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.’ 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” — posted on your website — 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 “conflicts of interest”  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’s misrepresentations are as follows:

1. They misattribute the phrase “little white lie” to me, with regard to the so-called “chemical imbalance theory.” In reality, this unfortunate phrase was originally used by Mr. Robert Whitaker in an interview with Bruce Levine. The link is: http://brucelevine.net/psychiatry-admits-its-been-wrong-in-big-ways-but-can-it-change-a-chat-with-robert-whi/

In the article I subsequently wrote, cited by Lacasse & Leo (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/823368), my use of that phrase was in direct reference to Whitaker’s 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 “paid to help [pharmaceutical companies] promote their products…” 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.  

Sincerely,
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.