Iatrogenic Effects of the Chemical Imbalance Theory


Researchers (including MIA blogger Brett Deacon) found that study subjects given “a bogus biological but credible test demonstrating their depressive symptoms to be caused, or not caused, by a chemical imbalance in the brain” were more pessimistic and self-blaming regarding their prognosis, and viewed pharmacotherapy as more credible and effective than psychotherapy. The authors conclude “the present findings add to a growing literature highlighting the unhelpful and potentially iatrogenic effects of attributing depressive symptoms to a chemical imbalance.”

Abstract →

Kemp, J., Lickel, J., Deacon, B.; Effects of a Chemical Imbalance Causal Explanation on Individuals’ Perceptions of Their Depressive Symptoms. Behaviour Research and Therapy. Online March 6, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2014.02.009

Previous articleDo We Need to See Inside the Box?
Next articleJury Awards $3M to Family of 5-Year-Old With Topamax-Related Birth Defects
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].