Robert Whitaker quotes
Robert Whitaker

Increase in the number of mentally disabled
Prozac and Eli Lilly
Children and antidepressants
Ritalin (methylphenidate.)
Eli Lilly suppressing dissent

Atypical antipsychotics

See: Toxic psychiatry quotes

When you research the rise of juvenile bipolar illness in this country, you see that it appears in lockstep with the prescribing of stimulants for ADHD and antidepressants for depression. Prior to the use of those medications, you find that researchers reported that manic-depressive illness, which is what bipolar illness was called at the time, virtually never occurred in prepubertal children. But once psychiatrists started putting “hyperactive” children on Ritalin, they started to see prepubertal children with manic symptoms. Same thing happened when psychiatrists started prescribing antidepressants to children and teenagers. A significant percentage had manic or hypomanic reactions to the antidepressants.
    When you add up all this information, you end up documenting a story of how the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in the United States have been destroyed in this way. In fact, I think that the number of children and teenagers that have ended up “bipolar” after being treated with a stimulant or an antidepressant is now well over one million. This is a story of harm done on an unimaginable scale. [2010] Robert Whitaker Interview

Pharmaceutical money flows to the universities, it flows to those who do the research and to those who speak about the drugs and write up the reports. Those getting the money know the game is to spin the story to reflect well on the drugs. And you spin it at every step of the process, beginning with how the trials are designed, so it has led to corruption through and through. [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

The reaction of the psychiatric establishment, the powers that be, has been hostile. I've been trashed in different publications. However, they attacked me personally. They said I was a "good journalist gone bad," stuff like that. They didn't attack what I wrote, the facts, the truth. I've had no one point out a misquote or a misuse of a study -- nothing of that. Zero. Zip. And when I wrote about the corrupt drug trials - nothing. No challenge to that. Zero. So the fact is that they trashed me personally, but didn't go after what I wrote itself and didn't say, "he was wrong here." That is rather revealing.  [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

Paul Hoch [research director at the New York State Psychiatric Institute] found that you can take a neurotic person and drive them into psychosis with LSD and mescaline. Then he decided to lobotomize them to see if they would still be able to become psychotic. So he lobotomized them, and then gave them mescaline and LSD. If he couldn't make them psychotic, then he would know that psychosis may be located in whatever part of the brain he took out. Think about that. [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

He just sacrificed those people! Those people were just plain, outright sacrificed for research, in the same way that you'd sacrifice a cat. And no one cared. And you know what's interesting? Since the book came out, I thought there would be something in the press about that. But no one cared about that. I've done many, many interviews, and you're one of the first people to ask me about that. [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

In 1998, you could still find experiments where they would take people stumbling into emergency rooms, first episode. So let's say you got a kid, and he's in dire trouble, and they would do an experiment on him, rather than do something to knock down his emotional turmoil. Instead, they would give him amphetamines or Ritalin, to see if it would make him worse. Imagine that!  [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

Then, the final thing is, when you look at the "informed consent" on this, sometimes they would tell the patients they were giving them medications. But you would never, ever see in the "informed consent" that they were giving them an agent expected to make them worse. So this research is being done in an arena of lies, is the only way to put it. It's a value system that doesn't represent this group of people as human beings. [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

The history of psychiatry leads you into an amazing social history of the United States itself, the history that we don't tell ourselves much. So if you go to an American school, and they bother to teach you about eugenics, it will be talked about in association with Nazi Germany. You just won't hear about it in association with the United States. In fact, I bet you can go up to 100 people on the streets, and very few will have any idea that the U.S. had its eugenic period. [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

What happens is the Nazi movement comes to power in 1933 and the eugenicists that are part of Hitler's government have close ties to American eugenicists. They even talk about going to school on California's sterilization program and - this is fascinating -- the German Nazis say that California has been doing a good job of sterilizing its mentally ill, but there's not enough protection, not enough due process with the California way of doing it! [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

Ten years ago, the drug companies said they needed to expand their market for psychiatric drugs, and who did they go after? The children, because that's an untapped market. And they've been very successful in that. If you chart psychotropic drug use in children, it's exploded. And what do we have today? We have a "crisis" in crazy kids, in psychiatric illness among children. [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

In other words, 10 years later, use of the drugs hasn't led to less problems among the kids, but every sign that psychiatric problems are exploding among the children. That only makes sense if you understand that the drugs indeed cause abnormalities in neurotransmitter function, and when you do that with drugs you get serious psychological and emotional problems. So we clearly are, with this widespread use of the drugs, creating an ever-expanding population of kids who are psychiatrically disturbed -- but it's coming from the treatment.  [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

Now, there was a shift in how we cared for the disabled mentally ill between 1955 and 1987. In 1955, we were hospitalizing them. Then, by 1987, we had gone through social change, and we were now placing people in shelters, nursing homes, and some sort of community care, and gave them either SSI or SSDI payments for mental disability. In 1987, we started getting these supposedly better, second-generation psychiatric drugs like Prozac and the other selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants. Shortly after that, we get the new, atypical antipsychotic drugs like Zyprexa (olanzapine), Clozaril and Risperdal. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

Increase in the number of mentally disabled
Now, by 1903, we see that roughly 1 out of every 500 people in the United States is hospitalized for mental illness. By 1955, at the start of the modern era of psychiatric drugs, roughly one out of every 300 people was disabled by mental illness. Now, let's go to 1987, the end of the first generation of antipsychotic drugs; and from 1987 forward we get the modern psychiatric drugs. From 1955 to 1987, during this first era of psychiatric drugs -- the antipsychotic drugs Thorazine and Haldol and the tricyclic antidepressants (such as Elavil and Anafranil) -- we saw the number of disabled mentally ill increase four-fold, to the point where roughly one out of every 75 persons are deemed disabled mentally ill.
What's happened since 1987? Well, the disability rate has continued to increase until it's now one in every 50 Americans. Think about that: One in every 50 Americans disabled by mental illness today. And it's still increasing. The number of mentally disabled people in the United States has been increasing at the rate of 150,000 people per year since 1987. That's an increase every day over the last 17 years of 410 people per day newly disabled by mental illness. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

 We have a form of care where we're using these drugs in an ever more expansive manner, and supposedly we have better drugs and they're the cornerstone of our care, so we should see decreasing disability rates. That's what your expectation would be.
    Instead, from 1987 until the present, we saw an increase in the number of mentally disabled people from 3.3 million people to 5.7 million people in the United States. In that time, our spending on psychiatric drugs increased to an amazing degree. Combined spending on antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants jumped from around $500 million in 1986 to nearly $20 billion in 2004. So we raise the question: Is the use of these drugs somehow actually fueling this increase in the number of the disabled mentally ill?
    When you look at the research literature, you find a clear pattern of outcomes with all these drugs -- you see it with the antipsychotics, the antidepressants, the anti-anxiety drugs and the stimulants like Ritalin used to treat ADHD. All these drugs may curb a target symptom slightly more effectively than a placebo does for a short period of time - say six weeks. An antidepressant may ameliorate the symptoms of depression better than a placebo over the short term.
    What you find with every class of these psychiatric drugs is a worsening of the target symptom of depression or psychosis or anxiety over the long term, compared to placebo-treated patients. So even on the target symptoms, there's greater chronicity and greater severity of symptoms. And you see a fairly significant percentage of patients where new and more severe psychiatric symptoms are triggered by the drug itself.
    .....The most obvious case is with the antidepressants. A certain percentage of people placed on the SSRIs because they have some form of depression will suffer either a manic or psychotic attack -- drug-induced. This is well recognized. So now, instead of just dealing with depression, they're dealing with mania or psychotic symptoms. And once they have a drug-induced manic episode, what happens? They go to an emergency room, and at that point they're newly diagnosed. They're now said to be bipolar and they're given an antipsychotic to go along with the antidepressant; and, at that point, they're moving down the path to chronic disability. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

What happened with Prozac is a fascinating story. Right from the beginning, they noticed only very marginal efficacy over placebo; and they noticed that they had some problems with suicide. There were increased suicidal responses compared to placebo. In other words, the drugs was agitating people and making people suicidal who hadn't been suicidal before. They were getting manic responses in people who hadn't been manic before. They were getting psychotic episodes in people who hadn't been psychotic before. So you were seeing these very problematic side effects even at the same time that you were seeing very modest efficacy, if any, over placebo in ameliorating depression. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

Prozac and Eli Lilly
Basically, what Eli Lilly (Prozac's manufacturer) had to do was cover up the psychosis, cover up the mania; and, in that manner, it was able to get these drugs approved. One FDA reviewer even warned that Prozac appeared to be a dangerous drug, but it was approved anyway.
    We're seemingly finding all this out only now: "Oh, Prozac can cause suicidal impulses and all these SSRIs may increase the risk of suicide." The point is that wasn't anything new. That data was there from the very first trial. You had people in Germany saying, "I think this is a dangerous drug."
    Before the late 1980s -- in the early '80s, before Prozac gets approved. Basically what Eli Lilly had to do was cover up that risk of mania and psychosis, cover up that some people were becoming suicidal because they were getting this nervous agitation from Prozac. That's the only way it got approved.
    There were various ways they did the cover-up. One was just to simply remove reports of psychosis from some of the data. They also went back and recoded some of the trial results. Let's say someone had a manic episode or a psychotic episode; instead of putting that down, they would just put down a return of depression, and that sort of thing. So there was a basic need to hide these risks right from the beginning, and that's what was done.
    So Prozac gets approved in 1987, and it's launched in this amazing PR campaign. The pill itself is featured on the cover of several magazines! It's like the Pill of the Year [laughs]. And it's said to be so much safer: a wonder drug. We have doctors saying, "Oh, the real problem with this drug is that we can now create whatever personality we want. We're just so skilled with these drugs that if you want to be happy all the time, take your pill!"
    That was complete nonsense. The drugs were barely better than placebo at alleviating depressive symptoms over the short term. You had all these problems; yet we were touting these drugs, saying, "Oh, the powers of psychiatry are such that we can give you the mind you want -- a designer personality!" It was absolutely obscene. Meanwhile, which drug, after being launched, quickly became the most complained about drug in America? Prozac!
     In this county, we have Medwatch, a reporting system in which we report adverse events about psychiatric drugs to the FDA. By the way, the FDA tries to keep these adverse reports from the public. So, instead of the FDA making these easily available to the public. so you can know about the dangers of the drugs, it's very hard to get these reports.
    Within one decade, there were 39,000 adverse reports about Prozac that were sent to Medwatch. The number of adverse events sent to Medwatch is thought to represent only one percent of the actual number of such events. So, if we get 39,000 adverse event reports about Prozac, the number of people who have actually suffered such problems is estimated to be 100 times as many, or roughly four million people. This makes Prozac the most complained about drug in America, by far. There were more adverse event reports received about Prozac in its first two years on the market than had been reported on the leading tricyclic antidepressant in 20 years.
    Remember, Prozac is pitched to the American public as this wonderfully safe drug, and yet what are people complaining about? Mania, psychotic depression, nervousness, anxiety, agitation, hostility, hallucinations, memory loss, tremors, impotence, convulsions, insomnia, nausea, suicidal impulses. It's a wide range of serious symptoms.
    And here's the kicker. It wasn't just Prozac. Once we got the other SSRIs on the market, like Zoloft and Paxil, by 1994, four SSRI antidepressants were among the top 20 most complained about drugs on the FDA's Medwatch list. In other words, every one of these drugs brought to market started triggering this range of adverse events. And these were not minor things. When you talk about mania, hallucinations, psychotic depression, these are serious adverse events.
    Prozac was pitched to the American public as a wonder drug. It was featured on the covers of magazines as so safe, and as a sign of our wonderful ability to effect the brain just as we want it. In truth, the reports were showing it could trigger a lot of dangerous events, including suicide and psychosis.
    The FDA was being warned about this. They were getting a flood of adverse event reports, and the public was never told about this for the longest period of time. It took a decade for the FDA to begin to acknowledge the increased suicides and the violence it can trigger in some people. It just shows how the FDA betrayed the American people. This is a classic example. They betrayed their responsibility to act as a watchdog for the American people. Instead they acted as an agency that covered up harm and risk with these drugs. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

Children and antidepressants
The children's story is unbelievably tragic. It's also a really sordid story. Let's go back a little to see what happened to children and antidepressants. Prozac comes to market in 1987. By the early 1990s, the pharmaceutical companies making these drugs are saying, "How do we expand the market for antidepressants?" Because that's what drug companies do -- they want to get to an ever-larger number of people. They saw they had an untapped market in kids. So let's start peddling the drugs to kids. And they were successful. Since 1990, the use of antidepressants in kids went up something like seven-fold. They began prescribing them willy-nilly.
    Now, whenever they did pediatric trials of antidepressants, they found that the drugs were no more effective on the target symptom of depression than placebo. This happened again and again in the pediatric drug trials of antidepressants. So, what that tells you is there is no real therapeutic rationale for the drugs because in this population of kids, the drugs don't even curb the target symptoms over the short term any better than placebo; and yet they were causing all sorts of adverse events.
    For example, in one trial, 75 percent of youth treated with antidepressants suffered an adverse event of some kind. In one study by the University of Pittsburgh, 23 percent of children treated with an SSRI developed mania or manic-like symptoms; an additional 19 percent developed drug-induced hostility. The clinical results were telling you that you didn't get any benefit on depression; and you could cause all sorts of real problems in kids -- mania, hostility, psychosis, and you may even stir suicide. In other words, don't use these drugs, right? It was absolutely covered up.
    We had psychiatrists -- some of those obviously getting money from the drug companies -- saying the kids are under-treated and they're at risk of suicide and how could we possibly treat kids without these pills and what a tragedy it would be if we couldn't use these antidepressants.
    Finally, a prominent researcher in England, David Healy, started doing his own research on the ability of these drugs to stir suicide. He also managed to get access to some of the trial results and he blew the whistle. He first blew the whistle in England and he presented this data to the review authorities there. And they saw that it looks like these drugs are increasing the risk of suicide and there are really no signs of benefits on the target symptoms of depression. So they began to move there to warn doctors not to prescribe these drugs to youth.
    What happens in the United States? Well, it's only after there's a lot of pressure put on the FDA that they even hold a hearing. The FDA sort of downplays the risk of these drugs. They're slow to even put black box warnings on them. Why? Aren't kids lives worth protecting? If we know that we have a scientifically shown risk that these drugs increase suicide, shouldn't you at least warn about it? But the FDA was even digging in its heels about putting that black box warning on the drugs. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

You're touching on something now that is a tragic scandal of monumental proportions. I talk sometimes to college classes, psychology classes. You cannot believe the percentage of youth who have been told they were mentally ill as kids, that something was wrong with them. It's absolutely phenomenal. It's absolutely cruel to be telling kids that they have these broken brains and mental illnesses.
    There are two things that are happening here. One, of course, is that it's complete nonsense. As you remember as a kid, you have too much energy or you behave sometimes in not altogether appropriate ways, and you do have these extremes of emotions, especially during your teenage years. Both children and teenagers can be very emotional. So one thing that's going on is that they take childhood behaviors and start defining behaviors they don't like as pathological. They start defining emotions that are uncomfortable as pathological. So part of what we're doing is pathologizing childhood with straight-out definition stuff. We're pathologizing poverty among kids.
    For example, if you're a foster kid, and maybe you drew a bad straw in the lottery of life and are born into a dysfunctional family and you get put into foster care, do you know what happens today? You pretty likely are going to get diagnosed with a mental disorder, and you're going to be placed on a psychiatric drug. In Massachusetts, it's something like 60 to 70 percent of kids in foster care are now on psychiatric drugs. These kids aren't mentally ill! They got a raw deal in life. They ended up in a foster home, which means they were in a bad family situation, and what does our society do? They say: "You have a defective brain." It's not that society was bad and you didn't get a fair deal. No, the kid has a defective brain and has to be put on this drug. It's absolutely criminal. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

Ritalin (methylphenidate.)
Let's talk about bipolar disorder among kids. As one doctor said, that used to be so rare as to be almost nonexistent. Now we're seeing it all over. Bipolar is exploding among kids. Well, partly you could say that we're just slapping that label on kids more often; but in fact, there is something real going on. Here's what's happening. You take kids and put them on an antidepressant -- which we never used to do -- or you put them on a stimulant like Ritalin. Stimulants can cause mania; stimulants can cause psychosis.
    so the kid ends up with a drug-induced manic or psychotic episode. Once they have that, the doctor at the emergency room doesn't say, "Oh, he's suffering from a drug-induced episode." He says he's bipolar
    they give him an antipsychotic drug; and now he's on a cocktail of drugs, and he's on a path to becoming disabled for life. That's an example of how we're absolutely making kids sick.
    Ritalin is methylphenidate. Now methylphenidate affects the brain in exactly the same way as cocaine. They both block a molecule that is involved in the reuptake of dopamine.
    So methylphenidate is very similar to cocaine. Now, one difference is whether you're snorting it or if it's in a pill. That partly changes how quickly it's metabolized. But still, it basically affects the brain in the same way. Now, methylphenidate was used in research studies to deliberately stir psychosis in schizophrenics. Because they knew that you could take a person with a tendency towards psychosis, give them methylphenidate, and cause psychosis. We also knew that amphetamines, like methylphenidate, could cause psychosis in people who had never been psychotic before.
    So think about this. We're giving a drug to kids that is known to have the possibility of stirring psychosis. Now, the odd thing about methylphenidate and amphetamines is that, in kids, they sort of have a counterintuitive effect. What does speed do in adults? It makes them more jittery and hyperactive. For whatever reasons, in kids amphetamines will actually still their movements; it will actually keep them in their chairs and make them more focused. So you've got kids in boring schools. The boys are not paying attention and they're diagnosed with ADHD and put on a drug that is known to stir psychosis. The next thing you know, a fair number of them are not doing well by the time they're 15, 16, 17. Some of those kids talk about how when you're on these drugs for the long term, you start feeling like a zombie; you don't feel like yourself.
    Millions of kids! Think about what we're doing. We're robbing kids of their right to be kids, their right to grow, their right to experience their full range of emotions, and their right to experience the world in its full hue of colors. That's what growing up is, that's what being alive is! And we're robbing kids of their right to be. It's so criminal. And we're talking about millions of kids who have been affected this way. There are some colleges where something like 40 to 50 percent of the kids arrive with a psychiatric prescription. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

Eli Lilly suppressing dissent
An example is Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a psychiatrist who also works for Harvard University Health Services, and who wrote a book called Prozac Backlash to warn about the dangers of Prozac. He's finding that the drugs are being overused and cause severe side effects. He even raises questions about long-term memory problems with the drugs and cognitive dysfunction. Well, Eli Lilly then mounted a public relations campaign to try to discredit him. They sent out notices to the media questioning his affiliation with Harvard Medical School, etc. It was all about silencing the critics.
    If you sing the tune that the drug companies want, at the very top levels, you get paid a lot of money to fly around and give presentations about the wonders of the drugs. And those who come, and don't ask any embarrassing questions, get the lobster dinners and maybe they get a little honorarium for attending this educational meeting. So if you want to be part of this gravy train, you can. You sing the wonders of the drug, and you don't talk about their nasty side effects, and you can get a nice payment as one of their guest speakers, as one of their experts.
    But if you're one of the ones saying, "What about the mania, what about the psychosis?" -- they do silence you. Look at what happened to David Healy. Healy is even the best example. David Healy has this sterling reputation in England. He's written several books on the history of psychopharmacology. He's like the former Secretary of the Psychopharmacology Association over there. He gets offered a job at the University of Toronto to head up their psychiatry department. So while he's waiting to assume that position at the University of Toronto, he goes to Toronto and delivers a talk on the elevated risk of suicide with Prozac and some of the other SSRIs. By the time he's back home, the job offer has been rescinded.
    Now does Eli Lilly donate some money to the University of Toronto? Absolutely. So, to answer your question, yes, Eli Lilly silences dissenters as well.
    During this trial (Joseph Wesbecker) in which Eli Lilly was being sued, the judge was going to allow some very damaging evidence showing wrongdoing by Eli Lilly in a previous instance. The judge said, "Go ahead and introduce this at the trial." But next thing you know, they don't introduce this; and in fact, all of a sudden, the plaintiffs no longer are presenting very damaging evidence to make their case. So the judge wonders why they are not presenting their best case anymore. He smells a rat. He suspects Eli Lilly has settled with the plaintiffs secretly and the deal is that, as part of this settlement, the plaintiffs will go ahead with a sham trial so that Eli Lilly will win the trial. Then Eli Lilly can claim, "See our drug doesn't cause people to become violent."
    And, indeed, that's what happened. Eli Lilly felt it was going to lose this trial. They went to the plaintiffs and said they would give them a lot of money. They agreed to go ahead and settle the case, but had the plaintiffs go ahead with the trial. That way Eli Lilly can publicly claim that they won the trial and Prozac doesn't cause harm.
    They silence people like Marcia Angell. They pervert the scientific process. They pervert the legal process. They pervert the FDA drug review process. It's everywhere! And that's how we as a society end up believing in these psychiatric drugs. You asked the question a while back, "Why do we still believe in Prozac?" One of the reasons is that the story about Prozac is, in effect, maintained. It's publicly maintained because we do all this silencing along all these lines.
    The other thing to remember is that some people on Prozac do feel better. That's true. That shows up, just in the same way that some people on placebos feel better. And those are the stories that get repeated: "Oh, I took Prozac and I'm feeling better." It's that select group that does better that becomes the story that is told out there, and the story that the public hears. So that's why we continued to believe in the story of these wonder drugs that are very safe in spite of all this messy stuff that gets covered up.  Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

There are a couple reasons for that. The FDA's funding changed in the 1990s. An act was passed in which a lot of the FDA's funding came from the drug industry: the PDUFA Act, or Prescription Drug User Fee Act. Basically, when drug companies applied for FDA approval they had to pay a fee. Those fees became what are funding a large portion of the FDA's review of drug applications.
    So all of a sudden, the funding is coming from the drug industry; it's no longer coming from the people. As that act comes up for renewal, basically the drug lobbyists are telling the FDA that their job is no longer to be critically analyzing drugs, but to approve drugs quickly. And that was part of Newt Gingrich's thing: Your job is to get these drugs to market. Start partnering with the drug industry and facilitating drug development. We lost this idea that the FDA had a watchdog role.
    Also, in a human way, a lot of people who work for the FDA leave there and end up going to work for the drug companies. The old joke is that the FDA is sort of like a showcase for a future job in the drug industry. You go there, you work awhile, and then you go off into the drug industry. Well, if that's the progression that people make, in essence they're making good old boy network connections, so they're not going to be so harsh on the drug companies. So, that's what really happened in the 1990s. The FDA was given new marching orders. The orders were: "Facilitate getting drugs to market. Don't be too critical. And, in fact, if you want to keep your funding, which was coming now from the drug industry, make sure you take these lessons to heart."
    The FDA, in essence, was kneecapped in the early 1990s, and we really saw it with the psychiatric drugs. The FDA became a lapdog for the pharmaceutical industry, not a watchdog.
    It's only now that this has become common knowledge. We have Marcia Angell, the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, write a book in which she says that the FDA became a lapdog. It's basically now well recognized that you had this decline and fall. As the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, the most prestigious medical journal we have, Marcia Angell is someone who was at the very heart of American medicine, and she concluded that the FDA let down the American people. And she lost her job at the New England Journal of Medicine for starting to criticize pharmaceutical companies.
    She was the editor of the journal in the late 1990s and there was a corresponding doctor named Thomas Bodenheimer who decided to write an article about how you couldn't even trust what was published in the medical journals anymore because of all the spinning of results.
    So they did an investigation about how the pharmaceutical companies are funding all the research and spinning the trial results, so you can no longer really trust what you read in scientific journals. They pointed out that when they tried to get an expert to review the scientific literature related to antidepressants, they basically couldn't find someone who hadn't taken money from the drug companies.
    Now, the New England Journal of Medicine is published by the Massachusetts Medical Society which publishes a lot of other journals, and they get a lot of pharmaceutical advertising. So what happens after that article appears by Thomas Bodenheimer and an accompanying editorial by Marcia Angell about the sorry state of American medicine because of this? They both lose their jobs! She's gone and so is Thomas Bodenheimer. Think about this. We have the leading medical journal firing people, letting them go, because they dared to criticize the dishonest science and the dishonest process that was poisoning the scientific literature.
    So we have the FDA that's acting as lapdogs. You can't trust the scientific literature. All this shows how the American public was betrayed and didn't know about all the problems with these drugs and why it was kept from them. It has to do with money, prestige and old boy networks. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

How do you say it's a form of torture to give neuroleptics such as Haldol to Soviet dissidents, at the same time that people in the United States so treated are making the exact same complaints? The same drug when given to a Soviet person, we say is torture; but when that drug is given to someone in this country, we say it's efficacious.  [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage

 The antipsychotics profoundly block dopamine receptors. They block 70-90 percent of the dopamine receptors in the brain. In return, the brain sprouts about 50 percent extra dopamine receptors. It tries to become extra sensitive.
    So in essence you've created an imbalance in the dopamine system in the brain. It's almost like, on one hand, you've got the accelerator down -- that's the extra dopamine receptors. And the drug is the brake trying to block this. But if you release that brake, if you abruptly go off the drugs, you now do have a dopamine system that's overactive. You have too many dopamine receptors. And what happens? People that go abruptly off of the drug, do tend to have severe relapses.
    Here's just one real powerful study on this: Researchers with the University of Pittsburgh in the 1990s took people newly diagnosed with schizophrenia, and they started taking MRI pictures of the brains of these people. So we get a picture of their brains at the moment of diagnosis, and then we prepare pictures over the next 18 months to see how those brains change. Now during this 18 months, they are being prescribed antipsychotic medications, and what did the researchers report? They reported that, over this 18-month period, the drugs caused an enlargement of the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that uses dopamine. In other words, it creates a visible change in morphology, a change in the size of an area of the brain, and that's abnormal. That's number one. So we have an antipsychotic drug causing an abnormality in the brain.~
Now here's the kicker. They found that as that enlargement occurred, it was associated with a worsening of the psychotic symptoms, a worsening of negative symptoms. So here you actually have, with modern technology, a very powerful study. By imaging the brain, we see how an outside agent comes in, disrupts normal chemistry, causes an abnormal enlargement of the basal ganglia, and that enlargement causes a worsening of the very symptoms it's supposed to treat. Now that's actually, in essence, a story of a disease process -- an outside agent causes abnormality, causes symptoms...
    It's a stunning, damning finding. It's the sort of finding you would say, "Oh Christ, we should be doing something different." Do you know what those researchers got new grants for, after they reported that? They got a grant to develop an implant, a brain implant that would deliver drugs like Haldol on a continual basis! A grant to develop a drug delivery implant so you could implant this in the brains of people with schizophrenia and then they wouldn't even have a chance not to take the drugs! 
And no one wanted to deal with this horrible finding of an enlargement of the basal ganglia caused by the drugs, and that is associated with the worsening of symptoms. No one wanted to deal with the fact that when you look at people medicated on antipsychotics, you start to see a shrinking of the frontal lobes. No one wants to talk about that either. They stopped that research.
side effects are caused by prolonged use of these antipsychotic drugs?) you get tardive dyskinesia, a permanent brain dysfunction; and akathisia, which is this incredible nervous agitation. You're just never comfortable. You want to sit but you can't sit. It's like you're crawling out of your own skin. And it's associated with violence, suicide and all sorts of horrible things. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

Atypical antipsychotics
In fact, I think the newer drugs will eventually be seen as more dangerous than the old drugs, if that's possible. As you know, the standard neuroleptics like Thorazine and Haldol have had quite a litany of harm with the tardive dyskinesia and all.
    So when we got the new atypical drugs, they were touted as so much safer. But with these new atypicals, you get all sorts of metabolic dysfunctions.
    Let's talk about Zyprexa. It has a different profile. So it may not cause as much tardive dyskinesia. It may not cause as many Parkinsonian symptoms. But it causes a whole range of new symptoms. So, for example, it's more likely to cause diabetes. It's more likely to cause pancreatic disorders. It's more likely to cause obesity and appetite-disregulation disorders.
    In fact, researchers in Ireland reported in 2003 that since the introduction of the atypical antipsychotics, the death rate among people with schizophrenia has doubled. They have done death rates of people treated with standard neuroleptics and then they compare that with death rates of people treated with atypical antipsychotics, and it doubles. It doubles! It didn't reduce harm. In fact, in their seven-year study, 25 of the 72 patients died.
    You're getting respiratory problems, you're getting people dying of incredibly high cholesterol counts, heart problems, diabetes. With olanzapine (Zyprexa), one of the problems is that you're really screwing up the core metabolic system. That's why you get these huge weight gains, and you get the diabetes. Zyprexa basically disrupts the machine that we are that processes food and extracts energy from that food. So this very fundamental thing that we humans do is disrupted, and at some point you just see all these pancreatic problems, faulty glucose regulation, diabetes, etc. That's really a sign that you're mucking with something very fundamental to life Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker

A couple things to know about the new drugs, the atypicals. First of all, the clinical trials to test them were totally bogus. They were designed to make the old drugs look bad and the new drugs look good. That's coming out now, the fact that these studies painted an exaggerated picture of the atypicals. They may be no more efficacious and they may have just as many side-effects as the older neuroleptics. So that tells you there's plenty of reason to worry. Now that we've had them out for eight to ten years, we're finding out all sorts of problems.  
The good story is that in some instances they're using lower dosages of these atypicals, and because they're using lower dosages, people are finding them less problematic. They don't clamp down as strongly on the dopamine system as the old drugs. So that's good and hopeful.
    The negative part is this: They've clearly lied about what these drugs do. They're powerful drugs and they work on a number of neurotransmitter systems. And they clearly are problematic. With olanzapine [marketed as Zyprexa], you're going to see that. Just as tardive dyskinesia was lying in wait all the time with the standard neuroleptics, diabetes is there with olanzapine, big time. And diabetes is a life-threatening, life-shortening disease. So you give that drug to a 12-year-old, a 15-year-old, an 18-year-old and they develop diabetes and 80 pounds of weight gain -- that is a very harmful thing. [Interview 2005] Psychiatry's Untold History of Cruelty, Torture, Eugenics and Brain Damage


We now spend more on antidepressants in this country than the Gross National Product of mid-sized countries like Jordan. It's just amazing amounts of money. The amount of money we spend on psychiatric drugs in this country is more than the Gross National Product of two-thirds of the world's countries. It's just this incredibly lucrative paradigm of the mind that you can fix chemical imbalances in the brain with these drugs. It works so well from a capitalistic point of view for Eli Lilly. When Prozac came to market, Eli Lilly's value on Wall Street, its capitalization, was around 2 billion dollars. By the year 2000, the time when Prozac was its number-one drug, its capitalization reached 80 billion dollars -- a forty-fold increase.
    So that's what you really have to look at if you want to see why drug companies have pursued this vision with such determination. It brings billions of dollars in wealth in terms of increased stock prices to the owners and managers of those companies. It also benefits the psychiatric establishment that gets behind the drugs; they do well by this. There's a lot of money flowing in the direction of those that will embrace this form of care. There are advertisements that enrich the media. It's all a big gravy train.
    Unfortunately, the cost is dishonesty in our scientific literature, the corruption of the FDA, and the absolute harm done to children in this country drawn into this system, and an increase of 150,000 newly disabled people every year in the United States for the last 17 years. That's an incredible record of harm done.
    And you know what's interesting? No one says that the mental health of the American people is getting better. Instead, everyone says we have this increasing problem they blame it on the stresses of modern life or something like that, and they don't want to look at the fact that we're creating mental illness. Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker