A screenshot of the Facebook of the Oregon shooter, taken by a colleague of mine before the site was taken down, has the following comment from the shooter: “Chris Harper Mercer, August 16: I have a pill bottle with like five types of pills mixed in. I don’t know which ones are the sleep aids, so I just took four of each.”
Why do we human beings suffer so much from the demoralizing emotions of guilt, shame and anxiety? Over many centuries, answers have varied from our biological humors (Hippocrates) to biochemical imbalances (modern psychiatry) and from original sin to existential awareness of death.
On Feb. 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 15 years old and by then had become disabling and irreversible.
Researchers at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada have published a new study of current psychosurgery at their facility, but the project suffers from most of the unconscionable defects associated with the abusive practice of lobotomy in the 1950s. In the U.S., I know of only two places, Harvard and Brown, where they at least put on a show of conducting a genuine experimental protocol with multiple “safeguards” for informed consent and patient rights.
Hopelessness about life is the ultimate reason many people take their own lives. Among the military, as in civilian life, suicide often results when individuals feel isolated, abandoned, and without hope. Our military and veterans need to know that we Americans appreciate their sacrifices and the horrors they have endured, and that we want to extend them help. But what kind of help should it be?
This brief analysis is offered in response to information that the Navy Yard mass murderer, Aaron Alexis, was taking the antidepressant trazodone. Alexis was reportedly started on trazodone for sleep on August 23, 2013 at the Veterans Administration (VA) clinic in Providence and refilled on August 28 at the VA in Washington, DC. Twenty days later, on September 16, he committed the violent assaults.
The very misleading headline on the August 1st PEW report summary says, “A Rising Share of Young Adults Live in Their Parental Home.” In reality, between 1968 and 2012 the percentage of young adults ages 18-31 living at home rose a meager 2 percent. This slight increase from 32 percent to 34 percent is hardly worth mentioning but has received nearly all the press coverage.
Watching TV coverage of about the escape of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight from sexual enslavement in Cleveland, I found myself becoming increasingly uneasy. I knew I would be talking about it to millions of Americans on a nationwide radio talk show that night, but didn’t know what I wanted to say.
Ben Goldacre’s TEDTalk describes the selective bias in research and publishing which strongly favors articles with positive outcomes. In my field of psychiatry, this bias is only the tip of the iceberg. In many cases, the articles are not even written by the scientists whose names appear on them. They are “ghostwritten” by drug company minions.
Huge efforts have been made by the pharmaceutical industry to prevent the public and the health professions from knowing that antidepressant drugs can cause violence and suicide. Joe Wesbecker had threatened his co-workers in the past, but had never been violent. In 1989, Wesbecker was placed on Prozac (fluoxetine). One month later, he became agitated and delusional.