Book Review: “The Silent World of the Insane”

Today’s medicines have been responsible for patient’s miraculous recoveries, but some medicines are prescriptions for madness! Christopher Hancock was a bright, normal 16 year old who fell in love and just like most people, his happiness was shattered when they broke up. He went to school, played basketball, participated in activities, but decided he wanted to see a counselor to work through his feelings. This was the beginning of a nightmare for Christopher and his family.

Although Christopher did not have the symptoms of clinical depression, the doctor prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft. During the next month, he became aggressive, argumentative, and as his mother described, “He turned into a real monster.” His medication was changed to another antidepressant Wellbutrin, with even more bizarre reactions. Christopher spoke about killing himself and threatened the lives of his friends. After six weeks, Joy committed him to a psychiatric hospital. The new prescription, Paxil drove him even deeper into madness! After finding a gun and threatening to kill himself, Christopher was admitted into a second psychiatric hospital. The diagnosis was changed from depression to obsessive compulsive disorder, now the dosage was stronger- Luvox anti-psychotic drugs.

After three attempts at suicide and a chocking attack on his mother, the doctor’s answer was more and more pills. Joy remembers, “Christopher had such rage, he would literally just explode.” Christopher’s violence was so unpredictable, his family and friends were afraid because they never knew, from morning to night, when his behavior would change. When he suffered hallucinations, they changed his medication. The doctors prescribed Buspar, Zyprexa, then tried Risperdal. The latest diagnosis, schizophrenia lasted 2 days and switched to bipolar with new drugs- Haldol and Depakot. He was prescribed several of these medications at the same time. Finally the doctors suggested the family move to new surroundings. He made friends and weaned himself off the drugs. Without the drugs he became normal again.

Joy’s book “Prescription for Madness” is a brilliant story which every parent should read. When do we stop listening to doctors and seek a second opinion? Doctors are aware of the side effects of these antidepressant and anti-psychotic drugs. Think therapy first! Joy advises parents, “Is your child merely exhibiting negative behavior and having a tough time getting through school, or do you see severe depression or extreme behavior? Christopher’s erratic behavior surfaced after he took the medicine, not before.”

Joy has seen many people affected by these drugs. “I met a family whose 12-year-old daughter literally froze whenever she took tests. The doctor prescribed Zoloft, and in three months she hung herself. Some children are given these drugs because they were homesick for their friends and family, others for social anxiety. Christopher Pittman is a well-known Zoloft drug case in South Carolina. At 12 years old, the boy shot his grandparents, set their home on fire, and is now serving 30 years in an adult prison. He had the same side effects as my son. In 16 of the last 18 school shootings, the children were on anti-depressants. Doctors have given anti-depressants to babies as young as six months old. One NYU study determined whether or not babies could be depressed. The way they measured the babies’ reactions was by their frequent crying. But Babies always cry!”

How is Christopher today? This story has a happy ending. It has been four years since their nightmare. Christopher is well adjusted, dating, and living on his own. He works nights while studying for an appraiser’s license.

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