Below is Part Three of the transcript of a lengthy interview and discussion between Dr. Peter Breggin, author of “Medication Madness – a psychiatrist exposes the dangers of mood-altering medications” and Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Patrick: Well – and I know that you’re happily married and you have a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment within your relationship which makes you a great role model for a lot of people. But I’m curious about some of the cases, because, right at the beginning, I even used the terms lobotomy and psychosurgery. And I thought to myself, you know, we’ve bandied around the word lobotomy for many years. But was there a time in medicine when they actually removed parts of the brain or here in America did surgery do so in the hope of changing the way you think and feel?
Peter: Well, it’s – first of all, it still goes on. I’ll give you a brief history and in 1936, a Portuguese surgeon started cutting up – actually he poisoned – he put holes in the brains of mental patients in the state’s mental hospital and poured poison in. And he found that these patients became much more docile and manageable. And then the treatment was usually popularized by a fellow named Walter Freeman in the U.S. during the 1950s – 40s and 50s and Freeman actually developed the method of slipping an ice pick around the eyeball, which you can do apparently without injuring the eye and knocking it through the thin wall of bone behind the eye and swooshing it around. A blind ice pick, literally an ice pick by the way, blind eye pick lobotomies. He did about 5000 lobotomies. Forty or 50,000 were done.
Then it – with the advent of the neuroleptic drugs particularly Thorazine, the first one of them Thorazine. You know, the mental patient populations in the state hospitals were subdued with drugs and that looked a lot more medical and neater and so that – replaced to a great extent psychosurgery. Then in the early 70s, I found out that psychosurgery was coming back all over the world including the U.S. and North America with dozens of projects and that’s the moment that I really became a serious reformer because I decided I wasn’t going to sit back. I was going to become the first physician to stand up in a public way against lobotomy and not let it come back in full force and …
Patrick: Can you explain – give us an example of psychosurgery of this …
Peter: Well, what they were doing in the early 70s was the full range. They would do an old fashion lobotomies where they would open the skull, lift up the front lobes and slice the connections that come up on the underside of the frontal lobes to the front of the brain, effectively deactivating the highest centers of emotion, feeling and thinking and producing a more indifferent, docile and easier to manage and less complaining human being. But then they also begin to do things like implant radium seeds in those areas. I mean, it was just coarse experimentation. And then finally boring holes in the head, dropping electrodes down, stimulating the brain with the tips of the electrodes then heating up the electrodes and burning holes in the brain.
I – explain this history in detail in – on my website, Breggin.com, B-R-E-G-G-I-N dot com has a section on psychosurgery. I actually spent two or three years of my life stopping the return of lobotomy in psychosurgery. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of. Before I was done, almost every project in the United States and North America and most of them in Europe were done with. They gave up under the – a tag of legal suits, legislation, public protests and so on. I would go to the country or the state or, you know, and just give talks on the radio and I really put a lot of energy into it.
Patrick: May I add that when you say you did this, this involved court cases where you testified. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Peter: Well, there were a number of court cases and in the beginning, we lost them but just bringing suits against these Harvard doctors. One in particular named Valentine and he had to stop doing the surgery. But the jury wouldn’t find in Boston against a Harvard doctor at that point. A malpractice suit was brought against some doctors I was very critical of. I didn’t participate against them, Mark and Irvin, but that also shut down their surgery even though the suit wasn’t won. I managed to get Congress to cut off federal funding to some of the surgeons and then we’ve had two suits that were important victories. In 1973 in a famous case and again, it’s on my website, Breggin.com, B-R-E-G-G-I-N, we stopped a psychosurgical experimental series in Michigan State Hospital and the court wrote an opinion that read like my testimony and that stopped all psychosurgery in the state hospitals, the VA the government, all agencies of governments in U.S. stopped doing them after that decision in the Kaimowitz case, it was called. And then just about two years ago, we had a malpractice suit against the Cleveland Clinic for putting several holes in the head of an old lady and ruining her totally. And that caused the Cleveland Clinic to stop doing them with a $7 million verdict. You’ll find that in my website too. And then now, there are just two places they’re doing it that we know of. I think there are other places hiding but Harvard and Brown are still doing psychosurgery. They – you know, they try to make it look very scientific and they – you know, they kind of admit that it’s somewhat experimental and they try to, you know, have experimental controls over, and so on and so forth, but it died down considerably. But see, if you think about a profession where no one ever openly protested lobotomy until I came along, then you realize well, there’s some secret here and I believe the secret is, is that all psychiatric treatments harm the brain and disable the brain, whether it’s drugs or shock treatment or lobotomy. And so, to attack lobotomy is to attack the principle of biological psychiatric treatment which is that it disables the brain.
Patrick: You’ve talked about the damage, long term, that these drugs can do to the brain and in some cases, it’s permanent. What does it do to you whilst you are on them, because I’m gathering that it basically deadens your senses?
Peter: Well the basic thing that happens whenever you disrupt brain function is that the subtlest human functions are impaired. And one of the most subtle human functions is self-perception. So if a person on a psychiatric drug says they have improved, it doesn’t mean they are improved. It may mean they’re emotionally blunted and don’t realize it. It might mean they’re a little high and don’t realize it or might be they’re getting a placebo effect. You know, just the hope of being helped has helped them. So the drugs do what I call spellbinding: medication spellbinding. You don’t perceive their adverse effects. If you feel bad from the drug, you don’t know it’s the drug. Instead you get angry at your wife or you get suicidal without realizing what’s going on. Just like somebody who’s drinking too much will get angry and violent when they never would when they weren’t drinking then they’ll blame it not on the drinking but on the person they’re attacking.
And in the extreme, people do really bizarre things on psychiatric drugs. That’s what Medication Madness documents in one case after another.
Patrick: You’re talking about violence?
Peter: Well, violence, yes, murder and school shootings, “going postal”, theft, all kinds of different things and then other things, ruined marriage, ruined work careers and children injured and so on. Ultimately though, I think the long term exposure to most drugs does what you were suggesting, it dulls. People become less of themselves, less alert, less sharp, less able to multitask, less able to feel spiritually and lovingly. That, I think is probably what the most lasting effects of any kind of injury to the brain are and drugs become an injury to the brain.
Patrick: That’s very interesting and it amazes me that you’re saying this because one of my clients by the name of Cathy Valone was diagnosed with depression and then, as a result, she was put on medication and they changed her medication over about seven years, eleven times because each time that they put her on a medication, she would go back and say, “Well look, I’ve got this symptom now and this symptom and my symptoms are getting worse.” And they would say, “Well, that’s your depression getting worse,” and they would put her on another drug. So they were basically just testing with her. But here’s the point. Just the way you said, not only did she have all sorts of other consequences and side effects where she lost sex drive, she lost appreciation for music, for nature, for beauty, for art. Her senses deadened but she talked about having no spiritual connection and she talked about not feeling like she was herself, not feeling like she’s Cathy…
Peter: Exactly. Exactly.
Patrick: And I think that’s the key point. In wrapping up, I just want to ask quickly about the way that pharmaceuticals approach this. Could you tell me briefly about the – I think it’s the Wesbecker case.
Peter: It’s also on my website, Breggin.com and it’s – also, the most detailed description of the Wesbecker in the new book, Medication Madness. But basically, there were several hundred trials, cases being brought against Eli Lily in the 90s for murder, mayhem, suicide caused by Prozac and I was the chief scientific investigator for all the cases. The cases have been combined for the purpose of having one person be able to evaluate the science for all the lawyers.
And when the first case came to be, the lawyer broke with his colleagues and fixed the trial with the drug companies so they had a fake trial and I was stuck trying to figure out what’s going on. I’m trying to testify and my own lawyer doesn’t want me to testify. Well, at least, Lily doesn’t want to me to testify well. I had the feeling I was the only honest – me and the judge were the only honest ones in the court room because they actually had an agreement to throw the trial so that a lot of money will be given to the people who were injured, and Lily – secretly, but even so, Lily barely won the trial by nine to three and then the judge found out that the trial had been fixed. And he actually canceled the verdict.
Now well, the the American press loudly announced the original victory and didn’t mention it at all when the judge a couple of years later went through the process of nullifying the trial. So it’s a story of just how thoroughly a company like Eli Lilly can manipulate the media and the legal system. Now, I was right stuck in the middle of it and it took me a long time to figure out what was going on.
Patrick: Well, Dr. Breggin, I know that you and I agree on one very important key that the answer starts inside. And as I mentioned, my client Cathy Valone, I’m assisting her in writing a book not only about her story but helping to give people advice and guidance: One, in giving them choices about whether they need to take these drugs. Two, about the dangers of withdrawal, knowing how to very safely and carefully withdraw from these drugs. I know you talked about that on your website.
Peter: My book, Medication Madness also the chapter on how to withdraw from drugs. Go ahead. I’m sorry to interrupt you.
Patrick: No, that’s a very important point. You’re right. And in the book that Cathy is writing, “the answer is inside”, she refers to a lot of my work in which I help people to take a completely different approach to their problems, dealing first with the cause and then the symptoms. What is your overall advice to people on two levels? One, who are suffering from depression and two, who might already be on drugs?
Peter: I can’t give any really blanket advice in a general way because, you know, people have their own problems and I don’t know what their particular problems are but let me advocate that people avoid starting psychiatric drugs if they can because there are so many risks and hazards to them and their efficacy is often much in doubt.
Depression is a matter of hopelessness, feeling hopeless and despairing and desperate. In the extreme, being paralyzed but these are feelings. These are emotions and as you pointed out, they start inside. They also relate to terrible outside events, which then become embedded inside of us. And human beings can really overcome depression through so many methods, not just therapy and counseling but religion. People have overcome it by getting into exercise programs. People have overcome it by falling in love. People have changed their lives to overcome depression. It’s a matter of finding a way to love life again, to love life again, to be involved in life. That’s a process that’s as big as life itself. Drugs aren’t going to help that in the long run.
Now if you’re on psychiatric drugs, that’s entirely up to you as to what to do but I want you to be informed – Medication Madness tries to inform you about the hazards of these drugs. And if you decide you want to come off, you have to be very cautious because people can – they come off too quickly. Some of these drugs will produce seizures. Some will produce a drop in blood pressure and almost all of them will produce an emotional, negative reaction during withdrawal. Just to be very careful and cautious, thoughtful about how you go about withdrawing from the psychiatric drugs.
Patrick: Well, Dr. Breggin, I respect, honor, and applaud not just the work you’re doing but the work you have been doing for so many years and particularly your new book, Medication Madness, which is out now and I’m guessing that we can get it from your website as well as Amazon and other bookstores and your website is Breggin.com, B-R-E-G-G-I-N dot com. Dr. Peter Breggin, I thank you very much and as I say, I wish you the very best with your continued work.
Peter: Thank you very much.
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Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.