment would be that the only reason The MOTHERS Act passed was because it was slipped into the health care bill. They tried the same thing in 2008 with the “Coburn” Omnibus and failed. Only by slipping it in to other legislation did the bill pass. It failed on its own lack of merits for about 8 years because the bill is not worthy of passage. And no matter how you look at it it would never have passed without back room deals and pharmaceutical funded lobbying.
  15. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 9:45 PM – AmyR.Philo says:
    Re: Susan Stone’s claims… Google Susan Stone MOTHERS Act Evelyn Pringle and find out all about her. As for a “minority” of people protesting, on the contrary, we have over 13,000 signatures against the bill and I have yet to see any public petition for the bill other than a listing of groups (many of whom are pharma front groups) who are in favor of it. The DBSA sponsored “petition” was a cap-wiz letter campaign for which all “petition signatures” were privately sent letters to Congress members. DBSA is a pharmaceutical funded front group. And Susan Stone’s favorite nonprofit PSI has many major members with pharmaceutical conflicts of interest.
  16. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 8:56 PM – farallon says:
    Postpartum depression is another of the new imaginary diseases psychiatrists make up. You had a baby, get over it and take care of the kid.
  17. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 4:02 PM – kps says:
    It is obvious that there is still much work to be done since ignorance is still rampant. This bill’s passage is the result of tireless efforts of advocates that have dedicated their professional and personal lives to the cause and the courage of women who relive the horror of this illness in order to educate and help others.This bill promotes awareness, research and support for those who are suffering. It avails women and their families with options, only one of which is medication. The decision to medicate for any condition is an individual choice for which side effects must be considered. Knowledge is power. It is time for all women to have ALL the resources to eradicate the “4 million years of evolutionary suffering” Karen P. Sackstein, CPA – PPD Survivor
  18. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 3:56 PM – susan__3932 says:
    Indeed the bill does NOT subsidize medication or encourage its usage. What it DOES do is promote more research, public awareness, education and services for pregnant and new mom’s struggling from these disorders. The minority who characterized the bill as a diabolical attempt to medicate America’s mothers, did not succeed in discouraging support with these misrepresentations, but instead stimulated the debate that further clarified the legislation’s true purpose and garnered more support from mothers, legislators and those from organizational and professional communities dedicated to helping them. You can read the bill here: Susan Dowd Stone, MSW, LCSW
  19. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 11:40 AM – AmyR.Philo says:
    You can’t trust people who tell you that antidepressants are safe or effective. The New Jersey Website Speak Up When You’re Down tells moms to use antidepressants for several months after all symptoms go away, and says it’s ok to use them while breastfeeding (it’s not). To learn the truth about The MOTHERS Act go here: Read how much money was funneled to the supporters of The MOTHERS Act from Pharmaceutical companies in recent years – over $13 million was spent.
  20. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 11:38 AM – AmyR.Philo says:
    This article makes me so sad, for all of the moms who are going to be told to listen to people like Susan Stone who commented above, and her friends who love to tell women to go on medication to treat or prevent PPD. Read this Mother’s Day blog entry from Christiane Schultz about the pain she is going through her second Mother’s Day after losing her son Matthew two hours after he was born to Effexor exposure during pregnancy. She also got pregnant after Matthew died but before she could wean off of Effexor and lost that baby as well. In fact, all of the babies she has had with the antidepressant Effexor have had some kind of problem from the exposure, including PPHN with one baby which nobody even told her about.
  21. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 11:33 AM – csrv says:
    Everyone is trying to save tax dollars. 4 million years of evolution has gotten us this far without postpartum issues. We all have own own little neurosis’s to deal with. Stop this spending when we can’t afford it!
  22. Tuesday May 11, 2010, 9:15 AM – susan__3932 says:
    As a speaker at yesterday’s event, celebrating the historic passage of this legislation, I encourage all women to continue to now encourage funding of this bill! You may demonstrate your support by going to and signing the petition in support of its funding! Sincerely, Susan Dowd Stone, MSW, LCSW Chair, President’s Advisory Council, Postpartum Support International, National Board Member, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition Author/Editor Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders: Perspectives asnd Treatment Guide for the Healthcare Practitioner (Springer, 08).

And here is the article:

Brooke Shields hails passage of postpartum depression bill in Ridgewood visit
Monday, May 10, 2010
Last updated: Tuesday May 11, 2010, 6:21 AM

The Record

Actress Brooke Shields and former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey joined U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez in Ridgewood Monday to announce the passage of federal legislation to help women suffering from postpartum depression.

Shields, left, suffered debilitating postpartum depression  following the birth of her daughter Rowan Francis in 2003.

Shields, left, suffered debilitating postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter Rowan Francis in 2003.

Menendez, D-NJ, is advocating for $3 million to launch the program which calls for more research to better understand what causes the disorder that affects up to 20 percent of all new mothers and up to 16,000 women in New Jersey each year.

The law encourages the Department of Health and Human Services to make grants available for agencies to provide outpatient, inpatient and home-based health services for women with or at risk for postpartum conditions.

“We need to be able to educate, increase support services and research why it happens so new moms can feel safe rather than scared and alone,” said Menendez, a key sponsor of the legislation.

The law, The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, was named after a Chicago woman suffering from postpartum depression who jumped to her death in 2001.

Shields, a statuesque former model and film and TV star, suffered debilitating postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter Rowan Francis in 2003. Shields had suicidal thoughts and was finally treated with medication and therapy, experiences she recounted in her book “Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Post-Partum Depression,” published in 2005.

“I was in such a sad, sorry, scared and devastated state,” she said. “I was guilty. It was the worst time of my life.”

She encouraged women to report symptoms to their physicians so treatment can begin as soon as possible.

“Don’t diminish it,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to be honest.’’

Elements of the law were taken from New Jersey legislation championed by Codey and adopted into law in 2006.

New Jersey was the first state to require the screening of new moms for post-partum depression.

Following the birth of her first son, Codey suffered suicidal thoughts and worried she would harm her infant. She suffered through postpartum depression again when her second son was born and was also successfully treated.

She praised Menendez for raising awareness and harnessing more research dollars for women suffering from the disorder.

Franklin Lakes resident Sylvia Lasalandra recounted her battle with postpartum depression 10 years ago following the birth of her daughter, Melina. “I lost the first nine months of my daughter’s life,” she said.

In 2005, she self-published A Daughter’s Touch: One Woman’s Journey Through Postpartum Depression’’.

“I cry for the women too afraid to ask for help,’’ she said. “The MOTHERS Act means they will no longer be ignored.’’


Leonard Roy Frank Letter to FDA: Case Against ECT

From: Leonard Roy Frank

January 7, 2010

To: Food and Drug Administration

Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305)

5630 Fishers Lane

Room 1061

Rockville, MD  20852

Docket Number FDA-2009-N-0392

To whom it may concern:

As a survivor and opponent of electroshock (ECT, electroconvulsive “treatment”) who, over the years, has communicated with hundreds of other survivors of the procedure and has studied the subject and written extensively about it, I am responding to the Food and Drug Administration’s call for information and comments regarding the current classification of the ECT devices. I urge the FDA not to reclassify these devices from Class III (high risk) to Class II (low risk) because the procedure continues to be, as it has been since its introduction in 1938, an extremely harmful method used on persons diagnosed as “mentally ill.”

Here, in summary form, is my case against ECT:

1. Electroshock is a brutal, dehumanizing, memory-destroying, intelligence-lowering, brain-damaging, brainwashing, and life-threatening technique. ECT robs people of their memories, their personality and their humanity. It reduces their capacity to lead full, meaningful lives; it crushes their spirits. Put simply, electroshock is a method for gutting the brain in order to control and punish people who fall or step out of line, and intimidate others who are on the verge of doing so.

2. Brain damage is the most ruinous effect of ECT and lies at the root of most of ECT’s other harmful effects. It is also the 800-pound gorilla in the living room whose existence electroshock psychiatrists refuse to acknowledge, at least publicly. Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in the American Psychiatric Association’s Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy, which states that “in light of the accumulated body of data dealing with structural effects of ECT, ‘brain damage’ should not be included [in the ECT consent form] as a potential risk of treatment” (2001, p. 102). The exclusion of brain damage as a risk of ECT makes a sham of the entire ECT informed-consent process and turns what is ostensibly a medical procedure into an act of criminal assault. The following statements and reports, all by psychiatrists or neurologists, refute the APA’s position on the risk of brain damage from ECT.

A. “The importance of the [foregoing autopsied] case lies in that it offers a clear demonstration of the fact that electrical convulsion treatment is followed at times by structural damage of the brain” (Alpers and Hughes, 1942).

B. “This brings us for a moment to a discussion of the brain damage produced by electroshock…. Is a certain amount of brain damage not necessary in this type of treatment? Frontal lobotomy indicates that improvement takes place by a definite damage of certain parts of the brain” (Hoch, 1948). Paul H. Hoch, a Hungarian-born U.S. psychiatrist, had been commissioner of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene.

C. In a report “based on the study of 214 electroshock fatalities reported in the literature and 40 fatalities heretofore unpublished, made available through the kindness of the members of the Eastern Psychiatric Research Association,” David Impastato found that 66 ECT patients had died from “cerebral” causes among the 235 patients for whom the cause of death had been stated (Impastato, 1957). Impastato, a Sicilian-born U.S. psychiatrist, was a leading figure in the early history of ECT in the United States.

D. An extensive American Psychiatric Association membership survey found that 41 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement, “It is likely that ECT produces slight or subtle brain damage”; 26 percent disagreed with the statement (American Psychiatric Association, 1978).

E. “Electroshock ‘works’ by damaging the brain…. [T]he changes one sees when electroshock is administered are completely consistent with any acute brain injury, such as a blow to the head with a hammer” (Coleman, 1978).

F. “The principal complications of EST are death, brain damage, memory impairment, and spontaneous seizures. These complications are similar to those seen after head trauma, with which EST has been compared” (Fink, 1978). Eleven years later, Fink was quoted in a magazine article as saying, “I can’t prove there’s no brain damage [from ECT]. I can’t prove there are no other sentient beings in the universe, either. But scientists have been trying for thirty years to find both, and so far they haven’t come up with a thing” (Rymer, 1989). Max Fink, an Austrian-born U.S. psychiatrist, is the world’s leading proponent of ECT.

G. “After a few sessions of ECT the symptoms are those of moderate cerebral contusion, and further enthusiastic use of ECT may result in the patient functioning at a subhuman level. Electroconvulsive therapy in effect may be defined as a controlled type of brain damage produced by electrical means…. In all cases the ECT “response” is due to the concussion‑type, or more serious, effect of ECT. The patient “forgets” his symptoms because the brain damage destroys memory traces in the brain, and the patient has to pay for this by a reduction in mental capacity of varying degree” (Sament, 1983).

H. “A vast medical literature provides strong evidence that electroconvulsive therapy causes permanent brain damage, including loss of memory and catastrophic deterioration of personality” (Polk, 1993).

I. “There is an extensive animal research literature confirming brain damage from ECT. The damage is demonstrated in many large animal studies, human autopsy studies, brain wave studies, and an occasional CT scan study. Animal and human autopsy studies show that ECT routinely causes widespread pinpoint hemorrhages and scattered cell death. While the damage can be found throughout the brain, it is often worst in the region beneath the electrodes. Since at least one electrode always lies over the frontal lobe, it is no exaggeration to call ECT an electrical lobotomy” (Breggin, 1998).

3. The most immediate, obvious, and distressing effect of electroshock is amnesia. In her book Doctors of Deception: What They Don’t Want You to Know About Shock Treatment, electroshock survivor Linda Andre described what that is like: “The memory ‘loss’ that happens with shock treatment is really memory erasure. A period of time is wiped out as if it never happened. Unlike memory loss associated with other conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, which come on gradually and allow patients and families to anticipate and prepare for the loss to some extent, the amnesia associated with… ECT is sudden, violent, and unexpected. Your life is essentially unlived…. You didn’t just lose your suitcase; you can’t say where you got it, what it looks like, what you packed in it, what trips you’ve taken it on. You don’t know that you ever had it” (Andre, 2009).

4. Electroshock’s harmful effects can be long-lasting. Electroshock psychologist Harold A. Sackeim and colleagues concluded their recent study with this statement:  “[T]his study provides the first evidence in a large, prospective sample that adverse cognitive effects can persist for an extended period, and that they characterize routine treatment with ECT in community settings” (Sackeim, 2007).

5. Electroshock causes a significant number of deaths. A 1995 report from the Texas Mental Health Department (Smith, 1995) revealed that there were eight deaths among approximately 1,600 patients (1 in 200 cases) who had undergone ECT in Texas over a then recent 15-month period, a rate 50 times higher than the death rate (“about 1 in 10,000 patients”) given in the consent-form sample in the American Psychiatric Association’s Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy (2001, p. 320). Reports in the professional literature give further evidence that the ECT death rate is much higher than

the rate claimed by ECT proponents (Frank, 2007).

6. There are no scientifically sound studies showing that ECT is an effective method of suicide prevention. The authors of a large study published in the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry (Black, 1989) reported there was no significant difference in the suicide rate for depressed patients treated with ECT, anti-depressants, and neither of these treatments.

7. Unlike its harmful effects, electroshock’s supposedly “therapeutic” effects are brief at best. No study shows that these effects persist for more than at most a few months following the last treatment. One study indicates the relapse rate for ECT patients is up to 50 percent within six months following treatment, “even though antidepressant drugs are continued” (Fink, 1999). Another study of patients diagnosed with “unipolar major depression” concluded “that without active treatment virtually all remitted patients [i.e., patients whose symptoms diminished following ECT] relapse within 6 months of stopping ECT” (Sackeim, 2001). From this, it is clear that an ECT patient with a diagnosis of depression or manic-depression runs the serious risk of becoming a permanent outpatient which usually entails ongoing drug treatment, “maintenance” ECT, and/or occasional inpatient stays.

8. Contrary to claims by ECT defenders, newer technique modifications have made electroshock more harmful than ever. For example, the drugs accompanying ECT to reduce certain risks, including bone fractures, raise seizure threshold so that more electrical current is required to induce the convulsion (Saltzman, 1955): the more current applied, the greater is risk of brain damage and amnesia. Moreover, whereas formerly ECT specialists tried to induce seizures with minimal current, suprathreshold amounts of electricity are commonly administered today in the belief that they are more effective.

9. Not only does the federal government stand by passively as psychiatrists continue to use electroshock, it also actively supports ECT through the licensing and funding of hospitals where the procedure is used, by covering ECT costs in its insurance programs (including Medicare), and by financing ECT research, including some of the most damaging ECT techniques ever devised. One study provides an example of such research. This ECT experiment was conducted at Wake Forest University School of Medicine/North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Winston-Salem, between 1995 and 1998. It involved the application of electric current at up to 12 times the individual’s convulsive threshold on 36 depressed patients. This reckless disregard for the safety of ECT subjects was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (McCall, 2000).

10. The use of ECT is increasing. More than 100,000 Americans are being electroshocked each year; half are 60 and older, and two-thirds are women. Seventy percent of all ECT is insurance-covered. ECT specialists on average have incomes twice that of other psychiatrists. The cost for inpatient ECT ranges from $50,000 to $75,000 per series (usually 8 to 12 individual sessions). Electroshock is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry.

11. Electroshock is especially dangerous and life-threatening for elderly patients. One Rhode Island study conducted between 1974 and 1983 divided 65 hospitalized depressed patients, 80 years and older, into two groups. Thirty-seven patients in one group were treated with ECT and the 28 in the other group were treated with antidepressant drugs. The death rate after one year for the ECT group was 7.5 times higher than that of the non-ECT group: 10 deaths among the 37 ECT patients (27%) compared with 1 death among the 28 drug-treated patients (3.6%). The authors, 2 psychiatrists, reported that “two patients had only 2 ECTs: one withdrew consent, and the other developed CHF [congestive heart failure] and died before ECT could be continued.” They also reported that there was “lasting recovery” for 22% in the ECT group and 71% in the non-ECT group. The authors attributed the poor outcomes of the ECT patients to “their advanced age and physical illness” (Kroessler and Fogel, 1993). In his extensive study of ECT deaths (referred to in paragraph 2C above), Impastato estimated that the ECT death rate for patients over 60 is one in 200, or 5 times greater than the death rate of 1 in 1,000 for ECT patients of all ages (1957, p. 31).

12. As a destroyer of memories and thoughts, electroshock is a direct, violent assault on these hallmarks of American liberty: freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from assault, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

Tens of thousands of people every year in the United States are deceived or coerced into undergoing electroshock. The FDA should do everything in its power to discourage the use of electroshock by:

  • keeping ECT’s Class III, high-risk rating;
  • insisting that electroshock psychiatrists, manufacturers of ECT devices, and executives and administrators in hospitals where ECT is administered, substantiate with scientific proof their claims that the procedure is “safe and effective”; and
  • calling upon the Congress and the Department of Justice to investigate the fraudulent and coercive use of this cruel and inhuman procedure.


Alpers, B.J., Hughes, J. (April 1942). “The Brain Changes in Electrically Induced Convulsions in the Human,” Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, pp. 172-177.

American Psychiatric Association. Electroconvulsive Therapy (Task Force Report 14). (1978). Washington, DC: Author, p. 4.

American Psychiatric Association (A Task Force Report). (2001). The Practice of Electroconvulsive Therapy: Recommendations for Treatment, Training, and Privileging (2nd Edition). Washington, DC: Author.

Andre, L. (2009). Doctors of Deception: What They Don’t Want You to Know About Shock Treatment. New Brunswick, New Jersey: RutgersUniversity Press, p. 2.

Black, D.W., Winokur, G. et al. (September 1989). “Does Treatment Influence Mortality in Depressives?: A Follow-up of 1076 Patients with Major Affective Disorders,” Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 165-173.

Breggin, P.R. (1998). “Electroshock: Scientific, Ethical, and Political Issues,” International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, vol. 11, pp. 5-40.

Cameron, D.O. (Winter-Spring 1994). “ECT: Sham Statistics, the Myth of Convulsive Therapy, and the Case for Consumer Misinformation,” Journal of Mind and Behavior, vol. 15, no. 1-2, pp. 177-198.

Coleman, L. (1978). Introduction to Frank, L.R. (Ed.), The History of Shock Treatment, San Francisco: Author, p. xiii.

Fink, M. (January-February, 1978). “Efficacy and Safety of Induced Seizures (EST) in Man,” Comprehensive Psychiatry, pp. 1-18.

Fink, M. (1999). Electroshock: Restoring the Mind, New York: OxfordUniversity Press, p. 12.

Frank, L.R. (Ed.). (1978). The History of Shock Treatment. San Francisco: Author.

Frank, L.R. (Spring 2002). “Electroshock: A Crime Against the Spirit,” Ethical Human Sciences and Services, pp. 63-71.

Frank, L.R. (2006). The Electroshock Quotationary (an e-book).

Frank, L.R. (Ed.). (2007). “Electroshock and Death” (an internet posting).

Hoch, P.H. (1948). “Discussion and Concluding Remarks,” Journal of Personality, vol. 17, p. 48.

Impastato, D.J. (July 1957). “Prevention of Fatalities in Electroshock Therapy,” Diseases of the Nervous System, p. 31. This 42-page report of 254 deaths is the largest and most detailed study of ECT deaths ever published. It is rarely cited in the writings of ECT proponents.

Kroessler, D., Fogel, B.S. (Winter 1993). “Electroconvulsive Therapy for Major Depression in the Oldest Old,” American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, pp. 30-37.

McCall, W.V., Reboussin, D.M. et al. (May 2000). “Titrated Moderately Suprathreshold vs Fixed High-Dose Right Unilateral Electroconvulsive Therapy,” Archives of General Psychiatry, May 2000, pp. 438-444.

Morgan, R.F. (Ed.) (1999). Electroshock: The Case Against. Mangilao, Guam: Morgan Foundation Publishers.

Polk, H.L. (August 1, 1993). Letter to the editor, New York Times.

Rymer, R. (March-April 1989). “Electroshock,” Hippocrates, p. 71.

Sackeim, H.A., Haskett, R.F. et al. (March 14, 2001). “Continuation Pharmacotherapy in the Prevention of Relapse Following Electroconvulsive Therapy” (abstract), Journal of the American Medical Association, pp. 1299-1307.

Sackeim, H.A., Prudic, J. (January 2007). “The Cognitive Effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Community Settings,” Neuropsychopharmacology, pp. 244-254.

Saltzman, C., Konikov, W. et al. (May 1955). “Modification of Electroshock Therapy by Succinylcholine Chloride,” Diseases of the Nervous System, p. 154.

Sament, S. (March 1983). Letter to the editor, Clinical Psychiatry News. p. 11.

Smith, M. (March 7, 1995). “Eight in Texas Die after Shock Therapy in 15-Month Period,” Houston Chronicle, pp. 1A, 6A.

Leonard Roy Frank

The Mothers Act Disease Mongering Campaign – Part V

Friday, August 28, 2009 by: Evelyn Pringle, health freedom writer

(NaturalNews) This is part five of an article series by Evelyn Pringle. Find previous parts here: Part One (…), Part Two (…), Part Three (…) and Part Four (…). What follows is the full text of part five:

In the title of a paper in the May, 2009, Journal of Affective Disorders, Stephen Matthey, of the University of Sydney Infant, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service Research Unit in Australia, asks, “Are we overpathologising motherhood?”

The paper was critical of self-report screening measures such as the Edinburgh Depression Scale for overestimating the rate of psychiatric disorders in motherhood. “The properties of the Edinburgh Scale show that around 50% of women scoring high are not in fact depressed,” the paper’s abstract reports.

The paper was further critical of the high percentage of women being screened as ‘at-risk’. Classifying women to be ‘at-risk’ based upon “the presence of a single risk factor is questionable given that the majority of women with risks do not become depressed, and also the rate of women reported to have at least one risk (up to 88%) is so high as to negate the usefulness of this concept,” the abstract warns.

Matthey also questioned the use of the diagnostic criteria for depression in the DSM IV, such as weight loss, sleep problems and fatigue, which could easily be attributed to new parenthood rather than depression.

“Current estimates of the prevalence of perinatal distress, and of women with risks, are an overestimation of the true rates,” the abstract concludes.

“The clinical practice of using the presence of a single risk factor, or a single high score on a self-report mood scale, to form part of the assessment to determine whether or not to actively intervene may also overpathologise the situation,” Matthey warns.

“A more thorough understanding of these issues will improve our assessment procedures so that resources can be appropriately targeted to those women, and their families, who really need specialist mental health intervention,” he points out.

With the above paper in mind, consider the posting on Postpartum Progress by Katherine on July 29, 2009, of: “A Nurse/Mother’s Letter to Time Magazine: Alison Palmer.”

In the letter to the editors, Palmer described herself as, “a maternal-newborn clinical nurse specialist, coordinator of a Postpartum Emotional Support Program, and most importantly as a mother.”

It sounds like she works at the Maternity Center at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, which “does about 2200 births per year,” according to the letter.

“Postpartum depression or other mood and anxiety disorders occur at least 20% of the time, and can occur anytime in the first year after birth,” Palmer claims in the letter.

“Our organization recently implemented an Inpatient Postpartum Depression Risk Assessment,” Palmer told the editors.

“An 11-item questionnaire is distributed to EVERY new mother who delivers, and screens them into a risk category for developing PPD,” she wrote.

“This screening tool identifies risk factors and does not indicate that a woman will definitely experience PPD,” she said.

“Just like someone who smokes, is obese, has high blood pressure and a family history of cardiac disease is at higher risk for a heart attack, these PPD risk factors simply indicate that one might be at a higher risk for the illness,” Palmer explained to Time editors.

“In our first month of screening, we had patients screen out as 46% low risk, 21% moderate risk, 30.5% high risk and 2.5% immediate risk,” she reported.

“More than HALF of all of the new mothers who delivered had some increased risk for PPD,” Palmer added.

“The “at-risk” moms view a PPD video, receive more in-depth PPD education, get follow up phone calls at home, are offered Visiting Nurse visits and are invited to attend weekly New Moms Groups and the Postpartum Depression Support Group,” she told Time.

After reading the above information, on July 29, 2009, Amy posted a blog to Nurse Palmer on Postpartum Progress and asked: “Did the program refer the low risk women for further evaluation? Is low-risk considered at risk?”

“In the risk assessment survey, the mother needs to answer “NO” to ALL 11 items in order to be scored as “LOW” risk,” Palmer wrote back to Amy, demonstrating that no mother will ever escape this dragnet.

“I always tell people there is no such thing as “NO RISK”, since simply giving birth puts a woman at risk due to the hormone and biological changes that occur,” she explained.

“Even answering “yes” to one item on the survey puts mom in a “moderate risk” category,” Palmer claimed.

“Women who score low risk still have routine PPD teaching done by the RNs,” she told Amy. “They just don’t have the follow up by VNA and phone calls.”

“Interesting,” Amy wrote back to Palmer. “I myself was told I needed drugs because of my high risk for PPD.”

“I was later told by a pediatrician, lactation consultant and OBGYN that perhaps I should consider staying on drugs permanently even during pregnancy or not having any more kids because of my high risk of having PPD again after the birth of any subsequent children,” she explained further.

“I had no problems at all after the birth of Toby,” Amy said. “I am thankful I did not listen to them.”

Nurse Palmer compares the use of “risk factors” to diagnose women with mental disorders to the use of risk factors for other diseases. In June 2005, the Seattle Times published a series of reports including one titled, “Suddenly Sick,” by Susan Kelleher and Duff Wilson, with the byline: “The hidden big business behind your doctor’s diagnosis,” and discussed the successful trick of using “risk factors” in past drug marketing campaigns.

“You are suddenly sick,” the authors wrote, “simply because the definitions of disease have changed.” And behind those changes, the Times found, were “the companies that make all those newly prescribed pills.”

The authors noted that “Dartmouth Medical School researchers estimate that during the 1990s, tens of millions more Americans were classified as having hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity simply because the definitions of those diseases were changed.”

“The medical profession’s term for these people is ‘the worried well,'” the authors said. “They are otherwise healthy people who have risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, but may never suffer a heart attack or stroke.”

“Every time the boundary of a disease is expanded — the hypertension threshold is lowered by 10 blood-pressure points, the guideline for obesity is lowered by 5 pounds,” they pointed out, “the market for drugs expands by millions of consumers and billions of dollars.” The results, they wrote:

“Skyrocketing sales of prescription drugs. Soaring health-care costs. Escalating patient anxiety. Worst of all, millions of people taking drugs that may carry a greater risk than the underlying condition. The treatment, in fact, may make them sick or even kill them.”

“Pharmaceutical firms have commandeered the process by which diseases are defined,” the Times found. “Many decision makers at the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and some of America’s most prestigious medical societies take money from the drug companies and then promote the industry’s agenda,” the authors reported.

“Treatment guidelines established by international and national health organizations instruct physicians on diagnosis and treatment of disease and are meant to be scientifically pristine,” they said. But the Times found that for a broad spectrum of diseases, “the experts writing the treatment guidelines had drug-company ties ranging from research contracts to consultancies to stock ownership.”

Attack on Vogue Magazine Journalist

On April 29, 2009, Hale used her website to “refute” some of the top experts in the field, quoted by Alexis Jetter, in an article in the May issue of Vogue Magazine titled, “Pregnant Pause,” which warned that: “With a flurry of recent reports challenging the safety of antidepressant drugs for unborn babies, doctors and concerned mothers-to-be are rethinking the guidelines.”

“What alarms doctors is the sheer number of pregnant women who use SSRI antidepressants – perhaps as many as 250,000 in the U.S. each year – when we still know so little about how the drugs effect babies,” Jetter reported.

The number of pregnant women on SSRIs has apparently skyrocked over the past three years. Back in 2006, the American Medical Association gave an estimate “that over 1% of pregnant women in the U.S., or more than 40,000, are taking antidepressants,” the Wall Street Journal reported in July 2006.

“SSRI usage dramatically increases the chances that a baby may be miscarried, born prematurely or too small, suffer erratic heartbeats, and have trouble breathing,” Jetter points out in Vogue.

In response to the article, Hale wrote a commentary titled, “Thoughts on exploring a “Pregnancy Pause,” and sent it to Vogue. “I methodically refuted and balanced the article’s bias against medicating with anti-depressants during pregnancy,” she wrote, when publishing the letter in full on her website.

On May 6, 2009, Katherine posted a link to Hale’s site with the headline, “Hale Responds to Vogue Piece on Antidepressants in Pregnancy,” and Kleiman provided a link on her treatment center website, telling readers: “Please take the time to read her very thoughtful and well-researched post.”

Upon reading the commentary, anyone with knowledge on this topic would have a hard time believing that the human face, Hale, did the “methodical refuting” all on her own.

In the Vogue article, Jetter explains that serotonin, “the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, also sends crucial developmental signals to the fetal heart, lung, and brain.”

“Some scientists think that SSRIs, which prevent the body’s natural absorption of serotonin, could be tampering with essential cell growth,” she reports.

“Never before in human history have we artificially changed the architecture of brain development,” said Feng Zhou, PhD, of the Indiana University School of Medicine, in the Vogue article.

“We always predicted that developmental exposure to these drugs would have some deleterious effects,” Jean Lauder, PhD, of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, told Jetter. “But no one was listening back then.”

Jetter also cites warnings by Dr Adam Urato, the guy who alerted JAMA to the undisclosed financial conflicts of interest among the authors of the Cohen Relapse in Depression study, and assistant professor of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, stating:

“Women and their providers have been told that even mild depression or anxiety will hurt their baby …. And these antidepressants are portrayed almost like prenatal vitamins that will level out their mood and lead to a healthier baby.”

“But antidepressants have not been shown to decrease rates of miscarriage or birth defects or low birth weight. On the contrary, they’ve been show to increase those problems.”

“On top of that,” argues Urato, “only one voice is reaching the ears of most women’s health practitioners: that of a small coterie of influential doctors who he says underplay the dangers of antidepressants,” Jetter reported.

“Many of these physicians have accepted lucrative speaking fees and consulting contracts from drug companies,” she wrote. “And yet – sometimes without divulging those connections – these same doctors are shaping treatment guidelines.”

True to form, in her commentary, Hale referred to work by the industry shill Wisner. In fact, the Mothers Act disease mongers repeatedly tout papers by Wisner without disclosing her financial ties to the drug makers.

For instance, Hale’s headline for a March 28, 2009, blog read: “The Confusion of Ante-Partum Depression: To Medicate or Not?”

“Ante-Partum Depression” being another newly coined buzz term for depression during pregnancy, a disorder not listed in the DSM.

In her blog, Hale reported that: “A recent study by Dr. Katherine Wisner … Found that continuous exposure to either SSRI or Depression during pregnancy results in pre-term delivery rates in excess of twenty percent while mothers with no exposure to either depression or SSRI over the course of their pregnancy experienced rates of pre-term delivery at six percent or lower.”

The actual study titled, “Major depression and antidepressant treatment: impact on pregnancy and neonatal outcomes,” was published in the March 2009, AJP. And the researchers in fact found women exposed to continuous treatment with SSRIs had an increased risk for preterm birth of 23%, and women with continuous depression but no SSRIs had a lower increased risk of 21%, compared to a 6% rate for women with no depression and no SSRIs.

However, women reading spinmaster Hale’s summary of the results were told “the pre-term delivery rates were the same with depression exclusive of SSRI treatment.”

“So what’s a pregnant depressed mama to do?”, Hale wrote on her website.

“I read,” she stated. “Voraciously.”

“The two biggest sources of help for me,” she said, “were Karen Kleiman’s What Am I Thinking? Having a Baby After Postpartum Depression and Kornstein/Clayton’s Women’s Mental Health.”

“Karen’s book allowed me to realize my emotions were right on target for a woman facing pregnancy (expected or not) after surviving a PMD episode while Women’s Mental Health laid out the risk factors in a no-nonsense manner,” she wrote.

“I was convinced to stay on medication,” Hales said, “after I read my risk for relapse went up by 50% if I discontinued my medication during pregnancy.”

“With my risk factor already 50% higher than women having never experienced a PMD, there was no way I was giving myself a 100% risk of traveling down that road,” she wrote.

Kleiman’s book sells for about $19 on Amazon and Women’s Mental Health is listed for $85.

In a May 12, 2009, Postpartum Progress blog, Katherine made sure to promote the continued use of SSRIs by pregnant women in posting a sentence from an editorial in the AJP titled, “Assessing Risk and Benefit: To Treat or Not to Treat Major Depression During Pregnancy With Antidepressant Medication,” by Dr Barbara Parry, which states:

“Thus, all things considered, on the basis of the findings from the methodologically sound and rigorous study of Wisner et al. and the evidence available from long-term studies, this author thinks that the risk of untreated major depression outweighs the risk of effects of SSRI treatment on neonatal outcomes.”

As part of the campaign against Vogue, Hale published in full a letter sent to Vogue from Arienne Einarson, without disclosing Einarson’s drug industry ties or controversies surrounding Einarson’s Canadian program.

In a blog on Hale’s site, Einarson said of the Vogue article: “I am the author of the largest study on paxil(no drug company funding) published in a premier psychiatry journal and they certainly did not contact me. I WONDER WHY NOT?”

First off, maybe Einarson wasn’t contacted because she is a nurse and not a doctor. She is the Assistant Director of Clinical Services of the Motherisk program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, also known as SickKids, and works under Motherisk Director, Dr Gideon Koren.

And maybe it was because her often co-author, Dr Koren, was involved in one the biggest academic research scandals in history a few years back when he sent vicious letters to discredit fellow researchers and denied doing so until DNA evidence from postage stamps proved he was lying, years later. In September 2003, the Canadian Association of University Teachers reported in the CAUT Bulletin:

“The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has formally reprimanded University of Toronto professor of medicine Dr. Gideon Koren. He had written anonymous harassing letters about Dr. Nancy Olivieri and three colleagues during Olivieri’s dispute with the Hospital for Sick Children, the University of Toronto and Apotex Inc. He then had lied repeatedly to conceal his responsibility. The college also cited him for additional misconduct, in research.”

“In its decision, the discipline committee said it was “deeply troubled by this case” and “seriously considered administering a more severe penalty” than that proposed to it, as it wished “to express unequivocally its condemnation of Dr. Koren’s misconduct.”

“It defies belief that an individual of Dr. Koren’s professed character and integrity could author such vicious diatribes against his colleagues as he did in the ‘poison pen letters’,” the committee wrote in its decision.

The committee described Koren’s actions as “childish, vindictive and dishonest” and noted that “only when confronted with irrefutable scientific evidence of his guilt did he admit he was the perpetrator” of the letter campaign. The Teachers Association further explained in the Bulletin:

“The college’s finding of research misconduct was in relation to a study on a drug to treat a blood disorder in children that Koren and Olivieri had once collaborated on. Olivieri identified risks that the drug was ineffective and caused liver damage, and voiced her concerns despite legal warnings from its maker, Apotex. Koren differed and, contrary to accepted norms, published an article on the drug using data from other researchers, including Olivieri, without their knowledge or consent.”

“The penalty had been jointly proposed to the college discipline committee through prior agreement between counsel for Koren and counsel for the college,” the Bulletin reported.

“The discipline committee did not have before it the facts that Koren had violated additional university and international norms of conduct in this publication,” it pointed out.

“Koren had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from Apotex after the company had terminated the drug trials in its efforts to prevent Olivieri from disclosing risks to patients, as well as the hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding he had received during the trials,” the newsletter reported, citing an journal article by the authors of “The Olivieri Report.”

It should be noted that Apotex went on to market a generic version of Paxil, or paroxetine. In September 2005, the FDA issued a warning about possible birth defects associated with Paxil when the drug is taken during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The warning was based on one study that found about a 2% risk of heart defects in babies born to mothers who took Paxil in early pregnancy, compared with a 1% risk in the general population, and a second study that found the risk of heart defects was 1.5% in babies whose mothers took Paxil in the first three months, compared with 1 percent in babies whose mothers took other antidepressants in the first trimester.

In October 2005, Einarson put out a paper titled, “The safety of psychotropic drug use during pregnancy: a review.”

“This article reviews the various classes of psychotropic drugs that are commonly used to treat psychiatric disorders–antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, antiepileptics, lithium and monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors–in terms of their safety during pregnancy,” the abstract on PubMed states.

“A substantial number of women of childbearing age are prescribed psychotropic drugs, and because nearly 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, many women are still taking them upon becoming pregnant,” Einarson points out.

“Evidence-based information from epidemiologic studies indicates that most psychotropic drugs are relatively safe for use during pregnancy,” the abstract states. A November 2005 abstract for another Einarson paper on PubMed states:

“A number of pregnant women suffer from psychiatric disorders that require treatment with psychotropic drugs. A literature review suggests that these medications are relatively safe to use during pregnancy. Abrupt discontinuation of these drugs can have both physiological and psychological ramifications, which include unpleasant physical symptoms and re-emergence of the psychiatric condition. Therefore, it is not good practice to discontinue these medications abruptly upon diagnosis of pregnancy.”

Here’s Einarson and Koren back in November 2005, still available on the Motherisk website, answering questions under the tab for “Pregnancy & Breastfeeding” with a heading: “Counseling pregnant women who are treated with paroxetine”.

One webpage says: “Motherisk questions are prepared by the Motherisk Team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ont.” In a November 2005 Special Supplement, the question was phrased as:

“I have always reassured my patients that taking an SSRI in pregnancy would not increase their risk for having a child with a major malformation. However, I recently read the warning from Health Canada regarding the release of a study from GSK, stating that infants exposed to paroxetine may be at a higher risk of congenital malformations, specifically cardiovascular defects. Some of my pregnant patients who are taking paroxetine (Paxil) heard about this information in the media and called me to ask if they should stop taking it. What should I tell them?”

Their answer was:

“The new warning is based on small non peer review, unpublished studies. It ignored 2 published studies that failed to show such association, and no such association has been shown for SSRI’s as a class. The data suggested that even if there is a risk, it is small. The warning does not disclose the details of the cardiovascular malformations in these studies. Many cases of ventricular septal defect, the most common cardiac malformation, resolve spontaneously. Concerned mothers to be should know that beyond the first trimester a drug cannot cause cardiac malformation. Failure to treat depression during pregnancy can have significant negative ramifications for both mother and child, and it is the strongest predictor of postpartum depression.”

In December 2005, the FDA instructed GlaxoSmithKline to reclassify Paxil from a Category C to D for pregnant women. A Category D warning means studies in pregnant women have demonstrated a risk to the fetus. An advisory to “Neuropsychiatric and other healthcare professionals,” specifically stated that the “FDA has determined that exposure to paroxetine in the first trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk for congenital malformations, particularly cardiac malformations,” and advised:

“Physicians who are caring for women receiving paroxetine should alert them to the potential risk to the fetus if they plan to become pregnant or are currently in their first trimester of pregnancy. Discontinuing paroxetine therapy should be considered for these patients. Women who are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, and currently taking paroxetine should consult with their physician about whether to continue taking it.”

A little over a year ago, a study in the April 2008 American Journal of Psychiatry, reported an “Evaluation of the Risk of Congenital Cardiovascular Defects Associated With Use of Paroxetine During Pregnancy,” with authors that included Einarson and Koren.

The conclusion for the abstract stated: “Paroxetine does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular defects following use in early pregnancy, as the incidence in more than 3,000 infants was well within the population incidence of approximately 1%.”

The Winter 2009 issue of the Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a paper by Einarson titled, “Risks/safety of psychotropic medication use during pregnancy–Motherisk Update 2008.” The abstract contains the standard talking points, and states in part:

“Psychiatric disorders are relatively common among women of childbearing age, who may be prescribed psychotropic drugs. There remains a high level of anxiety regarding their safety among patients and healthcare providers alike, most likely because of the conflicting studies that have been published in the literature and warnings from government organizations.”

“The body of evidence in the literature to date suggests that psychotropic drugs as a group are relatively safe to take during pregnancy and women and their health care providers should not be unduly concerned if a woman requires treatment,” the abstract concludes.

Koren and Einarson routinely fail to list financial ties to drug makers in their papers. The following disclosure was published in the November 2008 American Journal of Psychiatry as a correction to an article for which no disclosures were made:

“Dr. Koren and Ms. Einarson have received research support from Janssen-Ortho and Wyeth. Dr. Koren has received research support from Apotex, Duchesnay, Novartis, and Pfizer. Ms. Einarson has received unrestricted research grants from GlaxoSmithKline for studying ondansetron in pregnancy and from Organon for studying mirtazapine in pregnancy. Dr. Einarson has received research support from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Janssen-Ortho, Lundbeck, Novo Nordisk, and Organon.”

When reposting Einarson’s letter on her website, Hale states, “Adrienne currently serves as Coordinator for the International Reproductive Psychiatry group at Motherisk in Toronto.”

At the start of the letter to Vogue, Einarson writes: “I am writing to you on behalf of an international group of individuals who are involved with reproductive mental health, as either clinicians, researchers and in some cases both.”

“We would like to voice our concerns regarding your recent piece entitled “Pregnant Pause,” which we felt, did not achieve a balanced perspective on this issue, which was surprising to us, coming as it did from such a highly esteemed publication as Vogue,” she states.

Einarson makes claims on behalf of this group without identifying a single member by name. If these “International” groups exist, there is remarkably little information about it on the internet. A google search a couple months ago for “International Reproductive Psychiatry Group” brought up 2 hits – both to the comments above. A search for “North American Reproductive Psychiatry Group” had 2 hits – both to references made by Einarson at various times.

In her letter to Vogue, Einarson wrote: “Another disturbing theme that came up several times in the article, is that physicians hand out antidepressants like candy, and physicians in our group were most offended by this statement as they are very careful about prescribing antidepressants and would not give them to someone who not does not require treatment.”

Here she is likely referring to Dr Urato’s warnings and statements such as: “What alarms doctors is the sheer number of pregnant women who use SSRI antidepressants – perhaps as many as 250,000 in the U.S. each year – when we still know so little about how the drugs effect babies,” as Jetter reported.

In conclusion in her letter to Vogue, Einarson refers to her “International” group again, and states: “Finally, and I am sure this was not your intention, several of our group members who are psychiatrists have reported that their pregnant patients have decided to stop taking their antidepressant since they read your article,” she claims.

She then gives what she calls “one example of the damage you may have caused by this highly biased and often inaccurate article.”

“After reading this article, a woman called her psychiatrist and informed her that she was not going to take her Prozac anymore,” she told Vogue, in what can only be considered good news.

Disease Mongers Wage War on TV Series

In a February 2, 2009, headline on Postpartum Progress Katherine gleefully announced: “ABC’s “Private Practice” to Feature PPD Storyline”.

ABC Television Network’s “Private Practice” will feature a storyline related to postpartum depression on its February 12 episode, the blog reported.

“After the show, viewers will be directed to ABC’s website to see a public service announcement on postpartum depression that will link to Postpartum Support International,” Katherine wrote. “We don’t know any details about the episode because it’s top secret. I’ll definitely be tuning in.”

On February 11, 2009, Postpartum Progress told readers to: “Get Your DVRs and Your TV Dinners Ready,” and Katherine wrote: “Don’t forget this Thursday night (tomorrow) is the episode of Private Practice on ABC featuring a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, and a link after the show to a new PSA on”

However, on February 13, 2009, the tone suddenly soured with Katherine posting the headline: “ABC Television Should Be ASHAMED of “Private Practice” Postpartum Psychosis Treatment”.

“I’m horrified that I encouraged you to watch what I thought would be a responsible storyline about postpartum depression on the ABC network television show “Private Practice,” she wrote.

“Never again,” she said, “will I tell the readers of Postpartum Progress to watch something that I haven’t already seen myself and can’t fully endorse.”

“Sorry I waited to write about this until now,” she continued, “but I was so spitting mad late last night I couldn’t calm down enough to type,”

“Last night’s episode was promoted, both to the public and to the members of Postpartum Support International, as one about postpartum depression,” she said, “but — surprise, surprise — it immediately devolved into a show about postpartum psychosis and a mom attempting to kill her child by holding her down under the water in the bathtub.”

“Every time the media, whether entertainment or news, chooses to cover perinatal mood and anxiety disorders,” Katherine claimed, “the portrayal is always of some out-of-control woman committing or attempting to commit infanticide.”

Katherine obviously could not accept that the show was not meant to be a pitch for the new cottage industry of “Reproductive Psychiatry,” or an extension of the disease mongering campaign for all the other “illnesses” in the “perinatal mood and anxiety disorder spectrum.” The plot rightfully remained focused on the rare occurrence of “postpartum psychosis.”

“We have to stand up at some point and let the media know the way they treat perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and mental illness in general, is unacceptable,” Katherine wrote, to incite readers.

“Just as I stopped going to Tom Cruise movies,” she said, “I will not watch “Private Practice” ever again.”

“In fact,” she said, “I may stop watching my favorite ABC show “Grey’s Anatomy” and switch over to NBC which has equally compelling shows in the 9pm EST time slot (“The Office” and “30 Rock”).”

“I ask you to please join me to PULL THE PLUG ON PRIVATE PRACTICE,” Katherine told readers.

“I also encourage you to write about this on your own blogs and use the tag ‘Pull the Plug on Private Practice'”, she advised all the other disease mongers.

Katherine then went on to list “some other bloggers’ takes on this,” and included excerpts from a blog by Susan Stone, posted on the website for her treatment center, with a headline that said: “ABC’s Private (Mal)Practice Fails to Present the Facts In a Botched Opportunity to Raise PPD Awareness.”

Katherine also provided a link to a blog by Hale with a title, “ABC’s Private Practice Misses the Mark.”

On February 13, 2009, tag-team member, Hale, chimed in with the headline: “More irresponsibility from ABC regarding PMD’s,” and told visitors to her website: “A quick visit to Katherine Stone’s blog this morning got my juices revving again. And Susan Dowd Stone was not happy about the display either.”

As if anybody gives a rat’s butt about whether the two Stone broads are happy or not.

“Katherine is calling for a boycott of the show and I have to wholeheartedly agree,” Hale wrote.

“Pull the Plug on Private Practice and their sham of attempting to represent the medical world,” she said. “How dare they drop the ball on such a sensitive topic!”

“No voice will have a louder effect than a sudden drop in viewership because that means decrease in advertising and then well, if a show isn’t profitable anymore…….,” she wrote.

“Spread the word – and stop watching,” Hale told readers.

On February 15, 2009, Katherine announced: “Warrior Moms Pull the Plug on ABC’s ‘Private Practice'”.

“I’m so happy to hear from those of you who are choosing to stop watching “Private Practice” (and a lot of you quitting “Grey’s” too) or to speak out against ABC’s irresponsible portrayal of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum psychosis,” she wrote in the blog.

“And my original post is also over on PsychCentral (thank you Dr. John Grohol for allowing me a little real estate on your amazing site),” she reported.

In fact, Grohol allowed Katherine to repost her entire rant in full on the PsychCentral.

In a reply on Grohol’s site, an “anonymous” commentator, calling himself a shrink, wrote: “As a psychiatrist, although I did not see this show, I have seen how TV and movies portray mental health issues, and the consensus is the majority overtypifies symptoms and issues, as mainstream illness is not “exciting” enough to warrant a show to titilate/wow audiences.”

“My advice,” the shrink said, “although wary to give it, is ask NAMI to get involved if they see it as a viable issue. They have the manpower to mobilize people.”

NAMI of course being another Big Pharma front group that serves as funnel of drug company money to fund disease mongering campaigns, called the “National Alliance on Mental Illness.” NAMI is listed as a main supporter of the Mothers Act on Susan Stone’s Perinatal Pro site, and was recently forced to admit that 56% of its funding since 2005, came from the pharmaceutical industry.

The February 15, 2009, headline on Postpartum Progress read: “In Their Own Words: Why They’ll Never Watch ABC’s “Private Practice” Again.”

“I wanted to share with all of you some of the commentary I received, so that you can see the kind of impact media, whether news or entertainment, has on vulnerable women,” Katherine wrote.

On February 17, 2009, she posted a headline with instructions on: “How to Contact the Media About Responsible Mental Health Representation,” and provided a link “to contact ABC to share your feelings directly on the “Private Practice” episode,” complete with a clickable email address for Anne Sweeney, President, ABC Entertainment.

It’s worth mentioning that despite all the efforts to intimidate ABC by the disease monger above, a rerun of the same episode of Private Practice just aired a few weeks ago.

Pringle Ordered to Cease and Desist

Evelyn Pringle’s first in a series of articles on the Mothers Act was published on April 7, 2009, with the title, “Mother’s Act Fuels Multibillion Dollar Industry,” by Scoop Independent News, and several other internet dailies.

The same day, Pringle received an email from Susan Stone with orders to: “Immediately correct current and past falsehoods in all posts, articles, blogs, communications and other media content regarding me and my practice.”

“In addition you are warned to cease and desist from future false and libelous statements with regard to my practice, income, funding and resources,” Susan informed Pringle, and went on to misstate the comments and topics discussed in the article.

“As far as your comments about the legislation which are ridiculously inaccurate,” she said, “I wonder how you can intentionally mislead thousands of suffering women who need treatment.”

“It appears your anti pharma agenda has clouded your reason, your compassion and your ability to be truthful in journalism,” Susan told Pringle.

“A blind copy of this email is being sent to my attorney,” Susan wrote, clearly as an intimidation tactic meant to shut Pringle up due to a fear of being sued.

“You can blind copy anything you want to your attorney or to anybody else for that matter,” Pringle replied in email. “It’s a free country.”

“I plan to blind copy my reply to several people,” she told Susan.

“Nothing I reported is factually incorrect or false but I have no intention of wasting my time debating with you,” Pringle said. “The article will remain as is and I will try to remember to mention your intimidation tactic in my next Mother’s Act article.”

“As far your phony line about me misleading “thousands of suffering women,” save it for your future victims,” Pringle told Susan.

“Maybe you could have one of the Big Pharma front groups listed on your site as backing the Mother’s Act put out a press release warning members of Congress not to read my articles,” she advised Susan.

“From this day forward, I want you to cease and desist contacting me,” Pringle told her.

On April 7, 2009, on the website for her treatment center, Kleiman also swung into action with the headline: “Mother’s Act “Scoop”ed Again.”

“Those of you who know me, know that I try hard to resist the temptation to repond to any misinformed rant with respect to postpartum depression,” she stated.

“It’s really not worth my time to defend the work that we do,” she added. “But still …” Kleiman wrote, and went on to warn readers:

“To any of you who inadvertently found yourself reading a piece called “Mother’s Act Fuels Multibillion Dollar Industry” by Evelyn Pringle, please be advised.

Here’s the article’s opening tease line: “Motherhood has fallen prey to the psycho-pharmaceutical complex. If new legislation as the Mother’s Act becomes law, the drugging of infants through pregnant and nursing mothers will no doubt increase.”

“We should be flattered to have received attention from an excellent writer who spends a great deal of her time seeking media-soaked and provocative avenues for her unique perspective and right to free speech,” Kleiman wrote. “But when it gets personal, it reveals the flaw in this particular effort of hers.”

“I suspect that if Ms Pringle were to sit down with Katherine Stone, Susan Dowd-Stone or myself, she might actually understand this issue a bit better,” she continued. “If she could step down from her big Pharma platform for long enough to see the other side of this picture that is inundated with women in real life who are pleading for their lives, she might consider another angle to her protest.”

“Let’s not be distracted,” Kleiman said. “And let’s certainly hope that Ms Pringle never experiences the hardship of loving someone who suffers with a severe mental illness.”

Just like clockwork, the human face Hale showed up on Kleiman’s website and added the comment: “Couldn’t have said it better myself, Karen.”

On April 8, 200, Amy picked up on the postings and ran the headline: “Karen Kleiman Attacks Evelyn Pringle,” on her “Bitter Pill” website.

“Evelyn Pringle has angered the beast,” Amy said. “After months of ignoring victims who speak out against The MOTHERS Act and pretending that the pro-informed consent movement did not exist, it seems that the perinatal “experts” are gearing up for an online twist-a-thon.”

Pringle responded to Kleiman with the following comments in a blog on Kleiman’s website: “I am going to do everything in my power to derail this profiteering scheme, for one reason and one reason only, to protect the helpless, voiceless victims – the fetus and nursing infants.”

“I have been investigating and reporting on off-label drug marketing schemes set up with screening scams since 2004, and this is the most disgusting one I’ve covered because it is aimed straight at the nursery and most helpless victims in the world,” she wrote.

Queen of the Spin Masters

On April 6, 2009, Grohol allowed Katherine to publish an entire article, also posted on Postpartum Progress, on PsychCentral, with the truthful title for a change of, “MOTHERS Act To Drug America’s Moms for Fake Postpartum Depression.”

However, the article was actually an attack on the people and groups that have worked to expose the Mothers Act for what it is, and quite possibly Katherine’s most brazen disease mongering article to date.

“The emotional health of approximately 1 million American families each year depends on this,” she claimed in regard to the need to get the Mothers Act passed.

“Because honestly,” she wrote, “if we can’t get this one bill passed, how are we going to tackle the much bigger task of helping every single woman with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder who needs help in this country?”

“There are some people who, for whatever reason,” Katherine said, “have decided to convince others that the singular purpose of the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act is to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies and drug our nation’s mothers.”

Katherine then posed the question: “Have these people not seen the research?”, and proceeded on with a rant of totally false and misleading statements about the medical problems occurring in women and infants resulting from the treatment or non-treatment of pregnant women for depression.

Do they not know, she said, that women with untreated depression during pregnancy are (1) twice as likely to have pre-eclampsia, (2) twice as likely to have a C-section, (3) twice as likely to have a preterm delivery, and (4) twice as likely to have their baby go to NICU?

A good place to start the debunking process is with the false claims about preeclampsia, because it leads to preterm birth and babies ending up in intensive care, if they live at all.

Preeclamsia is a disorder of pregnancy typically occurring after the 20th week of gestation. “It is characterized by sudden and dangerous spikes in blood pressure, protein in the urine, abnormal swelling of feet, face, and hands, upper abdominal pain, and nausea,” according to the Preeclampsia Foundation.

“The only known treatment is to deliver the baby,” the Foundation states. “Preeclampsia is the most common known cause of premature birth and responsible for half a million neonatal deaths worldwide.”

“Women taking antidepressants experienced significantly higher frequency of birth complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and premature rupture of membranes, than women with depression who had not taken antidepressants during pregnancy,” according to a report on a study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, by Psychiatric News on December 7, 2007.

A more recent study in the March, 2009, AJP, titled, “Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Use and Risk of Gestational Hypertension,” assessed the effects of treating pregnant women with SSRIs on the risks of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia, compared to women who did not receive SSRIs during pregnancy or received SSRIs only in the first trimester of pregnancy.

The study found gestational hypertension “was present in 9.0% of the 5,532 women who were not treated with SSRIs and 19.1% of the 199 women who were treated with SSRIs.”

“Among women who received treatment, gestational hypertension was present in 13.1% of the 107 women who received treatment only during the first trimester and in 26.1% of the 92 women who continued treatment beyond the first trimester,” the research showed.

“The occurrence of preeclampsia was 2.4% among women who were not treated with SSRIs, 3.7% among women who were exposed to SSRIs only during the first trimester, and 15.2% among women who continued SSRI treatment beyond the first trimester,” according to the study.

Then there is the study by the drug company hack, Wisner, discussed above that found women exposed to continuous treatment with SSRIs had an increased risk for preterm birth of 23%, and women with continuous depression but no SSRIs, had a lower increased risk of 21%.

Voiceless victims

The warning section on the labeling for antidepressants contains the following statements on babies being born to women who use the drugs during pregnancy, listing features “consistent with either a direct toxic effect of SSRIs and SNRIs or, possibly, a drug discontinuation syndrome:”

Neonates exposed “late in the third trimester have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding. … Reported clinical findings have included respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting, hypoglycemia, hypotonia, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, tremor, jitteriness, irritability, and constant crying.”

In some states, mothers who take street drugs are arrested for subjecting newborns to drug withdrawal, yet the antidepressant withdrawal syndrome is no less traumatic. The only wall separating culpability between the two drug ingesting mothers is that addicts are usually aware of the consequences of their use, while the naive mothers on legal drugs are seldom warned about the withdrawal effects they may cause.

An August, 2006 study in the Archives of General Psychiatry compared babies born to depressed mothers treated with SSRIs to those born to depressed mothers who were not treated, and found a significantly greater incidence of respiratory distress, 13.9% vs 7.8%, as well as longer hospital stays for infants exposed to SSRIs. The study also found birth weight and gestational age were significantly less in SSRI exposed infants.

“These findings are contrary to an expectation that treating depressed mothers with SSRIs during pregnancy would be associated with lessening of the adverse neonatal consequences associated with maternal depression,” lead researcher, Dr Tim Oberlander, told Reuters on August 25, 2006.

On August 13, 2009, Psychiatry Update carried the headline: “SSRI babies need monitoring,” for a report by Louise Wallace on a study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry that found infants exposed to antidepressants in late pregnancy were at risk of discontinuation symptoms and more likely to suffer from jaundice and be admitted to special care nurseries.

“In more than 50 pregnant women who took part in the prospective study, newborns exposed to SSRI antidepressants had more symptoms including reflux, poor sleeping and feeding, crying, sneezing and tremor than those who were not exposed,” Wallace wrote.

The authors of the study, “suggested the length of hospital stay for mothers who are exposed to antidepressant medication in late pregnancy should be reviewed and that the length of stay should be measured in days rather than hours after giving birth,” Wallace reported.

“Symptoms such as tremor, irritability and jitteriness may be easily confused with convulsions, which may result in misdiagnosis and significant associated morbidity for the infant,” the authors said. “This suggests the need to clarify diagnostic criteria for the neonatal to improve identification and management.”

On July 19, 2006, the FDA issued a warning that: “A recently published case-control study has shown that infants born to mothers who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) after the 20th week of pregnancy were 6 times more likely to have persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) than infants born to mothers who did not take antidepressants during pregnancy.”

Infants with PPHN require intensive care nurseries often with mechanical assistance to breath, and 10% to 20% do not survive even if they receive treatment. Those that do, may experience developmental delays, brain abnormalities and hearing loss.

PPHN normally occur in 1-2 live births per 1,000. Based on the estimate of 250,000 pregnant women taking antidepressants in the US, and a rate increase of 6-fold, the rate of babies born with PPHN would increase from between 250 and 500 per year, to between 1,500 and 3,000.

A number of jury trials are scheduled to begin in the US this fall involving families of infants born with heart birth defects as a result of women not being warned about the danger of taking Paxil while pregnant, with jury selection in the first case, at last check, scheduled to begin in Philadelphia on September 10, 2009.

More than 600 birth defect cases are currently pending against Paxil maker, GlaxoSmithKline, alone in the combined Multi-District Litigation in Pennsylvania.

Recruitment of Life-long customers

In the article on Grohol’s website, in reference to people fighting against the Mothers Act, Katherine asks: “Do they not know that women with untreated postpartum depression can go on to have chronic depression for the rest of their lives?”

No, but we do know that Katherine was diagnosed with what must be chronic and possibly life-long “postpartum OCD” in 2001, because she is still on antidepressants eight years later in 2009, and was still calling the drug company shill, Jeffrey Newport, her shrink in 2007.

But then much to the drug makers’ delight, many people are forced to take antidepressants for years. The author of the new book, “Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime,” Dr Grace Jackson, explains that many patients find they can not stop. Not because they develop a craving, she says, “but because the withdrawal effects are severe and often misinterpreted by doctors as proof of a relapse into depression.”

In the book, “The Antidepressant Solution,” Dr Joseph Glenmullen calls this situation the “antidepressant catch 22,” because withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and crying spells can mimic a patient’s original condition. “When this happens, patients are needlessly put back on the drugs, often for years and despite severe side effects,” he reports.

In July 2009, UK expert, Dr David Healy, author of the new book, “Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder,” issued a “SSRI Withdrawal Guide,” available on Bob Fiddaman’s popular website, “Seroxat Sufferers Stand Up and Be Counted.”

“One of the biggest problems of SSRI dependence involves women who are on treatment and unable to stop who wish to become pregnant,” Dr Healy warns in the guide. “Getting off an SSRI at present seems more difficult for women than men, even with the incentive of wishing to become pregnant.”

Dr Jackson warns that almost all psychiatric drugs either sensitize the brain to other addictions, such as benzos cross-sensitizing to alcohol or stimulants cross-sensitizing to cocaine, or become addictive substances on their own.

For most patients, she says, the use of psychiatric medications fulfills four of the seven DSM criteria for dependence including: (1) tolerance; (2) withdrawal; (3) larger amounts consumed, or longer use than intended; and (4) continued use despite the fact that the treatments cause significant suffering and disability, such as impaired judgment when driving, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, or impulsivity.

This knowledge provides additional reasons to fight against the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign in order to prevent the forced drugging of more helpless and voiceless infants through pregnant and nursing mothers.

Mother who beheaded, dismembered and ate parts of infant son has been in and out of psych ward

Relative: Texas woman accused of dismembering infant son has been ‘in and out’ of psych ward

Paul J. Weber July 27th, 2009

Aunt: Mom accused in baby death had psych problems

SAN ANTONIO — An aunt of San Antonio woman accused of dismembering her 3½-week-old son with swords and eating his body parts says her niece has been “in and out of a psychiatric ward.”

Gloria Sanchez said Monday that her 33-year-old niece, Otty Sanchez, was “not in her right mind” and that the family is devastated.

Otty Sanchez is charged with capital murder in the death of her infant son.

Police say Otty Sanchez told officers called to her house early Sunday that she killed her son at the Devil’s request. Police say she dismembered the baby using swords and a knife and ate parts of his body, including his brain, before stabbing herself and slicing her own throat.

Otty Sanchez is recovering at a hospital and is being held on $1 million bond.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A woman charged with murdering her 3½-week-old son used a knife and two swords to dismember the child and ate parts of his body, including his brain, before stabbing herself in the torso and slicing her own throat, police said Monday.

Otty Sanchez, 33, is charged with capital murder in the death of her infant son, Scott Wesley Buchholtz-Sanchez. She was recovering from her wounds at a hospital, and was being held on $1 million bail.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said the early Sunday morning attack occurred a week after the child’s father moved out. The child’s aunt and two cousins, ages 5 and 7, were in the house, but none were harmed.

McManus, who appeared uncomfortable as he addressed reporters, said Sanchez apparently ate the child’s brain and some other body parts. She also tore his face off, chewed off three of his toes and decapitated the infant before stabbing herself.

“It’s too heinous for me to describe it any further,” McManus said.

Officers called to Sanchez’s house at about 5 a.m. Sunday found her sitting on the couch “screaming that she killed her baby,” police spokesman Joe Rios said. They found the boy’s body in a bedroom.

Police said Sanchez said the devil told her to kill her son.

“It was a spontaneous utterance,” McManus said. “She said she was hearing voices.”

Sanchez does not yet have a lawyer, police said, and was hospitalized in San Antonio. The police declined to identify other family members.

No one answered the door Monday at Sanchez’s home, where the blinds were shut. A hopscotch pattern and red hearts were drawn on the walk leading up to the house.

Neighbor Luis Yanez said everyone on the street was appalled by the news.

“Why would you do that to your baby?” said Yanez, 23, a tire technician. “It brings chills to you. They can’t defend themselves.”

Filed under Crime | Tags: North America, San Antonio, Texas, United States, Violent Crime

How Long Til’ My Soul Gets It Right?

On anniversaries of significant things in my life I usually pay closer attention to what’s going on in the world around me and think about how to move forward and make changes for the better or appreciate what I have. This Saturday I had a nice day with family and friends and I considered writing about that anniversary… one of the worst days of my life. I thought about writing about how it felt to have my heart ripped out as my family left their too-short visit with me in the mental ward to go back to my house without me and I couldn’t hold my own baby or be with him, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I remember Joel telling me on the phone while I was in the hospital that Isaac cried, seemed to miss me, and was somewhat inconsolable for much of the night.

Sunday was the anniversary of my release from the psych ward. I could write pages about how it felt getting out, but it can basically be summed up in a few sentences. I was humiliated and ashamed. I was traumatized. I was thankful to be out and with my baby. I felt free, yet I felt scared – terrified of myself and what I might do. I was angry at having been a prisoner even though I did nothing wrong. I was disgusted by the utter mistreatment I had been through.

Today I have to remember to check for the TIME Magazine July 20 edition so I can have a few hard copies for safe keeping. You know, to save them from the bonfire ceremonies in back yard barbecue grills around the country. I’m also expecting that there will be more hateful or misinformed blog entries that I will read in the blogosphere about The MOTHERS Act and how it will “hurt no one” and “save lives” and “your children will thank you for it.” And despite lies like this I will speak the truth and hope someone who needs to hear it will listen.

Some times I feel like I accomplished something good, and think, I can sit back for a while and just enjoy my life for a change and not constantly be thinking of the next thing I need to do. And then I look at Matthew’s picture, or Indiana’s picture, or Manie’s videos, or I get a chance to talk to Christian or Christiane or Amery. Or I get a random phone call pleading for help from a mom whose child is being drugged in foster care or in a psych hospital. I feel a sense of responsibility to do anything I can to help them get their stories out there or to help get things resolved for them. But mostly I feel like I owe it to the babies who are in danger right now to do all that I can to help them.

I’ve been thinking about how people accuse our side of saying PPD “isn’t real” – which is an obvious twist on the fact that we do state that the drugs are so dangerous that we don’t feel it’s justifiable for people to go blithely around promoting them. But that does not make the suffering of women any less real or less important. It’s important to take a step back and think about how to help all these people who may or may not be on drugs. Some of the PPD bloggers write that meds are a crucial part of treatment and self help cannot cure all cases. I can somewhat agree with the last part – that “self help” cannot cure all cases – if by self help we’re talking about reading books and taking baths and other methods of relaxation / self-training. Because in my case, all the self help in the world was not going to cure what the drugs did to me. Only removing the drugs was going to make me totally better. It’s true I never should have started them in the first place, but I did, and I suffered for four + months because of it. But I also have a very hard time imagining that the majority of cases could not be helped with “self care” alone, considering how much self help helped me out while I was insane.

In the remaining cases I think women need to see an alternative practitioner or do a lot of research into alternatives, and not simply see a drug prescribing doctor to get drugs. This would not fall under the category of “self-help” in my opinion. Since when does alternative medicine get forgotten and it’s like it’s a choice between taking toxic poison and reading a book?

I’ve written about this before but if you just google orthomolecular medicine you can learn about how people have cured things like schizophrenia with megadoses of vitamins. Also google Soteria houses (these are places where people with schizophrenia go to get well without drugs). Both these strategies can help people get better without neuroleptics. Also I know that Jenny Hatch has a lot of knowledge, as do several people I know, including Dr. Tracy, about the use of essential oils being applied to the skin to help with all sorts of health ailments. Since the oils are concentrated herbs etc. they apparently work very quickly. You might check out Jenny’s other blog for more on that.

Now as for self-help:

I thought I would just share a couple of book titles here. These are the books that I read while I was on Zoloft and trying to figure out a way to escape from the frightening thoughts I was having. I taught myself meditation and spent a lot of time praying and it did help me. Ultimately only going off of Zoloft would take the thoughts away but having these tools helped me during a desperate time. So in addition to having supervision from a family member at all times, I spent those months learning things that I’ll never forget. Whenever I get upset about something I just remember that during those times when I would pray, I felt like there was strength coming to me and protecting us because of the words I prayed. So I can always depend on that strength no matter what is going on.

One of the books I read was called How Long Til’ My Soul Gets it Right and it was a series of essays about life and the spirit. It’s been so long since I read it I cannot recall the details but I remember reading it and feeling more peaceful.

Also, Anxiety and Panic Attacks by Robert Handly. This book taught me meditation and relaxation techniques that I used to de-stress any time I had a bad thought. I told myself, I am in control. No matter what my mind was telling me to do, my mind was not going to make my body do those things. Any type of stressful thought I had, I would try to practice one of the relaxation techniques and focus on an image in my mind that I created involving a happy memory I had in a beautiful place I had been before my life had been turned upside down. I created a “dream” that I could go to if only for a short time, where everything is perfect and it always was and always would be.

It may not have been reality, but it was  a better thought than the thoughts I could have allowed myself to focus on. I would recommend doing that if you are a mother going psycho on drugs. It could possibly help in the time you are suffering, until you are able to be well again.

I can only hope that I am doing as many things right in my life and in this world as I possibly can. Although any day may be our last, feeling like there is still much work to be done makes it easier to have faith in the future. If we all do our part hopefully the world will soon be a better place than it is today.

P.S. for the sake of the paranoid anti-informed consent bloggers out there – no, I don’t get any money from recommending those books or that you read up on essential oils. The only money I earn is anything I save when my husband gives me cash each week. LOL I’m officially a useless sponge in the wet sea of life.

Please feel free to add any other suggestions here or on this other article on the blog specifically covering PPD prevention and safe treatment.

John Grohol Ignores Forced Treatment and Infant Deaths

Aside from the fact that this entire debate on PsychCentral got started when Dr. Bremner agreed with TIME magazine, and Grohol tried to “expose” Bremner based on a flimsy argument that there are really tons and tons of other “risk factors” of which we need to be aware when mass targeting women with DSM “diagnoses,” (mostly “risk factors” that apply to anyone and everyone if they have them, not just new moms), Dr. Grohol expects people to be convinced by his lame debating skills and attempts at distracting from all the issues. And aside from the fact that his entire argument for screening and The MOTHERS Act is that new moms are too stupid to realize that treament is out there for PPD, or too depressed to realize that they are depressed, he seems to be making this argument about him. It’s almost like it’s a contest in his mind between who is the smartest, Bremner or him. As if the issues in this debate over a potential federal law targeting mothers were really Bremner or Grohol, a couple of guys who will never have PPD or be a pregnant or nursing mother under a big brother spotlight. (Except that Grohol seems to promote anything pharma wants, and probably hopes to become a government funded entity helping to carry out the projects in the bill.)

All along attempting to comment on the blog has been met with condescending comments stating that we are not on topic, that’s not relevant, that’s not what I’m talking about, don’t talk about the players, don’t talk about forced treatment, and let’s not talk about side effects. He wants to talk about screening, as though a 10 question multiple choice test (or even 3 question test) justifies exposing a mom and her baby to toxic drugs. The entire theoretical concept of why drugs are given in the first place for mental “disorders” is ignored, so we’re supposed to make a logical leap that the treatments are irrelevant. The reverse logic that because I give you drugs and you feel better means that the emotion you had was a disease that the drugs cured is swept under the rug and kept all hush hush. Yet the sad part is that the very relevant logic that I give you drugs and then you flip out and shoot yourself, or that you can’t get off of them and then you wind up pregnant and your baby dies, is ignored as well.

As I have explained before, it is a fairly simple two-part phenomenon that would create a problem in terms of forced treatment were The MOTHERS Act to pass.

1) The paranoia of doctors and therapists not to let women slip through the cracks if a nationwide fear-mongering PPD advertising / screening campaign were initiated would lead to overzealous treatment of all sorts. Including forced treatment for those at “highest risk” or with the worst symptoms.

2) The adverse effects of drugs lead to forced hospitalization. When women go absolutely psychotic and suicidal after starting on drugs, if they are lucky they will make it long enough to ask for help. However this help will likely come in the form of being told to go to the emergency room, and forced treatment will ensue.

In addition, John Grohol continues talking about the screening being voluntary. This has not always been the goal, because it used to be that universal screening was the goal. Yet we are expected to forget what the “entities” have always wanted. Nor are we assured that women will indeed have a right to decline screenings without retaliation.

Assuming that women would only be given voluntary screenings, this does not justify the fact that the screening tools in existence are highly inaccurate and are considered unethical. If he does not believe it’s a problem to have mass screening, why does he also have no problem if the screening tool is one that is specifically designed to overdiagnose and misdiagnose women? The EPDS is the most common tool used for PPD screening. This tool triples the number of women diagnosed with PPD. And this is not a problem?

As I have also explained in the past, one third of pregnant women are exposed to psych drugs at some point during pregnancy. How could we possibly expect that there are women being missed out there who “need” treatment. Does 30% of pregnant women sound like too few and we seriously want to try to find some more women to put on drugs? What are we doing to our future?

It’s absurd and really sad that people act like screening is not going to lead to more treatment with drugs. It’s actually a desperate attempt to debate an imaginary point that doesn’t exist in the real world. In fact on the open letter to TIME posted on Katherine Stone’s blog, a letter signed by Grohol, it is emphasized that screening is not effective unless it is tied to follow up and treatment.

Psychologists and psychiatrists, OBs and family doctors are already told that medication for depression (whether in the form of antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers) should be thought of as crucial to help women, to prevent PPD etc. and that the benefits outweigh the risks. If you don’t believe that’s true, I simply suggest you read the comments on the MOTHERS Act promoters’ websites and how they minimize the risks of medications or try to convince others that meds are the way to go. The “It worked for me and my friends all swear by it” phenomenon. Perhaps this would fall under the “euphoria” side effect on the label, which is sometimes later followed by “paranoia, aggressive reaction, delusions, and illusions.”

John Grohol argues that we are trying to limit treatment choices for women. On the contrary, we feel that women should take whatever it is that they think they need, as long as they are fully informed. We’re not advocating for fewer choices, we are advocating  for fewer lies. Our coalition opposes the widespread government-endorsed promotion of programs that lead to the use of more drugs.

We don’t think it’s a particularly great idea to sell a disorder for which the mainstay of treatment is deadly drugs (quite easier and cheaper, on some insurance plans, than lengthy psychotherapy sessions – if you believe that meds are safe and effective).

We are demanding that the government not do something to increase the risk to women and their children, but step back and instead look at the data on psychotropic drugs.

John Grohol refused to respond to the issue of forced treatment. He has also failed to mention side effects and keeps harping on the “it’s the choice of the mother” mantra. Yes, it is her choice. But it needs to be her informed choice.

He says he is for informed consent, but there is no assurance that informed consent will be given to women. In fact, it’s impossible unless the entities doling out screening and education are required to inform women completely. And as we can see from their PR campaign, they’re on more of an anti-information campaign than anything. They want to talk about PPD the disorder, we want to talk about the available treatments and ways to prevent women and children from suffering. The treatments that exist include psychotropic drugs. The word medication was in the bill last year. Psychotropic medications cause death and birth defects and have questionable efficacy at best.

If the government wants to promote a disorder and encourage the management / treatment of that disorder without the assurance that the treatment side effects will be disclosed (look for the words treatment, management, etc. in the bill) then yes, we have a serious problem with that.

John Grohol replied to me that my tone speaks volumes. Perhaps that’s because he condescends and refuses to address all the dead babies and moms committing suicide and homicide. This is the type of professional we expect to be “helping” mothers? One who is in utter denial of drug effects? Is he the role model for other psychologists or what? I would hate to think that if I were a new mother suffering and I was screened and told I was suffering from PPD, but I decided to just try psychotherapy, that I would possibly encounter someone who loves to promote drugs, yet is so incredibly ignorant (or deceptive as the case may be) about what could happen to me or my baby if I did later decide to take drugs because my therapist recommends them.

This is exactly why we need proper oversight added to this bill. Without oversight and informed consent, and assurance that the entities doling out the government-endorsed services and screening are free of conflicts of interest, we are just asking for moms to be sent to people like John Grohol, Katherine Stone, PSI, Perinatal Pro, etc., where they cannot seriously expect to get balanced information.

If the government expects complete information to be given out then we need to see what that complete information will be. We need the government allow an intial study by the public and scientists, free of pharma influence, on these treatment options, including a review of the MedWatch data and a review of all existing research (which means also looking for research that is not pharma-funded or conducted by pharma cronies) and submit a report to Congress and the public for review before passing anything into law.

I just have a few questions for Grohol:

Do you really believe that The MOTHERS Act is not a boon to the pharmaceutical industry?

Do you really believe that there will be no increase in pregnant and nursing women taking antidepressants and other drugs should it pass?

Do you really expect people to ignore the side effects of drugs in this debate, namely suicide, homicide, and infant death?