Alaska Supreme Court Grants Mental Patients Constitutional Rights

In an important decision issued May 22, William S. Bigley v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, the Alaska Supreme Court significantly advanced psychiatric patients’ constitutional due process rights when the state seeks to force them to take psychiatric drugs against their will.

“One of the things they held,” said Jim Gottstein, President and CEO of the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights) and the attorney who handled the case, “is that if the State is holding someone in a psychiatric facility, they must provide a feasible alternative to the forced drugging if the alternative satisfies the State’s asserted justification. The State’s only other option is to let the person go.”

The Court also held that in order to allow the person a realistic opportunity to prepare a defense, when filing a forced drugging petition, the State must provide a written statement of the facts underlying the petition, including the reasons for the forced drugging, information about the patient’s symptoms and diagnosis; the medication to be used; the method of administration; the likely dosage; possible side effects, risks and expected benefits; and the risks and benefits of alternative treatments and nontreatment. “This is very important,” Mr. Gottstein said, “because up until now, they just checked a box that said the person was incompetent to decline and the facility wants to drug the person. Then the State comes in with a witness who testifies untruthfully and there is no way to have been prepared to rebut it.”

Equally important, the Court ruled the person’s lawyer must be given access to the person’s medical and psychiatric records in advance of the hearing and adequate preparation time. “The problem is judges have been misled for years that these drugs increase safety and are beneficial to patients,” according to Mr. Gottstein, “The truth is they decrease safety, are ineffective for most, are physically very harmful, and prevent many people from recovering. The evidence on this is clear, but the way these cases have been rushed through without allowing adequate time for a defense, these facts have not normally been revealed to the judges.”

The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights is a public interest law firm devoted to the defense of people facing the horrors of forced psychiatric drugging and electroshock. PsychRights is further dedicated to exposing the truth about psychiatric interventions and the courts being misled into ordering people subjected to these brain and body damaging drugs against their will. Extensive information about these dangers, and about the tragic damage caused by electroshock, is available on the PsychRights web site:


Popular Autism Treatment Yields No Benefits

“Kids with autism don’t benefit from treatment with the popularly prescribed antidepressant citalopram, according to a large, government-funded trial of children with autism and related conditions.” (Original June 2, 2009 article by Shirley S. Wang, The Wall Street Journal)

The study, published in the June 2009 Archives of General Psychiatry, concludes, “Results of this trial do not support the use of citalopram for the treatment of repetitive behavior in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.”

Citalopram is the generic name for a harmful and addictive Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressant known also as Celexa. Side effects of SSRI’s include anxiety, delusions, hallucinations, heart attacks, hostility, paranoia, psychotic episodes, seizures, suicide, and violence. Withdrawal symptoms include deeper depression. One study found that patients taking SSRI antidepressants were seven times more likely to experience suicide than those taking a placebo.

Click here for more information about the side effects of common psychiatric drugs.

Click here for more information about psychiatry and the creation of senseless violence.

[Editorial Comment: Why would any doctor prescribe a psychiatric drug with these kinds of harmful side effects to a vulnerable child with autism in the first place? Do you think there might be some money involved? Of course, this also begs the question why children with autism are given any kind of psychiatric drug at all.]

The U.S Food and Drug Administration in 2004 ordered pharmaceutical companies to add a “black box” warning to all antidepressants because the drugs could cause suicidal thoughts and actions in children and teenagers. They expanded this warning in 2005 to adults. In 2006 another study found that elderly people on SSRI antidepressants were almost five times more likely to commit suicide on these drugs than on other types of antidepressants.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatric institutions, and other medical doctors prescribing psychiatric drugs and treatments must be made fully accountable for their funding, practices and treatments, and their results, or lack thereof — including prescribing antidepressants whose only results are harmful side effects. If you know an autistic child who was prescribed Celexa and had no benefit from it (or who experienced harmful side effects) you might suggest that the parents consult a lawyer. Also, see the note below about MedWatch, the FDA program for reporting adverse drug reactions.