The Best Books on Medical Treatments Gone Wrong

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May 23, 2022 | 12 Comments


  1. I don’t know if they are still around but there used to be mini books written to be read quite quickly, kept in a pocket to be read under the desk, passed around not expensive Could Samizdat publish accounts in mini books from contributers to the blog, like Spruce just for one example.

    • Great idea Susanne! Heather (Roberts) and I exchanged many emails trying to work out how we could get these stories out in printed form to warn others. That was before the days of Samizdat of course. Those ‘mini books’ are also great for those who have concentration issues and other problems that keep them away from reading. So often, the very ones who may well find themselves walking out of their doctor’s surgery with a prescription for one of these dreaded drugs. The message needs to be available to the many not the few.

  2. There’s a lot of weeping about, from books written and books unwritten, as there is such a number of tragedies all of which bear scrutiny.

    David Carmichael can make me feel weepy, as can Peter Gordon and Colleen Bell and Kristina Kaiser for enduring the pain of the trauma and neglect coming their way when tragedy struck.

    Nice choice from David with a couple of weeps.

    My particular favourite books are Children of the Cure, Prescription for Sorrow and Malcharist.

    There are a large number of books available but not many telling the personal tale like Dear Luise, which gives rise to bucketfuls of tears.

    David C is currently travelling across Canada giving presentations Know Your Drugs – I have seldom come across a more brave and courageous man.

    Peter G has told his story in his own films with particular interest into the harassment and bullying by his Royal College, which was shameful.

    Stephen O’Neill took his own life because of prescription drugs which his doctors refused to accept.

    Natalie, who could not weep for Natalie.

    Olly Roberts, carried along on RxISk by his devoted mother, Heather.

    And the hundreds of other people who have not written books.

    We will read and have our eyes pricked by these tales, but the people who should read all the books written and unwritten, are the very ones who will probably not read the books.

    Isn’t the main problem that the authors who write the books are being read by the informed, maimed and bereaved who will read the books and so have an avid audience to welcome them but the real problem is how to get an audience who are perhaps new to the game?

    What Doctor would want to read a book that casts them in a particularly bad light?

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your list of five books with us. I have read three of them and the one that affected me most, by far, was Jim Gottstein’s ‘The Zyprexa Papers’. The pace of this book is speedy – just the job for someone who can hardly put a book down once it’s caught me and this one certainly grabs from the first few words.
    It isn’t the speed of action nor the exceptionally realistic characters that really brings it to the top of the list for me though. Rather, it is that part – I musn’t say too much incase people haven’t read it yet – now, how shall I put it, that part where it’s ‘too late’. If you’ve read it, you’ll know which part I mean; if you haven’t read it then put it on your ‘must read’ list.
    I know exactly why it upset me so much – I spent weeks trying to make sure that we got answers for Shane before it was ‘too late’. David came along and saved the day. I keep wanting to re-read this book but I can’t bring myself round to doing so because it will, inevitably, take my mind back to darker times that I’m so glad that we were able to leave behind us. My best plan, I guess, is to pass it on to another reader.
    Your list, David, has come at just the right time. I am attempting to create an awareness of possible side effects of prescribed drugs within our Facebook group “Feeling Blue”. We now have over 70 members but, as far as we know, haven’t attracted anyone with prescribed drug problems or wishing to withdraw. We have just started to introduce the depth of dissatisfaction of the “Caring Services” felt, by the lack of being listened to and believed, within our withdrawal group by including parts of their stories in the posts. The hope is that reading these real life stories will awaken an interest in spreading the word a little wider. Your list can now be the start of a “suggested reading” list. A photo of a young DH has already appeared on a Feeling Blue post – not put there by me, I hasten to add, but by another who was absolutely “shocked” by David’s revelations when he appeared as our guest speaker in Prestatyn when we first started our Withdrawal Group. I wonder if her plan is to entice more members with this photo? It will certainly help to put a face to the person whose choice of books we will soon be recommending!

  4. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by [Patrick Radden Keefe]
    Audible sample

    Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty Kindle Edition
    by Patrick Radden Keefe (Author) Format: Kindle Edition

    Read with Our Free App

    Now on BBC Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week’
    The gripping and shocking story of three generations of the Sackler family and their roles in the stories of Valium, OxyContin and the opioid crisis.

    ‘Jaw-dropping . . . Beggars belief’ – Sunday Times

    The Sackler name adorns the walls of many storied institutions – Harvard; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Oxford; the Louvre. They are one of the richest families in the world, known for their lavish donations in the arts and the sciences. The source of the family fortune was vague, however, until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing Oxycontin, a blockbuster painkiller that was a catalyst for the opioid crisis – an international epidemic of drug addiction which has killed nearly half a million people.

    • This is certainly a key book. It has been widely praised. My hope with the list was to highlight equally good books that might not be as well known


      • It would provide an invaluable public health benefit were there to be an increased awareness of adverse drug reactions, especially with regard to akathisia, emotional blunting, disinhibition, and violence against self and/or others. This could be assisted were the BBC to serialise all the meticulously written books in the entire Samizdat series in a similar manner to Empire of Pain. Power, politics and ‘Mental Health” propaganda would be anticipated to make this impossible. I am currently compelled by Patrick D Hahn’s ‘Obedience Pills’. It would also be invaluable, to both patients and to prescribers, were these best-books on medical treatment gone wrong, to become widely read and debated.
        When I read this post I was haunted by the image of Dear Luise, the first book to afford a basic understanding of what had happened to leave our enchanting loved-one drug wrecked. As I looked, filled with sorrow, at the photograph of Luise, a quotation from Empire of Pain overwhelmed my thoughts:
        “Grief from the loss of a child is not a process. It is a lifelong weight upon the soul”.
        I understand that these were the words of a bereaved mother from California giving evidence to a Committee of The House of Representatives addressing the Opioid Epidemic.

        Now the world awakes to the further devastating school shooting in Texas. So many more families facing indescribable grief and sorrow, to be followed by a lifelong weight upon the soul.

        All those of us who gain strength from these posts and who share our comments in mutual support, will be asking: Was this akathisia related? What psychotropic drugs might (or might not) have contributed?

        Was this, at least in part, an adverse drug reaction mediated tragedy?

        As the political rhetoric rises to condemn ‘criminals and those seriously mentally ill’, is it too much to yearn for the akathisia question to be addressed in analysis of ‘The Motive?

  5. Any of Zekria Ibrahimi’s books are stunning reads. Hope they make the list Here’s one Quote – ‘For the truth is that the ‘mental health services’ are dangerously cynical, and are as barren, as hostile to life, as the surface of the Moon…’

    Soon on the Moon
    By Zekria Ibrahimi
    ISBN: 978-1-84991-299-0
    Published: 2010

    This is a play about fantasy and reality, about how the so- called delusions of a psychiatric patient can seem superior to the harshness of a community treatment order. The community treatment order is a recent alteration in the Mental Health Act, and allows medication to be imposed on a patient in the community.
    (I know I am repeating this – it needs to be repeated even though Zakria I wrote this book 22 years ago)
    .’For the truth is that the ‘mental health services’ are dangerously cynical, and are as barren, as hostile to life, as the surface of the Moon… ‘

    About the Author
    Zekria Ibrahimi (born in 1959) is defined by his schizophrenia. It first hit him long ago, in his late teens. He is fifty one years old now, grey and frail, almost a pensioner, and he does not always want to remember how, as an adolescent in the late 1970’s, he suddenly became afraid of everything surrounding him, and, worst of all, of himself. He would run around the countryside and knock at the doors of strangers because he feared the apocalypse was pursuing him … He would pick up rubbish outside in alleys and streets and hoard it in his not very palatial lodgings … He was always wandering away from home, searching for … what would never be found again … the straight route, the level way … He was a tramp, freezing during the nights in public toilets where he had various unsavoury insects as company on the cold concrete …

    There were years of pain when his schizophrenia became almost his only companion- albeit a sadistic one, punishing him even as he hugged it. Perhaps, to echo both R. D. Laing and Emily Dickinson, it is the entire globe, it is general society, that is truly insane. Schizophrenics simply burrow all too deeply under the surface. They reach the very core of the savage reality in us all. Most varnish over the anarchic truth within through the superficial sham paraded as ‘civilization’. Schizophrenics prefer to be uncomfortably honest barbarians.

    Eventually, after much psychotic shouting on Hammersmith Broadway, the hapless Zekria was confined at the Charing Cross unit in the West London Mental Health Trust. Following the unsafe unstable freedom of his schizophrenia, came the restrictions of Section 3. He would not have survived without the multi- racial compassion of the individual doctors and nurses in Charing Cross. Yet the overall SYSTEM remains an ogre of rules and restraints, and the INSTITUTION of psychiatry can be as cold and vicious as in the days of lobotomy and insulin shock.

    Now he is elderly, but still he muses about being locked up, drugged up, about how, with schizophrenia, the treatment can be worse than the disease…


    The play starts- and finishes- with a young psychiatric patient, Mary, receiving a depot injection as part of a Community Treatment Order from her staid middle aged nurse, Louise. Mary decides to abscond and go homeless, and, during her unhappy time on the streets, she meets a White Witch disguised as an elderly bag lady. The White Witch- Ting Tang- offers an alternative to the CTO- this alternative being adventure on the Moon. Mary is initially sceptical, but she is apparently taken to the Moon by magic. There, on the lunar surface, she meets a Moon Man, whom she calls Fred. He has (temporarily) freed himself from the serfdom, reinforced by mind- corrupting potions, of the tyrannical lunar Queen, whom Mary has been sent to the Moon to confront.

    Mary is then dragged back to Earth for a Managers’ Meeting to prolong the CTO another year; the Managers are as grey and forbidding as the Moon, and, alongside her consultant, Doctor Sly, and CPN Louise, consign Mary to yet more of the CTO.

    Returning to the Moon, Mary- with the Moon Man and the White Witch- arranges an appointment with the Queen through a lunar bureaucrat who is a very narrow individual. The threesome then meet the Queen at last. Fred eventually surrenders himself to the Queen out of fear. But Mary and the White Witch answer back to the point that the Queen collapses, a tyrant unable to withstand free debate. The Queen, for all her manifest pomp, is empty within

    The play alas ends with another depot injection. Mary’s insistence that she has been to the Moon has resulted only in an increase of the medication. Mary’s lunar trip may have been merely a delusion, but Mary’s cosmic dreams seem superior to the vicious reality of a Community Treatment Order.
    This is an interaction between a psychiatric nurse and a psychiatric patient in the community. Community is the all too appropriate word here, for this is a play about a community treatment order.
    The protagonist, Mary, believes that she is a Moon traveller, an extraterrestrial explorer, even as she is being tied down by a community treatment order. She is locked into a cruel struggle with her community psychiatric nurse, Louise. In the end, Mary cannot escape from her medication, from clopixol, from the depot injection. There is no magical solution that will allow her to evade the community treatment order.

    ”For the truth is that the ‘mental health services’ are dangerously cynical, and are as barren, as hostile to life, as the surface of the Moon…’

  6. The Evidence, However, is Clear…

    The Four, and then, Five, Panorama Programmes nobly addressed by Shelley Jofre are etched in Paroxetine and then Sertraline and then other drugs victims’ minds.

    “These killings would never have happened had it not been for the medication James Holmes had been prescribed.”

    And yet, GlaxoSmithKline got away with Paroxetine, they got away with Chinagate and numerous other serious offences.

    GlaxoSmithKline are a serial offender.

    How close they were in UK litigation, but not close enough.

    Bob Fiddaman wrote the book:

    The Evidence, However, Is Clear
    The Seroxat Scandal

    Published in 2011

    Amazon Customer

    Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 June 2018

     A truly horrendous scandal exposed

    Since Bob F wrote the book even more scandals have been exposed – see David Healy blog and Rxisk blog. It is a triumph that the truth is being published at last but with massive obstruction by the medical profession and drugs industry shamefully

    This is why Children of the Cure topped my list:

    Missing Data, Lost Lives and Antidepressants

    Study 329 has become the most famous clinical trial ever, leading to a fraud charge, a $3 billion fine, and a Black Box Warning

    Bob Fiddaman has written numerous blog posts over the years going in to scrutinising detail. He and Leonie Fennell even attended the Paxil Stewart Dolin litigation in Chicago and was again thoroughly reported.

    But GlaxoSmithKline are still alive and well; Andrew Witty and Patrick Vallance are Knighted and Fêted.

    Paroxetine deaths abounded.

    But the books have been written –

    Dear Luise

    You are far from alone…

  7. We’ve gotten these further recommendations from friends on Twitter:

    Hannah was Here, by Nancy Szakacsy — about her daughter’s death from D.R.E.S.S. Syndrome.

    Smoke and Mirrors: How you are being fooled about mental illness. By Chuck Ruby of ISEPP.

    The Power to Harm: mind, medicine and murder on trial, by John Cornwell.

    Let Them Eat Prozac, by David Healy.

    The Illusion of Evidence-Based Medicine, by Jon Jureidini & Leemon McHenry

    Evidence-Biased Antidepressant Prescription: Overmedicalization, flawed research and conflicts of interest, by Michael Hengartner.

    Pharmageddon, by David Healy.

  8. I would like to suggest that Gwen Olsen’s book ‘Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher’ should also have a mention here. I acknowledge that it isn’t about “harm” in the same way as many of the books already mentioned but it is a revelation inasmuch as it opens doors that many find difficult to believe hide so many secrets. There are other worthy ‘whistleblower’ books too but this is the one that sticks in my mind.
    I remember giving this to Shane’s CMHT care worker around 2015, at the very time when that particular worker, a social worker actually, was just beginning to believe that Shane’s problems were somehow linked to the drugs that he was prescribed. Of course, he couldn’t get the psychiatrist to accept this idea at all.
    it was also the time that I began to mention David’s name to him, gave him the book and reminded him to look out for DH’s name within it. He read it and was absolutely gobsmacked! His hunch about the prescribed drugs suddenly became a belief and he worked so hard to get that message across but all attempts fell on deaf ears. He was determined to hand the book over to the CMH psychiatrist – I don’t know if he did.
    He was delighted when Shane was given the chance to have appointments with David but left around the same time as that first appointment. There was no way of contacting him so he didn’t hear about the Hearing Voices Wales suggestion nor its success. Neither does he know about the difference in Shane with far less of these drugs being taken. He mentioned giving the book back to me but i said for him to keep it and share it with others.
    I wish he had stayed around to see the successes but of one thing I am sure, Gwen Olsen’s book will have been shared with others and that is the main purpose, surely, of these ‘difficult to read’ books – IT’S GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT.

  9. Any chance of slipping this lovely book one in somewhere?

    J. K. Aronson
    An Account of the Foxglove and Its Medical Uses 1785-1985: Incorporating a facsimile of William Withering’s `An Account of the Foxglove and Some of … Uses’ (1785) (Oxford Medical Publications) Hardcover – 13 Feb. 1986
    by J. K. Aronson (Author), Aronson (Author)
    5.0 out of 5 stars 1 rating
    See all formats and editions
    4 Used from £33.20
    8 New from £111.77
    ‘This book is a delight, from start to finish, touching upon all manner of fascinating topics…a most enjoyable text.’ New Scientist
    ‘It would be invidious for the reviewer to select for special mention any particular chapter from Aronson’s history and critique because each one is so well-written, so thoroughly researched and so full of fresh material…With three indexes and over 250 references to complete the work we can rightly say that the Oxford pharmacologist has written a classic about a classic.’ Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners
    Read less

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