Monday, May 14, 2007

Top Psychiatrists Admit Their Profession is Compromised

Mental Health Watchdog Group Says Psychiatric Industry Will Implode
While evidence of the inherent problems within the psychiatric industry mounts, leading psychiatrists are beginning to concede the undue influence pharmaceuticals have on their field. Recent national media attention on unscientific diagnoses, patient deaths and conflicts of interest with drug companies has riddled the mental health field with sharp, public criticism.
Steven Sharfstein, former president of the American Psychiatric Association, admitted in a front-page New York Times (NYT) article Thursday that psychiatrists have become too cozy with drug makers. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) says that even this admission by a high-ranking psychiatrist is a substantial understatement. “The horrible consequences of pushing dangerous drugs on unsuspecting patients by psychiatric vested interests to treat invented ‘disorders’ will cause the industry to implode,” said Bruce Wiseman, President of CCHR for the U.S.
Sharfstein’s comment follows similar statements this week by other top psychiatrists:
· Daniel J. Carlat, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University, told the Boston Globe on Monday, “Our [psychiatric] field as a whole is progressively being purchased lock, stock, and barrel by the drug companies: this includes the diagnoses, the treatment guidelines, and the national meetings."
· Steven E. Hyman, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health and provost of Harvard University, stated, “There’s an irony that psychiatrists ask patients to have insights into themselves, but we don’t connect the wires in our own lives about how money is affecting our profession and putting our patients at risk.”
Figures from a NYT analysis of drug company payments to psychiatrists in Minnesota (the only state which requires these records to be made public) reveal that drug company money guides psychiatric diagnoses as well as drug prescriptions, and that psychiatrists are the most financially compromised medical profession. This analysis found, for example, that between 2000 and 2005, payments to Minnesota psychiatrists by pharmaceutical companies increased more than six fold, to $1.6 million. Correspondingly, antipsychotic prescriptions for children increased more than nine fold.
Psychotropic drugs, including powerful antipsychotics, are prescribed to 10 million children, although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that the drugs cause mania, psychosis, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, homicidal ideation, heart attack, stroke and sudden death. A USA Today study of adverse events reported to the FDA between 2000-2004 found at least 45 child deaths in which antipsychotics were listed as the "primary suspect," in addition to 1,328 reports of serious, even life-threatening, side effects. More recently, in 2006, the FDA received reports of at least 29 child deaths linked to these drugs, and another 165 serious side effects.
CCHR warns that psychiatrists are prescribing these potentially deadly, mind-altering drugs based on diagnoses that cannot be confirmed with any objective physical tests. In other words, the “disorders” are just psychiatric “opinion” listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and billions of dollars are being made off of this fraudulent “science” while patients are put at serious risk.
“No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSM. It relies on judgments from practitioners who rely on the manual,” said Lisa Cosgrove of the University of Massachusetts Boston. Cosgrove was the co-researcher in a 2006 study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, which found that a majority (56%) of the panel members responsible for revisions to psychiatry’s billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), had one or more financial ties to drug companies.
Due to the lack of physical evidence to prove the existence of any mental disorder, there have been increasing challenges to the psychiatric diagnoses themselves. Two studies have come out recently, one in the U.S. and one in the UK, which found that large numbers of people are erroneously being classified with a mental disorder—one study admits a 60% misdiagnosis rate, the other 25%. People suffering from normal emotions such as sadness, divorce, rejection and economic misfortune are diagnosed with “depression” after answering simplistic questions.

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