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David S. Kozin

"Weird patterns of swirling neon-green jelly vibrate and move inside the window of my computer monitor. Funny thing is, they aren't part of a weird psychedelic screen saver. I know this for sure, because when I look away at the walls they have this neon presence too. Not only do I see this, but the afterimage of my computer monitor is present there as well and it follows my eyes around with bright yellow horizontal bars which must have come from the blue edges of my web site's colors. I look back at the monitor and the beige plastic starts turning pink and the letters on the keys of my keyboard begin bleeding orange halos. My monitor, (strike that) my entire room is edging back and forth. The clothes that are exposed in the open closet are swaying back and forth. Adding to this visual chorus is a layer of static and a visual imprint of the path my arm took on it's way to edit this web site." -- David Kozin, Site Admin

"I believe I should start from the very end of my story...

Patterns of swirling neon-green jelly vibrate inside the window of my computer monitor. Funny thing is, they aren't part of a weird psychedelic screen saver. I know this for sure, because when I look away at the walls they have this neon presence too. Not only do I see this, but the afterimage of my computer monitor is present there as well and it follows my eyes around with bright yellow horizontal bars which must have came from the edges of the blue Microsoft Word window. I look back at the monitor and the beige plastic starts turning pink and the letters on the keys of my keyboard begin bleeding orange halos. My monitor, (strike that) my entire room is edging back and forth. The clothes that are exposed in the open closet are swaying back and forth. Adding to this visual chorus is a layer of static and a visual imprint of the path my arm took on it's way to grab some iced tea.

This is the same shit I have seen 24 hours a day for the last year and a half of my life. Well, that is a small lie. I only captured a small fragment of the visual display that I and some other HPPDers see constantly. To clear one thing up, I realize none of these "odd" visual perceptions are real. In addition, I've never thought that they were really there. I know why they are there, they are there because I spent nine months of my life eating dozens of ecstasy pills, dropping gel and blotter acid, eating shrooms, and I didn't stop any of these behaviors despite signs of my perceptual system degrading. I guess, I should explain it from the beginning now.

I started recreationally using hallucinogens and ecstasy in August of 1998. I quickly became fond of these drugs. I was known for being a pleasure-seeker and it is quite obvious why I was so attracted to drugs, particularly ecstasy. My outlook on life changed radically, and little did I know at that time… how differently my vision would be in the future.

I continued using ecstasy about every week to every other week. On top of this, I would occasionally use LSD. I started noticing visual disturbances rather earlier on in my drug use. I noticed that I could "see the wall move" when I stared at it. This didn't seem too uncommon to me, I have heard from many people that they have this same problem. However, mine seemed considerably worse. I could stare at my ceiling and it would look like a liquid that would wave around. My friends didn't seem to have this severe of an aftereffect and we started foolishly making jokes about it. We would laugh and say, "Dave, you went to Drug Land and stayed there. I can't wait until I visit you." I had assumed that what was happening was normal for a drug user and I, who had always seemed to hallucinate more than anyone else on drugs, was experiencing a regular side-effect of drug use.

Then the day came... the day I took those "Lucky 7's" ecstasy pills. I knew they were more than MDMA, because everyone who took them hallucinated like mad while on them. I saw black colors turn to bright purple (like Barney, the dinosaur). I could "seemingly" spray-paint neon green letters on the walls with my empty hand and I watched brown letters in perfect font float freely past me. I guess I had a good time.

I woke up that next morning and knew something had changed. My visual system wasn't at baseline... even my twisted baseline. I told myself, "Dave, don't worry. Give yourself a day. They will surely return to normal." At least they weren't as bad as they were when I was ON the drug, but they were crazy. Crazy enough... crazy enough that I could say I was hallucinating like a low dose of acid.

The next day... I started panicking. Screaming at my friends, "it isn't fucking going away." I was staring at the steps in my house. The shadows were full of static. The steps were moving... The magnets on the fridge were moving... the hair on my friend's arms would twist in crazy high-contrast lines... my head started floating, everything seemed unreal. I needed help. So I drove back to my parents house. The drive was hell with the headlights of oncoming traffic blinding me and the lights on the construction barricades would strobe across my vision when I turned my head. My front headlights were turning bright purple (like Barney, the dinosaur) and I was sweating like mad. I composed myself, walked into my house and directly to the hallway medicine cabinet. I opened up a bottle of an anti-psychotic and took a couple. I looked at the wall and saw patterns of swirling neon-green jelly vibrate, exactly the color of the letters that I were "spray-painting" with my hand two nights ago. Everything seemed unreal, I knew this wasn't supposed to happen....

David S. Kozin

Just wanted to make this topic to share a video I made about my experiences with HPPD.

(Admin note: click this blog to read the post or find it in the General Section)

I read indigochild's thread (he has some pretty popular vids on the subject) and saw his comment about how he wishes there were more HPPD vids. I too am surprised at how few there are on YT. Let me know what you think. I know my speech skills aren't stellar, but I did my best to explain.

This post has been promoted to an article

Source: new HPPD video I made

David S. Kozin

http://www.2013.isrii.org/

Can we raise the funds to send me? I will prepare http://www.2013.isri...n/scholarships/

Then the Abstract is due In a week. I am submitting my application with support from a founding member and support for:

The Society for Participatory Medicine will grant a partial or full scholarship to any individual orInnovator Organization who demonstrates involvement in participatory medicine for whom the membership fee would be a burden.

This will allow me to use the Society's Logo on Presentations and add it along with my ability to present. I will speak with a few scholars in the field who may want to co-author a presentation.

The Time to Change the Narrative for HPPD (More accurately, the collection of visual & other perceptual alterations often associated, but not required for the onset, with hallucinogen use and currently has no valid diagnostic criteria despite a distinct history in the literature of medicine as having distinct diagnostic boundaries currently ignored by the APA's DSM-5 substance abuse work group because we lack epidemelogical data and characterization. I have a characterization survey ready, and I am working on finding a co-sponsor w/IRB to approve the test to be administered to our group.

We must direct the message clearly, and do so without holding on to old ideas in order to allow ourselves to accept new changes if the science and results show something different than the scare articles about HPPD say.

- dk

Source: AGGRESIVE ADVOCACY

David S. Kozin

Dear Community,

I am providing you with a bounty of documents before ACTA or similar treaty and/or legislation would make me a major criminal for providing you with C0PyWr1tten material in the form of full text PDF files of HPPD articles. Unless you have academic access to research journals, each article would typically cost you $35.00 USD to download.

I am providing the most important research articles regarding HPPD to you for FREE. I do so, because I feel the companies associated with these articles are not losing money if you download them for your personal use (do not mirror these). It is a PUBLIC HEALTH and YOUR PERSONAL HEALTH interest to have access to scientific knowledge that relates to your disorder, which can be used with your doctor. I spent over 500 dollars on research articles like these doing my own personal HPPD research before I have academic access. As members of this web site and with HPPD, I want you to have access to information on this disorder without requiring you to overdraft your bank account.

I believe providing this community these articles is a GOOD FAITH act even if authorities would call it ILLEGAL DISTRIBUTION. However, HPPD is very rare, and my experience speaking to almost 1,000 HPPD individuals is that: YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO CORRECTLY DIAGNOSE HPPD IN YOURSELF than receiving a correct diagnosis by a clinician. Consequently, here are the research articles for your personal use to improve your health and understanding. They will demonstrate HPPD has a history of 5 decades, but the terms used were simply different, but the symptoms are the same.

Remember, these articles cover a range of dates and are intended to be read by an individual with some training. Consequently, you will read information that is INCORRECT, RECENTLY DISPROVED, or DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU. You will also read articles with medication suggestions, but remember the research on HPPD does NOT discriminate between FLASHBACK type and HPPD-(24/7-type). These are intended for individuals looking for validation of their disorder and to help you argue for a history of this disorder. DO NOT MAKE MEDICATION OR HEALTH DECISIONS BASED ON THIS RESEARCH.

That being said, here you go...

To prevent these documents from being listed in a search engine, I am including links to each article.

To prevent the directory from being indexed by Google, I am including it in a password protected area. CUT AND PASTE these into the field, and remember it IS CASE-SENSITIVE.

The username: hppdonlinemember

The password: ScienceShouldbeFREE

And you will have access into the directories.

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/HPPD_First.pdf
(THE MAIN ARTICLE defining HPPD symptoms)

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/color_impairment_LSD.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/horowitz_flashbacks.pdf
(Early account of HPPD and excellent read and demonstrates HISTORY of HPPD)

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/Ophthalmology_Article_1996.pdf
(EXCELLENT report of 3 case studies where an amazing team of Opthalmologists witness three cases of HPPD and accurately diagnose these cases and discuss the need for Opthalmologists and other disciplines to understand this disorder and consider it as a diagnosis)

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/hppd_mdma_passie.pdf

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/jcp.pdf

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/military.pdf
(Military account of HPPD long ago)

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/woody.pdf
(HPPD, long ago)

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/00004850-200303000-00007.pdf

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/0909CP_Letters.pdf

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/518.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/6_Old_afterimage_study_considering_methods_1976.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/751.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/Abraham_1993.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/Abraham_1996_Stable_EEG.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/Abraham_2001_EEG%20coherence.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/Abraham_2001_Psychiatry-Research-Neuroimaging.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/Abraham_Psychophysics.pdf
(Psychophysical evidence of how LSD users have different response to visual stimuli than those who do not)

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/DPD_Citations.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/DPD_post_Cannibis.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/Depersonalization%20Presentation.mp3
(The full presentation AUDIO from presentation of research I co-authored on DPD and drug-use)

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/HPPD_Psilocybin.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/LSD-Like_Panic_From_Risperidone_in_Post-LSD_Visual_Disorder..txt
(TEXT DOCUMENT)
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/Markel_1994_The-Journal-of-Pediatrics.pdf
(This article discusses HPPD symptom amplified in certain cases, but this should be read with caution and does NOT mean this is your case.)

http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/Matefy_1978_Addictive-Behaviors.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/THE%20EFFECTS%20OF%20MEPROBAMATE...pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/abraham96c.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/abraham_PSYCHEDELIC%20DRUGS.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/abraham_adverse_conseqeuces_LSD.pdf
http://www.visiondisorders.org/research/abraham_psychopharm_hallucinogens.pdf

Source: MASSIVE HPPD ARTICLE DOWNLOAD ACCESS (30 MOST IMPORTANT FREE)

David S. Kozin

The original post is available here: http://visiondisorders.org/blog/?p=203

However, it is included here for the community:

First Livestream Discussion of HPPD and Altered Visual Perception Disorders

Members of the HPPDonline.com community post many questions about HPPD, some are directed towards me, and you have not received answers. I have authored a text "Characterization of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder" that in many forms amounts to about 400 pages of text. It is the largest collection of HPPD information and Dr. Abraham stated it was the most comprehensive collection of HPPD information in the world.

I have decided to use a new way to communicate the current knowledge about HPPD and related disorders via Live streaming video with interactive chat. Members can login and ask questions after I present my work on HPPD, or ask questioning during the presentation.

<strong>The first livestream is scheduled for January 7th at 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time</strong>

To access the livestream you can visit the www.facebook.com/hppdonline or go directly to the stream at http://www.ustream.t...visiondisorders

I will be advertising this presentation to a large twitter audience to other researchers and members of the media who are nterested in the topic, and hope to have members of the psychedelic research community to participate in the chat.

To maintain this technology and to run future discussions: I will post a page to donate, (not tax deductible) to an account to pay for web site and fees. Donations will be accepted before and after the discussion, but are not mandatory for participation.

I expect the lecture part to last 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the crowd's interest. Documents related to the discussion will be posted with links to allow users to engage in their own research and fact checking on my work. During the discussion, polls can be used to quickly assess the groups opinion on an area.

I hope this will give the community their first view of me, and to offer in one day a meeting of as many members as possible to discuss this disorder and the future for research and treatment.

Sincerely,

David S. Kozin

Twitter: @davidkozin

To view my resume/cv: http://visiondisorde...me_Nov_2011.pdf

My Scopus Academic Literature Information is: http://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.url?authorId=23011974300">http://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.url?authorId=2301197430

Source: Jan 7th: Livesteaming Lecture and Discussion on HPPD and related disorders.

David S. Kozin

User without permission for the reason of getting the point across. I am not saying you should or should not take or not take benzodiapienes, but I started my own taper at the end of school and it has been, as expected, a nightmare.

http://www.alternet.org/drugs/151166/america%27s_most_dangerous_pill?page=entire

America's Most Dangerous Pill?

It's not Adderall or Oxy. It's Klonopin. And doctors are doling it out like candy, causing a surge of hellish withdrawals, overdoses and deaths. June 1, 2011 | Want to get the latest on America's drug & rehab culture? Sign up for The Fix's newsletter here. You could argue that the deadliest “drug” in the world is the venom from a jellyfish known as the Sea Wasp, whose sting can kill a human being in four minutes—up to 100 humans at a time. Potassium chloride, which is used to trigger cardiac arrest and death in the 38 states of the U.S. that enforce the death penalty is also pretty deadly . But when it comes to prescription drugs that are not only able to kill you but can drag out the final reckoning for years on end, with worsening misery at every step of the way, it is hard to top the benzodiazepines. And no "benzo" has been more lethal to millions of Americans than a popular prescription drug called Klonopin.

Klonopin is the brand name for the pill known as clonazepam, which was originally brought to market in 1975 as a medication for epileptic seizures. Since then, Klonopin, along with the other drugs in this class, has become a prescription of choice for drug abusers from Hollywood to Wall Street. In the process, these Schedule III and IV substances have also earned the dubious distinction of being second only to opioid painkillers like OxyContin as our nation's most widely abused class of drug.

Seventies-era rock star Stevie Nicks is the poster girl for the perils of Klonopin addiction. In almost every interview, the former lead singer of Fleetwood Mac makes a point of mentioning the toll her abuse of the drug has taken on her life. This month, while promoting her new solo album, In Your Dreams, she told Fox that she blamed Klonopin for the fact that she never had children. “The only thing I’d change [in my life] is walking into the office of that psychiatrist who prescribed me Klonopin. That ruined my life for eight years,” she said. “God knows, maybe I would have met someone, maybe I would have had a baby.”

Nicks checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic in 1986 to overcome a cocaine addiction. After her release, the psychiatrist in question prescribed a series of benzos—first Valium, then Xanax, and finally Klonopin—supposedly to support her sobriety. “[Klonopin] turned me into a zombie,” she told US Weekly in 2001, according to the website Benzo.org, one of many patient-run sites on the Internet offering information about benzodiazepine addiction, withdrawal and recovery. Nicks has described the drug as a “horrible, dangerous drug,” and said that her eventual 45-day hospital detox and rehab from the drug felt like “somebody opened up a door and pushed me into hell.” Others have described Klonopin’s effects as beginning with an energized sense of euphoria but ending up with horrifying sense of anxiety and paralysis, akin to sticking your tongue into an electric outlet, or suddenly feeling that your brain is on fire.

When benzodiazepines first came to market in the 1950s and 1960s, they were prescribed for a range of neurological disorders such as epilepsy as well as anxiety related disorders such as insomnia. But over time, a loophole in federal drug-control laws known as the “practice of medicine exception” has permitted psychiatrists and other physicians to prescribe the drugs for any perceived disorder or symptom imaginable, from panic attacks to weight control problems. Much in the same way, Valium became infamous as "mother's little helper," a sedative used to pacify a generation of bored and frustrated suburban housewives.

Alcoholics and drug addicts are most likely to run into Klonopin during detox, when it is used to prevent seizures and control the symptoms of acute withdrawal. Klonopin takes longer to metabolize and passes through your system more slowly than other benzos, so in theory you don’t need to take it so frequently. But if you like the high it gives you, and keep increasing your dosage, the addictive effects of the drug accumulate quickly and can often be devastating. The drug's label clearly specifies that it is "recommended" only for short-term use—say, seven to 10 days—but once exposed to the pill's seductive side-effects, many patients come back for more. And not surprisingly, many doctors are happy to refill prescriptions to meet this consumer demand. In the process, countless numbers of people swap one addiction for another, often worse than the initial addiction they were trying to treat. Although benzodiazepines are rarely reported to be the cause of single-drug overdoses, they show up with great frequency in deaths from so-called combined drug intoxication, or CDI. In recent years there have been thousands of deaths caused by this lethal combination. The drug has also help hasten the death of a wide list of otherwise healthy celebrities. :

In 1996, Actress Margaux Hemingway committed suicide by overdosing on a barbiturate-benzodiazepine cocktail. Weeks later, Hollywood movie producer Don Simpson (Beverly Hills Cop) also died from an unintentional benzo-based overdose. Klonopin was one of 11 different prescription drugs—all written by the same doctor—found in the body of Playboy centerfold model Anna Nicole Smith, who OD’d in 2007. Thereafter, the well-known Los Angeles author, David Foster Wallace, who was suffering from a profound depression when a doctor prescribed him Klonopin, went into his backyard on a September evening and hanged himself with a leather belt he had nailed to an overhead beam on his patio. Klonopin has been striking down more than just troubled celebrities, however. In 2008, reports began to surface of soldiers returning from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder who were dying in their sleep, the victims of a psych-med cocktail of Klonopin, Paxil (an antidepressant), and Seroquel, an antipsychotic that is routinely prescribed by VA hospitals.

Hospital emergency room visits for benzodiazepine abuse now dwarf those for illegal street drugs by a more than a three-to-one margin. This trend has been increasing for at least the last five years. In 2006, the U.S. government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published data showing that prescription drugs that year were the number two reason for ER admissions to hospitals for drug abuse, slightly behind illicit substances like heroin and cocaine. But a survey released by the agency earlier this year claims that benzos, opioids and other prescriptions meds are now responsible for the majority of drug-related hospital visits.

Scientists can't say for sure what Klonopin does when ingested, except that it dramatically affects the functioning of the brain. This much we know: If your brain is on fire with electrical signals—like, say, you’re having an epileptic seizure—a dose of clonazepam will help put out the flames. It does so by lowering the electrical activity of the brain, specifically which electrical activities it suppresses is something that no one really seems to know for sure. And therein lies the reason why clonazepam, like nearly the entire class of benzos, causes such unpredictable reactions in people. Put simply, the brain is just too complex a structure for its owners to understand—and when you start monkeying around with the way it functions, it’s anybody’s guess what is going to happen next.

Here's how the respected neurosurgeon Frank Vertosick, Jr., describes the brain in his book When The Air Hits Your Brain: Parables of Neurosurgery: “The human brain: a trillion nerve cells storing electrical patterns more numerous than the water molecules of the world’s oceans.” So, if clonazepam is given to a patient with a history of epileptic seizures, it is likely to bring the symptoms under control. But give the same drug to a person suffering from a completely different problem (an eating or sleeping disorder, for example), and it might actually cause an epileptic seizure.

Clonazepam has wreaked such havoc on people partly because it is so highly addictive; anyone who takes it for more than a few weeks may well develop a dependence on it. As a result, you can be prescribed Klonopin as a short-term treatment for, say, insomnia, and wind up so hooked on it that you’ll begin frantically “doctor shopping” for new prescriptions if the first physician who gave it for you refuses to renew the prescription. As with all benzos, use of Klonopin for more than a month can lead to a dangerous condition known as “benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome,” featuring elevation of a user’s heart rate and blood pressure along with insomnia, nightmares, hallucinations, anxiety, panic, weight loss, muscular spasms or cramps, and seizures.

Along with Klonopin, here are the three other benzos that, by general agreement, have made it into the top ranks of the world’s worst and most widely abused drugs: temazepam, alprazolam, and lorazepam.

Temazepam: Sold in the U.S. under the brand name Restoril, this benzo was developed and approved in the 1960s as a short-term treatment for insomnia. It is basically what is commonly called a “knockout drop.” Taken even in relatively modest dosages, temazepam can produce a powerfully hypnotic effect that numbs users and makes them extremely compliant and susceptible to control. But thanks to the “practice of medicine exception” physicians can prescribe it for anything they want.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union reportedly used temazepam extensively to keep political dissidents in a drugged-out state in government-run psychiatric hospitals. Both the CIA and the KGB are also said to have also used the sleeping pill in prisoner interrogations and in research into mind-control, brainwashing and social engineering.

Temazepam is sometimes referred to as a “date rape” drug, and it figures frequently in drug-related crimes of violence. In the drug world underground, where it is often sold as an alternative to heroin and crack cocaine, it goes by such street names as “tams,” “Vitamin T,” “terminators,” “big T,” “mind eraser” and “Mommy’s Big Helper.” Common side-effects include confusion, clumsiness, chronic drowsiness, impaired learning, memory and motor functions, as well as extreme euphoria, dizziness and amnesia.

Alprazolam: Brand name Xanax, this benzo now accounts for as many as 60% of all hospital admissions for drug addiction, according to some research. What’s more, violent and psychotic responses to Xanax are not limited to humans. In May 2009, a 200-lb chimpanzee being kept as a house pet by a Stamford, Conn., woman went on a rampage after being dosed with Xanax, escaping into the neighborhood and ripping off the face of a friend of its owner.

Lorazepam: Brand name Ativan, this drug has figured in an array of well-publicized homicides and suicides by those using it. Ativan surfaced in the 2000 divorce case between Washington, D.C., socialite Patricia Duff and her husband, Wall Street billionaire Ronald Perelman. In deposition testimony, Perelman acknowledged taking Ativan as an anti-anxiety drug during his separation from Duff and the commencement of divorce proceedings. The period was marked by numerous outbursts by Perelman and at least two physical assaults on Duff. In 2008, news reports revealed that Ativan was being used by the U.S. Customs Service to keep suspected terrorists sedated while deporting them to detention facilities abroad.

You can buy any of these "feel-good" drugs without a doctor's signature by simply typing the name into any Internet search engine. Instantly, you’ll be presented with dozens of websites, both foreign and domestic, where you can make your purchase, no prescription required. (Most of the websites accept all major credit cards.)

Why has all this happened? In large measure you can thank the 47,000 members of the American psychiatric profession for this dreadful state of affairs. Neither the pharmaceutical industry nor the psychiatric profession would be anywhere near as lucrative as they are today without their mutual support system. Together they have created a marketing juggernaut that over the last 20 years has spawned a seemingly nonstop gusher of profits that is only now beginning to slow—and probably only temporarily.

The scholarly journals of the psychiatric profession were filled with early warnings, beginning almost 50 years ago, from those who could see where the encroaching influence of the drug companies was destined to lead the profession. Now, even the medical journals themselves have been corrupted by the hidden hand of Big Pharma. In 2008, the New York Times reported that a survey of the six top medical journals showed that on average almost 8% of the bylined articles published in their pages were ghostwritten by freelance writers, then published under the names of cooperating doctors and researchers to give the pro-drug messages contained in the articles the appearance of impartiality. The scheme is bankrolled, of course, by the company that makes the drug.

Consider Dr. Joseph Biederman, the world-renowned Harvard University psychiatrist and father of modern psychopharmacology for children, who, it now turns out, has been taking secret “consulting fees” from drug companies for years. Biederman is widely credited with legitimizing the concept of “bipolar disorder” as a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be corrected with psychiatric drugs. But documents uncovered by Senate investigators probing ties between the psychiatric profession and the drug industry, which have resulted in an explosion in medically approved uses for psychiatric drugs for children, show that Biederman received more than $1.6 million in undisclosed payments since 2000 from the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the drugs he was encouraging parents to give to their children if they appeared to be “bipolar.”

No surveys that I am aware of have ever been conducted regarding the public’s impression of what psychiatrists actually do. But from pop culture media characters such as the fictional female psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi in the HBO series The Sopranos, the general belief seems to be that psychiatrists are learned and humane professionals who counsel their patients through hour-long “talk therapy” sessions in their offices once a week, and more frequently than that if necessary to help them resolve their conflicts.

In fact, many do nothing of the sort. It may be only a patient’s first session with a psychiatrist that lasts any meaningful amount of time. In this initial consultation the psychiatrist relies on the DSM manual as the diagnostic tool to decide precisely what the patient suffers from. Once that is established, the psychiatrist can begin prescribing psych meds as therapy, free of fear about the danger of a medical malpractice suit lurking down the road.

The follow-up sessions (weekly, monthly, etc.) that come after the initial consultations—that is, the sessions that are portrayed on The Sopranos as the occasions when Mafia killer Tony Soprano sits down in Dr. Melfi’s darkened office and pours out his guts about his troubled childhood—usually last as little as 15 minutes. During these so-called “med checks,” a psychiatrist typically charges $100 or more for asking the patient little more than how he or she is responding to the prescribed medication—a question that can usually be answered by a quick glance at the patient’s demeanor.

At the end of such a med-check, the psychiatrist may decide to renew the patient’s current prescription, substitute or add a new one—or even offer the patient a free sample of some new psych-med, courtesy of a sales rep from a pharmaceutical company. At four med-checks per hour, a psychiatrist with enough patients to fill up his workdays can easily make $120,000 annually from his med-check practice alone and still take a month-long summer vacation.

It's obvious that this system incentivizes doctors financially to keep prescribing drugs in order to keep patients returning for med-checks. But Big Pharma offers a whole host of additional income opportunities. Last year, ProPublica, the Pulitzer Prize–winning public-interest investigative website, did an extensive report on the financial compensation drug companies shower on physicians. Well-titled “Dollars for Docs,” this series included a database of more than 17,000 doctors who accepted “speaker fees” and other money from eight drug companies in 2009 and 2010 totaling $320 million.

That accounting is only the tip of the iceberg, however, as most pharmaceutical companies have refused to disclose their physician payments. Not surprisingly, most doctors interviewed by ProPublica denied that their medical decisions and prescribing habits were influenced by drug company payments. The new healthcare reform bill calls for greater transparency, requiring all drug-makers to disclose all fees paid to all doctors by 2014. Until then, you can type your doctor’s name into the database to find out if he or she is on the pharma take, and for how much.

Christopher Byron is a prize-winning investigative journalist and New York Times best-selling author. His columns and articles have appeared in a dozens of major publications, including New York Magazine, Fortune, The New York Times and The New York Post. He has also been a regular guest commentator on CNN. Fox, and CNBC. This article is exclusively excerpted from his forthcoming book, Mind Drugs, Inc.: How Big Pharma and Modern Psychiatry Have Corrupted Washington and Destroyed Mental Health in America.

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