Old Wine in New Bottles – Remarketing ‘Depression’

Last year, I watched an interview on ABC News 24 informing us about a “new theory on the cause of depression”. This is that it is caused, not by a “chemical imbalance” but by inflammation in the nervous system (notably the brain). This is being presented as an alternative to the “serotonin theory of depression” that was used to justify the presciption of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) drugs, beginning with Prozac in 1987.

I have been watching and analysing the changing hype for many years. When I worked as a family doctor, the drug companies were claiming that depression was caused by a chemical imbalance in the neurotransmitter noradrenaline, not the indole amine serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine). This was because the market leaders in the “depression market” were the toxic and ineffective “tricyclic antidepressants” which were developed in the 1950s and were the mainstay of depression treatment till they were replaced by the SSRIs in the 1990s. Tricyclics were known to affect noradrenaline (norepinephrine) levels in the brain.

The psychiatrist interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) defended the “chemical imbalance theory” that has been such a successful marketing catchphrase for the drug companies but admitted that the SSRI’s don’t work for everyone and that “we don’t know” why some people with depression have disordered serotonin metabolism and others don’t. As usual, she explained that they needed more money for research to get the answers.

Dr Liz Scott, for that was her name, also agreed that the new theory was plausible, pointing to the fact that stress affects the immune system. She didn’t explain how stress, which usually depresses the immune system, is responsible for this inflammation, or why there is no evidence of such inflammation in the brains of depressed people who commit suicide. At the same time it is known that chronic illness of many types causes unhappiness and “depression”, including viral, bacterial and fungal infections, kidney and heart disease, cancer and chronic arthritis. Forced psychiatric treatment (especially incarceration) is an important cause of stress that Dr Liz Scott did not mention, predictably. Many other things cause unhappiness, and unhappiness has long been termed “depression” by the medical treatment industry, rejecting the older term of melancholia (thought to be due to a preponderance of black bile, one of the four humours of Galenic medicine).

In the 1960s American “experimental psychologists” of the “Behaviorist School” did a series of cruel experiments on baby chimpanzees, which demonstrated, as if there was need for it, that primates (as well as cats, dogs and even rats) pine away and become morose and depressed when they are deliberately made lonely and deprived of social activity and the comfort of others. This was heralded as a “discovery”.

Prozac was released with much hype, including a flurry of books in the “popular science” press, especially by Rupert Murdoch’s Harper-Collins publishers. These promoted Prozac for a range of medical and psychiatric conditions beyond depression, and resulted in profits of 3 billion for Eli Lilly. The other major drug companies followed suit, releasing and marketing (including bribing doctors to prescribe) a growing range of alternative SSRIs.

Eli Lilly have a long history of research into psychedelic drugs and psychoactive drugs that affect the serotonin receptors and pathways in the brain. In the 1960s they bought the rights to LSD (or ‘acid’) from the Swiss company (Sandoz) that had developed it. It was known that LSD could cause “schizophrenia-like” psychotic episodes, according to the psychiatric terminology of the time. This terminology dates back to 1909, when the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler coined the term “schizophrenia” and promoted its use for what his colleague Emil Kraepelin of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, known as the “Father of Psychiatric Classification”, had termed “dementia praecox” (adolescent dementia).

Bleuler argued that Kraepelin, in Germany was too pessimistic and that a third of his patients in the Swiss Burgholzli asylum recovered and were discharged from hospital. Kraepelin had taught, for many years, that any young person who “heard voices” was eventually destined to die of dementia (terminal mental degeneration) in a lunatic asylum.

German psychiatry became more brutal under the Nazis when patients with “schizophrenia”, “cyclical madness” (manic depression or bipolar disorder) and “personality disorder”, who had been populating the long-term mental asylum wards, were prescribed “euthanasia” – meaning “good” or “mercy killing”. Needless to say this included political enemies of the regime, since it has long been the case that enemies of the state or ruling regime get branded as mad. The same label of schizophrenia was also used in the Soviet Union to justify locking up and drugging, with chemical restraints, social and political dissidents.

In fact, chemicals do have a lot of effect on human thinking and behaviour, as the well-known effects of alcohol and drunkenness demonstates. To understand the hidden crime of “antipsychotic drugs”, and “antidepressants” one needs to know a few basics about catecholamine and indole amine neiurotransmitters and neurohormones.

Neurotransmitters are small molecules that bind to cell membranes of the nerve cells (neurones) in the brain and nervous system, stimulating or inhibiting “action potentials” or electrical impulses that pulse or vibrate in a constant, complex network through the nervous system. There are many different receptors for the same neurotransmitter – for example there are D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5 receptors in different parts of the brain. This results in the same chemical neurotransmitter having different effects depending on the type of receptor on the effector cell.

This science lies behind the efforts, over many decades, to find antipsychotic drugs that did not cause stiffness, dribbling and uncontrollable writhing movements of the face and limbs (Tardive Dyskinesia) which crippled so many of the long-term inmates of mental hospitals in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, when the main drugs that were used were Largactil (Thorazine), Haldol (haloperidol), Stelazine and Modecate. Thousands were crippled and still are, by these horrible drugs – both in the communist and the capitalist nations. The main “indications” were “schizophrenia”, “mania” and “schizoaffective disorder”, though they were also used as chemical restraints in elderly people diagnosed with dementia, a particularly cruel form of elder abuse that was prevalent in the more abusive nursing homes in Australia.

It is important to realise that the neurotransmitters in the brain are in constant dynamic flux. Every emotion or action results in chemical changes. When one listens to music the chemicals in the brain change. When one does for a walk, the chemicals change. When one gets excited, or relaxes, the chemical balance changes. Some neurotransmitters increase and some decrease in activity, made more complex by the fact that different cells have different neurotransmitter receptors, affecting how they respond to them. It been demonstrated that the successful completion of tasks results in measurable increase in serotonin levels.

Chemical imbalance theories make a lot of money for companies selling chemicals (drugs/medications). Millions of dollars are spent on promoting various chemical imbalance theories and the drugs that affect these chemicals. The dopamine theory of schizophrenia and the serotonin theory of depression were used to market dopamine-blocking “antipsychotic drugs” and SSRI “antidepressants” respectively. Despite numerous people demonstrating the fallacy of the different chemical imbalance theories, opponents are up against a multi-billion-dollar industry that is profit-driven and stands to profit from repeating the theories without mentioning the opposition to them.

Don’t believe the hype.

The LTTE’s Crimes (as they come to mind)

I note that the TGTE (Transnational ‘Government’ of Tamil Eelam) is still flying the LTTE (Tamil Tiger) flag as it calls for another rigged “referendum”. They are having a “public forum” on this in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto in Canada at which my father, Brian Senewiratne, is speaking later today. Scarborough has the highest concentration of Sri Lankan Tamils outside Sri Lanka, and my father is seeking to radicalise more youth and “convert them” (his words) to the separatist cause, as has been his mission for many years. He has also been trying to get support for a referendum regarding who should lead the Tamils since 2009, while rejecting the elected representatives of the Tamil Sri Lankan citizens.

In March 2009, Brian Senewiratne gave a speech to a fanatical LTTE-supporting crowd in Sydney in which he shouted through a megaphone, at night, outside the Prime Minister’s residence, “Who will negotiate on behalf of the Tamil people? It can’t be Karuna – he’s a murderer. It can’t be Pillayan. No, it’s got to be the LTTE, the LEGITIMATE representatives of the Tamil people, and if there’s any doubt about that can we have a REFERENDUM in the north and east to ask the Tamil people not with a gun in their – your – hand, to ask the Tamil people whether they support the LTTE or any other breakway group and you’ll find that 99.9% support the LTTE because they were the ONLY ones to lay down their lives for our people”.

In 2010 Brian Senewiratne wrote an article for TamilNet after being invited by the Tiger-supporting website to comment on the TGTE’s last rigged referendum. It was titled “Real War Is Just Beginning – Get Involved”.

While everyone else was celebrating peace and working for reconciliation, my war-mongering father was calling for the Tamil people to give his organization (the TGTE) more money to pay lawyers to prepare vexatious legal action against the Sri Lankan leaders who defeated the LTTE.

This is one of the comments I have left on the TGTE Media Youtube page yesterday:

The LTTE is responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Their known crimes include, as they come to mind:
1. Murder of Mayor Alfred Duraiappah (1975)
2. Murder of numerous Tamil political leaders including Amirthalingam and Lakshman Kadirgamar (1975-2006)
3. Murder of Dr Rajini Thirinagama (1990)
4. ‘Ethnic cleansing’ of Muslims in Jaffna
5. Targeting Sinhalese civilians in villages, buses and trains
6. Bombing the Central Bank in Colombo
7. Bombing the Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) in Kandy
8. Attacking a Buddhist shrine in Anuradhapura killing several child monks
9. Using Tamil civilians as a “human shield” in 1995 and again in 2008 and 2009
10. Torture of dissidents against LTTE rule
11. Neglect of the education, health and other needs of Tamil civilians under their rule
12. Black and grey propaganda
13. Extortion of the expatriate Tamils
14. Persecuting opponents of the LTTE in many countries, including Australia
15. Brainwashing Tamil youth into militarism and suicide
16. Bank robberies
17. Credit card fraud
18. Gang warfare (against other Tamil youth gangs)
19. Starting a war (which is a war crime)

One can add:

20. Conscripting child soldiers
21, Abducting children and making them fight
22. Programming youth to commit suicide with cyanide
23. Programming suicide bombers
24. Developing new suicide bomber technology (“suicide vests”)
25. Drug smuggling
26. People smuggling
27. Murder of President Ranasinghe Premadasa and numerous other Sri Lankan politicians
28. Murder of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi

and other crimes….

After the war ended in May 2009, the UN Spokesman Gordon Weiss appeared on Australian TV and said that all the LTTE leadersip had been killed or captured at the end of the war. This was not true. The Tamil Tiger leadership was and is an international organization with a complex, informal structure. This structure has remained active after the war and leads the efforts to take vexatious legal action against the Sri Lankan milittary leaders (notably Lt. Col. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka) that led the war against the LTTE. My father, Brian Senewiratne, has led this campaign, and arranged for the TGTE to employ the Australian-British barrister Geoffrey Robertson to prepare the case. Robertson agreed to do so, but his services were not pro bono. Brian Senewiratne appealed to the Tamil expatriates, who he believes to have deep pockets, to fund this “expert legal opinion”. Now it’s all falling apart, and the expatriate Tamils are showing less and less interest in the TGTE and their shenanigans.

Reality TV (protest song)

 

The ‘Green Guide’ told us to watch the TV

It claimed that we would finally see reality.

Under the impression that truth is not a digression

I had to ask the question

As to why the strange things I saw that night

Were advertised as real and right

So I waited for the commercial break

To lose my concentration

As my attention wandered away

From the packet filled with cornflakes on the screen

To reality as it has been

From the cornflakes on the screen

To reality as it has been

 

So I looked out of my window

And saw that things were good –

The tree that I had planted

Was still standing where it should;

I thought it seemed real enough

I didn’t need to check

I saw a purple flower

But in the shade it looked black.

 

Then I looked up at the sky

Where the moon had been last night

The moon had gone and in its place

Was a glowing ball of light

A glowing ball of light

 

“Could this be real?” I wondered

As I looked on with delight

As the cotton clouds changed shape

To form a white dove bird in flight

But I knew that it was only a cloud I knew it was the sky

I didn’t wave my arms about

Thinking that I could fly!

 

I didn’t watch the box that night

To tell me what is wrong and what is right

But ‘reality’ blazed its bizarre beams

Into other minds and other brains

And I wonder how many were sane

With ‘reality TV’ in their brains

I wonder how many were sane

With ‘reality TV’ in their brains.

 

(words and music by Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam, copyright 2004)

With One Voice “Peace” (protest song)

words and music by Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam Arya Chakravarti, 2004

recorded in 2006

 

WITH ONE VOICE ‘PEACE’

 

Looking at the sunshine

But kept in the dark

The weatherman said it would be fine

Another glossy, casual remark

‘Cause a new war looms and we’ve seen it all before

A new war looms and we’ve seen it all before

 

The TV talks up the conflict again

It showed the friendly soldiers and some were weeping

It slowed the lonely viewers already sleeping

Said the special correspondent ‘the soldiers are despondent’

This time the administration has acted without consent

And its time to voice some real dissent

 

‘Cause a new war looms and we’ve seen it all before

A new war looms and we’ve seen it all before

 

No longer hypnotised by lies

The masses mobilized

To stop the growth of arms in the skies

The masses have been mobilized

 

They dance and march and wave placards

The poets and the singing bards

They say with one voice “No War!”

They say with one voice “Peace!”

They say with one voice “Peace!”

 

Somebody Else’s War (Protest Song)

SOMEBODY ELSE’S WAR

words and music by Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam Arya Chakravarti

 

They point ahead and their whisper in our ears

They say they’ll show their grand illusion here

Their plan to make the whole world ‘true’

The new world they were born to rule

They point ahead but they tell us to stand here

They point ahead but they tell us to stand here

 

They never try to hide

With blinkered eyes they ride

While there in every land

Are scheming men with plans

 

Fighting in somebody else’s war

What’s right what’s wrong and what’s the law

Familiar rooms and shady deals

Secret handshakes with official seals

They’re fighting in somebody’s corridor

 

So tell me why is it so that their eyes never show

A simple sign of interest, don’t tell me that they do their best

So what do you think that their next crime will be

Another bomb in the Middle East, they put it to the test

 

So battle done, wars been won

The lights come on but the dark is here to stay

And everyone can have a say

And it’s so easy now If we don’t all get blown away

Everyone can have a say

And it’s so easy now, if we don’t all get blown away.

 

Composed in 1989

Recorded in 2006

And still not blown up.

 

Debating Psychiatry with the PA Hospital

 

This is a debate from two years ago (February 2016) between me and Nigel Lewin, an English psychiatric nurse from the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital.

Nigel had been appointed my ‘case manager’ and I was being made a “medical case” and “mental case” by my medical colleagues at the hospital that empoyed my father from 1976, when my family migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka. I was 15 then and remember staying in a house on the grounds of the hospital when we first arrived. Later, I avoided the hospital where my father and sister worked, and had a poor opinion of it, reinforced by my father’s claims (for which he was eventually sacked) that the hospital was “in chaos”. This was in 2001 and he got me locked up at the “chaotic” hospital (in his own written opinion) in 2002. In fact, he got me locked up 5 times in 4 months, culminating in my rib and finger being broken by security guards and male “nurses” immobilising me so that I could be injected with a drug called Zuclopenthixol, a treatment for ‘schizophrenia’ and other ‘psychotic disorders’

I began my debate with Nigel by asking him what he thought about “Psychotic Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified”, the label the hospital was trying to pin on me at the time, after revising the diagnosis from one of schizophrenia. Now, under the treatment of Jumoke Banjo (from Nigeria) and Ghazala Watt (from Pakistan) the diagnosis has been changed back to “paranoid schizophrenia”. Nigel Lewin has now gone on long service leave and a new case manager, an Indian man by the name of Raghy Raman, has been appointed. Raghy has expressed the opinion that the leader of the Tamil Tigers, Vellupillai Prabakaran was an “activist” rather than a terrorist, and described me as having “elevated speech” when I debated with him about the Tamil Tigers. In response to this, the psychiatrist Ghazala Watt increased the dose of depot antipsychotic she has abusively ordered.