Peter R. Breggin, MD, has been called "The Conscience of Psychiatry" for his many decades of successful efforts to reform the mental health field. His scientific and educational work has provided the foundation for modern criticism of psychiatric drugs and ECT, and leads the way in promoting more caring and effective therapies. He has authored dozens of scientific articles and more than twenty books including the bestseller Talking Back to Prozac (1994, with Ginger Breggin), Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime (2008), and Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families (2013). In 2010 he testified before Congress about psychiatric-drug induced violence and suicide in the military.

     Dr. Breggin acts as a medical expert in criminal, malpractice and product liability suits, often involving adverse drug effects such as suicide, violence, brain injury, death, and tardive dyskinesia. A review of Dr. Breggin's forensic work can be found at Legal Cases. He began testifying in the early 1970s and has been qualified in court 85 times or more since 1987.

      Dr. Breggin is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and former full-time consultant at NIMH. Dr. Breggin's private practice is in Ithaca, New York where he treats adults, couples, and families with children. He has a subspecialty in clinical psychopharmacology, including adverse drug effects and psychiatric drug withdrawal.

More information on Dr. Breggin.


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    See Dr. Breggin's new
    ECT Resources Center
    with more than 125 annotated scientific articles, glossary of searchable terms and a brochure for patients and families.


     
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     Psychiatric medications
     
    Books by Dr. Breggin on psychiatric drugs:
     
    Nearly all of Dr. Breggin’s books deal with psychiatric medications.  They attempt to demonstrate that these psychoactive substances too often do more harm than good and that better alternatives are available.  At the same time, they provide critical evaluations of contemporary biological psychiatry and its dependence on the pharmaceutical industry.
     
     
    Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (updated and revised edition, 2008) is by far the most current and comprehensive source of information.  It presents an overview of Dr. Breggin’s brain-disabling principles of psychiatry, including medication spellbinding. It looks in detail at the individual medications and their effects, as well as at electroshock and its hazards.  It criticizes the concept of ADHD and current psychiatric approaches to children. Finally, it continues his evaluation of the psychopharmaceutical complex — the FDA, NIMH, the American Psychiatric Association, NAMI, CHADD and other interest groups that promote psychiatric drugs on behalf of the multi-billion dollar drug industry.

    In July 2008 Medication Madness will be published, presenting more than fifty true life stories of individuals whose lives were damaged and sometimes ruined by psychiatric drugs, including tragic examples of mayhem, murder and suicide under the influence of antidepressants, stimulants, tranquilizers, and other psychiatric medications.  These two books, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry and Medication Madness, provide a perfect complement for each other.
     
    Information on all of Dr. Breggin's books can be found here .
     
    Psychiatric medications by class:
     
     
     
     
    (Thorazine, Geodon, Zyprexa, Risperdal, Seroquel, Abilify)
     
    Selected scientific papers by Dr. Breggin dealing with psychiatric drugs:
     
    Below is a list of selected peer-reviewed scientific papers by Dr. Breggin dealing with psychopharmacology.  Many of them were well-ahead of their time and helped to influence the FDA to increase the required warnings for antidepressant and antipsychotic medications.  All of the scientific articles are available to read without charge on this website.

    Breggin, P.  “Intoxication Anosognosia: The Spellbinding Effect of Psychiatric Drugs”  (PDF) Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 201-215, 2006.  Simultaneously published in the International Journal of Risk and Safety and Medicine, 19, 3-15, 2007.

    Breggin, P.  “Recent Regulatory Changes in Antidepressant Labels: Implicatons of Activation (stimulation) in clinical practice.”  (PDF) Primary Psychiatry, 13, 57-60, 2006.

    Breggin, P.  “Court filing makes public my previously suppressed analysis of Paxil's effects.” (PDF) Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 77-84, 2006.

    Breggin, P.  “How GlaxoSmithKline suppressed data on Paxil-induced akathisia: Implications for suicide and violence .” (PDF)  Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 91-100, 2006.

    Breggin, P. “Drug Company Suppressed Data on Paroxetine-Induced Stimulation: Implications for violence and suicide.”  (PDF) Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 255-263, 2006.

    Breggin, P.  “Recent US, Canadian, and British regulatory agency actions concerning antidepressant-induced harm to self and others: A review and analysis.” (PDF)  Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 7, 7-22, 2005.   Simultaneously published in the International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine, 16, 247-259, 2005.

    Breggin, P. “Psychopharmacology and Human Values.”  (PDF) Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 43: 34-49, 2003.

    Breggin, P. “Suicidality, violence and mania caused by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: A review and analysis.” (PDF) International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine, 16: 31-49, 2003/2004.  Simultaneously published in Ethical Human Sciences and Services

    Breggin, P. “Fluvoxamine as a cause of stimulation, mania and aggression with a critical analysis of the FDA-approved label.” (PDF) International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine, 14: 71-86, 2002.   Simultaneously published in Ethical Human Sciences and Services, 4, 211-227, 2002.

    Breggin, P. “What psychologists and therapists need to know about ADHD and stimulants.”  Changes: An International Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy 18:13-23, Spring 2000

    Breggin, P.  “The NIMH multimodal study of treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A critical analysis.” (PDF) International Journal of Risk and Safety in MedicineEthical Human Sciences and Services.
       
    Breggin, P. “Psychostimulants in the treatment of children diagnosed with ADHD.”  Ethical Human Sciences and Services 1:13-33, 1999.

    Breggin, P. “Psychostimulants in the treatment of children diagnosed with ADHD: Part II — Adverse effects on brain and behavior.”  Ethical Human Sciences and Services

    Breggin, P. “Psychostimulants in the treatment of children diagnosed with ADHD: Risks and mechanism of action.”  International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine, 12 (1), 3-35, 1999. 
    5:225-246, 2003.   13:15-22, 2000.  Also published in 1:213-241, 1999. 

    Breggin, P. “An analysis of the adverse behavioral effects of benzodiazepines with a discussion of drawing scientific conclusions from the FDA's spontaneous reporting system .” (PDF) Journal of Mind and Behavior 19:21-50, 1998.

    Breggin, P. “The Hazards of Treating 'Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder' with Methylphenidate (Ritalin)Journal of College Student Psychotherapy


    Breggin, P. “Should the use of neuroleptics be severely limited?”  (PDF) Changes: An International Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy  14:62-66  March 1996.

    Breggin, P. “Parallels between Neuroleptic Effects and Lethargic Encephalitis: The Production of Dyskinesia and Cognitive Disorders.”  Brain and Cognition 23:8-27, 1993.

    Breggin, P. “A Case of Fluoxetine-induced Stimulant Side Effects with Suicidal Ideation Associated with a Possible Withdrawal Syndrome (‘Crashing’).”  International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine 3:325-328, 1992

    Breggin, P. “Psychotherapy in the Shadow of the Psycho-Pharmaceutical Complex,” Voices (journal of the American Academy of Psychotherapists) 27:15-21, 1991

    Breggin, P. “Brain damage, dementia and persistent cognitive dysfunction associated with neuroleptic drugs: Evidence, Etiology, Implications.” (PDF) Journal of Mind Behavior 11:425-464, 1990.


    ” (coauthored by Ginger Breggin) 10:55-72, 1996.

     
     

    Special Topics

    Legal Cases

       

    Dr. Peter Breggin often acts as a medical expert in criminal, malpractice, product liability and class action suits, and since the 1970s has testified in approximately 100 trials. Most of his cases settle before trial. However, a list of more than 80 trials in which he has testified 1986 are found in the final section of his Resume.

    Dr. Breggin’s testimony has involved antidepressants, benzodiazepine tranquilizers, sleeping aids, antipsychotic drugs, stimulants for children diagnosed ADHD, drugs in nursing homes and the elderly, electroshock (ECT), psychosurgery, and involuntary treatment. Cases often include drug-induced tardive dyskinesia, suicide, violence, diabetes, and death.

    Here is a small sample of positive and sometimes precedent-setting legal outcomes with Dr. Breggin as the psychiatric expert:


    Here are some of the details of several lawsuits:

    Read more...
     

    Therapy

     
    Blunting ourselves with drugs is not the answer to overwhelming emotions. Intense emotions should be welcomed. Emotions are the vital signs of life. We need and should want them to be strong. We also need our brains and minds to be functioning at their best, free of toxic drugs. That allows us to use our intelligence and understanding to the fullest. Thinking clearly is one of the hallmarks of taking charge of oneself instead of caving in to helplessness. 
     
    Read more...
     

    Children


    Throughout his career, Dr. Breggin has been especially concerned about the psychiatric abuse of children and the failure to provide more effective solutions through improved parenting, educational reform and community resources. As the drug companies and organized psychiatry have sought larger markets for pharmaceutical products, children have come under extensive from the psychopharmaceutical complex. The first great assault took place in the form of diagnosing children with ADHD and then medicating them with stimulant drugs. Soon millions of children were defined as mentally dysfunctional or defective and were submitted to brain-damaging psychoactive medications.

     


    Read more...
     

    ECT

     

    See Dr. Breggin's new
    ECT Resources Center
    with more than 125 annotated scientific articles, glossary of searchable terms and a brochure for patients and families.

     

    ECT (electroconvulsive treatment) damages the brain and mind. In many cases, it results in huge permanent gaps in memory for important life events, educational background, and professional skills. The individual may even lose his or her identity. Even when much less harm is done, individuals continue to suffer from ongoing cognitive difficulties with learning and remembering new things, and with unwanted changes in their personalities. Dr. Breggin has now created a free ECT Recourses Center that includes (1) a brochure for patients, families, and advocates, (2) introductory scientific articles that cover the field of ECT-induced harm to the brain and mind, and (3) more than 125 articles about ECT with search terms such as "brain damage," "memory loss," "women," and "abuse." The ECT Resources Center will help introduce newcomers to the field and provide research materials for advanced researchers as well.

     

    The most detailed recent publication about the harm associated with ECT is found in a chapter in Dr. Breggin’s book, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock and the Psychopharmaceutical Complex, Second Edition (2008).

     

    Dr. Breggin was the medical expert in the first and only electroshock malpractice suit won by the injured patient. He was also the expert in a recent malpractice suit against an ECT doctor that resulted in a settlement of more than $1 million.

     
    The acronym ECT stands for "ElectroConvulsive Therapy" (also called EST, for ElectroShock Therapy)  a psychiatric treatment in which electricity is applied to the head and passed through the brain to produce a grand mal or major convulsion. The seizure brought about by the electric stimulus closely resembles, but is more rigorous or strenuous than that found in idiopathic epilepsy or in epilepsy following a wide variety of insults to the brain.
     
    Patients given ECT are administered an electric current of sufficient intensity and duration to produce an acute organic brain syndrome, characterized by the classic symptoms of disorientation to time, place, and person; mental deterioration in all intellectual spheres such as abstract reasoning, judgment, and insight; emotional lability with extremes of apathy or euphoria; and overall childlike helplessness.

    Read more...
     

    Psychosurgery

     
    Psychosurgery is the destruction of normal brain tissue for the purpose of treating psychiatric disorders or for the control of emotions and behavior.  It does not include operations, such as those for Parkinson's disease or epilepsy, where an identifiable physical abnormality in the brain is causing a known physical disorder.  
     
    Lobotomy and other psychosurgeries merit special attention because, as the prototype of brain-damaging therapeutics, they can shed light on the clinical effects of other brain-disabling treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and major tranquilizers. Despite the paucity of active practitioners and advocates of psychosurgery, many psychiatric authorities have condoned this treatment precisely because the principles that find their extreme expression in lobotomy and other forms of psychosurgery also find more subtle expression in all the major somatic treatments in psychiatry.
     
    Read more...
     

    Racism & Social Control


    The widespread diagnosing of children is a subtle form of social control that suppresses children rather than providing them with what they need to fulfill their basic needs in the home, school and family.  For more information about social control and youngsters see the Children's section under Special Topics and Children's section under Scientific Papers, and well as several of Dr. Breggin's books, especially Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (1998).  Dr. Breggin's blogs often address current children's issues.

     
    In Toxic Psychiatry (1991) Dr. Breggin addresses the psychiatric oppression of women.

    See Dr. Breggin's astonishing speech on Totalitarian Psychiatry & the Nazi Holocaust.

    Both Peter Breggin and Ginger Breggin have worked extensively to stop racist psychiatric programs of social control, especially those aimed at subuding inner city children. These successful reform projects are described in detail in their book, The War Against Children of Color (1998).   The following article is based on the book and presents a summary of their efforts. 

     
    Read more...
     

     

    WARNING!

    Most psychiatric drugs can cause withdrawal reactions, sometimes including life-threatening emotional and physical withdrawal problems. In short, it is not only dangerous to start taking psychiatric drugs, it can also be dangerous to stop them. Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done carefully under experienced clinical supervision. Methods for safely withdrawing from psychiatric drugs are discussed in Dr. Breggin's new book, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients, and Their Families.