Peter R. Breggin, MD, has been called "The Conscience of Psychiatry" for his many decades of successful efforts to reform the mental health field. His scientific and educational work has provided the foundation for modern criticism of psychiatric drugs and ECT, and leads the way in promoting more caring and effective therapies. He has authored dozens of scientific articles and more than twenty books including the bestseller Talking Back to Prozac (1994, with Ginger Breggin), Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime (2008), and Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families (2013). In 2010 he testified before Congress about psychiatric-drug induced violence and suicide in the military.

     Dr. Breggin acts as a medical expert in criminal, malpractice and product liability suits, often involving adverse drug effects such as suicide, violence, brain injury, death, and tardive dyskinesia. A review of Dr. Breggin's forensic work can be found at Legal Cases. He began testifying in the early 1970s and has been qualified in court 85 times or more since 1987.

      Dr. Breggin is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and former full-time consultant at NIMH. Dr. Breggin's private practice is in Ithaca, New York where he treats adults, couples, and families with children. He has a subspecialty in clinical psychopharmacology, including adverse drug effects and psychiatric drug withdrawal.

More information on Dr. Breggin.


  •     Stay Connected to Psychiatric-Reform News
  •   In Depth Coverage of Psychiatric Reform


    Image

     
  •   Important legal Cases
  •  
  •  Dr. Breggin’s Special Resources
  •  
  •   Drugs, Shock Treatment and More...

  • Image
     

    See Dr. Breggin's new
    ECT Resources Center
    with more than 125 annotated scientific articles, glossary of searchable terms and a brochure for patients and families.


     
    | Print |  E-mail
    triangle_head.gif  Neuroleptics (antipsychotics)
     
    In 1973, psychiatrist George Crane gained the attention of the medical community by disclosing that many, and perhaps most, long-term neuroleptic patients were developing a largely irreversible, untreatable neurological disorder, tardive dyskinesia. The disease, even its mild forms, is often disfiguring, with involuntary movements of the face, mouth or tongue. Frequently, the patients grimace in a manner that makes them look "crazy", undermining their credibility with other people. In more severe cases, patients become disabled by twitches, spasms, and other abnormal movements of any muscle groups, including those of the neck, shoulders, back, arms and legs, and hands and feet. The muscles of respiration and speech can also be impaired. In the worst cases, patients thrash about continually.
     
    Growing evidence indicates that these drugs also produce tardive psychoses that are irreversible and more severe than the patients' prior problems. In children, permanent behavioral or mental disorders frequently develop as a result of the drugs. Furthermore, drug withdrawal often causes a rebound of the anticholinergic neurotransmitter system, resulting in a flu-like syndrome that includes emotional upset, insomnia, nausea and vomiting. Many patients find themselves unable to stop taking the drugs, suggesting that we should consider them as addictive.
     
    Articles on neuroleptics and their side effects
     
     
    The following books by Dr. Peter Breggin contain further information on neuroleptic medication
     
     
     

    Special Topics

    Legal Cases

       

    Dr. Peter Breggin often acts as a medical expert in criminal, malpractice, product liability and class action suits, and since the 1970s has testified in approximately 100 trials. Most of his cases settle before trial. However, a list of more than 80 trials in which he has testified 1986 are found in the final section of his Resume.

    Dr. Breggin’s testimony has involved antidepressants, benzodiazepine tranquilizers, sleeping aids, antipsychotic drugs, stimulants for children diagnosed ADHD, drugs in nursing homes and the elderly, electroshock (ECT), psychosurgery, and involuntary treatment. Cases often include drug-induced tardive dyskinesia, suicide, violence, diabetes, and death.

    Here is a small sample of positive and sometimes precedent-setting legal outcomes with Dr. Breggin as the psychiatric expert:


    Here are some of the details of several lawsuits:

    Read more...
     

    Therapy

     
    Blunting ourselves with drugs is not the answer to overwhelming emotions. Intense emotions should be welcomed. Emotions are the vital signs of life. We need and should want them to be strong. We also need our brains and minds to be functioning at their best, free of toxic drugs. That allows us to use our intelligence and understanding to the fullest. Thinking clearly is one of the hallmarks of taking charge of oneself instead of caving in to helplessness. 
     
    Read more...
     

    Children


    Time to Call a Halt to Psychiatrically Diagnosing and Drugging Children

     

    The latest scientific literature indicates that boys averaging age 7-9 given a diagnosis of mild hyperactivity in the 1970s and treated with Ritalin (methylphenidate) have, as a group, come to a tragic outcome. Compared to a control group of normal children from the same time period, they have much higher rates of early death, atrophy of the brain, suicide, psychiatric hospitalization, incarceration, and drug addiction. By almost every measure, they have reduced quality of life and a shortened life.

     

    Instead of hope and enthusiasm for their futures, too many children now grow up believing they are inherently defective, and controlled by bad genes and biochemical imbalances.  They are shackled by the idea that they have ADHD and then subdued by the drugs that inevitably go along with the diagnosis.  Unless something intervenes, many of them will go on to pass their days on Earth in a drug-impaired, demoralized state.

     

    Why do children labeled ADHD and given stimulants as a group have such a dreadful outcome? There are multiple reasons, including:

     

    (1) The initial stimulant causes adverse effects such as depression, anxiety, agitation, insomnia, psychosis, and aggression which are not recognized as side effects. Instead, they are viewed as the unmasking of other mental disorders, leading to the prescription of cocktails of drugs that over the years ruin the individuals life.

     

    (2) The drugs “work” by stifling spontaneous behavior and enforcing OCD so that the child socializes less, thinks and imagines in a more constricted fashion, and simple cannot take advantage of ordinary growth experiences because of the limits on his social and psychological capacities.

     

    (3) The initial diagnosis of ADHD ruins the child’s sense of personal responsibility and self-control, so that the child no longer thinks he can control himself. This almost inevitably disrupts emotional growth and renders the child less able to grow up into a mature adult.

     

    (4) The initial diagnosis of ADHD undermines parental emphasis on teaching discipline and devoting the necessary time to the child. Professionals absolve the parents of parental responsibility, so they do not take classes or get therapy to help them improving their parenting.

     

    (5) The initial diagnosis of ADHD discourages teachers from teaching discipline to children who need attention, and so the child is robbed of learning self-discipline in the classroom.

     

    I have put up a new series of three videos on YouTube about the psychiatric diagnosing and drugging of children. 

     

    The first children’s video is # 7 in my Simple Truths series; it describes the harmful effects and method of action of stimulant drugs.  These drugs include methylphenidate and amphetamine products such as Ritalin, Concerta, Focalin, Metadate, Methylin, Quillivant, Daytrana, Vyvanse, Adderall and Dexedrine.

     

     

    The second video about children is # 8 in the Simple Truths series. It describes the negative effects of diagnosing children with ADHD.

     

     

    The third children’s video, # 9 of Simple Truths, describes the horrendous outcomes of merely starting a mildly “hyperactive” child on Ritalin, including follow up studies over several decades.  This video calls for concerned citizens to take a stand against giving psychiatric drugs to children. I believe it is time to set our sights on a day when children will be protected by a ban against giving them any psychoactive substances, including psychiatric drugs, which are more dangerous, damaging and demoralizing than alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes.

     

     

    The video series has scientific support in my book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, which cites and summarizes some of the most recent studies on how damaged “ADHD kids” become when reaching adulthood — including increased incarceration in jails and mental hospitals, increased suicide, increased drug addiction, increased dependence on multiple psychiatric drugs, obesity, shrinkage (atrophy) of the brain, shortened lifespan, and a general reduction in quality and length of life.

     

    In addition, my new peer-reviewed article in the journal Children & Society presents a scientific and ethical overview of the harm done to children by stimulants and by antipsychotic drugs, such as Abilify, Seroquel, Risperdal, Invega, Zyprexa, Geodon, Latuda, Saphris, Fanapt, and Symbax.  It cites many scientific studies.  The antipsychotic drugs are often given to children when their behavior and mental state deteriorates as a result of being given stimulants.

     

    The drugging of children in America and increasingly throughout the world is a tragedy.  Millions upon millions of children and youth will never know their full potential because they grew up with an intoxicated brain — their neurotransmitters forever deformed by being bathed in these drugs during their formative years.  Additional millions will become career consumers of psychiatric drugs with a vastly reduced quality of life and shortened lives.

     

    It is time to say, “No more of this!” and to directly confront the need for stopping this inhumane, destructive approach to our children and youth.

     

     

    *Adapted from a blog by Dr. Breggin on MadinAmerica.com.

     


    Read more...
     

    ECT

     

    See Dr. Breggin's new
    ECT Resources Center
    with more than 125 annotated scientific articles, glossary of searchable terms and a brochure for patients and families.

     

    ECT (electroconvulsive treatment) damages the brain and mind. In many cases, it results in huge permanent gaps in memory for important life events, educational background, and professional skills. The individual may even lose his or her identity. Even when much less harm is done, individuals continue to suffer from ongoing cognitive difficulties with learning and remembering new things, and with unwanted changes in their personalities. Dr. Breggin has now created a free ECT Resources Center that includes (1) a brochure for patients, families, and advocates, (2) introductory scientific articles that cover the field of ECT-induced harm to the brain and mind, and (3) more than 125 articles about ECT with search terms such as "brain damage," "memory loss," "women," and "abuse." The ECT Resources Center will help introduce newcomers to the field and provide research materials for advanced researchers as well.

     

    The most detailed recent publication about the harm associated with ECT is found in a chapter in Dr. Breggin’s book, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock and the Psychopharmaceutical Complex, Second Edition (2008).

     

    Dr. Breggin was the medical expert in the first and only electroshock malpractice suit won by the injured patient. He was also the expert in a recent malpractice suit against an ECT doctor that resulted in a settlement of more than $1 million.

     
    The acronym ECT stands for "ElectroConvulsive Therapy" (also called EST, for ElectroShock Therapy)  a psychiatric treatment in which electricity is applied to the head and passed through the brain to produce a grand mal or major convulsion. The seizure brought about by the electric stimulus closely resembles, but is more rigorous or strenuous than that found in idiopathic epilepsy or in epilepsy following a wide variety of insults to the brain.
     
    Patients given ECT are administered an electric current of sufficient intensity and duration to produce an acute organic brain syndrome, characterized by the classic symptoms of disorientation to time, place, and person; mental deterioration in all intellectual spheres such as abstract reasoning, judgment, and insight; emotional lability with extremes of apathy or euphoria; and overall childlike helplessness.

    Read more...
     

    Psychosurgery

     
    Psychosurgery is the destruction of normal brain tissue for the purpose of treating psychiatric disorders or for the control of emotions and behavior.  It does not include operations, such as those for Parkinson's disease or epilepsy, where an identifiable physical abnormality in the brain is causing a known physical disorder.  
     
    Lobotomy and other psychosurgeries merit special attention because, as the prototype of brain-damaging therapeutics, they can shed light on the clinical effects of other brain-disabling treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and major tranquilizers. Despite the paucity of active practitioners and advocates of psychosurgery, many psychiatric authorities have condoned this treatment precisely because the principles that find their extreme expression in lobotomy and other forms of psychosurgery also find more subtle expression in all the major somatic treatments in psychiatry.
     
    Read more...
     

    Racism & Social Control


    The widespread diagnosing of children is a subtle form of social control that suppresses children rather than providing them with what they need to fulfill their basic needs in the home, school and family.  For more information about social control and youngsters see the Children's section under Special Topics and Children's section under Scientific Papers, and well as several of Dr. Breggin's books, especially Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (1998).  Dr. Breggin's blogs often address current children's issues.

     
    In Toxic Psychiatry (1991) Dr. Breggin addresses the psychiatric oppression of women.

    See Dr. Breggin's astonishing speech on Totalitarian Psychiatry & the Nazi Holocaust.

    Both Peter Breggin and Ginger Breggin have worked extensively to stop racist psychiatric programs of social control, especially those aimed at subuding inner city children. These successful reform projects are described in detail in their book, The War Against Children of Color (1998).   The following article is based on the book and presents a summary of their efforts. 

     
    Read more...
     

     

    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 new book, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients, and Their Families.