A Report of Personal Experiences (1,2,3)
as an Involuntary Recipient of Neuroleptics (4)

by Frank Gordon


   In the light of more than fifteen years of personal experience as an involuntary recipient of the neuroleptics, the author presents evidence in support of three opinions:

   The administration of neuroleptics:

   I. does not produce any beneficial result,
   II. causes many harmful results, and
   III. obscures and prevents the discovery of the source of the difficulty, and thus nullifies any effective treatment and real cure.


   I. The Administration of Neuroleptics does not produce any beneficial result:

   For more than fifteen years, I have been a patient at the Bangor Mental Health Institute and forced to receive involuntary "treatments," including elctric shock therapy, Lithium Carbonate, and the neuroleptics: Thorazine (chlorpromazine), Compazine (prochlorperazine), Mellaril (thioridazine), Haldol (haloperidol), and Prolixin (fluphenazine dodecanoate). 

   For present purposes, I will discuss only the neuroleptics.

   My consent to these "treatments" was not asked for or given, nor did any physician ever discuss with me the possible effects. (5) The only motive I had for accepting them was the threat of what would happen if I did not. (6) If free to choose, I would never have taken them after experiencing their effects. I have never felt they were beneficial. Quite the opposite, I found them to be painful and distressing, both physically and mentally.

   My views are shared in the published reports of others: (7)

   "The patients claimed that the drugs with which they were being forcibly treated, far from relieving their illness, were causing them intolerable distress, impeding their recovery, and producing irreversible brain damage."

   Another article (8) compares the effects to a "pharmacological straitjacket" which makes the patient "passive, malleable, and helpless," and does nothing to help him understand and overcome his problems in living.

   In a critical review of the literature, Tobias et als (9) state:

   "... there is the general issue of whether or not drug treatments are in fact beneficial. If they are not, the administration of psychopharmaco - therapeutic agents merely creates an 'illusion of treatment' with the pernicious effect of making other potentially beneficial (or more beneficial) therapeutic practices seem unnecessary."

   They cite in connection with this, the reported experiences of eight normal individuals who obtained admission into mental hospitals. (10)

   The issue (11) is sharpened by Rorvik (12) where he compares and contrasts the experiences and viewpoints of the opposing parties. He states:

   ".. Baltimore psychiatrist Frank J. Ayd, Jr., also stresses the manageability of drugged patients and the changed environment in mental institutions where everything is now 'tidy,' and the inmates there, he says proudly, are 'clean' and 'tranquil.'"

   The above accords with my own experiences and also with the original description of the neuroleptic syndrome: (13)

   "The apparent indifference or the slowing of responses to external stimuli, the diminution of initiative and of anxiety without a change in the state of waking and consciousness or of intellectual faculties constitute the psychological syndrome attributable to the drug."

   This syndrome, characterized by psychomotor slowing, emotional quieting, and affective indifference, with a considerable degree of sedation; was subsequently called the neuroleptic syndrome.

   As in the juxtaposition of the two views above, what has been affirmed on the one side has been denied on the other; and what is a "beneficial result" would depend upon your viewpoint. It is apparent that the above is an adverse relation between parties with opposing interests; and as an analogy it can be viewed as a defendant who has won by drugging the plaintiff. (14,15)

   I concur with the plaintiff patients. (12) Psychiatry does kill. I testified to this in a poem, in which I called the drugs "numbazine," "cadaverine," "corpsazine," and "dullazine." (16)

   The neuroleptics are actually used for coercive control and covert punishment. As a "chemical injunction" the neuroleptics can be used to suppress and lock-in symptoms of social tension which plead for relief, and deaden and dull even the most importunate widow (17) in her pursuit of justice.

   Martin Luther King (18) said this from a Birmingham jail concerning this method of employing injunctions and about anyone:

   "who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice."

   The suppression of, or apparent absence of tension is a spurious benefit. Benefit in Latin means literally: "He is made well."

   In this exact sense, the administration of neuroleptics do not produce any beneficial result.

II. The Administration of Neuroleptics Causes Many Harmful Results:

   Hohfeld (19) aptly states:

   ".. in any closely reasoned problem, whether legal or non-legal, chameleon-hued words are a peril both to clear thought and to lucid expression."

   "Treatment," (20) as used in both legal and medical literature, is just such a chameleon-hued word. The reader tends to construe it in its honorable medical sense, i.e., as in the treatment of a susceptible bacillus with penicillin, which leads to a cure. (21)

   As "treatment" is used in phrases like "the right to treatment," and the "right to refuse treatment," to me it begins to assume a sinister (22) aspect. Bluntly, the term as used in psychiatric and legal literature is a misrepresentation (23) of the truth.

   I offer in evidence the following results obtained under the color (24) of psychiatric "treatment:"

   ..brain injury from electric shock "treatments" (1950), with an abnormal EEG 32 years later (1982); and the intensification of these abnormal waves by Lithium Carbonate.

   ..blurred vision, dry mouth and slurred speech, tortured restlessness and an inability to sit still, with a very painful subjective feeling that my insides were being constrained and twisted.

   ..difficulty in breathing and a tendency to asphyxia. (25)

   ..twisting neck muscles and muscular rigidity. I first saw this in another patient, who came at me for help with a horrible facial expression and agonized twisting of his neck. I experienced this myself with continuous drooling and an inability to keep my eyes open. I have seen other patients writhe on the floor, or stand in frozen agony for long periods of time. Similar effects are reported by Weinberger: (26)

   "Mute and unresponsive, he stood motionless on one leg, with his other leg extended and his eyes staring fixedly."

   He reports that this neurolepsy was misdiagnosed as "a worsening of his psychiatric condition" and medication was continued. Fortunately it was stopped before he died; and he was permitted to live. Morris (27) reports on another patient who was not as fortunate. Suffering from fever, muscular rigidity, and obtundation; (28) he died. The last word he said was "Help!"

   ..inability to concentrate. This corresponds to the tortured physical restlessness, and neuroleptic "shuffle" or agitated "foxtrot" reported by Zander. (29)

   ..liver jaundice with fever and vomiting; from large doses of Thorazine. This began with heavy night sweats. When I asked Samuel Epstein,"M.D." to reduce the dosage, he replied: "The public wouldn't stand for it." The pain of experiencing the effects of the neuroleptics was compounded by similar indifferent, misleading, and joking comments by staff.

   ..complete suppression of sexual sensation. Discovering this, I spit it out. This effect was finally reported by Mitchell. (30)

   ..psychologically, during these experiences, I felt like a confused and frightened child who could not understand why I must be hurt because I was having personal difficulties.

III. The Administration of Neuroleptics obscures and prevents the discovery of the source of the difficulty and thus nullifies any effective treatment and real cure:

   In Goodman & Gilman (13) a translation of Delay J. et als (31) originally in French, describes the effects of the neuroleptics, of which chlorpromazine (Thorazine) was the prototype:

   "If he (the patient) is questioned, he answers slowly and deliberately in a monotonous, indifferent voice; he expresses himself in few words and becomes silent .. he rarely initiates a question and he does not express his anxieties, desires, or preferences."

   But, as common sense dictates, and Blackstone so aptly observes: (32)

   ".. in order effectively to apply the remedy, it is first necessary to ascertain the complaint."

   "Where does it hurt?" asked with patience and skill, in other words; and following the complaint(s) to the source of the difficulty.

   For this process, in either law or medicine, a workable heuristic (33) is necessary. In law these explorations are guided by the rules of evidence, and in medicine by principles of differential diagnosis.

   In law, the neuroleptic syndrome amounts to a suppression of evidence (a "chemical injunction," or a witness at the bottom of the East River in cement overshoes).

   And in medicine the symptoms and their value in discovering the source or etiology of the difficulty have likewise been suppressed, nullified, or distorted.

   Any effective psychotherapy is vitiated by this artificial neurolepsy. A felt need of change, and an interest in what the difficulty really is, are primary. But "affective indifference; with a considerable degree of sedation," nullifies these primary factors.

   From experience in psychotherapy groups with drugged patients, the overall impression I had can be dramatized by this imaginary interchange:

   Therapist: When did you first start fighting with your wife?
   Patient: Huh? (apparent indifference)
   Therapist: When did you first start fighting with your wife? (somewhat exasperated)
   Patient: It .. was .. in .. 1952. (psychomotor slowing)
   Therapist: How do you feel about that?
   Patient: I .. don't .. feel .. anything. (in a monotonous indifferent voice)

   Goodman & Gilman on p.155 also observe that:

   "Chlorpromazine and related phenothiazines are employed primarily in two situations: treatment of psychiatric patients and treatment of nausea and vomiting."

   Both Reich (34) and Janov (35) emphasize how swallowing emotion suppresses its release. Janov even insisted that some patients keep their mouths open to discourage them from "swallowing their feelings." Reich recommended eliciting the vomiting reflex (the gag-reflex), in order to free blocked feelings.

   In a Gestalt group I attended, the importance of unrestricted respiration was emphasized. This was in accord with the experience of both Janov and Reich, and the neuroleptics suppress respiration as noted previously. (25) Anyone on drugs was not admitted to the group.

   A number of promising lines of research have been confused, inhibited, and vitiated by the introduction of neuroleptics in the middle 1950s.

   As mentioned in the previous paper (36), Whitehorn and Betz (37)  correlated successful improvement of "schizophrenics" with the personality and style of the treating physician.

   This work was confused by Draper (37) and others, who, without similar conditions and with the addition of neuroleptics, obtained different results.

   More recent reports by Strupp,(38) Stone,(39) and Gunderson, (40) as well as the work of Benjamin (41) on interpersonal diagnosis; have reaffirmed the importance of the patient- therapist match.

   Researches such as these and many others, past and present, are nullified and emasculated by the automatic administration of neuroleptics.

   Learning is one important aim of therapy. Hartledge (42) notes in a review that:

   "animals, normal subjects, and psychiatric patients tend to show significant declines in learning on a wide range of tasks, with a linear decline in learning with increased dosage levels."

   Frequent warnings not to drive a car or operate complex machinery while taking these drugs testifies to their impairment of abilities.

   As I said on a cassette tape in October, 1980; (43) real problems in getting along with others, making friends and making constructive contributions were completely neglected.

   Three years ago (from 1983), I succeeded in convincing the staff that I could do without them. Since then, I have been doing progressively better.

   The neuroleptic drugs prevented me from making this kind of positive improvement. This is the heart of my testimony (44).