environmental medicine vs. psychiatry, a David and Goliath story

special guest

by Patricia Ann Rattray


Part III of a three-part report on Nightline’s coverage of Dr. William Rea at the Environmental Health Center Dallas, and Chemical Sensitivity.

On March 20, Nightline aired a prejudicial and essentially dishonest program about Dr. William Rea, the specialty of Environmental Medicine, and Chemical Sensitivity. Part I of this report highlighted Nightline’s misrepresentation of Chemical Sensitivity, its misrepresentation of the treatment techniques of Environmental Medicine, and the politicalization of function of the Texas State Medical Board. Part II covered Nightline ABC’s conflicts of interest and Southwestern Medical Center’s financial ties to psychiatric hospitals. Part III highlights the conflict between Environmental Medicine and Psychiatry.

Environmental Medicine vs. Psychiatry, A David and Goliath Story

DOCTORS IN ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE RECOGNIZE a connection between toxic chemicals and health, and treat symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and hyperactivity by methods such as avoidance and homeopathy, allowing the patient’s immune system to heal.

Conversely, doctors in Psychiatry teach that there is no need to avoid toxic chemicals, promoting instead the idea that health is dependent upon professional medicine and pharmaceutical drugs. On the surface, it can seem like a lot more comfortable proposition.

Psychiatry has been under fire lately for its close ties to the pharmaceutical industry, which has become—in part due to the epidemic of people with the aforementioned symptoms—one of the most profitable industries on earth.

Opponents of psychiatry are calling it “pseudoscience” and Moran parrots the phrase on Nightline to refer to Environmental Medicine.

Big Business Succumbs to Echolalia

Echolalia: The involuntary parrotlike repetition (echoing) of a word or phrase just spoken by another person.

Citizen’s groups and concerned individuals work hard to communicate important issues to the public, over the stumbling block of popular media that increasingly focus solely on the agendas of big business. When an important grassroots issue receives public attention, big business immediately does damage control by incorporating the word or key phrase that most highlights the problem into their own public relations message. The public is derailed from understanding important issues when both sides of the controversy are described with the same words.

Case in point, “pseudoscience” — a term used to describe medicine driven by pharmaceutical profits rather than human health. The term has been used in one form or another by psychiatrists and other concerned individuals about the escalating inappropriate use of psychiatric drugs in the U.S., especially for schoolchildren, 20% of whom are now on some form of psychiatric medication.1 Notable among these are Peter Breggin, M.D. and Loren Mosher, M.D. who both appear in Gary Null’s video “The Drugging of Our Children.” But most of the public probably heard the term from Tom Cruise on the Today Show in 2005, where he spoke passionately against the use of psychotropic drugs and the field of psychiatry, calling it a “pseudoscience.”2

Allen Jones also used the term “pseudoscience” in his 2002 whistleblower report to describe the collusion between psychiatrists, government agencies and drug companies. Jones was an Investigator with Office of Inspector General (OIG) in Pennsylvania when the the Texas Medication Algorhithm Project (TMAP) was instituted in his state via funding by drug companies. TMAP requires that state doctors use newer more expensive psychiatric drugs first on captive populations in prisons and mental hospitals. These newer drugs cause serious, often-fatal side effects, especially in children and were not proven to be more effective in clinical trials.3

The TMAP program originated in Texas, not surprisingly, during Bush’s term as governor. With drug company funding, TMAP is being exported to other states now; and as of 2004 has been recommended by President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health as a model program for the entire country.

Commission recommendations include universal mental health screening for US adults and children and the prescription of psychoactive medication. TeenScreen, mental health screening for school children, has already begun in some schools in the country. Dr. Fred Baughman, a neurologist and author of “The ADHD Fraud” pointed out on a Providence radio broadcast that a pilot program of TeenScreen in Nashville, Tennessee, showed 51% of the children qualified as “depressed.”4

Diagnosis of depression, made easier by use of symptom checklists to qualify individuals, creates a larger market for drugs. Robert Whitaker, author of “Mad in America” points out, “As long as we draw as big a circle as possible, and expand the boundaries of mental illness, psychiatry can have more clients and sell more drugs. So there’s a built-in economic incentive to define mental illness in as broad terms as possible.”5

Statistics show there is definitely something wrong with the health of Americans, and there are high financial stakes involved in calling it “mental illness.” Some reports say that 20 percent of Americans now are mentally ill. A 2005 independent report stated that 11% of women and 5% of men in the non-institutionalized population (2002) now take antidepressants.6 Sales of antidepressants total about $21 billion a year, according to IMS Health and $12 billion dollars of that is spent in the U.S.7

Harvey Wiley, M.D., U.S. Government Chemist, found a reason for depression back in 1902 other than “life stresses” or a “brain chemical imbalance.” Building a case for creation of the FDA, he conducted an official five-year study on synthetic food additives proposed for use in our food. He found in a team of healthy male subjects—appropriately named “The Poison Squad”—that, “they developed persistent headaches in most cases, followed by general depression and debility. It was extremely well marked in every instance.”8

The FDA was eventually created but failed to enact the important restrictions on synthetic additives which Dr. Wiley and his subjects worked so diligently to bring about. Wiley was maligned by industry and left his government post in 1906 to campaign outside government for stricter controls on the use of synthetic chemicals, never to be successful. What he said about continuous small doses of toxic substances is noteworthy today. Wiley pointed out that there may be, “no measurable effect upon a healthy individual for a long time, but that in the end it would produce no harmful effect is contrary to all the rules of physiology and logic.”9

The mentality able to grasp this medical reality was lost to the larger public around 1920 when the last homeopathic medical school was closed in the U.S. The same industry forces that were able to manufacture permission for synthetic chemical additives, industries owning pharmaceutical companies, were also able to change the medical schools of the United States from homeopathic medicine to allopathic medicine—a German school which depended on the heavy use of drugs, radical surgery, and long hospital stays. The change in the practice of medicine in the U.S. did not evolve naturally due to the superiority of allopathic medicine; it was an orchestrated business move. It was advertised as a benefit to the American public, however, believing doesn’t make it so. At the turn of the century in 1900, one in 50 people had cancer. Now it is one in two or one in three.10

One Hundred Years and Millions of Children Later…

As reported in Lancet, September 06, 2007, Professor Jim Stevenson and a group of researchers at University of Southampton found the number of hyperactive children could be decreased 30% by banning certain food additives. Two groups of children showed marked behavioral changes when given certain additives during controlled clinical trials. Children who were given additives had difficulty sitting still and concentrating. They also became loud and impulsive and had problems reading. Stevenson and his colleagues believe the harm caused to the IQ of children by these additives is comparable to the damaging impact of lead on a developing brain.11

One of the offending additives in the Southampton study was sodium benzoate, a preservative that was proven to have detrimental effects during Dr. Wiley’s study and one that he fought hard to get the FDA to restrict back in 1906.

Dr. Ronald Dworkin, a Maryland anesthesiologist and senior fellow at Washington’s conservative Hudson Institute, seems to stubble across the truth when he states, “Too many people take drugs when they really need to be making changes in their lives.”12

Environmental Medicine recognizes that people do need to make changes in their lives. One gravely needed change is a decrease in the use of toxic chemicals and nowhere is the need more highlighted than in the condition of chemical sensitivity, universal recognition of which would be anathema to chemical/pharmaceutical conglomerates. Bush’s New Freedom Act is a method by which people who are chemically sensitive can be funneled unsuspectingly into the mental health system where the problem can continue to be hidden from the attention of the American public.

Nightline’s broadcast lays the groundwork for making this possible. In a Street Spirit interview with Robert Whitaker, Terry Messman writes, “The story becomes even more frightening when we look at the aggressive tactics these giant drug companies have used to silence prominent critics by defaming them in the press, and by using their money and power to have widely respected scientists and eminent medical researchers fired…”13

I don’t want to spend any time on the ethics of Nightline using photo-negative images to portray how people with chemical sensitivity see, typically used in movies to portray the perspective of animals or the insane; or of presenting the 200-year-old science of homeopathy as “injecting jet fuel;” or of describing the medical protocol used to get well as the actual illness itself—ICU procedures and the details of a heart transplant would sound pretty strange to anyone who hadn’t been familiarized with them.

I don’t want to spend any time on these things except to say that this is not just a display of subtle bias—it is blatant use of propaganda techniques in which Terry Moran, David A. Khan, and Marie Robinson all knowingly engage and violate the standards of their respective professions.

The fact that they all do so with impunity is a symptom of how off-balance social power has become in our country and why Americans have to start depending on alternative sources of media. It is a David and Goliath story with the pharmaceutical industry generating 400 billion dollars a year14 and using a good part of the profit to protect their own best interests.

see also:
Nightline ABC’s Clattering Train – Part I

Nightline ABC’s Clattering Train – Part II
owners at Nightline’s Disney /ABC also own psychiatric hospitals

Protect your health rights and those of others by writing to Texas Legislature Representives and the Texas Medical Board to protest the review of Dr. Rea’s license. For background information in composing your letter see: “Letter from Dr. Rea to Patients”

Texas Legislature Representatives:

Senator Jane Nelson
Chair of the Senate Health
and Human Services Committee
P. O. Box 12068
Austin, TX 78711
TEL: (512) 463-0112

Representative Fred Brown
Room CAP GW.4
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, Texas 78768
TEL: (512) 463-0698
FAX: (512) 463-5109

Texas Medical Board:

Donald W. Patrick, M.D., J.D.
(Executive Director)
Texas Medical Board
P. O. Box 2018
Austin, Texas 78768
TEL: (512) 305-7030
FAX: (512) 305-7051


1Fred Baughman Jr., M.D., “The ADHD Fraud, Part 5,” YouTube.com.

2Tom Cruise on Psychiatry,” YouTube.com.

3Allen Jones, “Full Whistle-Blower Report on Drug Company Influence on State’s Drug Purchases,” Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, January 20, 2004.

4Fred Baughman Jr., M.D., “The ADHD Fraud, Part 5,” YouTube.com.

5Terry Messman, “Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition. Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker,” Street Spirit, August 2005.

6Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “Antidepressant Use in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2002,” Medical Expenditure Panel Survery.

7David Armstrong and Keith J. Winstein, “Antidepressants Under Scrutiny Over Efficacy Sweeping Overview Suggests Suppression of Negative Data Has Distorted View of Drugs,” Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2008; Page D1.

8Harvey W. Wiley, M.D., The History of a Crime Against the Food Law,” Am J Public Health Nations Health, 1929 December; 19(12): 1389.

9Harvey W. Wiley, M.D., The History of a Crime Against the Food Law,” Am J Public Health Nations Health, 1929 December; Chapter 2.

10Libba HaLavey, “‘Our Toxic World: A Wake-up Call’ Interview with Dr. Doris J. Rapp, M.D.,” Women Speak Out Radio Show, 2005.

11Sean Poulter, “Additives DO harm children—and a ban could cut child hyperactivity by a third, say scientists,” Daily Mail [London] April 10, 2008.

12 Elizabeth Cohen, “CDC: Antidepressants most prescribed drugs in U.S.,” CNN.com/health, July 09, 2007.

13Terry Messman, “Psychiatric Drugs: An Assault on the Human Condition. Street Spirit Interview with Robert Whitaker,” Street Spirit, August 2005.

14Gardiner Harris, “MEDICAL MARKETING—Treatment by Incentive; As Doctor Writes Prescription, Drug Company Writes a Check,” New York Times, June 27, 2004, Health.

photo credits: Pills © Marcelo Wain / iStockphoto

Patricia Ann RattrayPatricia Ann Rattray is a writer specializing in issues of holism and social justice and is actively engaged in creating a healthy sustainable world.

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