Doubt is Our Product

From Auntie Psychiatry, view more here.

I had the idea for this cartoon while listening to the Royal Society of Medicine podcast: Episode 1. The spiel reads…

“In this episode, Prof Sir Simon Wessely, Consultant Psychiatrist and Past President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Prof Clare Gerada, GP and Past Chairperson of the Royal College of General Practitioners, discuss the increasing use of antidepressants…”

And indeed they do. About ten minutes in, Sir Simon delivers a homily on the subject of “addiction”. He opens with the line: “Addiction is pretty well described, and most of the population know what it is,” he then patiently explains to us all how “antidepressants” are NOT addictive, and that, in any case, “addiction isn’t the right issue to talk about.”

As he talked, loud bells began ringing – where had I heard this before? Of course! It was the same argument that Big Tobacco put forward in the 1990s with the claim that “Nicotine is not addictive.” A quick Google search uncovered uncanny parallels between the two. It didn’t take long to track down the almost word-for-word same argument from RJ Reynolds Tobacco CEO, James Johnston, in his evidence to Congress in 1994. Watch this…



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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