The Board of Directors and membership of the International Society For Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry send condolences to the people of Newtown, Connecticut on their horrific losses. Our hearts go out to the parents of the children who were killed and to the families and friends of the adults who were killed.
We are calling for an inquiry into the connection between these acts of mass murder and the use of psychotropic drugs. Although the media have cited family members and acquaintances saying Adam Lanza was taking prescription drugs to treat “a neurological-development disorder”, we do not know if he was on psychotropic drugs. But we do know that James Holmes, the Colorado batman shooter, had taken 100 milligrams of Vicodin immediately before he shot up the movie theatre
(1). And we do know that:
- Christopher Pittman was on antidepressants when he killed his grandparents (2).
- Eric Harris, one of the gunmen in the Columbine school shooting, was taking Luvox and Dylan Klebold, his partner, had taken Zoloft and Paxil (3).
- Doug Williams, who killed five and wounded nine of his fellow Lockheed Martin employees, was on Zoloft and Celexa (4).
- Michael McDermott was on three antidepressants when he fired off 37 rounds and killed seven of his fellow employees in the Massachusetts Wakefield massacre (5).
- Kip Kinkel was on Prozac when he killed his parents and then killed 2 children and wounded 25 at a nearby school (6).
- In fourteen recent school shoots, the acts were committed by persons taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, resulting in over 100 wounded and 58 killed (7).
- In other school shootings, information about the shooter’s prescription drug use and other medical history were kept from public records (7).
This connection between psychotropic drugs and mass murder is not coincidental. There is enough evidence that antidepressants cause increased risk of suicide and violence for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its Canadian counterpart to require that drug companies include a “black box” warning to that effect on their packages. Our first knowledge of this association between psychotropic drugs and violence came from studies completed in the early 1950s, (8).
I haven’t heard of the International Society For Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) and do not know whether or not the organization is respected or reviled in the psychiatric community. With that said if the above information is accurate it would certain warrant some investigation. Psychotropic drugs are interesting as they work by directly interacting with the brain. Since we don’t fully understand the workings of the human brain yet unintended side-effects may very well spring up from the use of such drugs. Either way I’ll post more if more comes up.
One thought on “Investigating the Connection Between Psychotropic Drugs and Mass Murders”
I am the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP). We are a non-profit organization dedicated to providing an alternative to the prevailing psychiatric model, which erroneously equates human struggles and challenges with disease. Because of this unfortunate model, psychiatric drugs are the predominant form of treatment for those things we call “mental illness”.
However, since there is no evidence in the medical or psychiatric literature that “mental illness” is truly an illness – no evidence of real brain deficits, lesions, malfunctioning, or chemical problems – psychiatric drugs do nothing but sedate or excite the person taking them. They do not correct anything; they are not medicines.
The other problem with psychiatric drugs is their effects (“side effects” is a pharmaceutical company marketing term used to indicate minor nuisances, actually these effects are the main effects of the drug). These effects can range from the minor (dry mouth, dizziness) to moderate (low sex drive, fainting) to the major (irreversible neurological damage, death).
Further, we note that the drugs are likely to contribute to aggression, both toward others and self-directed. Even the pharmaceutical companies’ own research shows this and that is why there are black box warnings. Most of the research is correlational, so a causal connection would require more investigation. But there potential for violence and its consequences are so great that issue requires more attention. We call for a federal inquiry into the potential connection between psychiatric drug use and the terrible violent events we’ve seen across the country.
Chuck Ruby, Ph.D.
Chairman of the Board of Directors, ISEPP
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