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Category: Reviews

Without Due Care: An Australian Hospital Tragedy

by Therese Mackay

Published by Therese Mackay, 2010
Paperback, 187 pages
ISBN: 978-0-646-53747-4

$27.95 plus $6 p&p within Australia

Therese Mackay
PO Box 248
Port Macquarie
NSW 2444

A tribute to a kind and courageous man who was a loving husband and father.

A lament for a true love whose life ended too early and in tragic circumstances.

A searing indictment of incompetent and uncaring treatment in the New South Wales public health system.

This book by Therese Mackay is all these things. It documents the series of catastrophic errors and casual cruelties that led to the untimely death of Donald Mackay, her husband of thirty-five years.

Donald (or Don as Therese calls him) was not a well man when he was airlifted to Sydney Hospital in April 2007 so that he could have some fluid drained from his lung. At the time he was suffering from a pleural effusion of unknown cause, which was impairing his breathing. Having some fluid withdrawn from the lung would not only allow him to breathe more easily, but a sample could also be sent for analysis, in the hope that a cause for the effusion could be identified.

Complicating Don’s condition was the fact that he had been a tetraplegic for twenty-five years, having suffered a spinal fracture in a diving accident. Don’s tetraplegia meant that he had diminished lung capacity at the best of times. His body had also become prematurely aged, he had severe osteoporosis and “bones as fragile as eggshells”. The bone degeneration meant that he suffered from severe chronic pain which meant he needed to take opiate painkillers. (Contrary to commonly held misconcepttions, people with spinal injury do not lose all nerve function and some tetraplegics have to deal with awful pain as well as their physical disability.)

Unfortunately, Don’s medical problems prior to his hospital admission were nothing compared to the medical problems caused by his hospital treatment.

Unbeknownst to Don and Therese, a medical special who had never met or spoken to either of them had recommended that Don undergo a procedure called pleurodesis which basically involves inserting talc between the two layers of the pleura to gum them together and prevent pleural effusion. In a rushed admission interview with an admitting specialist whose spoken English was so poor as to be unintelligible, Don signed a consent for, for this procedure. (Therese was not present at this interview as she was still driving to the hospital from their home in rural New South Wales.)

When asked (during the course of a hospital enquiry into Don’s death) this admitting specialist was unable to recall what he had told Don about pleurodesis.

Therese is convinced that Don was not told what the procedure involved or its possible adverse effects. Had Don been properly informed, Therese asserts, he would never have agreed to the procedure since he had a mortal (and rightly so, as it turned out) fear of surgery.

However, by the time that Therese arrived at the hospital, Don had already underdone the pleurodesis.

This unnecessary operation – performed in indecent haste and without due diligence – ultimately led to Don’s untimely death. The problems with the surgery were compounded by the use of ungraded talc in the procedure (despite the fact that this was known to be more risky) and the post operative suctioning of Don’s lungs with the suctioning device mistakenly set on ten times the normal pressure.

Therese and her family were not informed at the time about the suctioning error, and only later found out about it through their own efforts.

Don developed ARDS (adult respiratory distress syndrome) a known risk of pleurodesis. Don’s daughter Alison read up on ARDS online and discovered that it can be treated with cortisone. However, doctors at the hospital refused to try using cortisone to reduce the inflammation. Numerous requests for Don to be administered intravenous vitamin C were also refused.

— days after the pleurodesis, Don developed unmistakable signs of respiratory failure and was admitted to the ICU and put on a ventilator. The tube in his moth prevented him from being able to speak – and given that he had very limited use of his hands, he was not able to write, making it almost impossible to communicate his needs to medical or nursing staff.

Fluctuations in Don’s oxygen/carbon dioxide levels and changes to his medications meant that his mental state deteriorated and he experienced episodes of distressing hallucinations, while Therese and other family members kept vigil at his bedside, helpless to do anything to relieve his suffering.

Some weeks into his stay in ICU, a tracheotomy tube was inserted into Don’s neck. It was hoped that this would allow him to be able to speak again. However by this time, he was extremely debilitated having developed not only a klebsiella infection, but MRSA as well. (Therese was not informed when he developed these infections and only found out when she expressed alarm at the colour and consistency of secretions being suctioned out of Don’s lungs.) Don was also suffering from candidiasis of the intestinal tract due to the antibiotics. (The hospital doctors had refused to allow the administration of high potency probiotics that could have helped keep the candida under control.)

Attempts were made to wean Don off the ventilator, but it became clear that the damage done to Don’s lungs by the surgery, the excessive suction and his hospital-acquired infections was just too severe, and he was not going to be able to survive without a ventilator. Accordingly, Don’s care was transfered to the hospice team and arrangements were made to send him home to die. It says a lot about the treatment that he received in ICU in Sydney Hospital that Don was happy and relieved at this turn of events:

Therese writes:

“That day an ICU doctor, the ICU Social Worker and Don’s nurse met with me to say that Don was dying and treatment was just prolonging this. I had known this anyway but thought to try and get something for Don out of this by asking that all effort be made to get him home to die. I explained to the doctor that any decision about Don was to be made by Don, and Don alone, and that she should talk with him. This doctor’s notes record that when she explained this reality to him ‘he looked at me as if to say “It took you that long to notice?” and he expressed excitement about being able to go home to die.’ Finally after give long, painful and brutal weeks someone acutally looked at him. Looked at him and understood. Now he was officially dying, his wishes became important.

“So now, after all these weeks of suffering, all Don’s treatments apart from pain relief, antibiotics and fluids were stopped and Don became almost immediately lucid and clam. How do they explain this to me?”

Therese’s sister Veronica recalls the same conversation:

“…I returned to the hospital in his last week. The social worker was gleefully telling us that Don could go home the next day with a respirator. Great! I thought. But I hadn’t been told the rest – that then the respirator was to be taken away! This was delivered in the same tone. How lucky he was! The hospital sets him up to die with tortures beforehand but they will grant him his wish. What else could he choose but to die within a few hours of getting home? Lucky man!”

Therese recounts some shocking instances in which her husband received completely substandard treatment in hospital, including one occasion in which a nurse who had been suctioning Don’s secretions dropped part of the apparatus on the floor and simply picked it up and replaced it on Don’s mouth.

Therese also observed that despite Don’s deteriorating condition, he did his best to cooperate with some nurses but positively flinched from others. One nurse spoke to Don in Therese’s presence “in what I can only describe as a nasty fashion, which he was very aware of. Over-explaining, over-loud, right into his face, ad nauseum, as to why she couldn’t do certain things as if he was retarded or brain damaged.”

On another occasion, Therese overheard a nurse imitating the speech of a young woman who was brain damaged as a result of an accident. She and her colleagues were laughing about this patient not only within earshot of Therese, but also the young woman herself.

Therese and Melissa also witnessed a young man attempt to escape from ICU only to be captured by security guards and returned to his room. He spent the next two weeks tied to his bed.

Recalling instances like these, Therese writes:

“They could do what they liked to him and us, but were we to do anything it was duly noticed with meticulous precision. So now I am noting down some of their failures and abuses, for the record. I’ll never know what was done to him when I was not there. Maybe that’s a good thing.”

Don also had his arms restrained during much of his time in ICU, as he was frequently agitated and kept pulling on his tubes.

“I knew his agitation had many causes. A lot of it was just uncontrollable movements, and he was on so many drugs often he was not truly with it, although he understood me and we had a lot of eye contact. but I also know that he wanted those tubes out. He knew the consequences of this was death – full stop. He had asked me some months before that if ever he was unconscious and on a ventilator, i was to make sure he was taken off, no quadriplegic was going to survive the massive damage done to Don’s lungs and he knew it. I knew it. The staff knew it too. I am stumped as to why they would not admit. Don was never going to recover from the massive damage Pleurodesis did to his lungs. I know; not believe, know [italic] – he knew that and that he had made his decision and wanted out.”

Once Don bit through his ventilator and said to Therese and Melissa:

“‘Help me’. It was one of the very last times we were to hear his voice unimpeded by tubes. We looked at each other and then the alarm went off and Melissa and I were bundled out. Don wanted us to help him die. That was his choice. I don’t know why we didn’t press this at the time but both of us were emotionally pushed about. We were outside in the corridor for some time and I can see my lovely daughter’s distraught face before me as I write this. Melissa and I still have nightmares about this event.”

Therese also adds:

“As painful as it is to express this thoughts, I felt from the early days in ICU that don should have been allowed to die without prolonging his suffering. I was in the awful situation of loving him deeply, of maybe holding out a small sliver of hope that the doctors might be able to fix up the damage they’d done, but knowing in my heart it was only a matter of time and he would not survive…It disturbs me to think that I failed him in his wishes. If he had not been so disabled, I would have had no qualms about asking that his wishes concerning ventilation be respected. As it was though, I could not even ask. Were I to suggest, talking with ICU doctors in the early day about taking the ventilator away, there would have been suspicion of my motives. When someone is disabled, most people just assume – there’s that word ‘assume’ again – that it’s all suffering. But life is as rich as you allow it to be and ours was very rich.”

While he was in the ICU Don participated (if that is the right word for it, given his rapid physical and mental decline) in a study of different techniques of managing critically ill patients’ blood sugar levels.

“On the first day Don was in Intensive Care this research was pushed to us with the qualifier that taking part meant only miniscule amounts of blood would be taken, but as this would be getting tested more regularly than normal, this would give Don a better chance of survival…Don was given many bags of blood over the time in ICU because his haemoglobin levels were dropping. He had ten bags of blood over the last two weeks alone, always in an amount of two bags per transfusion. It was never explained why he would need this much and I would dearly like to know why…I would also like to know why, if Don’s haemoglobin levels were so very low, and knowing how sick he was, why some days they did full blood tests eight, ten, twelve times a day? There was no way his poor sick body would have been able to make up all that blood. What in blood hell was being done to him?

“My family’s belief is that Don was kept alive long after there was any possibility of recovery for just one reason – medial research. That’s why his suffering was a breach of human rights.”

Following Don’s death, Therese began a quest for answers about why her beloved husband had been treated so badly in the public hospital system. Her efforts were largely frustrated and frustrating. The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) stated that the care that Don received was “acceptable” and did not recommend disciplinary action about any of the health professionals involved.

The Coroner’s office changed the cause of death on Don’s death certificate to include the fact that treatment of the pleural effusion was a causative factor. However, after receiving a report from a cardiothoracic surgeon of questionable competence, the Coroner’s office declined to reopen the case.

These writes:

“Not only does the system not work, the fact is that there is no system which fairly investigates medical negligence. It is all a construct which appears to work, until you try to get through the maze thrown up by the bureaucrats and politicians which protects hospitals, doctors and medical staff, and actively works against the interests of the people injured and killed inside our medical system.”

Despite the pathetic response by the HCCC and the Coroner’s office decision not to investigate, therese has done he utmost to get justice for Don – and alert other people to the dangers they face in the hospital system. She has organised a petition, given evidence before the Garling Enquiry into Acute Care in NSW Public Hospitals and availed herself of all opportunities she has had to get the message out through the mainstream media. She has also written and published this very creditable and moving book. To conclude in Therese’s own words:

“I should not have to be chasing justice on behalf of my dead husband, daughters and myself. Those responsible should be subjected to disciplinary action for the death and suffering of my husband Don Mackay and robbing our daughter of their wonderful Dad. Those most responsible should not be still practising inside the Sydney hospital, It would be better for NSW residents if they were no in the health system at all. How do I feel now as I come to the ned of this? I feel empty and hollow but I feel a righteous anger. This book is my final attempt to expose what was done to Don, and make those responsible answerable.

So now, my lovely man, I gather up the cards, as you would have done, and throw them high in the air behind me, never looking back and ‘let the devil take the hindmost’. I will go forward, still grieving terribly but full of hope for our daughters and grandchildren who will carry the spark I held so dear. I have done my best, Don. I have left no stone unturned. I have loved you forever and will always do so, and nothing mankind can inflict can take that away. The late winter sun is going softly down behind those trees you loved to lie out under. There is a chill in the air. It’s a gentle time of the year and not long now till the spring comes.”

The Forgotten History Of The Munition Industry

Norman Cousins was a popular figure best known for his best selling book

“The Anatomy of an Illness.”

Cousins wrote a far more important book

“The Pathology of Power”

[ as read here ]

which asked the question:

“What makes you think that the people you can’t trust with your finances,

you can trust with your security?”

Not surprisingly,

the book “Pathology of Power” which was published in 1987

was ignored when it came out.

It’s time to take another look.



Post-War New Zealanders ~ Not An Intellectual People

[  Anyone who ponders the origins of our collective cultural psyche might find this of interest.  No offense intended.

h / t : Chris ]


Aspects of New Zealand culture were not a feature on the 1953  royal tour.

[ The Royal Yacht ~ The S.S. Gothic …  …  yes, it really was called that.  ]

The Queen saw no local plays or films, visited no galleries, read no New Zealand novels.

In 1953 most New Zealanders did not think of themselves as a highly cultured people.

Not surprisingly, intellectuals, feeling ignored and isolated,

painted a less positive view of their fellow nationals.

Appalled at the suppression of civil liberties in the 1951 waterfront industrial dispute,

writer Bill Pearson left the country to pen a fierce portrait of New Zealanders as ‘fretful sleepers’,

a people who were puritanical and repressive,

given over to small-town prejudices and a hypocritical concern for respectability. 3

Others, such as Robert Chapman and Phoebe Meikle,

attacked the separation of gender roles;

and novelists such as Janet Frame, Ian Cross and Sylvia Ashton-Warner

presented an unhappy picture of a society where creative individuals were repressed and race relations poor.

Foreign commentators too began to criticise New Zealanders.

[ … ay ? ]

In The fern and the tiki (1960) a visiting American, David Ausubel,

argued that New Zealanders suffered from an authoritarian education

which created a repressed hostility beneath their calm exterior.


His analysis was not well received.


Read the rest here

Review : Silenced Witnesses

Silenced Witnesses Vol. 2:  The Parents’ Story:  The Denial of Vaccine Damage by Government, Corporations and the Media.

Written by the Parents

Edited by Martin J. Walker

290 pages, paperback, with index

Copyright Slingshot Publications

First published November 2009

ISBN: 978-0-9519646-6-8

12.95 (pounds)

“On the 17th May 1993 we received a card to attend for the MMR vaccination and after much thought we proceeded to have this done.  On arrival at the Health Centre we were ushered into the waiting room.  Jodie’s name was called and Pat carried Jodie in for the jab.  It seemed like less than a minute when I heard a high pitched scream, which made my blood run cold.  I realised the scream was from Jodie and rushed to the room just as Pat came out. Pat said that the syringe was already made up and the nurse was very rough.  I looked at Jodie, pale and shivering and looking as if she was in shock and all the time screaming, a scream like I had never heard before.”

For Pat and Bill Marchant the day that they brought their daughter Jodie to the clinic to be vaccinated changed her life – and theirs – forever.  Unknown to them at the time, Jodie had not only been injected with the MMR (with their written consent) but with two other vaccines – the DPT and polio vaccine, all drawn up into the one syringe – even though Pat and Bill had specifically refused permission (in writing) for the  DPT should to be given.

The effects on Jodie, a baby who was “so loveable yet full of mischief” and whose first year of life had been “full of joy” was dramatic. Her speech disappeared and “her appearance became that of a zombie.  She seemed oblivious to as if we did not exist.”  She also continued to “scream in in agony”.

The local GP was of no help suggesting that if Jodie’s behaviour was difficult, her parents should shut her in her bedroom and let her “cry it out”.

In desperation Pat and Bill demanded that a health visitor be sent to visit them.  By this time “Jodie was not eating, had lost speech and eye contact and was clearly in extreme pain.  She was not sleeping and appeared to be lost in her own little world.”  The health visitor agreed that there was something was clearly wrong with Jodie and arranged for further assessments.  Eventually in 2007 an MRI (Jodie’s second; the first had apparently been normal) revealed a chiari malformation. Surgery followed to lift her brain and tonsils back into their original positions.  This had positive effects:  Jodie’s vomiting declined in frequency and her previously life-threatening convulsions also decreased in frequency and severity.  She sleeps better and is more affectionate towards family members and occasionally says words such as “Mum”, “Dad” and “Hello”.

Since her parents began writing their chapter of Silenced Witnesses, they discovered that “Jodie has a mitochondrial disorder and this has made us aware of the real need to test children before vaccination”.

To date Pat and Bill have not been able to get justice for their daughter despite the fact that she was injected with the DPT against their express written consent – and by subterfuge – as the DPT, MMR and polio vaccines were mixed into the same syringe.  They brought an assault charge against their doctor Allison Hill but this was unsuccessful.  (A child protection officer had agreed that Jodie’s vaccination with the DPT against her parents’ written consent did constitute an assault but warned her parents that “politics would stop him from finishing the case.”)

A complaint to the General Medical Council (GMC) also got no results as even though the GMC agreed that what had occurred in Jodie’s case was “unprofessional” the doctor could not be blamed if the nurse who administered the vaccines acted incorrectly.

Despite these set backs, Pat and Bill have not given up:  They conclude their chapter with the following words:

“We have no doubt that Jodie was left disabled by a combination of vaccines that has never been tested for safety.  This illegal concoction was deliberately mixed in one syringe and it destroyed our daughter.  We will never give up our fight to obtain justice for Jodie.”

Unfortunately Bill and Pat are not alone in having a child’s future destroyed.  Another case in Silenced Witnesses is that of Josh Edwards whose mother, Heather contributed the chapter “Suffering in Silence”, about how her son Josh’s life was devastated by the MMR vaccine.

Josh, born December 13, 1992, was a “perfect baby” who had such a lovely affectionate nature everyone wanted to take him home with them”. By the time he was 11 moths old he spoke single words such as “Mamma”, “Dada”, “Ta”, “Gone”, “Juice” and “Bye”.

Josh reacted to his 13 month MMR vaccination with a high fever, five days of diarrhoea and then chronic constipation.  By the age of 18 months he had lost all his speech.  A year later he was assessed at a child development centre as his “odd” behaviour had raised suspicions of autism. He was later diagnosed as autistic.

When Josh was four years old, he had his second MMR vaccination.  Heather writes:

“I suppose like many parents  I had more or less accepted the assurances of the doctors that the onset of Josh’s problems was not related to the MMR vaccine, that the timing was a coincidence. So when the time came for the MMR booster…I took him.”

Josh’s reaction to his second MMR shot was to have diarrhoea for three days followed by a worsening of his constipation:  soon he was only opening his bowels twice a month.  His behaviour also deteriorated

Heather writes of her son’s post MMR symptoms:

“…surely this could not be a coincidence. For Josh to develop diarrhoea and regression once may be, but twice surely not.  There was NO WAY Jodie [her new baby] was going to have the MMR.”

Josh began to lose the toilet training skills that Heather had helped him to learn and he became more obsessive.  Over time, his constipation became so bad that his bowels filled with impacted faeces causing frequent vomiting and necessitating surgery to remove the impacted material.  However despite these procedures (and laxatives, and so many enemas that he developed regular rectal bleeding requiring his mother to syringe local anaesthetic “into his bottom to relieve the pain that he was in”) by 2004 Josh  had to have his sigmoid colon removed. This means that Josh – who still had no speech – now had to cope with a stoma and a bag for faeces.  Fortunately he accepted these quite well, although you can imagine that this was not easy for his mother, who was responsible for his daily care.

In September 2004 however, it was obvious that this operation had not been successful in resolving Josh’s symptoms and it was decided to remove his entire colon.  Heather gave staff written instructions to save the colon tissue and store it in the freezer for later testing.  By this time, Josh’s case was one of the children whose cases were being prepared for court action against the manufacturers of the MMR vaccines used in Great Britain; the case was later abandoned when Legal Aid was withdrawn from all the claims.   His colon tissue needed to be tested for the presence of measles viruses.  If it could be shown that his colon tissue contained the vaccine strain of the measles virus, his case for compensation would be strengthened considerably.

When Josh was about to be discharged from hospital two weeks after his operation, Heather “began arranging for a courier to collect the [colon tissue] sample from the hospital. I told the hospital that a courier would be able to collect the sample the next day bring dry ice and a suitable container.  To save the courier waiting around could they make sure the colon was within easy access of [in] the freezer?  As I worked this out with the hospital I felt confident and reassured.  You can imagine my shock when a few hours later I received a phone call to inform me that though the box had been found in the freezer it was empty.  The box was also clearly labeled, ready for the courier with Dr Wakefield’s name, although who wrote this was a mystery.

“The immunologist was distraught and could not explain what had happened. The colon sample was later found at the other end of the lab on a workbench; it had by then deteriorated so badly that it was useless for research.  The colon had not been logged in on the system and therefore did not need to be logged out.  Whoever did this knew how important it was.  We had lost an irreplaceable piece of evidence.”

To add insult to injury, the hospital then tried to cover up the fact that someone in their organisation – or who had access to their premises – had destroyed the tissue sample needed to help a desperately ill child to be compensated for his iatrogenic injuries.

Josh and his family struggle on.  Unfortunately while removal of his entire colon stopped Josh’s constipation he still has other sever GI tract issues including inflammation, polyps, food intolerances and vomiting so severe that for the last three years he has been unable to eat food and his reliant on pharmaceutical nutrient solutions to stay alive.  His behaviour has deteriorated. He used to be a “calm, placid and affectionate” child.  Now he is very aggressive and doesn’t even like to be spoken to. He still cannot speak himself.

His mother writes:

“The only explanation I can imagine for Josh’s changed behaviour is hormones. Having said that perhaps his new behaviour is understandable in light of all the pain for GI issues, chronic refluxing, his inability to eat and being disturbed every night [when his mother changes his bag, which she has to do twice a night].  Whatever the cause, how do I communicate to Josh that hitting out and and slapping my face is unacceptable behaviour?

“When I read about parents who have killed themselves and their disabled child, I have no trouble at all imagining how someone got into that state of mind.  I could not do that, however.  Perhaps because I feel that the rest of my family needs me. But there is so little help and support offered to families like ours that I understand how people arrive at the point where they can no longer carry on.

“I no longer grieve for the ‘perfect’ child I should have because without his disability Josh would not be Josh.  We all love him for who he is now and we know he loves us. I would not give Josh up for anything, but I wish I could spare him all the pain and suffering that he has to go through every day of his life.  At those times when he is not frustrated or in pain, I hope he is happy but I don’t really know what it is like in his world because he cannot tell me.  I know he is often scared, frightened and confused, and that makes my heart heavy.”

Josh’s case is an extreme example of the GI tract damage that some children develop following MMR vaccination – together with regressive autism.  Other parents in the book contribute stories of their children’s serious physical illnesses, such as Deborah Heather, who son Andrew’s bowels regularly became so impacted that he could not hold down food or even fluids and vomited up bile.

The medication that Andrew has had to take for his bowel dysfunction also caused awful side effects:

“…we had to watch him quite closely because he had no controls of his motions, the diarrhoea would come through so quickly, if you turned away for a second there would be a trail behind him.  He would be sitting watching his videos and it would just fall away from him, his smearing would cover the walls, his bedclothes, carpets and his bedroom door.”

Andrew (who is also autistic) cannot talk but has some understanding of speech and can communicate his needs by giving his parents pictures of what he wants.  (His family use the Picture Exchange Communication System.)

Like other children whose stories are featured in this book, he has not received any compensation despite being part of a group in which the children’s cases were taken to the Royal Court of Justice and eventually the European Court of Human Rights.

All of the families who have contributed stories to this book have had their lives changed irrevocably by their children’s vaccine-induced injury. All have taken the time the contribute to this book in the hope that their child’s suffering will not be in vain and that other parents will be able prevent their children from similar fates.

In the case of Polly and Jon Tommey, their son Billy’s decline into autism following his MMR vaccine meant that they both changed their careers.  Together in September 1999 they launched a magazine  called The Autism File, a magazine that is now distributed worldwide with American and Spanish editions.

The magazine’s first issue included three letters about autism and vaccination; one about the DPT, MMR and autism and the other two about the MMR-autism connection.

As Polly writes:

“This was my first experience, as an editor, of what happens to you when you publicly speak out against the MMR vaccination.  We received a couple of letters from anonymous writers warning us that we would not stay in print if we carried on publishing such dangerous claims.”

However, it did not put them off reporting the truth about their son’s condition.  Issue 3 of The Autism File included the following:

“The biggest breakthrough we have found since my report in the last issue is that Billy has a high reading of antibodies to measles.  Dr Singh found Billy to have a high antibody to measles reading of 6.3 in comparison to a read of 3.15 for the normal control reading….Why did this not show up in his earlier vital antibody test conducted here in London two months earlier where the result showed negative?”  This could indicate an active measles infection.  Dr Wakefield at the Royal Free [Hospital] found a number of children with autism with gut related disorders have a measles virus present in the dendritic cells of the colon…and so it goes on.”

This issue was met with some positive phone calls, a “few odd calls” including a GP “who told us that we were a danger to other families with autism and that he would be taking this further.”

Polly and Jon persisted, however:

“The issues went on; the stories about vaccine damage grew.  I tried to keep a balanced view in the magazine , but too many were writing in with the same stories.  We quickly recognised that ‘shouting too loud’ about Billy’s decline was going to get us nowhere; and fast too.  None of the big autism organisations wanted to be associated with parents who were perceived as ‘hysterical'”.

The couple’s commitment to the truth of their son’s vaccine-induced autism has had its social costs:

‘”Every dinner party we get invited to, I check to see if any GPs are there.  Jon and I have lost friends over these parties.  It’s always the same old thing; the doctors say it’s a load of rubbish and we tell them the way it is.  Jon is particularly good at this as he often blinds them with stuff they quite obviously know nothing about.  They always finish with the same old patronising line about how Jon and I should ‘Get out more and try and accept that the MMR is safe’.  We have also lost a few close friends through our refusal to back down on this.

“We’ve fallen out with family members, mainly on Jon’s side, as they are GPs who refuse to listen or even try to understand.  This particularly hurts Jon who cannot understand why anyone who knew Billy before and saw what happened to him could believe ‘the media’ over what really happened.

Polly and Jon recognise that they are fortunate compared to many other parents of autistic children.  Feeling failed by the majority of the medical profession Jon decided to train in clinical nutrition so that he could help Billy and other children similarly affected.  For Billy, the biological treatments that he has had (beginning with secretin infusions) have been beneficial.  He can now speak (although not as well as a normal 12 year old) and is a “very happy boy with high functioning autism”.

“I hear of so many families with children like Billy that haven’t had such good results, many can’t afford treatment, many haven’t the energy or the time, few have support and so many are tired, tired of fighting the doctors, the legal system, the educational system, their families; everything is a constance battle to fight for your child’s rights.  Parents feel guilty but they shouldn’t have to.

“Help should be free and readily available, but it’s not, and the real battle to get the Government and medical profession to act on behalf of vaccine damaged children rather than against them, has, I fear, only just begun.”

Silenced Witnesses (Volume 2) is not an easy book to read, drawing you in, as it does, into the world of grief, guilt, anger and exhausted struggle of parents whose children’s lives were forever changed for the worse by vaccines that their parents believed would protect their health.  However the parents’ love for their children and their courage and perseverance in the face of their difficulties shine through.

Purchasing information:
The Silent Witnesses books can be ordered from the Slingshot publications site, about bulk orders and review copies can be obtained by writing to  or using the message form on the Slingshot Publications site.

About the Editor
Martin J. Walker is the author of ten books.  His first four books grew out of his work as an activist in the 1980s and are mainly about, policing, wrongful arrest and imprisonment.  His fifth book, Dirty Medicine: Science, Big Business and the Assault on Natural Healthcare was a landmark book on the suppression of natural remedies and alternative health practitioners by agents of the regulatory agencies and corporations. He followed this with other books about the politics of medicine, including a book on the hidden illness ME/CFS and HRT: Licensed to Kill and Maim. He has also returned to the story of individuals and lobby groups, tracing their history since Dirty Medicine in two later books, Brave New World of Zero Risk and Cultural Dwarfs.
In 2005, Martin Walker began supporting parents whose children had been injured by the MMR vaccine.  He attended almost every day of the three year General Medical Council (GMC) hearing that tried three doctors on a large number of trumped up charges –  authors who initially reported in the Lancet on the relationship between MMR vaccination, bowel disease and regressive autism — and eventually struck Dr Wakefield and Professor Walker-Smith off the medical register.(See Issue 21 of Uncensored for more information on this issue, or read the review of Dr Wakefield’s book on–-the-truth-behind-a-tragedy/ .)
The GMC hearings grew out of a Sunday Times article by freelance reporter Brian Deer.  None of the parents of the children who had been treated by Professor Walker-Smith’s team had complained about their children’s treatment.  All but one of the parents of the autistic children whose cases were reviewed in the Lancet paper were barred from giving testimony in the GMC hearings; they were in effect Silenced Witnesses.  This travesty of justice motivated Martin Walker to propose that parents of vaccine-damaged children contribute the stories of their children’s decline into regressive autism following MMR vaccination to two books entitled Silenced Witnesses (Volumes 1 and 2).  He edited the stories, wrote introductory chapters and published both books. Volume 2 is accompanied by a free DVD Selective Hearing:  Brian Deer and the GMC, produced by Alan Golding and praised by Dan Olmsted an editor of the website as “the single best video ever made about the autism epidemic.” Martin Walker’s writing on other aspects of  the “Wakefield affair”, consisting of eight essays are also available on his site.
To find out more about Martin J. Walker’s work or to buy his books please visit

Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines – The Truth Behind a Tragedy

Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines – The Truth Behind a Tragedy
Andrew J. Wakefield
Skyhorse Publishing
ISBN 978-1-61608-169-0
271 pages, hardback
Price: $US20

Reviewed by Katherine Smith

Tonight as I begin writing this review (May 26, 2010) the television news (propaganda) broadcast on NZ’s TV3 carried a story about how Dr Andrew Wakefield has lost his license to practise medicine in the UK. The reporter trotted out a series of damning allegations about Dr Wakefield’s research, stating that his hypothesis that the MMR vaccine could cause autism in some children had been proven to be false in numerous studies involving “hundreds of thousands of children” and blaming Dr Wakefield for creating a lack of confidence in the MMR vaccine that has resulted in the resurgence of measles. She concluded by stating that Dr Wakefield has asserted that he is innocent of any wrong doing and intends to appeal the decision. Her tone of voice communicated her scorn – and gall – that someone as reprehensible as Dr Wakefield dared to refuse to accept the facts of the case and was stubbornly appealing instead.

If mainstream media were your only source of information about Andrew Wakefield, you’d think him a villain. It’s the way he’s generally been portrayed in the media; as an unethical charatan who has abused the trust of both his patients (and their parents) and deceived the general public by casting aspersion on one of modern medicine’s sacred cows – the MMR vaccine.

Given the mainstream media’s coverage of Dr Wakefield’s story and that fact that he was pronounced as having treated his autistic patients with “callous disregard” you might expect that last people to support Dr Wakefield would be the parents of the “Lancet 12” – the children whose case histories were published in the first article in the Lancet. However, the parents of these children are among Dr Wakefield’s strongest supporters, eight of them writing an open letter to the General Medical Council (GMC) in support of Dr Wakefield and his colleagues Dr Murch and Professor Walker-Smith.

“Many of us had been to several other doctors in our quest to get help for our children but not until we saw Professor Walker-Smith and his colleagues were full investigations [of their long-standing distressing gastrointestinal symptoms] undertaken. We were all treated with the utmost professionalism and respect by all three of these doctors [Prof. Walker-Smith, Professor Simon Murch and Dr Andrew Wakefield]. Throughout our children’s care at the Royal Free Hospital we were kept fully informed about the investigations recommended and the treatment plans which evolved. All of the investigations were carried out without distress to our children, many of whom made great improvements on treatment so that for the first time in years they were finally pain free.”

“We have been following the GMC [General Medical Council] hearings with distress as we, the parents, have had no opportunity to refute the allegations. For the most part we have been excluded from giving evidence to support these doctors whom we all hold in very high regard. It is for this reason we are writing to the GMC and to all concerned to be absolutely clear that the complaint that is being brought against these three caring and compassionate physicians does not in any way reflect our perception of the treatment offered to our sick children at the Royal Free [Hospital]. We are appalled that these doctors have been the subject of this protracted enquiry in the absence of any complaint from any parents about [the treatment of] any of the children who were reported in the Lancet paper.”

It’s a sad day for medicine and the mainstream media when a dedicated doctor like Andrew Wakefield has to write an entire book to set the record straight because so many lies about him have been promulgated by the media.

It’s a sad day for parents of both autistic and normal children when conscientious doctors like Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues are persecuted because they cared enough about their child patients (and their beleagered parents) to comprehensively investigate the children’s condition, in the hope that at least some of their distressing symptoms might be able to be ameliorated.

Of course the persecution of Dr Wakefield and his colleagues wouldn’t have happened except for the fact that they listened to the parents of their patients’ when they took the case histories of the children’s decline into autism – combined with severe bowel symptoms – and found that there was a common factor in the case histories of most of the children: their behaviour had been normal prior to their receiving the MMR vaccine.

Professor Walker-Smith’s team decided the subject was important enough to share with the medical community as well as the general public, and so prepared an article for publication in the Lancet on their initial findings. Even though the original Lancet paper did not state that the MMR vaccine caused the children’s autism and debilitating bowel symptoms, the fact that a team of doctors from the prestigious Royal Free hospital had published research demonstrating a link between the MMR vaccine and autism ignited a storm of controversy that continues until this day.

What’s more, Dr Wakefield was sufficiently concerned by the relationship between MMR vaccination, autism and bowel symptoms that before the publication of the Lancet article he wrote to his colleagues stating that based on their findings and his review of “all safety studies performed on measles, MR and MMR vaccines and revaccination policies…I cannot support the continued use of the polyvalent MMR vaccine. I have no doubt about the value of the monovalent vaccine and will continue to support its use until the case has been proven one way or another of the measles link to chronic inflammatory bowel disease…I will strongly recommend the use of monovalent vaccines as opposed to the polyvalent vaccines. This will not compromise children by increasing their risk of wild infection, and may reduce the risk of apparent synergy between the component viruses that have been identified by Dr Scott Montgomery as a risk for inflammatory bowel disease, and may well be a risk for autism in our children, currently under investigation.”

At the press conference that followed the publication of the Lancet paper, Wakefield accordingly recommended that parents wanting to vaccinate their children against the measles choose the single measles-only vaccine (which was on the UK market at the time) rather than the MMR.

Callous Disregard reveals that the case brought against Dr Wakefield by the GMC was instigated by a complaint from freelance journalist Brian Deer. Brian Deer is a author of a number of factually incorrect articles about Dr Wakefield and his work, one of which was the subject of a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). The PCC required that Deer’s articles be removed from the website of the Sunday Times – and the articles were temporarily removed, but then reinstated in defiance of the PCC ruling.

Dr Wakefield also identifies Professor Tom MacDonald as a malign force behind the scenes, working hand-in-glove with Brian Deer in the journalist’s ruthless campaign to discredit Dr Wakefield and his work – regardless of the facts of the case. MacDonald is a scientist who previously worked with Dr Walker-Smith’s team but declined the opportunity to transfer to the Royal Free Hospital. Wakefield states that MacDonald “reportedly vowed to his boss to destroy my career.” Wakefield cites notes from a meeting between MacDonald and GMC lawyers who were vetting MacDonald as a witness, that state that MacDonald “believes Wakefield is a charlatan” intent on winning a Nobel prize and that “Wakefield’s alleged link between measles vaccine and Crohn’s was entirely fabricated in order to obtain publicity for this reason.” MacDonald also acted as a witness for the defendants in the MMR litigation in both the USA and UK.

Dr Wakefield also became involved in the legal aspects of the MMR issue, explaining his decision in a letter to his colleagues:

“The future for the children with whom we are dealing is very bleak indeed. Not only are the provisions for these children within the community inadequate at present, but looking ahead to the future, there will come a time when the parents of these children die, and the patients, as chronically disabled adults, left to fend for themselves in an extremely hostile world. Were there any long-term institutions left for such children then that is where they would end up. Since these hospitals are being closed on an almost weekly basis, these hopeless individuals will be left to ‘care in the community’. One does not like to imagine how it will all end, maybe their only hope is in people taking the possible organic basis of their disease seriously enough to investigate it and institute the appropriate therapies where possible.

“Vaccination is designed to protect the majority, and it does so at the expense of a minority of individuals who suffer adverse consequences. Although the case against MMR is far from proven, it is one that we are obliged to investigate in view of the consistent history given by these patients’ parents and by the observations made in the United States. If this disease is caused by the MMR vaccination, then these children are the few unfortunates that have been sacrificed to protect the majority of children in this country. If this is the case, our society has an absolute obligation to compensate and care for those who have been damaged by the vaccine for the greater good. This is an inescapable moral imperative and is the principle reasons that I have decided to become involved in helping these children pursue their claims…I feel I am obliged to…support these children. Without our help, I genuinely believe that the medical profession would otherwise have put them to one side, as it appears to have done in many cases already. My present fears for these children are much less than the horrible imaginings if they do not receive the appropriate help that is due them at this stage. However, I am an optimist, and I believe that this project will turn out to be both enlightening and rewarding for all those who have been involved, and I am most grateful for your help and encouragement.”

Dr Wakefield devotes a considerable number of pages in his book to refuting various allegations made by Brian Deer. In his Afterword, “Ethics, Evidence and the Death of Medicine” (co-written with James Moody Esq.) he states:

“The [GMC] prosecution proceeded on the basis of a preconceived assumption of guilt rather than conducting a fair and thorough investigation. Perhaps this whole GMC case has not been an honest effort to protect patients but politically motivated scapegoating after all?…Perhaps this is just one part of an ongoing campaign to stop research into the safety of the MMR and vaccines on the one hand, and on the other to conceal the appalling refusal of the NHS [National Health Service] to provide proper care for autistic children with severe GI problems, which is itself an egregious violation of basic medical ethics.”

According to the editor of the Lancet, Richard Horton, the UK Health Secretary (who holds a position equivalent to that of the Minister of Health in New Zealand and Australia) had urged the GMC to do what it could to “investigate Wakefield as a matter of urgency”. It speaks volumes about the commitment of the British Health Secretary to the health of the British people that he would push to have Dr Wakefield investigated, rather than the MMR vaccine.

Given the powerful vested interests of the vaccine manufacturers, for whom the MMR vaccine was extremeIy profitable, it was probably inevitable that pressure would be brought to bear on Dr Wakefield and his colleagues.

One of the manufacturers of MMR vaccine is Merck (MSD). Merck is infamous for its antiinflammatory drug Vioxx (rocoxefib), which caused heart attacks and strokes. It was eventually pulled from the market, but not until it had caused an estimated 27,000 deaths in the USA alone. Signficantly, Merck reportedly spent several spent years covering up the adverse effects of Vioxx so that it could continue to reap the profits of the extremely popular drug. According to Callous Disregard, during this time, the publishing house Elsevier (owner of the Lancet and five hundred other publications) set up five fake medical journals. These journals appeared to be reputable scientific journals, however, they were funded by Merck and designed to favour Merck’s products. Moreover “Merck itself circulated an internal memo that suggested corporate policy on Vioxx included seeking out dissenting doctors and destroying them where they live.”

(A good overview of Merck’s activities may be read at the following link:

New Zealand readers may already be aware that it is Merck’s MMR vaccine that is injected into New Zealand children – at the taxpayer’s expense. (In New Zealanders, there are no accurate statistics for the frequency of autism spectrum disorders but it is estimated that 1/100 New Zealanders now suffer from an autistic spectrum disorder.)

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of interviewing Dr Wakefield (over the phone) from his home in Texas, where he now lives. Until recently he was working as a consultant for Thoughtful House, an autism treatment centre in Houston. However, after the GMC hearing stripped him of his license to practise medicine in the UK, he left this position.

Dr Wakefield is one of the third generation of his family to graduate from medical school. He speaks precisely, in measured tones and his voice has a very British gravitas. He sounds like the sort of person who has never jumped to a hasty conclusion in his life.

We spoke for an hour about his work and its ramifications.

“I have lost my job, my home and my country”, he said early on in the interview, when I told him that mainstream media in New Zealand was portraying him as an irresponsible charlatan, while other reports I had read suggested that his motivation was pecuniary self interest. Despite the personal price that he has had to pay, he didn’t sound bitter. (In his book he declares that it has “always been a privilege working on behalf of children with autism and their families” and that “The damage done to my reputation and to that of my colleagues as well as the personal price for pursuing a valid scientific question while putting the patients’ interests above all others is trivial compared with the impact of these falsehoods on the children’s access to appropriate and necessary care.”)

I asked Dr Wakefield about the allegations that he had profited handsomely from his work on the MMR-autism relationship, as had been alleged by freelance journalist Brian Deer.

Not so, Dr Wakefield said. The 60,000 pound grant had been paid to London University Medical school and handled properly.

“And the 435,000 pounds you were allegedly paid by the Legal Aid Board for your work as a medical expert in the MMR lawsuits?”

The 435,000 pound figure was exaggerated, Dr Wakefield told me, adding “I never saw a penny of the money”, and going on to relate how his dream had been to set up a gastroenterology research centre at the University of London. All the money that he was paid by the Legal Aid Board (LAB), he therefore donated to an initiative to fund the creation of this centre through commercialisation of intellectual property owned by the medical school but funded by Dr Wakefield. Then the MMR-autism controversy meant that he was forced to leave his academic position at the university. The research centre was not established.

“What happened with the lawsuits?” I asked Dr Wakefield. “The results of these cases weren’t reported in NZ.” Dr Wakefield sighed and explained that he had been working on the case for about a year when he had received an unexpected phone call from a representative of the Legal Aid Board.

“If you were to go to court tomorrow, would you win?” asked the LAB representative.

Dr Wakefield was flummoxed. He didn’t see the relevance of the question.

“We’re not going to court now. We’re going to court in a year,” he replied.

“But if you were to go to court now, would you win?”

“We’d probably win on bowel disease.”


“Probably not. There’s more research we need to do yet.”

Funding for the court case, Dr Wakefield told me was stopped the following day. Lacking the research data to prove that the MMR could cause autism the plaintiffs lost their case.

“So the autistic children didn’t receive any compensation?” I asked.

“Nothing.” Dr Wakefield confirmed.

(In case you are wondering why the Legal Aid Board, a government funded body, stopped funding litigation that could result in vaccine-damaged children receiving compensation, one possible reason was that it was not the MMR-manufacturers who were the defendants in this case, but the British government. In 1988 a deal had been made between the Department of Health to indemnify UK vaccine manufacturer Smith Kline Beecham after their MMR vaccine “Trivirix” had been withdrawn from the Canadian market due to unacceptably high rates of adverse effects. It was then renamed “Pluserix” and licensed in the UK where unsuspecting British parents were encouraged to have it injected into their children.)

I told Dr Wakefield about how (in the early 1960s) the New Zealand Department of Health had purchased a polio vaccine that was contaminated with the monkey Simian Virus 40 (SV40). The vaccine had been manufactured in Canada, but was not licensed for use there. The NZ Health Department had ignored the advice of its own virologist, who had warned against the vaccine’s use, as even at that time, SV40 was known to cause tumours. New Zealand now has a cancer epidemic. Practically no research is being conducted in this country to determine how much of a role SV40 may be playing in this ongoing national tragedy.

Dr Wakefield contributed to the recent case of how vaccines against rota virus – a virus that can cause gastroenteritis, especially in young children, had recently been found to be contaminated with porcine [pig] retroviruses. When the first rotavirus vaccine had been found to be contaminated, it was withdrawn from the market. Then porcine retroviruses were discovered in a second manufacturer’s rota virus vaccine. The FDA reacted promptly. However, it did not withdraw the second rota virus vaccine from the market. It allowed its manufacturer to continue marketing this contaminated vaccine – and also gave the manufacturer of the first contaminated rota virus vaccine permission to put its product back on the market. The FDA justified these decisions with the excuse that there was no evidence that porcine retroviruses could cause any ill effects in vaccine recipients.

“Porcine retroviruses have the potential to integrate into vaccine recipients’ DNA,” Dr Wakefield said. “It’s disgraceful to allow vaccines that are contaminated with porcine retroviruses to be injected into children.”

“Disgraceful” is a word that you don’t hear that much in conversation anymore – or even in public discourse – despite, or perhaps because, of the growing corruption of many facets of modern life.

“Disgraceful” is a word that I remember Dr Wakefield using several times during the interview. It is clear that unlike a large proportion of the modern inhabitants of the Western world who have accommodated to the general decline in ethical standards, or indeed decided to exploit the growing moral vacuum for personal gain, Dr Wakefield has not abandoned the central precept of the Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm.”

It is not an easy time to be a physician of conscience. Dr Wakefield is realistic about the agenda driving modern medicine. Drug discovery, he says, is in decline; there are no new “wonder drugs” in the pipeline and the patents for many commonly used medications are expiring, threatening substantial reductions income streams. Big Pharma has accordingly pinned its hopes on vaccines. The industry cannot afford adverse publicity about vaccines that could affect public confidence in their products. If vaccine uptake remains high, the manufacturers’ profits will be high, and will remain so since any immunity from vaccination is temporary at best, necessitating regular “booster” shots to augment declining immunity.

“My experience,” [in bringing the MMR-autism link to the attention of the medical profession and public, and his subsequent persecution] writes Dr Wakefield, in the first chapter of his book “serves as a cynical example to discourage others. As a consequence, many physicians in the United Kingdom and the United Sates will not risk providing the care that is due to these children. There is pervasive and openly stated bias against funding and publication of this work, and I have been excluded from presenting at meetings on the instructions of the sponsoring pharmaceutical company. This episode in medical history has been an effective exercise in public relations and selling newspapers. But it will fail – it will fail because nature cannot be deceived.”

Dr Wakefield’s book may be purchased from his website

The website also has updates on the MMR-autism issue and links to interviews with Dr Wakefield.

Its research page includes downloadable PDFs of some of the key studies demonstrating a link between MMR and autism.

Postscript: The Daily Mail has recently published an article reporting that Dr Wakefield’s hypothesis is now supported by new research being conducted at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, USA. See: for details.

Making a Killing: the Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging

Making a Killing: the Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging
Citizens Commission on Human Rights
Copyright 2009
DVD 90 minutes plus bonus footage
Rating: M (recommended for mature audiences of 16 years and over)
Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights
Available from

“We don’t have any blood tests or other tests that are definitive for any mental illness whatsoever.” – Psychiatrist

So begins a slick expose of psychiatry produced by Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) – a non-profit organisation established by the Church of Scientology in 1961. Since that time the organisation has worked to support victims of psychiatric abuse. In New Zealand, the organisation was vital in exposing the shocking treatment endured by child patients at the infamous Lake Alice Hospital.

This DVD is a wake-up call to anyone who has been unaware of the risks of psychiatric drugs. It is an important tool that should prevent many unsuspecting people from becoming the next victims of this conscienceless industry. Make no mistake, psychiatry is a killer – 3000 people a month are estimated to die as a result of these medications. In the USA, it has been estimated that half all all Americans who commit suicide are taking psychotropic prescription medications at the time.

When someone who has been diagnosed as having depression or some other “mental illness” takes his or her own life, their death is commonly attributed to their poor mental health status. In some cases, this may be true. However, as Making a Killing demonstrates, people who have no history of depression who have been prescribed powerful mind-altering drugs for other reasons – such as sleeping difficulties – have killed themselves as a result of becoming mentally unbalanced due to the effects of the medication.

One such case was that of Beth Winter, described by her bereaved family as a kind and loving person who would never do anything to hurt anyone. Beth was prescribed Paxil after she consulted a doctor because she had been having difficulty sleeping. Her personality began to change from the first day on the medication. After just over a week of taking the drug, she hanged herself.

Self-inflicted violence is not the only potential consequence of taking psychiatric drugs. The DVD features a special bonus section entitled Psychiatry’s Prescription for Violence. This section of the DVD includes a conversation between a police operator and a father:

Father: I just killed my two daughters.
Operator: Sir?
Father: Yeah
Operator: Tell me what happened…What’s going on right now?
Father: I just freaked out and killed them
Operator: Are you on medication, Sir?
Father: Yes
Operator: What sort of medication are you on, Sir?
Father: I’m on antidepressants

It probably goes without saying that this section of the DVD isn’t for the faint hearted, not that watching Beth Winter’s bereft parents and siblings recount her final days is exactly a walk in the park. However, if you do watch this special bonus section of the DVD, you may be struck, as I was, with the tone of the female police operator’s voice as she asks the caller if he is taking medication. The words trip off her tongue so automatically that it appears that she has either been trained to routinely ask such a question, or she had simply learned to do so because she encountered reports of medication-related crimes so frequently.

Readers may remember the case of American mother Andrea Yates who became internationally infamous for drowning her five young children. Andrea Yate’s husband stood by his wife as she became the most vilified woman in the world. He blamed the medications that she had been prescribed for post-natal depression for her murderous behaviour.

How, you may ask, have drugs that can have such deadly side effects come to be so widely prescribed?

According to the CCHR, the drug-induced carnage is the result of decades of planning, dating back to 1967 when a group of psychatrists met in Puerto Rico and determined to develop an armoury of drugs with which they could influence human moods and behaviour.

“[We] see a developing potential for nearly a total control of human emotional status, mental functioning, and the will to act,” wrote psychiatrist Wayne O. Evans in a publication developed by the group titled: Psychotropic Drugs in the Year 2000 – Use by Normal Humans.

Since that time, leaders of mainstream psychiatry have worked hand-in-glove with the pharmaceutical industry to turn their dystopic dream into a reality.
They have enlarged the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) from a 130 page page booklet listing 106 “disorders” (in 1952) until the latest edition is now 886 pages and includes 374 sets of symptoms that are now classified as mental health “disorders”.

In the USA, psychiatrists are able to use the codes for these “disorders” to extract 72 billion dollars from private insurance companies and government agencies. However, there is nothing scientific about the DSM. The only criteria for the establishment of a new condition is for a list of symptoms to be created and a majority of psychiatrists to vote for it into the DSM. (Yes, these are the same people who are legally empowered to determine whether other people are sane or insane and can sign documents requiring compulsory detention in psychiatric “hospitals”, and in New Zealand may legally administer both disabling medications and brain-damaging electroconvulsive “therapy” to people without their consent or even against their expressed will.)

Over the past several decades, psychiatry has redefined huge numbers of normal human behaviours or emotions as “mental illness”.

Take shyness, for example. A few years ago, no one would have dreamed of defining anyone who was shy (whether occasionally or usually) as mentally ill. However, shyness is now listed in the DSM as “Social Anxiety Disorder”, or SAD for short – a condition that can be treated with medication.

Look through the DSM and you may well find that you’re mentally ill! (One amusing part of the DVD involved an experiment in which a group of volunteers of all ages and ethnicities living healthy, normal lives were asked to take on-line tests designed to screen for various mental illnesses. Half of the group received a diagnosis of some sort of mental illness. Some seemed bemused, others reacted with amusement. One young woman appeared surprised to find out that she was mentally ill and said she’d go to her doctor to get it sorted with some “meds or something” – presumably the producers of the film enlightened her about why that would be a bad idea.)

So-called “mental health” screening can have devastating effects, however. Making a Killing highlights the case of Alaiah Gleeson, a vivacious, healthy and happy eleven year old African American girl who was administered a “teen screen” test at her school. The results of the test apparently showed that she was “suicidal” triggering a months-long nightmare for Alaiah and her family. Alaiah was removed from her family home put into a mental hospital and drugged. At first she took the medications compliantly, as she was told if she did so, she could see her parents. However, as time went by and this promise was not fulfilled she refused to take the medication. The reaction of the staff was to restrain her and forcibly administer medication. Over the course of her incarceration in the mental hospital, she was restrained more than seventy times and prescribed 22 different drugs. At times she was so heavily sedated she could not even walk. To add insult to injury, two months into this terrible ordeal, Alaiah was told that her parents – who had been trying frantically to locate her, without success – didn’t want anything to do with her anymore. It took six months before Alaiah was finally reunited with her parents.

“I was a good child,” weeps Alaiah, now aged seventeen, on the DVD. “I didn’t deserve that. And it messed up a lot of things.”

Alaiah’s experience is an extreme example of psychiatric abuse of a healthy child, and by extension, her parents and other family members. However thanks to the assiduous efforts of the upper eschelons of the psychiatric profession, and Big Pharma, most people who are prescribed psychiatric drugs get their toxic medication(s) from their local physician, not a psychiatrist. Disturbingly, many people being prescribed psychiatric drugs may not even realise that this is what they have been prescribed. As drugs go out of patent, they are frequently re-named and marketed to a new population. Prozac (fluoxetine hydrochloride) a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) infamous for increasing the risk of suicide and other violent acts, has been re-branded “Sarafem” and aggressively marketed for “Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder” (PMDD) – pre-menstrual mood changes.

Zyban (bupropion hydrochloride) promoted as a stop-smoking aid is simply the antidepressant Wellbutrin re-packaged for a new market.

If you read the datasheet for Zyban on the website of New Zealand pharmaceutical drug regulator, Medsafe, you will find the following among adverse effects for the Zyban:

“Seizures (See Special Warnings And Special Precautions For Use), insomnia, tremor, dystonia, ataxia, Parkinsonism, twitching, incoordination, concentration disturbance, headache, dizziness, depression, confusion, hallucinations, agitation, anxiety, irritability, hostility, depersonalisation, abnormal dreams, memory impairment, paraesthesia, aggression, restlessness, delusions, paranoid ideation.”

It’s worth noting that these side effects are only those that relate to the possible effects of the medication on the central nervous system. There are many other side effects that may affect other body tissues and organs.

(Earlier this week I noticed that there is an advertisement playing on primetime on New Zealand television for another drug that purportedly helps people quit smoking. As the TV personality extolls the benefits of Champix (varenicline) a warning in fine print runs along the bottom of the screen that states in part: “Some people have had serious changes in behaviour, mood or thinking including self-harm or harming others. If you or your family notice changes in your behaviour or mood, stop taking Champix and see your doctor.”)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of smoking. However, smoking tobacco products generally takes decades to kill its victims. To my mind, prescribing any drug that may provoke suicidal or homicidal behaviour to a smoker who wants to quit is another example of Western allopathic medicine peddling another “cure” that’s potentially worse than the condition that it purports to treat.

Perhaps one of the worst aspects of the psychiatric industry is how powerful medication that may be used by thousands of unlucky individuals for years and years are released onto the market with inadequate testing, In the early 1990s, the FDA required almost two years worth of evaluation of new psychiatric medications before they could be marketed. Pressure from industry to “fast-track” drug approval subsequently eroded the nearly two years long evaluation to six months and the number of new drugs on the market doubled. That was wonderful for Big Pharma, but terrible for the population at large who were (and still are) essentially acting as medical guinea pigs for poorly tested medications. Many psych drugs that will be used for years by people are “mentally ill”, according to the latest definition, have been taken by clinical trials participants for as little as 4-8 weeks.

What’s more unfavourable data in clinical trials may be ignored and the drug marketed anyway. According to Making a Killing, this was the case for Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride). Cymbalta is currently being marketed for depression, anxiety (Generalised Anxiety Disorder – GAD), diabetic nerve pain and fibromyalgia. In one trial of Cymbalta in non-depressed people, there were eleven attempted suicides and four “completed suicides”. The drugs was approved anyway. The active ingredient of Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride) is now also been rebranded as “Yentreve” and marketed to people (chiefly women) suffering from stress urinary incontinence.

Making a Killing blames the revolving door between the pharmaceutical industry, drug industry regulators, academia and private practice as contributing to a situation where dangerous drugs can be gain marketing approval. Almost all panelists involved in psychiatric drug assessment have ties to the drug industry, according to the DVD. However, even if personnel involved in drug regulation were not so frequently ethically compromised, it is clear that the pharmaceutical industry has no intention of investing a lot of time and money developing new drugs unless they can get marketing approval. Former drug research chemist at Eli Lilly, Shane Ellison explains that drug companies put trial data through a process of “statistical contortionism” to “skew the numbers” for the purpose of hiding the “bad numbers”.

Children are increasingly being targeted by the manufacturers of mind altering drugs. One way in which this is accomplished is for pharmaceutical companies to start phony patient advocacy groups designed to create a demand for medications for psychiatric disorders. The DVD reveals that “Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder” (“CHADD”) is one such organisation and has an interview with a former employee who explained how he was fired from the organisation because he helped parents find successful drug-free treatments for their hyperactive children. He had advised the children’s parents to take them to a doctor for tests to determine the causes of their condition.The parents took his advice and reported that their children’s behaviour normalised within several weeks.

One of the most damaging trends in psychiatry is the diagnosis of major mental disorders in preschool children. In a depressing example of how one individual can make a truly dreadful difference, the DVD describes how psychiatrist Dr Joseph Biederman (a paid speaker, advisor and researcher for twenty-five different pharmaceutical companies) virtually single handedly popularised “juvenile bipolar disorder”. As a result of Dr Biederman’s efforts there has been a 4000% increase in diagnoses of bipolar disorder in children and a five fold increase in the prescription of antipsychotic medications to children. (Interesting, children who have been diagnosed as being “bipolar” are now being re-labeled as having “Temper Dysregulation Disorder” or TDS – I kid you not, you can read all about it at the following link:

A diagnosis of juvenile bipolar disorder can have tragic consequences, as is illustrated in the case of preschooler Rebecca Riley who died after being prescribed four different psychiatric medications. Although to any sensible observer, Rebecca was obviously excessively medicated (she was so heavily sedated that the teachers at her preschool rang her psychiatrist begging for her medications to be reviewed) Rebecca’s doctor was not help accountable for her death since the treatment that Rebecca received met the generally (medically) accepted “standard of care” for her (alleged) condition.

Psychiatry is now a $330 billion per year industry that doesn’t allow patient well-being to interfere with its profits.

Given the litany of very literal sins of the psychiatric establishment, what are the alternatives for people who are suffering from symptoms such as anxiety, depression (or even hallucinations) who want (or need) help? Making a Killing points out that there are many medical problems that can cause “psychiatric” symptoms, and suggests that a first step for anyone who is concerned about their well being is to visit a doctor who can undertake a thorough health assessment to first determine the cause of the symptoms, and then institute appropriate treatment(s). This is good advice. However, many people in the community are already taking some sort of psychoactive pharmaceutical. It’s very likely that many people on these drugs will not have been properly informed by their doctor about the huge range of potential side effects, will be shocked by what they learn by watching the DVD and will be motivated to stop taking them. For this reason, I think that the DVD makers should have included some sort of warning to people who are currently taking psychiatric medications not to discontinue them without medical advice since many create physical dependence and sudden discontinuation of these medications can potentially precipitate very serious withdrawal symptoms including risks of harming oneself or others. However, this corollary aside this is an excellent DVD that deserves the widest possible audience.

Discussion: Wholistic Treatment Options for “Psychiatric” Disorders

A number of different therapies can help people suffering from mental/emotional distress. In some cases depression or anxiety have a physiological basis such as mercury poisoning, or vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies, for example. A comprehensive health assessment to determine any possible causes of mental/emotional distress is a useful first step.

If there is an obvious precipitating cause for symptoms (such as someone who feels anxious after being assaulted) wholistic medicine can help with symptom relief. Homoeopathy can help reduce trauma related symptoms and Traditional Chinese Medicine which recognises the interrelationship of body, mind and spirit can also be helpful in this regard. Acupuncture can stimulate endorphin release which can boost mood, while needling of key points may result in the release of suppressed emotions, thus promote healing. Herbal medicines (whether Western or Chinese) can also be useful treatments for anxiety or depression.

A good family reference that provides useful information for home treatment of many minor physical and emotional problems is Practical Homoeopathy: A Complete Guide to Home Treatment by Beth MacEoin. This book has sections on homoeopathy for grief as well anxiety, depression and insomnia as well as common illnesses. It includes useful guidelines about when a problem is not suitable for home-treatment and a health professional should be consulted, but it appears to be out of print. However, Beth MacEoin, has a new book called Homoeopathy: A Practical Guide for the 21st Century which appears to cover many of the same topics.

Brain Allergies: The Psychonutrient and Magnetic Connections by William Philpott MD and Dwight D Kalita PhD is another excellent book. Dr Phillpott, a psychiatrist abandoned the use of toxic drugs and electroconvulsive therapy and began to study nutritional and environmental medicine. He developed protocols to help people suffering from schizophrenia and other seriously disabling conditions, including autism. (Dr Philpott would have been one of the first physicians in the world to use therapeutic doses of vitamins and minerals to treat autistic children as well ensuring that foods to which they were allergic and intolerant were removed from their diets. Brain Allergies sumarises his work and gives protocols for physicians who would like to emulate Dr Philpott’s success. If you visit googlebooks site, you can read the preface to this book.)

The link below is to a story from Cosmopolitan magazine in 1977 in which the reporter investigates the then newly emerging field of orthmolecular psychiatry.

The link below includes information a press released from the Orthomoelcular News Service that includes the sort of nutritional supplement regimen programme typically prescibed by physician practising orthomoledular psychiatry. Below the the press release is a story contributed by a grandmother who helped her grandson recover from years of psychiatric drugging with the help of nutritional supplements, a good diet and loving care and encouragement.

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On at the Auckland film festival

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The official ‘redband’ trailer for American The Bill Hicks Story
This groundbreaking new documentary uses a stunning new animation technique to tell the story of the modern cultural icon Bill Hicks.
Music: “Breathe Me” performed by Sia, courtesy of Island UK and Universal Music Operations Ltd. Written by Furler/Carey.

Review of “Programming the Nation” (DVD)

By Katherine Smith

“Programming the Nation” Presented by Ignite Productions and Digital Media Factory
Written, produced and directed by Jeff Warrick, 2009

“X-Files” “Blood” episode
Original air date: September 30, 1994

Mulder: “Scully, are you familiar with subliminhal messages?”

Scully: “You mean like ‘sex’ in ice cubes in liquor ads? That’s paranoia.”

Subliminal messages surreptitiously presented to the public in music, films, TV and print ads are the subject of this documentary – and contrary to Scully, are not a paranoid fantasy but a real and present threat to individual and societal well-being.

Warrick’s thoughtful and technically slick documentary examines the history of subliminal persuasion and its mostly deleterious impacts. Although the spokespeople for the American advertising industry have long denied using subliminal means of persuasion to sell persuasion to sell products, “Programming the Nation” unearths a swag of examples. Visual images used in posters and print ads featuring phalluses have been used in advertising materials for such diverse products as KFC, Benson and Hedges cigarettes and, most disturbingly, Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” – the original theatrical poster and VHS cover of which featured a hidden phallus in the castle. (Disney denied that the image was intentionally designed to resemble to resemble an erect, circumcised penis – or a dildo – but removed the offending member from future products.)

It is easy to see the possible relevance to including penis imagery in advertisements for cigarettes and food, since penises, like these products can be a source of oral satisfaction and the subconscious of the ad viewer can be trained to associate both smoking and junk food consumption with sexual potency, thus by-passing conscious messages that smoking can cause impotence and junk food will make you fat and unattractive.

It’s more difficult to see the relevance of a hidden phallus to a movie marketed to children, unless the company has one or more disgruntled employees who are trying to bring the company into disrepute, or the corporation has a covert policy of using subliminal images for the sexual corruption of children. Further evidence that supports this view can be found in the documentary, including the word “SEX” formed by flower petals floating in the night sky in an early edition of “The Lion King” and a barely audible line in “Aladin” in which Alladin says “Come on good juniors, take off your clothes.” In the case of “The Lion King”, Disney denied the word ‘SEX” was intentional, and removed it from subsequent releases. As far as the offending line in “Alladin” went, the company claimed that the character actually said: “Come on good kitty take off and go.” However, the film clip in the documentary clearly illustrates that “take off your clothes” is the correct interpretation of the words. As if to prove this point, the contentious phrase was removed from subsequent editions of “Alladin”.

Bill Yousman, one of the commentators in the documentary points out that “any advertising directed to a young child should be considered subliminal” since young children lack the cognitive maturity to critically analyse the media they watch, and very young children probably can’t even distinguish between the TV programmes and advertisements in between. Worryingly, advertisers have decided to target increasingly young children in order to win the battle for their hearts and minds – and brand preferences. “Programming the Nation” reveals that advertisers are devising ad campaigns for children as young as nine months old – and that research has established that by the age of two, children have developed clear brand preferences. With the average American adult being exposed to 30,000 advertisements a year, the average child probably isn’t far behind. There’s a huge amount of brainwashing going on and it’s no wonder mainstream America has degenerated into a mindless mass-consumer culture.

In addition to promoting unhealthy consumerism, subliminal messages can have many other effects, including promoting violent crime, according to information presented in the documentary. Footage of notorious sex offender and serial killer Ted Bundy is shown in which he claimed that there are “people like me, whose dangerous impulses are fueled day in and day out by violence in the media in its various forms, particularly sexualised violence.” Ted Bundy was executed a day after his statement was recorded. However, his words give cause to wonder how many more people like him will be created through media programming. Media Watch founder, former high fashion model Ann Simonton also appears in the documentary in a discussion of print ads that feature sexual violence as a theme. She explains that advertising images that use thinly veiled sexual violence give viewers the message that “it’s sexy for a woman to be a victim” and that such images help create justifications for rape.

Even when fashion ads do not feature glamorised portrayals of sexual assaults, however, their effects on their target audience can still be damaging. Another commentator in the DVD explains that ad agency executives in private conversations frankly admit that their job is “to make women feel bad about themselves” – and hence alleviate their depression and anxiety by buying products that promise happiness. August Bullock, author of “The Secret Sales Pitch” comments that advertising works as “a kind of reverse therapy” and that in contrast, “a therapist wants to help you resolve your unconscious conflicts and make you feel better about yourself, but media has exactly the opposite orientation.”

The effects of subliminal messages imbedded in music does not escape Warrick’s scrutiny with two cases featured in “Programming the Nation”. The first of these was footage of a live performance of “Stairway to Heaven” in which a member of Led Zeplin introduces the song while holding up his hand with his index and middle fingers raised explaining that words can have two meanings. While speaking he changes the orientation of his hand relative to the audience to illustrate his point. The DVD then presents an excerpt from “Stairway to Heaven” played backwards in which a voice can be heard to warble a bizarre text that includes the phrase “sweet, sweet, satan” and “666”. I played this section of the DVD more than once as I wanted to ascertain whether or not the text presented an accurate interpretation of the backwards lyrics. I came to the conclusion that the words sung backwards were definitely satanic. However, I later regretted making this effort as I found that part of the backwards song – which was surprisingly melodic – stuck in my mind in a disturbing fashion for several days afterwards. Whether playing the song in a normal manner would have an untoward effect on the listener, I have no idea. “Programming the Nation” presents research that shows that images flashed for as little as 1/1000th of a second can have an effect on brain function. However, the DVD did not present any laboratory evidence about what effect (if any) “reverse lyrics” may have on the brain and psyche. This being said, inaudible suggestions (that is audio messages that are so quiet that they cannot be heard) certainly do seem to affect people; according to an anonymous representative of a major US retail chain store, a nine month trial of inaudible messages designed to discourage theft cut shoplifting by 37%.

The potentially harmful effects of message in rock music are highlighted in a particularly sad cased featured in “Programming the Nation”; that of teenagers Raymond Belknap and James Vance. Both Belknap and Vance are now deceased. If they were still alive they would now be aged around 40. The two boys were obsessed with the heavy metal band Judas Priest and played their songs over and over again, until Vance’s mother feared that the music would make her go crazy. While Mrs Vance retained her sanity, Belknap and Vance lost theirs – with fatal consequences. One day they listened to a particularly violent song in which they heard the words “Do it! Do it! Do it!”. The boys began to chant the words, then took a gun belonging to one of their fathers and went to the grounds of a local school where Belknap shot himself. Vance then turned the gun on himself with suicidal intent but he did not succeed in killing himself as he didn’t brace the gun. Instead he blew his face off. James Vance had surgery to reconstruct his face but the result was not particularly successful; sensitive viewers may find his appearance shocking and distressing. In an interview following the shooting he said that Judas Priest’s music had produced in Belknap and himself an irresistible emotional roller coaster:

“We would get power from it…it was like a drug, like a narcotic.”

Vance died in 1988 from pharmaceutical “drug related complications”. Two years after his death Judas Priest and their label – CBS records – were on trial over Belknap’s death. The trial was allowed on the basis that it was the subliminal message that had caused the fatal shooting – as song lyrics, however repugnant – are protected in the USA under the First Amendment. The judge hearing the case determined that the song in question did indeed contain the subliminal suggestion “do it” on a number of occasions. However, Judas Priest and CBS were found “not guilty” on the basis that the messages were an unintentional artifact of the production process, despite the fact that the band members admitted using subliminal messages in other songs. Moreover, a master of each track of the 24 track recording was never produced to the prosecution so that each track could be examined separately.

One of the last interview subjects is Mark Motherbough who runs a business that produces jingles for ads as well as scores for movies, TV shows and electronic games. Motherbough boasts about adding subliminal messages into music he has produced over the years and adds that he “never once got stopped”.

Other topics in this DVD include the use of subliminal messages in election TV ads in the USA, how VNRs (Video News Releases) from government and corporate sources are being passed off as real news instead of propaganda and how subliminal imagery has been used in films designed for an adult audiences such as “Fight Club”. This is a DVD well worth viewing.

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