In another psychiatric treatment failure, a new study shows electroshock fails to prevent suicide, with over 800 deaths within a year in those receiving it. As with patients prescribed antidepressants, those receiving electroshock have been misled that electroshock corrects imbalanced brain chemicals.
A landmark study has debunked one of the biggest mental healthcare marketing campaigns in modern history—that a “chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression” requiring antidepressants to correct it.
WHO cites no proven benefit, but significant evidence of harm from coercive mental health treatments, including forced drugging, restraints, and electroshock.
By Citizens Commission on Human Rights, National Affairs Office
New guidelines for mental health services issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) are a strong call to action for United Nations (UN) member countries, including the United States, to take bold steps to ensure that their mental health services are free from coercion, including forced drugging, the use of physical and chemical restraints and seclusion, and involuntary institutionalization.
WHO’s rejection of nonconsensual mental health treatment echoes the long-time advocacy of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to end involuntary treatment and harmful psychiatric practices and restore human rights and dignity to the field of mental health.
A series of reports issued in June by WHO emphasize that coercive mental health practices are used “despite the lack of evidence that they offer any benefits, and the significant evidence that they lead to physical and psychological harm and even death.”
“People subjected to coercive practices report feelings of dehumanization, disempowerment and being disrespected,” WHO states. “Many experience it as a form of trauma or re-traumatization leading to a worsening of their condition and increased experiences of distress.”
WHO’s call for an end to involuntary mental health treatment extends to those experiencing acute mental distress. WHO notes that individuals in mental health crisis “are at a heightened risk of their human rights being violated, including through forced admissions and treatment…. These practices have been shown to be harmful to people’s mental, emotional and physical health, sometimes leading to death.”
CCHR’s co-founder, Thomas Szasz, M.D., a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry considered by many scholars and academics to be psychiatry’s most authoritative critic, agreed. “The most important deprivation of human and constitutional rights inflicted upon persons said to be mentally ill is involuntary mental hospitalization,” he wrote.
The UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), signed in 2006, lays out the right to liberty and security for the disabled, including the mentally disabled. This right also challenges the coercive treatment legally allowable under involuntary commitment laws, even when “justified” by criteria like “a need for treatment,” “dangerousness” or “lack of insight.”
Beyond involuntary commitment, WHO points out that additional rights in CRPD to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse also prohibit coercive practices, including seclusion, restraint, and administering psychiatric drugs, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and psychosurgery without informed consent.
The WHO reports lay out a vision of holistic mental health services, as contrasted with today’s narrow focus on the diagnosis and drugging of individuals to suppress symptoms, a mental health approach that results in “an over-diagnosis of human distress and over-reliance on psychotropic drugs.”
Additionally, WHO states that a series of UN Human Rights Council resolutions have called for a human rights approach to mental health services and for nations to tackle the “unlawful or arbitrary institutionalization, overmedication and treatment practices [seen in the field of mental health] that fail to respect…autonomy, will and preferences” of those seeking to recover from mental health challenges.
Years ahead of the WHO reports, Dr. Szasz advocated an end to forced psychiatric treatment, writing: “increasing numbers of persons, both in the mental health professions and in public life, have come to acknowledge that involuntary psychiatric intervention are methods of social control. On both moral and practical grounds, I advocate the abolition of all involuntary psychiatry.”
As a human rights organization and mental health industry watchdog, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has exposed and campaigned against the abusive use of involuntary institutionalization and psychiatric treatments given without consent, including forced drugging, restraints, and involuntary electroshock. CCHR’s Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights enumerates the rights we believe each individual is entitled to in the mental health system.
CCHR was co-founded in 1969 by members of the Church of Scientology and Dr. Szasz to eradicate abuses and restore human rights and dignity to the field of mental health.
Denver area psychiatrist Howard Weiss has been indicted on 120 federal charges that include allegations he prescribed higher doses of psychiatric drugs without trying lower doses or alternative treatments first. At least one of his patients died of an overdose, according to the indictment, although he is not charged in that death.
He is also charged with prescribing addictive drugs to already-addicted patients and prescribing high doses of benzodiazepines to patients taking opioids, a combination of drugs that could prove fatal.
According to the Denver Post, the indictment alleges that Weiss prescribed pills — including amphetamines such as Adderall and benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium — to patients at dosages that were too high and without exploring other avenues of treatment.
The indictment alleges that, in one three-month period, one patient was prescribed 9,000 Adderall pills, 480 pills of the muscle relaxant Soma and 480 Xanax tablets.
Weiss has a criminal history. According to the disciplinary document on the Dept of Regulatory Affairs (DORA) website, in 1995 Weiss was suspended from practice in the State of Virginia after conviction on federal charges involving filing false and fraudulent billing claims of in-patient psychiatric services. He served his sentence of probation and paid a fine and restitution, and his license was later reinstated in Virginia.
Weiss was granted a license to practice in Colorado in 2003. In 2019 he once again faced disciplinary action after the Colorado Medical Board reviewed information that Weiss “simultaneously prescribed multiple controlled substances in high doses to multiple patients” and “permitted patients to make determinations regarding their prescription medications despite clear evidence of abuse or misuse.” He was found by the Board to “pose an immediate risk to the public health, safety or welfare” of the citizens of Colorado. In an emergency action, his license was once again suspended.
If you are concerned about the psychiatric drugs prescribed to you or a loved one, discuss it with your doctor. You can also research psychiatric drug side effects here.
WARNING:Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous, even life-threatening mental and physical withdrawal symptoms. If you or anyone you know has experienced harmful side effects from psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.
Here in the West, we got a taste of summer heat in June and there is surely more to come. Be aware that if you are taking psychotropic medications, you are at special risk to heat effects and should know the steps you need to take to stay safe. Individuals with chronic medical conditions (i.e., heart and pulmonary disease, diabetes, alcoholism, etc.) are especially vulnerable.
No matter what the temperature is outside, psychotropic medications affect the body’s ability to regulate its own temperature. But during a heat wave, individuals taking antipsychotic medications are especially at risk of developing excessive body temperature, or hyperthermia, which can be fatal. You should know the signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke and what to do if the heat starts getting to you.
Stay in air-conditioned areas if possible. If you do not have air conditioning at home, go to a shopping mall or public library.
Keep windows shut and draperies, shades, or blinds drawn during the heat of the day.
Open windows in the evening or night hours when the air outside is cooler.
Move to cooler rooms during the heat of the day.
Avoid overexertion and outdoor activity, particularly during warmer periods of the day.
Apply sunscreen and lotion as needed.
Drink plenty of fluids (avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol).
Dress in loose fitting, light colored clothing. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing.
Take a cool shower or bath.
Lose weight if you are overweight.
Eat regular meals to ensure that you have adequate salt and fluids.
Understand the risk of the drugs you take. Psychotropic drugs have specific warnings from the manufacturer to avoid excessive heat and dehydration. If you have questions, check with your doctor or pharmacist about your medications.
WARNING:Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a competent medical doctor because of potentially dangerous, even life-threatening mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.
If you or anyone you know has experienced harmful side effects from psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.
More than 175 years after its founding, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) issued a public apology in January for psychiatry’s “role in perpetrating structural racism” and said it hoped to make amends.
Here’s a suggestion to the APA: repudiate and discontinue all symbolic association with Dr. Benjamin Rush, the slave-owning “Father of American Psychiatry” who is responsible for the “scientific racism” at the very root of the structural racism in psychiatry that the APA now says it regrets.
And what better time to cut psychiatry’s ties to Rush than on America’s first nationwide celebration of Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
Until 2015, a seal with the image of Benjamin Rush served as the APA’s logo, and the APA still presents a Benjamin Rush award at its annual meeting.
The man in whose honor this APA award is bestowed bought a child slave, William Grubber, in the early- to mid-1770s, scholars believe, and owned him for some two decades. Rush released Grubber from slavery in 1794, only after receiving, in his words, “a just compensation for my having paid for him the full price of a slave for life.” In other words, Rush made sure he got his money’s worth from his slave before allowing him to go free.
However, Rush’s transgressions against African Americans go far beyond the human rights abuse of enslaving another human being. He established a supposed biological justification for racism, setting a precedent for later psychiatrists and psychologists and their subsequent forms of “scientific racism” to oppress Blacks.
In 1792, Rush declared that Blacks suffered from a disease he called “negritude” that he theorized was caused by a variant of leprosy, the cure of which was when Blacks’ skin turned white. Rush based his view in part on the work of another scientist who had applied a harsh and corrosive acid to the skin and hair of an African American man to turn him “white.”
With his view, Rush believed Blacks should not intermarry with other races because this supposed disease could infect their children.
Rush considered that African Americans were able to easily endure surgical operations and pain, labeling this “pathological insensibility.”
America’s first psychiatrist also treated his patients with darkness, solitary confinement, and a special technique of forcing the patient to stand erect for two to three days at a time, poking them with sharp pointed nails to keep them from sleeping – a technique borrowed from a British procedure for taming horses. He invented the “tranquilizer” chair into which the patient was strapped hand and foot, along with a device to hold the head immobile.
Benjamin Rush was apparently unable to recognize the human rights abuses he was committing. By failing to disavow him, the APA may be revealing that it is as blind to human rights abuses as Rush was.
All human rights organizations set forth codes by which they align their purposes and activities. The Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights articulates the guiding principles and goals of Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).
In 2017, Dr. Dainius Pūras, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, called for a revolution in mental health care around the world to “end decades of neglect, abuse and violence,” and stating
“There is now unequivocal evidence of the failures of a system that relies too heavily on the biomedical model of mental health services, including the front-line and excessive use of psychotropic medicines, and yet these models persist.”
Human rights include the right to one’s own mind, and to protect oneself and one’s loved ones against any abusive or harmful “treatments” given under the guise of mental health.
Every man, woman and child is entitled to the fundamental human rights set forth in this Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights, regardless of race, political ideology, religious, cultural or social beliefs.
Given the fact that virtually no human or civil rights specifically protects citizens from mental health abuses, it is vital that the following rights be recognized and that all countries adopt this Declaration.
A. The right to full informed consent, including:
1. The scientific/medical test confirming any alleged diagnoses of psychiatric disorder and the right to refute any psychiatric diagnoses of mental “illness” that cannot be medically confirmed.
2. Full disclosure of all documented risks of any proposed drug or mental “treatment.”
3. The right to be informed of all available medical treatments which do not involve the administration of a psychiatric drug or treatment.
4. The right to refuse psychiatric drugs documented by international drug regulatory agencies to be harmful and potentially lethal.
5. The right to refuse to undergo electroshock or psycho-surgery.
B. No person shall be forced to undergo any psychiatric or psychological treatment against his or her will.
C. No person, man, woman or child, may be denied his or her personal liberty by reason of mental illness, without a fair jury trial by laymen and with proper legal representation.
D. No person shall be admitted to or held in a psychiatric institution, hospital or facility because of their political, religious or cultural or social beliefs and practices.
E. Any patient has:
1. The right to be treated with dignity as a human being.
2. The right to hospital amenities without distinction as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinion, social origin or status by right of birth or property.
3. The right to have a thorough, physical and clinical examination by a competent registered general practitioner of one’s choice, to ensure that one’s mental condition is not caused by any undetected and untreated physical illness, injury or defect, and the right to seek a second medical opinion of one’s choice.
4. The right to fully equipped medical facilities and appropriately trained medical staff in hospitals, so that competent physical, clinical examinations can be performed.
5. The right to choose the kind or type of therapy to be employed, and the right to discuss this with a general practitioner, healer or minister of one’s choice.
6. The right to have all the side effects of any offered treatment made clear and understandable to the patient, in written form and in the patient’s native language.
7. The right to accept or refuse treatment but in particular, the right to refuse sterilization, electroshock treatment, insulin shock, lobotomy (or any other psychosurgical brain operation), aversion therapy, narcotherapy, deep sleep therapy and any drugs producing unwanted side effects.
8. The right to make official complaints, without reprisal, to an independent board which is composed of non-psychiatric personnel, lawyers and lay people. Complaints may encompass any torturous, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment received while under psychiatric care.
9. The right to have private counsel with a legal advisor and to take legal action.
10. The right to discharge oneself at any time and to be discharged without restriction, having committed no offense.
11. The right to manage one’s own property and affairs with a legal advisor, if necessary, or if deemed incompetent by a court of law, to have a State appointed executor to manage such until one is adjudicated competent. Such executor is accountable to the patient’s next of kin, or legal advisor or guardian.
12. The right to see and possess one’s hospital records and to take legal action with regard to any false information contained therein which may be damaging to one’s reputation.
13. The right to take criminal action, with the full assistance of law enforcement agents, against any psychiatrist, psychologist or hospital staff for any abuse, false imprisonment, assault from treatment, sexual abuse or rape, or any violation of mental health or other law. And the right to a mental health law that does not indemnify or modify the penalties for criminal, abusive or negligent treatment of patients committed by any psychiatrist, psychologist or hospital staff.
14. The right to sue psychiatrists, their associations and colleges, the institution, or staff for unlawful detention, false reports, or damaging treatment.
15. The right to work or to refuse to work, and the right to receive just compensation on a pay-scale comparable to union or state/national wages for similar work, for any work performed while hospitalized.
16. The right to education or training so as to enable one better to earn a living when discharged, the right of choice over what kind of education or training is received.
17. The right to receive visitors and a minister of one’s own faith.
18. The right to make and receive telephone calls and the right to privacy with regard to all personal correspondence to and from anyone.
19. The right to freely associate or not with any group or person in a psychiatric institution, hospital or facility.
20. The right to a safe environment without having in the environment, persons placed there for criminal reasons.
21. The right to be with others of one’s own age group.
22. The right to wear personal clothing, to have personal effects and to have a secure place in which to keep them.
23. The right to daily physical exercise in the open.
24. The right to a proper diet and nutrition and to three meals a day.
25. The right to hygienic conditions and non-overcrowded facilities, and to sufficient, undisturbed leisure and rest.
With studies showing that an average of 6% to 10% of psychiatrists and psychologists sexually abuse their patients, including children young as 3 years old, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is encouraging victims of sexual abuse by mental health practitioners to contact us and speak out about it.
The observation of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April would not be complete without a cautionary look at how common it is for psychiatric practitioners to have sexual contact with patients, often under the guise of therapy.
The sexual crimes committed by psychiatrists are estimated at 37 times greater than rapes occurring in the general community, one U.S. law firm stated. 
Psychiatrists themselves indicate that 65% of their new patients tell them that they have been sexually abused by previous psychiatrists. Sexual assault or rape is not just limited to females. Men are also victims of therapist sexual abuse or rape. And so are children. 
Data from national studies suggest one of every 20 sexual incidents between psychotherapists and their patients involved minors – the average age was 12 for boys, 7 for girls. 
Psychiatrists who sexually abuse patients are often serial abusers, with some surveys noting over 50% of male therapists reporting sexual involvement with more than one patient. 
Clinicians have compared psychotherapist-patient sexual involvement to rape, child molestation, and incest, putting victims at increased risk of suicide, according to the study, “Psychotherapists’ Sexual Relationships with Their Patients” in Annals of Health Law. 
Sexual assault victims commonly struggle with emotional repercussions such as: Feelings of no self-worth, denial, crying spells, paranoia, helplessness, loneliness, shame, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, numbness, withdrawal, depression, fear of relationships and intimacy, and more. 
The findings of a national study of 958 patients sexually abused by their therapist suggested that 90% were harmed and of those, only 17% recovered. About 14% of those who had been sexually involved with a therapist attempted suicide. 
Women are the usual targets of sexual assault, but men and children of both sexes have been attacked in the name of therapy.
A person seeking help is already in a fragile state and may already feel victimized by their situation. To add a sexual attack is heartless, cruel, and blatantly wrong no matter how these activities are justified.
The prevalence of such behavior has prompted laws in some states prohibiting any sexual contact between practitioner and patient. CCHR has long pushed for uniform state laws prohibiting mental health practitioners from engaging in sexual relations of any sort with a patient, making it not only a gross violation of medical ethics, but also illegal.
Colorado is one of the several states that specifies that “consent” is not a valid defense. The state takes the position that the psychiatrist is in a position of overpowering influence and trust. Therefore, a patient cannot consent to sexual relations with a therapist and ANY sexual contact is considered a “boundary violation” and is illegal, even if initiated by the patient.
A report in Annals of Health Law said that when sexual contact occurs in a psychotherapeutic setting, it is not unusual for the patient to have been persuaded that it was a necessary and integral part of the therapy itself. 
In a therapeutic setting, such relationships by and large involve male practitioners assuming domineering roles to bring usually much younger female patients under their sway. Done under the guise of therapy or love and never to the patient’s benefit, a complaining or protesting patient need no longer be blamed for the seduction, experience shame and regret or be coerced into silence.
With the #MeToo movement shining an unprecedented spotlight on this complex societal issue, it is time to uncover the perpetrators of sexual abuse and bring them to justice.
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of sexual contact by a mental health worker, we want to talk to you. You can contact us by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence.
 Doctor Sexual Assault Cases: Capable Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers Fight for Justice,” https://www.beasleyfirm.com/medical-malpractice/doctor-sexual-assault/; Kenneth S. Pope, “Therapist-Patient Sex as Sex Abuse: Six Scientific, Professional, and Practical Dilemmas in Addressing Victimization and Rehabilitation,” https://kspope.com/sexiss/therapy1.php
 Clifton Perry, Joan Wallman Kuruc, “Psychotherapists’ Sexual Relationships with Their Patients,” Annals of Health Law, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 1993, https://lawecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.bing.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1356&context=annals
Did psychological treatment in the form of anger management fail to prevent another mass shooting?
Ahmad Alissa, charged in the shooting deaths of 10 people in a Boulder grocery store on March 22, received psychological anger management as part of his sentence of probation, after pleading guilty to a charge of misdemeanor third-degree assault in 2018. As a high school senior in 2017, Alissa had attacked a classmate by punching him in the head without warning and continuing to punch him when he fell to the ground.
Alissa is now being held in Boulder County jail on 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. Police found him at the scene of the slaughter with a tactical vest, a semiautomatic handgun and an assault rifle, according to the arrest affidavit.
Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold also received psychological treatment. After being arrested for breaking into a van and stealing electronic equipment in 1998, both spent 11 months in diversion programs, which included psychological counseling. Harris’s program also included an anger management class.
Just two months after Harris and Klebold completed their diversion programs, they launched their attack at Columbine High School in April 1999, killing 13 people and wounding 26 others.
Documents later released by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office included a diary kept by Harris, filled with hateful and angry entries written over the two years leading up to the Columbine attack.
In an entry dated November 22, 1998 – just days after completing his anger management class and while his counseling was ongoing, Harris wrote about purchasing weapons and ammunition for the assault he would launch with Klebold the following April, concluding: “It’s all over now, this capped it off, the point of no return.”
Harris had also been taking antidepressants for at least a year before the Columbine massacre, drugs which have been linked to agitation, aggression, abnormal behavior, mania, psychosis, suicide and violence. Psychiatrist Peter Breggin and biopsychologist Ann Tracy are among those who make the case that Harris’s anger was fueled by the antidepressants.
Two Colorado psychiatrists had their licenses put on five years’ probation by the Colorado Medical Board for unprofessional conduct under the state Medical Practice Act.
The disciplinary action taken against psychiatrist Thomas William Starkey, Jr., of Denver, is the result of his violation of an earlier agreement with the Board. After pleading guilty to driving under the influence, Starkey signed a July 2019 agreement with the Board to stop performing any act requiring a medical license, while the Board investigated and determined what further actions, if any, were warranted.
The Board then found that between July and October 2019, Starkey authorized his office staff to continue distributing pre-written prescriptions for medications to patients, in violation of his agreement with the Board.
In its Final Agency Order, dated January 27, the Board states that Starkey has a physical or mental condition that renders him “unable to perform a medical service with reasonable skill and with safety to patients in the absence of treatment monitoring” and that he “habitually or excessively used or abused alcohol, a habit-forming drug, or a controlled substance.”
In addition to five years’ probation, the Board ordered Starkey’s abstinence from addictive substances, treatment as determined by the Colorado Physician Health Program, and compliance monitoring.
Starkey was previously disciplined with five years’ license probation in October 2010, after the Medical Board found that he crossed the boundaries of professional conduct with a female patient the same day he terminated treatment of her. He completed that probation in 2015.
Psychiatrist Andi Kristine Woodbury, of Pueblo, was disciplined by the Medical Board, effective January 8, with a Letter of Admonition and five years’ license probation and treatment monitoring for violating a section of the Medical Practice Act concerned with failing to notify the Board of certain physical or mental conditions, or failing to practice within the limitations of those conditions with safety to patients, or failing to comply with limitations agreed to under any confidential agreement.
Woodbury’s specific act or omission that prompted the Board’s disciplinary action was not further detailed, but it follows the March 2020 voluntary surrender of her clinical privileges during an investigation of her professional competence and conduct at the medical facility at which she worked and a July 2020 evaluation by the Colorado Physician Health Program, which concluded she could practice safely if she received treatment and monitoring.