Akathisia: the torments of the neuroleptic

– mistakenly called ‘anti-psychotic’ –

To contextualise this series about psychiatry, see: here. The below article, translated and adapted from the original in Spanish, already presupposes a previous reading about akathisia within my online book: the torture of inner anxiety artificially induced by the involuntary administration of some drugs.

‘These drugs are not used to heal or help, but to torture and control. It’s that simple’. —Janet Gotkin [1]

For some time doctors have used substances to control people. The most famous case was that of King George III of England. The same year that the French Revolution broke out an alienist secretly sprayed an emetic on his meals to subdue him.

The effect of contemporary drugs induces such a mental torture, like the case of the young Ricardo [mentioned in the online book] that some people have hanged themselves, thrown from the buildings, stabbed or killed in other ways. An American study showed that eighty percent of these suicides suffered from akathisia due to neuroleptics. It could be said that if drugs like marijuana or cocaine are taken voluntarily to cause pleasure, neuroleptics are administered involuntarily to cause torment.

In the early 1960s, the decade of civil strife par excellence, the victims of akathisia began to defend themselves from the torture by refusing to take the pills. The drug companies reacted: they began to replace the pills with colourless and odourless liquids so that they could be secretly mixed in the meals.

In the United States, the lawyers of the pharmaceutical corporations have argued in the courts that it was legitimate to force an individual and inject him these drugs, or put them in their meals furtively.[2] There are even mental health organisations that occasionally advise putting psychiatric drugs in children’s food in order to control them.[3] That the object of these drugs is control was recognised in cases of dissidents of the communist Soviet system who were imprisoned in psychiatric wards and administered the same type of drug that in the West is applied to some rebellious teenagers.

In March 1976, the Russian mathematician Leonid Plyush told a scientific meeting in New York that his colleagues locked him up in the Special Psychiatric Hospital Dneprospetrovsk. He lived in constant fear of the effects of neuroleptics, and heard stories that these drugs had driven mad some of the interns. Others declared that these chemicals were used in them ‘to inflict suffering on them and thus obtain their complete subjugation’. Speaking in the United States Senate, Vassily Chernishov declared about the akathisia he experienced: ‘Although I am afraid of death, let them shoot me rather than this’. These political dissidents complained that the modern neuroleptic is a more inhuman form of seclusion than any prisoner has ever experienced before. [4]

What distinguishes us from animals is a protruding development of the frontal lobes: the part of our brain that allows us to have abstract ideas and plan for the future. If we compare ourselves with the other species of animals, in the frontal lobes our aristocratic faculties reside: we have them much more developed than in primates and are barely visible in other mammals. These lobes are the seat of our intelligence, the part of the brain responsible for civilisation.

For the same reason, these lobes are the favourite target of what Orwell called thoughtpolice. That in the former Soviet Union the thoughtpolice used neuroleptics to attack the faculties of the political dissident is explicable in a totalitarian regime. How was it possible to do that in presumably free and democratic nations? In what perverse mind could the idea of doing that to a boy or girl fit? Should not the professional who recommends parents drug their sane child be in jail? Are there academic professors and doctors in the West who conspire with the parents to subjugate the child as the Soviets did?

Although I suspected that psychiatry was not a true science, my ignorance of its criminal past was almost total. But during a stay in England in 1998-1999 I took subjects of biology and mental health at the Open University.

Thanks to my stay in Manchester I was able to read two extra curricular authors: Thomas Szasz and Jeffrey Masson. There is no more devastating critic of a religion, sect, party or pseudoscience than the one who dedicated years of his life to it and realised its erroneous foundations. Although, as we will see, I have distanced myself from the thought of Szasz, I find myself in immense debt with these two apostates of their profession. Both opened my eyes to what psychiatry and psychoanalysis really are.

Jeffrey Masson showed me that the vast majority of psychotherapies, at least as they are practiced today, are the younger sisters of the psychiatrist, as we will see in the section about Freud in this book. Both are professions that blame the victim for the ravages caused by abusive parents. Without Szasz and Masson I could hardly have corrected my position prior to my maturity, when I still believed in the legitimacy of psychoanalysis.

Peter Breggin has spoken of the folie à trois between some parents who mistreat their child and the psychiatric profession that drugs not the aggressors, but the abused child. In this book I focus on this collusion between parents with psychiatrists. It is a known fact that, from its origins in the asylum institution in the 17th century, parents have used psychiatry to control their children.

Breggin has talked a lot about the harm caused by the drugs that parents advised by psychiatrists administer to their children, including the fad of medicating children who become restless or distracted in traditional schools. Currently, in North America alone, several million of these children are being drugged legally, some as young as one or two years of age. The Big Pharma makes a killing by considering diseases conditions such as ‘hyperactivity’ or ‘attention deficit’, thus converting children into an unlimited market.

Another guide for this book was the heroic autobiography of John Modrow who confesses that, due to the mistreatment of his parents and some psychiatrists, he suffered terrible panic attacks when he was a lad, becoming momentarily disturbed. Regarding the cases where the family uses psychiatry not to repress the behaviour of a sane member, but that of a genuinely disturbed person, I will show that even in those cases the psychiatric profession is harmful and fraudulent.

To visualize it, let’s compare the human mind with a computer. There are neurological diseases, such as tumours, that affect the ‘hardware’ of a person. But mental disorders are not found in this group. If the computer where I write this introduction was loaded with a defective version of a word processor and it is necessary to format it, the problem lies in the software of the machine. Likewise, in a human being, a bad software can be ‘programmed’ through emotional, physical and even sexual abuse at an early age: the province of the psychologist. Psychiatrists ignore this reality and attack the individual’s hardware: his brain.

But the mind is not the brain.

It is as absurd to confuse the human mind with the brain as to confuse the Word program with which I write this book with my CPU.

If something goes wrong with the way an individual sees the world—say, someone who believes himself to be Jesus Christ—the problem lies in his cognitive process, in his defence mechanisms; not necessarily in a physiological dysfunction of his brain. By attacking the brain with psychiatric drugs, electroshocks and lobotomies, the profession we call psychiatry re-victimises the disturbed victim. Following the above analogy it is as if, in my desperation to fix the malfunction of my machine, I got into the Mother Board circuits with cutting clips instead of installing the program again. Clarified this point I reiterate that in this book I focus on sane children assaulted by psychiatrists.

In the appendix I point out how so-called biological psychiatry does not meet the standards of a true science. Among several criteria that distinguish between true and false science I give special value to Karl Popper’s criterion, which I try to explain in the most didactic terms possible. If this book falls into the hands of a sophisticated individual who believes that psychiatry has a medical basis, I invite him to read that appendix, where I remove the scientific mask from psychiatry in one go. But in this book I will focus on how abusive parents use psychiatry to finish destroying one of their children.

[1] Janet Gotkin: Too Much Anger, Too Many Tears (Time Book, 1975), p. 385. Gotkin is one of the few survivors of psychiatry who has managed to publish a book about what psychiatrists do to their victims.

[2] I read this in Robert Whitaker: Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill (Perseus, 2001), p. 214.

[3] An American told me in a personal email of August 2005: ‘I remember when I first got involved with anti-psych activities, and I heard NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness] psychiatrist (she was on the national board of NAMI, this was the late 80’s), and she was advising True Believers to sneak psych drugs in their children’s food, as she had done with her son—whom I never was able to meet to ask how I felt about this’.

[4] Mad in America, pp. 216s.