Archive for May, 2010

Another PsychRights Medicaid Fraud Case Unsealed

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Press Release

Contact: Jim Gottstein
907-274-7686
jim.gottstein@psychrights.org

Anchorage, Alaska — Late on May 17, 2010 the United States District Court for the District of Alaska unsealed another Medicaid Fraud case by the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights®), U.S. ex rel Griffin v. Martino, Family Centered Services and Safeway, Case No. 3:09-cv-246.

The case is part of PsychRights’ Medicaid Fraud Initiative Against Psychiatric Drugging of Children & Youth. “People should expect more of these cases until this pervasive type of Medicaid Fraud stops,” said Jim Gottstein, the attorney handling the case.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the United States Government by Daniel Griffin who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, against three Fairbanks defendants, Dr. Ronald Martino, Family Centered Services, and Safeway. The lawsuit is brought under the federal False Claims Act, which authorizes private parties to bring fraud actions on behalf of the United States Government and share in the recovery, if any. Each offending prescription carries a minimum penalty of $5,500. Mr. Griffin, who was in foster care at the time, was given psychiatric drugs that were not for a “medically accepted indication,” which constitutes Medicaid Fraud.

Unsealed in late January, PsychRights’ first Medicaid Fraud case, United States ex rel Law Project for Psychiatric Rights v. Matsutani, et al., is much broader, against 32 defendants, including psychiatrists, mental health agencies, pharmacies, state officials and a medical publishing and education company. See, Massive Medicaid Fraud Lawsuit Unsealed.

This case, ex rel Griffin v. Martino, uses the streamlined model Qui Tam Complaint PsychRights developed for use around the country. See, PsychRights Launches Campaign Against Medicaid Fraud With Model Lawsuit.

The model Qui Tam Complaint is drafted for former foster youth to bring the lawsuits and receive the whistleblower’s share of the recovery, but anyone with knowledge of specific offending prescriptions, such as parents and mental health workers, can bring these suits.

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: http://psychrights.org/

Pilots Taking Antidepressants

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

The FAA Is Risking Our Lives

THE FAA HAS APPROVED PILOTS WITH “DEPRESSION” TO FLY WHILE ON ANTIDEPRESSANT MEDICATION

DOES THIS HAVE YOU CONCERNED?  IT SHOULD!!

Click here to learn the side effects of the 6 brand name antidepressant drugs the FAA deemed to be safe for pilots to take.

(Search Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Effexor)

Let the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the DOT (Department of Transportation) know that you are opposed to their ruling to allow pilots to take antidepressants,  putting themselves, their crew and passengers at risk. Ask them to reverse their ruling!

FAA :   Call and leave message  1 (800) 255-1111

Email: http://www.faa.gov/contact/safety_hotline/

DOT:    Call and leave message: 1 (800) 424-9071

Email: hotline@oig.dot.gov

The Difference Between A Disease and a Disorder

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus50 Years Ago Dr. Thomas Szasz Rocked The World of Psychiatry: The Difference Between A Disease and a Disorder

By Dr. Jeffrey Schaler
Assistant Professor of Justice, Law & Society

It is fifty years now since Thomas Szasz rocked the world of psychiatry by writing The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct. His work continues to have a profound impact on how we think about disease, behavior, liberty, justice, responsibility, and most important of all, what it means to be human. Szasz has shown us how the idea of mental illness is used by the state to deprive innocent people of freedom, and guilty persons of justice. Without the state involved, the medicalization of behavior means nothing.

Click here to read the entire article.

Anti-Social Behavior Orders

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

[This information is not a joke; see references at the bottom.]

An Anti-Social Behavior Order (ASBO) is a civil order, similar to an  injunction or restraining order, made against a person alleged to have engaged in anti-social behavior in the United Kingdom (although they call it behaviour.)

The idea, originally designed by Tony Blair and passed into British law as the Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 and the Anti-Social Behavior Act of 2003, was to impose restrictions on an individual’s public behavior after minor incidents that would not ordinarily be criminal offenses.

In the UK, getting an ASBO is sometimes viewed as a badge of honor by juvenile delinquents. One reported figure is that 40-60% of ASBOs are imposed on people between 10 and 17 years of age.

An ASBO may be issued by a court against an individual in response to conduct which caused or was likely to cause harm, harassment, alarm or distress to someone. An ASBO is an Order of the Court which tells an individual over 10 years old how they must not behave. ASBOs can ban individuals from entering certain areas or carrying out specific acts for two years or more.

Technically, an ASBO restricts “conduct which caused or was likely to cause harm, harassment, alarm or distress, to one or more persons not of the same household as him or herself and where an ASBO is seen as necessary to protect relevant persons from further anti-social acts by the Defendant.”

There is no jury and hearsay evidence is admissible. If breached, the individual has committed a criminal offense which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Anti-social behavior can include a wide range of actions such as making noise, disturbing the neighbors by playing soccer in the street, busking [performing in public for money,] drunken behavior, disorderly behavior, loitering, littering, spitting, harassment, abusive language, fare dodging, placing advertising posters in illegal places, making graffiti, not picking up after one’s dog, associating with a gang or wearing gang related clothes, making excessive noise during sex, whistling, and attempting suicide.

There are safeguards in the law that are supposed to prevent frivolous use of the process; however, looking over the list in the previous paragraph of anti-social behaviors that have been prosecuted, one could see the potential for abuse, not to mention the violation of human rights.

Between April 1999 and December 2004, 4,649 ASBOs were issued in England and Wales and that number rose by over 100% by the end of 2005 to 9,853. By December 2007 14,972 ASBOs had been issued. In February 2007 the government revealed that 47% of these orders have been breached. It was reported in May 2008 that this figure had risen to 67%.

Mental health and ASBOs

Example: A woman who was given an ASBO for attempting suicide breached her ASBO and received a two-year supervision order.

In 2002 British Home Office data confirmed that 60% of ASBO recipients were found to have “medical mitigating factors,” including mental illnesses, addiction problems and learning disabilities.

Mental health advocates claim that these people should be given mental health treatment instead of court orders to stop behaving that way, recommending that mental health screening be given before any application for an ASBO proceeds. This becomes an argument for increased mental health funding. The biggest criminal justice-related charity in England and Wales, Nacro, claims that ASBOs are being used too hastily, before alternative remedies have been tried. Typically, their alternative remedies are mental health treatment. Nacro believes that where compulsory detention is necessary, this should usually be in a psychiatric hospital rather than a prison.

One newspaper article stated that “Youths given anti-social behaviour orders may benefit more from medical treatment than punishment, according to doctors who claim they are suffering from a mental illness.”

Community Treatment Orders, the so-called “psychiatric ASBOs,” impose conditions on patients being released from a psychiatric facility, such as taking medication. Patients who breach the orders could be returned to secure mental hospitals. A March, 2009 article stated that, “More than 1,200 people in England have been made subject to compulsory treatment outside hospital five months after the powers were introduced under the Mental Health Act 2007.”

ASBOs have the proven potential to vastly widen the net of the social control mechanism, catching people and trapping them within the mental health system.

What You Can Do

So far, the United States does not have ASBOs, although it does have Involuntary Commitment. It behooves one and all to familiarize themselves with this abusive advance in psychiatric violations of human rights and work to stop it from spreading.

  • Increase your knowledge about these issues. Obtain and watch your own copy of the CCHR documentary DVD Making A Killing–The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging. Show the DVD to family, friends and associates; get them to do the same.
  • Read about Involuntary Commitment by downloading and reading the CCHR Information Letter Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment – A Crack In The Door Of Constitutional Freedoms from www.CCHRSTL.org.
  • Attend and bring others to Briefings about CCHR and psychiatric fraud and abuse.
  • Inform yourself about CCHR and psychiatric fraud and abuse from these web sites:
  • Take some amount of responsibility for contributing your time and money to CCHR St. Louis. Volunteer for CCHR St. Louis.
  • Report adverse drug reactions to the US Food and Drug Administration,  encourage others to do so, and let us know when you do.
  • Report psychiatric abuse, encourage others to do the same, and let us know when you do.
  • Broadcast the CCHR Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights and let us know when you do.
  • Contact your school, church, media, and local, state and federal authorities and representatives to express your opinion and suggest alternatives to fraudulent and abusive psychiatric treatment, and let us know when you do. Some suggestions are:
    • advocate patient rights
    • replace psychiatric institutions with actual mental health homes or asylums
    • establish a refund system for failed psychiatric treatments
    • conduct audits of psychiatric facilities
    • add more fraud investigation units
    • require scientific, physical evidence of claimed “mental disorders”
    • outlaw coercive psychiatric treatments
    • hold agencies accountable for psychiatric harm
    • remove government funding from unworkable or failed psychiatric treatments
    • hold the psychiatrist, the institution at which he practices and the one that taught him, responsible in the case of wrongful deaths resulting from psychiatric treatment

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Social_Behaviour_Order http://www.statewatch.org/asbo/ASBOwatch.html http://www.asbowatch.ie/ http://www.asb.homeoffice.gov.uk/ http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/asbos/asbos2.htm http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/3109244/Anti-social-behaviour-is-a-mental-illness.html http://harpymarx.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/psychiatric-asbos-skyrocketing/

A BRIEF REPORT ON THE UNRELIABILITY OF THE DIAGNOSTIC and STATISTICAL MANUAL OF MENTAL DISORDERS (DSM)

Friday, May 14th, 2010

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the book that contains names and descriptions of 374 so-called mental disorders (including everything from depression to “caffeine withdrawal disorder”). Doctors, psychiatrists and other medical and mental health practitioners use the DSM to diagnose patients. Each DSM mental disorder description carries a code that clinicians can use to substantiate claims for health insurance reimbursement.

Though it has become very influential since it first appeared in 1952 (when it only contained 112 disorders), there is one crucial test the DSM has never passed: scientific validity. In fact, after more than 50 years of deception, broad exposure is now being given to the unscientific and ludicrous nature of this “943-page doorstop.” [1]

Despite a growing consensus of people who see the DSM for what it is-a purely subjective work of no scientific substance or authority-it is still accepted in the legal system as being a scientific work that catalogs descriptions of mental disorders as if they were real medical diseases on the order of cancer or diabetes.

It is strongly suspected that the acceptance of DSM data in the American courtroom is not the product of an informed understanding of DSM by legal authorities but rather an unevaluated acceptance or deference to testimony by psychiatric/psychological experts who neglect to inform judges and others that what they cite for the validation of their testimony (DSM) is a tool of admitted unreliability. Were the true nature of the DSM broadly known to judges and other legal authorities, one has to wonder how much longer its forensic use would be allowed.

The ironic fact is that, within the covers of the various editions of DSM, its editors freely admit to the book’s intended use and its limitations.

The following short report provides sections of text from the third and fourth editions of the DSM and additional information on the book’s diagnostic unreliability.

One personal injury attorney who received this information stated, “I did the deposition of the defendant’s psychiatric expert. I did some major damage! At the end of the deposition, I began asking questions about the DSM. Defense counsel just about jumped out of their skin when I brought up the fact that the DSM says that there is the potential for misuse or misunderstanding in forensic psychiatry because of the imperfect fit between the ultimate concerns of the law and psychiatry!”

This information will reveal to you the “chinks in the armor” that you can use in depositions, cross-examination, etc. to prevent DSM from being used to color judges’ and juries’ perceptions.

DSM-III-R

By its own admission, the purpose of DSM is to facilitate communication between clinicians in the areas of diagnosis, study and treatment. You can therefore characterize the DSM as being nothing more than a sort of dictionary for health care providers-and not otherwise any sort of authority in any other arena.

“The purpose of the DSM-III-R is to provide clear descriptions of diagnostic categories in order to enable clinicians and investigators to diagnose, communicate about, study, and treat the various mental disorders. It is to be understood that inclusion here, for clinical and research purposes, of a diagnostic category such as Pathological Gambling or Pedophilia does not imply that the conditions meets legal or other non-medical criteria for what constitutes mental disease, mental disorder, or mental disability. The clinical and scientific considerations involved in categorization of these conditions as mental disorders may not be wholly relevant to legal judgments, for example, that take into account such issues as individual responsibility, disability determination, and competency.” [2] (Emphasis added.)

DSM-IV

The editors of this edition admit to the frailties of using DSM diagnoses in a forensic setting due to the “imperfect fit between the questions of ultimate concern to the law and the information contained in a clinical diagnosis”:

  • “…although this manual provides a classification of mental disorders, it must be admitted that no definition adequately specifies precise boundaries for the concept of ‘mental disorder.'” [3]
  • “In DSM-IV, there is no assumption that each category of mental disorder is a completely discrete entity with absolute boundaries dividing it from other mental disorders or from no mental disorder.” [4]
  • “When the DSM-IV categories, criteria, and textual descriptions are employed for forensic purposes, there are significant risks that diagnostic information will be misused or misunderstood. These dangers arise because of the imperfect fit between the questions of ultimate concern to the law and the information contained in a clinical diagnosis. In most situations, the clinical diagnosis of a DSM-IV mental disorder is not sufficient to establish the existence for legal purposes of a ‘mental disorder,’ ‘mental disability,’ ‘mental disease’ or ‘mental defect.’ In determining whether an individual meets a specified legal standard (e.g., for competence, criminal responsibility, or disability), additional information is usually required beyond that contained in the DSM-IV diagnosis. This might include information about the individual’s functional impairments and how these impairments affect the particular abilities in question. It is precisely because impairments, abilities, and disabilities vary widely within each diagnostic category that assignment of a particular diagnosis does not imply a specific level of impairment of disability.” [5] (Emphasis added.)

The editors of DSM admit that a psychiatric diagnosis is dependent upon culture and geography-an admission which further erodes any scientific credibility. In other words, someone who hears voices on a Native American reservation may be considered normal but in Los Angeles would be headed for involuntary commitment:

  • “Diagnostic assessment can be especially challenging when a clinician from one ethnic or cultural group uses the DSM-IV Classification to evaluate an individual from a different ethnic or cultural group. A clinician who is unfamiliar with the nuances of an individual’s cultural frame of reference may incorrectly judge as psychopathology those normal variations in behavior, belief, or experience that are particular to the individual’s culture. For example, certain religious practices or beliefs (e.g., hearing or seeing a deceased relative during bereavement) may be misdiagnosed as manifestations of a Psychotic Disorder.” [6]

The Myth of the Reliability of the DSM

A 1994 study conducted by researchers from UCLA and the California State University at Sacramento addressed how the DSM-III was supposed to have been revised, updated, etc. to the result of increased diagnostic reliability. However, the study concluded that, “…there is still not a single multi-site study showing that DSM (any version) is routinely used with high reliability by regular mental health clinicians. Nor is there any credible evidence that any version…has greatly increased its reliability beyond the previous version.” [7]

DSM-V

The fifth edition of DSM is planned for release in 2013. Since the announcement in 2007 of the individuals chosen to lead each DSM “work group” (groups which concentrate on a single category of disorders, such as depressive disorders), it has been garnering continuous criticism for the widening inclusion of a new series of so-called behavioral addictions to shopping, sex, food, videogames, the Internet and so on. The contention of many is that the DSM’s developers are seeking to label all manner of normal emotional reactions or human behavioral quirks as mental disorders-thereby falsely increasing the numbers of “mentally ill” people who would then be prescribed one or more drugs that carry all manner of serious warnings. [8]

Such concerns are being expressed inside the profession: “Each of these proposals [to label behavioral addictions as mental disorders] has the potential for dangerous unintended consequences by inappropriately medicalizing behavioral problems, reducing individual responsibility and complicating disability, insurance, and forensic evaluations” said Allen Frances, Chairman of DSM-IV. “Psychiatry should not be in the business of inadvertently manufacturing mental disorders.” [9]

Frances has further exposed DSM-V’s developers’ failure to provide a risk/benefit analyses for any of the new “mental disorders” they are proposing for the new edition. “None of the new proposals has received anything resembling a complete ‘risk/benefit analysis’… I am convinced that any objective balancing of the risks and benefits of these proposals would result in their being scrapped now.” [10]

– – – – –

In summation, psychiatric testimony has come to be accepted as legitimate, reliable and scientific, though it is based on a system whose authors admit that it is not. Additionally, when the DSMs intended uses and applications are more widely understood by our courts, perhaps it will be relegated back to its intended clinical use, cases of law can again be judged based solely on facts and evidence, and arbitrary and unreliable information can be excluded.

For more information, please contact Steve Wagner, Director of Litigation, CCHR International, 800-869-2247.


[1] “How we get labeled,” Time magazine, January 20, 2003.

[2] “Cautionary Statement,” DSM III-R, pg. xxix.

[3] “Definition of Mental Disorder,” DSM-IV, pg. xxi.

[4] “Limitations of the Categorical Approach,” DSM-IV, pg. xxii.

[5] “Use of DSM-IV in Forensic Settings,” DSM-IV, pg. xxiii.

[6] “Ethnic and Cultural Considerations,” DSM-IV, pg. xxiv.

[7] Stuart A. Kirk and Herb Kutchins, “The Myth of the Reliability of DSM,” The Journal of Mind and Behavior, Winter and Spring 1994, Vol. 15., Nos. 1 and 2, pgs. 71-86.

[8] Antidepressants in particular carry warnings of increased risk of suicide in the U.S., UK, European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

[9] Allen Frances, M.D., “A Warning Sign on the Road to DSM-V: Beware of Its Unintended Consequences,” New Scientist, June 26, 2009.

[10] Allen Frances, “The Missing Risk/Benefit Analyses for DSM5,” Psychology Today, April 13, 2010.

Illinois reaches settlement in lawsuit over mentally ill

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (and other media) on March 15, 2010 printed an Associated Press article saying, “Illinois must help thousands of residents move out of large mental institutions and provide them support services as part of a settlement expected to be filed today in a class-action lawsuit. The agreement, hailed as a landmark by advocates for the mentally ill, gives the state five years to help residents make the transition to apartments and small homes, a process to be overseen by a court-appointed monitor. … The lawsuit, filed in 2005 by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, claims Illinois violates the civil rights of 4,500 mentally ill people living in ‘institutions for mental disease…'”

The settlement affects people living in “institutions for mental disease” who could live in the community with services to help them manage their lives.


For more information, read the Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights.