Dr. Michael Corry, one man who refused to be bullied

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing: Edmund Burke.

There was one Irishman besides Professor Healy who was not afraid to speak out – Dr. Michael Corry.
Dr. Michael Corry R.I.P, was one of the nicest human beings we have ever met and one who has left his mark on Irish psychiatry.

This is taken from the wellbeing foundation website…

Eight professors attack
Corry, deny SSRI harm

Eight professors of psychiatry, including UCC Professor Timothy ‘Ted’ Dinan, had a letter published in the Irish Times on Monday 19 October criticising Dr Michael Corry’s public exposure of the dangers of antidepressants. We reprint the text below:

Madam, — We are grateful to Kate Holmquist (Weekend Review, October 10th) for addressing many of the grave misgivings raised by psychiatrists and mental health professionals concerning the media coverage of the circumstances of the tragic deaths of xxxxx xxxxx and Shane Clancy.

A controversial statement has been made about this, both in the print media and on television, namely that antidepressants cause homicide, which we wish to rebut.

There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that antidepressants cause homicide, as has been so definitively stated. This contention is not only inaccurate but it is also potentially dangerous and irresponsible.

First, unfounded claims such as this may cause those with severe depressive illness, who need antidepressants for continuing wellbeing, to discontinue their treatments, with potentially tragic consequences.

Second, it may deter those who need such treatments from coming forward for appropriate help.

Third, this unfounded statement will further stigmatise those with mental illness if individuals taking antidepressants are now feared as potentially dangerous and homicidal. Indeed the reality of prejudice against people with mental health problems has been recently highlighted in a study carried out by St Patrick’s University Hospital.

Finally, it is within the bounds of possibility that the erroneous belief that antidepressants induce aggression and homicide could impact on access disputes in family courts if parents needing such treatments are cast as a danger to their children.

We regret that greater restraint was not exercised in the coverage of this sad event and we unequivocally recommend that the relevant media outlets follow the wise counsel of the Irish Association of Suicidology when dealing such sensitive issues. — Yours, etc,
Prof PATRICIA CASEY,
Mater Misericordiae University Hospital/UCD;
Prof TIMOTHY DINAN, UCC;
Prof MICHAEL GILL, TCD;
Prof BRIAN LAWLOR,
Saint James’s Hospital, Dublin;
Prof JAMES V LUCEY,
St Patrick’s Hospital Dublin;
Prof KEVIN MALONE,
St Vincent’s University Hospital/UCD;
Prof DAVID MEAGHER,
University of Limerick;
Prof COLM McDONALD,
National University of Ireland Galway.

Corry responds to the
eight leading teachers

Here is the text of Dr Michael Corry’s letter to the Irish Times, emailed 22 October 2009.

Madam, — It is with my duty of care in mind that I have to point out that the eight professors of psychiatry who signed the letter on the subject of antidepressants and homicide (19 October) clearly do not read the literature with respect to the dangerous side effects of antidepressants. It is hard to understand how this can be so, but it patently is so, and this gap in their knowledge is dangerous, given their position as the lead teachers of thousands of graduates into their profession.

In their collective stance they have attempted to undermine my opinion, as expressed in recent media coverage, which linked antidepressants to serious adverse side effects such as aggression, hostility, extreme agitation, manic elation, hallucinations, psychosis, self-harm, suicide and — in susceptible individuals — homicide.

Much has been written in the scientific literature on the subject of SSRI-induced violence. For example, the 2006 study ‘Antidepressants and Violence: Problems at the Interface of Medicine and Law’ by Professor David Healy et al in Public Library of Science Medicine (PloSMedicine) and ‘Suicidality, Violence and Mania Caused by SSRIs: A Review and Analysis’ by Dr Peter R Breggin in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine. Both papers can be read on wellbeingfoundation.com at this address (http://tinyurl.com/yjmogpd), where they have been reproduced as a public service and to educate those who need to learn.

Both of these, and many others I can cite, unequivocally demonstrate using scientific methods not only the links between SSRI use and various forms of violence and hostility, but the mechanisms of these links.

Dangerous behaviour and depression were never linked until selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were introduced in the 1980s and marketed on the hypothesis (yet to be proven) that depression is the result of a ‘chemical imbalance’ in the brain, namely of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Patients left their psychiatrists and GPs, prescription in hand, convinced that they had a disease, a kink in their brain which would somehow be straightened out, without any diagnostic blood tests or other evidence-base tests having been taken before the diagnosis was made, or follow-up blood tests to moniter the effectiveness of the ‘re-balancing’ medication. No branch of medicine other than psychiatry would get away with such flawed ‘science’.

Psychological distress is a valid human experience and no one is immune. It has a context, a time-line, and represents a legimate response to life’s difficulties. Depression is an emotion not a disease. It is a reflection of loss, grief, broken hearts, chronic anxiety, panic attacks, sexual abuse, bullying, difficult relationships, financial problems, overwhelm, and the impact of having life fired at you point blank. To regard depression as a chemical imbalance, something pathological, is in my view deluded. It has, in reality, no basis in science; it takes away the need for understanding, compassion, healing psychotherapy, prevention, and in particular educational modules in schools based on wellness and human sustainability.

While the cost in human terms of the adverse side effects of antidepressants is immeasurable, the financial costs are not. Last year it cost the taxpayer €52 million to meet the cost of antidepressant medication prescribed to medical cardholders (one third of the population) plus another €30 million via the drug repayment scheme. What was spent by the rest of the population was not released into the public domain by the pharmaceutical industry. Ireland has the highest prescribing rates for antidepressants in Europe.

In my opinion psychiatry is hermetically sealed; a closed system with a dominant narrative which is voraciously increasing its hold on psychology and what constitutes psychotherapy. It has less and less to do with medicine and science, and more to do with dogma and ideology. It has become a fortress with a hair-trigger defence mechanism. Its dark horrific past still casts a long shadow over its current practices and discourse.

About the truth Arthur Schopenhauer wrote: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is riduculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Thus it is with the truth about psychiatry.

Yours, etc,
Dr MICHAEL CORRY, M.B., D.Ch., D.Obs., M.R.C.Psych.,

M.Med.Sci.
Institute of Psychosocial Medicine
2 Eden Park
Glasthule
Dun Laoghaire

Clancy case question mark over SSRIs — O’Donovan

Madam, — The tragic events in Bray last August that resulted in the death of two young men have raised vitally important questions about the possible side-effects of antidepressants, and about the knowledge that informs the licensing of medicines in Ireland. The answers to these questions offered by Kate Holmquist in her recent column (October 10th), and endorsed in a Letter to the Editor by a number of psychiatrists (October 19th), are wrong in at least three respects.

First, it is untrue to say there is no scientific evidence of links between anti-depressants and homicidal behaviour, and between anti-depressants and actual suicides. In an article published in September 2006 in the leading open-access medical journal PLoS Medicine, David Healy, Andrew Herxheimer and David Menkes conclude that “clinical trial and pharmacovigilance data point to possible links between these drugs and violent behaviours”. They argued that while existing evidence suggests serious violence associated with antidepressant use is very rare, it requires urgent examination.

Evidence from clinical trials has led to regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions warning doctors about the risk of suicide to patients taking these medicines, and also the risk of violent harm to others.

Second, the dismissal of ‘anecdotal claims’ about serious side-effects of antidepressants is contrary to recent moves to recognise and value patients’ experiential knowledge of medicines. Rather than trivialising patients’ experiences of medicines, there have been repeated calls to value this ‘consumer intelligence’ and ‘popular epidemiology’ and to find ways of including it in drug safety research.

In a study published in the International Journal of Risk Safety in Medicine in 2002, a team of researchers led by Charles Medawar judged the collective weight of the patients’ direct accounts to be profound as they uncovered previously unrecognised patterns of experiences coinciding with dosage increases and withdrawal of therapy.

Third, the claim that the Irish Medicines Board (the IMB) and other regulatory authorities do not rely on information produced by the pharmaceutical industry is incorrect. Decision-making about the licensing of medicines is based on pre-marketing clinical trials, and these trials are largely sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmacovigilance is seriously hampered by the under-reporting of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) by doctors. In 2007, the IMB received only 206 ADR reports from GPs, indicating that fewer than one in 10 GPs on average submit one ADR report a year to this voluntary reporting system.

Finally, in respect of Holmquist’s reassurances about the IMB’s independence, the funding of this agency needs to be considered. The 2007 report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Adverse Side-Effects of Pharmaceuticals noted that the existing funding arrangement whereby the IMB relies on fees paid by pharmaceutical companies “tends to put the drug companies in the position of clients of the IMB with the inference that the IMB has a corresponding obligation to meet its ‘clients’ needs”. — Yours, etc,

ORLA O’DONOVAN,
Department of Applied Social Studies,
University College Cork

The ‘wilfull ignorance’ of our leading teachers of psychiatry

Madam, — Like Dr Orla O’Donovan (Letters, 22 Oct) I am astonished by the intervention of the eight professors of psychiatry in respect of the Clancy/xxxxx tragedy.
What astonishes me is their degree of wilful ignorance of the side effects of the drugs they espouse, prescribe and, presumably, enjoin their students to prescribe.

As Dr O’Donovan indicated, the scientific literature is replete with studies establishing a clear link between the use of SSRI antidepressants and similar drugs and self-harm, suicidality, aggression, hostility, mania and other induced behaviour; the word ‘hostility’ being used in this context to embrace all kinds of violent thoughts and actions, including the terminal hostility of homicide.

Dr O’Donovan cited the study by Professor David Healy et al, which is important in the present instance because it starts from a conservative position and carefully explores the medico-legal problems arising from the use of these drugs.

If I may quote the summary in its entirety:
Recent regulatory warnings about adverse behavioural effects of [SSRI] antidepressants in susceptible individuals have raised the profile of these issues with clinicians, patients, and the public. We review available clinical trial data on paroxetine and sertraline and pharmacovigilance studies of paroxetine and fluoxetine, and outline a series of medico-legal cases involving antidepressants and violence.
Both clinical trial and pharmacovigilance data point to possible links between these drugs and violent behaviours. The legal cases outlined returned a variety of verdicts that may in part have stemmed from different judicial processes. Many jurisdictions appear not to have considered the possibility that a prescription drug may induce violence.

The association of antidepressant treatment with aggression and violence reported here calls for more clinical trial and epidemiological data to be made available and for good clinical descriptions of the adverse outcomes of treatment. Legal systems are likely to continue to be faced with cases of violence associated with the use of psychotropic drugs, and it may fall to the courts to demand access to currently unavailable data. The problem is international and calls for an international response.

I am astonished that all eight professors of psychiatry whose letter you published on Monday 19 October publicly profess ignorance of this important area of study in their field. These eight people have enormous authority; they are responsible for the training and education, and ultimately the graduation, of thousands of psychiatrists into our health services, not to mention the psychiatric component of GP training. Yet they deny that their drugs of choice for both their medical specialism and for GPs in treating depression can impel violent and aggressive behaviours.

There are many, many more peer-reviewed studies showing clear and irrefutable links between this generation of antidepressants and violent ideation and behaviour, too many to list here. Is it not only astonishing, but also potentially dangerous, for the leading lights of psychiatric education in this country to be unaware of this literature, or to dismiss it out of hand as they appear to do?

Perhaps they are taking the word ’cause’, which they used in their letter, in the same sense as the tobacco industry used it for several generations to deny that smoking and cancer were linked, and to avoid the serious questions about risk and benefit which hang over the equally aggressively marketed SSRIs and SNRIs.

Let us have no chilling of the essential public debate on the role of these drugs in the case of xxxxx xxxxxx and Shane Clancy — if there is any such chilling or stifling of debate, the sure result will be to leave the door open to another such tragedy.

Yours, etc,
BASIL MILLER, MA
The Wellbeing Foundation
2 Eden Park
Glasthule
Co Dublin

The papers that expose the ignorance of Ireland’s eight top professors

On Monday 19 October 2009 the Irish Times published a letter from eight psychiatrists, professors of psychiatry who lead the teaching departments in this subject at UCD, UCC, TCD, UCG, University of Limerick and at St James’s and St Patrick’s Hospitals, Dublin. The eight professors denied that antidepressant use is connected to homicidal acts, though they were careful to use the word ’cause’ rather than ‘link’ when all eight accused Dr Michael Corry of stating ‘definitively’ that “antidepressants cause homicide”.

Ignorance of the scientific literature on the dangers of antidepressants, up to and including provoking acts of murder, and of the warnings by regulators, is deplorable in any health professional.

Ignorance at the highest levels of the teaching of psychiatry in Ireland, ignorance among the eight professors who control the teaching of psychiatry in this country, is not just deplorable, it is inexcusable, it is appalling, it is dangerous.

To demonstrate just how dangerous SSRIs are, and to educate the ignorant, as a public service we publish here just two from a very extensive selection of the scientific literature on this matter, a literature the eight leading psychiatrists should immediately familiarise themselves with.
1: ‘Antidepressants and Violence: Problems at the Interface of Medicine and Law’. By Professsor David Healy et al. PLoS Medicine, here or download here.
2. ‘Suicidality, Violence and Mania Caused by SSRIs: A Review and Analysis’. By Dr Peter R Breggin. International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, here.

Incidentally, one of the eight is the gentleman who laid a complaint with the Medical Council against Dr Michael Corry, UCC Professor Timothy ‘Ted’ Dinan.

Even GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Seroxat, states in its own Product Monograph of 12 September 2008, page 6, that:

There are clinical trial and post-marketing reports with SSRIs and other newer anti-depressants, in both paediatrics and adults, of severe agitation-type adverse events coupled with self-harm or harm to others. The agitation-type events include: akathisia, agitation, disinhibition, emotional lability, hostility, aggression, depersonalization. In some cases, the events occurred within several weeks of starting treatment.

And the Food and Drug Administration, the US regulator, includes in its prescribed patient information leaflet for all SSRIs this statement, which is placed below the Black Box warning on suicidal thoughts and acts: ‘The following symptoms, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania, have been reported in adult and paediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric.’

The patient leaflet continues: ‘Families and caregivers of paediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder or other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric, should be alerted about the need to monitor patients for the emergence of agitation, irritability, unusual changes in behaviour, and the other symptoms described above, as well as the emergence of suicidality, and to report such symptoms immediately to health care providers. Such monitoring should include daily observation by families and caregivers. Prescriptions for [Insert drug name] should be written for the smallest quantity of tablets consistent with good patient management, in order to reduce the risk of overdose.

‘Families and caregivers of adults being treated for depression should be similarly advised.’

Is it not astonishing and disturbing that Ireland’s eight leading professors of psychiatry are ignorant of this?
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19 thoughts on “Dr. Michael Corry, one man who refused to be bullied

  1. Do you know…he offered to talk to/give a group counselling session to Shane’s friends Free Of Charge! He was sick at this time but wanted to help them and explain how this can happen to “normal people”. He died on 22 Feb 2010…Shane’s birthday.
    Leonie

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  2. I’ll wager my next paycheck that the hospitals and universities that these 8 profs work in receive funding from Lundbeck and/or other drug companies. Dr. Healy lost a job opportunity at the University of Toronto in 2001 for warning about the risk of suicide with Prozac. U of T receives funding from Eli Lilly.
    It seems that the prescription drug companies themselves warn about the association between antidepressants and suicide but for some reason the psychiatry professors deny it. Afraid of losing that funding (and their jobs)?

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  3. It is inconcievable to me that they could be that ignorant and I’m researching these 8 professors at the moment, unless they shut me up with a solicitors letter beforehand!
    The pharmaceutical companies have their tentacles everywhere I look, doctors, psychiatry, Universities, hospitals, the Irish Medicines Board and special treatment from the government, but yet it’s rarely mentioned for some reason.
    The “Harvard for sale” scandal going on at the moment, relating to undisclosed drug company payments to three high profile US researchers Dr. Biederman and Drs.Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens, rarely if ever happens in Ireland, but I’ve no doubt it’s coming.
    Leonie

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  4. Those suffering from mental illness are amongst the easiest (if not the easiest) people in the world to exploit. Psychiatry has built a paradigm on the back of the human condition and human distress; a system of classification for human behavior. There’s a lot of people making a lot of money out of this. They stay silent, or they distort and deflect from the facts because it is not in their interest for the facts to be known.

    People suffering from depression, panic attacks, bi-polar or any kind of ‘psychiatric’ diagnosis are extremely vulnerable, they are scared, and they just want to pain, confusion and suffering to go away. It’s easy for these people to become statistics because of the stigma. Psychiatry does not validate the individual, but the diagnosis gives them a ‘name for their pain’. The psychiatric drug treatment is seductive, it promises to heal. But all it does is perpetuate the suffering. Once an individual is labeled by psychiatry, effectively, they are stamped, branded and thus stigmatized by the disorder of choice by the psychiatrist. Once a person is medicated, they become easier to manipulate, to control and to exploit.

    If someone commits suicide after beginning drug treatment, how can you prove that the medication pushed them over the edge? How can you prove for sure that it wasn’t the patients human condition in distress? You can’t, it’s a grey area, and the psychiatrists know this. That’s why they get away with it.

    Michael Corry knew that some people were getting worse because of the drug treatments, he knew also that psychiatry is based on junk science, he was also aware of the sinister influence of the industry in his profession. He choose to speak out, thus he was vilified. It’s an age old story, that of the pariah. Corry blew the whistle, and the boat was rocked. Long may his memory stay with us. A brave man, a man with a heart, a conscience and a soul – Human attributes not prevalent in psychiatry. He was too good for the psychiatric profession. May he rest in peace.

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  5. A very interesting part of Corry’s rebuttal is this :

    “Dangerous behaviour and depression were never linked until selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were introduced in the 1980s and marketed on the hypothesis (yet to be proven) that depression is the result of a ‘chemical imbalance’ in the brain, namely of the neurotransmitter serotonin”

    Depression was never linked to aggression or hostility before the SSRI age. If anything, depression is a state of emotional paralysis, lethargic sensitivity and passivity. But with the advent of the SSRI age came SSRI induced aggression and violence in ‘depressed’ people. It is a clear link and it is one that cannot be denied, and the SSRI manufacturers themselves actually highlight this link on their PIL’s now. I have had first hand experience of this ‘side effect’. Of course, the psychiatrists would dismiss my story as ‘anecdotal’.

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  6. I had the great pleasure of meeting Michael Corry 20 years ago. and I do consider myself so lucky for that…I lived as an au-pair with his family and he was such an incredible human being…God bless you Michael, God always seems to choose the best ones first!!
    One of the best memories I´ll ever have is you and Ann and me talking for hours about everything. You were so wise and special…

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      1. Hi Leonie,
        Today I´m having a difficult morning and my mind flies to Michael and tries to remember those wonderful times when
        life seemed much easier…
        I don´t know how and when you met him, but you were very lucky to have known him, too.
        Thanks for answering my comment….I didn´t know till now.

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  7. Hello Leonie,

    I don’t know you; we have never met but I often think about you and what you went through. I lived near Bray at the time, and often thought I would call to say hello, but then thought it better to respect your privacy.

    I knew Michael both socially and professionally. I first met him in Ballinskelligs in ’96 and we hit it off immediately. I was Ireland’s first solar engineer, and Michael just loved that. He introduced me to everyone and anyone, as if I was some kind of God. He was a wonderful person. I was in Kenya when I learned of his passing. I was deeply shocked and saddened.
    His loss weighs heavy on us all. We badly need more ‘Michaels’ in the world, as evil rules.

    Some years later, I had need of his services. So, knowing I would be in good hands, I went to see him. I was having bad backlash from some unpleasant childhood experiences. His soft, gentle manner put me at ease immediately, and to make a long story short, he had me back on my feet after a few visits using only his soft, kind voice and his immensely compassionate and caring nature.

    Michael and I shared an interest in ‘alternative’ things, with a special interest in complementary and natural healing. Like Michael, I worked in Africa, and like Michael,
    I learned a lot from Africa. I spent 18 years in East Africa. One of my major concerns then, and now is the hype and lies we hear about HIV and AIDS. Michael was aware of this also.

    In short, if we think the medical lies we are subjected to in the West are bad, as they are, spare a thought for the millions of poor and innocent Africans who are being bombarded with highly toxic and horrific so-called anti-Aids drugs, many being rejects in the West.. These deadly drugs are devastating millions of peoples lives – people who have no voice to speak for them; none but a dedicated few work against the AIDS lies, but what hope have they against the pharmaceutical industry giants, and those that support them.

    Money rules, Leonie. There is no money in healthy people, so unnecessary sickness and suffering is necessary and will never be eradicated – and money changes hands to ensure it stays that way.

    Best Wishes & God Bless,
    James

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  8. Thanks for the comment James,
    He was such a lovely man, wasn’t he? He talked about Africa a number of times to us and said exactly what you are saying now. At the time I suppose we couldn’t take it all in, but totally believed what he was saying. The world is a much sadder place without him or the likes of him. Let’s hope we will get some more ethical experts coming up through the ranks; sadly, as yet they are few and far between in Ireland. He died on 22 february which was also Shane’s birthday – ironic really!
    I cannot imagine, if the pharmaceutical industry is getting away with killing people here, the U.S. and Europe, what the levels of corruption and careless killing are in Africa. Defenseless, poor and undernourished people are a prime target for pharma’s dangerous drugs and of course, their main priority, making money.
    Feel free to give me a shout when you’re in Ireland.
    Leonie

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    1. Hello Leonie,

      Now that Dr. Corry is sadly no longer with us, do you know of anybody else, who could help a family member, who was traumatised throughout childhood and now struggle with day to day life.

      Very happy to have tuned in and thank you very much. Angela

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  9. Hi Angela,
    Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. Yes there are some very good people your relation could try. There is Pat Bracken in Cork, Terry Lynch in Limerick, Tom O’Brien in Dublin and Bob Johnson who goes between the UK and Ireland. Let me know if you need contact details and I hope your family member gets all the help he/she needs.
    Leonie

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  10. Having worked with Michael in resocilsation unit in sbh. He was truly a man of the people for the people. He had time for all members of the staff and people with mental I’ll health issues. To him there was no patients. We as staff were there to enable people.we all sat down together for Sunday lunch. Talking freely no barriers.

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