Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Psychiatric narco-scam

A most interesting literary review brings to the forefront a key issue of modern medicine, specifically of that dangerous pseudoscience that is Psychiatry:

Marcia Angell, The Illusions of Psychiatry at the New York Review of Books.

Angell discusses the 'American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders' (DSM)—often referred to as the bible of psychiatry. She also considers 'Unhinged', the recent book by Daniel Carlat, a psychiatrist, who provides a disillusioned insider’s view of the psychiatric profession.

Other two relevant books are also mentioned in the article: Irvin Kirsch's The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth and Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

...with the introduction of psychoactive drugs in the 1950s, and sharply accelerating in the 1980s, the focus shifted to the brain. Psychiatrists began to refer to themselves as psychopharmacologists, and they had less and less interest in exploring the life stories of their patients. Their main concern was to eliminate or reduce symptoms by treating sufferers with drugs that would alter brain function. 

Since the 1970s... by emphasizing drug treatment, psychiatry became the darling of the pharmaceutical industry, which soon made its gratitude tangible.

Psychiatrists trying to improve their income and Big Pharma doing the same... what a explosive mixture! And it may explode right in your brain.

Interestingly enough, the DSM is truly a revealed book, it seems:
Not only did the DSM become the bible of psychiatry, but like the real Bible, it depended a lot on something akin to revelation. There are no citations of scientific studies to support its decisions.
The second page begins with Carlat's disillusioned confessions:
"Such is modern psychopharmacology. Guided purely by symptoms, we try different drugs, with no real conception of what we are trying to fix, or of how the drugs are working. I am perpetually astonished that we are so effective for so many patients". 
While Carlat believes that psychoactive drugs are sometimes effective, his evidence is anecdotal.
But while this greedy speculative nonsense and lack of scientific methodology should be most worrying when it applies to adults, it is even worse when it comes to children, who, specially in the USA, have become the main victims of this pharmaceutical plot:
What should be of greatest concern for Americans is the astonishing rise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in children, sometimes as young as two years old. These children are often treated with drugs that were never approved by the FDA for use in this age group and have serious side effects. The apparent prevalence of “juvenile bipolar disorder” jumped forty-fold between 1993 and 2004, and that of “autism” increased from one in five hundred children to one in ninety over the same decade. Ten percent of ten-year-old boys now take daily stimulants for ADHD—”attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder”—and 500,000 children take antipsychotic drugs.

In most cases these mistreatments of very young children causes long-term problems (for example obesity, just an example) but in the worst cases they can even kill:

In December 2006 a four-year-old child named Rebecca Riley died in a small town near Boston from a combination of Clonidine and Depakote, which she had been prescribed, along with Seroquel, to treat “ADHD” and “bipolar disorder”—diagnoses she received when she was two years old. Clonidine was approved by the FDA for treating high blood pressure. Depakote was approved for treating epilepsy and acute mania in bipolar disorder. Seroquel was approved for treating schizophrenia and acute mania. None of the three was approved to treat ADHD or for long-term use in bipolar disorder, and none was approved for children Rebecca’s age.


  1. FYI your link is to part 2, Part 1 was at least as scathing.

    I wrote a post on Part 1, but have not posted it yet. I was waiting for Part 2.

    I showed my wife both parts and she was very alarmed.

  2. It says something by the end of being 2nd part but there's no link to the first part, unless it is this one (from a footnote).

    Whatever the case I have been for years very alarmed: diagnosis of chronic psychic illness (and therefore suffering from prescriptions for life) on people who have just gone through a single psychotic episode, often under the influence of drugs is what most alarmed me. Also you see how the drugs prescribed are little more than psychic corsets with horrible secondary effects that are surely worse than the original problem.

    Right now I live with a person who suffered from a single psychotic episode and is being given an array of drugs that keep him essentially idle: in bed but not able to sleep. He's the sheepish kind who does not question what the psychiatrist says and all was about a period when he felt that things had strange hidden meanings and felt also unable to make decisions. Sure: that's some sort of "psychotic" episode (or just intense emotional experience) but it was just once in his life and now he has been sentence (with his own consent but consent born out of ignorance only) to a life full of drugs that won't even "cure" him at all.

    And I have known also too many "schizophrenics", many of whom killed themselves trying to avoid the death in life sentence that psychiatrists had brought on them - again all usually beginning on a single "psychotic episode". Admittedly some of those are ill and may be even dangerous but it's hard to see how the "treatment" may help them.

    And we are lucky here that children are not yet being filled with so many drugs but I understand that the US style is penetrating already in Britain.


Please, be reasonably respectful when making comments. I do not tolerate in particular sexism, racism nor homophobia. The author reserves the right to delete any abusive comment.

Comment moderation before publishing is... ON