Drug Styles of the Rich and Famous: A Guilty Verdict in Michael Jackson’s Murder Trial – what the Jury’s decision could mean for the rest of us.

By Maria Mangicaro

Los Angeles, CA.:   After six weeks of hearing testimony, closing arguments were made on Friday in the Michael Jackson murder trail claiming involuntary manslaughter and negligence against his cardiologist, Conrad Murray.   The Los Angeles jury began deliberating the fate of Dr. Murray before the weekend.

Chronic insomnia was among the symptoms Jackson was being treated for.  The defense claimed Jackson’s sleep disorder was a side effect of his prior dependence on the narcotic painkiller Demerol.

Prosecutor David Walgren called into question the ethics of using the drug Propofol to treat the pop star’s insomnia:

“It is not an agent for the treatment in insomnia and to use it to put someone to sleep in that manner is an extreme deviation from the standard of care and amounts to gross negligence.”

Various articles regarding the cocktail of medications that Jackson has reportedly taken include: the muscle relaxant Soma, sedative Xanax, anti-depressents Zoloft, and Paxil, as well as lorazepam, an anti-anxiety drug

Prosecutors concluded their arguments claiming that Jackson paid with his life for the criminal negligence of Dr. Conrad Murray, while the defense said Murray was being held responsible for Jackson’s own actions.

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff made an attempt to persuade the jury to disregard Jackson’s celebrity status in the decision-making process by stating:

“If it were anybody else but Michael Jackson, would this doctor be here today?”

“If you are going to hold Dr Murray responsible, don’t do it because it’s Michael Jackson.”

“This is not a reality show.  This is reality.”

Considering some of the symptoms Michael Jackson suffered can be classified as psychiatric, and treatment involved the overuse of psychiatric medications and sedatives, I feel mental health advocates should pay close attention to what a guilty verdict would imply to others who have also been harmed by “medication management“.

In my opinion contracting the services of a medical doctor, who has no training in mental health care, to administer anesthetizing drugs and psychiatric medications to treat insomnia, anxiety and pain is nothing more than extreme polypsychopharmacology.

As I am writing this post the nightly news covering the Jackson murder trail commented that, “historically juries do not like to convict doctors.”

 I think those of us who are familiar with the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Gabriel Myers and Rebecca Riley and the many other SSRI Stories would say this holds true, especially in cases involving psychiatric medications.

A lesser known case involving medications used to treat symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity  Disorder (ADHD) and the death of a child is that of Tyra Lynn Ehlis.

Tyra was not treated for ADHD herself, but her father Ryan was.   Ten days after Ryan began taking Adderall he slipped into a psychotic fog, shot and killed his infant daughter, then shot himself in the stomach.  He said God told him to do it.

Ehlis was charged with murder, but the charges were dismissed after various doctors testified about Ehlis’s mental condition, reporting that he suffered from an “Amphetamine-Induced Psychotic Disorder” (DSM-IV Code 292.11)  and did not have the necessary criminal responsibility.

While the manufacturer of Adderall, Shire US, Inc., issued this public statement about Ryan’s case: despite the slaying, Adderall remains a safe and effective drug for controlling ADHD.” no media picked up on the blatant indifference and disregard for human life by the drug company.

Twins Tessara & Samantha Crespi, also lost their life when their father David suffered an apparent substance-induced psychosis from polypsychophramacology.   David’s psychiatrist prescribed a cocktail of medications including Prozac, Ambien, Trazadone and Lunesta that in his family’s opinion completely changed his behavior. 

David’s wife Kim Crespi is a member of ISEPP who I have been in contact with for the past three years.  After speaking with Kim on numerous occasions and listening to the 911 tapes myself, there is no doubt in my mind that David’s case was one of a Substance Induced Psychosis.  Within seconds of speaking with him, the 911 operator picked up immediately that David was heavily medicated.

Julie Schenecker, the Tampa, FL mother who shot and killed her two teen-age children earlier this year also seems like she could be a victim of polypsychophramacology.  Julie’s friends told reporters that she was on about a dozen different medications that were not “meshing” and the long-term use of high-doses of antipsychotic drugs induced tardive dyskinesia.

Detectives took 567 pills from the home, as well as two empty prescription bottles, one of oxycodone, another for hydrocodone — both strong, addictive painkillers. They also found an open bottle of Clonazepam.

I also question the relationship of medication induced psychosis in the gruesome Texas infantcide cases of Dena Schlosser and Otty Sanchez.

Polypsychopharmacology has been a growing trend in psychiatry.  For example, from the 1970s to the 1990s, there was a 14-fold increase in the likelihood that a patient being seen by the biological treatment branch of the intramural program of the National Institute of Mental Health would be receiving 3 or more psychiatric medications.27

With newer drugs being more specific in their effects on the brain, the careful clinician must be alert to the possibility that the worsening of the patient’s mental status and behavior may be caused by the medications they are taking rather than simply attributing it to a worsening of their underlying illness. [cit]  Unfortunately, in the case of David Crespi, who is serving a life sentence, as well as many others, the clinician was not careful and did provide informed consent regarding the possible side effects. 

When Dr. Conrad’s defense attorney posed the question:  “If it were anybody else but Michael Jackson, would this doctor be here today?”, I feel the answer is more than likely no.

In reality, death by prescription medication is a common fact of life for the “average Joe” and the prescribing physicians are not held responsible for murder.

As unfortunate as it may seem, society  as a whole will sometimes benefit when harm from medical negligence or error comes to someone with influential, or celebrity status.  This seems to be the case with the medical error involving the packaging of Heparin that almost killed the newborn twins of actor Dennis Quaid.  Three other infants were killed from the exact same medical error over a year prior but the manufacturer of the drug, Baxter Healthcare Corp., never changed the packaging and there was no media hype.

Historically, the mistreatment and medical abuse of individuals who are perceived as “different” or “abnormal” because of their mental or behavioral deviance has had no boundaries based on race, creed, color, religion, age, sex or socioeconomic class and public concern over human rights violations sparks little interest in the contemporary media agenda, even when it comes to a violation of fundamental rights.

Historians and legal scholars have sharply criticized the majority opinion written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the 1927 Buck v. Bell decision that supported the Eugenics Movement.  Holmes’s opinion is considered as unenlightened and unduly harsh, pointing to portions of the opinion where Holmes assumed that disabled persons were not among the “best citizens,” that the “degenerate offspring” of “feeble-minded” persons would either become criminals or starve, and that unless such persons were sterilized society would become swamped by incompetence.  Over 65,000 individuals in 33 states were sterilized under state compulsory sterilization programs in the United States.

The medical opinion that certain individuals and their offspring posed a “threat to society” legally empowered professionals to practice coercive medicine in what became a prejudiced and culturally accepted, non-participatory model of mental health care.  This paternalistic model does not honor the patient’s perspective and places the physician in an authoritative role.  Last year Tessa Savicki, a 35-year-old woman from Massachusetts sued a Boston-area hospital for performing a tubal ligation, thus sterilizing her, after the birth of her 9th child. Tessa Savicki states that she requested an IUD, a reversible form of birth control. Because two of her children are on welfare and she is unemployed, Tessa’s case has brings to mind the case of Carrie Buck, but has  received little media attention.

Earlier this year the state of North Carolina announced that it is the first state to consider a $20,000 payment to victims of sterilizations, but it is doubtful that the Republican-controlled legislature will set aside the necessary funds.

Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur discuss the announcement on The Young Turks.

Abusive psychiatric practices on those who are the most vulnerable of our society is part of the American way.  A well-known victim of psychiatry was Rosemary Kennedy, the oldest sister of President John F. Kennedy.  Before the age of 5, Rosemary was labeled as a “moron” based on her IQ score.  At the time, a low IQ was interpreted as a “moral deficiency”.  Morons were considered more dangerous than idiots or imbeciles and a contributing factor to social problems.

At the age of only 23, Rosemary underwent a surgical lobotomy for symptoms that could be described as bipolar disorder.  The tragic result of the horrific procedure left her incapacitated and institutionalized for the rest of her life.  Rosemary Kennedy’s condition became an inspiration to her younger sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who became an activist in the field of mental retardation, and in 1968 she founded the Special Olympics, turning a backyard camp into an international movement.  Advocates for the mentally disabled consider her efforts a turning point – a step toward acceptance for millions of people who had been ignored or, like Kennedy, brutalized.

I question whether the outcome of the Jackson murder trial will help mental health advocates with diverse perspectives and interests to work together and consider the increasing common denominator between polypsychopharmacology, violent criminal behavior, suicide and death.

To borrow some words of the immortal Michael Jackson and speaking on behalf of the “average Joe” who is in the class of people labeled by the DSM.

“All I wanna say is that,” we really need to care about eachother, please support a unified advocacy agenda in mental health care.

Praying for change and equal protection, e-Blogger Maria

“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.” ~Hippocratic Oath

“It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind….Three generations of imbeciles are enough” ~ Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927)  The US Supreme Court ruling that upheld a statute instituting compulsory sterilization of the unfit, including the “feebleminded”, “for the protection and health of the state.”

“I suppose the fact that I had seen my sister swim like a deer in swimming races and do very, very well just always made me think that they could do everything.” ~Eunice Kennedy Shriver

“What these shock doctors don’t know is about writers…and what they do to them…What is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient.” ~ Ernest Miller Hemingway

Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?

I’m tired of bein’ the victim of shame

They’re throwing me in a class with a bad name

You’re rippin’ me of my pride

I’m tired of bein’ the victim of hate

Situation, speculation
Everybody litigation

All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us 

5 thoughts on “Drug Styles of the Rich and Famous: A Guilty Verdict in Michael Jackson’s Murder Trial – what the Jury’s decision could mean for the rest of us.

  1. Pingback: Government Accountability Office report confirms ISEPP’s 2008 allegations regarding the overuse of psychiatric medication on children in foster care « International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) Blog

  2. Pingback: “Unhappy Pills” – Psychiatrist Dr. David Healy featured on 60 Minutes « International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) Blog

  3. Pingback: Unite for Life: Amy Philo speaks out on the Mothers Act « International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) Blog

  4. Pingback: Answering questions about the Schenecker case: Are the drugs to blame? « International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) Blog

  5. Pingback: Tampa Bay’s 10 News Investigation ignites a massive stir: Child Advocates will stand together on April 16, 2012 to Keep the Fire Burning « International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) Blog

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