November 8, 2009

The Fort Hood Shooter: A Different Psychiatric Perspective

By Dr. Peter Breggin

Before I begin to look at his role as a psychiatrist, I want to confirm that Major Nidal Malik Hasan was driven by religious ideology. For years he openly claimed that the War on Terror is a war on Muslims. He announced on the Internet and to his fellow soldiers in a course on public health that a Muslim suicide bomber should be praised for killing a hundred soldiers. It’s reported that fellow soldiers warned his superiors that he was a ticking time bomb.

One wonders how and why the army failed to relieve him from active duty. One ridiculous explanation is that they had a lot invested him—his complete medical and psychiatric training. Much more likely, the army was hamstrung by the political correctness that’s been imposed upon it.

Let’s also see through yet another media smoke screen—that Hasan was more a crazy person than a terrorist. During the American revolution Samuel Adams pointed out that he’d never seen a man commit treason without first losing his moral footing in his personal life. As for being a victim of prejudice, Hasan was instead a provocateur whom the army tried to ignore. Hasan is not only a terrorist, he’s a traitor—a man who turned on his nation; on the army that nurtured, educated and paid him; and on his comrades in arms.

Not Surprised He’s a Psychiatrist
Some in the media have expressed surprise that a man whose profession is about caring would turn to violence. According to one theory, poor Dr. Hasan was driven to the breaking point by the stress of counseling returning soldiers and having to listen to their horrific stories. Totally false. Psychiatrists are no longer trained to listen to or to counsel their patients. Nor do they care to.

I’ve given seminars to the staff at both hospitals where Hasan was trained, Walter Reed in DC and the national military medical center in Bethesda, Maryland. The psychiatrists had no interest in anything except medicating their patients.

Modern psychiatry is not about counseling and empowering people. It’s about controlling and suppressing them, and that’s a dismal affair for patients and doctors alike. The armed forces have been taken in by the false claims of modern psychiatry.

By contrast, it’s not depressing to do psychotherapy or counseling. As therapists, it’s inspiring when people entrust their feelings and their life stories to us. There is no burn out when therapists feel concern and empathy for their patients and help them to find the strength and direction to reclaim their lives.

But being an ordinary psychiatrist is deadly depressing. Psychiatrists routinely commit spiritual murder by disregarding and suppressing their patients’ feelings and even their cognitive functions, making it impossible for them to conquer to their emotional struggles. It’s no wonder my colleagues have such high suicide and drug addiction rates.

Before Hasan became a murderer, he was a toxic agent stifling the morale of his patients by empathizing with their enemies rather than with them. The army needs to investigate the evil impact that this man must have had on the hundreds of soldiers he discouraged and drugged. He probably made his own personal contribution to the rising suicide rate among soldiers.

The most recent data show that soldiers are being snowed under not only with antidepressants and tranquilizers, but increasingly with antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal, Zyprexa, Geodon and Seroquel. To cover up their own therapeutic impotence, psychiatrists chemically suppress our troops and push them back onto the front lines. That’s the kind of poisonous psychiatry that Hasan was practicing in combination with his poisonous ideology.

Self-Medication Rates Among Psychiatrists
Psychiatrists are notorious for treating themselves with psychiatric drugs. They have them freely available and they simply don’t know anything different. The odds are that Dr. Hasan was self-medicating with antidepressants and tranquilizers that were causing his increasing disinhibition, at least in his pronouncements, until his final Allahu Akbar before he began shooting.

In my book Medication Madness I describe dozens of cases that I have personally evaluated involving relatively normal individuals who committed murder, mayhem and suicide while taking psychiatric drugs, especially antidepressants and tranquilizers. One of these cases involves a psychiatrist who began by self-medicating himself, then came under another psychiatrist’s care who continued to give him antidepressants, until he ended up in a manic state assaulting a helpless woman. Before being driven mad by antidepressants, he was a relatively stable and highly accomplished doctor with no special inclination toward violence. These psychiatric drugs will have an even greater triggering effect on someone like Hasan who was already ideologically and psychologically primed to explode in violence.

Failing to Identify His Dangerousness
Dr. Bart Billings is the founder and director of the premier International Combat Stress Conference, where I made a presentation last year. Dr. Billings, a retired colonel, is not surprised that Hasan’s psychiatric colleagues failed to realize how crazy and ideologically menacing he had become. Dr. Billings confirms that army psychiatrists are nothing more than pill pushers who have no idea how to evaluate anyone’s mental condition. He also agrees that it’s criminal to prescribe psychiatric drugs to active duty soldiers, increasing the risk that they will break under stress and lose their self-control.

I want to conclude with a few thoughts. First, Major Hasan is a domestic terrorist and a traitor. Second, he’s a madman—and that doesn’t contradict his identity as a terrorist and a traitor. Third, there’s nothing incompatible about being a psychiatrist and being a violent person.

Modern psychiatry is a violent and suppressive profession whose values are alien to the liberty and responsibility advocated by our Founders and upheld by our armed services. It’s time for the army to reject the false promises and damaging effects of modern psychiatry, and to focus on psychological, educational and moral approaches that genuinely help soldiers to prepare for and to overcome the effects of combat stress.

Originally published on The Huffington Post