Death By Placebo


As Robert Whitaker pointed out in Anatomy of an Epidemic, biological psychiatric “treatment” of depression has had disastrous long-term consequences as evidenced by steadily rising rates of severe depression, disability from depression, and suicide, since the 1990s. But is it antidepressants themselves that caused this? Antidepressants were proven to usually work only via the placebo effect1. So wouldn’t it be illogical to suggest that although any mood improvement they produce is not from an actual chemical effect, any mood worsening that users experience is from a direct chemical effect? And isn’t blaming the worsening of antidepressant users on chemical imbalances caused by these drugs similar to blaming depression on chemical imbalances in the first place?

This theory may thus inadvertently/needlessly encourage clients to continue blaming sadness on ‘bad chemicals,’ when there’s a more obvious explanation for the worsening:

Doctors (and friends, family, therapists, government agencies, television commercials) instill confidence that antidepressants will fix a person’s “chemical imbalance,” so they do, at first. In fact, just as some people are thereby tricked into feeling happy, other people are probably tricked into feeling too happy (manicky). But fooling a person into thinking they’ve found a quick solution to all their troubles in a pill fakes them out — these placebo benefits can’t last, since the real issues that are saddening them are still there. When this benefit fade occurs, they can crash from their high, and the higher the high, the lower the crash. Hyping placebos to be miracle pills thus builds up false hopes, which sets a person up for big letdowns that can lead to suicide.

When this occurs, antidepressant users may realize that “depression is a medically treatable disease” is a lie, and may drop out to instead explore and work on their underlying issues. If they do return to the psychiatrist, they’ll be urged to try another antidepressant. But this same cycle will repeat itself with every new “wonder drug” tried — each time reality sets back in. This is why a 2004 survey found that a third of respondents had tried at least 9 different antidepressants (nearly all of them), but only 6% needed just one. Due to wasting all their time and effort on futile attempts to fix fake chemical imbalances instead of addressing their real issues (since there supposedly are none), their issues will persist and build up. This will lead to their becoming increasingly demoralized, hopeless, and potentially suicidal as years go by. So the acceptance of “having depression,” especially by people who are still young and thus have plenty of time to make changes and are flexible enough to make them, not only worsens their depression in the long run, but also wastes their life potential. They have been faked out by placebos yet again.

The final fakeout is the reverse-placebo effect: People get locked into continuing biological psychiatric treatment indefinitely, because faith in the “chemical imbalance” myth is so ingrained into their psyche and their culture’s psyche, and everyone is warning them that they will fall apart if they stop “treatment” for their “illness,” that they doubt they can ever cope without their pills. This ensures that they will fail to cope.

Instead of the focus of medical model-accepting clients being on the problems that depress them, their focus is on their depression. Biological psychiatry dissuades people from facing or working on the issues upsetting them. They are instead encouraged to deny these issues and wait for doctors to ‘cure their illness’ (suppress their feelings) for them.

Lately I’ve often had conversations with clients that go like this:

Client: “I am depressed.”

Dr. K: “About what?”

Client: “Nothing is wrong in my life. I just get sad for no reason. I think it’s chemical.”

Yet in order to feel an emotion, we must on some level perceive the event that triggered that emotion. For example, the anticipation of danger elicits anxiety, having one’s desires frustrated produces anger,and the experiencing of loss, disappointment, grief, rejection, isolation, failure to reach goals, etc. causes sadness

Family and friends who accept the “brain disease” lie will be less likely to listen and understand their underlying issues, wrongly thinking that there are none. Instead, they’ll also focus on seeking nonexistent medical cures. Even if clients see therapists in addition to doctors, the focus of the therapy may be to help them cope with their ‘depressive illness,’ rather than to acknowledge their issues and address them. And if psychiatric clients are aware of underlying feelings such as worthlessness, guilt, or failure, their doctors will likely urge them to dismiss such thoughts as invalid, since they are merely “symptoms of their illness.”

Such clients, having developed a habit of coping with problems via chemicals, and having thus worsened over time, will thus be vulnerable to turning to opioid pills, since they can initially resolve emotional as well as physical pain. These will also be easy to get, since they are often prescribed by the same doctor giving all the different antidepressants. At times they may experience emotional pain as physical, enabling them to feel the opioids are warranted. This likely partially explains why people in psychiatric treatment, despite comprising only 16% of the population, use more than half of all opiate pain relievers2. In fact, most people on pain pills also take antidepressants3. This is partly because agonizing opiate withdrawals, in turn, make people depressed. What a goldmine for modern healthcare!

In these ways, the widespread acceptance of sad feelings being biological diseases is not only the likely main cause of our depression epidemic, but has likely also contributed to the rise in opiate overdoses, as well as the rise in benzodiazepine overdoses (these addictive pills are also often added to the “cocktails” used for ”refractory depression”). I thus urge that we focus on dispelling the deadly “biologically-caused mental illness” myth, as its cultural indoctrination is likely a major cause of most of our current epidemics. Even though psychiatry’s other drugs (sedatives/addictive drugs, its only other tools) directly cause great harm, it is unlikely that antidepressants directly cause as much harm, since they are just placebos. It is thus unlikely that they themselves caused the epidemics. And shifting blame for sad feelings from ‘genetic brain illness’ to ‘drug-induced brain illness’ will still prevent people from taking active responsibility to explore their own issues in order to address and resolve their own problems, as people used to do before the medical model.

I don’t want readers to think that I am excusing doctors who lie in saying that antidepressants truly work so they can take advantage of clients’ trust in order to build up their clients’ false hopes (and their own caseloads). To the contrary, I hold them responsible for ruining many lives, and contributing to thousands of suicides and overdoses. When a pharmacist sold fake cancer drugs and lied about it to clients, he was jailed for 30 years. Why are psychiatrists not being held accountable? It is likely because it’s mistakenly assumed that since psychiatry doesn’t treat real illness, faking out clients with placebos must be harmless.

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Kirsch, I. The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, 2010, Basic Books
  2. Davis, M, et al. “Prescription Opioid Use Among Adults with Mental Health Disorders.” J Am Board Fam Medicine, June 2017
  3. Gatchel, R, et al. “Etiology of Chronic Pain and Mental Illness: How to Assess Both.” Pract Pain Management, Nov 2011, 11, 9


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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    • Unfortunately, there is a better, healthier, more effective, less expensive treatment for mental illness. The underlying reason for mental illness is usually nutritional deficiencies which the physicians don’t recognize and don’t treat. For example, lithium, a drug for bipolar disorder, works by replacing potassium, a necessary mineral in the human body. Lithium is toxic to the human body. It would make more sense to treat the mania nutritionally, with an equal amount of dietary potassium to the dose of lithium prescribed, the correct dose temporary dose of potassium would be 20 meq per day. It could be given in three divided doses if desired. There are many potassium tablets on the market, it’d be safer & more effective. The patient could be returned to complete health in a short amount of time.

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  1. Why does anyone go along with the idea that ANY mood altering chemicals are good for them, street, prescription, alcohol, drug tests and placebos?

    We should be educating people to reject all of it, and taking the prescription psych meds off the market, and getting the white coats who give it to children prosecuted in the international court for Crimes Against Humanity.

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    • Alcoholism, drug and nicotine abuse all co exist with mineral & vitamin deficiencies. The patient should get a serum blood test and have his specific nutritional deficiencies identified. If the person with addictive problems refuses to go to a physician, the family could try to encourage the family member to drink milk, chocolate if necessary, or to take a daily multivitamin with minerals. Of course, it’s always better to get one’s nutrition from food and minerals may not be well absorbed from a tablet. I’ve suggested a multivitamin with minerals to two friends, who previously had difficulty quitting. After a few months on the multivitamin with minerals, they were able to stop, when they had been unable to do that before.

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  2. Ah, but there frequently are physical components to the depression syndrome. Alas, antidepressants have little to no role in dealing with them, as they can frequently involve physical malfunctioning in one form or another and therefore require real (not psychiatric as we know it) examination and testing to be unearthed, identified and properly treated.

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    • Depression is a caused by several nutritional deficiencies, deficient complex carbohydrates, insufficient amount of polyunsaturated and saturated fats, deficiencies of fat soluble vitamins especially Vitamin D, which can be treated with light therapy, capsule. It is also possible to apply fat soluble vitamins to the skin, where the body can absorb them. Check the patient’s diet to make sure that they’re getting enough protein, Vitamin C, potassium, dairy products, eggs. As 75% of the patients in the developed world have nutritional deficiencies even though they have a sufficient calorie intake. This is called “hidden hunger”.

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  3. I agree in large part with the author’s assertions. The very fact of being told you have a “chemical imbalance” that you can do nothing about is demoralizing, and it’s far worse if you’ve tried their magic pills and found no improvement, because this suggests that you are DOOMED to permanent depression!

    I used to work a crisis line and handled a call where the person was absolutely frantic. She had tried a half a dozen or more drugs over a year or more and had gotten no relief. She was absolutely desperate and terrified that nothing would ever help. I asked her, “Has anyone ever told you that there are other things you can do for depression besides drugs?” She stopped, seeming kind of stunned. “No,” she said. “Well, there are.” I said. “Oh. Well, that’s good,” she said. She was 90% calmer just knowing that she might be able to take some kind of action, without even exploring what action was possible! The idea that she was limited by her “chemical imbalance” and had no power to do anything herself to stop it. The concept is more depressing than anything that might have brought on the depression in the first place!

    — Steve

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    • The chemical imbalance associated with mental illness can easily and quickly be remedied by a good physician. The biochemical imbalance is an imbalance of minerals within the patient’s body. Usually it’s a deficiency of potassium. However, while the patient is getting the blood test, he may as well be tested for other nutritional deficiencies as well, as poor nutrition usually involves many vitamins and minerals. It the biochemical imbalance is treated nutritionally, the patient can be restored to good health in a very short time. Of course the patient would require monitoring to make sure the deficiencies don’t return. Refer patient to a nutritionist or dietician and caution the patient that the deficiency will return if he doesn’t alter his diet.

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  4. Lawrence

    Your blog contains some valuable exposure of Biological Psychiatry’s Medical Model and their “genetic theories of original sin” that provide the theoretical backdrop for the enormous harm caused by a profession that pledges to “do no harm.” Pimping off of the placebo effect is only PART of their overall crimes within this deadly paradigm of so-called “treatment.”

    Your blog also contains several incorrect points as well, that unfortunately let’s Biological Psychiatry and their criminal Medical Model off the hook, AND denies aspects of the tragic reality faced by millions of its victims.

    A big part of the harm caused by the promise of antidepressant drugs (as well as all the other categories of psych drugs) is the EXPECTATION by patients that they should be getting better (as advertised and hyped by several hundred billion dollars of advertising over many decades), AND when they don’t get better AND usually get worse, THEN they REALLY feel F$%ked up. Many people now draw the often deadly conclusion that their “disease/illness” is somehow much worse than everyone else’s, AND they will NEVER get better.

    And part of the reason people don’t get better BESIDES the fact that they are focused on a quick fix in the form of a pill/drug (instead of attempting to solve the nature of their conflict with their environment) is the ACTUAL DAMAGED caused by the drugs themselves.

    Your blog denies the harmed caused by perturbing the sertonergic, dopamanergic, and/or the gaba receptor system etc. in the brain. Do you not accept the principle of “homeostasis” and “down regulation” and then acknowledge the harm caused by the alteration, disruption, and possible damaged created by the long term use of these psychiatric drugs affecting these brain systems?

    How do you explain the ENORMOUS problems millions of people are having with withdrawal problems related to these drugs, where these withdrawal symptoms are often protracted, including some lasting for years, and some residual effects that never seem to totally abate?

    We know that 90% of the neuro-chemical, serotonin, functions outside the brain, and also in parts of the brain that have no alleged connection to mood etc. How can you conclude that critics of the “chemical imbalance” theory are repeating the same mistakes of Biological Psychiatry by exposing the harm and dangers caused by deliberate disturbance of the serotonergic system with antidepressant drugs?

    AND what about the damage that benzos do to the gaba receptor system in the brain? Are you denying the reality reported and faced by the tens of thousands of benzo victims seeking counsel from citizen scientists leading and participating in the numerous internet forums gaining worldwide attention?

    And on the benzo question, you included a comment in reference to benzos as “…these addictive pills…” and also the term “sedative/addictive drugs.” If you read several of the blogs on benzodiazepines that have been written at MIA you would be scientifically persuaded to use, with extreme caution, ANY reference to “addiction” when referring to these drugs.

    Yes, benzos can be, and are, used in an “addictive way by some people. And as I have written here at MIA, I believe they are often THE key component in the deadly cocktails of drugs that include opiates, that end up killing so many people – my estimates are up to 50% of all overdose deaths may involve benzos. And this is one reason why this poly-drug overdose crisis WILL NEVER slow down until this reality is understood and exposed.

    BUT the vast majority of people prescribed benzos ARE NOT ADDICTED to these drugs but instead are IATROGENICALLY DEPENDENT. This is an important, and qualitatively different distinction, that more scientifically describes the actual effect these drugs have on their victims, AND places the blame squarely where it belongs – on the front door step of Biological Psychiatry, Big Pharma, and the leaders of organized medicine. To misuse the term “addiction” and/or “addicted” here is to fall into the “blame the victim” trap promoted by the institutions responsible for this worldwide benzodiazepine crisis.

    So Lawrence, I appreciate your efforts to further deconstruct the Medical Model and criticize Biological Psychiatry. You make several good points, but your overall thesis here is seriously undermined by some major errors in thinking and analysis.


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    • Richard, well put. I’m new to this blog and question where is your supporting evidence in regard to your criticisms of this article. I love the fact that you were critical, and analytical, but fail to see that much in regard to research and evidence in supporting your point, and too me it was only your opinion based on the lack of supporting documentation. Perhaps your an expert, perhaps you been doing this for thirty years, I value your opinion, but want more proof to support your claim.

      You posted on this site before which is awesome, does that mean your an expert that works in this profession? I value your opinion as clearly your a man with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Again, it comes down to treating the cause, and in this case, clearly there are more ways than, like actually working with a patient instead of looking for the gold rush of pills. In the end, it always comes down to pills and mis treatments. This beckons greed and today in Americas society, greed is number 1. Patients who?

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      • mjms1165

        A quick response to your question regarding “where is the evidence:”

        First off, an important part of Robert Whitaker’s book “Anatomy of an Epidemic” provides numerous academic studies that detail some evidence neuro-chemical disturbance by psychiatric drugs.

        AND every single book published by Dr. Peter Breggin going back to his first major thesis titled “Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brain” which I first read in 1991, details a large amount of scientific evidence that all psychiatric drugs disable brain function.

        AND how about the important connection that psychiatric drugs have to the ever increasing rates of suicide, and their role in the spate of mass shootings over the past several decades – is this not a real life example of the dangers of disturbing the thinking process centers of the brain and those areas where human morality resides?


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        • Hello Richard,

          I will admit that participating on this web site is not my profession, nor would I rate myself a professional in this category. If you want to know about nanotechnology or OLED technology, I’m your man. I’m here to learn and grow and become a better leader.

          With that said, to address your response in regard to suicide rates climbing and a “spate of mass shootings over the past several decades”.

          Have your ever considered that increasing suicide rates coincide with the economy, simply not drugs? Studies have shown that during economic downturns, suicides are up, whereas when the economy is rolling along, suicides are down. Clearly, no indication of medication here.

          You mention two different authors, and seem 100% to follow what they write and observe. You must also have a fantastic memory if you remember everything that you read in 1991. Just for the record, anyone can steer statistical data to prove any point that they like. In other words, it’s not written in stone nor is it black and white.

          Real life dictates what happens in life, not studies nor one’s belief in those studies. Wrong, wrong, and wrong is all you seem to say in regard to this article, please encourage the positives, even if your beliefs are different.

          Clearly, your entitled to your opinion and the results of those studies have swayed your opinion. Again, your looking at statistical data, which can be presented in many fashions to change exactly how it is received and can be presented in many different fashions,

          May I ask, what makes you right and your opinion in regard to this article, besides the two authors that you mentioned. Are you a expert in this field? Simple question, yes or no.

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    • yes it also concerns me greatly that the author claims that anti-depressants are just placebos.

      They are active chemicals and can have massive negative effects by disrupting brain chemistry. Plus, they are known to increase the risk of suicide and/or homicide in some users.

      I thoroughly agree that their use and the bio model of psychiatry also actively prevent people seeking help that might actually do some good, but essentially dismissing anti-depressants as chemically neutral I think is quite dangerous.

      I know the effect they had on me – I promptly became manic, then suicidal, then…well…it was just a nightmarish roller-coaster. Coming off them was hell too.

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    • Richard yes that explanation of the difference between addiction and dependence from proscribed medication is excellent. I saw that happening before my very eyes with a relative who luckily was more aware than the pain management doc. I also talked to an addiction specialist who was seeing the same issue. Interestingly he said he heard about Robert ‘s work on the radio and literally had to stop driving to listen.
      As a tip for those who know or are folks dealing with pain issues- meds can come in strips one can cut them and titrate them down as needed. Some docs are unaware of this option to handle pain -one can walk away from the meds. My relative used all sorts of alternative methods and walked away.

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      • Also many docs throw in SSRI for pain management for long term sometimes lifetime pain issues. But sometimes they throw them in just throw them in without really thinking.
        This whole issue needs much much more discussion and research. For those unfamiliar with pain management in the last century there were issues especially with folks who had sickle cell anemia it became a war between staff and patient about the realty of pain.
        This was also before alternative methods were considered real options.
        So there is a history and view that’s needs to be acknowledged.
        Again so much more with everyone involved needs to be done.

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    • Richard: “Your blog denies the harmed caused by perturbing the sertonergic, dopamanergic, and/or the gaba receptor system etc. in the brain. Do you not accept the principle of “homeostasis” and “down regulation” and then acknowledge the harm caused by the alteration, disruption, and possible damaged created by the long term use of these psychiatric drugs affecting these brain systems?

      How do you explain the ENORMOUS problems millions of people are having with withdrawal problems related to these drugs, where these withdrawal symptoms are often protracted, including some lasting for years, and some residual effects that never seem to totally abate?”

      Aye, thank you for that Richard.

      I was shocked that he talked about the “horrible opiate withdrawals” (which are over in a month) and didn’t even touch upon the life changing horrible antidepressant withdrawals, which can last years, and that’s if one is successful getting off of them!

      The “bad effects” from these drugs are more than placebo effects. People are not just blaming their problems on the drugs – the drugs have real effects. If you want call them “active placebos with side effects,” and then please note that those “side effects” are damaging to brain, nervous system, endocrine, gastrointestinal, and in many cases, liver and kidneys. These effects are not placebo in nature – or else people would be quitting the drugs no problem.

      I agree with the author that we need to get away from the biological model. But his views on “placebo” and the effects of these drugs lacks understanding. Have you considered the possibility that psych drug users turn to opiates because the pain of the ****side effects**** is unbearable?

      And there is a reason that most opiate users are on the psych drugs – doctors hand out psych drugs like candy – because they claim they are “non addictive” (read: unpleasant) like opiates, and psych drugs are now the first port-of-call for chronic pain. This practice will be causing even more long term damage, and that 16% of population figure will be growing, as these drugs are thrown at every problem, without understanding how they work.

      “The opiate crisis” is a thinly veiled excuse (yes there have been deaths, but I would hazard a guess that the psych drugs have caused more deaths – epidemic, as Mr. Whitaker says, but unreported) to get more people dependant upon a different form of pharma: the psych drugs.

      The author asks Richard for “proof” and “evidence.” I believe that a prerequisite for posting here is at least familiarity with Robert Whitaker’s excellent book. THEN, with the other side of his mouth, the author claims: ” Just for the record, anyone can steer statistical data to prove any point that they like. In other words, it’s not written in stone nor is it black and white.” So – what kind of “proof” would you accept?

      I am a peer support volunteer on a patient advocacy website called Surviving Antidepressants. I have exposure to the costs of these drugs personally, and in my dealings with friends and family. But onsite, I gained experience in listening to hundreds of cases with different stories, with the same theme, all starting with the sentence: “I went to my doctor and he gave me a drug….” Does that make me an “expert working in the field?”

      Are my statistics (which are not collated, published or peer reviewed, but are “estimates” of what I see on a peer support website) any less valid? Or are they twisted by the pain and suffering which I witness on a daily basis?

      It’s convenient to blame suicide rates on “the economy.” Yes, that is a factor – but – look up the word: akathisia. Just reading the definition doesn’t give you insight into the condition, but it is so horrible that ending your life seems a blessing. These drugs cause akathisia – when you go on them, when you change them, and when you go off them. This is far more significant than a “placebo effect,” and that is just *one* side efffect; also consider chronic insomnia, agitation, restless legs, irritable bowel, cardiovascular disturbances, obsessive thoughts, sexual dysfunction, Alzheimers and Parkinson-like symptoms. In history, economy and suicide ride hand in glove. But now there are thorns in the glove, and they are psych drugs.

      Sadly, this is another case of someone telling us what is good for us top down. Take the drugs, doctor, for at least 6 weeks, then try and quit them. Then I believe you will understand better where these “statistics” are coming from.

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      • JanCarol:
        In your comment, you said the author asked Richard for proof, the author said statistical data can be steered to prove any point, and the author blamed rising suicide rates on the economy. But all of these statements were made by another commenter, not by me. I, of all people, am totally convinced that our rising suicide rates, as well as many other epidemics, rest squarely on the shoulders of biological psychiatry. And I did read Robert Whitaker’s book, which was a great inspiration to me. I don’t mean to detract from it; I just want to add something to assist in furthering its cause.

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        • Ah. I don’t know why I thought it was you. So sorry. (think twice post once!)

          Now who was that guy? mjms?

          I’m glad to know you’ve got Whitaker’s evidence behind you. Sorry that your welcome to MIA was a little strident – but there are people who have been seriously, irredeemably harmed.

          To hear that “placebo is the main cause” of our distress was a shocking thing to hear. It’s excellent that you are thinking outside the square.

          I still hold that it might benefit your knowledge of these drugs to experience them first hand, but I truly wouldn’t recommend that to even an enemy, so – I hope you could benefit by listening to the many stories and voices here on MIA (and also on Surviving Antidepressants) before you decide how much is “placebo” and how much is chemical toxicity.

          There are a lot of survivors here. Please be gentle with us – we have been denied our truth in so many arenas, this is one of the havens we have.

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    • I don’t know why, in this day of modern medicine, that the psychiatrist chooses to treat the symptoms of mental illness with expensive medicines instead of treating the underlying cause of the illness, which would restore the patient to good health. As I said before, my research indicates that psychosis, depression, mental illnesses are caused by nutritional deficiencies. Treat the nutritional deficiencies and the patient will be cured. The only motive that I can think of to prescribe medicines is an unethical profit motive. Why would any physician want to watch their patients slowly starve to death? How can money be worth so much to the psychiatrists?

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      • I don’t know why, in this day of modern medicine, people still insist that a mental or emotional state is an “illness.”

        If it’s a nutritional deficiency that affects mood, then let’s call it that.

        It’s the dismissing of people’s lives under the umbrella of “illness” which is causing so much suffering.

        There is, as Richard says below – a capitalist cause for choosing the “expensive” drugs (they are not medicine) over the simples. There is also a power play involved, as people (maybe even people like you) try to tell those of us who suffer “what to do.”

        These simples also include sunshine, bare feet on grass, seeing the trees in the forest, exercise, breathing, walking, pets, gardening, and having healthy relationships. This list is not comprehensive.

        Please, if you are going to post in MIA, do not call these horrific drugs “medicine,” and do not call our suffering an “illness.” I’m even on the border when I call it “suffering,” because many of us are gifted with our differences, and wouldn’t trade them to be “normal” for anything.

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  5. I think you’re completely right Dr Kelemenson.

    First of all a person improves on ‘medication’ then they become mediocre and then they become Psychiatric. We all know people like this that had nothing wrong with them to begin with, and are now on long term disability benefit.

    I think psychiatric illness has now become homogenized – in the sense that it’s not possible to distinguish between a person that was never really sick to begin with and a person that had a breakdown. Because on the ‘medication’ most of the long term consumers are disabled and once they stop taking the ‘medication’ they breakdown anyway.

    I was part of this set up for years and it was a genuine nightmare. Once a person receives a longterm diagnosis doctors also don’t like being proved wrong – and that’s another problem!

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  6. When a person comes off strong psychotropic drugs they can suffer from a withdrawal condition described by Robert Whitaker as “High Anxiety” – and whether a person can escape psychiatry or not, can depend on whether they are able to survive this condition (or not).

    I would imagine the psychotropic withdrawal process is the same for the “well to begin with” person as it is for the “schizophrenic”.

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  7. Everyone agrees that many psychiatric drugs zombify people. That used to be their admitted purpose, which is why they were called major or minor tranquilizers. But antidepressants are generally not tranquilizing, so whatever their direct harms may be, are not as obvious. My point is that SSRI’s known serotonergic effects used to be assumed to cause the mood elevation that people taking them report, but Dr. Kirsch showed this is not the case, that the mood elevation is merely a placebo effect. To me, this raises the possibility that the extreme mood elevation (mania) that people taking them sometimes develop, may merely be an extreme placebo effect, rather than an actual serotonergic effect. And it also raises the possibility that the later crashing, or worsening of mood, may merely be the result of the positive placebo effect wearing off, which forces the person to face up to the reality that his/her real life problems are still there, except having maybe worsened in the meantime due to having been ignored, rather than an actual serotonergic effect. It would be like suddenly waking up from a great dream which you thought was reality and expected to last forever (like the antidepressant television commercial suggests), and being surprised to realize it was just a dream, and your reality stinks in comparison. That could be so overwhelmingly disappointing that it could make someone suicidal. Or it could lead the person to try to re-create the initial positive experience by trying another antidepressant, and when the same cycle happens again, then to try another one, etc., etc. And while they are all caught up in this struggle of trying to “treat” their “depressive illness”, they never actually try to do anything about their real life problems, such as maybe having trouble forming close relationships, or trouble making progress toward career goals, or maybe not having any clear goals at all, so these issues never get resolved as they age.
    This is a common-sense explanation of why they ultimately will end up chronically depressed. Now that we know antidepressants don’t really work, we can look back and say the whole thing was predictable. Why would you expect someone who follows such a path to not end up hopeless and demoralized? Why is there a need to bother looking for another explanation, such as drug-induced chemical imbalance, when the whole “depression is due to a chemical imbalance” and “zoloft will correct your chemical imbalance” claims turned out to be scams? If SSRI’s serotonergic effects aren’t the actual cause of the mood improvement, wouldn’t that make it likely that they aren’t the cause of the mood worsening, either?

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    • Disagree.

      Even drug company research has shown that anti-depressants can have dangerous effects on mood. Ditto with extensive meta-analyses of the effects of these drugs.

      When also having therapy, if I started SSRIs I would very promptly become manic, closely followed by extreme suicidality. That ONLY happened if and when I took the drugs. If I stopped the drugs, these effects would lessen and disappear.

      While I absolutely agree with your assessment that the chemical imbalance story leads to hopelessness and further depression, especially when the drugs don’t work, I never particularly believed the drugs would work (that was my doctor’s assessment), but they still had a massive effect on me.

      Study 329(?) and others show that drug companies have covered up the harms these drugs do.

      Breggin and other doctors active on this site have written a plethora of books on the research around these drugs, and I think you might find that the research does actually indicate that there’s slightly more than the placebo effect at work and that these drugs actively disrupt very complex brain and gut chemistry!!

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      • I totally agreed that antidepressants have all these effects and cause plenty of harms. I just explained in my prior post what I think are the underlying mechanisms for them: an extreme placebo effect can cause an extreme high, and then the crash from this extreme placebo effect fading can lead to suicidal depression. What goes up must come down. And yes, SSRIs have actual chemical effects, which cause side effects such as weight gain, GI upset, and sexual side effects.

        But Dr. Kirsch’s research shows these chemical effects are not the underlying mechanism of antidepressants’ mood lifting effects; they are apparently two unrelated phenomena. But he says the fact that people experience the above side effects, gives them more confidence that the medicine is really doing something, and thus makes them more effective placebos. The fact that we live in a country in which schoolteachers, health care professionals, government agencies and officials, advertisements, celebrities, movies, etc. constantly indoctrinate us from birth with the idea that every problem is a medically treatable disease for which there is a scientifically-proven-effective medication to cure it, also enables antidepressants to produce placebo effects, as well as extreme placebo effects, post-placebo crashes, and reverse-placebo effects. The healthcare industrial complex has become so skilled at doing this, that psychiatric medications, despite only being placebos, zombifying tranquilizers, and often-lethal addictive drugs, have continually been among the highest selling products in America (but nowhere else) since prozac. Don’t underestimate the placebo effect.

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        • I have deleted the comment I made as I wonder whether I am just being somewhat dense today and wish to consider further before adding more to the debate. The edit feature will not allow you to enter an empty comment and so I could not delete it completely

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        • Lawrence

          Yes, we get all the evidence with the placebo effect influencing the INITIAL positive reports about the mood enhancement of antidepressants.

          But when you say the following: ” If SSRI’s serotonergic effects aren’t the actual cause of the mood improvement, wouldn’t that make it likely that they aren’t the cause of the mood worsening, either?”

          Aren’t you engaging here in shear speculation (similar to methods used by Biological Psychiatry) without any science to back this up these comments? Aren’t you discounting tons of personal experience reported by thousands of victims of the psych drugging epidemic along with the research of decades of work by Dr. Peter Breggin???

          Lawrence, you have NOT addressed all the other points that I (and others) have raised regarding the actual brain disabling effects of all psych drugs.

          In addition to placebo effect, part of the initial mood enhancement reported by some users of antidepressant is the actual STIMULANT EFFECT produced by these drugs because of a chemical composition similar to other stimulant drugs. Don’t forget that stimulant drugs were some of the first “antidepressants” to be tried by Psychiatry. The manic behavior CAUSED by SSRI antidepressants IS NOT just part of someone’s imagination at work here.

          Lawrence, have you read any of Dr. Peter Breggin’s books? Are you prepared to mount a counter narrative to all the research and analysis he has done over several decades?

          Kirsch’s writings on the placebo effect are NOT the end all of a comprehensive analysis on the short or long term effects of antidepressant drugs.

          Lawrence, have you ever asked any of your patients/clients about their reactions and feelings regarding the overall effects (both positive and negative) of antidepressants on their thinking and personality?

          Well, I have done so numerous times, and their answers often mirror the research done by Peter Breggin and several others who report emotional blunting/numbing (over time) and difficulties bonding with other people, to name just a few. These effects go well beyond the more obvious sexual dysfunction which, in and of itself, SHOULD NOT be downplayed in its overall significance.

          I have used the phrase “selfish indifference” to describe what many clients have reported to me. And this does not even address the more serious problems when “akathisia” sets in and a patient experience’s an agitated depression and/or a disabling of their morale “conscience” which can both lead to very dangerous and harmful behaviors.

          Once again, Lawrence you HAVE NOT addressed the issues of the operative brain principles related to “homeostasis” and “down regulation.”

          And Lawrence, since you have not retracted your view that many of us are somehow repeating the same errors of Biological Psychiatry related to the “chemical imbalance” theory, I will throw in a few other questions here.

          How does your “totally placebo effect theory” explain the fact that there is scientific evidence that antidepressant drugs will eventually lead to a reduction in serotonin receptors in the brain due to the “down regulation” effect?

          And similarly, how does your analysis explain the scientific fact that prolonged use of “antipsychotic”/neuroleptics drugs (which block dopamine in the brain) leads to an actual increase in D2 dopamine receptors in the brain, which now becomes responsible for the “super-sensitivity” effect related to severe withdrawal problems when these drugs are stopped, AND is most likely responsible for the common experience of breakthrough psychosis while still on these drugs?

          And finally Lawrence, why have you not addressed your incorrect references to benzodiazepines while misusing the words “addiction” and “addictive?”


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        • Kirsh’s found that trial subjects who got antidepressants and those who got placebo reported or displayed changes that led to approximately the same degree of improvement whether symptoms are metered by HAM-D, MADRS, or possibly clinical impression. In no way does that mean the trialed antidepressant didn’t improve anyone’s mood. It suggests that antidepressant trials are designed in every aspect to effect reductions in depression scores for all subjects. In subjects assigned to take the antidepressant, an additive effect of a mood-improving milieu and drug is not certain to occur, but if it does, it won’t necessarily mean greater improvement in depression scores for the drug subjects vs the placebo subjects. There is a ceiling on how much a pill can elevate a subject’s mood. Elevating it past the ceiling renders the patient hypomanic or manic, to be adverse-effected out of the trial and the data.

          But I don’t think that’s what happens. It’s probably more like adding milk to 100 cups of coffee (milieu, affecting all subjects) and sugar to 50 cups (the antidepressant, affecting half of the subjects) and reporting the change in volume but not the change in sweetness. (Which is like using HAM-D, in which only one question investigates mood directly.)


          Per Bech, MD, Rating scales in depression: limitations and pitfalls:

          P.S. I’ve commented elsewhere that the drugs do have genuine chemical properties that do alter mood, often radically for the better. I say that because I’ve taken a few of them. I’ve also stolen, long ago, pills from my parents’ pharmacy-sized jar of little yellow amphetamine pills, taken Librium and Quaaludes, snorted coke and black beauties, eaten psilocybin, smoked legendary Thai stick, received morphine and Dilaudid intravenously, and attempted to trip on LSD. All but Dilaudid and LSD caused a pleasant and marked departure from the ordinary. (I didn’t take enough LSD, or it was bogus.) Prozac, Effexor, and Wellbutrin also caused pleasant departures from the ordinary. Effexor comes on in 20 minutes, or did for me, the first time.

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    • Lawrence,

      I appreciate much of the content of your post, but, like Richard, I also am concerned about your dismissal of the actual chemical and biophysical effects of these drugs. I cannot claim to know Kirsch’s work terribly well, but I’m pretty sure it is not right to say that he proved SSRIs only have placebo effects. I believe he showed that, at the level of a population (on average, you might say, or statistically speaking) that the improvement in depression is largely about placebo effect. That’s not at all the same as saying they don’t have real effects at the individual level. Robert Whittaker describes them as likely not rebalancing an unbalanced system, but rather as a more random perturbation–essentially, shaking things up–which to my mind would help explain why they can have such variable effects in the short run, ranging from major improvement in mood (and yes, of course, placebo is probably big there) to abrupt shifts into suicidality and probably homicidality. (On a personal note, coming off the drugs, I felt the emergence of an unprecedented inner rage for a day or two that I really don’t think could have been about placebo. I know I am not alone in experiencing that sort of major mood swing). See also Whittakers discussion a few years ago in these pages on reverse tolerance, which I think is a pretty good theory regarding the very real chemical withdrawal effects. Finally, leaving the realm of mood, I believe sexual side effects (the most common side effect) run around 65 – 70% (yes?), which I think exceeds by a good margin the realm of placebo effects Kirsch describes, and it would also be rather odd to find such a strong “placebo” effect in an area that is not at all part of the rationale or hope associated with the drugs. Then of course there are other side effects, and an awful lot of personal accounts of rather awful physical withdrawal symptoms that lie well outside the realm of worsening mood tied into a collapsing placebo effect.

      So, that’s my concern and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. More generally, I really do appreciate the larger point you are making, so please keep working on this!

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      • There is more that I hope to publish on this site. I am excited to be part of this website and these interesting discussions. Can I ask, how can you tell if an experience is placebo-induced or collapsing-placebo-induced, rather than chemically-induced? Would there be any difference in the quality/nature of the experience? I would think that since these are all psychological experiences that all normal, healthy, un-drugged people are quite capable of experiencing by virtue of being human (rage, suicidal or homicidal thoughts, mood swings, etc.), that you could not tell from their experience whether they were placebo or chemical-induced. Perhaps the reason why they seem chemical, is that they seemed to come out of nowhere, unprecipitated by any external event. But that is the essence of the placebo or collapsing placebo effects – they are unconscious, internal events; Of course they seem to come out of nowhere, since we are unaware of what is going on in our subconscious. I am not asking in reference to non-psychological side effects, such as weight gain, stomach upset, sexual effects, etc. And of course I am only talking about antidepressants, since psychiatry’s other drugs are clearly tranquilizers, which take away people’s ability to have any experiences, feelings, thoughts, or behaviors.

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    • Thanks Dr Kelemenson,

      What I was referring to (above), was what happens to someone when the situation goes beyond the antidepressants onto mood stabilizers and major tranquillizers (i.e. When the person becomes “psychiatric”)

      It’s said that the major tranquillisers are “supposed” to block dopamine and create a mental state of indifference.
      In Buddhism “Equanamity” describes a state of mental balance where a person is aware, but not troubled.

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    • I do agree that in order to come off the drugs successfully, one needs to address the stressors that drove them to the drugs to begin with. This is part of the reason people have difficulty withdrawing from the drugs.

      Until you’ve experienced homeostasis (which you are calling placebo) and downregulation and upregulation of these monoamine systems, you can never say how much of the horrors of withdrawal are the drug, and how much is life stressors.

      They are both vitally important. As someone whose (volunteer) job it is to help people come off of the drugs – there is more at play here than psychological factors.

      I suggest you read a few personal stories, such as Katinka Blackford Newman’s excellent, “The Pill That Steals Lives.” In it, she tells her own story of how a liver enzyme conflict caused her to go completely psychotic on the drug (not a placebo effect), tells the stories of people around the world whose lives have been damaged by these drugs, including committing homicide and suicide, as well citing studies and stories about the worldwide, largely untold catastrophe these drugs are causing.

      Oh, but those are just anecdotal, not “proof.” It is time for doctors to, as David Healy proclaims, listen to the patients, not the drug companies. Your arguments reek of ivory towers, not practical knowledge. Take the drugs, doctor. Try and withdraw from them. Or – just take ONE neuroleptic drug at a D2 hitting dose (e.g. for Seroquel, at least 150 mg). Find out the truth.

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      • JanCarol:
        During my training to become a psychiatrist, I did try a neuroleptic – I thought that if we were going to give such drugs, we needed to first try them to see what we would be putting our clients through. I took a single, low dose pill of prolixin, and was totally “out of it” for three days, and had bad akithesias. I was profoundly affected by this, and tried to get the other trainees to also try it, but none of them would after seeing what I went through. I think it should be mandatory for all doctors training to become psychiatrists to try these horrible drugs.

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        • Ouch but what an education. I had to give chlorpromazine to my husband for a physical symptom (a reaction to a steroid gave him permanent hiccups). A low dose didn’t work, so I increased the dose to maybe 1/2 of a “neuroleptic dose.” It knocked him out for 3 days, he had trouble walking, going to the toilet. He commanded me to “NEVER do that again!”

          It’s comforting to see we are on the same page, thanks for responding.

          But I do wonder – if you’ve felt akathisia, how can you call the toxic effects of SSRI/SNRI (“antidepressant”) drugs as placebo? People are fighting to get out from under these toxic drugs – and you had a 3 day understanding of them. Imagine if that had gone on for years, decades? Still placebo?

          Again, we agree that the original stressors need to be addressed. I would go one step further – these drugs NUMB one to the problems at hand, and intensify and delay the recovery from them. So – while I agree with Irving Kirsch that “recovery from depression via antidepressants is about as successful as placebo” – I do not think these drugs *are* placebos.

          I believe, with Whitaker, that they make the distress worse and more chronic.

          Have you read any Joanna Moncrief? Her expert opinions on how to view the drugs and their effects is excellent.

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  8. this is so important…thank you dr kelmenson…there is the placebo effect…yes…and people are not facing their real problems…but there is something else…doctors no longer take time to pay attention to chronic down moods CAUSED by prediabetes and subclinical hypothyroidism…

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    • Actually it’s just the opposite, as far as hypothyroidism. When I did my medical internship in 1986, we were advised not to jump in too quickly to treat a slightly abnormal thyroid lab value with thyroid hormone, due to risk of side effects and long term complications. We only treated it if there were successive abnormal thyroid lab tests accompanied by clear hypothyroid symptoms, so thyroid hormone used to be rarely prescribed. But lately the trend is to jump in with synthroid as soon as there is one abnormal test, even if it is barely so (sometimes even if in the normal range but close to the edge of the range), and even if there are no clear hypothyroid signs or symptoms. This has resulted in synthroid becoming the most prescribed medication in America, passing even opioids and antidepressants. Much of this is due to the idea that it may help with feelings of sadness that the client is reporting. So no stone has been unturned by doctors in their promotion of sad feelings to be the result of physical diseases for which there are quick chemical cures, since this is where all the money is. And when people are put on synthroid, they usually stay on it indefinitely, because their bodies’ own production of natural thyroid hormone slows down or stops, since they are getting all they need from the outside. Here we again have modern medicine’s classic business model.

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      • Quote from above:

        “And when people are put on synthroid, they usually stay on it indefinitely, because their bodies’ own production of natural thyroid hormone slows down or stops, since they are getting all they need from the outside. Here we again have modern medicine’s classic business model.”

        Sounds exactly like the two important brain mechanisms called “homeostasis” and “down regulation” (which I have outlined in two comments above), and which your blog unfortunately seems to deny and/or ignore as it related to all psychiatric drugs.


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        • My blog is only about antidepressants. And although I accept that these chemical processes occur in people who take antidepressants, and that they cause great physical side effects in certain people, and am open to the possibility that they may be part of why people taking them emotionally deteriorate, I believe the more crucial reason for their emotional deterioration relates to the placebo effect fading and their realizing that their real life problems are still there, and have likely worsened over the years due to not having been focused on enough, and maybe it becomes too late to address them at some point, and maybe this has led to their becoming opioid addicts. I cannot prove my theory, but it seems logical to me, and over the course of my career I believe I have observed this phenomenon occurring many times.

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          • “I believe”

            And I believe my own experience and those that I read about in online support groups–the folks *damaged* by your ‘placebo effect.

            I believe that the damages caused by psych drugs in general, and SSRIs/SNRIs and tricyclics in particular, is a unacknowledged epidemic.

            Please listen, Doctor. Your position of power over others I believe is impeding your ability to be an unbiased observer.

            Thanks to Richard, Dan Smith, Slaying et al who are bringing this to your attention.

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          • Cognitive dis……… Doctor , I would tell you to try some Paxil for a couple of months and to watch what it does to you from the inside out, but it would be a threat to your life for me to advise you in that way. Just the same as it is and has been for you . Do you give anti -depressants to children to ? I think you mean well. Your problem is , not investigating much more deeply what survivors tell you and picking a profession that is a Hoax even bigger than the Spanish Inquisition .

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          • Lawrence

            Nobody here has denied or contradicted your thesis that the placebo effect is very short lived and that reality will most certainly reassert itself in people’s lives again.

            HOWEVER, there is FAR MORE to this story, and there is an entirely NEW reality that enters a person’s life when they start taking mind altering psychiatric drugs.

            It would be important for you to do some preliminary homework about Mad in America BEFORE you pontificate theories here that ignore and dismiss over 5 yeas of publication of the detailed stories of psychiatric victims AND the scientific research that clearly elucidates the harm done to the brain by psychiatric drugs.

            BECAUSE when people challenge some of your theories (that reflects your lack of homework in reading key source material mentioned), you simply repeat your main point, and fail to respond to the specific arguments be raised in criticism. This approach will not work here at MIA.

            Respectfully, Richard

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      • Doctor, as someone whose thyroid was “subclinical” before the psych drugs, and whose thyroid was destroyed by lithium – I respectfully disagree.

        The doctors at are excellent at discussing the value of these labs, and how to respond appropriately to **symptoms** of subclinical thyroid, like doctors did in the days before these charts and graphs and numbers (labs). Of course the med schools don’t want you to seek a natural or inexpensive solution to a “subclinical” problem.

        With the fluoride in the water and the destruction of these drugs – more and more thyroids are being destroyed like mine.

        I had doctors who tried to treat my “treatment resistant depression” with natural thyroid – but – they also gave me antidepressants at the same time (cancelling each other out, in my book).

        Now that my thyroid is subclinical (I have none, but it is hard to get my thyroid doses “correct” and my symptoms managed) it is extremely difficult to get correct treatment, including co-factors, absorption, diet, exercise – to eliminate symptoms.

        Once a thyroid is destroyed, it’s gone. The website I referenced is full of doctors who disagree with your treatment protocols. There is a real epidemic of thyroid problems as well. (and we don’t know how much of this is caused by fluoridation, pesticides & GMO, and psych drugs – which are also in the water supply).

        Placebo is not the primary cause of this distress. Fred Abbe said what I’m going to say again: try 2 months on Paxil, then try to quit. See if you think that is placebo.

        There is no difference in what these drugs do to healthy (read: off-label) people who take the drugs, or those buried in life stresses.

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  9. thank you for this excellent explanation! as a truth teller in a world that promotes only one popular ( harmful, untrue) narrative i am always looking for sources and articles to which i can direct people i am trying to help.

    when people lament about the heroin/opioid/overdose epidemic i explain that there is an underlying problem in this country/world in people being told by “professionals” and believing that the solution to their problems and struggles can be found in a pill or other bottle. legal, illegal, psychotropic- no difference. the power to improve your mood and your life and your situation was and always will be inside your heart, mind and soul-never in a bottle.

    thanks for being one of the good guys- keep on telling it like it is!

    all the best,

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  10. Placebo schmeebo. Psychotropic drugs INFLICT terrible suffering on unsuspecting victims of psychiatry. I’ve read Kirsch’s book, and he does a good job in demonstrating that the SSRI emperor has no clothes. But let’s not pretend that the effects of psychotropic drugs are “side effects.” Nonsense. Psychotropic drugs were created to inflict the damage that they inflict and to cause the symptoms that they cause. A “side effect” implies that there is some primary beneficial purpose to the drugs, which is simply not the case. And by the way, when we talk about psychotropic drugs “working,” what on earth can we possibly mean? If by “work” we mean inflict brain damage, then that is a troubling, but accurate definition.

    “And isn’t blaming the worsening of antidepressant users on chemical imbalances caused by these drugs similar to blaming depression on chemical imbalances in the first place?”

    NO. It’s true that we should altogether refrain from the use of the phrase “chemical imbalances,” but there is a substantial difference between the illusory “chemical imbalance” that is the purported cause of mythical “mental illness,” and the “chemical imbalance” qua brain damage that is caused by psychotropic drugging and psychiatric abuse. But it’s true that we should dispense with “chemical imbalance” jargon altogether.

    There is some merit to your article, however, because the placebo effect is not negligible, only secondary to the real damage that is directly caused by psychotropic drugs. And your article does highlight a deeper problem in psychiatry and in medicine in general, namely, the problem that Szasz identified long ago: doctors and psychiatrists have, in essence, replaced priests and clergymen in a power dynamic that subjects naive patients to the alleged authority and erudition of health care professionals… “experts.” There was a time when patients retained authority over their minds and bodies, and doctors acquiesced to the requests of patients. Those days are long gone. Now people eagerly relinquish their liberties and entrust their health and safety to medical “experts” who hardly understand what health or a human being is.

    Medical training often impedes clear reasoning and prevents doctors from understanding basic truths. At least this article shows some signs of progress toward understanding the myth of mental illness and the hoax of chemical imbalances. But any defense of psychotropic, brain damaging, toxic chemicals is inhumane.

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    • It is when you are very sad about how your life is going, or what is missing from your life, such as lack of close, caring relationships, or having nothing that gives you a sense of usefulness or purpose, or having disappointment and regret about how things went, or missing people who you loved that are gone. And I am a therapist; I try to help people who are going through rough times in their lives by encouraging them to express it, while I listen to and understand their issues; I do not suppress their feelings and issues with chemicals.

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  11. Dr. Kelmenson, It sounds like you are trying to make the case that people who are sad, or angry, need some kind of treatment. I would of course disagree with this. I say that the most important first step is to teach them how to tell off doctors.

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    • No, I was replying to little turtle’s question about how I define “depression”, and to another commenter’s question about whether I prescribed antidepressants to children. I am the last person in the world who would tell someone that they have a problem; that is up to them to decide. And if they think they do, I don’t tell them how to cope with it; therapy is just one of many different ways. These things are their choices. The one writer who influenced me the most was Thomas Szasz, and second is Robert Whitaker. And I totally agree that people need to be educated about the harms that will come to them and their children, if they allow themselves to be lured into psychiatrists’ parasitic traps. That is what I am trying to help happen by writing these articles. I hope more people will find out about this website, where they can find out the truth about psychiatry, since they are not getting it anywhere else. I was hoping I could team up with like-minded people to try to do this together, since psychiatry is still getting away with murder. As it gets bigger and bigger, it just gets hungrier and hungrier for more customers, like the man-eating plant in “Little Shop of Horrors”.

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      • You are not wrong Dr. Kelmenson. If people want “therapy” or their choice of drugs to cope with their problems, be it illicit or prescription (legal), provided that they have all the information required and the doctor has told them all the possible occurrences (and even mentioned the fact that the drug may have some unknown effect in the individual), then the responsibility should, and does lie with the person opting for the treatment. They should then, not sue the doctor handing them the treatment they want, even if it results in death or suicide (since those matters have already been communicated). With freedom, comes responsibility.

        However, in real life, people have absolutely no idea what they are getting themselves into. They have no idea about the effects of the drugs, the social and legal consequences of labelling, that they will even be labelled for the side effects or drugs (like “bipolar” due to antidepressant induced mania) etc. This is what is appalling. In some cases, they are ridiculed into believing the “scientific nature” of psychiatry by people in the profession itself.

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        • mjms1165

          A good ripe peach can be VERY SWEET and so am I to most people.

          If you REALLY want to know more about me and my belief system, you could take the time to do just a little more research before you start hurling insults and making false assumptions.

          Just click on “about” at the top of the MIA heading, and then click on “writers” and look for my name and picture using first names. There you will find 17 of my published blogs at MIA.

          You can also click on my name in the actual comment section and see (and read) every single comment I have made over the past 5 or more years at MIA.

          If you are, in fact, truly interested in knowing how I conduct discussion and struggle at MIA, including whether or not I am fair in my dialogue with other writers, you will take some time to do this research before “shooting from the hip.”

          When you read those comments you will notice that I almost always give credit to writers when they make good points, and I try to do that first BEFORE I launch into ANY criticisms or questions – which is exactly what I did with Lawrence Kelmenson.

          HOWEVER, when other professionals come to MIA with an attitude and/or an approach that they are here ONLY to teach others THEIR knowledge (and I do believe that many like Dr. L.M. do have much knowledge to learn from) BUT act in a way that also indicates they are defensive about any criticisms, and respond as if they have nothing they can learn from psychiatric survivors or other writers with far less credentials, or ignore the writings of those activists who have been engaged in this struggle for many decades (like Dr. Peter Breggin), THEN YES I will step up my degree of criticism until they show some humility and/or fully engage with respect and equality by responding to SPECIFIC points brought up in the counter dialogue.

          MIA has been published for over 5 years and there is a wealth of resources available through this website. Prospective writers at MIA (if they are smart) should do some basic homework before coming here to teach or share their knowledge with others, including those thousands of readers who have been deeply harmed by this oppressive “mental health” system. A system that is led by doctors and others who have numerous credentials after their name.

          Just so you know, I myself, as a therapist who, at that time, had worked 19 years in community mental health as an LMHC licensed therapist, VERY carefully studied the writings and comment section at MIA for 6 months BEFORE I even dared to comment or write a blog submission to the editors.

          SO mjms1165, what is your story???


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          • Hello Richard,

            As I had stated earlier in some of my posts, it was clear to me that you have worked in this field and are a well educated man. My responses to you were not meant to be personal, just wanted additional information about you and now you have provided that information, thank you very much. Clearly, I didn’t know that you have published blogs at MIA. No, I didn’t research you, but now understand where you’re coming from. I was 100% convinced that you worked in this field in some form or other. I’m sure your nice to others, in this case, I felt that you were not.

            In regard to myself, well, I too am well educated, not in this field of study, but in business. I’m a war veteran surviving two tours in Iraq. I’ve lost friends there as it wasn’t a pretty site. Once I left the military, I’ve worked in manufacturing in senior management positions in OLED technology. I tend to be very direct and straight to the point and I “don’t shoot from the hip” in my decisions nor posts. The military & manufacturing management has been my life for the last 30 years. I use logic in all my decisions and I’m trained to defend those that need defending.

            I can respect your position in which you stated, “I will step up my degree of criticism until they show some humility and/or fully engage with respect and equality by responding to specific points brought up in the counter dialogue”. However, before I knew more about you, it came across to me as bullying and if bringing someone to “HUMILITY” isn’t bullying, I don’t know what is. Therefore I responded the way that I did. I believe that everyone should be heard and be treated fairly. They may be right, or wrong in what they write, but clearly are entitled to their opinion. Clearly, you take a more cerebral approach to your writing and responses.

            I joined this site to get a better understanding of some of my employees who suffer with anxiety attacks, depression & paranoid delusions. This is not my field of study and I do find it way to slanted towards liberalism; however, with that said, I want to read and learn from experts that have worked in this field to gain a better understanding of people in general and my employees. Statistics can be swayed in any angle that they are presented to prove a point and as such, are there any real clear conclusions? In Dr. Peter Breggin’s case, the answer is sort of a yes/no.

            If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask.

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          • Richard:
            I am in total agreement with your point about how doctors take advantage of people’s trust and respect for their authority and credentials, in order to profit from harming them. I have seen with my own eyes how drug companies and “leading” psychiatrists and institutions collaborate to do this. Maybe I was being hypocritical in announcing that I am an MD, thereby implying that I should be taken more seriously because of that, when in reality, nothing I learned in medical school has anything to do with what my field does. I also think I made a mistake by starting off with an article on placebo effects, when I totally agree about the direct short and long-term harms caused by every single other psychiatric “medication” , ECT, etc., which are merely forms of oppression. I enjoyed reading some of your blogs, which were well-thought out and researched. I agree I have a lot to learn from people who contribute to this website. Please see me as a fellow person, rather than as what I do for a living.

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          • Lawrence

            Thanks for continuing to dialogue.

            First off, I applaud your critical thinking skills and your willingness to speak out against the oppressive paradigm of “treatment” that has seized control of your profession. And I hope you continue to write here at MIA because you have much to offer the readers.

            My point about MD’s and other writers with credentials (including myself) working within this system, is that we have “a greater burden of proof” when it comes to teaching others about what is so wrong with this system, as well as, suggesting better alternatives.

            This “burden of proof” is very much based on the power differential that exists between professional and patient/client, and the harm caused by a high percentage of those working in this field.

            If you take the time to read many of the “personal stories” and other blogs written at MIA, and also the personal stories within the comment section, you will find a wealth of information and experience that you can incorporate into your critiques of Biological Psychiatry.

            These personal stories, combined with Dr. Peter Breggin’s writings, especially, do provide much evidence (both scientific and anecdotal) about the particular harm caused by antidepressant drugs. Also, you might want to read the short series of blogs written by Dr. Stuart Shipko that detail his long experience with victims of antidepressants. I believe that some of this material might change your perspective on the long term effects of these drugs on the brain.

            And BTW, as valuable as Dr. Stuart Shipko’s blogs have been at MIA, he did not go without some important criticisms regarding his acceptance of prescribing benzos for patients who were experiencing protracted withdrawal from antidepressants.

            Your points in your blog about the role of the placebo effect were very good, but it overall tended to seriously downplay other more harmful physical effects that result from this category of drug.

            I would also suggest you take some time to investigate Monica Cassani’s important website “” which has a wealth of information on these subjects.

            Please don’t shy away or hide from your MD credential, but just be more aware of the “power differential” and the extra “burden of proof” that comes with it.

            I’ll look forward to reading more of your blogs in the future, and thanks for hanging in there in the face of some criticism. This is how we all learn and eventually arrive at the truth.

            Respectfully, Richard

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      • While I would never try to outlaw the practice of psychotherapy between consenting adults, I do not think that we should be allowing our government to license it.

        And psychotherapy is a societal menace. People who have lived in the harshest of situations, are being convinced that their problem and its solution lie within themselves.

        If you live in an unjust world, you don’t heal from it, and you don’t recover from it. You either find ways to fight back, or you follow psychotherapy and the recovery movement, and become an Uncle Tom.

        And then as it stands now, all the licensing really does is allow parents to be taking their children to these doctors, with a large degree of impunity and absolution of responsibility.

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  12. i have been thinking about this…
    I would like to use a different model for depression….
    I want to use the bio/psych/social/economic/political model for depression…
    in our attempt to get away from the medical model we are being much too narrow…

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  13. You are surely right to point out that the micro-physical description of a mental event is not the same thing as the event’s cause. According to identity theorists those neuro-physiological events and the mental event are one and the same thing, the difference is only one for us in how we represent the co-referring terms as seemingly different. The natural presumption of reductionist views is that micro-physical events must have micro-physical causes. Thus the difficulty for people who what to give a non-reductive physicalist account of how ‘higher-level’ causes could be expressed at the micro-neuro-physiological level, but not simply be determined by only micro-level laws. See Jaegwon Kims ‘Causal exclusion problem’. I think the problem can be clarified by understanding that ‘being determined by’ and ‘being determinable from’ are notions that are often unwittingly conflated. Also the assumption that the events at the micro-scale are more fundamental than those on a macro level is highly questionable. I wrote about these issues of ‘downward causation’ here

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  14. Thanks so much for this. Back around 1982 I started begging my doctors for drugs to help me with binge eating. Since therapy never worked I had begun to believe the binge eating was endogenous.

    It was! Only PLEASE hear me out. It was, for me, caused by the extreme dieting I had done back in 1980. Dieting was not a popular thing to do back then. It doesn’t take long before you get stuck in it. Crash dieting will set many people into a vicious cycle that is hard to stop. You get sucked into it and you get to the point, in fact rather quickly, where your body demands that you binge and/or starve yourself. It isn’t so easy to stop once you start and it isn’t some “underlying psychological problem” but the fact that you dieted, or didn’t eat right to begin with, or you didn’t have access to adequate food for your body.

    Is this a mental illness? No, but I had heard that these drugs stop binge eating so I begged for them, I would do anything to get it to stop. I was rather desperate, so I even “faked” various supposed MI’s of the day, since the doctors claimed eating disorders were petty.

    I must have done a damn good acting job all those decades till I escaped. However, all of life is a stage as far as I know. My suggestion is that you all’s left playing the nut roles quit them ASAP, or get yourselves fired. And Live your Lives. Because it’s more fun that way.

    Love, Julie and Puzzle

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  15. I don’t know why we are bashing Dr. K here. Many, in fact most have NO reaction to anti-d’s, certainly nothing positive EXCEPT the “I sure hope it’s working” effect that lasts about three weeks until the usual letdown. Some have horror story reactions to them. Many feel jittery and get off right away and try another one. Isn’t this what usually happens? Some become manic, right? But if 100% had horror story reactions, I doubt we’d have anyone out there singing the praises of Prozac and the like. I think Dr. K is right. Most do not react in any significant way except “I hope…” In fact, we don’t even hear those stories because the reaction is insignificant. It won’t make a big smashing horror story here on MIA, nor will it be written by NAMI-backed “Take your meds” story writers. These stories, the “Meh” stories aren’t going to even get written up. In fact, those of us whose reactions were “Meh” might not even recall trying the drugs, decades ago. The memories may be so insignificant that they have faded away by now.

    What was that drug?

    Think before you bash. He is right!


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  16. “I don’t know why we are bashing Dr. K here”

    The reason is very simple. Unless you refute and stand up to psychiatry and psychotherapy, then these will always be offered as the way to turn any problem back onto the victim. We need to adopt a zero tolerance position.

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  17. Jolly Roger and anyone,

    I discourage bashing Dr. K simply because what I see here is bashing him because he has MD after his name. However, he is in support of the Movement and earnestly is here to help us out. Why do you put him down? I personally do not believe “all psychiatrists are evil.” I know some of you do. However, Dr. Breggin is not evil, right? Not all psychs are evil. They run on a continuum. I don’t think the statement “All psychs are evil” properly represents the thinking of mosts here, nor of most in the Movement. Most of us are capable of complex thinking. We don’t generalize nor make such broad and sweeping statements. Many of us would refuse, also, to “classify” humans as “good” or “evil.” Isn’t another “classification” completely against what we stand for? We don’t want more of a split society, that we saw on the wards. That Us and Them, we the inferiors, them the superiors and the split that was forever and ever. There are no Good and Evil people. Some shrinks are actually okay, and if you want a demonstration of OKAY, go see Breggin’s latest articles on Michelle Carter. Then, come back to me and say all psychs are Evil. Don’t ever tell me how to judge other humans, either. Psychs are humans, many, though, are following a corrupt practice. I don’t believe they are intrinsically Evil. To believe this would be to believe in the exact same eugenics that psychiatry teaches.


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  18. Julie:
    Thank you, and I agree with you. Let me add that although I do not in any way condone the harms that most other psychiatrists inflict on people, I have been able to see how money is the root of their “evil”: I receive phone calls about once a week from recruiters trying to entice me with offers to earn over three times as much as what I earn now as a therapist, if I would take a job as “medication manager”, in which I would “treat” about five times as many clients a day as I see now. Clearly it is a problem that so many Americans are so unaware of what a huge mistake they are making, that they willingly present themselves to have their and their children’s lives ruined in such large numbers, that there is still such an increasing/huge demand for psychiatrists (and nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, general practitioners, and pediatricians who also do biological psychiatry). This is why I believe our focus needs to be on debunking the very foundation of all of psychiatry’s scams, which is that all unpleasant experiences and sensations are biologically-caused, and hence are “medically treatable diseases”. If we can somehow let the public know that the foundation of biological psychiatry is a complete lie, then the whole thing should come tumbling down.

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    • “If we can somehow let the public know that the foundation of biological psychiatry is a complete lie, then the whole thing should come tumbling down.”

      Lawrence, I wish it were that easy. There have been a number of powerful exposures of Biological Psychiatry published over the past 2 decades, including by a very vocal minority of critical thinking doctors. We clearly have the science on our side and an emerging group of activists and survivors, but we are up against some VERY powerful institutions.

      AND we are confronting an overall capitalist system that puts profits before ALL else. I believe that Psychiatry (with its growing role of social control in our society) and the wing of Big Pharma making enormous profits from psychiatric drugs have become “too big to fail.”

      I say this NOT to be defeatist but only to point out the necessity to link up this movement against psychiatric abuse with all the other movements (such as environmentalists, women, anti-racist etc.) that are confronting a profit based system that stands as a major impediment to all human progress.


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      • good thinking Richard…and very good posting…
        I am a doctor and a patient and I have been fighting the psychiatric
        system$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for 50 years…I haven’t made much headway..

        I do need to say something that is very important…
        we shouldn’t lose sight of this… in our fight against untruths…
        each person suffering must be evaluated biologically/psychologically/
        socially/economically/and other factors like what is going on politically…
        thanks Richard for your work…and thanks to dr kelmenson…

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  19. The issue is not what letters they have after their name. Lots of good people have curious histories.

    Jeffrey Masson is fully trained and certified as a Psychoanalyst, and until he published his book, he was curator of the Sigmund Freud Archives.

    The issue is, are they practicing or advocating any of the following: Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Recovery, Religion, or Mood Altering Medications of the Street or Prescription type.

    If the answer is YES, then if we allow it, survivors are always going to be told that their experiences of distress are things which they need to solve inside of themselves, instead of by legal and political action.

    If the answer is YES, and we allow it, then survivors are going to be abused. Its what anti-rape advocates have long identified as 2nd Rape. Its not that the survivors are necessarily not believed, its just that what they say is going to be treated as their own problem, not “just getting over it” soon enough, or for making too big a deal of it.

    Woman comes to a police station to report that she was raped. At the counter she hears, “Well have you looked at what you can do to help you get over it sooner? Have you looked at how you might have caused this? You know, you have to forgive, you have to. We have therapists available, we have recovery programs, and we even have eclectic therapies. And then we have prescription drugs. Unlike street drugs, these are not illegal, and the quality control is extremely high. Insurance covers them. And then we have bio-feedback, and dance therapy, and transcendental meditation. The most important thing you have to learn is that you can’t go thru life carrying stuff around with you. You can’t blame other people for your problems. We have many therapy and recovery resources available to you. But it is you alone who is responsible for your own recovery.

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  20. As a patient, I believed you were giving me healthy pills for my depression all those years. When in fact you now believe it’s death by pills. Does that mean I should sue you and have you arrested Dr Kelmenson? The only thing we did was play backgammon and talk about the Yankees. If that’s what you consider getting to the root of ones problems with therapy!

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  21. Antidepressants, for the most part, had little “effect” on me so when I was asked to take them I did what I could to get the doc to understand that these pills were unhelpful.

    Prozac never had any helpful “effect.” I never noticed any difference. Benzos never did anything that I noticed, not to me, however, taking one as PRN pleased the staff, so I would do so periodically in order to silence “them” and keep them from needling me. Taking a PRN made the staff happy. So it had an “effect” on them!

    Antipsychotics didn’t “affect” my psychosis since I was not psychotic nor did it lower my mania since I was not manic to begin with. These drugs caused pacing. The shrinks mistook pacing for mania for decades, so usually my dose of antipsychotics was raised to the max and these idiots still couldn’t figure out why I paced.

    Some drugs caused binge eating, which for me is the worst nightmare ever. I don’t expect people here at MIA to “get””this since eating disorders are generally dismissed here the same way mine was in psychiatry for decades. I’m pissed about this and I wish I could teach a class in eating disorders here just to enlighten you all.

    Effexor caused binge eating, so I had to stop the drug. Also, several other drugs caused binge eating, several of the antipsychotics and antidepressants, including Zyprexa, high doses of Seroquel, and some of the older antidepressants, Nortryptyline notably. I can’t say these would do the same to others.

    The whole time, my doctors were dismissive and even jeered at me every time I brought up the problem. The best thing I ever did was to get away from psychiatry and all of mental health, and start my life over.

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