still mystified in america…

Posted on Wednesday 12 June 2013

I had missed this along the way, and it fills in a few blanks:
A Soiled Phoenix Rises
Mad in America
by Philip Thomas, M.D.
May 30, 2013

It has been a good time to bury controversy. With all eyes on Washington and the fallout from the publication of DSM-5, over here in England the Institute of Psychiatry has been discretely sending out invitations to a lecture. This is not a public lecture; it is by invitation only. It is the Inaugural Lecture of a new Centre for Affective Disorders. What could possibly be controversial about that, you might well ask? It is perfectly normal for an august institution to invite an esteemed colleague to mark the launch of a new development by giving a guest lecture. This is slightly different. The lecture will be hosted by luminaries of the Institute of Psychiatry. Professor Carmine Pariante will chair the event; the guest speaker introduced by Professor Allan Young, and the vote of thanks proposed by Professor Sir Robin Murray. And who is this esteemed guest? None other than Professor Charles Nemeroff M.D., Ph.D.

… There are two things you won’t find on Professor Nemeroff’s personal page on the University of Miami website. The first is details of his extensive business interests in the pharmaceutical industry. You have to scour the pages of Bloomberg Business Week to unearth this. Here you will find out that he has had consultancies with various industry leaders, including Forrest Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKlein, Janssen, Merck, Otsuka Pharmacia/Upjohn, Somerset Pharmaceuticals and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories. He has also served on the scientific advisory boards of most of these companies.

The second thing concerns conflicts of interest. In 2009, an investigation initiated by Iowa’s Republican Senator Charles Grassley found that when Nemeroff was Departmental Chair at Emory University, he failed to report in excess of $1 million income from GlaxoSmithKlein for giving over 250 talks to psychiatrists between 2000 – 2006. During this period he held a grant for $9 million from GSK for a trial of its drug, Paxil. In December 2009 he was dismissed from his post at Emory, and also banned by the National Institutes of Health from applying for research funding for two years. Shortly after this Nemeroff was appointed to his current post in the University of Miami, after Dr. Thomas Insel, the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, reassured the University that Nemeroff would be eligible to apply for research funding once in post…

There is something of the night about Professor Nemeroff, and the darkness in his past can be grasped through reports some years ago of the part he played in the decision by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto to withdraw the offer of a Chair to Professor David Healy. Professor Nemeroff’s lecture at the Institute of Psychiatry goes under the title of “The Neurobiology of Child Abuse: Treatment Implications”. The question this raises is why is the Institute of Psychiatry so keen to ingratiate itself with this soiled Phoenix. The Director of the new Centre for Affective Disorders, and the person chairing the lecture is Professor Carmine Pariante. Professor Pariante worked at Emory in 2001, when Nemeroff was Departmental Chair. Is the Institute of Psychiatry courting Nemeroff for financial favors through his links with the pharmaceutical industry? Who knows? We do know, however, that as recently as March 2013 the Institute, in conjunction with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, announced nine new scholarships in global mental health funded by Janssen to the tune of almost £300,000.

British psychiatry is in no sense perfect, but to be fair, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has worked hard to tighten up the egregious relationship between the profession and the industry… Yet on the surface it seems that one of our most esteemed institutions, a centre of academic excellence, is beyond the moral compass that guides the rest of the profession. In the interests of transparency we should be told why Professor Nemeroff has been invited to speak at the Institute of Psychiatry. Where has the funding for the new Centre for Affective Disorders come from? Is it linked to Nemeroff’s appearance and rehabilitation? We should be told.

Dr. Carmine Pariante studies stress responses as does Dr. Nemeroff. He was at Emory for a visiting professorship over ten years ago, and has published reviews with Dr. Nemeroff in 1995 and in 2012. He is directing the new Centre for Affective Disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry and I would guess he did the inviting. With a title like “The Neurobiology of Child Abuse: Treatment Implications”, Nemeroff’s lecture will likely be very much the same as the Grand Rounds I mentioned before with a dash of his recent American Journal of Psychiatry article [Decreased Cortical Representation of Genital Somatosensory Field After Childhood Sexual Abuse][see coffee-house science… ]. The connection with Affective Disorders seems a bit loose, and one wonders what treatment implications he’ll come up with.

Although the personal relationship between Dr. Nemeroff and Dr. Pariante and their shared interests might explain the invitation, it still doesn’t explain why wiser heads at the Institute of Psychiatry didn’t intervene at the suggestion. And Dr. Thomas’ questions at the end "…we should be told why Professor Nemeroff has been invited to speak at the Institute of Psychiatry. Where has the funding for the new Centre for Affective Disorders come from? Is it linked to Nemeroff’s appearance and rehabilitation?" remain unanswered.

Parenthetically, while I don’t care much for Dr. Nemeroff’s attempts to biologify traumatic illness, there’s one part of his thesis that has always seemed a paradox to me. On the one hand, he’s chasing a genetic predisposition to being afflicted in response to childhood trauma. On the other hand, he talks about trauma somehow causing changes in the brain – in the recent iteration adaptive or protective structural changes. And these two things end up in the same lecture? Both sound far-fetched to me, but they’re also arguing with each other. Is the genetically susceptible subject then prone to have the brain undergo trauma induced changes? Something of a tongue twister. But that aside, choosing Dr. Nemeroff as a keynote speaker for the opening of a Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London remains bizarre – old pals or colleagues notwithstanding. So we’re frankly…
still mystified in america…
    Bernard Carroll
    June 12, 2013 | 4:39 AM

    I watched the Grand Rounds presentation to which you linked. Dr. Nemeroff claimed several times that Julie Axelrod was a mentor to him. That is a meretricious posture. I can guarantee that if Nobel Prize winner Julie had scrutinized Nemeroff’s publications and his research designs like real mentors do, then Nemeroff’s CV would be a lot shorter than it is. Julie had no tolerance for hand waving and b*** s***. And the self-serving suggestion that Nemeroff is an intellectual scion of Purkinje is just laughable.

    June 12, 2013 | 9:38 AM

    Evil thrives when good men and women lie silent. Everyone who does ANYTHING to give even an illusion they support this cretin, they are complicit with his agenda.

    How come the good guys always get ostracized? Oh, I guess when you are not antisocial, you don’t know how to superficially charm and misguide.

    Yeah, truth is a bitch, but, I have to live with myself, so better to put it out there than have much regret later. Is Nemeroff married? And what number marriage is he at now if so?

    June 12, 2013 | 10:56 AM

    This is the greatest failing of psychiatry as a field— that after seeing so many people hobbled or destroyed by abuse they did not turn their attention to the abusers, study them, and ask themselves what they could do to stop the abusers, rapists, pedophiles, incestuous sexual abusers, wife beaters, torturers of children–no. They wanted to know what was “wrong” with victims so that they could “fix” them without challenging the status quo. Meanwhile, the predators have taken over the APA and the DSM. Why not? It’s not like the field has been studying sociopaths with the aim of finding drugs to make them behave. No, it’s much more important for the abused to be either productive or debilitated. (I’m talking about the “it,” o.k., not individual psychiatrists).

    How about a study on Jerry Sandusky and the fraternities that poured into the commons to support their baby raping coach? How about some studies about the Steubenville rapists, the community that defended them and harassed and threatened the victim, and the press that thought it was so sad that those boys’ lives were being interrupted by something as unfair as being held accountable for the way they hurt and humiliated someone? What’s wrong with those people?

    The majority of our population thinks they’re mentally ill or that someone they know is because of a one or two items on those ridiculous (corporate) checklists, and have no idea what a world of pain is left in the wake of a sociopath and often don’t even know when they have been a victim of one, because they fell for all the misdirection. You’d think that psychiatrists would recognize one!

    It wasn’t so long ago that a client could tell a psychiatrist that he was sexually abusing children and the psychiatrist would be bound by doctor/patient confidentiality. What an interesting contract. Whose idea was that, that this little relationship between the psychiatrist and a patient was more important than the relationship between the man and children. Or society and criminals?

    Imagine how different life would be for a victim if everyone thought that dealing with the violators was the first order of business, and that victims weren’t blamed for what was forced on them. That would be sane.

    Insane is giving a baby atypical anti-psychotics as “mood stabilizers.”

    I’m glad that this insanity is finally being challenged.

    June 12, 2013 | 11:14 AM

    “Severe mental illness”

    What’s the cause?

    Genes; genetic predisposition; childhood trauma; changes in brain structure due to trauma?

    Or something that is rarely ever addressed – underlying physical condition(s)?

    The field of psychiatry has yet to answer these very basic questions.
    It has instead insisted on simple “chemical imbalances” and “medical compliance”… without an ounce of science behind its theories.

    Its use of force – with primitive, ineffective and unsafe drug “treatments,” by the way.

    I’m no fan of Nemeroff.
    But the problem is not Nemeroff.
    Or the others like him.
    It’s bigger than that.
    It always has been.


    June 13, 2013 | 11:34 AM

    Have you seen this Mickey?

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