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  Dr. Peter Breggin's
Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy,
Education & Living Newsletter

  11/15/2010 - Volume1, Issue 11
  In This Issue

Forest Laboratories is Settling Lawsuits Relating to Illegally Marketing Antidepressants to Children & Adolescents

Benzodiazepine Drugs Linked to Brain Damage 30 Years Ago-Documents Suppressed

International Noncompliance and Humanistic Antipsychiatry
by Peter Lehmann, PhD

Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education & Living

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  Dear [Contact.First Name],

We have an insightful and very important report from one of the leading members of the international psychiatric reform movement, Peter Lehmann, PhD.  He provides vivid and clear analysis of why we must move away from psychiatric labels and treatment and what the future holds if we do not.

We also have two important articles that have recently appeared in major newspapers about damaging psychiatric drug effects and attempts to address these in the legal arena.

Thank you for your support and encouragement. Remember that it is time now to join our Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education & Living and register for our first conference  which is coming up in April 2011.  The conference promises to be a fresh and exciting event gathering together some of the most innovative thinkers and practitioners in the psychiatric reform and therapy and education fields.

Very best,
Ginger Breggin, Editor

Forest Laboratories Settling Lawsuits Relating to Illegally Marketing Antidepressants to Children & Adolescents

An article by reporter Jim Doyle appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch October 30, 2010 reported:

A month after a Forest Laboratories subsidiary  pleaded guilty of illegally marketing antidepressants to children and adolescents, Forest Laboratories is now settling a string of wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits from the parents of children who took the drugs Celexa and Lexapro.

Fifty-four lawsuits, mostly involving suicides and attempted suicides by teenagers in various parts of the country, accuse the New York-based pharmaceutical company of concealing a negative pediatric study on Celexa, duping physicians about the drug's clinical trials, and targeting children in aggressive promotions of Celexa and a sister drug, Lexapro.

Four of the cases were settled Friday, and two additional cases were settled in recent weeks.

A surge of related settlements, which could total millions of dollars, is expected in the months ahead as the pharmaceutical company attempts to move beyond the controversy surrounding its marketing of antidepressants to children.

Last month, the company's subsidiary — Forest Pharmaceuticals, based in Earth City — agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges involving its marketing and manufacturing practices and also to pay more than $300 million in criminal and civil penalties. The U.S. attorney's office in Boston is continuing to investigate the potential criminal liability of Forest officers and employees.

According to federal regulators, Forest waged an aggressive campaign from 1999 through at least 2005 to promote the use of Celexa and Lexapro in children and teenagers, although neither drug was approved for pediatric use.

Details of Forest Laboratories' monetary settlements with aggrieved families have not been made public, but the lawsuits themselves present a glimpse of the alleged harm caused by the company, including hefty payments to pediatricians and other physicians to tout the benefits of the drugs.

In vivid detail, the complaints allege that children under the influence of Celexa and Lexapro committed acts of suicide and violence. And the victims' families accuse the pharmaceutical company of fraud and negligence in failing to warn physicians and the public about the drugs' known dangers.

But the settlements are cloaked in secrecy, with each side vowing not to disclose the dollar amounts paid or other aspects of their agreements.

Read more here.

From the United Kingdom newspaper The Independent:  “Drugs linked to brain damage 30 years ago”

MPs and campaigners predict class action after failures to mount full-scale research into warnings left millions of patients at risk -- By Nina Lakhani

Secret documents reveal that government-funded experts were warned nearly 30 years ago that tranquillisers that were later prescribed to millions of people could cause brain damage.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) agreed in 1982 that there should be large-scale studies to examine the long-term impact of benzodiazepines after research by a leading psychiatrist showed brain shrinkage in some patients similar to the effects of long-term alcohol abuse.

However, no such work was ever carried out into the effects of drugs such as Valium, Mogadon and Librium – and doctors went on prescribing them to patients for anxiety, stress, insomnia and muscle spasms.

 MPs and lawyers described the documents as a scandal, and predicted they could lead the way to a class action costing millions. There are an estimated 1.5 million "involuntary addicts" in the UK, and scores display symptoms consistent with brain damage.

Read more here.

International Noncompliance and Humanistic Antipsychiatry (1)

by Peter Lehmann, PhD

This is a speech given by Dr. Lehmann on the occasion of the awarding of an Honorary Doctoral Degree on 28 September 2010 by the School of Psychology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Dr. Lehmann has honored our Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education & Living by joining our Advisory Council.

The term 'humanistic antipsychiatry' is often misunderstood since 'antipsychiatry' is used variously in many countries to express their own cultural characteristics. Modern humanistic antipsychiatry is an undogmatic and humanistic movement. The Greek 'anti' means more than simply 'contra'. It means also 'alternative', 'beyond' or 'independent'.

Humanistic antipsychiatry is orientated toward the interests of users and survivors of psychiatry whose main concerns are self-determination and freedom from bodily harm. Humanistic antipsychiatry is filled with a contrarian spirit and the fundamental conviction that:

·   psychiatry as a scientific discipline cannot do justice to the expectation of solving mental problems that are largely of a social nature,

·   its propensity and practice to use force constitutes a threat, and
·   its diagnostic methods obstruct the view of the real problems of individuals in the society.

For these reasons, humanistic antipsychiatry pleads for:

·   developing adequate and effective assistance for people in emotional difficulties
·   safeguarding civil rights in treatment on a par with 'normal' patients
·   joining forces in cooperation with other human rights and self-help groups
·   support in withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, use of alternative and less toxic psychotropic substances
·   a ban on electroshock
·   new ways of living with madness and being different—with as much independence from institutions as possible
·   tolerance, respect and appreciation of diversity at all levels of life.

Psychiatric Threat as a Broad Societal Problem

The problem of the lack of support in times of emotional stress does not merely affect a minority; rather the broad spectrum of society is affected: those directly affected, their relatives, children, old people and the marginalized. Protection from psychiatric violence would have the effect of reducing anxiety in the whole of society. Apart from the positive effect on the health of society in general, the reduction in the flood of prescriptions for psychotropic drugs and the associated so-called therapeutic secondary diseases, with their resulting physical, psychological and social handicaps, would have a radical cost-reducing effect. Understanding and empathy for the pain suffered by psychotic or depressed people, with its roots in the way our culture is experienced, would lead to more personal insight and help prevent isolation and alienation.

Modern Neuroleptics—An Improvement?

In mainstream science, psychotropic drugs, especially neuroleptics, are seen as helpful antipsychotic medication making people responsive to therapy, alleviating psychoses, preventing or healing illness, and improving the quality of life, enabling psychiatric patients to be integrated into society and capable of working. When psychiatrists believe themselves to unobserved, they use a different vocabulary; they speak of patients being 'emotionally walled in', wearing 'emotional armor', of 'haldol corpses', of the 'zombie syndrome' and the 'syndrome of the broken wing'.

Psychiatrists keep telling us that the never-ending flood of new psychiatric drugs cause fewer and fewer unwanted effects and are ever better tolerated; you can read this in the marketing material of the pharmaceutical companies.

Gerhard Ebner, President of the Swiss Association of Psychiatric Medical Directors (who served on Janssen Pharmaceuticals' Advisory Board regarding the introduction of Risperdal Constaxxx), spoke a different language in 2003 in a psychiatric journal as he emphasized the main difference between typical and so called atypical neuroleptics: improved compliance—in other words, the willingness of the patients to bow to the psychiatric treatment regime which characterizes the new neuroleptics:

"It is not a case of fewer side-effects, but of different ones which can be just as debilitating even if the patient isn't immediately aware of them. Therefore, patients can be more easily motivated to take these drugs because they no longer suffer instantly and as much from the excruciating dyskinesias/extrapyramidal side-effects" (Ebner, 2003, p. 30).

Studies and publications show that patients are never properly informed about the risks and so-called side effects of psychiatric treatment. They also show that information and help in coming off psychiatric drugs is withheld (Lahti, 2008). Human rights are systematically abused: people with psychiatric diagnoses are hugely discriminated against within the healthcare systems. Help in solving the problems that led to psychiatrization in the first place is rarely provided and treatment often leads to traumatization, resulting in years of psychiatrization. All of this happens without it having the slightest effect on the psychiatrists, who until recently mistreated even adolescent patients, without obtaining any legal consent, with electro- and insulin-shock, and who remain nonetheless highly esteemed members of their fraternity. One such highly esteemed member is the German psychiatrist Henrik Uwe Peters, personal honorary member of the World Psychiatric Association (Lehmann, 2010).

The fact that psychotropic drugs—just like other mind altering drugs like hashish or alcohol, for example—can neutralize emotional problems for a period of time only serves to increase the misery in the medium and long term.

Just how important well-founded professional information is for the psychiatric patients when weighing the risks and benefits of psychotropic drugs and in deciding for themselves whether or not to take them can be seen in the known main risks of the modern atypical neuroleptics. Remoxipride (Roxiam®) was announced, for instance, in 1991 as a 'rose without any thorns', as a well-tolerated drug without any side effects. It was taken off the market three years later by the manufacturer because of a series of life-threatening cases of aplastic anaemia—anaemia characterized by the reduction of red and white blood cells due to a defect in the haemepoietic (blood-building) system, but this 'medication' is still available. Another example of tolerance problems with an atypical neuroleptic is sertindole (Serdolect®), which for a long time was considered to produce few unwanted effects. In 1998, in medical databases on the Internet, the term 'free of side-effects' could be found for this drug. The following quote is from the beginning of December 1998 from the Swiss medical journal Ärzte Zeitung: "Sale of Serdolect® stopped—the reason was severe cardiac side effects and fatalities." These fatalities have long since been 'buried'—in contrast to Serdolect®.

New atypical neuroleptics are constantly being launched—the latest one is asenapine (Saphris®); they all high-risk. Other risks of note associated with these substances are drug-induced deficit syndrome, obesity, hypercholesterinaemia (enhanced level of cholesterol in the blood), diabetes, irreversible receptor-changes responsible for tardive dyskinesia, apoptosis (increased cell-death) and mortality, especially when prescribed in combination with other drugs. But such atypical receptor-changes, which can lead to tardive psychoses, are to be accepted as a calculated risk. Tardive psychoses are psychological disturbances which can occur during treatment with neuroleptics, when they are being withdrawn or later, and are typical for atypical neuroleptics. Ungerstedt and Ljungberg at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm published results of studies in which rats were administered the conventional neuroleptic haloperidol and as a comparison the atypical clozapine (Leponex®). They believe that atypical neuroleptics modify subtypes of specific dopamine-receptors, produce their supersensitivity and contribute to the risk of new, increasing, or chronically powerful psychoses of organic origin, which can be understood as a 'counterpart to tardive dyskinesia' (Ungerstedt & Ljungberg, 1977, p. 199).

Modern Psychiatry—A Better Psychiatry?

The psychiatry of the future appears in an even more sinister shape on the horizon: psychiatrists and pharmacologists are thinking of the development of new forms of administration for psychiatric drugs; for example depots, which can be introduced into the womb or rectum. In rats, it is already possible to implant haloperidol-depots into the back muscles which release the substance for a year. People who have been diagnosed as suffering from compulsive disorders can have a chip implanted into their brain to regulate their moods. The newest development comes from England: The South London and Maudsley Hospital is conducting trials in the tracking of psychiatric patients. The tracker system involves fitting patients with a steel ankle strap linked to a GPS tracking system that can then monitor the location of the person with the help of a satellite. Within the framework of the Swiss Early Psychosis Project or the so-called Schizophrenia Competence Network, children's and teenagers' difficulties in school or family are tracked in order to control them in the long-term with neuroleptics and continuous psycho-education. According to the so-called 'Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States to ensure the protection of the human rights and dignity of people with mental disorder, especially those placed as involuntary patients in a psychiatric establishment', accepted by the European Council in 2005, the administration of electroshock without the patient's prior consent, involuntary hospitalization without a judge's order, and involuntary outpatient treatment is considered to be ethically acceptable. The European Union Lisbon Treaty of 2007 lays down the limitation of the human rights of psychiatric patients. Since their life-expectancy is already reduced by as much as three decades—most probably mainly as a result of cardiovascular disturbances, diabetes and suicidality by psychotropic drugs (Aderhold, 2007), it is high time for resistance at an international level, including in academic circles against the life-threatening discrimination of psychiatric patients.


Since the alternative option of human help is not currently provided, people in emotional distress have to learn to deal with what is [available]. In so far as they do not want strangers deciding their fate, they are well advised to protect themselves against arbitrary psychiatric decisions or physical injury by putting their wishes down in writing (in psychiatric wills, advance directives or patient wills, for instance) and thus have a direct influence on the quality of the treatment provided, or to start to build up alternatives. To this end, is helpful to:
     ·   organize
     ·   cooperate with suitable organizations, institutions and people
     ·   research (for example, evaluate psychiatric programs or alternative approaches)
     ·   train themselves and others
     ·   insist on being included in taking responsibility for themselves and always being included in the decision-making processes at all levels in order to ensure the quality of their care and never loosing control over their own fate.

Human rights organizations, complaints offices, and ombudsmen and -women can aid helpless psychiatric patients become clients who know how to ask for the help they need as well as to demand their civil and human rights.

Of course, in this undertaking of attempting to build up alternatives beyond psychiatry and to establish humane treatment conditions, everyone, including psychologists, is addressed who is interested in the healing and strengthening of the life force as well as in a society based on tolerance and equal rights. How can a person be helped through psychotherapy if he has been psychiatrically humiliated and the administration of personality changing psychotropic drugs make uncovering and resolving conflict with therapeutic support impossible right from the start? What is the point of considering what the best psychotherapeutic approach might be when the neuroleptics impair the remittance of psychotic states due their tendency to cause apathy, and in approximately two- thirds of pharmacological treatments, lead to depressive, even suicidal states? Is it not time for psychologists to start studying the effects of psychotropic drugs and to become more and more noncompliant?

It is time to develop an understanding of the user/survivor discourse in the training of professionals and academics and for users and survivors of psychiatry themselves to be recognized as those with the most in-depth understanding of their values, meanings and relationships and for them to be recognized as the real experts (Bracken, 2007); this is especially true of those who have overcome their emotional and psychiatric problems.
Users and survivors of psychiatry must reflect and approach the situation with care. Being a user or survivor of psychiatry is not in itself a category which makes one a better human being. It is most important to be respectful in one's dealings with each other, even when we have different preferences, and to aim for productive cooperation with all those who are striving against the dumbing-down, repression, exploitation, and standardization of human beings. We must take care not to create new dependencies. We must never forget that, apart from our health, there is nothing more important than freedom and independence.

Allow me here to express my heartfelt thanks to the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the School of Psychology for their courageous step in awarding me an honorary doctorate2. It is my hope that this university which has thus honored the experience of users and survivors of psychiatry will become an example for other universities so that the voices of these survivors will be heard and they will be supported in their fight for their human rights. (2)


(1) Translation by Mary Murphy; thanks to Darby Penney for support in translation matters  
(2) My expression of gratitude to all those who have traveled this road with me over the last 30 years can be found in the Internet under www.peter-lehmann.de/danke


·   Aderhold, V. (2007). Mortalität durch Neuroleptika. In Verhaltenstherapie und psychosoziale Praxis, 39(4), 897-907.
·   Bracken, P. (2007). Beyond models, beyond paradigms: The radical interpretation of recovery. In P. Stastny & P. Lehmann (Eds.), Alternatives beyond psychiatry (pp. 400-402). Berlin / Eugene / Shrewsbury: Peter Lehmann Publishing.
·   Ebner, G. (2003). Aktuelles aus der Psychopharmakologie. Das Wichtigste vom ECNP-Kongress. In Psychiatrie (Switzerland), Online-edition No. 1, 29-32.
·   Lahti, P. (2004). Preface. In P. Lehmann (Ed.): Coming off psychiatric drugs: Successful withdrawal from neuroleptics, antidepressants, lithium, carbamazepine and tranquilizers (pp. 13-15). Berlin / Eugene / Shrewsbury: Peter Lehmann Publishing.
·   Lehmann, P. (2010). Medicalization and irresponsibility. In Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy (in preparation). Available on the internet at www.peter-lehmann-publishing.com/articles/lehmann/medicalization.htm.
·   Ungerstedt, U. / Ljungberg, T. (1977). Behavioral patterns related to dopamine neurotransmission. In Advances in Biochemical Psychopharmacology, 16, 193-199.

See more about Dr. Lehmann's work here.

Thank you, Peter Lehmann, for your tireless efforts on behalf of people who have been injured by psychiatry. 

For more information and details on the dangerous and damaging effects of psychiatric drugs with full references, refer to Brain Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition by Peter R. Breggin, MD.
~ The Editor

WARNING -- Most psychiatric drugs can cause withdrawal reactions, sometimes including life-threatening emotional and physical withdrawal problems. In short, it is not only dangerous to start taking psychiatric drugs, it can also be dangerous to stop them. Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done carefully under experienced clinical supervision. Methods for safely withdrawing from psychiatric drugs are discussed in Dr. Breggin's books, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock and the Psychopharmaceutical Complex (New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2008) and Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2008).

Peter R. Breggin, MD is no longer affiliated with the Center for the Study of Psychiatry, informally known as International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, which he founded and led from 1972-2002,
and Dr. Breggin is no longer involved in its conferences.

Copyright 2010
Peter R. Breggin, MD