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.


    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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”.

  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

    • 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.

  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.


    • 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?

      • 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?


        • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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?

      • 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.

  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!

  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”.

  7. 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…

  8. 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,

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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!


  13. “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.

  14. 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.


  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.