Medication Madness The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide, and Crime

Peter R. Breggin, M.D.

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

400 Pages



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Medications for everything from depression and anxiety to ADHD and insomnia are being prescribed in alarming numbers across the country, but the “cure” is often worse than the original problem. Medication Madness is a look at the role that psychiatric medications have played in fifty cases of suicide, murder, and other violent, criminal, and bizarre behaviors.

As a psychiatrist who believes in holding people responsible for their conduct, the weight of scientific evidence and years of clinical experience eventually convinced Dr. Breggin that psychiatric drugs frequently cause individuals to lose their judgment and their ability to control their emotions and actions. Medication Madness raises and examines the issues surrounding personal responsibility when behavior seems driven by drug-induced adverse reactions and intoxication.

Dr. Breggin personally evaluated the cases in the book in his role as a treating psychiatrist, consultant or medical expert. He interviewed survivors and witnesses, and reviewed extensive medical, occupational, educational and police records. The great majority of individuals lived exemplary lives and committed no criminal or bizarre actions prior to taking the psychiatric medications.

Medication Madness reads like a medical thriller, true crime story, and courtroom drama; but it is firmly based in the latest scientific research and dozens of case studies. The lives of the children and adults in these stories, as well as the lives of their families and their victims, were thrown into turmoil and sometimes destroyed by the unanticipated effects of psychiatric drugs. In some cases our entire society was transformed by the tragic outcomes.


Praise for Medication Madness

“Reforming psychiatrist Breggin argues forcefully that antidepressants, stimulants and mood stabilizers do more harm than good. When patients taking psychiatric medicines are unable to recognize their mental or emotional impairment, the author refers to them as victims of ‘medical spellbinding’ or, in its extreme form, ‘medication madness.’ The cases he cites here, drawn from his own clinical practice and from legal actions in which he served as a consultant or medical expert, frequently involve extreme adverse reactions: mayhem, murder and suicide. Each is a horror story, complete with details of the specific drug the person was taking, why it had been prescribed, the bizarre behavior he or she exhibited and the consequences to the patient, the family and/or innocent bystanders. Breggin has harsh words for those he finds responsible: medical doctors who routinely prescribe powerful psychiatric drugs; the pharmaceutical industry that hypes them; and especially the FDA, which ‘repeatedly compromises its original critical concerns and caves in to drug-company interests.’ Doctors, he cautions, can only be trusted as far as the pharmaceutical companies that provide them with information, which is not far. For those currently taking psychiatric drugs and alarmed by his dire warnings, Breggin advises against stopping their meds without professional help, and he makes it clear how hazardous the process is even with that help. For everyone else, he offers this advice: Do not take psychiatric drugs and do not let them be prescribed for your children. Instead, take responsibility for living your own life as ethically and courageously as possible . . . A powerful polemic expressing the author's anger.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Following his landmark book Talking Back to Prozac, psychiatrist Breggin follows up by arguing against what he calls the ‘spellbinding’ effects of psychiatric medications, and he doesn't mean ‘spellbinding’ as praise. His point is that all psychiatric drugs are dangerous; he describes how these medications can compromise brain function, resulting in bizarre, even violent behavior. Breggin, a former staffer at the National Institute of Mental Health who has testified in liability suits against pharmaceutical companies, cautions that consumers should thoroughly examine the drug labels for side effects as a precaution for such drugs as stimulants, antidepressants, tranquilizers, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. The tragic cases of beleaguered patients detailed here are troubling. Breggin joins the growing group of experts who argue that the FDA is ‘more dedicated to serving the drug companies than consumers,’ relying on doctored or incomplete evidence and botched tests. Breggin's assertion that psychotropic drugs induce rather than treat brain imbalances is controversial, but this book is a reasoned look at these drugs, which have come under increasing scrutiny in the media as well as medical world.”—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Medication Madness
Chapter 1Killing the Pain--and Almost the CopIF HARRY HENDERSON had been able to reflect on his behavior at the time, his mission would have seemed tragically and senselessly absurd--something no man in his right mind would consider carrying out. Nothing in Harry's thirty-eight years suggested that he was capable of such a horrendous act. Yet he would become an extreme example of the havoc caused by medication madness.Everything was going well with Harry's wife and family. After the catastrophe, many family and friends confirmed to me that Harry's marriage was a model for
Read the full excerpt


  • Peter R. Breggin, M.D.

  • Peter R. Breggin, M.D., is a psychiatrist and expert in clinical psychopharmacology. A former teaching fellow at Harvard Medical School and full-time consultant at the National Institute of Mental Health, he has written dozens of scientific articles and more than twenty books, including the bestsellers Toxic Psychiatry and Talking Back to Prozac. He has served as a medical expert in criminal and civil cases involving psychiatric drugs, including product-liability suits against drug manufacturers. Dr. Breggin founded the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, taught at universities, and is on the editorial boards of several scientific journals. He lives in the Finger Lakes region with his wife, Ginger, and practices psychiatry in Ithaca, New York.
  • Peter R. Breggin M.D. © Ginger Breggin
    Peter R. Breggin M.D.