The Quiet Room

Now that I’ve finished writing my own book, I’ve got time to catch up on what I haven’t been reading. The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness, by Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett, wasn’t on my “must read” list because I had heard that Schiller credits her recovery largely to clozapine, and that didn’t set well with my understanding of what a “good” recovery should be attributed to. (I’ve become less hardline on recoveries since then.) So, looking for a good read, I purchased the book on Kindle.

As an aside, just about all my reviews gets four or five stars for the simple reason that the memoirs come highly recommended by other readers. I don’t finish books that I don’t enjoy.

So, five stars for The Quiet Room. The story is rather unique because it’s not only from the author’s perspective, but also from the candid perspective of each of her parents, her brothers, her psychiatrist. What I find interesting about this 1994 book is that it was published in a decade that saw the biomedical model of mental illness take off. There was talk in the book along the lines of “getting the chemistry right,” “finding the right drug and drug combinations” and how the newer antipsychotics were changing the treatment landscape. Lori Schiller  Continue reading “The Quiet Room”

Clozapine’s new ambassador – Claire Danes

I actually wanted to have a nastier title, (two P words came to mind before I came up with “ambassador”) but I thought better of it. I wish Claire Danes had at least thought about the implications of what she is doing – but of course, money talks. May the Karma truck eventually drive up to her door and dump a load of excess calories her way.

Here’s a look behind the scenes at clozapine, courtesy of David Healy’s Mad in America post.

In the latest hit series Homeland Claire Danes plays Carrie Mathison a CIA agent with bipolar disorder taking Clozapine. She takes the drug to prevent herself tipping over into frank paranoia in a world where being paranoid is necessary for survival.

Anyone who knows anything about Clozapine knows Claire Danes is definitely not on it – she would not be as slim and svelte as she is if she were taking it. Weight gain is something Evident about clozapine that stands in contrast to the Evidence showing no weight gain that companies have gone out of their way to produce for Clozapine and related drugs like Zyprexa and Seroquel (see False Friends).

The question is what does Claire Danes know about Clozapine and should she get paranoid rather than just play the paranoid? As an actress is she killing people playing the part she plays? Is there anything else Evident about Clozapine being hidden by the Evidence?

Clozapine began life in 1958. It was given to the world’s leading psychopharmacologist Pierre Deniker to assess. At the time the neuroleptic/antipsychotic group of drugs was regarded as very safe. Several of Deniker’s patients died on Clozapine and startled by the number and range of deaths he said it was Evident that it should not be developed.

The company who made Clozapine (Wander) paid no heed to him; business and clinical evidence are two different things. Clozapine’s development continued even after Wander was taken over by Sandoz. Then in 1975 a series of deaths on Clozapine following drops in white blood cell counts happened in Finland. Clozapine was removed from markets in Europe and never made it to the US – Homeland Security (aka the FDA) intervened.

But it re-emerged in 1988 in the United States, in part because of efforts within Homeland Security. The history of clozapine’s return has been spun and respun – see The Creation of Psychopharmacology – in the course of which a myth has been created that clozapine is more effective than other antipsychotics (very important for someone on whose wits the fate of America depends) even though head to head trials in first episode psychoses show clozapine to be no better than older drugs like chlorpromazine.

Read the rest here.

Jumping on the clozapine bandwagon

I am reading more and more media reports extolling the virtues of clozapine as an effective antipsychotic. Clozapine has been around for years, since the 1970s in Europe and the 1990s in North America. It is the first of the second generation of atypical antipsychotics and has been described as the treatment of last resort for people who have not shown improvement on other antipsychotics. The fact that it is off-patent is one reason why it is not more widely used, but only one reason.

Anybody thinking of taking clozapine should think twice before doing so. Begin by resisting the label of “treatment resistant” that is probably being directed at your relative. Treatment resistant simply means that medical science hasn’t found out what your relative’s problem is, but by golly, they are going to get a drug for whatever ails them, anyway. If your relative’s problem is psychospiritual, which I suspect in most cases it is, then no drug is going to fix a mind that is “on strike.” (John Nash’s words, not mine.)

Antipsychotics, whether first or second generation, don’t make anybody well, they simply repress the more outward signs of psychosis, and very often they even fail to do that. In my experience with Chris, clozapine was no more effective than any of the others, it is much harder to withdraw from, and then there is need for regular blood testing to avoid a potentially fatal condition called agranulocytosis, which involves the white blood cell count.

I am always heartened when I hear that people have managed to get off clozapine, even after many years.