From the Great Confinement of Louis XIV of France to a Chemical Gulag (part 4)

From pesticides to antipsychotics

May 1954 is a memorable date for psychiatrists. For the first time, a neuroleptic (popularly known as ‘antipsychotic’) was marketed, chlorpromazine, commercially named Thorazine in the United States and Largactil in some European countries, which revolutionised treatment in the profession.

The first generation of phenothiazines from which chlorpromazine emerged had been used for pesticide purposes in agriculture. In addition, experiments were known to induce catalepsy in animals.

The neuroleptic was a chemical intentionally designed as a neurotoxin, but millions of Thorazine prescriptions were prescribed in the United States. Under the effects of chlorpromazine, patients now could be ‘moved about like puppets’, and the first psychiatrist who experimented in the United States with this neuroleptic said that it ‘may prove to be a pharmacological substitute for lobotomy’.[23] The campaign to sell Thorazine to the American society was so fierce that the same professionals called ‘Thorazine assault troops’ the propagandists of the company that manufactured them.[24]

This was the first massive incursion in the world of public relations carried out by a pharmaceutical company in a market that previously was very small: institutional psychiatry. In its first year of marketing, Smith, Klein & French obtained 75 million dollars with that drug. The rest, as they say, is history.[25]

In 1955, Time magazine called the professionals who opposed chlorpromazine ‘ivory tower critics’. Gregory Zilboorg, the same psychiatrist who held the authors of the medieval Malleus Maleficarum in high esteem, said that the public was being deceived and that the drug only served to control the inpatient. Another doctor raised his voice and said that chlorpromazine was more dangerous than heroin and cocaine. But the publicity muffled all internal dissidence.

By the mid-1960s more than ten thousand medical articles had been written about chlorpromazine. There were television campaigns that omitted any mention of the Parkinsonian-like effects of the drug, and the magazines were paid substantial sums if they advertised in their main articles the miraculous chemical. Time, Fortune and the New York Times were some of these prostitutes of the pharmaceutical corporations.

The use of neuroleptics soon was considered cutting-edge among psychiatric treatments, triumphing over the induced commas with insulin, electroshock and lobotomy. In the 1960s the revolution of this miraculous alchemy, from pesticides to antipsychotics, was consummated and the mindset of the public had been implanted with the message that they were ‘anti-psychotic’ medicines: an idea that persists today.

By 1970, nineteen million prescriptions for neuroleptics had been prescribed, and not just for people who were disturbed. Some juvenile delinquents and rebellious teenagers who were given the neuroleptic called it ‘zombie juice’, but the professionals counterattacked by introducing the euphemism ‘major tranquilizers’.

At the end of March 2001 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, the prescription number of so-called ‘anti-psychotics’ was estimated in 43 million. In the case of children and adolescents, one study showed that between 1987 and 1996 the number of children who were given the drug had doubled. Between 1996 and 2000 the figure multiplied to reach the figure of one in fifty, although the most important age group was between 5 and 9 years old.[26]

The propaganda through which multinational drug companies infect civil society about the ‘need’ to take these neurotoxins is performed through campaigns of ‘education’ to medical visitors and counsellors of schools and parents. Joe Sharkey, a financial journalist and author of Bedlam: Greed, Profiteering and Fraud in a Mental Health System Gone Crazy, has reported that by the end of the 1980s, 25 percent of the earnings paid by health insurance went to the pockets of those who work in the area of mental health, largely due to the psychiatric treatment of these rebellious adolescents.[27]

Furthermore, since the 1970s these professionals entered into a frank association with the drug companies. The consortium between psychiatrists and Big Pharma (pharmaceutical multinationals) is so brazen that all psychiatric conferences are financed by these corporations, and in some medical centres all laboratory research is also financed by multinationals. These companies also fund psychiatric journals. In addition, a study of eight hundred articles by some of the most prestigious scientific journals that do not specialise in psychiatry (Science, Nature, Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Medicine) found that 34 percent of the authors had financial interests with the Big Pharma.

The pharmaceutical industry is the largest sponsor of psychiatric research in the United States, including research in universities and medical schools. It is estimated that in 1994 alone it spent one and a half billion dollars in academic research.[28] Some people have used the expression ‘Is academic medicine for sale?’ to describe this situation.

This is fundamental to understand why I say that psychiatrists, despite their impeccable medical credentials, enact a biased science. It is clear that the sponsorship that these companies provide results in biologicistic and pro-drug bias in research. The editors of specialised journals are very cautious when publishing articles by professionals who criticise biological psychiatry, especially if they question the effectiveness of psychotropic drugs or if they mention the terrible effects of drugs, such as tardive dyskinesia and dystonia produced by the so-called ‘antipsychotic’, symptoms which doctors euphemistically call ‘extrapyramidal symptoms’.

Drug companies spend huge sums on advertisements that appear in specialised journals, and the publishers are not willing to offend their sponsors with articles that denounce the epidemics of drug-induced tardive dyskinesia, on the threat that the companies will withdraw the advertising. The economic dependence of the journals with these companies leads not only to discretion, but many authors resort to self-censorship. As some mental health professionals say, the pharmaceutical industry owns the data obtained in the clinical tests it subsidizes and decides which studies should be published; chooses the authors, writes the articles and even the reviews to interpret the data.[29]

On the other hand, it is natural for new professionals in medical research to choose the area of the most promising future, that which is generously financed by the drug companies. That is where the funds for their careers are found. There is a whole book on the subject, How the Pharmaceutical Industry Bankrolled the Unholy Marriage Between Science and Business of Linda Marsa, and this trend is much more evident in psychiatry. In a psychiatric journal there is less guarantee of scientific accuracy than in other specialised journals. In the profession it is no longer heard, as it used to be in the 1950s and 1960s, that abusive parents drive their children mad. The economic interests to hide this reality are enormous.

For example, in the mid-1990s a pharmaceutical market analyst claimed that the US $1 billion market for neuroleptics could grow to 4.5 billion a year. In May 2001, a report by the Wall Street Journal evaluated the neuroleptic market at 5 billion dollars a year, five hundred percent growth in five years.

The total sales of neuroleptics in the United States in 2000 was 2.5 billion dollars, and international sales reached 6 billion dollars that same year. Only the neuroleptic Zyprexa gave Eli Lilly $ 1 billion in profits in 1998 (the incorrectly referred to as ‘antipsychotics’ are even used in veterinary!). In 1999/2000, the United States led the Western consumption of neuroleptics with 65 percent, followed by Europe with 22 percent and Latin America with 2.5 percent. (I am not counting Russia, Asia or Africa). Given that there are many people who want to control others in prisons, asylums, insane hospitals, correctional facilities for minors and even at home, the growth of market demand for these terrible drugs is comprehensible.[30]

These figures are key to understanding the psychiatry of our days: a chemical Gulag.
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[23] Heinz Lehmann, quoted in ibid., p. 144.

[24] These words from the pharmaceutical company Smith, Kline & French appear in Loren Mosher: ‘Soteria and other alternatives to acute psychiatric hospitalization’ in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (1999, 187), that I read on the internet.

[25] Loren Mosher, Richard Gosden & Sharon Beder, ‘Las empresas farmacéuticas y la esquizofrenia’ en Modelos de locura, pp. 141s.

[26] These figures appear in Modelos de locura, pages 124s.

[27] Sharkey: Bedlam, p. 4. Sharkey’s book takes as a central theme the unjustified hospitalisations set up by psychiatrists, especially children and adolescents, to get as much money as possible from the insurance companies of their parents.

[28] This information appears in Valenstein: Blaming the Brain, pp. 199 & 187.

[29] Modelos de locura, p. 144.

[30] See Whitaker: Mad in America, and Valenstein: Blaming the Brain, chapter 6. See also Richard Gosden and Sharon Beder: ‘Pharmaceutical industry agenda setting in mental health policies’ in Ethical Human Science and Services (Autumn/Winter 2000). I wrote this piece fifteen years ago and have not checked the latest stats in scholarly journals. However, I keep watching Robert Whitaker’s updated videos in YouTube. Nothing in recent years has moved me to change my mind.

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From the Great Confinement of Louis XIV of France to a Chemical Gulag (part 3)

The great revolution in modern psychiatry occurred in the 1930s. Previously, with his instruments Heinroth and his colleagues had assaulted the body of citizens to control. But in the 1930s the assault on the body was abandoned by a more effective method: assaulting the brain directly. Metrazol shock, insulin shock and electroshock were introduced knowing that it killed brain cells.

Pentylenetetrazol (commercially known as Metrazol in North America and Cardiazol in Europe) causes a huge reaction in the victims. They suffered seizures so violent that they frequently broke their teeth, bones and spine. Metrazol shock was so devastating to the brain that, once its effect passed, some suffered regressive states and acted like babies; they played with their faeces, masturbated and wanted the nurses to mollycoddle them. When they recovered they prayed ‘in the name of humanity’ that they would not be injected with Metrazol again: a drug that subjugated even the hardest of the military. But by 1939 it was common to use Metrazol in most hospitals of the United States, which meant that in those times some inmates used to receive several injections.

The New York Times, Harper’s, Time and even Reader’s Digest joined the chorus of praises about a similar psychiatric treatment: insulin shock, which also produced frightening seizures. A Time writer wrote that while the patient descends in the coma ‘he shouts and bellows, gives free vent to his hidden fears and obsessions, opens his mind wide to listening psychiatrists’. The psychoanalysts interpreted the complaints of the victims in favour of their colleagues. In a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association Roy Grinker interpreted that the patient ‘experiences the treatment as a sadistic punishment attack which satisfies his unconscious sense of guilt’.[16] Robert Whitaker, the author of a study on American psychiatry, calls this epoch, the first fifty years of the 20th century, ‘the darkest time’ in the history of psychiatry.

1935 marked the birth of lobotomy. Egas Moniz, a Portuguese psychiatrist, had started his experiments using alcohol to destroy the brain tissue of the frontal lobes, but changed the method by cutting them directly with a scalpel. His first guinea pig was a prostitute, and three months later he had lobotomised twenty people, each time daring to cut off more brain tissue from his victims. According to Moniz ‘to cure these patients we must destroy the more or less fixed arrangements of the cellular connections that exist in the brain’.[17] Moniz’s work led to an explosion of lobotomies in the West, especially in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, Italy, Romania, Brazil, Cuba and eventually in Mexico.

In 1941 the neurosurgeon Walter Freeman called this practice ‘brain-damaging therapeutics’.[18] At least we must give Freeman credit that he did not express himself in Newspeak, but in the lingua franca of Heinroth: he recognised that lobotomy damages the brain. But in that decade the Swedish Academy awarded Moniz the Nobel Prize in medicine and the media was enthusiastic about the novel therapy, including the New York Times, Time and Newsweek. A New York Times editorial celebrated with these words the success on lobotomised people: ‘would-be suicides found life acceptable’.[19] With such social support tens of thousands of lobotomies were practiced in the 1940s and 50s. It was believed that college students who had emotional problems, and even spoiled children, were ideal candidates for Freeman’s lobotomy.

Whitaker mentions the effects of this radical operation. A lobotomised woman was described as ‘fat, silly and smiling’. Although she had been of lineage, another woman who underwent the operation defecated in a garbage dump. Lobotomised patients grabbed the food from the neighbour’s plate, or vomited in the soup and kept eating. Some of them did not get out of bed unless a family member ordered them to do so, and it was common for them to urinate there. Others just looked out the window. Those who had had jobs before the operation were unable to make a living by themselves. It was possible to insult them and get a smile in response.

Some referred to lobotomy as ‘a surgically induced childhood’, and you can already imagine the burden it represented for families to support them. But Freeman and his assistant Watts had a more positive view of things. They wrote that the lobotomised patient could be considered ‘a household pet’.[20] The reports of the scientific journals also painted things in a favourable light for the medical profession. The language of science claims to be neutral, apolitical and non-emotional. It does not wield value judgments: the diametrically opposite to what I do in this book. In the professional literature where graphs and figures abound it is easy to write articles where the tragedy left by these semi-vegetable humans was not perceived as a crime.

Walter Freeman at the moment of cutting the healthy
brain of one of his victims. Note how this was done
openly with students learning from the lobotomist.

The ‘brain-damaging therapeutics’ of Moniz and Freeman lost momentum in the 1960s and 70s. It is currently difficult to know how many lobotomies are made in the world each year. According to an article in defence of lobotomy in Psychology Today (March/April 1992), at the beginning of that decade there were at least 200 to 300 ‘psychosurgeries’ openly declared every year. In fact, in the new century a few doctors still promote ‘psychosurgery’ for severe emotional problems and in some states of the United States special councils have been formed to review all proposals for these operations.[21]

Although lobotomy fell into relative disuse, electroshock remains a standard psychiatric practice in the 21st-century profession. The electroshock was developed in 1938, inspired by a slaughterhouse in Rome where the pigs were electro-shocked to make it easier to slice their necks. A psychiatrist, Ugo Cerletti, had been experimenting with electric shocks on dogs, putting electrodes on the snout and anus of the dog. Half of the animals died of cardiac arrest. After seeing the electro-shocked pigs Cerletti decided to use it on humans.

Cerletti’s first guinea pig was a homeless man who roamed the train station in Rome. Shortly after, in 1940, electroshock therapy was admitted at the other side of the Atlantic. Manfred Sakel, who introduced insulin shock in medical practice, compared his technique to the electroshock and commented on the latter: ‘the stronger the amnesia, the more severe the underlying brain cell damage must be’.[22] This was another form of the ‘brain-damaging therapeutics’ of Moniz and Freeman.

Although the psychiatrists recognised all this in their specialised journals, in their public pronouncements they were more cautious. They painted ‘electroconvulsive therapy’ as a harmless therapy and said that the loss of memories was temporary. The media took the propaganda as honest science, and by 1946 half of the beds in American hospitals were occupied by psychiatric patients, some of whom had suffered the therapy.

Two years later Albert Deutsch published The Shame of the States and an article appeared in Life magazine with impressive photographs about a reality that the American people ignored: what happened in the concentration camps called psychiatric institutions. Although the images contributed to the reform of the public facilities in the United States, the 20th century witnessed two other psychiatric revolutions. One was the consortium between psychiatrists and pharmaceutical multinationals; another, the invention of chemical lobotomies in the 1950s. Surgical lobotomy would fell into relative disuse in favour of the use of neuroleptics: a more subtle form of social control.

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[16] The revelations about Metrazol appear in Whitaker’s book.

[17] Egas Moniz, quoted in Mad in America, 113.

[18] Freeman, quoted in ibid, p. 96.

[19] Quoted in ibid, p. 138.

[20] Freeman, quoted in ibid, p. 124.

[21] Lobotomy, Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. On the resurgence of lobotomy, see Breggin: Toxic Psychiatry, pp. 261ff and an article by Lawrence Stevens that can be read on the internet: ‘The brain-butchery called psychosurgery’.

[22] Manfred Sakel, quoted in Mad in America, p. 98.

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Hellstorm • prologue

In almost any war one side can be dishonestly demonized even by a truthful enumeration of its crimes, if the crimes of its adversaries are suppressed. —Irmin Vinson


Excerpted from Thomas Goodrich’s 2010 book

Hellstorm:
The Death of Nazi Germany
(1944-1947)



Prologue

For six hundred years East Prussia had served as the frontier outpost of Germany…

By mid-October 1944, the Soviet Army had finally reached the Reich’s border. And yet, as was the case at Nemmersdorf, there was no panic.

Thus it was, that on the night of October 20, as Nemmersdorf and other communities nearest the front slept in imagined security, the unthinkable occurred. After punching a hole through the German line, the Red Army suddenly burst into the Reich.

“They tortured civilians in many villages,” reported one German officer, “nailed some on barn doors and shot many others.”

Added another horrified witness:

In the farmyard down the road stood a cart, to which four naked women were nailed through their hands in a cruciform position… Beyond stood a barn and to each of its two doors a naked woman was nailed through the hands, in a crucified posture. In the dwellings we found a total of seventy-two women, including children, and one old man, 74, all dead… all murdered in a bestial manner, except only a few who had holes in their necks. Some babies had their heads bashed in. In one room we found a woman, 84 years old, sitting on a sofa… half of whose head had been sheared off with an ax or a spade.

“Every female, including girls as young as eight, had been raped,” noted another viewer.

Old men who had feebly tried to protect their wives, daughters and granddaughters, were themselves knocked down, sawed in half or chopped to bits. A group of over fifty French POWs and Polish workers who had instinctively stepped in to protect the people were likewise castrated and killed. Lt. Amberger continues:

Neither in Nemmersdorf nor in the other places did I find a single living German civilian.

Staggered by the enormity of the crime, German authorities requested that neutral investigations and medical personnel from Spain, Sweden and Switzerland view the sickening carnage close up. When the visitors filed their reports, however, and when word finally reached the outside world, there was only silence. By the winter of 1944, the vicious propaganda war waged against Germany had been won. By that late stage few individuals beyond the Reich’s borders were concerned about brained German babies or crucified German women.

With the outbreak of the war in 1939 [ed. Note: before the first reports of 1942 on the Jewish Holocaust] nowhere was hatred more intense than among American Jews. Wrote Hollywood script writer and director, Ben Hecht:

A cancer flourishes in the body of the world and in its mind and soul, and this cancerous thing is Germany, Germanism, and Germans… That this most clumsy of all human tribes—this leaden-hearted German—should dare to pronounce judgment on his superiors, dare to outlaw from the world the name of the Jew—a name that dwarfs him as the tree does the weed at its foot—is an outrageous thing. It is an evil thing.

“Germany must perish,” echoed Theodore N. Kaufmann in a widely-read book of the same name.

And the only way to accomplish that is to remove the German from the world… There remains then but one mode of ridding the world forever of Germanism—and that is to stem the source from which issue those war-lusted souls, by preventing the people of Germany from ever again reproducing their kind.

To implement his plan, Kaufman recommended that when the war was successfully concluded all German men and women should be sterilized.

Far from being shocked by such a genocidal scheme, leading American journals were thrilled by the concept.

“A Sensational Idea!” cheered Time magazine.

“A provocative theory,” echoed the Washington Post.

While many in America and Great Britain could understand and even commiserate with Jewish emotions, many more were initially aghast by the flaming rhetoric and the murderous cries for extermination of innocent and guilty alike. Nevertheless, the sheer weight and persistence of the propaganda, both subtle and overt, in film, radio, books, magazines, and newspapers, gradually worked its way into the thoughts and attitudes of the public mainstream. Eventually, in the minds of a sizable percentage of Americans and Britons, little distinction was drawn between killing a Nazi soldier and killing a German child.

On September 15, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt made the demand for extermination official when he endorsed the so-called “Morgenthau Plan.” Named for Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Treasure, Henry Morgenthau, but actually conceived by the secretary’s top aide, Harry Dexter White—both of whom were Jewish.

“You don’t want the Germans to starve?” Roosevelt’s incredulous son-in-law asked the president in private.

“Why not?” replied Roosevelt without batting an eye.

Most Germans actually knew little of thoughts such as the above. Most Germans were yet living under the illusion that the war still had rules. Few could bring themselves to believe that the horror at Nemmersdorf was anything other than an aberration; that the butchery was only a bloody mistake destined never to be repeated. Unbeknownst to those in Prussian and other German regions facing east, the nightmare of Nemmersdorf would soon prove only the faintest foretaste of what was ahead.

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Educate yourself about the Holocaust perpetrated on the German people by the Allied forces that the mainstream media has covered up for nearly seventy years.

Hellstorm is still available from the publisher.