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.


     
       

    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:

    On February 11, 2014 a Chicago jury awarded $1.5 million to an autistic child who developed a severe case of tardive dyskinesia and tardive akathisia while being treated by psychiatrists with Risperdal and then Zyprexa between 2002 and 2007. The drug-induced disorder was diagnosed when he was fifteen years old and by then had become disabling and irreversible. Dr. Breggin was the psychiatric expert for the case and Francis P. Morrissey was the attorney.

    In late November 2012 a jury in the Supreme Court of the State of New York awarded $1.5 million malpractice verdict to the family of a man who committed suicide while taking psychiatric drugs, including antdepressants (read more). Dr. Breggin was the medical expert for the plaintiffs.

    A recent precedent-setting case in Canada was based on Dr. Breggin’s testimony and written report. On September 16, 2011 in Winnipeg, a Provincial judge cited Dr. Breggin’s testimony in concluding that Prozac caused a sixteen-year-old boy to knife a friend to death (read more). Although Dr. Breggin has been an expert in many other criminal, malpractice and product liability cases in which judges have accepted his opinion that antidepressants can cause suicide or violence, this is the first time in North America that any judge has specifically concluded that an antidepressant was the direct cause of a murder.

     

    “In court, Dr. Breggin’s answers from the witness box are calm, qualified, and above all abundantly clear. They are patently honest and impartial. They bear the stamp of reasoned authority and brave conviction. They reflect a broad and deep knowledge; but, even more important than that, they display the understanding that comes with wisdom and a deep respect for one's fellow men.”


    M. N. G. (Graham) Dukes, MD

    Physician and Attorney
    (full quote)

     

    Recently Dr. Breggin was the medical expert in the first psychosurgery and the first electroshock malpractice suits ever won in court. In 2001-2002, he participated as a medical expert in a California lawsuit whose resolution was associated with a new label warning for Paxil concerning withdrawal effects. Dr. Breggin has been a medical expert in many courtroom victories for individuals injured by medications, including numerous cases of tardive dyskinesia caused by neuroleptic drugs.

    In the 1990s, Dr. Breggin was chosen to be the medical and scientific expert for nearly 200 combined Prozac product liability suits against Eli Lilly and Company. This resulted in his testifying in the infamous Wesbecker case in which the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, fixed the trial (see below). Later Dr. Breggin would become an expert in many other product liability suits involving antidepressants, stimulants, tranquilizers and antipsychotic drugs, nearly all of which were settled. As an expert in these product liability suits, the courts have empowered Dr. Breggin to examine secret company records concerning the development and marketing of their drugs. This unique experience of looking inside otherwise hidden drug company files has provided him a unique source of information and a special understanding of drug company activities that he has used in his legal work and documented in many publications, including Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (2008) and Medication Madness (2008)

    Among his proudest achievements, in the early 1970s Dr. Breggin was the medical expert in the famous Kaimowitz case that stopped lobotomy and psychosurgery in America’s state mental hospitals. More recently he was the psychiatric expert in a psychosurgery case against the Cleveland Clinic that resulted in a huge verdict for the injured woman and caused the clinic to stop doing any further psychosurgery. Dr. Breggin was also the medical expert in the only electroshock malpractice suit to be won by the plaintiffs.

    Some of Dr. Breggin’s most successful legal work has involved testimony in tardive dyskinesia malpractice suits involving this usually irreversible abnormal movement disorder commonly caused by antipsychotic or neuroleptic drugs. In all but one of the many TD trials in which he has participated in the United States and Canada, the injured patient has won a favorable verdict. The one exception ended in a hung jury. He has also been involved in tardive dyskinesia cases with multi-million dollar settlements without going to trial in both the United States and Canada.

    Dr. Breggin continues with his both his clinical practice and his medical expert work.

     

    Selected Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) Cases

    Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a movement disorder caused by neuroleptic (antipsychotic) drugs, both the older ones such as Thorazine and Haldol and also the newer ones, such as Zyprexa, Risperdal, Geodon, Abilify and Seroquel. Although drug advocates often claim that the newer or atypical antipsychotic drugs cause TD at very low rate, this is simply untrue.

    Dr. Breggin has been consulted in dozens of cases involving the newer antipsychotic drugs including Ability, Seroquel, Zyprexa and Risperdal. The great majority of Dr. Breggin's cases are settled out of court, sometimes for very large awards that have been justified by the extreme harm done to the victim. He has also been the expert in many cases that have been won in trial, including one in Canada and one in Alaska. Dr. Breggin has a particular concern about TD and the anguish and disability it inflicts on millions of patients around the world.

    Due to the escalating use of these drugs in childhood, Dr. Breggin has increasingly focused on the vast numbers of children with TD. Dr. Breggin has already personally evaluated dozens of cases of TD in children caused by Risperdal, as well as many other cases caused by other drugs like Zyprexa, Abilify and Seroquel.

    Dr. Breggin has testified in cases in which one parent has attempted to stop the other parent or the state from drugging a child with antipsychotic drugs, sometimes on the basis that the child was already developing a previously undiagnosed case of tardive dyskinesia. In some cases, Dr. Breggin has been authorized by the courts to supervise the child's withdrawal from the drugs long distance with the help of local health professionals.

     

    Read more...

       

    SSRI antidepressant product liability suits
     

    Dr. Breggin has been an expert for the plaintiffs in dozens of product liability suits surrounding SSRI antidepressants as well as stimulants, benzodiazepines and neuroleptics. Among the SSRI suits, many have been settled to satisfaction of the plaintiffs and only one, the Wesbecker case, has gone to court. The drug company Eli Lilly fixed the 1994 Wesbecker case and the trial judge later reversed the verdict. Following the Wesbecker case, the drug companies have settled most of Dr. Breggin’s SSRI antidepressant cases without going to trial.

     

    Dr. Breggin's two most recent books, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry  (second edition, 2008) and Medication Madness (2008) describe many of these cases in greater detail than is available here, including detailed analyses of the Wesbecker case: Medication Madness is an especially detailed resource. Dr. Breggin has also published numerous peer-reviewed articles on antidepressants and antidepressant-induced violence, suicide and crime, all of which are available on this website.
     
    Wesbecker (Fentress) product liability case against Eli lilly ( makers of Prozac ® )
     
    When Dr. Breggin was selected to be the scientific and medical expert for the nearly 200 combined Prozac-related cases brought against the manufacturer, Eli Lilly and Company (makers of Prozac®), he was asked to evaluate for the plaintiffs the scientific basis for the claim that Prozac was causing violence and suicide, and also to evaluate the drug company's potential negligence in the development and marketing of Prozac, including any attempts to hide the risk of Prozac-induced suicide and violence. He was also asked to evaluate individual cases for their merit.
     
    In 1994 Dr. Breggin testified in the first Prozac case to go to trial, the Wesbecker case.
     
    Joseph Wesbecker was on Prozac in September 1989 when he walked into his workplace, an Indianapolis printing plant, shot dead eight colleagues, wounded 12 others, and killed himself. Survivors and relatives of the dead took Lilly to court in 1994. They claimed that Wesbecker's violence was due to Prozac.
     
    In the process of serving as the expert medical witness in this case, Dr. Breggin evaluated and testified about a number of key documents (all of which are available below as PDFs). At first, the trial was apparently won by Eli Lilly -- the  jury found that Prozac was not at fault --but the judge later determined that the trial had been rigged; Eli Lilly had paid the plaintiffs to throw the trial by withholding damaging evidence against the company. Dr. Breggin describes his participation in this dramatic case in detail in his latest book, Medication Madness (July 2008).
     
    For many years after the fixed trial, plaintiffs, attorneys and even the FDA remained unaware of many of the documents Breggin had discovered and/or evaluated. Then in 2004, an anonymous individual sent the documents to the British Medical Journal (BMJ), who published an article about them and also distributed them. When Eli Lilly forced the BMJ to apologize for suggesting that the documents had "disappeared" while in Eli Lilly's care, Breggin wrote an unpublished letter to BMJ explaining how the documents had indeed disappeared (available below). Though criticizing BMJ for saying that the company had in effect hidden the smoking guns, Eli Lilly never actually contested the allegations surrounding the documents -- that the drug company had withheld evidence that Prozac caused suicide.  
     

     
    A California lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) charged the drug company with failing to warn the public about the dangers of Paxil withdrawal. Dr. Breggin was the medical consultant to the case, which was brought on behalf of the citizens of California.

     
     
    Lacuzong Paxil suicide case against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
    The Lacuzong product liability case was brought by the widow of a man who drowned himself and his two young children in a tub three days after starting Paxil. The case was “resolved” to the satisfaction of the plaintiff and the defendant denied all allegations. This section contains Dr. Breggin’s product liability report in the Lacuzong case, which was originally sealed by the court and then made available in a new case in which Dr. Breggin was also an expert, Moffett v. GlaxoSmithKline, the United States District Court for the South District of Mississippi.  That case was also resolved to the satisfaction of the plaintiffs with GSK denying all the allegations. 
     

    This section contains Dr. Breggin’s original detailed report in the Lacuzong case describing alleged negligence by GSK in developing and marketing Paxil. Three of Dr. Breggin’s published scientific articles excerpt and analyze the data. Overall, the articles and reports in this section provide a rare insight into the issues raised and documented by a medical expert in a product liability suit against an antidepressant manufacturer.

      

     
     
     
    SSRI antidepressant and Xanax criminal cases
    Dr. Breggin has evaluated many cases of medication-induced criminal behavior, including bizarre robberies, violence and suicide. The most detailed information about several of these cases can be found in Medication Madness (July, 2008). Other cases are described in Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition (2008), The Antidepressant Fact Book (2001) and Talking Back to Prozac (with Ginger Breggin, 1004).
     
    In attempting to exonerate individuals who have committed crimes under the influence of psychiatric medications, most states allow for a plea of involuntary intoxication on the grounds that the individual did not knowingly take a drug that could change his behavior for the worse.  Dr. Breggin describes the application of this legal principle and illustrates it with numerous cases in Medication Madness (July, 2008).

    Several times Dr. Breggin’s reports have resulted in reduced sentences without going to trial.  In one of Dr. Breggin’s cases, a Virginia trial judge found a man not guilty of assaulting a police officer because of involuntary intoxication with multiple psychiatric drugs.  This was the first such case in Virginia.  In a few other hearings and trials, the judge or jury has reduced the sentence without exonerating the individual.  For example, in Connecticut a judge allowed a plea bargain for a man accused of robbing banks on the grounds that he was involuntarily intoxicated on Xanax and Prozac.   Both cases are described below.

    For a few brief vignettes and an in-depth explanation concerning medication mechanisms of action in causing abnormal behavior, see Dr. Breggin’s article, “Intoxication anosognosia: The spellbinding effect of psychiatric drugs .”
     

     


    On June 15, 2005, Eli Lilly & Co., the manufacturer of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa®, settled an estimated 8,000 lawsuits pending in the United States concerning its alleged failure to warn about the risk of Zyprexa causing diabetes. The company agreed to pay $690 million but denied any wrongdoing. Dr. Breggin was consulted as a medical expert in several of the cases.
     

     

    In June 2005 in Columbia, South Carolina, a jury awarded $635,000 in a malpractice suit against a psychiatrist who referred a patient for electroshock treatment. Dr. Breggin was the medical expert in the case.
     
    Read more... 
     
     
    Reynolds v. Novartis (makers of Ritalin®)
    Dr. Breggin acted as the medical consultant for the Ritalin product liability suit, Reynolds v. Novartis, and wrote an affidavit for the case (see below). 
     
    In addition to this single product liability case, Dr. Breggin also became the initial medical expert for the first in a series of highly publicized Ritalin class action suits and his work provided some of the basis for several other class action suits that followed.  However, after initially consulting on the first class action suit, Dr. Breggin took no further active role in any of the Ritalin class action suits, all of which were eventually dismissed by the courts.  Dr. Breggin is unaware of any successful Ritalin product liability or class action suits.

     
    In mid-December 2001, a jury found the Menninger Clinic negligent in the death of an individual who was placed in a clinical trial for an experimental neuroleptic (antipsychotic drug).  Psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin, M.D. was the medical expert for the plaintiffs.  

    Read more...
     
     

    Cleveland Clinic Psychosurgery Case

    On June 10, 2002, a jury unanimously found the Cleveland Clinic negligent in causing permanent, disabling brain damage to a woman by performing experimental psychosurgery on her without informed consent. In total they awarded $7.5 million in damages. Dr. Breggin testified extensively at the trial.

    Read more...
     
     
    The following is excerpted and slightly revised from a longer article by Dr. Breggin on the history of his reform work in stopping the return of lobotomy and psychosurgery in the 1970s and then in stopping the racist federal violence initiative in the 1980s. These events are described in greater detail in Peter and Ginger Breggin, The War Against Children of Color (1998). Legal and political aspects of the antipsychosurgery campaign are also described in a law review article by Peter Breggin, “Psychosurgery for Political Purposes” (1975). Also see the Special Topics sections on "Psychosurgery " and "Racism and Social Control".

     


    Read more...




     

    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


    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.

    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.