Mary Weiss's handsome son Mark died in 2004 in Minnesota in a half way house while enrolled in a Seroquel drug trial against his mother's wishes. He had stabbed himself to death in the bathtub using a box cutter. Being enrolled in the drug trial was a condition of his release from the hospital.
The public labors under a false belief that forced medication somehow protects both the patient and others from the carnage that was witnessed in Tuscon last month. Since the truth surrounding drug efficacy and treatment is so hidden from the public, it appears that the real reason behind forced medication in many instances is to help the drug companies and universities to grow their business, shielded from public scrutiny. It may be the only reason, for all I know. What do any of us know from personal experience when it comes to the shenanigans behind these treatment programs?
Mary Weiss finally wrote to Charles Schulz, the head psychiatrist of the program, after receiving no replies to her earlier telephone calls to Mark's doctors.
It wasn't until April 28, after Weiss's third letter, that she received a cursory response, in which Schulz wrote, "it was not clear to me how you thought the treatment team should deal with this issue."
Mary Weiss was new to what a diagnosis of schizophrenia when it comes to treatment actually means. How would she have known the kind of treatment her son needed since it is not available in most institutions and has been actively prevented from becoming widespread? She knew that the drugs were not helping him and only making him worse. If psychiatry were doing its job it would have made the kind of treatment her son needed the norm. Psychiatric survivors have been saying for years how best to treat mental distress but they are ignored by the medical profession. Schulz is hiding behind an uncontestable norm in modern psychiatry. Where it gets tricky for him, as it is for so many other psychiatrists, is that he is on record as receiving funding from AstraZeneca to conduct his research. Mother Jones magazine reported earlier that the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota receives $15,000 for every patient enrolled in these trials.
For his part, Schulz says he's done nothing wrong, and maintains that he hasn't violated any U of M policies. The FDA, state Attorney General's Office, and the U of M's Internal Review Board all found no link between Markingson's suicide and the CAFE study. Schulz also points out that he started looking into quetiapine before it was even branded as Seroquel by AstraZeneca.
The link between Mark's suicide and the CAFE study is obvious. The patient wasn't being helped and his mother's pleas that he was getting worse fell on deaf ears. There is a plethora of historical information that says that the drugs don't work. Instead of helping Mark, a human being, like so many psychiatrists Schulz was choosing to help pharma reposition an existing product. If Mark had been given intense psychotherapy, minimal to no drugs with no strings attached, and other interventions such as I write about on my blog, chances are good that the outcome would have been different. Mainstream psychiatry has long known about, and rejected Soteria, but that's the kind of help that Mary Weiss's son needed. Today, the Finnish program Open Dialogue looks promising.
"I haven't been particularly focused on quetiapine, in my opinion, but on the best ways to help schizophrenic people," Schulz wrote in an email.
Psychiatrists know there are better ways to help "schizophrenic people" but that's not where the money is.
Thanks to Stephany at Soulful Sepulcher for alerting me to this evolving story, which was originally published in CityPages.