Death in a White Coat (Celebrities Destroyed by Prozac) — (EClub)

To view original article click here

Campaign for Truth in Medicine – EClub

by Phillip Day

Feb, 2002

The quackery of psychiatry has been the target of many human rights groups over the years. Here, The Mind Game author Phillip Day highlights how psychiatry has devastated not just ordinary lives, but finished the careers of some of our best loved stars.

Psychiatry’s unproven philosophies and treatments have wrought far-reaching effects, not just in the lives of ordinary citizens, but in the high-profile world of pop-culture, mass entertainment and the media. It is perhaps in Hollywood more than anywhere else where we can get a picture of the devastation psychiatry has wrought on the gullible – Heath Ledger’s death just another in a long line of tragic, real-life scripts.

During the first half of the 20th century, Hollywood and the arts industry became seduced with the new ‘mental health’ ethos pushed by Freud and others. By the 1960s, language itself became peppered with ‘getting my head together’, ‘doing my head in’, ‘love and peace, dude’, ‘freaking out’, ‘far out, man’ and ‘chill’. Even by 1940, the psychiatrist’s many portrayals in movies had elevated the ‘shrink’ to a god-like status in the eyes of the public. Always the pipe-smoking benevolent ‘father’, bestowing wisdom and chemicals into the ears and mouths of his ‘children’, the psychiatrist was in his element. The Hollywood strategy was wildly successful. US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants for psychiatric research alone in America rocketed from under $10 million in 1957 to around $50 million by 1963 – an increase of 580% in just six years. Between 1963 and 1995, the funding exploded almost 900% from $60 million to just under $1 billion.

Lifestyles of the rich and famous
Many stars have owned up to needing drugs to get by. Singer Del Shannon (Charles Westover) thought the Prozac prescribed to him by his psychiatrist would “…help me over the hump I’m in.” His wife LeAnne “…watched him turn into somebody who was agitated, pacing, had trembling hands, insomnia and couldn’t function.” On 8th February 1990, after taking Prozac for just 15 days, Charles Westover shot himself in the head with a .22 calibre rifle.

Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson both admitted using the ‘liquid sunshine’ drug, Prozac, Diana becoming the subject of huge media speculation over her drug use. Royal author Andrew Morton’s controversial book, Diana: Her New Life, detailed her catastrophic mood-swings and alleged suicide attempt on board a royal flight, where she had attempted to slash her arms, smearing blood over the walls and seats before being restrained.

Lady Brocket, Libby Purves, Al Pacino, Roseanne Barr and Mariella Frostrup are among many who have been some-time users of Prozac. INXS pop-frontman Michael Hutchence died in November 1997 in an apparent hanging suicide. His song-writing partner, Andrew Farriss, attributed the death to Prozac and alcohol. The actor and comedian Chris Farley died aged 33 after a four-day alcohol and drug binge. Prozac was present in his blood. Don Simpson, co-producer of Hollywood blockbusters such as Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun and Crimson Tide, died in 1996 aged 52. Police searching Simpson’s Bel Air estate in Los Angeles discovered thousands of tablets and pills lined up neatly in alphabetical order in his bedroom closet. They later discovered that Simpson had obtained over 15,000 psychiatric amphetamines, tranquillisers and sedatives from 15 doctors and 8 pharmacies.

Have you noticed how, in the movies, the psychiatrist always wins against the ‘disease’? The reality, however, especially for the rich and famous seduced by the psychiatrist’s pharmacopoeia, is often tragically different.

Marilyn Monroe: A young Norma Jean, caught up in the web of drugs and film industry pressures, turned to psychiatry to alleviate her problems. One of Marilyn’s psychiatrists was Dr Marianne Kris, who received Monroe five days a week for therapy. After a particularly nasty session, Kris committed Marilyn Monroe to a mental institution where she was locked in a padded cell for two days. Monroe pounded the door hysterically until her hands bled. After her release, she fired Kris.

Dr Ralph Greenson was Monroe’s psychiatrist in the final years. Still ensuring the actress remained on her barbiturates, on 4th August 1962, after a six-hour therapy session with Greenson, Marilyn Monroe was found by her housekeeper Eunice Murray, naked and sprawled across her silk sheets. Death had been delivered from Greenson’s barbiturate bottle on her nightstand at the age of 36.

Vivien Leigh: Hollywood actress Vivienne Leigh’s hysterical outbursts were well known in the industry. After filming of Elephant Walk in Ceylon was constantly interrupted by Leigh’s frequent losses of control, wanderings in the night and hallucinations, now widely believed to be caused by a combination of her TB medication and heavy drinking, her husband, film legend Laurence Olivier, became concerned for her mental well-being and repeatedly pleaded with the actress to ‘seek help’.

Vivien was persuaded to be flown to England for ‘treatment’ at the Netheren psychiatric hospital. Her treatments included being packed in ice, a diet of raw eggs and repeated electroshocks. While being treated on location as an outpatient in Warsaw, she performed with a splitting headache. Burn marks from the electroshock were visible on her head.

Olivier finally divorced her in despair in 1960. Even though it was widely recognised that physical illnesses often produce psychiatric-like symptoms, Vivien Leigh’s long-running tuberculosis was relegated in favour of her psychiatrists continuing to diagnose the Hollywood star with various mental disorders. On 7th July 1967, after her TB had spread untreated to both lungs, Leigh was found lying dead on the floor. Choking on her own liquid, she had drowned.

Ernest Hemingway: Believed to be another ‘mentally tortured’ genius, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was given over 20 electroshocks by his psychiatrists to cure him of his ‘mental illness’. In July 1961, just two days after leaving the famous Mayo psychiatric clinic, Papa Hemingway put a shotgun barrel to his head and pulled the trigger.

Frances Farmer: Hollywood starlet Frances Farmer was typical of many rebellious stars of her era who lived life in the fast lane. After starring in the prophetically named No Escape in 1943, she was involved in a drunken brawl and arrested. Frances was placed into the custody of psychiatrist Thomas H Leonard, who diagnosed her as “suffering from manic-depressive psychosis – probably the forerunner of a definite dementia praecox” – a diagnosis later described by doctors as ‘pure gibberish’.

Farmer was transferred to the screen actor’s sanitarium at La Crescenta, California, where she was given at least 90 insulin shocks, finally escaping from the institution in terror. Her mother later signed a complaint against her and she was re-committed into custodial care in March 1944. At West Washington State hospital in Steilacoom, her psychiatrists gave her repeated ice baths and electroshock sessions in an effort to break her will. Mental health watchdog The Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) reports:

“Conditions [in Steilacoom] were barbaric. Both criminals and the mentally retarded were crowded together, their meals thrown on the floor to be fought over. Farmer was subjected to regular and continuous electroshock. In addition, she was prostituted to soldiers from the local military base and raped and abused by the orderlies. One of the most vivid recollections of some veterans of the institution would be the sight of Frances Farmer being held down by the orderlies and raped by drunken gangs of soldiers. She was also used as an experimental subject for drugs such as Thorazine, Stelazine, Mellaril and Proxilin.”

Frances Farmer died at the age of 57, broken, tortured and destitute. The movie Frances was made of her life in 1982, starring another leading Hollywood actress, Jessica Lange.

It continues today….
How have things changed since Frances’ time? Lena Zavaroni, the famous British child star, had been struggling with anorexia for 22 years. In September 1999, after years of psychotherapy, anti-depressants and electroshock treatment had failed, she was admitted to the University Hospital of Wales at Cardiff for a lobotomy. In spite of warnings that the discredited operation could destroy her intellect, erase parts of her memory and change her character, she gave her consent for the operation. She died of a chest infection two weeks later, weighing just 49 lbs.

Almost all of the street-drugs with which society is cursed today had their origins in the psychiatric cabinet. Indeed psychiatry, as I show in The Mind Game, justifiably stands accused of starting the modern drug culture. Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Keith Moon and Brian Jones were all heavily under the influence of street drugs, formerly psychiatric medications. Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain, originally diagnosed as a Ritalin kid and put on drugs, later committed suicide in his attic after being discharged from a mental health clinic.

Actor Robert Walker, Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac… the list goes on. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was bedridden for four years because of ‘voices in my head’ after taking undiluted LSD, formerly an experimental medication before it was discovered to bring on ‘psychiatric-induced insanity’. Over the years, Brian Wilson employed over 40 psychiatrists to rid him of his demons.

The Mind Game Mission
My award-winning book The Mind Game is an important part of the overall health puzzle. In it, I trace the origins of psychiatry – this ‘science of the mind’ – and uncover the unsettling history of the Trojan Horse wheeled into our midst. Part 1 of the book deals with the unbelievable development of psychiatry itself, from its barbaric beginnings in medieval times, through Wundt, Pavlov and Freud, to CIA mind control programs and the effects today’s manipulative information age is having on everyone. Part 2 examines the major ‘mental disorders’ from their true and vital standpoint. And it is here that the good news about the mental predicament is truly seen.

No-one denies that behavioural problems exist though the root causes are always disputed. When it comes to depression, ADD and other ‘mental diseases’, however, is the reality more straightforward and, most importantly, manageable? How can we manage disturbed brain function without the use of drugs? Can clear-headedness and sanity be achieved without psychiatry?

Read… and be inspired.

The Mind Game by Phillip Day
Psychiatry – an Industry of Death, DVD documentary