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Letters to the Editor Issue 174

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 174 - September 2010

Misguided Thinking - Mental Health at a Crossroads

by Chuck Areford

Eugene Weekly - 12 August 2010

"Take your medication!" is probably the most common refrain in today's mental health field. After all, medication has been the cornerstone of psychiatric treatment for decades, so much so that it is considered unethical to treat many conditions without it. Yet a new book by award-winning journalist Robert Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic, effectively shows just how misguided this thinking is.

For most of the 30 years I have worked in mental health, I have been alarmed by my observations that most psychiatric treatments seem to produce more harm than good. I started off as a psychiatric orderly and assisted with electro-convulsive therapy, otherwise known as shock treatment. Most of the patients were middle-aged women from the surrounding St. Louis suburbs but no one was immune. A 16-year-old boy was shocked because he was considered 'pre-schizophrenic'. An 85-year-old woman had a heart attack during the shock procedure and died hours later. Shock treatment reduced all to a vegetative state from which most recovered and some even improved. Tragically though, some never recovered and I developed an enduring scepticism of psychiatric treatment.

After obtaining my Master's degree, I went to work in the inner city of Memphis. Here I saw the ravages of not only racism and poverty, but of a mental health system that relied on medications as the primary form of treatment. I worked with clients who had such severe side-effects that they could hardly walk or talk, so tranquilized that they appeared zombie-like. Even so, their humanity and courage shined through and I was convinced that there was a better way.

After moving to Eugene 20 years ago, I stumbled across Toxic Psychiatry by Harvard-educated psychiatrist Peter Breggin. Breggin's well researched book describes how medications and electroshock damage the brain. He convincingly demonstrates that the common belief that mental illnesses are 'genetically caused brain diseases' or 'chemical imbalances' is simply not supported by research.

Fortunately, Eugene is home to David Oaks, an internationally known psychiatric survivor and activist. With his organization MindFreedom we reached out to other mental health workers and found that while almost all professionals, including the psychiatrists, were compassionate and caring, it was the younger, more idealistic workers who were most willing to question common psychiatric methods.

The tide of history flowed against us, however, with pharmaceutical companies making billions from sales of psychiatric drugs. They pumped money into seductive advertising and sponsored research that was deeply flawed, focusing only on the short term. Our culture was flooded with Prozac, portrayed as a cutting-edge, feel-good pill for almost anyone. A new generation of anti-psychotic medications promised to revolutionize the treatment of schizophrenia. These drugs were touted as safer and were increasingly given to children and the elderly. We who spoke out were dismissed as ignorant and my employment was threatened.

But newspaper and research articles suggested that new anti-depressants were no more effective than the old ones, which were barely better than sugar pills. New anti-psychotic medications were linked to weight gain, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease. We sounded the alarm after a surge of deaths in Lane County. A few years ago, research showed that mental health clients are dying 25 years earlier than the average person.

Anatomy of an Epidemic promises to turn the tide. Pulitzer Prize finalist Robert Whitaker shows in a solid and evidence based manner that while psychiatric medications can lead to marginal improvement in the short term, they tend to make people worse and more chronic over time. Moreover, these medications actually create the chemical imbalances they are said to correct and this makes it very difficult to quit taking them. This is why the number of those disabled by mental illness has tripled in the last two decades. Today's youth face a major hazard from psychiatric drugging.

Whitaker examines historical and cross cultural evidence, long-term studies and brain chemistry to reach his conclusions, which are the same for antidepressant, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medication. The pieces come together to create an undeniable picture: Psychiatric drugs are not an effective long-term treatment for most people.

Whitaker has credibility because he has no personal axe to grind with psychiatry. He's a reporter who investigated when he saw something that did not add up and he found an immense deception. His book has the sparkle of truth and is essential reading for those concerned about mental health.

We are fighting for the health, safety and happiness of those suffering from emotional problems. Just because we are right does not mean we will win. Whitaker was scheduled to give a free talk at 7 pm Friday, Aug. 20, 2010, the Eugene Hilton.

About Chuck Areford

Chuck Areford has worked in the community mental health system in Lane County for the last 20 years. Article on publication web site with photo of Chuck:  

Further Information

MindFreedom International is one of the few totally independent groups in mental health advocacy. MFI gets NO funding from mental health industry, drug companies, government and religions.  

To submit a letter to editor of Eugene Weekly:  
Anatomy of an Epidemic is available at discount from  -  proceeds support MindFreedom. The same day that the Eugene Weekly published the above column, the  daily local newspaper - The Register-Guard published a column by Robert Whitaker: 



Ann Filmore


Fluoride Could be Contributing to Early Puberty, Studies Show

The medical and public health community is shocked by the news that young American girls are reaching puberty at ages as young as 7 years.[1] However, according to Paul Connett PhD, Director of the Fluoride Action Network, "If fluoride's dangers had not been taken off the scientific radar screen by the US Public Health Service when it prematurely endorsed fluoridation in 1950, maybe key warning signals would not have been ignored for over 50 years."

In 1956 it was reported after one of the first fluoridation trials (1945-55) had been completed in Newburgh/Kingston NY, that young girls were starting to menstruate on average five months earlier in fluoridated Newburgh compared to non-fluoridated Kingston.[2] This result was ignored and there was no follow-up research.

In 1997 Dr Jennifer Luke in the UK, as part of her PhD thesis,[3] reported that fluoride accumulates in the human pineal gland. The pineal gland produces the important hormone melatonin which acts like a biological clock. One of the processes it is thought to control is the onset of puberty. Luke published this work in 2001 but the result has been ignored, and no fluoridating country has attempted to repeat her findings, something which would be easy to do if there was the will to do so.

Luke also found that animals exposed to fluoride had lowered melatonin levels and showed signs of reaching puberty earlier. Again this result has been ignored and no fluoridating government has attempted to repeat Luke's work.

Connett says, "We are not saying that exposure to fluoride is a definite cause of early puberty in girls, but not pursuing this possibility is bad for science, bad for medicine and bad for public health."

Simply put: if you don't look, you don't find. The medical community is being kept in the dark on the possibility that fluoride, a highly toxic substance, which is deliberately added to the drinking water of 184 million Americans daily, is causing a variety of harms from the subtle to the serious.

Connett says, "Apparently, it has become more important for the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies of the US Department of Health and Human Services to protect this outdated, unethical, ineffective and dangerous practice than it is to protect the health of the American people. Key research is not being done. Doctors are not being warned."

This and other tragic aspects of the US's peculiar obsession with fluoridation are to be documented in an upcoming book co-authored by Connett. The book, titled The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep it There will be published by Chelsea Green in early October of this year.


1. Study: More U.S. girls starting puberty early by Amanda Gardner  
2. Newburgh-Kingston caries-fluorine study. XIII. Pediatric findings after ten years. J Am Dent Assoc. 52(3):296-306. Schlesinger Er, Overton De, Chase Hc, Cantwell Kt. Mar 1956.
3. Luke J. Fluoride deposition in the aged human pineal gland. Caries Research 35:125-128. 2001.  


Fluoride Action Network www.FluorideAction.Net  
Contact 802-338-5577


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