My new article here explores the often taboo topic of
why parents may give potentially harmful psych meds to their children.
I’ll be discussing it with Dr. Peter Breggin on his radio program this Wednesday at 4 pm EST at http://www.prn.fm
Please join us!
My new article on Mad in America about the price we all pay for our universal and core needs for empathy, compassion and love not being met in our wasteland culture.
This entry first appeared at Mad In America on November 10, 2015.
I felt a chill go through my body when I read that the FDA has agreed to review for possible approval in early 2016 a new form of the drug Abilify that contains a microchip sensor capable of sending a message that indicates the exact time a tablet dissolves in the stomach. The message is recorded by a skin patch – along with data such as the person’s body angle and activity patterns – and, according to a press release from Proteus Digital Health, the developer of the device, “this information is recorded and relayed to patients on a mobile phone or other Bluetooth-enabled device, and only with their consent, to their physician and/or their caregivers.”
The Japanese drug giant Otsuka teamed up with Proteus Digital Health in 2012 to create this potentially profitable new “chip in a pill” just as its patent on Abilify – at $6.9 billion the #1 most profitable drug in the U.S. in 2013 – was set to expire in 2014, leaving one of Otsuka’s most valuable markets vulnerable to generics. It is especially ominous to me that our government is teetering toward passing the Murphy Bill, which would make forced in-home treatment the law of the land, at the same time it is lurching toward putting such an Orwellian device in the hands of a pharmaceutical company, courts, and families.
According to the Washington Examiner:
”The new smart drug could be particularly useful for ensuring the mentally ill continue taking their medications, not just by giving doctors a way to monitor their behavior, but courts as well…all but five states have court-ordered programs where a judge can mandate that offenders with severe mental illness stick with a treatment program as a condition of remaining in the community.”
As one Facebook commenter noted; putting a pill in your mouth and swallowing it, knowing it’s going to transmit a message to prove one is submissive and compliant, is beyond Orwellian – it feels fascistic. I agree. The social contract draws an invisible line that must be guarded against forces in a society that, driven by fears, fantasies of benevolence, or by simple greed, and are blind and deaf to the cries of its citizens as their bodily and personal integrity are ground into powder along with the preparations they are compelled to take in the specious name of “health” and “safety.”
Sometimes, radicalizing people politically takes a really callous, stupid, and dangerous threat to people’s liberty. This is one of those times.
The Washington Examiner article cites recent research that shows 74% of people who are started on antipsychotic medications stop taking them within 18 months. That’s the justification offered for a psych drug that monitors its own use.
“These individuals already have a history of problems due to their unwillingness or inability to voluntarily comply with treatment … this could be an important advance for them that would help them maintain treatment compliance.”
— D.J. Jaffe of the Mental Illness Policy Org.
Think about it: faced with the overwhelming 74% failure of a pharmaceutical intervention, why is the core issue deemed to be compliance rather than efficacy, and consumers’ safety & satisfaction? And why are we “gearing up” to ensure compliance in particular for a drug that even the FDA admits has an unknown mechanism of action?
What other medical specialty would blame its patients for so overwhelmingly choosing not to take the medications that have been prescribed to them? For a field that has taken on the charge of controlling and regulating social deviance, the ethical boundaries that the FDA should be protecting are blurred by the growing perception that people who are DSM-diagnosed are potential risks to society, despite overwhelming risk to the contrary; that a DSM diagnoses should be a signal that a person needs and deserves our protection.
Only a worldview that embraces the disease and deviance model of human emotional suffering would dare to suggest putting a sensor in a psychoactive substance to monitor and enforce its ingestion by an otherwise free citizen.
I believe that at some very basic level empathy seems to have failed in a society that sees the need to develop a sensor-equipped psychoactive substance. The blasé emphasis on prioritizing prescription compliance, without considering the profound subjective experience – to anyone, let alone a person in crisis – of having a digitalized foreign object inserted deep inside, an object that is in turn sending messages to an invisible outside presence. This oversight amounts to a vertiginous stumble forward in our society’s failure to muster empathy and compassion for its members, instead delivering them, in the form of a now-literally captive market, to the drug makers.
I’ve been seeing clients in therapy for over 35 years, and at no point can I imagine sitting a few feet away from a person in distress and suggest to them that they should consider having a device inside them that would let me know every day at a distance their most intimate experiences – let alone when they digest something, lie down, or when they have taken their meds. I couldn’t do it. It would feel ghoulish and perverse.
And I don’t want to be a part of a society that would do. Even – and perhaps especially – if it were being done “in my name.”
There is an aura of something shameful, a violation of a basic human right to privacy and bodily boundaries that is being ignored in the pursuit of this new digital monitoring of psychiatric medication. The shame is that, with a pill that records the moment of its absorption into our bodies, we are seeing the realization of a long-sought ideal of totalitarian governments; to cross the blood-brain barrier, gaining access to the very seat of our autonomy, and of our souls. With this, Otsuka could fairly revamp its marketing for Abilify by renaming it “Dis-Abilify,” without so much as risking – and potentially augmenting, in a society that seems to be exuberantly embracing an Orwellian ideal – its market share.
This is a time, if there ever was one, for citizens to act, and to act decisively; before the ability to make decisions, let alone act on them, is excised from our bodies completely by the next wave of pharma development.
Of course some will object to my characterization of those who developed this seeming well-meaning medical breakthrough as lacking a moral compass. But I have already heard the cries of outrage and fear from many of those for whom this Orwellian medicine is intended.
I’ll end here with an ever-more apt quote from C.S. Lewis –
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims, may be the most oppressive.”
This entry first appeared at Mad in America on October 29, 2013.
In Butte County, California, Law Enforcement and NAMI have recently partnered to provide identification cards for people in the mental health system. The cards reveal the person’s psychiatric diagnosis and current medication prescriptions. The voluntary photo ID cards are called ‘White Cards.’
The goal is to help law enforcement have on-the-spot psychiatric information, about someone they are questioning. The local NAMI president explained the ID cards also include a person’s triggers, like . . . “If you get too close, I get violent.”
This White Card project may be well-intentioned, but it makes me very uncomfortable. I believe it is a form of psychiatric profiling that could be adopted by law enforcement around the United States, with the powerful political backing of NAMI, and the tacit if not public support of psychiatry.
The operative stigmatizing equation appears to be “mental patient” = unacceptable danger to others. Will police believe that “good,” compliant and NAMI-aligned “mental patients,” who will be able to show the police a White Card with their diagnosis and prescribed medications, make up a lower risk group, than people without a White Card, who reject being identified by a diagnosis, and may not be taking meds?
Will people without White Cards be seen as potentially more dangerous by the police?
And won’t the police eventually want a data base of all White Card holders to cross check against when someone hands them a White Card, creating a kind of watch list?
I can imagine staff at psychiatric hospitals pressuring confined people, to sign up for a White Card as a new and added criterion for their discharge.
I can imagine staff at mental health clinics urging people who are court-ordered to receive forced treatment in the community to also get a White Card.
The cards can be obtained at a NAMI office, or at the police station.
Supplying people with “mental patient” identification cards, conveys the implication that something is proven, that predicts a person’s behavior about potential violence, whereas the state of the scientific research, cannot support such an ID card project aimed at violence prevention. It ends up being psychiatric profiling – a whole class of people becomes the socially identified scapegoat, based on the fears and projections of others. Once again we see the psychiatric diagnosis process serving as a public degradation ceremony, that effectively strips personal identity away, to legitimize the enforcement of the regulation of deviance in our communities.
This White Card project is happening against the backdrop of over 40 states oppressing people with forced, in home treatment laws.
Draconian measures imprisoning and forcibly medicating and giving ECT to people, are challenged now by the UN, which equates forced psychiatric treatment with torture, as Tina Minkowitz has so well documented here on Madinamerica.
This joint Law Enforcement/NAMI White Card project looks to be another ominous development to me.
The chemical imbalance theory is so yesterday. Here comes the genetic theory of mental illness. Of course, pharma drugs supposedly fix the genetic flaws. If true, our brains are being genetically engineered by drugs.
by Michael Cornwall, Ph.D.
Does Anyone Want a Genetically Modified Brain? – Anti-Psychotic Medications May Have Been Causing It To Happen All Along
Move over outdated chemical imbalance theory, now it is claimed that genetic misregulation underlies psychiatric disease, and that psychiatric drugs themselves can fix the genetic misregulation problem. The just released report by the Toronto-based Krembil Epigenetics Laboratory says:
Anti-psychotics and mood stabilizing agents are capable of promoting epigenetic modifications associated with an active transcriptional state at disease-relevant loci, suggesting new molecular mechanisms of anti-psychotic efficacy.
The report—entitled “Epigenetics of Major Psychoses: Progress, Problems and Perspectives”—was supported by the Canadian Institute for Health and the National Institutes of Health. It represents the cutting edge science on the brain, genetics, and so-called psychiatric disease.
To me, this report heralds an Orwellian prophecy of hugely ominous proportions. Anti-psychotic and mood altering agents are being cheerfully seen as acceptable gene modifying substances that reverse the genetic misregulation that is boldly claimed to underlie so-called schizophrenia and bi-polar.
This is the new model. No more unprovable, debunked chemical imbalance theory of causation. Now we read:
Rapidly growing evidence shows that epigenetic regulation underlies normal cognition, and that cognition dysfunction occurs upon epigenetic misregulation.
Several psychiatric medications have been shown to produce epigenetic changes in the brain … the therapeutic actions of current medications for psychiatric disorders may occur via epigentic mechanisms.
Epigenetics, is the study of modifications that occur in our DNA, which cause certain genes to be suppressed. This report says that healthy genetic functioning or expression underlies normal cognitive functioning, and that genetic misregulation underlies psychiatric disease.
That in itself is a game changing model of human emotional suffering and madness if it is true. It tightens the science that says that all causation of human experience is caused by genetically determined neurological and biological forces and processes of normality vs. disease.
But to then assert that the psychiatric medications already in use can remedy all that, by altering us and changing how our genes work, is really breathtaking in its reach and possible consequences. The moral imperative to hesitate and deeply ponder how genetic science impacts people has been a much proclaimed safeguard in the field of genetics. That requisite moral imperative seems to have been skipped over in this zeal to applaud anti-psychotic medication use as a ready way to modify genetic expression. Won’t all prescriptions for anti-psychotic medications now have to include an informed consent about their genetic modifying effects? Most people I know don’t like to eat genetically modified produce. I wouldn’t be surprised if many people will be against their prescribed psychiatric drugs affecting their genetic functioning.
In this one landmark article, these researchers are claiming to have found the cause, and in psychiatric medications, the probable genetically modifying treatment for so-called schizophrenia and bi-polar. Should we doubt that every other DSM diagnosis will also be found to have such epigenetic underpinnings soon?
Maybe now the decades long, holy grail quest for a single gene causation of so-called schizophrenia, by the believers in the bio-psychiatry medical model, will come to an end.
Bob Whitaker’s recent courageous blog and video here on Mad In America traces the thread of eugenics in our history right up to the present in “The Taint Of Eugenics In NIMH-Funded Research Today.” It looks like our Canadian neighbors may have beaten our own NIMH in boldly declaring the new era of the interface of psychiatry with epigenetics.
Will this new era also seek to separate those perceived as normal humans from those believed to be genetically abnormal? Will pathologizing eyes care to look deeper and ask questions about human rights?
Does anyone deserve to have their brain and gene functioning altered, perhaps permanently by psychiatric medications?
Instead of celebrating this research, I grieve for the millions who were not offered a viable alternative to such medications and who still are not.
Republished from Mad in America with thanks!