Response from Ronald Pies, MD

In an email to¬†Mad in America, dated¬†November 4, 2015, Dr.¬†Pies refutes assertions in a post by Dr. Philip Hickey,¬†More on the Chemical Imbalance Theory,”¬†saying that it¬†“contains incorrect and misleading information re: my views, as well as an unsupported claim re: supposed ‘conflicts of interest.’‚Ä̬†Dr. Pies’ email¬†is¬†respectfully reproduced here.

Message sent by: Ronald Pies MD

Message: Dear Mr. Cole: 

Philip Hickey’s blog, “More on the Chemical Imbalance Theory” ‚ÄĒ posted on your website ‚ÄĒ¬†references a recent paper by Lacasse & Leo (“Antidepressants and the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Depression”) which contains incorrect and misleading information re: my views, as well as an unsupported claim re: supposed ‚Äúconflicts of interest‚ÄĚ ¬†Lacasse & Leo impute to me. These misstatements by Lacasse & Leo are, unfortunately, repeated in Hickey’s blog. ¬†This is unacceptable and must be publicly corrected. In brief, Lacasse and Leo‚Äôs misrepresentations are as follows:

1. They misattribute the phrase ‚Äúlittle white lie‚ÄĚ to me, with regard to the so-called ‚Äúchemical imbalance theory.‚ÄĚ In reality, this unfortunate phrase was originally used by Mr. Robert Whitaker in an interview with Bruce Levine. The link is:¬†

In the article I subsequently wrote, cited by Lacasse & Leo (, my use of that phrase was in direct reference to Whitaker‚Äôs interview and to his own choice of words. I made this clear as far back as April, 2014, in a comment I posted beneath my Medscape article (available online). Careful scholars would surely have observed this and not falsely attributed Whitaker\’s phrase to me. The Medscape article has since been corrected.¬†

2. Citing information properly disclosed by me over a decade ago, Lacasse & Leo allege that I was ‚Äúpaid to help [pharmaceutical companies] promote their products…‚ÄĚ This is categorically false. The allegation by Lacasse & Leo was not based on any direct knowledge of my professional or contractual arrangements dating back to 2003. ¬†Never, at any time, have I accepted any monies from pharmaceutical companies (or anyone else) with the intent or purpose of promoting their products. Nor have I ever had any ongoing financial relationships with any pharmaceutical companies. ¬†

A detailed rejoinder to Lacasse & Leo will appear in the winter issue of “The Behavior Therapist,” where the Lacasse & Leo article originally appeared. However, I respectfully request that you run a correction on your website as soon as possible; e.g., by posting this communication. I consider this a matter that impinges on my professional reputation, and I reserve all rights in pursuit of a just resolution. ¬†

Ronald Pies MD
Professor of Psychiatry

Jonathan Leo and Jeffrey Lacasse responded on November 6, 2015:

This morning, MIA published a response from Dr. Ronald Pies to our recent article  in The Behavior Therapist. Dr. Pies has also sent a letter to The Behavior Therapist, and we have written a reply. Both letters will be published in the next issue of the journal, which will be published in mid-December 2015.


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