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A Good Man Fallen Among Falun Gong: Dr. Peter Breggin

The foremost critic of Prozac from the time it hit the market in 1988 has been Peter Breggin, MD. Appearing as an expert witness on behalf of plaintiffs harmed by SSRIs, he has cost the drug companies many millions of dollars over the years. Their efforts to slander him have been relentless, starting with the charge that he was a Scientologist. He never was, but when I interviewed him in 1994, he said that his wife was an ex-member. “These cults attract many people who sincerely want to change the world,” he hastened to explain. Breggin’s masterpiece, ”Toxic Psychiatry,” published by St. Martin’s in 1991, is dedicated to Ginger “for helping me to love and to understand life.” The subtitle sums up Breggin’s humane approach to helping troubled people: “Why therapy, empathy, and love must replace the drugs, electroshock and biochemical theories of the ‘new psychiatry’.”

Peter and Ginger Ross Breggin are co-authors of a book they published in 2021, Covid-19 and the Global Predators: We are the Prey. Going online to obtain a copy, I was struck by an odd expression that seemed ominous:

Because people use various euphemisms for “died,” and because Breggin was born in 1936, and because I’m a worrier, I feared the worst. I emailed, asking “Does ‘has been called’ mean that Dr. Breggin has died? Devastating news! I got to know and greatly admire him when I was covering the marketing-of-Prozac story in the ’90s.” 

A reply came from an assistant to the Breggins named Missy Bower: “I wanted to put your mind at ease, no Dr. Breggin has not passed.”I requested a review copy of the book and started receiving videoed “Breggin Alerts.” I watched one in which humble, sweet Dr. Breggin was being educated by a fast-talking rightwing journalist named Alex Newman. Breggin told us viewers that Newman was very brilliant and that he wrote for “the best newspaper in America... The Epoch Times.”I hope the Breggins send a copy of their Covid-19 book. They’ve already sold 62,000 copies, according to the site. I expect they’ve got the goods on the vaccine manufacturers, their handmaidens at NIH, FDA, CDC, et al, and the nefarious plans of the global elites. But how much of the other stuff will it be piled under?

The ‘Opinion’ Section

On July 17 the Sunday New York Times included an “Opinion” section. It replaces “Review,” which replaced “The News of the Week in Review,” which was launched during World War 2. (Opinion costs less than News, but it’s not as filling.) The editor who came up with the original review-of-the-news concept was James Aronson, a leftist who lost his job after the war. In 1948 Aronson and Jack MacManus, another Newspaper Guild leader, and a British film critic named Cederic Belfrage produced a lively leftwing weekly called the National Guardian. In the early ‘60s The Guardian ran dispatches from Vietnam by Wilfred Burchett that alerted us to the growing number of US Special Forces “advisors” upholding the corrupt, widely despised regime in Saigon. 

Jim Aronson must be turning over in his grave. The entire front page of the Opinion section was given over to a computer-generated blob of light blue, pink and yellow announcing a story about “psychedelics that treat depression.” Not only was the full-page blob a waste of space (and probably toxic ink), but the following 11 pages of essays were set in type packed tight and seemingly smaller than the type usually used in the Times. By cutting the blob in half they could have made these pieces easier to read. But no... The art director rules, not the writers. He or she or they reprised the blob to illustrate the featured story, ”Can Psychedelics Heal Depression Without Trips?” by Dana G. Smith, a science writer “and former psychological researcher.” 

The headline implies that psychedelics can definitely “heal depression” with trips, but it’s uncertain whether milder doses or different formulations that don’t bring on hallucinations might also be effective. The hed is misleading but it accurately reflects the misleading story.

Smith’s lede describes the bizarre, unpleasant visions of a patient named Fernandez “tripping on a very large dose of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms... Whether hallucinations like the ones Mr. Fernandez experienced are key to psychedelics’ effectiveness is now a question of great debate among researchers. The answer could determine whether millions of people receive much-needed treatment, and it could provide new insight into how mental health disorders are treated going forward.”

Psilocybin “is expected to receive approval for depression from the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the decade, possibly in the next few years.” Capital-S science advances fastest when big profits loom. 

A UC Davis professor named David Olson believes, according to Smith, that “psychedelics’ effects on the brain are what give them their therapeutic properties, not the trip they take people on, and that the subjective experience of the drugs can be removed while their impact on depression remains. Research conducted in rodents and petri dishes over the past few years suggests this may be possible. Several studies published by Dr. Olson and others have identified new molecules that act like psychedelics in the brain and maintain their antidepressant properties without causing rodents to hallucinate.” Olson’s paper undoubtedly explains how he could determine the rodents’ mental state, but Smith doesn’t share the info. 

“Other researchers are skeptical that these new compounds will work in humans. To them, the powerful emotional and mystical experiences caused by psychedelics are what lead to people’s therapeutic breakthroughs...” It’s a false either/or. Mind-blowing psychedelics can be marketed for people seeking a big, dramatic transformation. Low-dose formulations can be sold to the much larger cohort seeking a mild, anti-depressant effect, i.e., the masses.

Smith, the science writer: “Like traditional antidepressants, psychedelics are thought to confer their therapeutic benefits by inducing plasticity in the brain. But they work much faster and more intensely. Ketamine, psilocybin and LSD stimulate prolific cell growth and provide psychological relief within a matter of hours. Psychedelics... might act like a shortcut. Some people refer to psychedelic treatment as being like 10 years of therapy in a day.” 

The more dramatic the effect of the drug, the greater the need for a therapist standing by. As Smith explains, “some researchers caution that plasticity by itself isn’t necessarily a good thing. Putting the brain in a malleable state without proper guardrails could even cause someone’s symptoms to worsen. That concern is one reason taking psychedelics in a recreational setting is not the same as using them in combination with therapy, experts say.” An expert is cited – Robin Carhart-Harris, a UCSF professor of neurology and psychiatry. She reminds Smith that increasing plasticity “could shape someone in a bad direction. You don’t want to do that. That’s why we do psychedelic therapy.” 

Smith, the shill: “an estimated 8.9 million adults take antidepressants to treat major depressive disorder, but for approximately 30 percent of them, the medications don’t work. If psychedelics were effective for even a fraction of these individuals, it would be an enormous boon for behavioral health, and the psychedelic industry. Already, more than 50 publicly traded companies have popped up to try to capitalize on the enthusiasm around psychedelics, transforming the drugs from a fringe movement to a billion-dollar market. And that’s without FDA approval or legalization. If the effectiveness of psychedelics for depression were maintained but the hurdles and hallucinations were removed, that valuation could explode.”

Cassandra foresees: Some of the gamblers will rake it in and the shrinks will get the vigorish. 

‘Ghosted’

There was another, more succinct pop-psychology piece in the Times last Sunday, “How to Recover From Being Ghosted” by Malia Wollan. Being ghosted means being suddenly ignored without explanation. I read the piece with interest because it happened to me about two months ago. 

Wollan’s source is Gili Freedman, as “an assistant professor of psychology at St. Mary’s College in Maryland who studies social rejection.” Freedman’s research shows that “about 23 percent of people say they’ve been ghosted by a romantic partner, and 39 percent say they’ve been ghosted by a friend.” Her advice is, “You don’t have the control in this situation. You can never truly know what is happening in another human’s mind, so don’t try. Let go of your desire for an explanation.”

I’m one of the 39 percent, and I still desire an explanation.

Out of the blue I had gotten an email from Bea, a friend from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. She lives in downtown Manhattan and years go by without us having any contact. Bea attached an item about a new line of clothing featuring Angela Davis’s name and image. I emailed back an equivalent item about Jane Fonda endorsing a line of CBD products. I thought we were light-heartedly noting that famous lefties are now “monetizing” their lefty fame. Bea responded: “I love Jane Fonda!” 

I was glad to be back in touch with Bea because I needed to contact her expat ex-husband. I phoned to learn his whereabouts (and to confirm that he’s still above ground. And so it goes...) Her partner said that Bea would call back –she was out rowing on the Hudson. This drastically changed my image of 79-year-old Bea and of the Hudson as it flows past Greenwich Village. I’ve been away a long time from my native land. 

I emailed again and didn’t hear back from Bea. I remembered that she had been strongly anti-Communist and wondered if I’d offended her by bracketing beloved Jane and despised Angela. Would that be grounds for breaking off an olde acquaintance? I emailed once more to ask if that was the case, and included a lyric written long ago for someone else:

Maybe you never got my letter

maybe it’s just driftin’ about

maybe whoever said I’ll tell her you called

just spaced it out

I tell myself these things get through

nine time out of ten

But maybe you never got my letter

and I better sit down and write you again.

I heard you were lonesome

then I heard you were in France

I ran into your ex-old-man

at a SoHo dance

And he said he always thought of me

and you as... friends

But maybe you never got my letter

and I better sit down and write you again.

All I’m asking’ for is a wee, simple reply

Not some journalist who what where when and why.

Maybe I oughta get worried about you

maybe your health has failed

maybe your ship has sailed

out over the edge of time

God knows I been tryin’ to read you

since way back when

but maybe you never got my letter

and I better sit down and write you again.

No response. I’d been ghosted but didn’t know it. I thought I’d only been snubbed. Will psilocybin enable me to see the whole experience in a different light? How many grams? 

2 Comments

  1. Eric Sunswheat July 25, 2022

    Just as well that past County of Mendocino CEO and her co-conspirator shredder, pissed off the Measure B Mental Health sales tax funds. It was all a joke.

    The existing legal psychiatric science treatment methodology was a farce, and viable non sanctioned emerging credible methodology research success was being fast tracked for implementation through academic review, revised peer publications and university specialized courses of study.

    This new methodology, or in essence a return to natural heritage, was repeatedly documented at theava.com in Leave a Reply responses available for public review.

    At any time we can return to the future with the ongoing County sales tax revenue targeted towards mental health.

    As an aside, amazing how many species of culinary certified organic mushrooms with nutritional health benefits, are now available for purchase from local produce sources.

    Psilocybin may not be far behind, as a psychological chelator, to make the quantum shift to substantially give up fossil fuels combustion and save the planet for humans, and spectrum of living creatures.

    It’s not an easy trip we are on.

  2. Paul Modic July 30, 2022

    Hey Elder Statesman, Geezer Gazette division
    Looking at the masthead of the GG it just occurred to me that McDonald is gone and that I haven’t seen any of his stuff recently.
    I thought it was kind of chickenshit when he threatened to stop contributing if Bruce endorsed Redding and was surprised when Bruce halfway backed down.
    So did Mac jump or was he pushed out the first floor window of the mighty GG?

    By the way when a good friend sort of ghosts you what to do? Here was my response recently:

    What's The Deal Bro?
    I think an old friend lied to me the other day: I saw him on the street and asked if he was okay because he had been ignoring me, rarely answering or returning my calls, and never just stopping by anymore. I was wondering if it was me, something about me, or was he going through some issues, like dealing or not dealing with his possible drinking problem?
    It reminded me of a few years ago when I asked him why he never invited me to any parties he was going to and after badgering him for an answer he admitted that it was because I might say some provocative or stupid shit and embarrass him. I guess I was a walking talking faux-pas and maybe still am? (It reminds me of the word which describes someone who's not as funny as he thinks he is: obnoxious.) I always invited HIM to everything so it didn't seem fair. Once I asked him what he thought my evil side was and he said the way I badger people to admit stuff about themselves.
    So I asked him again, “Are you okay? Is it me? Are you going through something? If you're tired of me just tell me why.” He said everything was fine with that winning smile and I believed him but then thought about it and a few days later decided to stop by his house to confront him, his day of reckoning would finally arrive.
    I was in his neighborhood out in the hills because I was picking up some fresh-baked bread and decided to bring him a loaf. I parked by the gate but it was broken shut so I walked in a quarter mile and discovered he wasn't home, no car. I walked up the hill with a loaf of wood-fired raisin bread, found his door locked, and within a few seconds discovered the key under a nearby tin can. I let myself in to leave the bread safely inside.
    That's when I knew he was lying: the house was a cluttered bachelor disaster. Can anyone with a scene like that be happy or serene? When I lived in squalid dumps I was depressed and not trying though a messy house can also be a sign of intelligence and brilliance; he's definitely the former and maybe the latter.
    The floors and walls were unfinished, just bare plywood, and it would take a lot of energy and money he doesn't have to fix it up—I doubt his life's savings are more than a grand, if that. Recently I asked him if he wished he had grown more weed in the heyday and he answered, “Well, not like you.”
    He never liked the greed and paranoia associated with weed culture and you couldn't even call him a grower, he just wasn't into it like many artists and musicians who only grew a little to get by. He wouldn't even have his land if I hadn't lent him the money to buy it back in the eighties, he did finally pay me back about ten years later, interest-free of course.
    I took a look in his crowded fridge, put the loaf of bread on the counter, and fled the scene. Maybe it wasn't me—we all have problems.
    (Now it occurs to me that he's is a well-respected person with an active social life involved in multiple community projects while I may be an unfulfilled lump just trying to get a little attention while waiting for MY day of reckoning.)

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