Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Still the big question: Was Major Hasan on antidepressants?

I just finished reading former mayor Rudy Giuliani's statement with regard to the recent Fort Hood massacre, wherein he appeared to be equating what happened at Fort Hood with what happened on 9-11. "[A] week ago we had another Islamist terrorist attack on our soil..." Come on, Rudy. Was the tragic massacre at Fort Hood really an Islamist terrorist attack? I myself have another theory about what happened at Fort Hood -- one that is much more plausible than Rudy's.

The recent Fort Hood massacre seems to more closely resemble what happened at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech than what happened at the World Trade Center, London, Madrid or Mumbai. Perhaps the reason for the logistical similarities between the massacres at Fort Hood, Columbine and Virginia Tech might be because Major Malik Hasan -- like Columbine shooter Eric Harris and Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho -- could also have been taking antidepressants at the time he went postal.

"But can you back up that statement with facts, Jane?" you might ask. No, not exactly. We will have to wait until the Department of Defense releases that information before we will know for sure. But just think about it for a moment.

Major Hasan was a psychiatrist. And most people these days know that psychiatrists are basically glorified pill pushers. Was Hasan himself also taking the meds that he allegedly was dispensing to others on a daily basis? Was this a case of "Physician, heal thyself"?

And almost everyone -- even Google -- knows that violent and/or suicidal tendencies are the all-too-common side effects of taking antidepressants. Look at the Red Lake shooter. Look at Kip Kinkel in Springfield. Look at the Omaha Mall shooter. Look at the Camp Liberty shooter. Look at the Fort Carson shooters. And although the medical records of Dylan Klebold may never be released, I will bet you anything (within reason) that he was taking antidepressants too.

But almost no one knows for certain whether or not Hasan was taking antidepressants. That would be some very interesting information that I would love to see come out at Hasan's trial. Were the 12 dead soldiers and 31 wounded GIs at Fort Hood just several more victims of antidepressant side effects? We may never know -- but I for one would be very interested in finding out if Hasan's blood contained traces of antidepressants -- just as the Columbine shooter Eric Harris's blood contained the antidepressant Luvox.

Perhaps it it time for Americans to focus more on fearing Big Pharma than on fearing terrorists. As things stand now in America, it is more likely that you will be killed by a crazed gunman on antidepressants than by a terrorist.

To see my latest video (wherein I recommend spending a day at Capitola beach instead of taking antidepressants), click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwAvjTTtMEc

PS: I just went to this month's meeting of the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association (they had pumpkin pie for dessert, my favorite!) and a judge from the federal Ninth District court gave a talk about the inequities of enforcing the death penalty. "There are so many opportunities for inequities to happen," he said, "that expecting to have all these inequities straightening out at all the levels involved, including police, prosecutorial, judicial and gubernatorial levels, would be like expecting us to learn Japanese by New Years."

After finished his talk, I asked the judge if he knew if committing murder while under the influence of prescribed medications might preclude giving said murderers the death penalty. The judge replied that he himself was not familiar with any rulings to that effect. But the judge's talk got me to wondering if Major Hasan might be able to avoid the firing squad by having his attorney plead this technicality on his behalf. However, I have no idea what U.S. military law might have to say with regard to this matter.

PPS: After I had finished writing this essay, I e-mailed my resident expert on the negative side-effects of antidepressants. Dr. Gary Kohls. "I'm currently writing about Major Hasan at Fort Hood with regard to the possibility that he might have been on antidepressants at the time he went postal. Do you have any further information about that?"

"Funny you should ask," Dr. Kohls answered back. "I just wrote my weekly newspaper column on that very same subject." And here it is:

Duty to Warn:
The Fort Hood Murders/Suicide (Attempt) and the Taboo Question: What Psych Drug(s) Was Hasan Taking (or Withdrawing From)?

Most of us have been listening to the massive, round-the-clock press coverage of the latest mass shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas. Seemingly all the possible root causes of such a horrific act of violence have been raised and discussed. However, there is an elephant in the room, and it’s something that should be obvious in this age of the school shooter pandemic.

We should be outraged at the failure of the investigative journalists, the psychiatric professionals, the medical community and the military spokespersons who seem to be studiously avoiding the major factor that helps to explain these senseless acts. Why would someone unexpectedly, irrationally and randomly shoot up a school, a workplace or, in this case, an army post? Why would someone who used to be known as a seemingly rational person suddenly perpetrate a gruesome, irrational act of violence?

The answer to the question, as demonstrated again and again in so many of such recent acts of “senseless” violence, is brain- and behavior-altering drugs.

There are, of course, a multitude of personal factors, each of which could be responsible for tipping the troubled Army psychiatrist over the edge. This could include his religion and his ethnicity, which may have targeted him for ridicule in his Army community, his training as a soldier, his familiarity with firearms, his easy access to lethal weapons, his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his profession as a psychiatrist, which exposed him to many posttraumatic stress disordered soldiers (exposure to which is known to be capable of causing secondary PTSD in therapists).

The huge missing “elephant,” however, is the high likelihood that Dr. Hasan was medicated with potent brain-altering psychiatric drugs. These would be drugs that Dr. Hasan had easy access to and which he was probably prescribing widely to his psychologically-traumatized soldier-patients, unaware of the serious dangers to them or to himself. These popular, aggressively marketed, highly profitable drugs are known to cause a number of serious adverse effects including hostility, suicidality, sleep alteration, depression, mania and psychotic episodes, among many other psychotoxic and neurotoxic effects, including the potentially lethal “I don’t give a damn” attitude so common among adolescent users of antidepressant drugs.
Obviously, not everyone who takes these drugs commits such horrific crimes, but these drugs affect different people differently, and some have radically adverse side effects immediately, some come later, and it is impossible to predict who may have such a reaction.

Dr. Hasan may not have been aware that the major common denominator in the vast majority of the infamous “school shooters”, from Columbine shooter Eric Harris, to Red Lake shooter Jeff Wiese, to the Virginia Tech shooter Cho has been the use of prescription “antidepressant” drugs like Luvox, Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. But antidepressants aren’t the only culprits, and school shooters aren’t the only victims of the drugs (see www.ssristories.com for over 3,000 examples of similar stories about antidepressant drug-induced violent behaviors). Modern-day psychiatric drugs are notorious for causing people to numb down, to become indifferent to the suffering of others and themselves, to become manic, depressed, psychotic, irrational, impulsive, anorexic or demented. It is important to note that Fort Hood has been averaging ten suicides a month among military personnel.

The important new book, "Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime," written by psychiatrist and scholar Grace E. Jackson, proves that every category of psychiatric drugs (antidepressants, tranquilizers/sedatives, psychostimulants, “mood stabilizers
” and antipsychotics) is fully capable of causing both short-term and long-term brain damage, with serious neurodegenerative, behavior-altering and emotion-numbing effects. Jackson’s information is gleaned from the vast neuroscience and neurotoxicology journals, information which is almost never published in the mainstream medical literature that clinicians are likely to read.

Jackson’s book is a sobering revelation that will be unwelcome news to those industries that are “too big to fail”: mainstream psychiatry and the pharmaceutical companies. These two industries have been either ignorant of these realities or have been withholding the information, despite the fact that the neurotoxicology data has been published in basic neuroscience journals ever since the 1960s, when the chronic use of Thorazine and Haldol were proven unequivocally to cause brain damage in high percentages of users.

In addition to Dr. Jackson’s books (she also has written a powerful expose of psychotropic drugs entitled "Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs"), psychiatrist Peter Breggin (
www.breggin.com and www.icspp.org) has been writing frequently about the phenomenon of drug-induced mental ill health and drug-induced brain-damage for two decades. Breggin’s well-written, well-researched and well-documented books include "Toxic Psychiatry; Your Drug May Be Your Problem"; "Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry"; "The Antidepressant Fact Book; Talking Back to Prozac"; "Talking Back to Ritalin"; and the book most pertinent to the issue of psychotropic drug-induced mental dysfunction, "Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-Altering Medications".

Dr. Breggin recently wrote an article about the Fort Hood shooting episode that was entitled “The Fort Hood Shooter: A Different Psychiatric Perspective”. I have excerpted portions of Breggin’s article immediately below because Dr. Breggin has the wisdom and experience to speak authoritatively on the subject. The article can be accessed in its entirely at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-breggin/the-fort-hood-shooter-a-d_b_349651.html.

Breggin writes about the above-mentioned “elephant in the room”: Some in the media have expressed surprise that a man whose profession is about caring would turn to violence. According to one theory, Dr. Hasan was driven to the breaking point by the stress of counseling returning soldiers and having to listen to their horrific stories. Totally false. Psychiatrists are no longer trained to listen to or to counsel their patients. Nor do they care to.

“I've given seminars to the staff at both hospitals where Hasan was trained, Walter Reed in DC and the national military medical center in Bethesda, Maryland. The psychiatrists had no interest in anything except medicating their patients.

“Modern psychiatry is not about counseling and empowering people. It's about controlling and suppressing them, and that's a dismal affair for patients and doctors alike. The armed forces have been taken in by the false claims of modern psychiatry.

“By contrast, it's not depressing to do psychotherapy or counseling. As therapists, it's inspiring when people entrust their feelings and their life stories to us. There is no burn-out when therapists feel concern and empathy for their patients and help them to find the strength and direction to reclaim their lives.

“But being an ordinary (ie, a psychiatric drug dispensing) psychiatrist is deadly depressing. Psychiatrists routinely commit spiritual murder by disregarding and suppressing their patients' feelings and even their cognitive functions, making it impossible for them to conquer their emotional struggles. It's no wonder my colleagues have such high suicide and drug addiction rates.

”The most recent data show that soldiers are being snowed under not only with antidepressants and tranquilizers, but increasingly with antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal, Zyprexa, Geodon and Seroquel. To cover up their own therapeutic impotence, psychiatrists chemically suppress our troops and push them back onto the front lines. That's the kind of poisonous psychiatry that Hasan was practicing….

Self-Medication Rates Among Psychiatrists

To continue quoting from Dr. Breggin’s article: ”Psychiatrists are notorious for treating themselves with psychiatric drugs. They have them freely available and they simply don't know anything different. The odds are that Dr. Hasan was self-medicating with antidepressants and tranquilizers that were causing his increasing disinhibition, at least in his pronouncements, until his final “Allahu Akbar” before he began shooting.

“In my book '
Medication Madness,'
I describe dozens of cases that I have personally evaluated involving relatively normal individuals who committed murder, mayhem and suicide while taking psychiatric drugs, especially antidepressants and tranquilizers. One of these cases involves a psychiatrist who began by self-medicating himself, then came under another psychiatrist's care who continued to give him antidepressants, until he ended up in a manic state, assaulting a helpless woman. Before being driven mad by antidepressants, he was a relatively stable and highly accomplished doctor with no special inclination toward violence. These psychiatric drugs will have an even greater triggering effect on someone like Hasan who was already ideologically and psychologically primed to explode in violence.

Failing to Identify His Dangerousness

”Dr. Bart Billings is the founder and director of the premier International Combat Stress Conference, where I made a presentation last year. Dr. Billings, a retired colonel, is not surprised that Hasan's psychiatric colleagues failed to realize how crazy and ideologically menacing he had become. Dr. Billings confirms that army psychiatrists are nothing more than pill pushers who have no idea how to evaluate anyone's mental condition. He also agrees that it's criminal to prescribe psychiatric drugs to active duty soldiers, increasing the risk that they will break under stress and lose their self-control.

“It's time for the army to reject the false promises and damaging effects of modern psychiatry, and to focus on psychological, educational and moral approaches that genuinely help soldiers to prepare for and to overcome the effects of combat stress.”

Dr. Hasan’s case is a good example of murder/suicide. His behaviors in the days leading up to the event were compatible with suicidal intentions. He was emptying out his apartment, giving away his possessions and saying goodbye to friends and acquaintances, even though his date of deployment was days away. He knew he wasn’t coming back from his planned deed.

Even though his brain was not operating rationally, he knew that he would not get away with the murderous acts without getting shot, probably fatally. The phenomenon known as “suicide by cop” probably applies in this case. When humiliated, angry, hopeless and often suicidal men decide that they need to get revenge against a person, a group or a culture that has been tormenting them unjustly, they often want to go out in a “blaze of glory”, taking as many of their perceived tormentors as possible along with them. Ending their hopeless and despairing lives that way will ensure that they will be remembered as someone that wasn’t a nobody and wasn’t somebody deserving of disrespect and scorn.

Powerful forces will be operating behind the scenes at Fort Hood. Secrecy will prevail. There will be attempts to suppress important information about any drug use by Hasan or about the suicidality-inducing drugs he prescribed to his already psychologically-wounded soldiers. It is possible that the medical records will be sealed, claiming privacy concerns, as in the case of Columbine co-shooter Dylan Klebold. We need to demand a thorough, transparent investigation of all factors, especially those factors that may not be appreciated by the groups that would prefer a cover-up. The victims, both current and future ones, have a right to know the whole truth, if for no other reason than for society to be able to plan effective preventive strategies for the future.

Dr. Kohl's article can be accessed at http://www.unobserver.com/layout5.php?id=6857&blz=1.

PPPS: Even though I am almost certain that the horrible Fort Hood massacre was a result of Major Hasan having been on too many medications, let's also take a closer look at why Muslims might actually be angry enough to kill Americans. Maybe it's the injustice, stupid.

Here's just a small example of injustice toward Muslims: According to David Pratt, foreign policy editor for Glasgow's Sunday Herald and author of "Intifada: The Long Day of Rage," people all across the world happily celebrated the destruction of the unjust and inhumane Berlin Wall recently, but nobody seems to be protesting Israel's inhumane and unjust barrier Wall. http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/guest-commentary/berlin-wall-is-gone-but-israel-s-inhumane-barrier-still-stands-1.932163

"What was amazing about the Berlin jamboree..." wrote Pratt, "was that in the days leading up to and during the celebrations, scant mention was made of Israel’s illegal 'separation wall' which today, like its bygone equivalent, stands as a global symbol of repression. Why, on this grand occasion marking the end of the Berlin Wall, was there not more reflection or objection to the injustice caused by its contemporary counterpart? ....The double standards displayed by many world leaders this week keen to add their ringing endorsement to the inhuman and intolerant rule the Berlin Wall represented, while remaining steadfastly mute on Israel’s present-day incarnation, is shaming to them all."