Friday, July 22, 2011

What a crock!

Today on the TV show Capital Hill on the ABC's news channel the Special Minister for State Gary Gray said that Western Australia is well served by news media outlets. What a crock!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Saturday July 23rd rally in Albany WA for justice for Rex Bellotti Junior

If I was driving on the wrong side of the road and I ran down a person who potentially had a sporting career in front of them and severely injured them, I'd be in big, big trouble. But if the driver is a police officer, and the victim is Aboriginal and male and a youth.....

It appears that the shocking and shameful story of what happened to the young footballer Rex Bellotti Junior is another horror story that wasn't covered by The West Australian, WA's daily newspaper, while this story was covered by The Sunday Times. The West Australian also appears to have failed to report on the shocking failure of ethics during the 2004 Curtin University study of the ADHD drug Strattera. Back in the 1990s when the archaeologist David Rindos was being persecuted by his employer, WA's most prestigious university, the University of Western Australia (UWA), because he investigated many bad things that had been happening there, he got support from The Sunday Times, a mere Sunday paper, while The West Australian gave the story little coverage until it took a pro-UWA position. It is such a pity that the people of Western Australia, many living in one of the world's most isolated capital cities, have had to suffer for so many years because they have only one daily newspaper that is crap.

The Bellotti Support Group have organized a public rally in Albany WA on Saturday, July 23. Please show your support.

Family of badly injured teen call for another inquiry.
ABC News.
June 21, 2011

Bellotti family fights for justice.
By Chris Jenkins
Green Left.
July 14, 2011

Bellotti Support Group

Rally in Albany in Support of Rex Bellotti Junior

Albany Rally for Rex Bellotti.
Socialist Alliance Western Australia.

CCC: Investigation into boy hit by police car 'flawed'
Paul Lampathakis
November 14, 2009

There's a pill for that....

I was watching the ABCTV science show Catalyst, and there was a story about the weird sleep habits of teenagers, and among the talking heads shown in the story was the Australian psychiatrist Professor Ian Hickie, who has had a long and happy professional relationship with a number of pharmaceutical companies, and I said he was sure to be there to mention some melatonin-based drug as a treatment. Was I wrong?

Staying Up Late.
21 July 2011


Prof. Hickie shares advice and some rather confused ideas about evolution and health in some extended interviews:

Not long after watching this episode of Catalyst I came across an article in The Conversation from May of this year that provided some interesting and rather concerning information about the professor's relationship with one melatonin-like drug, Agomelatine produced by Servier, a company which has supported Prof. Hickie's research. Take special note of the full content of the comments about this article:

Tackling depression and poor sleep with one drug.
by Sunanda Creagh
18 May 2011
The Conversation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rudd to have heart surgery

The Foreign Minister and former PM Kevin Rudd has reportedly announced in a speech at a Brisbane high school that he will need to undergo heart surgery next month. This should come as no surprise, as the type of heart valve surgery that Rudd has had in the past does not last forever, and typically needs to be re-done in later years.

It is interesting to speculate about the effect that a great amount of air travel, in pressurized cabins with variable air quality, might have had on the Foreign Minister who has apparently been living with a failing circulatory system.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Don't lecture me, Rupert!

Does the phone hacking scandal mean that the listeners of a publicly-funded Australian radio station will never again be presented with programming in which a disreputable media baron lectures everyone about how to live our lives?

A Golden Age of Freedom.
Rupert Murdoch
Boyer Lectures.
2 November 2008
ABC Radio National

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Eli Lilly making a mockery of Australian law

I thought it was illegal in Australia for pharmaceutical companies to advertise their products directly to consumers? If this is true, then what the hell are those very brief television advertisements that I've seen running on Australian free-to-air television in the last few days? They are clearly ads spruiking some kind of treatment for erection issues (is it just me, or are you also fed up to here with ads discussing adult issues all over the mass media?) and at the end of the ad the company logo of Eli Lilly is clearly shown. Is this advertisement campaign not in breach of Australian laws regarding the advertisement of prescription drugs?

I'm not the least surprised that Eli Lilly is behind this. One thing that I've noticed is that this drug company keeps coming up again and again like a dark thread in the many stories about the misdeeds of psychiatry, psychiatrists and the psychiatric drug industry that I have written about in this blog. Just click on the label for the company at this post to see what I mean. Eli Lilly are the manufacturers of the controversial drugs Strattera, which Martin Whitely MLA has written about and which has been the subject of an FDA "black box" warning and which has psychosis as well as many other serious problems as recognized side effects, and the very controversial and harmful neuroleptic psychiatric drug Zyprexa, which has been the subject of tens of thousands of lawsuits. Eli Lilly is among the various drug companies that have given support to the very powerful and influential Australian psychiatrists Patrick McGorry and Ian Hickie, who only disclose such conflicting interests when they feel like it.

Why is our government allowing a company with such a black reputation to advertise directly to Australian television viewers, apparently in breach of our laws that pertain to the advertisement of prescription drugs?

Further Reading

Wikipedia contributors (accessed 2011) Eli Lilly controversies. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.


Whitely, Martin (2011) Strattera’s sad story. Speed Up & Sit Still.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Some articles worth noting from The Conversation

Review finds limited evidence for early intervention in psychosis.
by Sunanda Creagh, News Editor
The Conversation.
June 30th 2011

This short editorial article (with comments) notes the lack of support for early intervention for psychosis, as advocated by Prof. Pat McGorry, from a recent Cochrane Collaboration review. I wrote about this at this blog on the 22nd of June. Remember, you read it first at Blond Ambition!

Early intervention for psychosis: not just popping pills.
by Alison Yung
The Conversation.
June 16th 2011

This article is by a professor who is "is Head of Psychosis Research at Orygen" among many other things. Orygen is a youth mental health centre that has Prof. Patrick McGorry as an executive director and a Director of Clinical Services, so Yung and McGorry have shared professional interests. I think this article in noteworthy for two reasons: the interesting discussion in the comments, and also the stuff that can't be found in this article's disclosure statement, such as the stuff about conflicting interests that can be found in these medical journal papers co-authored by Alison R. Yung:

Alison R Yung, Patrick D McGorry, Shona M Francey, Barnaby Nelson, Kathryn Baker, Lisa J Phillips, Gregor Berger and G Paul Amminger (2007) PACE: a specialised service for young people at risk of psychotic disorders. Medical Journal of Australia. 2007; 187 (7 Suppl): S43-S46.


Yung, Alison R. et al (2008) Validation of “prodromal” criteria to detect individuals at ultra high risk of psychosis: 2 year follow-up. Schizophrenia Research. Volume 105, Issue 1. Pages 10-17, October 2008.

I wonder

I can't help wondering how much of this story originated from the Foreign Minister.

When nepotism is allowed to operate as freely as it has in the ALP, ineptitude like this is inevitable, I guess.

Ludwig's mess like a red rag to the Rudd bull
INSIDE STORY: Milanda Rout
The Australian
July 02, 2011.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Psychiatrists who advocate antipsychotic drugs for the young and who don't declare conflicting interests the United States

Harvard scientists disciplined for not declaring ties to drug companies.
Penny Sarchet.
July 04, 2011

ADHD review as US expert faces inquiry
Sue Dunlevy
The Australian.
July 05, 2011

"Australia's ADHD guidelines are being redeveloped as a US psychiatrist whose work is heavily cited in existing draft guidelines has been sanctioned by Harvard University for violating conflict-of-interest rules."

Researchers Fail to Reveal Full Drug Pay.
June 8, 2008
New York Times.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Patrick McGorry on ABC radio

A discussion between Prof. Patrick McGorry and the Dalai Lama from the June 2011 Happiness and Its Causes Conference in Sydney has been broadcast on the radio show All in the Mind hosted by Natasha Mitchell. It should be repeated on Monday at 1.00pm.

The beginning of the discussion consists of McGorry giving a monologue about stuff that he is interested in - psychosis in youth and his psychiatric practice. I found McGorry's account to be cause for concern, but not in the way that McGorry probably intended. McGorry used the self-contradictory phrase "severe spectrum" to describe psychotic illness. I can only guess why McGorry might have chosen to use such nonsensical terminology - either he is himself confused in his thinking, or he aims to confuse the listener. Then McGorry went on to paint the false picture that schizophrenia was a disease that was never cured nor ever spontaneously remitted before the (McGorry's) concept of early intervention in psychosis came along. Perhaps this gloomy prognosis was an opinion held by many practitioners of modern psychiatry, but I don't think it was a reflection of the best scientific evidence. According to what I've read schizophrenia is a disorder that is characterized by waxing an waning of symptoms, and is apparently more likely to go into remission in patients in third-world countries where state-of-the-art psychiatric drugs are unavailable. McGorry kept on testing the limits of my credulity. At one point McGorry appeared to be asserting that psychosis or mental illness is the main health problem affecting young people in Australia - a claim that I find hard to believe. There are more mentally ill Aussie teens than obese teens, or teens with acne, or teens with asthma? Really?

Between McGorry, the Dalai Lama and the host Natasha Mitchell, the Dalai Lama's unfortunately difficult-to-understand words conveyed by far the most sensible idea of the whole discussion - that a new intervention with young people needs to be trialled at one location in a long-term study over a number of years with a "concrete sort of research" and then it can be tried out at multiple sites, and then the government should take up the intervention. It's a great pity Prof. McGorry and the Gillard Government have ignored this type of advice. McGorry's interventions aren't supported by solid research findings, despite whatever he might say. McGorry did not respond to the Dalai Lama's cautioning message, he took off on another rather autistic monologue, this one about positive psychology. And then the hostess laughably declared that a consensus had been reached!

The broadcast continued with discussion between McGorry, host Mitchell and mirror-neuron researcher Marco Iacoboni, who has an Italian accent that is even more soporific than the Dalai Lama's Tibetan accent. McGorry spoke out against the way asylum-seekers are treated in Australia - a statement that won him even more popularity with the Sydney audience.

My respect for His Holiness the Dalai Lama grows, while my respect for the other speakers at this forum shrinks to a size that can no longer be detected by the naked eye.

Dialogue with the Dalai Lama - Part 3 - Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry.
9 July 2011
All in the Mind.
ABC Radio National 810am

Friday, July 8, 2011

Article about Prof. McGorry in The Monthly

Views from a number of different authorities on the concept of early identification and early intervention of psychosis/schizophrenia, as advocated by Prof. Patrick McGorry, are covered in this interesting three and a half page article. As you might expect, opinions of WA ALP politician Martin Whitely and US psychiatry professor Allen Frances are included in this piece, which also features input from psychiatry professionals from the UK, Australia and the United States.

Professor Emeritus Allen Frances can only see three little problems with the idea of early intervention in psychosis:
"....there is simply no available way to accurately identify kids who are really at risk of later psychosis, no effective preventative treatment and the potential medications have extremely harmful side effects."

I am most disappointed and surprised that I could find no mention in Lisa Pryor's story of McGorry's past support from a number of pharmaceutical companies, or his failure to declare these competing interests in many of the medical journal papers that have been published over the years in which he has been an author or co-author. I have doubts that the journalist Pryor, with a law background, was the right person to write a critical article about McGorry's grand plans in experimental psychiatry. I believe she is the same Lisa Pryor who is the spouse of Julian Morrow of The Chaser fame.

Minds at Risk: Choosing the Right Path for Adolescent Mental Health.
by Lisa Pryor
The Monthly.

July 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sucked in Swannie!

".... the latest Newspoll data revealed most Labor MPs would lose their Queensland seats if an election were held today, including Mr Swan..."

"...there would only be two safe Labor seats left in Queensland, including Mr Rudd's seat of Griffith."

Wayne Swan gone, Kevin Rudd safe: Newspoll signals Queensland rout.
Rob Kidd, Dennis Shanahan
July 1st 2011

Making trouble on the Australian political scene - Robert Manne collection worth a look

If I had to cite an Australian whose profile most fits the job description of an intellectual, it would have to be Robert Manne. I've had a look at his recent collection of essays, and I've found it compelling reading. This collection covers some areas that I've written about in this blog, such as Kevin Rudd's term as a Prime Minister and that other fascinating Australian individual Julian Assange. The revised version of Manne's essay about Assange which was first published in The Monthly is included in this book. Shortly after the essay was published earlier this year, Manne made amendments "in light of a lengthy email exchange initiated by Julian Assange". I think this shows what kind of intellectual Manne is. For those interested in Kevin Rudd and the Rudd Government, there is a section of seven essays about "the rise and fall of Kevin Rudd". None of these essays are dated after the date of the coup that toppled Rudd as PM. One is dated June 16th 2010. It is nice for a change to read stuff about Rudd and his government that is not inspired by an irrational personal hatred of the man.

I was surprised that one essay that most grabbed and held my attention was the detailed account of "the strange case of Cornelia Rau". When government bodies and government employees act to strip a vulnerable individual so completely of their basic human rights and needs, we should all be most alarmed. I realised that the idea that her case was the result of institutional neglect was nonsense when I read the bit about Rau being hurriedly plucked out of a shower at Baxter Detention Centre and sent off to a mental institution as soon as it was known that the media had gotten onto the story. I'm pleased that Manne took such care to put names to the players (the good guys and the bad guys) in this disgusting episode of Australian history.

One thing about Rau's case that I hadn't known before was that she was a victim of the vile Australian Kenja aka Kenja Communication mind-control cult. I wrote about this exploitative and highly harmful cult way back in 2008 at my other blog Incorrect Pleasures. In 2008 the ABCTV show Compass broadcast a fascinating and disturbing story about Kenja. Why are our governments not doing more to stop or curtail mind-controlling cults and religious organizations that exercise an excessive degree of control over their members? If politicians took a few moments to reflect on the amount of social disruption and trouble that even the smallest of these sick-f***er groups can cause in Australian society, surely they'd do more. If we had no Kenja, the Cornelia Rau case might never have embarassed the Howard Government, because poor Rau might have been able to stay on the more functional side of the borderline between sanity and madness. If the childhood of Julian Asssange hadn't been so thoroughly insecure and unsettled due to his mother's fear of another dangerous Australian cult The Family, he might possibly not have grown up to be the international troublemaker outsider genius that he is.

I am sure you will find much in Robert Manne's new book of essays to provoke thought. I recommend.

Some quotes from the book:

"The distasteful and dangerous mood of complacency which was imported into Australia from right-wing American political culture during the period of the Howard government took the form of what I call populist conservatism."

"To compete with the Coalition, Labor did not oppose but rather absorbed and moderated the mood of populist conservatism."

"Interest in how this situation has come about explains both my deepening detestation for Rupert Murdoch and my admiration of and fascination with Julian Assange, the only person in recent times who has thought of a political means to discomfit the increasingly irresponsible and impudent Western elites."

"Whatever his faults, one thing that differentiated Latham from other political insiders was his unwillingness to play by the rules."

"John Howard is one of the most unscrupulous but effective politicians in our history."

"To judge by the initial response to the Rudd essay, among the Australian neo-liberal commentariat and political class that often painful process known as thought has not yet even begun."

Manne, Robert (2011) Making Trouble: Essays Against the New Australian Complacency.
Black Inc Agenda, 2011.

Manne, Robert (2011) The Cypherpunk Revolutionary: Julian Assange. The Monthly. March 2011.
[The full revised essay can be read here.]