folder icon 14 Psychology, Life, and Overcoming Negative Emotions

   At the age of eighteen as a Harvard college student, Dr. Breggin began working as a volunteer in a state mental hospital and was soon directing the Harvard-Radcliffe Mental Hospital Volunteer Program. This experience set the direction of the two thrusts of his ongoing work as a psychiatrist: critiquing the prevailing biological psychiatry and encouraging more positive person-centered and relationship-based therapies. From the beginning, he saw caring, thoughtful approaches as the best hope for helping people with emotional problems, including the most distressed and disturbed individuals.

   For several decades, Dr. Breggin has been developing a new approach to understanding and overcoming guilt, shame and anxiety, which he sees as the root of most of what becomes labeled "emotional problems" and "mental illness." His most recent book, Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions, represents the culmination of this work in psychology. It presents a new biological evolutionary approach to understanding the origins of our most demoralizing emotions and how to overcome them. His earlier book, The Heart of Being Helpful, more specifically addresses how to help people as a therapist, friend or family member. These two books together present his most important experiences, studies and conclusions in regard to self-help and therapy.

   As a supplement to Dr. Breggin's books, this section of Dr. Breggin’s papers provides an assortment of his scientific articles and book chapters. The next section is especially focused on his many papers examining psychiatric drugs, electroshock, psychosurgery, involuntary treatment and other problems in psychiatry.

folder icon 76 Selected scientific papers
This section contains a selection of Dr. Breggin's scientific articles spanning 1964 to the present. They can be arranged chronologically in order to facilitate an overview of his work over the years.
folder icon 4 Freedom and Coercion
Even in college, when Dr. Breggin was director of the Harvard-Radcliffe Mental Hospital Volunteer Program, he opposed the coercive practices so rampant in psychiatry, which include misinformation, authoritarianism, and involuntary treatment. He began criticizing coercion and involuntary treatment in his earliest scientific publications (1964 and 1965). This collection of papers makes available his earliest papers on the subject. Following the initial scientific articles, additional ones were published in magazines and journals that are not scientific in orientation,. He also writes about psychiatric coercion in his book Toxic Psychiatry and then more systematically when he describes sthe three dynamics of love, voluntary exchange, and coercion in his book Beyond Conflict. He suggests that the reader take a good look at his seminal paper on the role of psychiatry in the Holocaust (1993) published in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, which concludes with a systematic look at the inherently oppressive principles of genetic and biological psychiatry. This paper was delivered in Germany at the first-ever conference on Medicine in the Third Reich.
folder icon 46 Psychiatric Medications: Articles sorted by drug class.
Dr. Breggin's latest scientific book, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (2008), covers and updates all of the material in these articles with the latest scientific documentation. His newest popular book, Medication Madness (2008), covers similar material with an emphasis on dramatic real-life illustrations of people emotionally injured or destroyed by medications, based entirely on cases Dr. Breggin personally evaluated in his clinical and medical-legal practice.
To find out how psychiatric drugs really work, go to Psychiatric Drug Adverse Reactions (Side Effects) and Medication Spellbinding .
folder icon 18 Frequently read articles
Dr. Breggin's latest scientific book, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, covers and updates all of the material in these articles with the latest scientific documentation. His newest popular book, Medication Madness, covers similar material with an emphasis on dramatic real-life illustrations of people emotionally injured or destroyed by medications, based entirely on cases Dr. Breggin personally evaluated in his clinical and medical-legal practice.
folder icon 7 Children
Dr. Breggin continues to devote a considerable amount of time and energy to stopping the psychiatric drugging of children and to offering better alternatives through improved family life, education, and community. He critiques the medication and diagnosing of children (most especially the diagnosing of ADHD) and offers better approaches in many of his books, including Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (2008), the Ritalin Fact Book (2002), Talking Back to Ritalin (revised, 2001), and the Antidepressant Fact Book (2000). Reclaiming Our Children starts with an analysis of what happened surrounding the mass murders at Columbine High School and then looks toward solutions within the family, schools and community.
Medication Madness (July 2008) tells the stories of several children Dr. Breggin helped rescue from medication toxicity by going to court on their behalf.
In The Heart of Being Helpful Dr. Breggin addresses therapy and counseling with children, and the importance of childhood in forming the grown adult's outlook on life.
In The War Against Children of Color he and Ginger Breggin criticise racist psychiatric programs aimed at the control of inner city children, as well as a psychosurgery project that mutliated the brains of children as young as five at a Mississippi medical center in the 1970s.
In the section titled "Stimulants and ADHD" are several of Dr. Breggin's articles critical of psychiatric medicating and diagnosing of children.
Dr. Breggin’s BLOG contains his most recent thoughts and observations on the psychiatric diagnosing and drugging of children in America.
folder icon 10 Electroshock (ECT)

Electroshock treatment (ECT) was developed in 1938 at a time that lobotomy and insulin coma therapy were already in use. Pioneer advocates of ECT openly admitted that it caused irreversible brain damage. In 1979 Dr. Breggin published the first medical book critical of ECT, Electroshock: Its Brain-Disabling Effects (New York: Springer Publishing Company). Dr. Breggin has advocated the banning of ECT, but it continues to be used extensively in most psychiatric facilities. In 1985 Dr. Breggin presented as the scientific expert on the brain-damaging effects of the treatment at the NIH Consensus Development Conference on ECT. In 2005 he was the medical expert in the first-ever malpractice victory against a doctor who referred his patient for ECT.

The best source of up-to-date information on ECT memory loss and brain damage can be found in a chapter in Dr. Breggin’s book Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry (2008).


Many of Dr. Breggin's articles on ECT can be found in the Special Topics section under ECT. These articles also provide perspective into Dr. Breggin's campaign to stop this barbaric treatment.



folder icon 10 Lobotomy and psychosurgery
During the 1970s Dr. Breggin began his reform work by organizing an international campaign to stop the resurgence of lobotomy and other psychosurgery. For a period of several years, most of his time was spent on this campaign, which led to the creation of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology . The best summary of this effort can be found in his book, co-authored with Ginger Breggin, The War Against Children of Color .
Dr. Breggin distributed ten thousand copies of his article in the Congressional Record (PDF), which was copied and distributed in even greater numbers by other reformers around the world.
A key event occurred in 1973 at a trial in Detroit, Kaimowitz v. Department of Mental Health, in which a three-judge panel responded to an injunction by Gabe Kaimowitz to stop experimental psychosurgery at the state hospital. The court adopted Dr. Breggin's expert testimony at the trial and stopped the psychosurgery projects. Dr. Breggin's article " Psychosurgery for political purposes " provides the best description of the Kaimowitz victory. This court decision — as well as Dr. Breggin's media appearances, publications, lectures and lobbying in the U.S. Congress — resulted in state hospitals throughout the nation giving up the practice.
Among other victories aimed at stopping psychosurgery, Dr. Breggin wrote Congressional legislation aimed at ending federal funding of psychosurgery and successfully lobbied Congress for the creation of the Psychosurgery Commission, which declared the treatment experimental. Eventually most psychosurgery projects were stopped not only in state hospitals, but also at NIH, VA hospitals and university medical centers.
In June 2002 Dr. Breggin was the psychiatric expert in a psychosurgery case against the Cleveland Clinic that ended with a jury verdict of $7.5 million. After this, the Cleveland Clinic stopped performing the operation. Psychosurgery projects continue to be conducted at Harvard and Brown , but at few if any other places in the United States.
folder icon 9 Psychiatry, racism, coercion and social control
The War Against Children of Color by Peter and Ginger Breggin deals extensively with the larger subject of psychiatric oppression, including racism and the role of psychiatry in the holocaust.
Dr. and Mrs. Breggin detail their findings in The War Against Children of Color,
the definitive work exposing how mental health agencies and the government are using invalid science for social control rather than addressing the decline of families, schools and communities or the escalation of racism and poverty.
Under special topics, the section on Racism and Social Control contains a detailed description of Dr. & Mrs. Breggin's efforts to stop racist programs in psychiatry.
folder icon 11 The FDA: Articles, Critiques and Presentations
Dr. Breggin’s work has helped to change the contents of numerous FDA-approved labels for psychiatric drugs, including the neuroleptic (antipsychotic) drugs and the newer antidepressants. This section makes available some of Dr. Breggin’s articles about recent label changes for the antidepressants, as well his critiques and presentations to the FDA.
Dr. Breggin’s commentaries in this section surround the FDA’s actions in adding suicidality in children and young adults to the labels for antidepressants.  The language in the new FDA-mandated labels closely adheres to concepts first published in Dr. Breggin’s earlier books and articles concerning suicide, violence, and over-stimulation caused by SSRIs.  As described in the first commentary, the FDA’s language seems to mimic his wording. 

For the science behind these commentaries, see Dr. Breggin’s book, Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition (2008), as well as his scientific articles.  In several of his books, Dr. Breggin devotes chapters to the inadequacy of the FDA, most recently Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition (2008) and Medication Madness (2008).  One of the most detailed analyses ever published of the FDA’s bungling and a drug company’s manipulation of the drug approval process can be found in Talking Back to Prozac (with Ginger Breggin, 2004).

Dr. Breggin’s published articles on SSRI antidepressants, including medication-induced violence, suicide and crime, often discuss the FDA. [link to SSRI antidepressants under Psychopharmacology section].  His article “Suicidality, violence and mania caused by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): A review and analysis” was given to the FDA’s committee prior to their deliberations.

The following section contains articles and commentaries by Dr. Breggin concerning the FDA, especially in regard to the newer antidepressants. 



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.