Medicine Can Soothe a Troubled Mind, but Not Without Costs


From The New York Times: In a new book, Blue Dreams, psychologist and patient Lauren Slater critiques the drug-based model of psychiatric care, debunking the chemical imbalance theory of mental illness and detailing the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs.

“None of this is news, or should be. ‘Blue Dreams’ arrives in the thick of a debate about the pharmaceutical approach to mental health, and synthesizes forceful critiques from Gary Greenberg, Irving Kirsch and Robert Whitaker, among others. Slater is pithy, readable and generally fair, although I wish she had engaged more thoroughly with the defense of antidepressants, mounted perhaps most persuasively by Peter D. Kramer in his recent book ‘Ordinary Well,’ which explored flaws in the studies that examined the efficacy of antidepressants.

The real strength of this book comes from Slater’s very particular position. She is patient and psychologist, part of the first wave of people who were prescribed Prozac in the 1980s. She describes how, in the years since, her mind has been saved and her body destroyed.”

Article →­

Click here to listen to an NPR interview with Lauren Slater.

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  1. Good to see her challenge the chemical imbalance mythology. Unfortunately, there is little emphasis on changing away from the biological model or exploring trauma and social conditions as the main (and most modifiable) causes of psychiatric “disorders.” There is also no questioning of the DSM diagnostic model, which drives the biological intervention train. So maybe some sign of the pendulum starting to swing back, but still not entirely encouraging to me.

  2. There is no healing in psychiatry. Period. At the very best these drugs are emotional pain killers like injecting a broken leg with morphine indefinitely and not setting it.

    If psychiatry is an art it must be like the artistic sculpture created by the hero in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A big pile of rotting garbage heaped up to the ceiling of our living room.