Most of us have been listening to the massive, round-the-clock press coverage of the latest mass shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas. Seemingly all the possible root causes of such a horrific act of violence have been raised and discussed. However, there is an elephant in the room, and it’s something that should be obvious in this age of the school shooter pandemic.
We should be outraged at the failure of the investigative journalists, the psychiatric professionals, the medical community and the military spokespersons who seem to be studiously avoiding the major factor that helps to explain these senseless acts. Why would someone unexpectedly, irrationally and randomly shoot up a school, a workplace or, in this case, an army post? Why would someone who used to be known as a seemingly rational person suddenly perpetrate a gruesome, irrational act of violence?
The answer to the question, as demonstrated again and again in so many of such recent acts of “senseless” violence, is brain- and behavior-altering drugs.
There are, of course, a multitude of personal factors, each of which could be responsible for tipping the troubled Army psychiatrist over the edge. This could include his religion and his ethnicity, which may have targeted him for ridicule in his Army community; his training as a soldier; his familiarity with firearms; his easy access to lethal weapons; his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his profession as a psychiatrist, which exposed him to many posttraumatic stress disordered soldiers (exposure to which is known to be capable of causing secondary PTSD in therapists).
The huge missing “elephant” is the high likelihood that Dr. Hasan was medicated with potent brain-altering psychiatric drugs. These would be drugs that Dr. Hasan had easy access to and which he was probably prescribing widely to his psychologically traumatized soldier-patients, unaware of the serious dangers to them or to himself. These popular, aggressively marketed, highly profitable drugs are known to cause a number of serious adverse effects including hostility, suicidality, sleep alteration, depression, mania and psychotic episodes, among many other psychotoxic and neurotoxic effects, including the potentially lethal “I don’t give a damn” attitude so common among adolescent users of antidepressant drugs.
Obviously, not everyone who takes these drugs commits such horrific crimes, but these drugs affect different people differently, and some have radically adverse side effects immediately, some come later, and it is impossible to predict who may have such a reaction.
Dr. Hasan may not have been aware that the major common denominator in the vast majority of the infamous “school shooters”, from Columbine shooter Eric Harris, to Red Lake shooter Jeff Wiese, to the Virginia Tech shooter Cho has been the use of prescription “antidepressant” drugs like Luvox, Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. But antidepressants aren’t the only culprits, and school shooters aren’t the only victims of the drugs (see www.ssristories.com for over 3,000 examples of similar stories about antidepressant drug-induced violent behaviors. Modern-day psychiatric drugs are notorious for causing people to numb down, to become indifferent to the suffering of others and themselves, to become manic, depressed, psychotic, irrational, impulsive, anorexic or demented. It is noteworthy that Fort Hood has been averaging ten suicides a month among military personnel.
The important new book, Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime, written by psychiatrist and scholar Grace E. Jackson, proves that every category of psychiatric drugs (antidepressants, tranquilizers/sedatives, psychostimulants, “mood stabilizers” and antipsychotics) is fully capable of causing both short-term and long-term brain damage, with serious neurodegenerative, behavior-altering and emotion-numbing effects. Jackson’s information is gleaned from the vast neuroscience and neurotoxicology journals, information which is almost never published in the mainstream medical literature that clinicians are likely to read.
Jackson’s book is a sobering revelation that will be unwelcome news to those industries that are “too big to fail”: mainstream psychiatry and the pharmaceutical companies. These two industries have been either ignorant of these realities or have been withholding the information, despite the fact that the neurotoxicology data has been published in basic neuroscience journals ever since the 1960s, when the chronic use of Thorazine and Haldol were proven unequivocally to cause brain damage in high percentages of users.
In addition to Dr. Jackson’s books (she also has written a powerful exposé of psychotropic drugs entitled Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs), Dr. Peter Breggin (www.breggin.com and www.icspp.org) has been writing frequently about the phenomenon of drug-induced mental ill health and drug-induced brain-damage for two decades. Breggin’s well-written, well-researched and well-documented books include Toxic Psychiatry; Your Drug May Be Your Problem; Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry; The Antidepressant Fact Book; Talking Back to Prozac; Talking Back to Ritalin; and the book most pertinent to the issue of psychotropic drug-induced mental dysfunction, Medication Madness: A Psychiatrist Exposes the Dangers of Mood-Altering Medications.
Dr. Breggin recently wrote an article about the Fort Hood shooting episode that was entitled "The Fort Hood Shooter: A Different Psychiatric Perspective." I have excerpted portions of Breggin’s article immediately below because Dr. Breggin has the wisdom and experience to speak authoritatively on the subject.
Breggin writes about the above-mentioned “elephant in the room”:
Some in the media have expressed surprise that a man whose profession is about caring would turn to violence. According to one theory, Dr. Hasan was driven to the breaking point by the stress of counseling returning soldiers and having to listen to their horrific stories. Totally false. Psychiatrists are no longer trained to listen to or to counsel their patients. Nor do they care to.
I've given seminars to the staff at both hospitals where Hasan was trained, Walter Reed in DC and the national military medical center in Bethesda, Maryland. The psychiatrists had no interest in anything except medicating their patients.
Modern psychiatry is not about counseling and empowering people. It's about controlling and suppressing them, and that's a dismal affair for patients and doctors alike. The armed forces have been taken in by the false claims of modern psychiatry.
By contrast, it's not depressing to do psychotherapy or counseling. As therapists, it's inspiring when people entrust their feelings and their life stories to us. There is no burn out when therapists feel concern and empathy for their patients and help them to find the strength and direction to reclaim their lives.
But being an ordinary [i.e., a psychiatric drug-dispensing] psychiatrist is deadly depressing. Psychiatrists routinely commit spiritual murder by disregarding and suppressing their patients' feelings and even their cognitive functions, making it impossible for them to conquer their emotional struggles. It's no wonder my colleagues have such high suicide and drug addiction rates.
The most recent data show that soldiers are being snowed under not only with antidepressants and tranquilizers, but increasingly with antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal, Zyprexa, Geodon and Seroquel. To cover up their own therapeutic impotence, psychiatrists chemically suppress our troops and push them back onto the front lines. That's the kind of poisonous psychiatry that Hasan was practicing....
To continue quoting from Dr. Breggin’s article:
Psychiatrists are notorious for treating themselves with psychiatric drugs. They have them freely available and they simply don't know anything different. The odds are that Dr. Hasan was self-medicating with antidepressants and tranquilizers that were causing his increasing disinhibition, at least in his pronouncements, until his final 'Allahu Akbar” before he began shooting.
In my book Medication Madness I describe dozens of cases that I have personally evaluated involving relatively normal individuals who committed murder, mayhem and suicide while taking psychiatric drugs, especially antidepressants and tranquilizers. One of these cases involves a psychiatrist who began by self-medicating himself, then came under another psychiatrist's care who continued to give him antidepressants, until he ended up in a manic state, assaulting a helpless woman. Before being driven mad by antidepressants, he was a relatively stable and highly accomplished doctor with no special inclination toward violence. These psychiatric drugs will have an even greater triggering effect on someone like Hasan who was already ideologically and psychologically primed to explode in violence.
Dr. Bart Billings is the founder and director of the premier International Combat Stress Conference, where I made a presentation last year. Dr. Billings, a retired colonel, is not surprised that Hasan's psychiatric colleagues failed to realize how crazy and ideologically menacing he had become. Dr. Billings confirms that army psychiatrists are nothing more than pill pushers who have no idea how to evaluate anyone's mental condition. He also agrees that it's criminal to prescribe psychiatric drugs to active duty soldiers, increasing the risk that they will break under stress and lose their self-control.
It's time for the army to reject the false promises and damaging effects of modern psychiatry, and to focus on psychological, educational and moral approaches that genuinely help soldiers to prepare for and to overcome the effects of combat stress.
Dr. Hasan’s case is a good example of murder/suicide. His behaviors in the days leading up to the event were compatible with suicidal intentions. He was emptying out his apartment, giving away his possessions and saying goodbye to friends and acquaintances, even though his date of deployment was days away. He knew he wasn’t coming back from his planned deed.
Even though his brain was not operating rationally, he knew that he would not get away with the murderous acts without getting shot, probably fatally. The phenomenon known as “suicide by cop” probably applies in this case. When humiliated, angry, hopeless and often suicidal, men decide that they need to get revenge against a person, a group or a culture that has been tormenting them unjustly, they often want to go out in a “blaze of glory," taking as many of their perceived tormentors as possible along with them. Ending their hopeless and despairing lives that way will ensure that they will be remembered as someone that wasn’t a nobody and wasn’t somebody deserving of disrespect and scorn.
Powerful forces will be operating behind the scenes at Fort Hood. Secrecy will prevail. There will be attempts to suppress important information about any drug use by Hasan or about the suicidality-inducing drugs he prescribed to his already psychologically-wounded soldiers. It is possible that the medical records will be sealed, claiming privacy concerns, as in the case of Columbine co-shooter Dylan Klebold. We need to demand a thorough, transparent investigation of all factors, especially those factors that may not be appreciated by the groups that would prefer a cover-up. The victims, both current and future ones, have a right to know the whole truth, if for no other reason than for society to be able to plan effective preventive strategies for the future.
Dr. Kohls is a Duluth, MN physician who practiced holistic (non-drug) mental health care in Duluth, MN until his retirement in 2008. He writes about war, peace, justice, mental health and nutrition and feels it is his professional duty to warn about some of the censored-out and taboo issues relating to those areas. Click here for various video interviews of related issues discussed by Dr. Kohls.
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This story was published on November 11, 2009.