20-Year Data Show Antipsychotics Do Not Reduce Psychosis


Martin Harrow’s study tracing the effects of antipsychotics on 139 schizophrenia (SZ) and mood-disordered patients over 20 years, just published in Psychological Medicine, finds that “At each follow-up assessment over the 20 years, a surprisingly high percentage of SZ treated with antipsychotics longitudinally had psychotic activity. More than 70% of SZ continuously prescribed antipsychotics experienced psychotic activity at four or more of six follow-up assessments over 20 years. Longitudinally, SZ not prescribed antipsychotics showed significantly less psychotic activity than those prescribed antipsychotics . . . the condition of the majority of SZ prescribed antipsychotics for multiple years would raise questions as to how many of them are truly in remission.”

This study was paid for by a grant from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care.

Harrow, M., Jobe, T., Faiull, R.; Does treatment of schizophrenia with antipsychotic medications eliminate or reduce psychosis? A 20-year multi-follow-up study. Psychological Medicine. March, 2014. doi:10.1017/S0033291714000610

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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. This is a fairly huge piece of evidence that long term use of antipsychotics for those labeled schizophrenia is not only ineffective, it prolongs the chronicity of psychotic episodes. This concluding sentence says a lot…

    “Another factor could be prolonged treatment with partial do- pamine blockers or antipsychotics, which may produce a medication-generated build-up of supersensitive dopamine receptors or excess dopamine receptors for some or many SZ. ”

    When will this be publicized far and wide?

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    • It does not “prolong” chronicity, Jonathan. It creates chronicity. The difference between 2 years and a life time is qualitative. Even the two years equivalence is misleading, since we are comparing detrimental treatment with no treatment. All of these articles present revolutionary data but still insist that SOME persons are helped by anti-psychotics, even in the long run. Even Dr Moncrieff asserts this!–on the basis of no evidence, at least none in her articles. I challenged her on this but she was evasive. Is this a ploy to enable critics of psychiatry to get our Trojan horse in the enemy camp?

      A very small percentage of patients who take the drugs (neuroleptics) do not manifest psychosis. These persons were resilient enough that they endured the neuroleptics, and the symptoms disappeared.There is no evidence the neuroleptic was the decisive variable. It could have been the passage of time or placebo effect. Further what reason is there to believe this group would not have done better with no neuroleptics or with a placebo alone? Or with the kind of treatment pioneered by Laing and Soteria? Yet this assumption is made even by critical psychiatrists. Why? Further how can any doctor justify prescribing such harmful drugs?

      I have to give Harrow credit. He has asked the question that virtually everyone– even Bob Whitaker and Joanna Moncrieff– has shied away from:”If multi-year use of antipsychotics increases
      the possibility of psychosis, as the data suggest, does
      it increase it for some or all SZ?”

      I have little doubt it will increase it for all “schizophrenics.” These drugs were first introduced because they made patients seriously physically ill (see David Cohen) and thus easy to control. The idea that anyone would benefit from them is the remnant of an atavistic sensibility.
      Seth Farber, Ph.D.

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      • I agree, my theory is antipsychotics likely CAUSE psychosis in most patients (but, of course, the psychiatrists always assume the resulting psychosis is due to the “disease”). I know Risperdal CAUSED a terrifying psychosis in me within two weeks of being put on it (a “Foul up”), and I had zero prior personal or family history of any mental health issues. But, unfortunately, I was dealing with a PCP who wanted to cover up her husband’s “bad fix” on a broken bone, and a therapist who misdiagnosed improper withdrawal from a “safe smoking cessation med” / dangerous antidepressant, because she wanted to cover up child abuse for her pastor.

        After eight years of research into the psycho / pharmaceutical industry, I truly think the only scientific validity the DSM has, is as a description of the symptoms of the adverse effects of the psychiatric drugs. The antidepressants and ADHD drugs CAUSE the bipolar symptoms, and the bipolar drugs (antipsychotics) CAUSE the schizophrenia symptoms … in most people, not just me.

        And this is what the medical community and religions have known for decades, from what I’ve been told and according to my research. Which is why unethical doctors and pastors have historically shipped people off to psychiatrists to intentionally cover up their easily recognized iatrogenesis and child abuse hobbies. I’ve been told is the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” And it is being pulled off en mass on the American public, including millions of children, merely because it’s profitable.

        Psychiatry has always been, and still is, grounded upon pure evil.

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      • Or to put it another way… on one hand we do have evidence that many people diagnosed with a psychotic disorder will get better without drug treatment, while many who stay in drug treatment will not.

        However, an elephant in the room is the fact that we still have no good or valid evidence to even suggest that the people who do fare well in the long term on drugs are doing so because of the drugs. Since we have established that the illness isn’t being corrected by “chemical balancers” then there’s no reason to assume (which is all that psychiatry is doing — assuming) that those who get better on drugs do so because of them. This is evidence vs no evidence. It’s not even a real scientific debate.

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    • Jonathan
      That’s my own experience:
      The drugs imbalance the system and create long term illness, so even if a person is well going into treatment they will eventually become Psychiatric. When they try to stop the drugs they go mad and this proves they were mad to begin with.

      Basic Psychotherapy can be effective because because it tells the person in simple terms what’s happening to them in withdrawal, and what they can do to steady themselves.

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  2. I was given the anti psychotic Zyprexa starting with samples back before the big lawsuit for anxiety and insomnia and it CAUSED a frighting psychosis I never had BEFORE taking it when I decided to quit that horrible drug that insidiously robbed my ability to feel any pleasure from life. Of course when I show up at the hospitals sick complaining of withdrawal reactions these reaction are taken as symptoms of mental illness so they give me a new label “Schizoaffective disorder” I believe and then try and push Geodon on me after sending me up to there psych lockup !

    I had no idea what I was getting into going to that doctor in search of a pill that I could take to goto sleep “on time” and be a morning person. That’s what got my whole psychiatry nightmare rolling, nothing in life taught me not to trust doctors and medicine or to even use caution. This “doctor” handed me a free sample of Zyprexa and said “don’t worry it’s safe” SOB ! I thought all doctors were honorable trustworthy healers and I took the pills.

    I was wrong obviously , I now know the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry is made of the largest group of dishonest lying manipulating scumbags ever to infest planet earth.

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  3. I agree, Copycat, the antipsychotics CAUSE psychosis when wrongly given to non-psychotic people. And now the mainstream American medical community is handing them out like candy to millions of little children.

    And, as to why the antipsychotic made it so you cannot experience pleasure, I watched a movie on Netficks yesterday called “Happy.” It stated right in the movie that the feeling of happiness is achieved with your brain is flooded with dopamine. What do neuroleptics do? They block dopamine.

    I can’t believe I’m the only person on the planet who believes it’s evil to force people to take drugs that are known to block the very brain chemical that produces the feeling of happiness. Wake up, doctors, drugs known to reduce or prevent happiness are not beneficial to humanity.

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    • “the antipsychotics CAUSE psychosis when wrongly given to non-psychotic people. And now the mainstream American medical community is handing them out like candy to millions of little children.”

      And let’s not forget that psychiatrists are being paid six figures a year to prescribe these drugs supposedly because things like psychosis and brain damage are catastrophic health problems.

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      • That’s true. Its about money. Most Bio Psychiatric research is rigged. What normal doctor would miss the obvious facts of drug exposure and recovery. Where’s the research into those (the minority) that make full recovery?

        Look at how long the drug brain damage and brain shrinkage evidence was blocked.

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