SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH ARMY PSYCHOLOGIST
Thirty-four-year veteran and founder of the longest-running combat stress conference in the world, Dr. Bart Billings has been in the mental health field for 49 years. He has never recommended a patient take psychiatric drugs and, consequently, never had a single suicide on his watch.
On the other hand, 20 veterans take their lives on a daily basis, which Dr. Billings attributes to the military’s skyrocketing use of psychiatric drugs that carry suicidality as a black box warning “side effect.” CCHR recently caught up with Dr. Billings, author of the best-selling book Invisible Scars—How to Treat Combat Stress and PTSD Without Medication, to hear his views on psychiatry and the military today.
What is your opinion about psychotropic drugs?
I’ve never seen psychiatric medications work effectively and help anybody improve their quality of life. The use of these drugs is money driven.
How did this epidemic start in the military?
In the 70s, the chief psychiatrist for the army had a meeting in San Diego—I’ll never forget it—and he invited all army psychologists and psychiatrists. He said that the old psychiatric Freudian therapies are expensive and lengthy, and insurance won’t cover it, so if psychiatry doesn’t do something different, they’re going to go out of business.
Big Pharma companies came to their rescue. They basically said: you come up with psychiatric diagnostic labels and we’ll come up with medications. In the past, soldiers weren’t allowed to go to combat when they were on brain-altering drugs. A couple of military psychiatrists changed that whole policy during the Persian Gulf Wars.
Between 2005 and 2011 the military increased its purchasing of psychotropic drugs by 700 percent. They were sending our troops into combat with a 180-day supply of brain-altering psychiatric medications. It’s tragic. It’s criminal.
“In the past, soldiers weren’t allowed to go to combat when they were on brain-altering drugs. A couple of military psychiatrists changed that whole policy during the Persian Gulf Wars.”
Why hasn’t the military done something about it?
People in our society have learned to trust their doctors and that’s how it is in the military. But how can you continue to do this when they’re allowing 20 veterans a day to commit suicide? They would relieve any of their commanders if they were getting these kinds of losses but they’re not relieving psychiatry.
What are your views on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post-traumatic stress is a normal reaction to an abnormal environment. In WWII, one out of four had what was called “battle fatigue,” not “battle fatigue disorder.” They got tired of fighting. It’s a good and true description without stigmatism. Now, since psychiatry’s been involved, these people have been labeled with a “disorder.”
What is the right way to help our veterans?
We’ve discovered over 23 years of combat stress conferences that the treatment of choice for all veterans is integrative treatment, not brain-altering medication.
What would you say is your proudest accomplishment?
Writing the book Invisible Scars. An attorney told me: “You wrote a guide to saving lives and thank you for giving me my son back.” His son was on psychiatric medications and he was losing him. The book reveals these dangers and this attorney got his son off these brain-altering meds, which turned his son’s life around. This is exactly why the book was written.
As a nonprofit mental health watchdog, CCHR relies on memberships and donations to carry out its mission to eradicate psychiatric violations of human rights and clean up the field of mental health. To become part of the world’s largest movement for mental health reform, join the group that has helped enact more than 180 laws protecting citizens from abusive mental health practices.