Monthly Archives: June 2008

Poetry Monday: Lao Tzu, Rumi, Tagore

Lao Tzu-


words, verbs and lines
serve to define
that which can be named
yet infinity cannot be charted
eternity cannot be corraled

uncircumferenced presence
centered everywhere, within without
cannot be defined
with the scribing of a line

bare of name
source of creation
bearing names
mothers gives birth

in the beginning one
from one to two
one becomes another
thus a mother

feeling separate
reaching outward
for union found within
reaching inward

union remains
movements still

freed of desire, fulfilled in Unity
filled with desire manifesting reality
form is defined
thought needs mind
letting go of thought
we move beyond space and time

no piece, know peace
these two are the same
through unfoldment
in appearance different

the secret Mystery
divergent unity
gateway doorway reality



    This World Which Is Made of Our Love for Emptiness

    Praise to the emptiness that blanks out existence. Existence:
    This place made from our love for that emptiness!

    Yet somehow comes emptiness,
    this existence goes.

    Praise to that happening, over and over!
    For years I pulled my own existence out of emptiness.

    Then one swoop, one swing of the arm,
    that work is over.

    Free of who I was, free of presence, free of dangerous fear, hope,
    free of mountainous wanting.

    The here-and-now mountain is a tiny piece of a piece of straw
    blown off into emptiness.

    These words I’m saying so much begin to lose meaning:
    Existence, emptiness, mountain, straw:

    Words and what they try to say swept
    out the window, down the slant of the roof.

    Un-named poem:

I died from minerality and became vegetable;

And From vegetativeness I died and became animal.

I died from animality and became man.

Then why fear disappearance through death?

Next time I shall die

Bringing forth wings and feathers like angels;

After that, soaring higher than angels –

What you cannot imagine,

I shall be that.

Ode 2180

From these depths depart towards heaven;
may your soul be happy, journey joyfully.
You have escaped from the city full of fear and trembling;
happily become a resident of the Abode of Security4 The Abode of Security seems to be an allusion to heaven which is sometimes called “the abode of peace” (dar-al salam) by Rumi as against “the abode of pride” (dar-al gorur) i.e., the world..
If the body’s image has gone, await the image-maker; if the
body is utterly ruined, become all soul.
If your face has become saffron pale through death, become a
dweller among tulip beds and Judas trees.
If the doors of repose have been barred to you, come, depart
by way of the roof and the ladder.
If you are alone from Friends and companions, by the help of
God become a saheb-qeran5 Saheb qeran is a person who is born under a happy conjunction of the planets. [lord of happy circumstance].
If you have been secluded from water and bread, like bread
become the food of the souls, and so become!




Pluck this little flower and take it, delay not! I fear lest it

droop and drop into the dust.

I may not find a place in thy garland, but honour it with a touch of

pain from thy hand and pluck it. I fear lest the day end before I am

aware, and the time of offering go by.

Though its colour be not deep and its smell be faint, use this flower

in thy service and pluck it while there is time.


O Fool, try to carry thyself upon thy own shoulders!

O beggar, to come beg at thy own door!

Leave all thy burdens on his hands who can bear all,

and never look behind in regret.

Thy desire at once puts out the light from the lamp it touches with its breath.

It is unholy—take not thy gifts through its unclean hands.

Accept only what is offered by sacred love.

Leave This

Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads!

Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut?

Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!

He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground

and where the pathmaker is breaking stones.

He is with them in sun and in shower,

and his garment is covered with dust.

Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!


Where is this deliverance to be found?

Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation;

he is bound with us all for ever.

Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense!

What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained?

Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.

Journey Home

The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.

I came out on the chariot of the first gleam of light, and pursued my

voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet.

It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself,

and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.

The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own,

and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.

My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said `Here art thou!’

The question and the cry `Oh, where?’ melt into tears of a thousand

streams and deluge the world with the flood of the assurance `I am!’

Song Unsung

The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.

I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.

The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set;

only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.

The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.

I have not seen his face, nor have I listened to his voice;

only I have heard his gentle footsteps from the road before my house.

The livelong day has passed in spreading his seat on the floor;

but the lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask him into my house.

I live in the hope of meeting with him; but this meeting is not yet.


    Filed under Lao Tzu, poetry, Rumi, Spirituality, Tagore

    Sunday Basket

    My older son, Andrew has been in town for a visit. He leaves tomorrow morning. Yesterday we took a short hike near home- south side of Powell Butte- to find shade in the heat. Today we went to a movie (Wall-E) to find air conditioning. Pictures from yesterday:

    On a different note, tadpoles are changing quickly- they are leaving the tank on my patio and going into the wide world. As of today all of the marginal habitat along the Springwater Corridor and the drainage ditches on Powell Butte have dried up. Hundreds or thousands of polliwogs did not make it to maturity. I saved about 60 this year. (Tadpole rescue is an annual effort.)

    Other found pictures with no particular theme:

    execution - flawless. planning - fail

    Daisy Vs. the Squirrel:

    bat to the head

    empty threat

    Lose weight, no dieting!



    The goal:


    Filed under animated gif, animation, Family pictures, Frogs, pictures, silly, tadpoles, Uncategorized

    The world is so full of a number of things…

    I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

    I digress….

    had to post this picture:

    Mental Health and Mortality

    Per our last post, we reported that in Oregon one-third of people treated for mental health diagnosis die before age 50. If you add “co-occurring disorders”, 89 percent of people treated for both mental
    illness and substance abuse die before age 50. These numbers are in line with but also in excess of the national data regarding mortality and mental health.

    It’s important to note that the figures are based on people who are receiving treatment. It’s also key to point out that these mortality statistics are getting worse not better. Add to these findings the fact that the most significant factor involved in recovery from mental illness is the length of time one has received treatment; that is to say that the longer one receives treatment, the less likely they are to recover.

    What conclusions can be drawn?

    1. Mental health treatment is possibly preventing people from getting well and
    2. Our advances in treatment (new drugs, etc.) are killing us faster and faster.

    Is anybody listening? Not much, it would appear. In Oregon we are building a new state hospital system at a cost of half a billion dollars. Our mental health treatment centers and support agencies are stuck in a time warp, oblivious to the facts, ignorant of the potential for recovery and blindly pushing the drugs that are killing us at a rate unprecedented for any other major public health issue.

    (Note on the incredibly simpleminded continued reliance on large public institutions: I am of the opinion that as long as we have a system that believes that “some people just have to kept in institutions”, we will have a system that incarcerates a large number of people in these settings. It is only when we say that “no one should be treated this way” that we will begin the to take meaningful steps toward an effective community approach to treatment and support. The state hospitals will continue to suck up the majority of the resources at the expense of real treatment, real recovery and real self-determination. The old arguments that we need these places because of “court mandated patients”, “public safety” and the less acknowledged factor of state employees’ unions who resist the shift to community agencies and settings are are all red herrings and scare tactics with no real value in the discussion. Between 1987 and 1999, with fits and starts, the state dismantled it’s large public institutions for people with developmental disabilities (Fairview Hospital and Training Center/ FHTC, the last and largest). The biggest factor in the process taking so long was the repeated arguments mentioned above. In the end, these all turned out to be empty threats that had no value other than their ability to slow things down. Meaningful, secure and recovery based supports can be engineered in the community. Oregon has already done it before. Some of you may say that their is no correlation or equivalence between these populations but that is also just a lie perpetrated by those who would hold back the future. Fairview held hundreds of individuals with mental illness, hundreds who were court-mandated and thousands of unionized staff. It was once a small city; It is now a field of weeds and grass. I was there. I worked at part-time Fairview in the 1970s and was involved throughout the process of it’s closure.)

    The institution is not the only problem. Existing community services are often mismanaged, poorly staffed read the Annapolis Coalition report or in Oregon, the Governor’s report) and typically way behind in their acceptance of recovery and self-directed supports (compare your local clinic with the National Statement on Mental Health Recovery).

    Are there any silver linings?

    We have a consumer/ survivor movement that is gradually learning to work together and spread our collective wings. We have tiny (microscopic in a national sense) new programs that are consumer directed. use peer supports or embrace self-directed service models. We also have a growing emphasis (in Oregon) on “wellness” as a focus and recovery as a real possibility for all people facing mental health challenges (see:

    Gradually, the public mental health system is becoming aware of the impact of trauma in the lives of people with mental health issues. While some studies show that as much as 95% of persons with a mental health diagnosis are trauma survivors, our treatment programs are remarkable for their tendency to re-traumatize the afflicted. Effective treatment for trauma has come a long way but is still not widely used. At the same time we are seeing the long term effects of mal-treatment that ignores the trauma factor and leads to greater and greater difficulty in the individual’s ability to recover.

    New thoughts are emerging and new ideas slowly joining the mainstream. This from a publication from SAMHSA:

    Today’s mental health system has failed to facilitate recovery of most people labeled with severe mental illnesses, leading to increasing expressions of dissatisfaction by people using services, their families, and administrators. Only a fundamental change of the very culture of the system will ensure that the changes made in policy, training, services, and research will lead to genuine recovery. In accordance with the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health report, mental health consumers and survivors, representing diverse cultural backgrounds, should play a leading role in designing and implementing the transformation to a recovery-based mental health system.

    This paper provides an outline of how consumers/survivors can catalyze a transformation of the mental health system from one based on an institutional culture of control and exclusion to one based on a recovery culture of self-determination and community participation. At the national policy level, this paper recommends that consumers develop and implement a National Recovery Initiative. At the State and local policy levels, State and local recovery initiatives are recommended. On the direct service level, the paper provides a road map for developing services, financing, and supports that are based on self-determination and recovery.

    A recovery-based mental health system would embrace the following values:

    • Self-determination
    • Empowering relationships based on trust, understanding, and respect
    • Meaningful roles in society
    • Elimination of stigma and discrimination

    Changing the mental health system to one that is based on the principles of recovery will require a concerted effort of consumers and allies working to bring about changes in beliefs and practices at every level of the system. The building of these alliances will require the practice of recovery principles of trust, understanding, and respect by all parties involved.

    (The full article re: above can be found at

    Another positive sign is the increasing clinical and scholarly acknowledgement of the role of spirituality in the recovery process (see:,,, to name a few resources).

    Peer delivered services are supposed to be rolled out in Oregon during the coming year. The state has made necessary changes in it’s Medicaid Waiver to allow billing for peer mentors and service providers.

    While the overall system seems to be riding a hand basket to hell, the growing awareness, solidarity and action emerging from the Consumer/ Survivor/ Ex Patient movement is on a collision course with the system that is, was and wishes to always be. It is either a slow motion train wreck or the harbinger of a revolution in mental health treatment.

    Things are on the cusp of a change. Part of that change may need to be the collapse of the current system (including our current, mostly pitiful, community service models) under the weight of it’s own silliness. If it happens, this will not be a bad thing.
    If all the case managers, therapists, pills and hospitals for treatment of mental illness disappeared over night…

    On balance, would we be better or worse off?

    On a completely different note:

    Pictures I’ve found interesting lately-

    windshield grime-art:

    I has a cleaning…

    Prince says “hai”

    Always remember

    To check the music page for new stuff.

    BTW- I’d love to hear from you about your own music. Do you have any home recordings I can post? Please, no professional quality shite.

    Finally,for today, a little video

    Avalokiteshvara – Treasury of Compassion

    Leave a comment

    Filed under animated gif, animation, buddhism, CS/X movement, Free Music, Links: Recovery, Mental health recovery, Music, new music, pictures, silly, Uncategorized, wellness and systems change

    If you aren’t Mad you aren’t paying attention

    News from MindFreedom and the Bend Weekly News

    A State of Oregon study says that Oregonians in the mental health
    system die earlier than the general public.

    Bend Weekly News in Bend, Oregon, USA covered this news in the below
    story, which includes a link so you can download the State of Oregon
    study, “Measuring Premature Mortality among Oregonians,” published 10
    June 2008.


    Report: One-third of mentally ill Oregonians die before 50

    Jun 13, 2008 by Bend_Weekly_News_Sources

    Oregonians with serious mental illness are dying years earlier than
    their neighbors in the general population, and a grassroots health
    movement is under way to reverse this trend.

    The Oregon Department of Human Services Addictions and Mental Health
    Division (AMH) has teamed with consumers of mental health services
    and their families, health care professionals and others to implement
    a statewide wellness initiative aimed at improving mental and
    physical health and longevity.

    Death comes before age 50 for one third of those treated for mental
    health problems, according to results of a seven-year AMH mortality
    study. A staggering 89 percent of people treated for both mental
    illness and substance abuse die before age 50. The average lifespan
    of someone who is dually diagnosed is 45.1 years, which equates to an
    average 34.5 years of potential life lost.

    The recent study, titled “Measuring Premature Mortality among
    Oregonians,” compared the death records of persons who received
    public substance abuse and/or mental health treatment with the
    general population.

    The early death toll among this segment of Oregonians falls in line
    with similar results from national and state studies. More
    importantly, it brings into focus what many individuals with mental
    already knew; by taking charge of their health, habits and
    lifestyle they can add years – and quality – to their lives, said Bob
    Nikkel, DHS assistant director for addictions and mental health.

    “National research and this study make it clear that persons being
    treated for substance abuse and mental health problems have many
    risks that may bring on early death,” said Nikkel. “Our most critical
    imperative is to help individuals with mental illness live better and
    longer lives.

    “Mental health and substance abuse is an important quality of life
    issue for Oregonians,” he continued. “Dying prematurely not only
    destroys human potential, but it has an economic impact as well.”

    The AMH study showed substance abuse and mental health clients have
    higher risks of death associated with suicide, homicide and
    unintended injuries. In addition, they are economically disadvantaged
    and vulnerable to many diseases that cause death. For example,
    antipsychotic medications used to treat someone with mental illness
    are known to elevate the chance of dying from cardiac arrest; others
    may lead to diabetes.

    The mortality study is available on the DHS Web site at:

    Nikkel said a DHS/AMH wellness committee is working to improve the
    health and longevity of people with mental illness by drawing on
    scientific research, literature and successful practices by user
    groups. Here are some of the committee’s guiding principles:

    *** We must treat and support the whole person;

    *** Care coordination and wellness screening are essential;

    *** Access to a range of health care options and basic health care
    must be afforded to all Oregonians;

    *** Early intervention and prevention across the lifespan saves
    lives, makes a difference in years of productive life lost, and
    improves quality of life;

    *** Medication management and empowerment equips individuals with the
    tools and strength to ask questions and work with treatment providers
    to find healthier and effective ways to support recovery and
    wellness; and

    *** Disparities in health care coverage and access to service must be
    overcome, along with finding culturally appropriate treatment programs.

    Committee members are seeking funding for grassroots-level programs
    that encourage education and lifestyle changes and for peer-to-peer
    support services.

    For more information visit the DHS wellness Web site at:

    On a different note-

    Talking with my guests at KBOO radio last night we got into a discussion of stories we all had from psychiatric hospitals, some funny, some not and different experiences we had with mental health providers. I think Ann had the idea that we need to have a “secret shopper” project; people could go to various agencies and then provide reviews of the services, respect and treatment they receive. We could then publicize the information to produce a guide that would be useful to folks. A related idea was that we should collect current information regarding services and treatment at hospital psych wards. On the air we got into a discussion about the relative merits of Portland area acute care facilities. Conclusions? We agreed that, at least before their remodel, Adventist was the worst place to stay but had the best food. Our choice for best local facility (as if anyone ever has a choice) was Providence NE. We also agreed that the showers at St Vincent’s leak and flood the rooms.

    We had a great time on the program and gave away tickets to the National Air Guitar Championships being held at Dante’s in downtown Portland. The winner was chosen from among callers on the basis of how many diagnoses they had been given. A good time was had by all.

    New Music- added last night on the Music Page

    Check it out.

    Pictures friom my son’s blog- Better Bees than Bears

    He’s drawing pictures on the sidewalks of San Francisco.

    Ready to breathe

    The first tadpole crawled out of the water last night at about 11 pm. Won’t be long before they all head off into the world. Sniff.

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    Filed under CS/X movement, Free Music, Frogs, Mad Radio, Mental health recovery, mindfreedom news, mp3, new music, pictures, tadpoles

    Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

    Second Warning!

    Mad LiberationBy MoonLight

    KBOO Radio 90.7 FM
    1- 2 a.m. Late Friday night
    (yes, I know that it is technically Saturday morning- relax, it’s just a radio show)
    June 20th, 2008

    Dedicated to Everyone
    who has ever been given a psychiatric label, to anyone who experiences mental health challenges and to anybody who has the misfortune (or good fortune) of being awake at that hour.

    You can participate!

    Call in at (503) 231-8187
    Please call in! Set your alarm!

    Friday nights from 1 am to 2 am usually following the full-moon, will be a segment on KBOO radio (90.7 on your fm dial, to the left of NPR), also streamed on the internet on their website, will be time for of Mad Lib by Moonlight. The program is part of the usual Friday night show, The Outside World.

    Flier for printing- post it at your place of bidness!


    Check out new music on the music page-

    I added 2 songs today.


    I’m sure you know people like this:


    Street sign in Hong Kong-


    The cat is the hat-

    New tadpole shots!

    They have front legs!!

    I’m also seeing signs that some of the tadpoles are becoming newts- the barest expression of gills; I can’t capture on camera yet. Soon

    Leave a comment

    Filed under CS/X movement, Frogs, Mad Radio, Mental health recovery, new music, pictures, silly, tadpoles


    UK study/ SSRIs

    Millions of prescriptions for SSRIs are written up in the UK each year, but a major study says they’re no better than placebo. What now for the citizens of Prozac Nation?

    “Perhaps the next time half a million people gather for a protest march on the White House green,” wrote Elizabeth Wurtzel in her bestselling book Prozac Nation, “it will not be for abortion rights or gay liberation, but because we’re all so bummed out.”

    From the West Virginia Gazette

    West Virginia disability rights groups are fuming after the owners
    of a pre-Civil War mental hospital in Weston renamed the property the
    "Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum."
    article here-

    Looks like Andrew is drawing on the sidewalks again

    My son Andrew, who lives in the SF area, likes to draw on the sidewalk. These and other illustrations of his well-spent time are on his blog- listed to the right- Better Bees Than Bears. Click for larger picture.

    Mad Liberation By MoonLight

    KBOO Radio 90.7 FM
    1- 2 a.m. Late Friday night
    (yes, I know that it is technically Saturday morning- relax, it’s just a radio show)
    June 20th, 2008

    Dedicated to Everyone
    who has ever been given a psychiatric label, to anyone who experiences mental health challenges and to anybody who has the misfortune (or good fortune) of being awake at that hour.

    You can participate!

    Call in at (503) 231-8187
    Please call in! Set your alarm!

    Friday nights from 1 am to 2 am usually following the full-moon, will be a segment on KBOO radio (90.7 on your fm dial, to the left of NPR), also streamed on the internet on their website, will be time for of Mad Lib by Moonlight. The program is part of the usual Friday night show, The Outside World.

    Moon Shots

    Since this Friday is Mad Liberation by Moonlight, these pictures are to help stimulate your memory so that you stay up at night to listen. Click to make larger.

    Found here:

    Mental Health and the ADA-

    This is a packet I put together for a training I gave to State of Oregon Human Resource managers.

    Click for doc.


    BTW: Here’s how the frogs are doing:

    Also, check out new recording on the music page…

    Leave a comment

    Filed under CS/X movement, Free Music, Frogs, Mental health recovery, mindfreedom news, mp3, new music, pictures, tadpoles, Uncategorized

    Gone Beyond, Father’s Day mix

    Also reposted on the music page- today, 6/13/08.

    The story:

    When my dad died the family took his ashes to the ocean (he had been a career Navy man) and we all tossed our little cups at the same time. The wind blew straight at us simultaneously as we, in unison, spat and hacked his remains onto the surf.
    My dad was a complicated guy in some ways. He was very spiritual and had a very bad weakness for booze. He attempted suicide several times when I was a teenager. I hated him for a long time. By the time of his death in1992 I had grown to respect him. His death from cancer came swiftly- due to botched medical care by Kaiser. I didn’t feel I had time to really talk to him.
    A couple months more than a year after my father died I went to the beach by myself and camped at Short Sands (Oregonians will know where I mean). I spent a few days contemplating my relationship with him and the difficulties he faced (and eventually overcame).
    The last day I was there I sat on a log where the trail to the beach opens onto the small, hidden stretch that is Short Sands. I wrote this song. That was a Sunday. I went home. I felt open,as though a huge thumb had been on my head for years and it was suddenly lifted. I was soaring.
    The following morning I found my daughter dead by her own hand.
    You just never know what to expect.


    Leave a comment

    Filed under Free Music, mp3, Music, new music, Uncategorized

    Mad News from MindFreedom & NY Times

    Received this from MindFreedom today:

    Sunday NY Times: Congress discovers that Harvard psychiatrist
    covered up drug money

    Tomorrow’s Sunday New York Times (8 June 2008) will have an item
    about a drug money cover-up by a world-famous Harvard psychiatrist
    who is considered a catalyst for the enormous increase in psychiatric
    drugging of USA kids. See the text of the article below.

    NY Times reports that US Congressional investigators led by Senator
    Charles E. Grassley discovered that Harvard’s Dr. Joseph Biederman
    illegally did not disclose to Harvard authorities much of the more
    than a million dollars he received from psychiatric drug companies.

    Says NY Times: “[Dr. Biederman’s] work helped to fuel a controversial
    40-fold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of pediatric
    bipolar disorder.” Please forward. At bottom is commentary from
    MindFreedom and how you can take action.


    NY Times article with photos on MindFreedom web site:

    Or on NY Times web site:


    Sunday New York Times

    Child Experts Fail to Reveal Full Drug Pay

    By Gardiner Harris and Benedict Carey

    June 8, 2008

    A world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped
    fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in
    children earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug
    makers from 2000 to 2007 but for years did not report much of this
    income to university officials, according to information given
    Congressional investigators.

    By failing to report income, the psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph Biederman,
    and a colleague in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical
    School, Dr. Timothy E. Wilens, may have violated federal and
    university research rules designed to police potential conflicts of
    interest, according to Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of
    Iowa. Some of their research is financed by government grants.

    Like Dr. Biederman, Dr. Wilens belatedly reported earning at least
    $1.6 million from 2000 to 2007, and another Harvard colleague, Dr.
    Thomas Spencer, reported earning at least $1 million after being
    pressed by Mr. Grassley’s investigators. But even these amended
    disclosures may understate the researchers’ outside income because
    some entries contradict payment information from drug makers, Mr.
    Grassley found.

    In one example, Dr. Biederman reported no income from Johnson &
    Johnson for 2001 in a disclosure report filed with the university.
    When asked recently to check again, he reported receiving $3,500. But
    Johnson & Johnson told Mr. Grassley that it paid him $58,169 in 2001,
    Mr. Grassley found.

    The Harvard group’s consulting arrangements with drug makers were
    already controversial because of the researchers’ advocacy of
    unapproved uses of psychiatric medicines in children.

    In an e-mailed statement, Dr. Biederman said, “My interests are
    solely in the advancement of medical treatment through rigorous and
    objective study,” and he said he took conflict-of-interest policies
    “very seriously.” Drs. Wilens and Spencer said in e-mailed statements
    that they thought they had complied with conflict-of-interest rules.

    John Burklow, a spokesman for the National Institutes of Health,
    said: “If there have been violations of N.I.H. policy – and if
    research integrity has been compromised – we will take all the
    appropriate action within our power to hold those responsible
    accountable. This would be completely unacceptable behavior, and
    N.I.H. will not tolerate it.”

    The federal grants received by Drs. Biederman and Wilens were
    administered by Massachusetts General Hospital, which in 2005 won
    $287 million in such grants. The health institutes could place
    restrictions on the hospital’s grants or even suspend them altogether.

    Alyssa Kneller, a Harvard spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement:
    “The information released by Senator Grassley suggests that, in
    certain instances, each doctor may have failed to disclose outside
    income from pharmaceutical companies and other entities that should
    have been disclosed.”

    Ms. Kneller said the doctors had been referred to a university
    conflict committee for review.

    Mr. Grassley sent letters on Wednesday to Harvard and the health
    institutes outlining his investigators’ findings, and he placed the
    letters along with his comments in The Congressional Record.

    Dr. Biederman is one of the most influential researchers in child
    psychiatry and is widely admired for focusing the field’s attention
    on its most troubled young patients. Although many of his studies are
    small and often financed by drug makers, his work helped to fuel a
    controversial 40-fold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of
    pediatric bipolar disorder, which is characterized by severe mood
    swings, and a rapid rise in the use of antipsychotic medicines in
    children. The Grassley investigation did not address research quality.

    Doctors have known for years that antipsychotic drugs, sometimes
    called major tranquilizers, can quickly subdue children. But
    youngsters appear to be especially susceptible to the weight gain and
    metabolic problems caused by the drugs, and it is far from clear that
    the medications improve children’s lives over time, experts say.

    In the last 25 years, drug and device makers have displaced the
    federal government as the primary source of research financing, and
    industry support is vital to many university research programs. But
    as corporate research executives recruit the brightest scientists,
    their brethren in marketing departments have discovered that some of
    these same scientists can be terrific pitchmen.

    To protect research integrity, the National Institutes of Health
    require researchers to report to universities earnings of $10,000 or
    more per year, for instance, in consulting money from makers of drugs
    also studied by the researchers in federally financed trials.
    Universities manage financial conflicts by requiring that the money
    be disclosed to research subjects, among other measures.

    The health institutes last year awarded more than $23 billion in
    grants to more than 325,000 researchers at over 3,000 universities,
    and auditing the potential conflicts of each grantee would be
    impossible, health institutes officials have long insisted. So the
    government relies on universities.

    Universities ask professors to report their conflicts but do almost
    nothing to verify the accuracy of these voluntary disclosures.

    “It’s really been an honor system thing,” said Dr. Robert Alpern,
    dean of Yale School of Medicine. “If somebody tells us that a
    pharmaceutical company pays them $80,000 a year, I don’t even know
    how to check on that.”

    Some states have laws requiring drug makers to disclose payments made
    to doctors, and Mr. Grassley and others have sponsored legislation to
    create a national registry.

    Lawmakers have been concerned in recent years about the use of
    unapproved medications in children and the influence of industry money.

    Mr. Grassley asked Harvard for the three researchers’ financial
    disclosure reports from 2000 through 2007 and asked some drug makers
    to list payments made to them.

    “Basically, these forms were a mess,” Mr. Grassley said in comments
    he entered into The Congressional Record on Wednesday. “Over the last
    seven years, it looked like they had taken a couple hundred thousand

    Prompted by Mr. Grassley’s interest, Harvard asked the researchers to
    re-examine their disclosure reports.

    In the new disclosures, the trio’s outside consulting income jumped
    but was still contradicted by reports sent to Mr. Grassley from some
    of the companies. In some cases, the income seems to have put the
    researchers in violation of university and federal rules.

    In 2000, for instance, Dr. Biederman received a grant from the
    National Institutes of Health to study in children Strattera, an Eli
    Lilly drug for attention deficit disorder. Dr. Biederman reported to
    Harvard that he received less than $10,000 from Lilly that year, but
    the company told Mr. Grassley that it paid Dr. Biederman more than
    $14,000 in 2000, Mr. Grassley’s letter stated.

    At the time, Harvard forbade professors from conducting clinical
    trials if they received payments over $10,000 from the company whose
    product was being studied, and federal rules required such conflicts
    to be managed.

    Mr. Grassley said these discrepancies demonstrated profound flaws in
    the oversight of researchers’ financial conflicts and the need for a
    national registry. But the disclosures may also cloud the work of one
    of the most prominent group of child psychiatrists in the world.

    In the past decade, Dr. Biederman and his colleagues have promoted
    the aggressive diagnosis and drug treatment of childhood bipolar
    disorder, a mood problem once thought confined to adults. They have
    maintained that the disorder was underdiagnosed in children and could
    be treated with antipsychotic drugs, medications invented to treat

    Other researchers have made similar assertions. As a result,
    pediatric bipolar diagnoses and antipsychotic drug use in children
    have soared. Some 500,000 children and teenagers were given at least
    one prescription for an antipsychotic in 2007, including 20,500 under
    6 years of age, according to Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy
    benefit manager.

    Few psychiatrists today doubt that bipolar disorder can strike in the
    early teenage years, or that many of the children being given the
    diagnosis are deeply distressed.

    “I consider Dr. Biederman a true visionary in recognizing this
    illness in children,” said Susan Resko, director of the Child and
    Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, “and he’s not only saved many lives
    but restored hope to thousands of families across the country.”

    Longtime critics of the group see its influence differently. “They
    have given the Harvard imprimatur to this commercial experimentation
    on children,” said Vera Sharav, president and founder of the Alliance
    for Human Research Protection, a patient advocacy group.

    Many researchers strongly disagree over what bipolar looks like in
    youngsters, and some now fear the definition has been expanded
    unnecessarily, due in part to the Harvard group.

    The group published the results of a string of drug trials from 2001
    to 2006, but the studies were so small and loosely designed that they
    were largely inconclusive, experts say. In some studies testing
    antipsychotic drugs, the group defined improvement as a decline of 30
    percent or more on a scale called the Young Mania Rating Scale – well
    below the 50 percent change that most researchers now use as the

    Controlling for bias is especially important in such work, given that
    the scale is subjective, and raters often depend on reports from
    parents and children, several top psychiatrists said.

    More broadly, they said, revelations of undisclosed payments from
    drug makers to leading researchers are especially damaging for

    “The price we pay for these kinds of revelations is credibility, and
    we just can’t afford to lose any more of that in this field,” said
    Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, executive director of the Stanley Medical
    Research Institute, which finances psychiatric studies. “In the area
    of child psychiatry in particular, we know much less than we should,
    and we desperately need research that is not influenced by industry

    – end –


    Commentary by David Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International

    I was was once a Harvard student. Grandson of coal miners, at Harvard
    on scholarships, I developed mental and emotional problems.

    Harvard psychiatrists ordered my forced psychiatric drugging in a
    Harvard teaching hospital, McLean. Harvard psychiatrists told me
    point blank I had to stay on powerful neuroleptic (“antipsychotic”)
    drugs for the rest of my life.

    They were wrong.

    I graduated anyway in 1977. With honors. I’ve been off all
    psychiatric drugs ever since.

    In my senior year, a Harvard volunteer agency — Phillips Brooks
    House — placed me in a psychiatric survivor group (thank you PBH!).
    I’ve spent the last few decades working to prevent psychiatric human
    rights violations.

    But I almost became one of the early teenagers to be diagnosed
    bipolar (and “schizophrenic”) and placed on neuroleptics for all this

    An unreported problem is that a diagnosis of “psychosis” like
    “bipolar” can lead to decades, or a life-time, of neuroleptic
    drugging (antipsychotics). We at MindFreedom are pro-choice on the
    personal health care decision to take a prescribed neuroleptic, but
    these drugs really are pushed and pushed hard without adequate
    advocacy, information, alternatives, etc.

    To check out what mainstream medicine has long known about what long-
    term neuroleptics can do the frontal lobes of primates, check out the
    monkey study in this folder:

    or use this web address:

    Ben Carey, one of the reporters for the above great NY Times article,
    has done a lot of work on investigating psychiatric drug industry
    corruption, and he should be applauded. But Ben and I have
    communicated, and he knows about the neuroleptic brain damage story.
    But — like all other mainstream media — he has chosen not to report

    ACTION: Thank Ben Carey for his courageous reporting, but ask when he
    will report that neuroleptics cause frontal lobe shrinkage.

    E-mail for Ben Carey is:

    Perhaps somewhere in some college — perhaps Harvard? — there is
    hopefully a future “Al Gore of mental health” who will one day show
    PowerPoint slide shows to millions of people about this “Greenhouse
    effect” of the mind:

    The tragic and literal mass chemical lobotomy of millions of young
    people through decades of neuroleptics, needlessly, without any
    informed consent about the structural brain change, when humane
    alternatives exist but are not offered.

    Yes, diabetes and weight gain from neuroleptics are horrendous, and
    can kill.

    But chemical lobotomy?

    That could have been me.

    And I take that personally.

    You can also thank Senator Grassley, and let him know about the
    neuroleptic brain damage issue. Very few elected officials have ever
    been informed.

    MindFreedom supports legislating criminal penalties for individuals
    such as Dr. Biederman; make his a humane prison, with lots of humane
    alternatives for rehabilitation, but sentence some real time behind
    bars, and we can begin to address this crisis.

    You can also encourage Sen. Grassley to pass laws to help make
    behavior like Dr. Biederman’s a criminal offense.

    Sen. Grassley web contact form:

    or use this web address:


    Filed under CS/X movement, Mental health recovery, mindfreedom news

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