Editorial Note: The image is of Science Media Centre funding from their website. This post links to Whats Going on Here, Honey I Shrunk the Shrinks, and to the two Prescription for Murder Posts on RxISK. When AF’s email came in first, it seemed far from private as he now claims. The choice of people seemed anything but accidental – especially SW. It seemed likely SW would engage on the SMC topic.
From: Wessely, Simon <email@example.com>
Date: 6 August 2017 at 20:41
Subject: Re: Thanks David.
To: David Healy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: “Summergrad, Paul” , Allen Frances <email@example.com>, Jeffrey Lieberman, Bernard Carroll , Ronald Pies
Honestly David. This SMC stuff is just daft. Look at the website and look at the daily digests they do. They asked a lot of experts to comment on the panorama programme. A lot. If people had given different opinions they would have included them. They always do. The facts are that no one on the list did. A lot were on holiday I grant you but I don’t think that made any difference.
It’s nowt to do with them.
RCPsych certainly did provide a lot of media comments – that’s our job. Sadly not my job any more as I stepped down but I was v pleased with them.
From: Wessely, Simon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 6 August 2017 at 20:43
Presumably david you think that SMC gave the Sunday Times their big splash pre transmission – ‘Killer Pills’
Was that acceptable journalism?
From: David Healy <email@example.com>
Date: 6 August 2017 at 20:52
As far as I know, the ST piece didn’t have a lot to do with panorama. That was a journalist who has written a rather good book, who has a compelling case for negligent treatment and who had the wit to take advantage of the fact that panorama was due later that week.
I do think SMC are dangerous and I that you need to consider whether it isn’t effectively operating as an outsourced public relations outfit for pharma among others. I also think its doing the College no favors to be as tightly linked to them as they are.
I think Dr Burns’ credibility is in rather less good shape as a result as her involvement with them
From: Wessely, Simon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 6 August 2017 at 21:40
David. Are you seriously suggesting that the ST trailer was nothing to do with product placement by panorama ?
It’s not a crime. It’s normal practice and we all know it
And finally – and I mean finally – look at the rules for donations to SMC and the accounts
You have a case. I don’t think it’s right but no matter. Have always enjoyed debating you as you very well know and even more enjoyed drinking with you very well know
But you don’t do your corner any good by going into third shooter and grassy knoll territory.
Ok. Hope you are in Berlin. Shorter and I will be downing a few Steins. I hope you will be there
From: David Healy <email@example.com>
Date: 6 August 2017 at 21:57
So whats third shooter about this?
Or the very many other SMC pieces linked to this story since, all of which misrepresent what the program was about
Or what’s third shooter about the college docs showing SMC efforts to co-ordinate my views about the So Long and Thanks for all the Serotonin piece. I can send this if you really want to see them
In my view SMC have done and are doing a lot to degrade the quality of debate in British psychiatry. In my view no pharmaceutical company could reasonably be expected to be without an SMC. It would be bizarre for business with so much at stake not to have something like this. The idea that SMC wouldn’t exist and wouldn’t be doing exactly what I suggest is a fantasy.
As regards your enjoying debating with me – I can’t remember when that was.
SMC began in 2002 in part to contain negative media coverage of GM Foods which seemed bad for business in UK PLC. One of the other factors cited early on was the rough time certain academics such as Simon Wessely were getting when they put forward views about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). SMC was and is closely linked to Sense about Science, which began at the same time. They had key founders in common.
The Trustees are:
“When a story breaks – whether it’s the latest flu epidemic, health scare or a potential nuclear crisis – the SMC persuades leading experts to drop everything and engage with the story, then contacts journalists at all the major news outlets to offer those experts for interviews or immediate comment”.
“The SMC has a track record of recruiting experts to its media database on topical issues and considerable experience and expertise helping them speak to the media. The SMC should therefore prioritise recruitment of experts working in high-profile fields that attract controversy”.
The people most aware of SMC and SAS up till this have been from the environmental movement – Friends of the Earth etc, as befits the origins of SMC in trying to influence the debate on GM foods.
Their commitment to CFS has been pretty constant too. As one of the comments on What’s going on Here mentions, SMC have recently co-ordinated comments on the PACE study of CFS. This is a British study that has generated more interest in the US than the UK, in part because the authors have resolutely refused to part with the data and because there has been outcome switching worthy of Study 329.
The brand is obviously working because it has spread to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. SMC recently forced the Toronto Star to back down over a story about HPV.
There has been a move to America also which generated this US assessment of its background and M.O. – basically endorsing corporate views. The stated aim is to promote mainstream science but a science that doesn’t question, and get us to question, is worse than salt that has lost its flavor – the appearances of salt are worthless, the appearances of science are dangerous.
I had a first brush with SMC in 2015 when BMJ commissioned a piece about SSRIs and serotonin mythology. They had difficulties with the idea of calling it So Long and Thanks for all the Serotonin, but eventually it ran. From around the time it came out or earlier there were comments – the one that caught my eye was from Clare Stanford – because like Wendy Burns’ Panorama comments these were bizarre. It came with a whole new idea – Switch on Anti-Depression Today.
The comments about that article were almost identical to the ones about the Panorama program. Telling people there was no evidence for a serotonin theory and never had been would provoke people to murderous rage, and I would be responsible for this.
To repeat what I wrote then, the powers that be (AF, SW etc) are scared silly of the people. Their reactions scream guilt. They scream that if we ever found out what they had done to us, we would rise up and they would be in trouble. Just to be clear, I am not advocating anyone rise up, I am describing the body language of the Bishops and Cardinals of medicine.
What I didn’t know then was that the BMJ had sent the editorial and a press release of the piece to SMC. On April 20th SMC sent both to their bank of experts including the Royal College asking for comments “from my limited understanding this could be quite controversial as it essentially suggests there is no link between serotonin and depression”. It worked its way across a few desks in the College to Dr Wessely’s desk – “this could be a big story Simon. Would you perhaps like to comment?”
The next brush was over Study 329, an earthquake in therapeutics. There was very little reaction from GSK to this, other than a perfunctory comment almost coinciding with publication. This didn’t seem so astonishing; after all they had recently been fined $3 billion linked to this study and so comment was always likely to be constrained.
But it looked very like the ball was passed to GSK’s partners, Sense about Science, and in smart order Tracey Browne, Ben Goldacre and Iain Chalmers all came out to defend this wonderful, most marvelously transparent company.
One of the most surprising things about the Panorama program was that neither GSK nor Pfizer barked. Given a right of reply by BBC they said almost nothing. You will look in vain around other media outlets to find anything from them. No screaming blue murder or irresponsibility.
Thirty years ago when Prozac ran into trouble first, the standard thing was for companies to mobilize “friends” when faced with difficulties. This is not all bad. We want companies to defend products. With the right give and take a middle ground can be found. But over the last few decades like the Cheshire cat, companies have been fading into the background leaving only a grin behind.
Or rather a hell of a lot of barking behind – by what appear to be others.
Before the Panorama program came out and before she had seen it Wendy Burns, the new President of the College, who has no background in these issues, had made a fool of herself in the Times commenting on things that had nothing to do with program. See Honey I shrunk the shrinks.
The same holds true for Carmine Pariente in the Lancet who turns up regularly in these slots. To have something come out the Lancet so quickly shows a real sure-footedness on the grassy knoll.
A host of tweets from all kinds of people including Ben Goldacre, until he ran into an upper cut from Shelley Jofre, followed.
James Thomas (@James_M_Thomas) | Twitter
My complaint about the #BBCPanorama ‘Prescription for Murder?’ show broadcast … Panorama ?, Science Media Ctr UK … Prof Social Research & Policy at EPPI-Centre
MHRUK (@MHRUKCharity) | Twitter
Check out the latest Tweets from MHRUK … Here’s a blogpost from Science Media Centre on recent #Panorama programme on … news-blog/post /a-prescription-for …
Ed Sykes from the Science Media Centre explains why we must rely on research to inform investigative journalism in light of Panorama’s recent episode on the link between antidepressants and homicidal behaviours. This gushing little piece is laid out in full below
Media centre. News releases and … Following last night’s BBC Panorama episode – ‘A Prescription for Murder?’ … The PMCPA is a division of ABPI which is a company …
Following last night’s BBC Panorama episode – ‘A Prescription for Murder?’ – Dr Sheuli Porkess, ABPI’s Head of Medical Affairs and Clinical Research, gives her reaction to the program and its views on SSRI medicines.
There is a Lamppost on the grassy knoll that dogs use a lot. Its not clear if the drunks looking for their keys there get the smell.
Ed Sykes from the Science Media Centre explains why we must rely on research to inform investigative journalism in light of Panorama’s recent episode on the link between antidepressants and homicidal behaviours.
Imagine a pill, taken by millions of people every day, that unwittingly turns some of us into murderers. That was the scenario laid out in the recent Panorama on antidepressants, it was the message trailed in the media in advance of the show and it was the line used in the press release to drum up interest. That ‘s a very powerful and scary message, and when you’re talking about a drug that saves thousands of lives every year – and that already has a bad public image – then we need to be extra careful.
Putting people off antidepressants costs lives.
Antidepressants are not perfect, they have many side-effects, it can take a long time for people to find one that works for them and they don’t solve the problems that drive people into depression in the first place. People should be aware of these problems and we should discuss them openly. At the same time, we should be celebrating investigative journalism because it can be a massive force for good and I’d love to see more of it, but with any topic it needs to be done well, and when there’s a risk of people stopping a life-saving medication then that’s especially true.
So why was I concerned by the programme? What riled so many other people? I fully believe that antidepressants can change someone’s behaviour, and that we should be asking whether the negative side-effects are really outweighed by the benefits.
But to do that, we need to see evidence, not simply be given a case study.
The programme focused almost exclusively on the case of James Holmes, known as the Batman killer after opening fire in a cinema showing the Dark Knight Rises. We were shown the timeline of events leading up to the massacre, we heard from his parents and from a couple of psychiatrists involved in the case. But where was the evidence that the murders were linked to the medication?
I spend my days working with researchers on all aspects of mental health and neuroscience, these are people who dedicate their lives to sifting through the data to see whether we are imagining patterns or are blind to what the stats are telling us. Many of them are investigating exactly these questions around antidepressants.
Professor Seena Fazel is known around the world for his work investigating whether antidepressants lead to an increase in violence. The research doesn’t show any evidence for an increase in people over 25. In younger people, there is evidence of a slight increase but we still can’t say if this is due to antidepressants. It’s complex as young people are taking more alcohol and other recreational drugs, and some of these people are actually suffering from severe personality problems that make them violent in the first place. It’s fascinating work using data from tens of thousands of people and I would have sat engrossed for an hour hearing about what the figures show. But even if Seena’s work did show antidepressants caused people to be more violent, that would still be a big step away from turning someone into a murderer.
It’s not just Seena and his datasets who don’t see the evidence for saying antidepressants turn people into murderers. I contacted around I00 researchers who work on various aspects of depression and antidepressants and the only message that kept coming back to me was that there was just no good evidence to suggest that antidepressants turn people into murderers. Yet in the show we were presented with one psychiatrist who said he thought the drugs weren’t to blame, one who thought they definitely were and one who thought we should be looking into it. It seemed as though the field is split evenly on this and that the evidence is up for grabs – this isn’t representative of the views of the mainstream science community; it may be ‘balanced’ but it isn’t measured. This kind of false balance has been blogged about many times before.
The main evidence the programme seemed to be giving us, alongside the case studies, was the result of a Freedom of Information request to the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA). The MHRA is responsible for many aspects of healthcare, including a Yellow Card system that records all the bad side-effects linked to any drugs. The Panorama team informed us that their investigation had unearthed 28 cases linking antidepressants to murder and 32 to murderous thoughts. The show did point out that these were just reports, not conclusions that the drugs had caused murder. But what they failed to mention was that these reports to the MHRA can be made by anyone. You or I could go on their website right now and make a report, it doesn’t necessarily mean it was a medical professional who reported it or that the report was supported by strong evidence . Maybe each of these reports was made by a healthcare professional and was supported by good evidence, but Panorama didn’t show it to us.
The programme did well in reminding viewers not to stop taking medication without speaking to a medical professional first, but it also kept repeating that in rare circumstances these drugs might be turning people into murderers. The EU defines a rare disease as affecting fewer than 5 in 10,000 people, but when there are a lot of people involved then even a rare event should start to appear quite a lot. Around 1 in 10 people in the UK experience some form of depression during their life, there were 61 million prescriptions for antidepressants in 2015 alone, probably more than 500 million during the last three decades. So even if all 60 of the Yellow Card reports to the MHRA had all definitely been a case of the drug turning someone into a murderer that would be around I per 800,000 prescriptions. There are only 600,000 people living in Glasgow. These circumstances aren’t rare, they’ re vanishingly small.
What viewers of this Panorama didn’t see was a measured, proportionate account of the huge wealth of evidence on this topic. Through false balance, by not showing the evidence, and by not giving some much-needed context what could have been an insightful programme left people misinformed. Antidepressants would benefit from investigative journalism – there are good questions about over-prescribing and prescribing for the wrong reasons, but there are also concerns about under prescribing and how a really useful drug is still being shunned by many. With a thorough investigation we could learn a lot about how much the drugs do change people’s personalities, whether using them stops us from investing in psychological therapies, if they result in social problems being ignored and even whether they do lead to violence or murder – but to have that debate we need to see the evidence, not just rely on one case study, no matter how distressing.
Ed Sykes is Head of Mental Health and Neuroscience at the Science Media Centre.
Copyright © Data Based Medicine Americas Ltd.
Perhaps a study ought to be conducted into the number of times Sir Simon Wessely has been involved in positing some kind of psychiatric condition which avoids the British state from recognising medical damage or having to pay out benefits. A knighthood is small recompense for his services – he should be an Earl or a Duke.
I have in mind Sir Simon’s notorious involvement in psychopathologising CFS/ME, Gulfwar syndrome, Iraq War Syndrome, issues of military vaccine damage including anthrax:
I gather Lariam as well, mobile phone radiation.
The state lords it over the citizen and Sir Simon perennially seems to be there on hand to obfuscate the issue. Whatever, it is it winds up being in your head. Whatever the condition his response is a serial response.
You cannot win (?) with Simon, Wendy, Carmine, Allen et al, you just can .. and Ben ..
Excellent reporting of SMC and Experts in the Grassy Knoll ..
It’s hard to know what to say as we are 100% behind you on the Grassy Knoll ..
Dog eat Dog ..
Simon always appears so relaxed, so ultra confident, so cheerfully optimistic .. see him Knolling, Lolling, leaning back on the sofa with Victoria, right arm placed on the seat back, almost lolling his eyes when Leonie gave an erudite, acceptably emotional piece about Shane ..
Equally with Kirk being candid about GSK and Seroxat and Simon is straight back at him in his casual, fatherly figure, fashion ..
Why do they always wheel out Simon?
He has nothing to say, he acts as if studies, research, investigations are beneath him, he gives off this calm aura which comes over in his emails to you.
Never mind, Davey Boy, we had some good chats and looking forward to a beer with you ..
They do not dialogue with you, they certainly would not dialogue with us, but, they will dialogue with SMC.
These people are frighteningly in the public eye, almost every day, damping down the discourse and Wendy Burn is certainly a ‘chip of the old block’ as Simon says.
You have spelled it out David and all the emails posted are a necessary part of the lamppost we are all up against .. when Leonie, David C., and Everyone who has Lost Out to an Antidepressant tells their chilling, horrific, harrowing narrative with extreme courage and emotional distress it is beyond insulting that all those persons mentioned in this blog have such a strident and open offensive
The view from sitting on my Grassy Knoll ..
Ed Sykes’ comment ” but to have that debate we need to see the evidence, not just rely on one case study, no matter how distressing” makes me wonder where he’s been all this time. You’ve only to read ‘Anatomy of an Academic’ by Robert Whitaker, (a fairly easy read I would have thought, and something which should be on any SMC member’s bookshelf) to find all the evidence he could possibly need, and, dare I add, evidence collected from medics and written up by someone in excellent mental health himself. Not written by people ‘in a bad place’ due to mental illness.
I am sorry to say that evidence provided by sufferers of mental illness themselves will probably BE discounted because they ‘are in a bad place.’ Followers of these blogs and watchers of previous Panorama programmes may remember the interview with the well exposed (in Media, women’s magazines etc) and well Pharma-connected GP Dr Sarah Jarvis who implies that reports of bad side effects from these ‘helpful drugs which save many lives’ are of course from people who ‘have issues and are unwell’ – these are not her exact words, sorry, I forget them but the gist is right. Immediately Joe Public hear those words they tend to think, ‘Mmm, yeah, she’s probably right, they are nuts after all so we don’t need to worry, what they say or scribble on their little Yellow Cards can’t be trusted.’
I think Sally MacGregor’s proposed idea of collecting evidence of harm from SSRIs and anti psychotics, (seen on a previous David Healy’s Blog) is excellent, but how about getting some of that evidence, not from patients but INSTEAD from family, who watch the whole ghastly process of their relative sinking into illness. I know it sounds awful and shaming to write this, but close family, when first faced with ‘strange’ behaviour by a loved one (or even just a pesky relative) are often puzzled, then scared and in desperation just want ‘somebody to DO something’ to restore the status quo. ‘Yes, please give them a pill doctor, quieten down their behaviour, sort them out. You know what you are doing, we don’t. Please make them OK again’. So it’s often the family who are all FOR the use of the SSRIs, because in a way, it takes the worry and fear away from them. So they have no axe to grind with Big Pharma, they are grateful there IS a magic pill to be popped.
Until later. When even they can see the change in their relation is much worse than they expected. And they report it. And they are not believed. But they are pretty sane, most of them probably…. Sane enough to report accurately. So should Sally’s evidence be gleaned from them, as sideline observers of change. Would Ed Sykes and the SMC listen to that? Particularly if we got The Times to run a piece offering to collect evidence of dire effects seen following use of psychotropic prescribed drugs reported by patients’ relatives. Kat Lay is the Health Correspondent there, her article on RoAccutane was very fair and balanced we thought. She expressed interest in further mental health medication issues, this could be a perfect one to send her. Especially if we could open with a sheaf of Sally Mac’s reports.
If we go on as we are, with most of the public blindly trusting what SMC and Sense about Science are feeding us, will it only be the discerning few who read up on stuff like Whitaker’s book who retain their original functioning brains (as nature intended) who become the surviving fittest and go on to live normal lives. I wonder what Darwin would make of all this, and what his advice would be?
Three words from Shelley Jofre that I applauded. Three words that seemed to silence Ben Goldacre after he had tweeted this…
… because GSK were caught banged to rights withholding adverse data from regulators and doctors. In this century. Hence the conspiracists.
Shelley’s response was brief and crisp.
“Caught by Panorama.”
You just gotta love ankle-biters.
‘Conspiracy theorists’ seems to be a term that Goldacre throws out willy-nilly. He called me one once, preceding it with the word ‘smeary.’
Thus far the ‘experts’ quoted in the media (those put forward by SMC) have failed to address the real issue. We’ve heard terms like ‘scaremongering’, ‘stigmatism’ and even the gem, “antidepressants help millions of patients worldwide.”
They are clearly deflecting the real issue when using these terms.
Many others on Twitter are missing the point too.
When we, as safety advocates, highlight the problems people face with antidepressants we are almost seen as the enemy and are told things like, “if it wasn’t for antidepressants I’d be dead now” or “antidepressants saved my life and without them, I wouldn’t be here now.”
By talking about how they help some people isn’t really relevant, it just deflects the real problem that some are facing with these drugs. I’m glad people seem to think that they work but my issue isn’t with those people, my issue is, and always will be, with the people whose lives have been devastated by these drugs. Simply by saying, “these drugs work for some” does not address the points Panorama raised. In essence, it stifles those points.
PS – I hope SW enjoys those few Steins.
A decade ago, undisclosed to the multitude Ben Goldacre was housed at Sir Simon’s stomping ground, thInstitute of Psychiatry. It is a little hard to know what he was professionally doing there – since he never published any papers and was probably as a fellow not attending patients – except controlling public opinion through his columns in the Guardian and his Bad Science website.
150 dead – Simon investigates …
Prof Wessely also stressed there was not a link between depression and aggressive suicide.
‘Pilots with a history of depression should NOT be banned from flying’, says leading psychiatrist as he warns of knee-jerk reaction to Germanwings tragedy
Professor Simon Wessely warned authorities against a knee-jerk reaction
A Telling off from Countess Mar
Lady Mar has already sent the attached 4 page letter to Simon Wessely ..
Oh well done Annie for finding this brilliant letter from Margaret, Countess of Mar, to Simon Wessley. It reminds me of the words of the brother in The Railway Children film – ‘isn’t she magnificent when she’s angry’ (for any of you who saw it, time and time again, as we did).
We worked campaigning alongside Margaret Mar in the 1990s and she was fantastic. A farmer near us, she’d suffered first hand from sheep dip damage and she knew how others were suffering. She helped us to get our son Olly seen by Dr Bob Davies, the ME psychiatrist who helped him so much when he was 16. One consultation was all it took, with additional help from his co-researcher Goran Jamal. In those days you couldn’t see anyone out of your area if they were practising purely in the NHS. So she really helped us greatly.
I love reading this amazing letter to Wessley. I hope he cringed. I love that she points out he offered her a bottle of water and didn’t pay for her lunch, having invited her persistently. What a true gentleman…. She is a forthright lady, the kind you mess with at your peril. She takes enormous trouble to get her facts straight. I know she had terrible harassment in the 1990s which would have been enough to frighten most people off, but she knew her facts and she never gave in. She got sheep dip made safe, taking out organo phosphates, and by so doing saved so many farmers from death by suicide.
I thank you Annie most sincerely for treating us to this. It has considerably brightened my day!
Thank you, Heather.
I could spend the rest of my life doing this, but, it has a kind of point to it all.
We are all with you for Olly.
Allen Frances @AllenFrancesMD 1m1 minute ago
Trump/Kim:Spoiled brats in a disastrous pissing match. Kim inherited his throne, but we elected Trump. Find out why
and we are pretty much cool, calm and collected:)
Thank you for such kind words Annie, they mean such a lot. I will fight for justice for Olly and all those who suffered as he did, till the day I die. Thank you too for all your wonderful detective work which never fails to add interesting background to this blog and throws light on all aspects of things which otherwise most of us could miss. You are amazing. The Scots equivalent of a modern day Sherlock Holmes!
I meant to add, since the German pilot crash is also mentioned in connexion with Wessley’s comments by Annie, that many of us believe that he had been taking RoAccutane-isotretinoin for his acne, and we know that you cannot be a pilot if you use it, because it often damages one’s eyesight. Which could have been why Andre was having treatment for his eyes, and he would have had to keep very quiet about using the acne drug or he could have been out of a job. And as we know to our cost, that drug can cause a sort of depression, for which some people get offered SSRIs. And then, some of those people become temporarily psychotic and do mad things like driving aircraft into bridges in the USA, or being convinced that God has singled them out for a special message, telling them he needs them pronto in Heaven, or that they have to kill people. I would love to know whether James Holmes ever took any RoAccutane-isotretinoin.
We’ve tried hard to find out if Andre the Pilot ever had any isotretinoin, but the trail is very difficult to uncover, and naturally ROCHE wouldn’t be too keen on us finding out if indeed he did use it. His parents might know… I wonder however if it would be possible to find out if James Holmes used it at any time. We need a Dr Watson maybe.
“He [Dr. Wessely] added, “’I remember being told that I would be wasted in psychiatry because I was too smart. What that says is that mentally ill patients only deserve crap doctors.’”
No, Dr. Wessely, that’s not what it means.
“President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Sir Simon Wessely is launching a campaign to support medical students and trainee doctors by exposing the practice of badmouthing – known as ‘bashing’ – that threatens to deplete an already under-subscribed medical specialism.”
So, in the best tradition of St. George the Dragonslayer, Sir Simon is going to “expose” psychiatry bashing. I wonder how that will work? Posting on bulletins the names of offenders? Public denouncements of psychiatry-bashers at the beginnings of lectures? Confessions from repentant bashers aired on campus media? And of course, an army of volunteer snitches.
“Please, Sir, Dr. Wessely, in the cafeteria this morning I heard Rodney Thornwhistle saying that psychiatrists aren’t real doctors.”
And undoubtedly, psychiatric action will be swift and decisive.
“Don’t worry, Willis, I’ll have the bounder stripped of his honors and drummed out of the college within the hour.”
“Oh, thank you Dr. Wessely. It’s been so upsetting; I hardly know what to do with myself.”
“Well take a few days off, Willis. We don’t want you contracting PTSD, do we?”
“Oh, thank you, Dr. Wessely. It’s such a comfort to have a person of your understanding at the helm.”
Professor Wessely said: ‘There is no psychiatrist in the land who cannot remember the reactions they received from some colleagues – especially the senior ones – when they announced that they wanted to pursue a career in psychiatry. A bit of humour is all very well, but behind this is something unacceptable – an implication that the best and brightest doctors are somehow wasting their time in psychiatry. This has to stop, and this campaign is going to do that. People with mental disorders – just like those with physical disorders – deserve the best minds to find new treatments and provide the best care.’ He will launch the campaign on Saturday 27 February at the National Student Psychiatry Conference 2016 in Edinburgh.”
Note the dictatorial tone: “This has to stop”!
And the grandiosity: “this campaign is going to do that.”
So the Royal College of Psychiatrists is launching a campaign that will stop medical students and trainee physicians from ribbing each other concerning their chosen specialties.
Why not start with something easy, like world peace?
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!
Phil and fun ..
But there’s more! Dr. Wessely’s campaign to exorcise anti-psychiatry banter has its own tee shirt!
Recipe for disaster ..
Allen Frances @AllenFrancesMD 50m50 minutes ago
Draft dodger Trump: Big mouth/No brains. He & Kim both reckless 2 yr olds having temper tantrums Recipe for disaster
Mike Cunningham @mike__cunning 39m39 minutes ago
Replying to @AllenFrancesMD
Did you serve doc? Two year old? Watch out for unpredictable overdiagnosis, doc. You seem to be losing emotional composure more and more.
S W has been in touch with Allen obviously – he knows very well his comments will be in the public domain so takes this covertly hostile tone with David ie ‘joking’ avuncular,suggestions of chummy drinking sessions. Oh do stop making a fuss – I am going to pull another power game and decide the correspondence about this is over. Can S W PLEASE remind himself that Wendy Burns is the president – she can say for herself ‘this has to stop’ and has done – SW will be given many opps for freebies, and jollies where he can exercise his patronising false jocularity.
Simon Wessley is a Sophist. The Science Media Center is a bastion of Sophistry- and a very dangerous one at that. I challenged Wessely about the dangers of SSRI’s, and the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, on twitter a few years ago, but he blocked me because he simply did not like to be challenged. He didn’t want to hear me, and he didn’t want to engage with anything I had to say.
He then sent me a ‘private e-mail’ (which I didn’t publish at the time (but I will now).
Here it is – :”
PRIVATE E MAIL TO YOU.
As you will have noticed, I have had to block you on my twitter account. This is the first time I have ever done so.
I suspect that you are now saying that I am afraid of debate or words to that effect. This is not so. I have been around long enough and worked in even more contested areas before now. True, I tend to avoid people who do not use their own name – call me old fashioned, but I like the relationship to be equal, you know who I am, and I expect the same in return.
But that is not the reason. You are sending very long tweets, that are basically saying the same thing, and its not going anywhere, other than taking up a lot of my inbox or whatever the word is. I do also expect at least some courtesy – call me old fashioned again if you will.
And finally it is clear that engaging with you isn’t really going to get anyway useful You know what you think and you know that you are correct. Whether you are or are not isn’t the issue – it’s that I don’t really see the possibility of a meaningful discussion, and just as important, I don’t think that this could take place on twitter.
Being attacked for being some form of lackey of the pharma industry is a first for me, as is being labelled as a biological psychiatrist, and both have caused some amusement. However, the novelty is starting to wear off.
I wish you well in the future
Professor Sir Simon Wessely
Vice Dean, Institute of Psychiatry
Head, Department of Psychological Medicine
Director, King’s Centre for Military Health Research
King’s College London
President, Royal College of Psychiatry. “
People like Simon don’t like being challenged on their views, they think they are above reproach, criticism or even above engaging with anyone whose views they think are not compatible with their own world-view.
Simon and the SMC are the very definition of snipers in the grassy knoll.
They are always ready to shoot down any criticism of them, their interests, and the interests of those who they are aligned with (and judging my the SMC’s funders- that’s a lot of unsettling agendas at play).
I’m not a psychiatrist, however it seems to me that Simon was ‘projecting’ in his e-mails to you Dr Healy. The whole ‘old pal’, ‘old chum’, ‘I’m just a harmless old fashioned old codger’, ‘let’s down a few beers’ routine doesn’t wash with me when it comes to Simon Wessely- the man is fiercely dogmatic, ruthless and not open to debating.
He is utterly fixed in his agenda and world-view. There is nothing cute or cuddly about him. He is simply not approachable, nor is he open to engaging on certain topics, in particular any topic that looks unfavorably upon psychiatric drugs, or psychiatric practices.
I’ve done a few posts on Simon Wessely, however Phil Hickey has done more, his observations are well worth reading…
See the first post below for Phil’s excellent take…
August 15, 2014
Greetings Simon Wessely
Before the internet/digital age, historically powerful and influential institutions and corporations, had more or less complete dominance over the spread of information, and also how that information was shared, filtered, disseminated and interpreted. The discourse around that information, and knowledge, was invariably generated and shaped by elite organizations, powerful news media, the agenda of government and big business etc. In the past 15 years, with the advent of the internet, and subsequently, the development of a world wide digital social media apparatus (which includes Facebook, blogs, twitter etc), the traditional landscape of how (previously controlled) information, ideas and ‘messages’ circulated is now completely subverted. Nowadays, we have something of a more level, democratic, and ‘fairer’ playing field in regards to access to infinite streams of information. Easy access to sophisticated digital tools -which previous generations could only dream of- have (for better or worse) brought us all together in an online interconnected universe.
Some people don’t like this new democratic system. They haven’t quite come to terms with the reality that the world wide web has given every individual access to the online discourse; a digital universe where ideas and opinions can flow freely. An online space where a tweet can become an international news-worthy talking point, or where a lone blogger can have a global presence. People don’t take information at face-value anymore, they research it themselves online, they ‘google it’, ‘google it’ again and ‘google it’ some more until they find what they are looking for. In this new online digital world anyone with an internet connection can challenge established dogmas, ideologies and systems that they disagree with. The world of information and knowledge is no longer filtered through traditionally narrow channels. Knowledge is no longer under the control of the few. In this new world- dissent from twitter, youtube and Facebook can aid revolutions in the middle east (like the arab spring) or help websites advocate transparency for our governments and hold them to account (WikiLeaks).
Anyone can set up a twitter account, or create a blog, and anybody can engage with the new digital discourse. We can all debate each others views, challenge prejudice and ignorance, and have our own views challenged too, and hopefully help make the world a fairer, more democratic place to live. This is surely good for society, the evolution of culture, and mankind in general isn’t it?
I created this blog several years ago, because I was prescribed a dangerous, defective drug called Seroxat for depression in my twenties and I wanted to warn others of the possible dangers of SSRI anti-depressants and the perils of psychiatric diagnoses. I should have received talk-therapy at the time, and I would have been fine, but such is the mental health system that I was not provided with an option apart from drugs. Psychiatric drugs are highly profitable and psychiatry is only too eager to put us all on them. The drug company, GSK, hid the side effects of addiction, severe withdrawal, aggression and other side effects in order to make a profit (dead patients from dodgy drugs aren’t good advertising for business). Suffice to say, after finding this fraud out, I became a little pissed off. As you would …
After a long and arduous withdrawal, I began (with the magic of the digital internet) to research the drug I was prescribed (Seroxat/Paxil), the drug company who unethically created it (GlaxoSmithKline) and the system (Psychiatry) which allowed this sinister injustice to happen to me. What I discovered on my quest to understand why and how a defective drug like Seroxat comes to market, initially disturbed me greatly. I just couldn’t believe the level of corruption and deception in psychiatry. I was shocked and horrified at the faustian pact between psychiatry and the drug companies. I was disgusted at how psychiatry willingly sold out (and thus sold us- the patients- down the river too), and in the process also sold their monopoly on the human condition to the drugs industry. I was appalled at how doctors ignored patients’ complaints of side effects. I was dismayed and disappointed that the people I thought were there to help me possessed such power to harm me. I was hurt that my vulnerability could be exploited in such a cruel, sadistic and inhumane manner. I realized that we live in a very precarious world, where there are sinister forces that will use, abuse, and exploit your vulnerability for monetary gain or to maintain the status quo, or their own status. I learned that drug companies are callous and that psychiatry (like the Catholic church) is in deep denial. I learned that many people are being harmed by both, and grave injustices to vulnerable people continues, but in this blogging mis-adventure, most importantly- I discovered that there are others who share my views, and that online, those views can be heard.
Undoubtedly, some psychiatrists will dismiss me and my blog, as ‘anti-psychiatry’. This is a mere semantic charade. It’s a trick which psychiatry tries to use when people like me (ex- psychiatric service users) educate ourselves, begin to speak out, and in the process challenge their dogma, and quite often we ruffle a few feathers too! I am not anti-psychiatry, I am anti-psychiatric deception, misinformation and lies. I am pro-patient, and anti- psychiatric harm. If anything, most critics of psychiatry that I know of- lean more towards the hope of psychiatric ‘reform’ than the complete destruction of the profession. Most of us just want to be heard.
Psychiatry deeply needs to reform and it needs to engage with its critics, but (like that other arrogant ideological dogma -the Catholic church) it is extremely stubborn and it treats criticism as threats (and critical voices as flames- which need to be stamped out). Until psychiatry learns to adapt to criticism, particularly from ex-service users, it will continue to be seen as aloof, cold and devoid of compassion. Psychiatric reaction to criticism often has the opposite effect, instead of shutting us down, and quelling debate and dissent, some people damaged by psychiatric drugs shout louder. Oftentimes, people don’t appreciate being condescended to or having their experience debased and invalidated, particularly from the very regime that did the damage. Mainstream psychiatry’s reaction to criticism from service users, or those unhappy with drug treatments, is comparable to how the Catholic church reacted to abuse victims. It’s understandable that psychiatry would be intensely defensive, but that doesn’t justify it.
That last point- brings me finally- to Psychiatrist Simon Wessely. Over the past few weeks I have written a few critical blog posts on Simon Wessely; highlighting some things which I feel need to be highlighted. I wrote these posts mainly because I have a highly critical eye- and a critical ear. Therefore, when I hear or read misnomers, misinformation, red herrings and inaccuracies in the current mental health discourse, I feel the (democratic) need to challenge and to express my opinion on it. I feel, as a former psychiatric service user, and a former psychiatric drug user, that I have a valid and legitimate voice in this arena… but evidently some don’t feel the same.
Simon is an extremely influential psychiatrist. He has access to massive news dissemination networks like the BBC, The Guardian etc. Simon has the backing of powerful organizations, with governmental contacts, and political sway. I am just an independent mental health activist, a nobody, with a small blog and a small twitter presence, how could anything I draw attention to be of any significance to someone with such a large and powerful influence?
Simon sent me an e-mail recently, but because he stated boldly that it was a –
“PRIVATE E MAIL’
I am hesitant (out of mere common courtesy) to post it in its entirety,
However, I will publicly respond to Wessely here on my blog, as to be honest, I feel I have a right to express my response whatever way I see fit (it is the 21st century digital age after all).
I understand completely why you decided to block me on twitter, however I will not block you as I believe in a democratic, adult discourse about psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. I know my questions must have bothered you, as I’m sure you don’t often take it upon yourself to e-mail ex-psychiatric service users who disagree with much of your views. However, I do find it ridiculous when you say that you ‘don’t find the possibility of a meaningful discussion’ with me because you have not in any way even attempted to engage with anything I have to say on my blog, or on twitter. Therefore, any chance of a meaningful discussion has been nil from the beginning.
I am anonymous because I choose to be, and also because the issues I raise evidently can sometimes cause some controversy. You are a public figure firmly connected (and protected) by the establishment which you represent, I am not. I am an accidental mental health activist, I get no accolades, awards or pay for my work. There are over 650 blog posts on this blog, most pertaining to corruption and fraud within your profession and the pharmaceutical industry (an entity which props up your profession). If you should care to read some of them, particularly the ones on Seroxat, you might gain an insight into what I do and why I do it.
I have questioned some aspects of interviews, and views you have expressed, in mainstream media outlets such as BBC Radio 4 and The Guardian, and I feel I have a democratic right to do so, particularly when I feel that some of the information being disseminated is either wrong, misguided or will cause harm to vulnerable people (by that I mean people suffering from ‘mental health’ issues).
Your views reach huge audiences, mine are modest at best. I could chat all day with you, or discuss endless things about psychiatry, the nefarious influence of the drugs industry, academic bias, cognitive dissonance and ‘mental health’ but you have made it clear that you do not wish to engage at all with me -apart from perhaps sending me ‘PRIVATE e-mails that contain more than a tone and whiff of something ‘veiled’ – therefore Simon I wish you well.
An anonymous ex- psychiatric service user, Seroxat Sufferer, and long time blogger,
(who actually has an education but doesn’t need letters and a litany of statuses after my name in order to stress my importance and superiority)
Maybe the Institute of Group Analysis which has psychiatrist members as well as psychotherapists and GPs might consider analysing the dysfunctional way their own institutions are working…..
Elementary, my dear W ..
BOB FIDDAMAN ? Retweeted
AntiDepAware @AntiDepAware 15h15 hours ago
“They asked a lot of experts to comment on panorama,” says @WesselyS But all comments made before they’d seen it! https://davidhealy.org/from-the-grassy-knoll/ …
Truthman30 @Truthman30 19h19 hours ago
Truthman30 Retweeted Patient Consent
Simon Wessely never ceases to amaze…
German beer stein glass 2 pint ..
After these wonderful emails from Truthman, this comment from me may seem trite, but in a way it is connected. There are various subtle ways to shut people up, to stop debate. We can see Wessley’s approach, when overt. There are neat covert methods too, using the internet, to discredit the person raising the issue.
I mentioned Goran Jamal in a comment yesterday, about Annie’s sleuthing in finding a hard hitting letter from Margaret, Countess of Mar, to Simon Wessley. (Margaret, by the way, is a down to earth sheep farmer, who also has goats and makes goat cheese. When at home where she farms, you will usually see her in wellies and an old hat, not a coronet, carrying a feed bucket. She is in the House of Lords because of inheritance, but she makes damn sure she does some effective good whilst she happens to have been put there).
In the 1990s, Margaret Mar, Dr Bob Davies, a psychiatrist, and Goran Jamal, a neurologist, were very concerned about what organo phosphates were doing to people. For farmers, their exposure was through sheep dip, for the army, in the Gulf War, it was because their tents were sprayed with it to prevent insects affecting them. So a connection was made between ME type symptoms coming from OPs. For farmers (as we were in the 1990s) and for army personnel who were manifesting the same malady. Dr Bob Davies sadly died, but had done a lot of valuable research along with Goran Jamal, studying the neurology of these affected people reporting their illness. But they received a lot of critiscm for it, and had to fight to air it.
Margaret Mar speaking in the House of Lords was a good way to get the message out about OP damage to nerves and brains, which was maybe linked to suicides. But she received a lot of harassment, from the powers that be. And Goran was not popular with the Ministry of Defence, who flatly denied that Gulf War Syndrome existed, as did at the time Simon Wessley, which is maybe why he wanted to meet with Margaret on his own territory and give her a piece of his mind, to shut her up? She evaded this till 2012 just after we told her of our son Olly’s death, (but there is probably no connection; she did not specialise in information on isotretinoin or SSRIs, although we did put our case to her, knowing us as she did). Goran (I think he was from Iraq so well placed to understand what had happened in the Gulf War) went on with their work, but, guess what, he was later up before the GMC for allegedly fastifying results on a diabetes drug he’d been asked to work on. He was discredited in the DT. This made sure his work on organo phosphates could be sidelined. He may well have made a small mistake in his enthusiasm for the results of the diabetes trials, we don’t know, but his important work was, and had always been, the work on the Gulf War Syndrome.
From this we can see that the last resort by The Powerful is to discredit the witness and pull the rug out under them. I think this is clear too when reading Wessley’s cosy patronising and well shared emails to Dr David Healy. I rest my case.
What strikes me in this whole ‘tut, tut, you naughty boy’ nonsense is this – if these ‘experts’ feel that they are such good pals with you, David, how is it that they don’t seem to know that their childish antics are received in the same manner as water onto a duck’s back? In fact, you seem to thrive on it! They have shown themselves to be no better than a gang of schoolyard bullies – and, my word, their ways have surely shown us exactly the type of attitudes that you have put up with for many years.
There are unquestionably many people now in jail who possibly should not be because of a drug they were on, people now dead who should not be because of drugs someone else was on, and people who will not get a fair trial because when it comes to the small print vanishingly few people realize what is being said.
Prescription for Murder
David Healy, MD
August 11, 2017
Another truth, regarding who is/is not in jail: Pharmaceutical executives who knowingly, and over time, hide and deny the lethal side effects of the drugs on which they literally make a killing should themselves be in prison stripes.
Note the internal documents that have seen the light of day on Lilly’s Zyprexa and Astra Zeneca’s Seroquel, just for two examples. Deliberations were clear – the executives heard the testimony of, in the Zyprexa case, an expert panel of endocrinologists yet chose to sweep it under the rug with such claims as “People with schizophrenia are more inclined to get diabetes” than “normal” others …
At a hospital window last week I stared out at Senate House, Orwell’s architectural model for the Ministry of Truth, while SMC was housed just next door. Why can’t historical lessons be learnt for more than five minutes? Orwell’s lessons were simple: in the same epoch Karl Popper – with wide academic influence – presented the issues with more detailed historical and technical arguments, but we should not pretend that these are conditions that should pertain in a liberal democracy. To win the argument by forcing public silence is to admit the factual, intellectual and moral failure of the arguments being defended by such means.
The attack on the programme was anomalous. The professionals ought to have abhorred the indiscriminate way Holmes was prescribed but instead they just did not want it talked about at all. What did they know that the public didn’t – that it happens in lesser ways all the time (and sometimes just like that)? They have made it look much worse.
‘killer’ kitchen knives ..
wendy burn Retweeted
John Crichton @JohnHMCrichton 52m52 minutes ago
Almost what I said : Call to ban ‘killer’ kitchen knives | Scotland | The Times & The Sunday Times
Almost what I said : Call to ban ‘killer’ drugs in the kitchen ..
The pointed end gives way to rounded .. ?
I would imagine Katinka found this useful advice.
Perhaps a whole new meaning to rule of thumb ..
As regards your enjoying debating with me – I can’t remember when that was.
I will also be writing to Robin Murray on this issue, as even before this latest fuss I had proposed such an idea to Simon Wessely.
extract from – http://www.healyprozac.com/ re – Goodwin Healy Debate.doc
Department of Psychological Medicine
Gwynedd LL57 2PW
Tel : (01248) 384452
Fax : (01248) 371397
12th October 2004
Professor Guy Goodwin
WA Handley Professor of Psychiatry
University Department of Psychiatry
In the wake of the recent Panorama programme the BMJ ran an editorial by John
Geddes, as it has previously run commentaries by Phil and others after previous
programmes. The editorial, and a further piece in that edition of the BMJ by
Patrick Waller, suggests that the harm the media may be doing in this area may
outweigh any good.
The problem, John’s editorial suggests, if it exists at all, is small. However, even
a very small problem multiplied up by 50-100 million people can become the
biggest drug problem of all time. It is a matter of some importance therefore to
establish whether there is a problem or not, or perhaps a problem on balance or
Patrick Waller’s piece complained that distinguished voices gave rise to concerns
but no data was presented. Programmes like Panorama however are not well
suited to the presentation of data. They do not pretend to offer an academic
To this end I am writing to you to propose a public airing of the issues. A debate
is one format but the volume of available data that needs to be presented may
make this unrealistic. Also, my experience of other debates in this area is that
this format can become quite ad hominem, owing to canvassing by some of the
companies who have attempted to cloud the issues by planting questions aimed
at impugning my motives and otherwise throwing sand in the eyes of any
A better format might involve a somewhat lengthier exposition of the clinical trial
and epidemiological evidence than a debate would allow in a manner that might
manuscript and slides.
Whatever format, it would be a good idea if the audience included
representatives of the major academic media such as the BMJ, the Lancet and
the British Journal of Psychiatry. It would also be useful to have representatives
of Panorama, the Guardian and other media of your choosing, as well
representatives from the regulatory apparatus and even formal company
representation. If the issues have been blown out of all proportion by the lay
media, I would imagine it should be pretty clear at the end of the evening that this
was the case and that this might dispel undue media frenzy. I agree fully that, if I
am wrong on the issues, dispelling misconceptions would be for the best. For
this reason I would invite you to set up a presentation/encounter. Editorials and
comments even in the BMJ are no substitute for a proper and open debate.
I will also be writing to Robin Murray on this issue, as even before this latest fuss
I had proposed such an idea to Simon Wessely.
Dr David Healy
Director of the North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine
Thanks for digging this out. Others may be interested to note there is more to the correspondence under the link Annie has provided, which is all very interesting – 13 years later. Deja vu – all over again.
The link was interesting if also depressing. One death or lifetime of harm is too many. Despite the claim that there are always risks to taking any drug – it is the individual who should decide on the basis of properly informed consent – which is being avoided too often by nonsense such as ‘they will make you feel better’ ‘they are not addictive’ think of them as being akin to medicines taken for life by people with diabetes’ ‘if you get worse you might end up in psychiatric hospital’ – too many lives have been destroyed, enough have been recorded by now for a proper investigation. Yet It seems from ‘deja vu’ that the usual channels BBC; Radio4 are not going to tackle the issue rigorously until they get a ‘better’ story out of it or they are outed as having covered the issue up (as in Jimmy Saville case) and it continues to be resisted by those in power.
So wondering if it would be useful to try other channels such as LBC or R5 or R2 where I have heard very democratic but admittedly time limited debates take place on talk shows – responders phone without warning the producers so although views may be vetted to some extent they are from a wider spectrum of the public .
As many people are not tuned in to mental health issues until it is too late to be alerted to potential harms – many do not access web sites for information or don’t have computers – would a leafleting/poster campaign help to inform more members of the public? That can’t be illegal or prevented surely as there are withdrawal services already running including by MIND ,which may not be undermined as easily as user organisations by those who oppose public awareness campaigns ,but not enough is known about any of them.
Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry, 2017 withdrawal survey
Caldicot, United Kingdom
13 Aug 2017 — Hello all, thank you, as always for your support and your signatures.
I wanted to ask you to consider supporting the Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry with some work they are doing to gauge the number of people affected by prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal.
They are running a survey to ask for experiences of withdrawal. The survey is anonymous and open to anyone. It should take 10 minutes to complete. This is an opportunity for the community of those who have experienced withdrawal issues to have a voice and the work will be useful for a range of initiatives and scientific research too. The link to the survey can be found below and it closes for responses on August 24th.
Thank you for your support.
This survey is worth filling in. I have.
There are several questions that ask for input from ‘those who have been there’ asking for ideas about how to address this.
There are several long tick boxes but there are also several large boxes asking for input.
I think anyone who is asking these questions of us to may be shape up the current failing system is worthy of anyone’s time in filling it in.
It takes longer than 10 minutes if you could consider every question thoughtfully and give the other James lots of ideas.
It will be interesting to see the results later on ..
Susanne this is an interesting idea of your about leaflets. Since our son Olly and nine others died by suicide in terrible pain from the acne drug RoAccutane-isotretinoin (5 years ago for us, longer for some, more recently for others) we have been handing out and also displaying a factual informative leaflet we’ve produced, which we keep updated as we print new editions. We describe what the side effects are, and give references for good media articles on it and Hansard debates in recent years. Also about recent research. We must have distributed hundreds selectively since our son Olly died, other members of our group of parents have done the same. We reckon we’ve saved a lot of lives by doing this. These leaflets are useful for people to take to GP consultations with them, to show that they are not ignorant of the dangers of this drug and would therefore like to be offered effective alternatives.
Anyone can read and download the contents of our leaflet on the website http://www.ollysfriendshipfoundation.org.uk by looking under the icon ‘RoAccutane’ on the menu list. On the Home Page you can read Olly’s story, which we first wrote down, with help from his friends, in May 2014. You can see links to the work we have done with BBC television and radio to raise awareness of the dangers of this drug. Thanks to RxISK and also the tireless work of NZ psychologist Dr Annette Fea, we have learnt so much more during the last 5 years about the medication which first made our son ill in mind and body, and also, from RxISK, about how the addition of prescribed SSRIs and later anti-psychotics made his illness far worse and led to his death in 2012. He lasted 11 years and those 11 years were torture, interspaced by uplifting moments which he experienced when we kept introducing distractions and extra support (not NHS).
On the Victoria Derbyshire BBC2 programme today, (9.15 am Monday 14th August), they are discussing prisoners serving indeterminate sentences, who sound to me as though they are mentally ill. One called James has been there for 11 years, having been originally sentanced for a petty crime for 18 months in a Youth Offenders Unit. The families say these people are not a threat to the public, they need help, mental health assessments etc. James is self harming, looks terrible, and has lost hope of his parole ever being reviewed. Being incarcerated like this is of course worse than what happened to our son, but thanks to RoAccutane-isotretinoin he himself was incarcerated into a damaged mind and locked into never-ending fear, as were we as we struggled to understand what was happening to our previously relaxed and content son, and had we read a leaflet like the one we’ve produced, we could have defended him better. 11 years is one hell of a long time to live in fear and confusion, whilst trying to achieve and live a reasonably functioning life.
Thank you Heather. So very sorry about the horrors experienced by your family and others. What you have done subsequently is wonderful. I think if enough people get involved in circulating leaflets it wouldn’t be too expensive. Right now for personal reasons I am not able to do as much as I would like but leaflets do not need to be glossy – They can be spread more widely by including a request to others to produce as many as they can and circulate them – but also be aware of potential negative reactions from health workers – no names need be used on publicity if worried about that.
I am not sure whether you did get Robin Murray’s support years ago David in January this year he issued a Mea Culpa about his errors over the years in missing the effects of antipsychotics – which he now considers causes even more harm and prevent people from recovering. He is not someone who was prepared to speak out when this was becoming clear though – it takes a special person like David H to refuse to be silenced.
Tom Burns has also issued a mea culpa he was one of the government advisors at the time strongly supporting the introduction of CTO’s despite massive concerns about the abuse of human rights this entailed. He and Simon Wessley by the way – admit they were wrong but the main reason given was not the politically biased intrusion into private live reminiscent of Russian psychiatry but that they didn’t prevent any mental health relapse or not surprisingly aid recovery or engender trust in health workers who were allowed to compulsorily medicate people in their homes.
Tony Maden ex Broadmoor psychiatrist spoke on TV a few days advocating his form belief in compulsory castration for sex abusers. The professions seem to need people like him who have big enough egos to be prepared to circulate proposals which will be distasteful to say the least to many concerned about the treatment of people with mental health issues.
Finally for now! todays news revealed that there is over a 33percent increase in emergency admission for people with mental health problems. I c\n imagine a future where more people will be locked up and/or medicated as there are no appropriate places providing help
Susanna it costs very little to reproduce these little four page booklets and we only use our own personal money for these, never money from Olly’s Charitable Trust. When Olly died he left instructions to use some money he left to help those suffering from anxiety like him. We are not sure whether he was aware that RoAccutane-isotretinoin and SSRIs and anti-psychotics caused the akathisia he suffered, which to him seemed like inexplicable anxiety and an inability to cope with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. So we concentrate our charitable funding on alleviating anxiety wherever we can. Because that was what he wanted at the time he died, with the understanding he then had.
However, were he here now, knowing what he now knows, I think he would want to raise awareness about the meds that ruined his life, so we fund that entirely ourselves. It’s our tribute to him.
Heather – sorry if my message wasn’t very clear – hope you didn’t think I was criticizing your booklets but I was pointing out to others who may take up the idea that if many join in and do a kind of round robin by everyone copying and circulating as many as they can it wouldn’t be too expensive on any individual. I have spent a lot of my own money doing it in the past. best wishes
Susanne, far from thinking it critical, I thought your idea and comments were brilliant. We’ve been doing this leaflet thing in our small way for about 4 years and you are the first person who has ever said it’s a good idea! It’s for me to apologise if I made you think otherwise. And the point you made about not having our name on it was a good one. We never put our name on them. But if people are interested, when we chat and explain to them about what happened to our son, we do give them contact details and for RxISK too.
What we have to be extremely careful about is keeping our Charitable Trust (opened in our son’s name and started with money he left and following instructions he left) separate from our own personal (and group) campaigning in the Olly’s Friendship Foundation. We use the latter to publicise what happened to Olly and rising numbers of others like him who have died following having had RoAccutane-isotretinoin (and often additionally psychotropic drugs) prescribed for them. We also try to keep the memory of all these dearly loved youngsters alive, because we parents need to talk about them, feel they are in some way still with us and helping us to achieve justice for them whilst preventing others succumbing to the same fate. I think I can speak for the other parents when I say we simply cannot get over the shock of having lost these wonderful children, albeit some in their 30s and 40s, just because of a prescribed medication, which doctors persuaded them would be good for them. We just do not know WHAT to do.
So the leaflets are at least something tangible. And we are also trying to complete a Centre in Stables at Olly’s old home which he wanted to use to offer courses in creative arts for anyone feeling anxious or depressed, to help them find themselves again and start life refreshed and with new skills. He’d begun and paid for the first part of the work but his brain swelled from what we think must have been pseudo tumour celebri, a side effect of RoAccutane-isotretinoin, and the head pain he suffered at the end was overwhelming but no doctor would take him seriously when he reported it. They were probably unaware that this was a side effect of the acne drug, despite it’s being clearly listed in the PIL. They told him he was attention-seeking!
Well, now WE are seeking some attention, we want to prevent this horrific situation being do common place.
Re Simon Wessely.
On the 4 May 2018 I shared with Simon Wessely this film by me:
In this film, which risks to combine my personal world with the wider world I more than suggest some criticism of the College I am a Member of (RCPsych) particularly in relation to statements made following the publication of the Lancet meta-analysis of antidepressants by Cipriani et al.
Simon Wessely gave this response to my film:
“Thanks Sound track is rather avant- garde !”
Again, I think this reveals more about Simon Wessely than anything else.
Simon Wessely and his wife Clare Gerada featured recently in the first ever Royal Society of medicine podcast. I have transcribed it here:
aye Peter J Gordon