Ethical Issues Related to Treatment Induced Harm (Part I)

Or:  Every resource available to get off psych meds

By Ron Unger on September 8, 2012

Many people come into the mental health system often after being betrayed and traumatized in a number of ways: too often, the mental health system ends up betraying these people again, causing more harm than help. I believe the system has been too slow to respond to criticism, and to take seriously all the ways it can cause harm and how things could be changed to reduce harm.

Anyone interested in such issues may want to check out some of the resources listed below. I developed this list for some seminars I am currently presenting (along with Pam Birrell PhD) – we just finished presenting to a good group of 62 people in Eugene Oregon yesterday, and will be presenting in Portland Oregon on 9/14/12, more at I also hope to make this into a webinar, with ethics CEUs for professionals, by next spring.

The resource list for the seminar:

Many of the articles listed below are available for free at the included links.

Learn to think critically about psychiatric medications, while also earning up to 12 free CE credits, for free: (This site was funded through a settlement for drug company misbehavior.)

How to help people who might want to reduce or get off medications: One source is Ron Unger’s guide This source references a number of other sources which are written to be given directly to consumers, such as or the Coming Off Medications Guide – Second Edition – Or consider going to the seminar presented by Will Hall, the author of the Coming Off Medications Guide, Understanding Psychiatric Medications: A Harm Reduction Approach Sunday, October 21 2012 10:00 am – 5:00 pm in Portland OR.

One place to find out more about medications and risks that is professionally run but not drug company funded: This site offers the ability to search for a drug and see all the available data from FDA’s medwatch, organized in an easy-to-understand manner, with charts, graphs, leaflets, and other information that may not be available anywhere else, and it’s all free. A number of psychiatrists, including David Healy, are the creators of this site.

There are two sources in particular that you might want to check in on frequently to make sure you have access to critical information about biopsychiatric claims. One is Mad in America, a website organized by Robert Whitaker but also featuring many others, that includes both easy to read blog posts by a number of authors, plus references to the most recent research. Another is Eyes on Pharmaceutico-Industrial Complex Corruption which is a Facebook group that describes its purpose as “To be clear, this group is absolutely not anti-pharmacology. It is decidedly anti-pharmaceutical corruption, including perpetuation of pharma myths, concealing iatrogenic effects, under-representing and concealing side-effects, and exaggerating clinical efficacy.”

A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Drugs by psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff is a short, clearly written book that can help both professionals and lay people understand psychiatric drugs in a balanced way.

Pharmageddon – A book by psychiatrist David Healy, in which he documents step by step how drug companies increasingly market drugs of little or no real value which covering up evidence of serious harm. This is a problem not just in psychiatry but also in general medicine. For a couple articles discussing these problems in general medicine, see Anemia drugs made billions, but at what cost?andAll Routine PSA Tests for Prostate Cancer Should End, Task Force Says

Paula Kaplan’s site that goes into detail and tells stories about harm as a result of diagnosis, as well as proposes some solutions, is at

One thing that makes informed consent for medications difficult is the fact that people come in with lots of untrue expectations about the ability of professionals to really know what is wrong with them and what will safely fix it. Advocates Inc. developed an informed consent form that really addresses these issues, in a way that empowers the people receiving the medications while fully disclosing the limits of professional knowledge. You can access this form at Http://

Web article by Ron Unger, It’s Not Just the Drugs; Misinformation Used to Push Drugs Can Also Make Mental Problems Worse

Another web article by Ron Unger: How to reduce deaths associated with “anti-psychotic” medications:  This article examines how a deliberate campaign to rely on alternatives to antipsychotics where possible could likely prevent many deaths.  (To be continued)

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in activism, advocacy, American medical industry, Depression, drugs, Health Care, Inpatient psychiatry, Medical care, Mental Illness & Health, Pharmaceuticals and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ethical Issues Related to Treatment Induced Harm (Part I)

  1. Thank you for all the links. Very informative!

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