In 2004, 26-year-old Dan Markingson committed suicide. Since then, numerous concerns have been expressed about the events that led up to his death. In particular, it has been claimed that he was coerced into the CAFE study, and that he was too delusional to understand what was involved. It has also been reported widely that his mother, Mary Weiss, saw his condition deteriorate while he was taking the study drug – Seroquel (quetiapine) – and that she made numerous unsuccessful requests to the researchers to have him removed from the study.
Carl Elliott, PhD, Bioethics Professor at the university, has been calling, repeatedly, for an independent inquiry on this matter. His requests have been consistently resisted by the psychiatrists who conducted the study as well as the university administration, but yesterday, the University Faculty Senate voted 67-23 to reopen the matter and conduct an independent inquiry.
In my view, there are three immediate lessons to be learned:
1. Never give up. Carl Elliott has been hammering away at this door for years.
2. Individuals can make a difference. I’m sure there were times when Carl felt that he was getting nowhere, that pharma/psychiatry’s forces were too strong, and that he was just one voice crying in the wilderness. Each of us is just one voice, but collectively we are having an impact.
3. Psychiatry at its core is rotten. It can’t abide scrutiny, and will continue to resist attempts to expose its spurious and destructive practices. There has been no change of heart in psychiatry. They continue to expand their “diagnostic” net and to prescribe more dangerous drugs to more people. They avail of every opportunity to promote their stigmatizing and disempowering agenda. Psychiatry has no internal control mechanism that might limit this predatory, self-serving expansion. There are a few dissenting voices within psychiatry, and they are to be commended, but there is no groundswell of protest from the APA membership. Psychiatry will not stop destroying lives until it is stopped by outside forces.
That is why it is so important that we keep writing – keep passing the word. There have been thousands and thousands of Dan Markingsons. And there will be thousands more.