Former Eli Lilly Executive: “Psychopharmacology is in Crisis”


A former vice president of neuroscience at Eli Lilly and Amgen writes, in Schizophrenia Bulletin, “The data are in, and it is clear that a massive experiment has failed … A major barrier to progress is the current state of nosology in psychiatry. A new taxonomy is a prerequisite for meaningful progress. Today, few would argue that syndromes such as schizophrenia and depression are single, homogeneous diseases. And yet when it comes to clinical research, including clinical trials, both are still almost always treated as such.”

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Fibiger, C., “Psychiatry, The Pharmaceutical Industry, and the Road to Better Therapeutics.” Schizophrenia Bulletin. (2012) 38 (4):649-650

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Great find Kermit. They have NOTHING. And now big pharma is turning its back on them. Good for all humanity.

    I just love how the author, after his decades of baseless faith in finding ‘new drugs’ is extinguished, goes on to recalibrate his propensity for mindless and baseless faith, this time directing toward a vague faith in neuroscience instead of psychiatry.

    In the end, this well compensated former drug company guy, doesn’t get it. ‘It’ being who the hell is science to label certain thoughts and behaviors “diseased”. The hubris seeps from their pores. Every hour of every day.

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    • Yes; as with so many studies that fail to prove their hypotheses; the conclusion is “more study is needed” rather than “oops.” It goes well with the item above; that implausible hypotheses are more prone to false positives. It sort of goes with one of Skinner’s findings: that intermittent reinforcement can lead to persistent, even “superstitious” behavior in animals. Pigeons, for instance, who once they had made an association between a rocking-stepping motion and the intermittent (but random) reinforcements they had received, persisted in rocking and stepping forever expecting to get more.

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      • These superstitions get ugly, as ugly as sin, when we know these researchers drive to work past the panhandlers they consider “brain diseased”, the difference between the guy begging, and the highly paid researcher safe in his locked BMW on his way to his shiny research facility, is the guy begging might be a lost individual deeply struggling and down on his luck, he might even have a minor criminal record, but the ‘researcher’ is the moral equivalent of a scientific racist in that he wouldn’t have the time of day to even look the panhandler he labels ‘schizophrenic’ in the eye, let alone entertain for a second that there isn’t something deeply unnatural, defective and inferior about that man’s brain, and ‘it’s only a matter of time’ before neuroscience proves him correct.

        Like a scientific racist who leans on and has ultimate faith that science can be rallied to prove members of the race he hates are biologically inferior, the ‘researcher’ believes it is only a matter of time before he can scientifically ‘explain’ my base inferiority, and the biological inferiority of everyone else with a psychiatric label slapped on them, or anyone who dares exhibit even for a second, any of the proscribed ‘abnormal behaviors’.

        This world might not be able to prove we are biologically diseased, but it never misses a chance to remind us how unworthy of being considered equal members of the human race we are:

        And to think this farcical belief in our biological inferiority is codified in laws that can see us forcibly drugged at a moment’s notice.

        For shame. Thank God for sites like this that at least provide some semblance of the truth of these matters.

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  2. YO! Can we get these earth shattering FACTS out in the mainstream–public sector—average Joe— Hey, Wha zup? WE THE PEOPLE>>>venue??

    White House Press conference?

    Second ever White House Conference on Mental Health??
    (1st in 6/99—Pres. Clinton and the “no-fault brain disease” slogan —– that stopped critical thinking –totally!…RE-VISIT the damage from the errors in analyzing the Columbine tragedy…. another “Failure… to recognize errors in the premise ” ??

    How about making THIS a presidential campaign issue?? Instead of focus on education reform… we could push for focusing on ALL forms of child abuse—especially from psychiatry by way of pubic school’s unethical practice of putting grossly unqualified teachers in the role of therapist —

    HELLO.. is there anybody OUT THERE?? Who thinks this is front page, top priority news…

    A return to
    TRUTH ..

    stranger than fiction….

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  3. I noticed that the problem he is addressing is the lack of investment in new pharmaceuticals for psychiatric conditions. I didn’t notice any concern whatsoever about the millions and millions of “patients” who have been labeled, railroaded, drugged and forgotten by the helpful psychiatrists who have been so married to their misconceptions. I’m glad he’s identified the DSM system as being problematic, in that it is based primarily on fantasy and social bias, and I’m glad he wants to look for the causes rather than just the symptoms. However, he’s still laboring under the unscientific assumption that whatever is “wrong” with us can be defined by neurological findings, without any reference to the cultural subtext of these decisions on what “normal” looks like. It seems like an effort doomed to failure. It’s amazing the level of commitment that exists for an effort that he admits to have been almost completely fruitless 50 years down the line.

    —- Steve

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    • “I didn’t notice any concern whatsoever about the millions and millions of “patients” who have been labeled, railroaded, drugged and forgotten by the helpful psychiatrists who have been so married to their misconceptions.”

      Rarely does anyone in society show ANY concern. Tiny rays of light here and there, like on this site, but rarely.

      We’d have to be the most openly discriminated against minority in society.

      After all, there are laws on the books that make it illegal for us to even own our own bodies, where we can be targeted for forced drugging and forced electroshock at any moment.

      The people who rape our brains for a living are respected pillars of the community. We have a long way to go in this fight.

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    • Yes, the author’s main concern is getting drug development back on track, conducted by academics with government funding instead of pharma employees.

      Then the drug companies can swoop in and invest in anything that looks promising without wasting money on research that dead ends.

      Pharma loves this idea. They get the profits, taxpayers assume the financial risks. It’s an advance for corporate interests in the name of science.

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