Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Malis-with-malice kills another patient..?

Takisha Madison.

I remember this woman as extremely anxious and arguably hostile. Obviously, in retrospect her emotions were quite rational. She was about to die. Her "doctor" was Richard Malis. "Malis-with-malice" as he is fondly known, seems to have an obsession about getting patients under CONTROL with drugs, no matter the risks, no matter the side effects, and no matter how much experimentation is necessary.

A week or two ago Tom Zubik told me, with all faux regret in his voice, how he was so sorry to say that a patient with whom I had worked had died suddenly. I did not know whom he was talking about, and of course he wasn't going to tell me, he was just probing to see if I already knew. I think he said the patient had a heart attack, so I imagined it was somebody old. Maybe Takisha was too young to have a heart attack, unless it was caused by bad drugs.

I don't even remember whether Takisha complained to me about the drugs Malis-with-malice was coercing her to take. I could probably look in my notes from a couple staffings I attended and get some idea. But Kol Nidre is tonight, so I will take a day to atone for my sin of failing to help Takisha refuse psychiatry. She was difficult to deal with, but I should have worked harder.

Meanwhile, I can only encourage and cooperate with any and all investigation into Richard Malis' "treatment" (AKA, killing) of Takisha Madison. None other than Vicky Ingram, who knows more or less all the secrets and all the behind-the-scenes skinny on the Elgin plantation, says that such an investigation has already begun.

And to paraphrase Lincoln, I can continue, if God wills that I must, to fight these slave masters until all the institutions and bureaucracies built under the false flag of "mental health" are sunk, and every drop of blood drawn by the psychiatric lash is paid with another drawn by the legal sword.

G' mar chatima tovah!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Nuthouse Reactions to RefusingPsychiatry

I have long known that my main audience is employees in the Illinois forensic psychiatric system. That's because they are what I write about. Sometimes I name individuals, sometimes I insult them, and once in awhile I compliment them. Many of them might prefer to be insulted rather than complimented by me, because they could get in trouble if they are suspected of any sympathy for my agenda or my opinions.

It turns out that the bosses read my blog. Apparently (at least for some months in 2017), Vicky Ingram, Ph.D., the Director of Court Services at Elgin Mental Health Center and one-time (I won't go into how dicey that particular one time was...) Acting Forensic Director, considered it her job to monitor the articles I posted and pass them around by email to a certain audience on a monthly basis. 

I don't know whether Vicky is hostile toward me or friendly. I would think she is smart enough to know that what I want is for the very people she was frequently updating to read what I write. But who knows, maybe she thought those people would be so angry that they would come after me in some way. (If they did, it certainly would cause them more trouble than it would be worth; so again, whose side Vicky is or was on might be a complicated speculation.)

Bill Epperson, Chief of Security, once responded to an article mentioning him by asking in an email "What can be done about this guy (me)?" Vicky told him she would check on it with DHS legal counsel. Bill is no longer at Elgin, but I don't really think I got him fired. Bill has been replaced by Jeremy Jackson as Chief. (When I told a couple people about that, guys who have known the many personalities at EMHC for a long time, the reaction was rolling-on-the-floor laughter.)

Drew Beck was seemingly enthralled by one of my ideas, which I published in an article on January 28, 2017, about rescinding psychiatric diagnoses. He emailed Vicky asking (sarcastically, I'm pretty sure) if Dr. Gill would be signing the form I had suggested. She laughed and replied dismissively that he might, but Drew then suggested that they go to Dr. Hardy (EMHC Medical Director at the time) about it to preempt the possibility, which he apparently was actually concerned about. 

Dr. Gill has been chronically in trouble with the bosses. James Patrick Corcoran actually called him incompetent in court once, and Gill has been anxious about his professional future most of the time I've known him. He occasionally goes out of his way to distance himself from me to protect his job. I won't endanger him by any more compliments or respect here.

Overall, I can't help wondering: why do you idiots read my stuff? You have to know it's intended to attack your group morale, your pride, and the symbols and ideals of the forensic mental health profession! If you had any decent level of group morale or pride, you would ignore this blog. But you have no morale or pride, and you can't ignore it. If you don't read my blog, somebody else might, and you really can't trust them to not agree with me, or to not talk about something I say behind your back.

I'd like to thank Vicky Ingram, and anyone else who passes  this around.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

2 Questions for Corcoran and His Ilk

1. Why did Jessica Vilaythong die?

2. Why did Lovely Jefferson die?

My thought is, these two questions have the same answer: These people died because Illinois' so-called "experts in forensic mental health" are incompetent and corrupt. 

Jessica Vilaythong was murdered, stabbed in the neck and left to bleed out on the floor of the bank where she worked, for no discernible reason whatsoever, by a crazy man who didn't even know her. He had been in and out of Elgin Mental Health Center several times after committing other violent crimes. He was "treated" by such luminaries as Richard Malis and Syed Hussain, two psychiatrists who believe totally in fine-tuning people's brains with drugs and/or shock in order to make them better and safer members of the community. 

At different points in time, Malis and Hussain gave sworn court testimony saying the crazy man was suitable for conditional release. They knew this with a reasonable degree of medical and psychiatric certainty, because their patient had complied with their "treatment" and sworn his oath of fealty to their peculiar religious faith in mental disorder (meaning any and all human difficulty with thinking, emotion and behavior) as brain disease. James Corcoran, who is the equivalent of an archbishop in Illinois' state psychiatric church, no doubt supervised and approved the conditional release recommendations.

The court went along with the "experts", which they almost always do, and let the crazy man out. Now Jessica Vilaythong is dead at age 24, and those who loved her mourn.

Lovely "Rooster" Jefferson was a well-known boxer in East St. Louis who some thought was on a path to world championship. He ended up in Chester Mental Health Center, apparently drugged into near oblivion, and was "found dead in his room" only a few months before he should have been released. His parents were not told, and the location of his body was not revealed, for several days. 

After two years of investigation, the family finally filed a lawsuit alleging that Chester MHC staff had intentionally provoked Lovely and then used unreasonable force against him (i.e., beat him to a bloody pulp and choked him out) which resulted in his death, before putting him back in his bed and making it look like he passed away naturally.

It was not the first time a "patient" was killed at Chester and the perpetrators tried to get away with it. A whistleblower tells this writer of a patient on Chester's C Unit in 2007-8, who was said to have been "stomped to death" by another patient named Horace Nix. An aspect of this that was highly suspicious at the time, was that Horace was an old man with severe, advanced Parkinson's disease, and the murder victim was young and fit. But in Chester, everyone is in on any coverup, all the way up to the Randolph County Coroner.

The corruption inevitably follows the incompetence, like night follows day. Those who work in the mental health system know they are supposed to help disturbed people. They learn a "professional discipline" like social work, psychology, nursing or medicine, which they are led to believe should give them tools to help. Then they encounter real crazy people and discover they have almost no actual ability to help at all. In fact their "tools" (e.g., psychiatric drugs, shock and labels) more often make things worse.

When a well-intended person is paid for something that they secretly know or suspect they cannot really do or deliver, they start to feel guilty. Eventually they begin to believe they are a bit criminal, even when they aren't. Ultimately they become real criminals. They murder somebody and cover it up. They turn other murderers loose on the world.

This is why Jessica Vilaythong and Lovely Jefferson died: Illinois' so-called "forensic mental health experts" killed them.

There must be justice.


Friday, July 30, 2021

What would I say to someone who doesn't want to be vaccinated?

My wife is a journalist, and she recently got an assignment to write about this for a newspaper. Of course, I just have to be the smart-ass and finish my own version before she does her article....

The first thing I would tell someone, before I would presume to say anything else, is: I'm sure you have good reasons. And you have an absolute individual right to refuse any medical intervention for any reason, or for no reason.

But it doesn't end there.

I would also say: The society around you is very afraid of this virus. If you are part of that society to any extent, if you are in communication with your fellow human beings, you will have to be responsible for that fear, and for what people will do because of it. I believe you will find going forward, that almost everyone wants you to get vaccinated. They believe that your getting vaccinated will make them safer, that the environment will be less dangerous for them and for those they care about because the virus will die out like polio and smallpox did.

I might add: Maybe you can change minds about this on a scale of the whole society. Maybe you can compete with the mass media, the proclaimed 'experts' and all the powers that be, with your own facts and superior logic and legal arguments. 

But if that seems a bit daunting, you might also consider an easier, far less expensive way to get along with your neighbors. Get vaccinated. That's what I did, and it was fine...

There is a close analogy between the right to refuse vaccination and the right to refuse psychiatry. The COVID19 shots and psychiatric 'treatment' are both widely perceived to be effective, or at least practical, medical interventions. Medicine is the supreme religious faith of the world now, and disrespecting or refusing to participate in its rituals entails some risk. This is a practical consideration.

Through my legal practice I help people refuse psychiatry without pissing off their neighbors. Perhaps this is all in a spirit of religious tolerance and pluralism, which history suggests has been the greatest blessing, where it has manifested, in recent centuries. (And its opposite brought us to the black gate and the hot mushroom cloud of 1945.)

But I have a more sinister (from some views) agenda. As I am successful in helping people refuse psychiatry, I separate psychiatry from medicine and from society. I accumulate more and more anecdotal evidence of people who were ruined by the drugs and shocks and labels, and other people who became productive citizens by much better devices. Such evidence drives the real, diehard enslavers of mankind, the truly evil psychiatrists who are few and far between, absolutely crazy. 

The whole trick, as an old and very dear friend reminded me just this morning, is not to help bad guys, but to quarantine them so they don't turn other people bad.

But you have to focus attention very closely, lest righteous resistance to any quarantine grows. You have to be extremely accurate in identifying the real bad guys. One very good sign is, who objects to people getting better by their own devices, without drugs and control from their psychiatric betters?

It's like the COVID virus. Once we had its DNA nailed, it became possible to create vaccines. They seem to work very well, and they should be used. The only alternative is masks, gloves, and 'social distancing' forever, or more dead people than we are willing to accept. I hate that!

The only alternative to what I do (at least for me) is the current 'mental health system' forever. I should quote Laura Delano here: "I don't want to envision the future of the mental health system, I want to envision a future without a mental health system!"

Psychiatria delenda est!

Sunday, June 27, 2021

DISCOVERY

As many people know, my partner and I are currently litigating five federal lawsuits which all allege sexual abuse of patients and/or other endemic corruption in psychiatric facilities run by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).

Some of those lawsuits have progressed well into the discovery stage. It's amazing what's coming out! Not the least surprising is the naivete of the attorneys representing the defendants.

We have recently been told, inter alia, "IDHS takes its obligations to protect the confidentiality of its patients seriously." This was an excuse for spending a ridiculous amount of time "redacting" medical records and other subpoenaed documents before turning them over to us. What took them many months could have been done in ten minutes by a blind man!

IDHS has one motive only, for "protecting" confidentiality: they need to keep their slaves invisible, nameless and faceless, so that when those slaves go free (which of course they eventually will) no one will recognize how they were disabled or who abused and dehumanized them.

As my law practice has demonstrated to me for over twenty years, most of these so-called "patients" actually beg for public attention to the injustices they suffer. The people who are highly allergic to any publicity are the psychiatrists and other clinicians and administrators. Syed Hussain, Richard Malis, James Patrick Corcoran, Robert Sobut and their ilk are desperately hiding from their victims, from the public, and from themselves. IDHS "protects confidentiality" for those guys.

The IDHS and (especially) the Illinois Attorney General need to look more closely at this situation. They need to extract themselves. When clients or employees are lying, forwarding the narrative of the lie makes an attorney or administrator complicit in crimes. Maybe the recent Giuliani suspension should teach a lesson about keeping the party line out of loyalty but in the absence of truth.

I've spent most of my life honing an instinct, and a habit, to be strongly and instantly attracted to things that don't make sense. If most people are like me, they more naturally tend to put their attention on things that do make sense, things they can understand. But the things they look away from are exactly what will sneak up on them.

Today's NY Times includes a Nicholas Kristof column about a 63 year-old black musician who has talked hundreds of racists and white supremacists out of the KKK. He has the robes and hoods and Nazi flags that have been turned over to him as souvenirs, to prove it.

While I may or may not believe that doing this sort of thing will bring peace on Earth, or even peace in our time, I sure do look forward to a post-Covid resumption of in-person monthly staffings at Elgin, Chester, and Chicago Read Mental Health Centers! I like to sit across tables, behind locked doors, in the same room with psychiatrists and psychotic killers and perverts.

It makes me feel safer.

And coincidentally, it helps me comply with Illinois Supreme Court rules of professional conduct.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Frequent Obs

In a couple hours, I will attend a virtual staffing for a “patient” (AKA psychiatric slave) at Illinois’ most renowned psychiatric “hospital” (AKA plantation), Elgin Mental Health Center. This particular client does not take psychotropic drugs. He can be a tedious person to deal with, because he has an eye for detail and a habit of insisting that everyone else should be as avidly interested as he is, in the huge volume of details that he points out at random moments.

This guy is not delusional or psychotic. He’s quite bright, and the clinicians who run the unit he’s enslaved on admit knowing that he’s “high functioning”. In fact they apparently see him as so high functioning that he ought to take over some of their responsibilities.... There’s a “low functioning” slave on the same unit who constantly insults and threatens my client, and others. The staff (AKA overseers) do not often bother to control this behavior. My client was recently told he should be able to deal with it without help.

The problem is, of course, that the ways he could deal with it all get him in trouble. E.g., when the other patient says he is going to slit my client’s throat, my client could: 1) return the threat and end up in a fight, 2) retreat to his room, or 3) incessantly complain to staff. 

Option 1) would make my client “dangerous to self or others” and justify further, more severe enslavement. Option 2) would make him anti-social or “depressed” and justify further, more severe enslavement. Option 3) would make him “paranoid” or “delusional” or “anxious” and justify further, more severe enslavement.

The further, more severe enslavement that the overseers would like to justify consists first and foremost of psychiatric drugs. 

Secondarily, there’s something called “frequent obs” (meaning frequent observation). Clinicians on the unit are told to keep a very close eye on a particular slave and document their observations at fifteen-minute intervals. The slave is concurrently also denied certain property and privileges. This is all arranged to provide “safety”.

It’s nonsense in this case, a mere cover for provocation and retribution. This client has been on “frequent obs” or the even more severe “one-to-one” restriction for at least two months. The overseers don’t like it when he points out that they are failing to control the behavior of the “low functioning patient”. And the masters certainly don’t like it when any slave recovers from mental illness without agreeing to take their drugs for life.

The purpose of “frequent obs” here is to test my client, to see how long they can punish him for his undrugged recovery and his advocacy for his own and others’ rights. They hope his patience and steadfastness will fail, so they can say, “See, mental illness!

It’s an ugly, cynical business.

Principles of an anti-psychiatry legal practice

Following are eight of the most important things I know and have learned from twenty years as an attorney, working exclusively to help individuals who would like to refuse psychiatry if they were only allowed to do so. These points are the general principles in the absence of which I would never have developed practical and tactical knowledge, which a friend of mine recently suggested could be of interest for purposes of a lawyers’ webinar she may host. But without at least a tentative understanding or conditional acceptance of the general principles, I suspect there would be limited value in suggesting specific tactics or trying to pass on my own peculiar experience with cases.


1.) State psychiatric hospitals and state employees HATE dealing with private attorneys who represent non-compliant patients. They will lie, cheat & steal to avoid this. One reason is, they may have to request their own legal representation from their state attorney general’s office, and that probably goes against their bosses’ budget at hourly rates. Another reason is, if they end up under oath in deposition or court testimony, their previous lying, cheating & stealing (or their bosses’ lying, cheating and stealing) may be discovered. 

2.) Public defenders usually (not always) HATE having to represent non-compliant mental patients. They believe in the system, or can’t be bothered to think outside the box. 

3.) Involuntary mental patients almost never have money to pay private attorneys, so they end up with public defenders or other public (similarly state-paid & state-obligated) advocates. 

4.) Adding up #1-3 above, it’s pretty obvious why the forensic psychiatric bureaucracy seems so omnipotent.

5.) But an important aspect of this scene is that the courts (judges) essentially abdicate their own responsibility to provide justice in many cases to psychiatrists, like the churches (clergy) abdicate their responsibility to provide moral leadership of people they can’t understand to psychiatrists. The one thing everyone is even more afraid of than viruses (which we suddenly know all too much about) is insanity. No one can  think about it or look at it, and so they are all fully dependent upon “experts” to think and look for them. 

6.) Ultimately, the only way an involuntary psychiatric patient attains freedom is by first realizing that they MUST change one person’s mind at a time by rational communication and truth alone, not by threats or lies. Even threats of legal action should absolutely be a last resort. (And I say that as an attorney for involuntary psychiatric patients!)

7.) The vast majority of mental health professionals of whatever stripe are well-intended people. They originally got into their business to help others. Then they got trapped by the lies that they didn’t invent.

8.) Notwithstanding #7 above, there are a very small minority of mental health professionals who are, or who have become for all practical purposes, irredeemably evil. Correctly identifying these few “true bad guys” is the single most valuable effort, for anyone who would fight the system.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Racism, Prejudice, Discrimination: Why Differences Are Important To Me

I have a very good friend who believes (as best I can tell) that I am racist, that she herself is racist, and that basically everyone is racist. I really don’t think so, but when I try to persuade her, she quickly retreats behind a knowing smile and a refusal to discuss it because “It’s no use, I’ll never change your mind and you’ll never change mine.”

It kind of discourages me, not so much because I dislike being called a racist; I know what my friend means, but what I dislike is what seems to me to be a misunderstanding on a very important subject, and my friend’s refusal to help resolve it. Either she doesn’t care, or I’m too damn mean when I argue.

I do not believe that my own race is superior, or even different in any significant way. I likewise do not believe that any race is inferior or different. As a matter of fact, the concept of race itself seems very impractical to me: certainly worthless for any scientific purpose, a vague and incoherent category.

There was a time in Western history when people did believe race was an important biological division of the human species, but almost no one with the slightest modicum of education thinks that now. My grandparents thought African Americans were constitutionally different from white people, less intelligent, more animalistic, uglier. But their generation’s belief in race was not a product of poor education, it was a product of elaborate miseducation.

Racism itself, apart from its implications, apart from the myriad social and political actions and effects that it causes, necessarily involves or refers to conscious belief, however complex or confused, in objective (probably biologically determined) distinctions between categories of human beings. E.g., skin color is said to be “white” or “black”. These dubious distinctions then have or are considered to have interpersonal, social and political implications.

If a white person feels uncomfortable sitting next to an African American on a bus, or doesn’t want to hire or let her children marry African Americans, that is an interpersonal or social effect. It may be caused by racism; but it may also be prejudice caused by insular experience or mistake. 

I can freely confess, as I think most honest people should, to various types of prejudice. I am prejudiced to some degree against non-English speaking people, people who favor drugs other than caffeine and alcohol, Californians, Southern Evangelicals and WASP elites, psychiatrists, and people who smell like food that I don’t eat. 

It’s  hard for me to be prejudiced against other races, per se, because I don’t know exactly what “other races” are. As a child I thought I knew, because I was miseducated. However, my miseducation was not elaborate enough to prevent me from noticing, when I actually met Jewish kids and black kids, that they were not significantly different from me because of anything called “race”.

I really prefer to hang out with people I know, people with whom I have more in common. We all do. But that’s not racism. It might be prejudice. There’s a big difference. Racism is a cause, prejudice is a possible effect of racism, and/or other causes. If you can’t see the difference, you will probably believe everyone is racist because everyone has some prejudices. But any particular prejudice, even the prejudice of a “white” person against a “black” person, may not be caused by actual racism at all.

Belief in race is very similar to belief in mental illness. Both concepts are mistaken, and products of elaborate miseducation. Importantly, both usually cause discrimination. Many types of discrimination, including employment and housing discrimination by race, and treatment or insurance discrimination against mental illness, are illegal or otherwise socially proscribed. 

I believe all discrimination based on erroneous concepts (e.g., “race” and “mental illness”) should be discouraged. But society cannot easily tell people what to believe and how to feel. Attempts to do that are propaganda, persuasion, public relations. It is more decisive to tell people what to do or not do. That’s law. The useful target is behavior, not belief or feelings. 

The present-day cult of confession of universal “racism” (maybe not quite universal, but certainly universal among all white people who don’t confess) is a serious impediment to understanding. Racism needs to be identified for what it actually is before it can be prevented from causing discrimination, volatile hatred, social conflict, violence, war. What it actually is, is the theory or conceptual error of defining a human individual by his or her biological, animal body.

Psychiatry does the same thing. Throughout its history, racism was endemic to it; psychiatrists actually led the way in developing the legal justifications and the methods of the Holocaust. Unwillingness to know about these things, and reluctance to learn more about them by discussing them with others, upsets me, in no small part because my children and grandchildren are Jewish.

We cannot be successful (and we shouldn’t want to try) teaching our children that it’s wrong to favor their own family, their own school, their own group. Prejudice and loyalty cannot be outlawed. There are few interesting games without opponents. But many forms of discrimination can and must be outlawed. Racial injustice and psychiatry are two peas in that pod.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Corcoran, Malis, Hussain, and Sobut: The Great Failure

Barton Swaim recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that, “The great theme of the Trump years, the one historians will note a century from now, was the failure of America’s expert class. The people who were supposed to know what they were talking about, didn’t.”

Swaim gives several examples, all of which are sharply political at this moment in time. Regardless of those particulars, and our current American ultra-emotional divisiveness aside, I think the fundamental prediction is absolutely, over-the-top-brilliant, and correct. (It is a prediction about the notations of historians a century into the future, so my bet about it is admittedly cheap. I’ll only pay or collect if I’m around in a hundred years....)

According to my neighbors and even my own family, I have two serious social failings, summarized under hate and fear: I don’t hate Trump enough, and I don’t fear Covid enough. I’m absolutely not bringing up Swaim’s opinion piece here to inspire any such continuing arguments.

Years ago I wrote about the dangers from catastrophic failures of confidence in authority, and how psychiatry contributes to that risk, as a “sub-prime crisis waiting to happen.” The “experts” who have failed more than any others are those in the mental health field! They are in a class by themselves, both because no other experts really have direct legal powers to force other people to comply with their prescriptions and believe in their opinions, and because their record of failure is far more sustained. When media pollsters or WHO and CDC advisors give advice, they at least have to rely on political leaders or government agencies to enforce it.

The epidemiology of illiteracy, substance abuse, family dysfunction, criminality, racism, mental disorder, depression and anxiety, shows a much longer record of failure than just the last couple of election cycles. It goes back more than half a century. These are problems to which our supposed mental health expert class should have attended with some success, if their vaunted brain science and behavioral knowledge had been real. The government-supported guild of forensic psychiatrists, psychologists and other assorted “professionals” has only tried, more and more desperately, to convince the public that they know what they’re talking about. They don’t.

James Corcoran, Richard Malis, Syed Hussain and Robert Sobut receive their salaries and benefits and pensions from the pockets of taxpayers. It’s a ripoff. These guys do and produce NOTHING in exchange, except dehumanization of individuals in their custody or their employ. They only create profound animosity and cynicism, and ruinous disability.

We pay them for that! We should stop, and we should collect restitution.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Open letter (email) to Tomislav Mihaljevic, MD, CEO of Cleveland Clinic

 Dear Sir,


I recently read a blog article which unabashedly promoted old misinformation about depression. Unfortunately, Cleveland Clinic appears to be implicated in this. 

The article itself can be seen at:


Author Sherry Christianson makes the statement that, 

“...clinical depression is a set of signs and symptoms that may add up to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This chemical imbalance is thought to be the underlying cause of clinical depression.”

As I believe you would know, the chemical imbalance “theory” of depression was rather officially disavowed, ten years ago. A recent article about the circumstances and implications is:


and the original disavowal (by no less than the editor, at that time, of Psychiatric Times) is at:


Since 2011, there has been voluminous discussion in public media, and increasing controversy about motives for the continued credulity and frequent mentions of this discredited idea — that “depression” (possibly meaning various indeterminate things) is a chemical imbalance that needs to be corrected in many people with drugs or electroshock. 

When I noticed that the website verywellhealth.com maintains a “proud partnership with Cleveland Clinic” it occurred to me that your institution is also promoting, perhaps inadvertently, the old urban legend. 

I would prefer not to believe that. Modern medicine confronts too many cynics these days, when we are fighting a world-wide pandemic, and we need to trust science. 

I would appreciate any clarification about this that you are willing to offer! My intention is only for broader understanding of the truth.

Yours truly,
S. Randolph Kretchmar
The Law Offices of Kretchmar & Cecala, P.C.
Wilmette, IL
847-370-5410 (mobile)

Does venerable Cleveland Clinic promote the old urban legend?

Yesterday Bob Fiddaman noted on Twitter another recent article, unabashedly promoting the infamous falsehood about depression being caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Bob has provided a critically important and very valuable service by “outing” idiots and charlatans who continue to push the all-too popular theory, which was disclaimed a decade ago by none other than the editor of Psychiatric Times as nothing more than an urban legend.

The article currently at issue was authored by Sherry Christianson, “a medical writer with a healthcare background” who “has worked in a hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer’s research,” appeared on the website verywellhealth.com, on 12/21/2020.

One has to wonder how any qualified professional medical writer could make this error or forward this bullshit. One must also question why the fact-checkers, medical review board and senior management team at "an award-winning online resource for reliable, understandable, and up-to-date health information" would allow any writer to assert admitted bullshit on its website.

The plot thickens, when we notice that verywellhealth.com is “a proud partner of The Cleveland Clinic, the #2 rated hospital in the U.S.”

I emailed the website this morning, as follows:


TO: feedback@verywell.com

Sent: 01/05/2020, at 8:53 AM

RE: What Is Clinical Depression?

Dear Sir/Madam,

Sherry Christianson’s article of 12/21/2020 on your website, contains this statement:

“Clinical depression is a set of signs and symptoms that may add up to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This chemical imbalance is thought to be the underlying cause of clinical depression."

Ms. Christianson should know better, and verywellhealth.com should never have allowed this statement to appear on its website. 

The first of the two sentences is technically true only with its prospective, MAY add up to.... Of course, the cited “signs and symptoms” MAY also add up to various other things instead, e.g., a meningioma, cancer, recent bereavement causing loneliness, or unemployment leading to probable poverty. Or those “signs and symptoms” MAY add up to nothing with any more specific name than “life”. 

The second of the two sentences is inaccurate without an additional clause to modify or ascribe “thought to be” such as, “...by uninformed laypeople whose opinions are affected from deceptive marketing.”

The “chemical imbalance in the brain” meme has no connection whatsoever to scientific or clinical medicine. This should not be news to you. 

No less an authority than Ronald Pies, MD, author of the world’s leading textbook on psychopharmacology, exposed the “chemical imbalance” meme some years ago as an urban legend, not any credible theory in psychiatry. (See, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/holistic-therapy/202009/questioning-the-chemical-imbalance-theory?amp, and Dr. Pies’ original statement in 2011, https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/psychiatrys-new-brain-mind-and-legend-chemical-imbalance.)

Hence, verywellhealth.com has opened itself up to charges of deceptively misinforming the public, and even health care fraud. In the least, the referenced Christianson article is utterly inconsistent with any purpose such as you claim, for helping “more than 30 million people each month to feel better and be healthier.”

In fact, promoting a long discredited urban legend about depression makes you, and by association even such a top-ranked institution as Cleveland Clinic, look ridiculous.

Yours truly,
S. Randolph Kretchmar
Attorney, Wilmette, IL
847-370-5410 (mobile)