Medicated America

By Paul Woodward

Adam Lanza couldn’t have killed twenty children without access to lethal weapons. But the rage that led to a massacre might never have been triggered without access to lethal drugs. As the British psychiatrist Dr. David Healy has said: “psychotropic drugs of pretty well any group can trigger violence up to and including homicide.”

Alongside the emerging debate on gun control in America, another conversation on mental health is also unfolding. Unfortunately, much of the latter conversation is poorly informed and based on false assumptions, namely that the primary weakness in the mental health system is lack of universal access, and that when mental health care is available, it is effective.

There is a popular view that the crucial factor in averting mental health crises that end with catastrophic consequences, is that the patient must stay on his medication. Drugs make dangerous people safe and so long as they keep taking them, the rest of us having nothing to worry about — that’s the idea.

Since 1997, when the FDA opened the floodgates, Americans have been exposed to a massive amount of direct-to-consumer advertising from the pharmaceutical industry — a form of advertising that is illegal throughout the world except for in only one other country, New Zealand. One of the principal results has been to make psychotropic drugs into the most profitable sector of the drug market. As a trade magazine trumpets, “Psychiatric drugs: a booming business.

Not only has advertising helped boost sales of these drugs, but more broadly it has served to indoctrinate the population at large into believing that whatever problems an individual might be experiencing, a remedy can be found in the shape of a pill. The marketing directive — ask your doctor if Seroquel/Lunesta/Zyprexa/etc is right for you — has become a such-repeated formula that it has won well-deserved parodies. Nevertheless, this kind of advertising works and has been highly effective in conditioning us to believe that mental health is now all simply about tuning brain chemistry with psychotropic drugs.

Whereas it was once more commonly understood that the healthy formation of a person involved parenting, education, acquisition of social skills, nurturing social relationships, and the development of self-knowledge — a life-long process — nowadays people and their problems are being reduced to brains and their imbalances. Problems in families and in societies are reduced to problem-children — children who can be ‘fixed’ with a suitable cocktail of drugs. And by offering a quick-fix alternative to the real work of crafting collective pathways to sanity, the pharmaceutical industry has turned a huge profit.

WatchList-badgeAn example of the dangers of a drug-dependent approach to mental health was laid out in a PBS report last year on the medication of foster children. Powerful anti-psychotic drugs that were once only prescribed to adults are now being given to children, less for the benefit of their health than as an expedient form of social management. Kids are being confined in chemical straightjackets. But as one mother says of her adopted son who she has nurtured back to a full life, “he needed understanding, not Depakote; he needed empathy and an ear and a shoulder to cry on, not Zyprexa.”

Watch video HERE

first posted at War in Context – posted here with permission

Now please consider signing this petition that asks for a federal investigation into the relationship between school shootings and psychiatric drugs.

update: the petition is apparently no longer active and the government has just posted a response at the bottom of that page.


Below are links to a few articles on gun violence and psychiatry from this site. Yes, they’re pretty clearly connected but we live in a world in which it’s members are encouraged to keep their heads up a small, dark, tight canal in the bottom half of the body.

⬤  Study shows 31 prescription drugs (mostly psychiatric) associated with reports of violence towards others

⬤  The pharmaceutical industry and the fight against gun control

⬤  Blaming the mentally ill for violence is bad public policy as well as just plain misguided


*it is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume they know how to do it well even if they claim to have experience. They are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. A lot of withdrawal issues are misdiagnosed to be psychiatric problems. This is why it’s good to educate oneself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care.  Really all doctors should always be willing to do this as we are all individuals and need to be treated as such.

See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page. 


AND yes, I could use some compensation for the many 100s of hours I’ve worked with folks  and on this site over the years. Working like we do and not getting any sort of compensation that I might live more comfortably in the face of continued challenges continues to teach us what we’ve learned from psychiatry. We must not be worth it. Let’s change that patterning. If I helped you or a loved one out, please help me back now. thank you.

****We could  use some financial support at the moment! You know, for things like the mortgage so that we can maintain a roof over our heads. Yup. I do this all for no other compensation than  what the readers want to offer in support. Thank you!****

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page. 

Support Everything Matters: Beyond Meds. Make a donation with PayPal orEnter Amazon via a link from this blog and do the shopping you’d be doing anyway. No need to purchase the book the link takes you to. Thank you!


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