Ritalin Kids: Prescription Drugs and Murder


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Testimony of Bruce Wiseman. Presented to The Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania July 20, 1999

Bruce Wiseman is National President of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and opposes the use of psychiatric medications.

NOTE: What you are about to read is a transcription of an appearance by someone who is concerned that certain prescription drugs given to students in our public schools are in some cases CAUSING THE STUDENT TO COMMIT ACTS OF VIOLENCE.

(This information came from http://www.resultsproject.net/ ) My name is Bruce Wiseman. I am the US President of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a group which for 30 years has been investigating and exposing psychiatric violations of human rights and cleaning up the field of mental health. I am also a former educator having been the Chairman of the Department of History of John F. Kennedy University. I want to thank you for the opportunity to address you today. But more importantly, I want to acknowledge you for having the courage to confront what has truly become one of the most dangerous and insidious situations facing American life - the fraudulent labeling and drugging of millions of our nation's youth with psychiatric mind altering drugs - a circumstance that has caused a corresponding increase in acts of senseless violence in our schools.

Ladies and gentlemen, we stand at the dawn of the 21st century with technology hurtling us into a space-age future while an estimated 5 million American children have been legally placed on mind-bending drugs. These drugs are not only addictive but are tied by exhaustive scientific research to hostility and violence and, in some cases, murder and suicide.

The use of these drugs - on a dramatic rise amongst school children, particularly over the last two decades - is a primary factor in the creation of acts of random senseless violence among our youth. Indeed, while all manner of reasons have been offered for the recent rash of school shootings, the simple but frightening fact is that the rise of senseless violence in our schools is date coincident with, and directly tied to, the increased use of these prescribed mind altering, mood-changing drugs.

And why should we not be surprised? There are now approximately 4 million children on the psychiatric drug Ritalin alone, a drug which the World Health Organization and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) place in the same category as morphine, opium, and cocaine - the drug category with the highest potential for abuse.

Ritalin is an amphetamine-like drug widely prescribed to children for the alleged mental disorder Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) a psychiatric label for children who fidget or are inattentive - the veracity of which I will address shortly. Despite the lack of any scientific basis for this alleged psychiatric malady, children are being drugged by the millions with this cocaine-like substance even though Ritalin's manufacturer warns that "...frank psychotic episodes can occur with abusive use" and psychiatry's Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (the DSM) states that the major complication of Ritalin withdrawal is suicide!

If this were not bad enough, more than 900,000 children and adolescents between the ages of six and eighteen are now on prescribed psychiatric anti-depressant drugs. These drugs, particularly the newer anti-depressants, such as Prozac, Zoloft and Luvox called SSRIs, are also tied by extensive research and all too many news headlines to acts of violence and suicide. In fact, in just one four-year-period, between 1988 and 1992, there were reports of more than 90 children and adolescents who had suffered suicidal or violent self-destructive behavior while on Prozac.

The results of the needless drugging of our nation's youth have been horrific. Some examples follow. The information isn't pleasant, but we can't pretend it isn't happening. While violence has been with us since time immemorial, what we have been witnessing over the last decade and particularly over the last few years staggers the mind and assaults our senses.

As I have previously stated, the commencement and increase of this kind of grotesque, maniacal violence in our schools is date coincident with the introduction and use of mind-altering drugs by our children.

These graphs show the alarming increase in the production of Ritalin from 1985 to 1995 as well as the number of ADD/ADHD diagnoses from 1988 to 1997. Bearing these in mind, consider the events of the last two years alone:

1. On May 25, 1997, 18-year-old Jeremy Strohmeyer raped and murdered a 7-year-old African American girl in Las Vegas, Nevada. Strohmeyer had been diagnosed with ADD and prescribed Dexedrine, a Ritalin-like drug, immediately prior to the killing.

2. On October 1st, 1997, in Pearl Mississippi, 16-year-old Luke Woodham stabbed his mother, 50-year-old Mary Woodam, to death and then went to his high school where he shot nine people - killing two teenage girls and wounding seven others. Published reports say he was on Prozac.

3. Exactly two months later on Dec 1, 1997, Michael Carneal, a 14-year-old, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded, one of whom was paralyzed. Carneal was reportedly on Ritalin.

4. Then in February, 1998 a young man in Huntsville, Alabama, while on Ritalin went psychotic - chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.

5. On March 24, 1998 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, 11-year-old Andrew Golden and 14-year-old Mitchell Johnson shot 15 people killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others. According to one report, the boys were believed to be on Ritilan. 6. Two months later another grisly school massacre occurred. On May 21, 1998 15-year-old Kip Kinkel of Springfield, Oregon murdered his parents and proceeded to his high school where he went on a rampage killing two students and wounding 22 others. Kinkel had been prescribed both Prozac and Ritalin.

7. On April 16th, 1999, 15-year-old Shawn Cooper of Notus, Idaho took a 12-guage shot gun to school and started firing, injuring one student and holding the school hostage for about 20 minutes. Terrified students ran for their lives, some barricading themselves in classrooms. Cooper had been taking Ritalin when he fired the shotgun's rounds.

8. The incident in Idaho did not make the national press (no one, thank God, was killed). But all that changed four days later when 18-year-old Eric Harris killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School before killing himself. Harris was on one of the SSRI anti-depressants called Luvox.

9. One month later to the day, on May 20th of this year TJ Solomon, a 15-year-old high school student in Conyers, Georgia, while on Ritalin opened fire on and wounded six of his classmates. Thankfully, none were killed.

10. Then there's 14-year-old Rod Mathews who had been prescribed Ritalin since the third grade and beat a classmate to death with a bat.

And 19-year-old James Wilson who had been on psychiatric drugs for 5 years and took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school in Greenwood, South Carolina killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers!

I could go on, but hopefully the message is clear - these drugs drive some who take them to acts of violence and murder and are THE common denominator to these killings. Just as in the 60s when Thalidomide (another psychotropic drug) created grotesque physical deformities in some of the babies born to the women who took it, so too do these "modern" psychiatric drugs deform and twist the minds of some who take them. They don't call them mind altering without reason.

Moreover, it is not as if psychiatrists don't know. The scientific research documenting the connection between violence and suicide and these toxic substances is overwhelming and long-standing ever since the 1960s. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has recently issued a report documenting 22 such studies from some of the most prestigious universities in the world, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the State University of New York and UCLA. Time does not permit a referencing of each and every one of these studies and we have made copies of our report available to the members of the Committee. I will, however, review just a bit of the information for you.

First, as stated earlier, even the manufacturer of Ritalin warns of "frank psychotic episodes" with abuse.

Ritilan's use and abuse was the subject of a 30-page report by the DEA in 1995 entitled "Methyphenidate", which is the generic term for Ritalin. That report stated in part: "Of particular concern is that most of the ADHD literature prepared for public consumption by CHADD (this is an ADHD adv

ocacy group) and other groups and available to parents, does not address the abuse potential or actual abuse of methylphenidate. Instead, methylphenidate (usually referred to as Ritalin by these groups) is routinely portrayed as a benign, mild substance that is not associated with abuse or serious side effects. In reality, however, there is an abundance of scientific literature which indicates that methylphenidate shares the same abuse potential as other Schedule II stimulants (morphine, opium and cocaine -ed.). Case reports document that methylphenidate abuse '...can lead to tolerance and severe psychological dependence.'"

"These reports and scientific studies of abuse potential are routinely downplayed, if referenced at all. As a consequence, parents of children and adult patients are not being provided with the opportunity for informed consent . . ."

In short, ladies and gentlemen, this drug is addictive.

Secondly, as also mentioned previously, testing revealed that Eric Harris, one of the dead suspects in the Columbine, Colorado incident, had therapeutic levels of the anti-depressant Luvox in his blood.

The following is from an ABC news report that cited an article from the American Journal of Psychiatry. "Luvox is the trade name for fluvoxamine, which research shows can "induce mania . . . ."

One symptom of mania is, "aggressive behavior" Moreover, a psychiatric drug expert stated that according to Solvay, the manufacturer of Luvox,

". . . 4% of children and youth taking Luvox developed mania during short-term controlled clinical trials. Mania is a psychosis which can produce bizarre, grandiose, highly elaborated destructive plans, including mass murder..."

Prozac is mentioned in some of the incidents above. Here is some information about what that drug can do. A. In February of 1990, Dr. Martin Teicher, a Harvard psychiatrist, reported in The American Journal of Psychiatry that six patients who were depressed - but not suicidal - had developed intense, violent, suicidal pre-occupation within weeks of taking Prozac (emphasis added). Subsequent letters from doctors published in The American Journal of Psychiatry and The New England Journal of Medicine reported similar findings. The report published in The New England Journal of Medicine noted that the patients had not been suicidal before taking the drug and that their suicidal thoughts ended abruptly upon ceasing it's use.

B. In 1995, nine Australian psychiatrists urged that SSRIs (drugs like Prozac and Luvox) be sold with a warning after patients had slashed themselves or became preoccupied with violence while taking them. The self destructive harm started after the treatment began or doses were increased and eased or ceased when the drugs were stopped.


I could go on, but again, I hope the message is clear: psychiatric drugs are the cause of violence and suicide and are THE common denominator in the killings and acts of senseless violence occurring in our nation's schools.

What then, you may ask, do you do for ADHD? Despite public relations efforts by the psychiatric industry to the contrary, there is no biologic, organic or scientific basis for attention deficit disorder, with or without "hyperactivity." This is simply a psychiatric label that was voted into existence as a mental disorder by a show of hands at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. But even the APA admits in its DSM that there are "...no laboratory tests that have been established as diagnostic" for "Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder." And a prestigious panel convened by the National Institute of Health just last November was unable to validate it as a disease.

There is, however, a great deal of scientific research which documents the adverse physical and mental effects when some children are exposed to harmful or toxic substances and which can manifest as behavior symptomatic of so-called ADHD.

The pioneering work in this regard was done by the distinguished pediatric allergist, Dr. Ben Feingold. Feingold found that food additives were responsible for a significant percentage of the hyperactivity he had seen in his practice.

Moreover, he found that a substantial number of hyperactive children improved dramatically when they stopped eating foods that contained artificial colorings, flavors and certain preservatives.

Additionally, Feingold found that:

"For children who happen to be especially sensitive, the three most troublesome chemicals are synthetic food dyes, artificial flavorings and preservatives can cause a host of physical, emotional and mental reactions and lead to being diagnosed as hyperactive."

In this regard, the British Medical Journal, Lancet, published a very well designed study in 1985 which found that:

"...79 percent of hyperactive children improved when suspect foods were eliminated from their diets, only to become worse again when the foods were reintroduced. Artificial colorings and flavorings were the most serious culprits; sugar was also found to have a noticeable effect."

Another excellent study based on the Fiengold diet involved 276 youths at a detention facility in Virginia who were put on the diet for two years.

The results? Insubordination dropped 55 percent, theft decreased 77 percent, and hyperactivity fell 65 percent. The most remarkable study of the diet was conducted over a four-year-period on a million school children in 803 public schools in New York City. The schools eliminated foods containing artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from the school cafeterias and also reduced the amount of sugar that was available. The results were startling.

In short, New York City Public Schools raised their mean national academic performance percentile rating from 39.2 percent to 54.9 percent with the gains occurring in the first, second and fourth years (precisely when the dietary improvements were made)."

This was the largest such gain ever recorded in any metropolitan school district. The report added: "In 1979 (before the dietary changes), 12.4 percent of the one million student sample were performing two or more grades below the proper level. Yet, by the end of the 1983 year, the rate had dropped to 4.9%. All gains were verified to have corresponded exactly with the dietary improvements."

Children do not need psychiatric labels or drugs. Yes, sometimes they need good positive discipline. They need love, care and compassion. They need standard, workable, academic-based education. And, as I have already shown, they need good nutrition.

Let me conclude my remarks by reading from an article 14-year-old Matt Schervel wrote for his middle school newspaper in Bethesda, Maryland when he was in the 8th grade.

"Schools don't like extremists who like to think and question. They are dreamers. That doesn't mean that they are wrong. They just don't fit the norm, so they are labeled and damned, labeled as A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder). So the doctors dope us up with Ritalin and control our minds with low doses of speed. The teachers pay us no mind until our minds are under control. It screws up our train of thought and makes us one-dimensional. We get headaches and almost depressed getting on and off it. It takes away extra imagination and flow of mind, hence destroying the true, purest ideas of my mind. I can't think right, and for six hours of the day, I'm not me. I'm what the system would like me to be.

The schools should shape our education around our idiosyncratic minds, our quaint minds, our quirky minds, our crackpot minds, our curious minds. Where would we be without eccentric people? We need them. The system should not shape our minds with dope and low doses of speed; the system should be shaped around us.

Ritalin does not help me learn; it simply lowers my mind down between the selected lines in which we are taught. Who's going to get further in life, the schmo with the same textbook answers and ideas, or the "A.D.D. kid" who can offer ideas that have never been thought of or a new perspective on something?

I truly look forward to the day when Ritalin isn't an answer. To the day when every student is labeled 'learner.'" It is a travesty that we are drugging these kids ladies and gentlemen. Education in this country was a source of pride and progress until we started labeling and drugging our students. It can be again, We spend billions fighting a war against illegal drugs, let's at least win part of that war and kick the "legal" cocaine out of the classroom.

We at CCHR strongly urge that:

The DSM section regarding ADD/ADHD be banned from use in Pennsylvania's schools.

That legislation be passed that calls for a full and complete physical examination by a non-psychiatric medical doctor to identify the underlining medical cause of any child labeled as ADD/ADHD.

That legislation be passed holding the psychiatrist responsible for the deaths or injuries caused by any child prescribed a mind altering drug when available scientific literature shows a connection between such a drug and acts of violence murder or suicide.

Thank you.

Bruce Wiseman President CCHR US

End Notes

Lawrence D. Miller, M.D. "Running on Ritalin."

DEA Report ":Methylphenidate" (Ritalin)

Physician's Desk Reference PDR 52 Edition 1998 p. 1897

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition DES-IV. Published by the American Psychiatric Association Washington D.C., pgs 207-210

Kate Muldoon, "Shooting spurs debate on Prozac's use by kids," The Oregonian 1 Jun., 1998

Summary done of FDA's Adverse Drug Reaction Reports for Prozac, 1988-1992, obtained through Freedom of Information Act by CCHR

Nora Zamichow, "The Fractured Life of Jeremy," Los Angeles Times Special Reports, July 19, 1998

Devvy Kidd, "We Are Columbine" July, 1999

Kelly O'Meara, Insight, "Guns and Doses", June 28, 1999

"Parents find clue to why their son killed", The Patriot Ledger, Sept. 19, 1987;

"15-year-old sentenced to life for killing classmate for kicks," Times Picayune, March 11, 1988

Gunman Kills Girl, Wounds 10 at School," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 27, 1988;

School shooting probe continues, " The Newton Kansan, Sept. 27, 1988

"Psychiatric Drugs Create Killer," Freedom, November/December 1988

DEA Report "Methylphenidate" (A Background paper) October 1995, Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section Office of Diversion Control, p.4 Goddard's Journal

"Eric Harris was taking Luvox (a Prozac-like drug) at the time of the Littleton murders" by Peter R. Breggin, M.D.; Physician's Desk Reference 1998 "Precautions" p. 2892

Martin H. Teicher, et. al., "Emergence of Intense Suicidal Preoccupation During Fluoxetinve Treatment, The American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 147, No. 2 (February 1990)

Prakash Masand, et. al., "Suicidal Ideation Related to Fluoxetine Treatment" The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol 324, No. 6 (February 7, 1991).

David Grounds, Andrew Stockey, Peter Evans Colin Scott, Rowan McIntosh, Estelle Morrison, Harry Durham, Rick Yeatman, Peter Farnbach, "Antidepressants and Side Effects," Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 29, No. 1, (April, 1995), pp.156- 57

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition, Washington D.C. American Psychiatric Association, 1994

John Robbins, Reclaiming Our Health, Copyright 1996, p.170 Ibid. p. 171

Ibid. p. 171

Ibid. p. 172

Ibid. p. 173


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