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.


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    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.


     
    Something we can all agree on

    In this highly politicized season (election 2008), is there something we can all agree upon? I think so. From the political left or right, we should be able to come together around the idea that it's bad to use psychiatric drugs to control children. There are better ways to intervene in the lives of children than by giving them psychiatric diagnoses and drugs.

     

    Let me go back to the early 1970s when I first began doing reform work in the form of an international campaign to stop the resurgence of lobotomy and psychosurgery. Two political groups came to my support: the Black Caucus of the U.S. Congress including Democrats Ron Dellums from California and Louis Stokes from Ohio, and several conservative Republican senators, including J. Glenn Beall, Jr. from Maryland, Frank Buckley from New York and Steve Symms from Idaho.

     

    The Black Caucus was outraged at my discovery of dozens of mutilating operations on black children as young as age 5 in a public institution in Mississippi. The "experiments" were being conducted by neurosurgeon O. J. Andy, department director at the University of Mississippi medical center. I had also documented that several other neurosurgeons from Harvard including William Sweet and Vernon Mark, and their psychiatric henchman Frank Ervin, were literally advocating psychosurgery for the leaders of "ghetto riots." The threesome had federal government funding for their experiments and actually inspired a Life magazine cover story about preventing violence through experimental psychosurgery in a nation terrified by the burning of the inner cities. As bizarre as all this now sounds in retrospect, it's thoroughly documented in my book, The War Against Children of Color (1998) written with my wife Ginger.

     

    Leaders of the Black Caucus saw not only the racist aspect of the resurgence of psychosurgery, but also the dangers of more widespread social control. While psychosurgery was too complicated and expensive to be used on millions of people, the idea of targeting leaders of the black community was not farfetched.

     

    The conservatives I dealt with, not only in the Senate but also in the White House, offered different reasons for supporting my anti-psychosurgery campaign. I will never forget sitting down in front of Senator J. Glenn Beall with an allotted ten minutes to get my point across. I described to him how psychosurgery devastated free will, made people apathetic, and impaired the expression of their spirituality. "That's immoral," he replied, and promised to do anything he could to help me. He took this stand despite the fact that some of his most powerful constituents in Maryland at the National Institutes of Health were supporting psychosurgery.

     

    In a nutshell, the liberal Black Caucus responded to the racist threat to African-American children and to the wider implications of social control, while the conservatives responded to the threat to the integrity of the individual moral being.

     

    The same issues arise in regard to the massive drugging of millions of American children. The threat of social control is now an actuality. In almost every classroom in the nation, at least a few children are being subdued by psychiatric drugs to make it easier to manage their behavior. In many public schools, 10%-15% or more of children are being drugged with stimulants, mood stabilizers, antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs. Meanwhile, in special education, foster care and public institutions, nearly all the children will be drugged, often with multiple chemical agents at once.

     

    We are literally subduing our children instead of reforming our schools and family life. And since every child knows that many children are being drugged, every child, for better or worse, knows that certain kinds of behavior will lead to being medicated. As I noted in my earlier column, many have eagerly adopted the practice for themselves, taking stimulants that they obtain without prescriptions.

     

    Just as the social control issues cannot be exaggerated, the threat to the integrity of each child's moral capacity cannot be exaggerated. Not only do the medications suppress spontaneity and volition, the psychiatric approach teaches children that they cannot, without medication, learn to manage their own behavior. In effect, the children are taught that they cannot exercise and develop self-determination, autonomy or free will.

     

    At the same time, both parents and teachers are being told that they do not have the ability, training or skills to help many of the children in their care without first drugging them. Parents and teachers alike are being taught by psychiatry that they lack the capacity to take responsibility for teaching the children in their care how to improve their conduct. Everyone's sense of responsibility falls beneath this steamroller of psychiatric diagnoses and drugs. Instead of reaching out more effectively to individual children and instead of reforming education in general, we drug a significant portion of the students.

     

    Whether viewed through the lens of social control or through the lens of personal responsibility, psychiatrically drugging children is a bad idea. Whether the goal is to stop social control, to reform education, or to rescue individual children from their drug-induced moral doldrums, in a true spirit of a political coming together, let us all agree to do our part to stop the drugging of America's children.
     

    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. 
     
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    Children


    Throughout his career, Dr. Breggin has been especially concerned about the psychiatric abuse of children and the failure to provide more effective solutions through improved parenting, educational reform and community resources. As the drug companies and organized psychiatry have sought larger markets for pharmaceutical products, children have come under extensive from the psychopharmaceutical complex. The first great assault took place in the form of diagnosing children with ADHD and then medicating them with stimulant drugs. Soon millions of children were defined as mentally dysfunctional or defective and were submitted to brain-damaging psychoactive medications.

     


    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.

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    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.