I’ll start with a quote that’s often attributed to Senator Bernie Sanders, but apparently originated with Ted Kaczynski in his essay “Industrial Society and Its Future”:
“Instead of removing the conditions that make people depressed, modern society gives them antidepressant drugs. In effect antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable.”
This quote raised some troubling concerns for me such as: Just how sad is our current state of affairs that it causes so much of the population to feel depressed and/or anxious? Just how much are these drugs changing the state of our society as a whole? Are the drugs desensitizing the population to the point that it will tolerate social conditions it would otherwise find intolerable? Are antidepressant drugs being viewed and used as an easy and fast solution to avoid societal responsibilities such as working towards building a better state of affairs? Are there selfish and subtle agendas behind their use?
One only has to do minimal research to find out from various data sources about the large number of the population that are on antidepressant drugs, both in America and abroad. The number of Americans who say they’ve taken an antidepressant over the past month rose by 65 percent between 1999 and 2014, a government survey had found (Mundell, 2017).1 In 2016, prescriptions for 64.7m items of antidepressants were dispensed in England, according to the most recent annual data from NHS Digital. This was 3.7m more than the 61m dispensed during 2015, making for an all-time high (Campbell, 2017).2 Increases in psychiatric drug prescriptions for children and adolescents have also been on the rise. Antidepressants are big business. It’s estimated that the global depression drug market will be worth $16 billion by 2020 (Baer, 2017).3
Is it “medically necessary” for all these people to be prescribed antidepressant drugs? Years ago, antidepressant drugs were usually only prescribed by psychiatrists who had mental health training. Today they are prescribed by general practitioners who have little or no mental health training at all. Many people are misdiagnosed and shouldn’t even be on the drugs. To make matters worse, people that start the drugs find that it’s very difficult to stop taking them, making for a prescription drug addicted population. Now we have a segment of people that were misdiagnosed who never should have been on the drugs in the first place.
We know that besides many other adverse side effects, antidepressants can have desensitizing, depersonalization and derealization effects on a person. Researchers have shown that commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs influence moral decisions in healthy people, raising important ethical questions about the use of such drugs (Tejas, 2015).4 Antidepressants make chemical changes to the brain. They are known to desensitize the 5-HT1A receptor in the brain. If antidepressants are modifying the internal state of so many individual people, then they are changing and influencing the population as a whole.
It seems that despite diverse and evolving psychological and counseling theories, one thing remains dominant to psychiatry as an institution: the medical perspective of understanding and treating psychological problems and behaviors. With regards to a “strictly medical” understanding and treatment of psychological problems, Jacobs (1995) said, “This state of affairs has achieved a position of dominance and respect in the mental health industry, based upon social forces operating within psychiatry as a profession and outside of psychiatry in the larger political-economic realm.”5
Our doctors and other prescribing health care “professionals” want to attribute biochemical causes to anxiety and depression. With the biochemical cause, antidepressants are the first chosen line of treatment, often with no questions asked! Is this “strictly medical” perspective a way of taking the focus off all the social and psychological factors that are making so many depressed and anxious? Blease (2014) says, “there is consensus in the scientific community that the causes of depression include social as well as psychological triggers (and not just biochemical ones).”6 Why are these triggers, more often than not, not being examined further? Instead of prescribing drugs, why not try to help empower people with some other healthy alternatives in areas such as nutrition, exercise and spirituality? I believe wholeheartedly what Spence & Reid (2013) wrote: “Improving society’s well-being is not in the gift of medicine nor mere medication, and overprescribing antidepressants serves as a distraction from a wider debate about why we are so unhappy as a society.”7 So, what about the psycho-social aspects of the person? These aspects are being overlooked and a person is being treated as though they have a chemical imbalance in the brain when there is no testing done to even prove such a claim. How is prescribing antidepressants from the biochemical standpoint going to help the condition when it was a social or psychological issue that caused it? Is prescribing the antidepressant seen as an easy fix? Would it take much more effort to address the real issues at hand?
Dr. Steven Sharfstein wrote for Psychiatric News in 2005:
“There is widespread concern of the over medicalization of mental disorders and the overuse of medications. Financial incentives and managed care have contributed to the notion of a ‘quick fix’ by taking a pill and reducing the emphasis on psychotherapy and psychosocial treatments. There is much evidence that there is less psychotherapy provided by psychiatrists than 10 years ago. . . . As we address Big Pharma issues, we must examine the fact that as a profession, we have allowed the biopsychosocial model to become the bio-bio-bio model. In a time of economic constraint, a ‘pill & appointment’ has dominated treatment. We must work hard to end this situation and get involved in advocacy to reform our health care system from the bottom up.” 8
It doesn’t look as if much has changed since 2005. The lack of health care reform alone is enough to make one depressed. Growing socioeconomic issues such as mass income inequality are causing more people to get depressed in America and abroad. Many people are depressed due to harsh working conditions. Some are depressed due to lack of education or access to it. Economic and political issues can cause extreme stress for people. For example, SSRIs were prescribed by doctors to the people of Argentina during a political and economic crisis. In this instance, the drugs were not given to treat a chemical imbalance in the brain or for a diagnosis of depression, but rather to treat the anxious citizens suffering from the political and economic unrest (Lakoff, 2004).9 The drugs were marketed by firms to the doctors here for a different agenda. Could the drugs also have been used to make the anxious population more tolerant of the political and economic situation?
Drugging a population to make them more accepting of certain social agendas and ideas is really not such a radical idea. A recent German university study suggested drugging a segment of the German population with oxytocin to help them become more accepting of migrants (Hurlemann, 2017).10 Some might say this is a good thing, for one to become more accepting, as the word can have various positive connotations that go with it. However, what about the ethical implications and subtle undertones?
Very often, many societal constructs within our healthcare system, economic systems, and justice systems can feel unfair to people. Some of these practices, whether they are indeed fair or unfair, can make people feel anxious, depressed, trapped, and even hopeless. An experimental study by Takahashi et al. (2012) discusses the relationship between 5-HT (serotonin) and the reaction of participants to unfair offers in a UG (ultimatum game).11 It was found that individuals with a low level of serotonin transporters in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) could not tolerate unfairness and were candid in expressing their frustrations. It was also found that individuals with low 5-HT neurons in the DRN or low serotonin availability at the terminals are also more likely to engage in personally costly forms of retaliation. Individuals with high 5-HT neurons in DRN are more likely to accept any unfair offers. We know that many antidepressant drugs inhibit the reuptake of serotonin, thus increasing serotonin in the brain. Would this then be causing the people who are taking them to be more accepting of our current social constructs and less likely to do or say anything about them? Would they be less likely to engage in forms of retaliation against the state? Please note that I am not advocating for retaliation in terms of violent uprisings. I am referring more so to people being more likely to take action against certain social injustices.
I will conclude with a quote from the late Irish political theorist and philosopher Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
- Mundell, E. (2017, August 15). U.S. Antidepressants Use Jumps 65 Percent in 15 years. Retrieved from http://consumer.healthday.com ↩
- Campbell, D. (2017, June 29). NHS prescribed record number of antidepressants last year. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com ↩
- Baer, D. (2017, August 16). The Number of Americans on Antidepressants has Skyrocketed. Retrieved from http://thriveglobal.com ↩
- Tejas, A. (2015, July 3). Antidepressants affect Morality and Decision-making, New Study Finds. Retrieved from https://www.ibtimes.com ↩
- Jacobs, D. (1995). Psychiatric Drugging: Forty Years of Pseudo-Science, Self-Interest, and Indifference to Harm. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 16(4), 421-470. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43853799 ↩
- Blease, C. (2014). The duty to be Well-informed: The case of depression. Journal of Medical Ethics, 40(4), 225-229. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43282967 ↩
- Spence, D., & Reid, I. (2013). Are antidepressants overprescribed? BMJ: British Medical Journal, 346(7907), 16-17. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23494928 ↩
- Sharfstein, S. (2005, August 19). Big Pharma and American Psychiatry: The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly. Retrieved from http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org ↩
- Lakoff, A. (2004). The Anxieties of Globalization: Antidepressant Sales and Economic Crisis in Argentina. Social Studies of Science, 34(2), 247-269. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3183044 ↩
- Hurlemann, R. (2017, August 16). German university study suggests drugging population to accept Migrants. Retrieved from https://freewestmedia.com ↩
- Takahashi, H., Takano, H., Camerer, C., Ideno, T., Okubo, S., Matsui, H., . . . Suhara, T. (2012). Honesty mediates the relationship between serotonin and reaction to unfairness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(11), 4281-4284. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41507133 ↩
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.
Antidepressants might stop people from rebelling against intolerable conditions, but only because the drugs are disabling. They are not efficacious in any positive way. More important, however, is the effect on people of believing that they are ill. This is what prevents them from understanding the genesis of their predicament and taking effective action to deal with it.
Very well put. These drugs are not medicine. They work no better than placebo. They make people into zombies who are out of touch with their feelings and emotions and who don’t really give a damn about much of what is going on around them.
There you are Sally! Can we correspond, even if briefly? (Maybe Steve the moderator could help us swap emails.)
To expand on your last point — even without neurotoxins this is the political effect of psychiatry, to convince the populace to blame societal-based misery on themselves rather than the system. This is ultimately more destructive than most “treatments” in my estimation; at best it’s a toss-up.
This blog raises some very important points about psychiatric drugs being used in society as a means to stifle political upheaval.
Just to add to the auhtor’s main point: any political movement for positive change always involves an “advanced” contingent of people stepping forward and initiating resistance. This “advanced” core of activists acts a “catalyst” for broader rebellion by providing leadership and inspiration to all those who follow.
It is MORE than just interesting to note that in today’s society, some of those sections of the masses MOST HEAVILY drugged have historically been those SAME people MOST LIKELY to be that “advanced” core of activists leading political rebellion.
In today’s world this includes, minorities, prisoners, women, rebellious youth, and other political outliers and outcasts.
This is why psychiatry and their entire Medical Model has now become TOO IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE to the ruling classes to be allowed to fail, or somehow be stripped of its power to drug AND incarcerate people without due process or respect for civil rights.
Great blog, Melody. Richard
I totally agree.
Thank you so much! I really appreciate your comments and they are very valuable!
Definitely we are living in a time where those propagandized to us to be the “good men” are either doing “nothing,” or they’re harming the majority. Perhaps, out of ignorance, or because they’ve been misinformed by the pharmaceutical industry, or our banking system, or they may actually have malevolence in their hearts. Evil does actually exist.
“Are the drugs desensitizing the population to the point that it will tolerate social conditions it would otherwise find intolerable? Are antidepressant drugs being viewed and used as an easy and fast solution to avoid societal responsibilities such as working towards building a better state of affairs? Are there selfish and subtle agendas behind their use?” Yes.
But as one who has been, not just red pilled, but yellow, white, purple, green, and every other colored pilled, but blue pilled. As an ethical, fiscally responsible, non-war mongering and profiteering American banker’s daughter, who understands the crimes of the globalist, never ending war mongering and profiteering, bailout needing, home stealing, banksters.
I will say the “selfish and subtle agendas behind” the use of the psychiatric drugs is staggering and so incredibly disgusting, that the majority of people would have a hard time even mentally coming to grips with the magnitude of the evil of our societies’ psychopathic, now so called,”elite.” A little history about these so called globalist “elite.”
And, unfortunately, our “professional” classes have all been functioning as worshippers of these evil globalist bankster’s money, made out of nothing for decades, while we’re all charged interest on its creation, for actually over a century now.
These evil “elite” claim it’s too complicated for regular people to comprehend, but it’s not that complicated. Although it is disgusting beyond most decent people’s wildest dreams. Our monetary system is a Ponzi scheme, and it’s about to implode. And those who call themselves the “elite” have historically, always, covered up the implosions of their Ponzi system of a banking system, their fraud based monetary systems, with world wars. And they want a WWIII, in the hopes of killing billions, while bringing about their “New World Order,” their “one world monetary system” for the entire world, and their satanic child abuse covering up, one world religious system.
Pardon the big picture red pill, regarding the globalist bankster’s utilization of the psych drugs, in trying to bring about their evil plans.
Thank you so much for this valuable information!
Yes, but not successfully.
The large scale promotion of anti depressant drug usage, could be part of a broader overall campaign to to get most people onto a psychiatric drug.
I agree psychiatry is there to “blame the individual” instead of look at societies ills as a whole. More jobs are lost to technology and there are a lot more jobs that are not likely paid living wages. The joke is, of course there are plenty of jobs out there, I have 3 of them. The income equality is skewed so heavily now that it is mimicking the point when revolutions take place. And I am not suggesting it here either just stating what I’ve read about income inequality and the skirmishes that have occurred at the levels we’re approaching. There is always a tipping point and it has happened time and time again. The rich just make the rules. They have enough money to ensure it stays in their hands.
Does antidepressants dull the senses? I’m sure it does. The fact that they are highly addictive and have grave adverse effects which just happen to be symptoms of more deadly diagnoses are an ancillary benefit. This is all about money, prestige and keeping it in the hands or Pharma, and the psychiatrists, their sales force. The marketing for stigma, “seeking help”, drug ads and the suicide lines are genius if you look at them from strictly a business sense. How many people are lured in just by the insecurity that “they are good enough” or that their dire situation is their own fault. It’s so freeing. Oh I have an illness and this is why I am not “successful” enough, or cannot sustain in the current economic climate. It can be intoxicating. And they end up on this roller coaster and lose years of their lives. I know I have.
My concern is that we are turning the tables on the GPs. How many prescriptions are distributed by GPs versus sending them to a psychiatrist? If that were the case, psychiatrists would not be so sought after. Most of the cases I’ve heard of, is that they are referred to counseling and the counselor usually talks them into accepting a prescription. Are GPs to blame or is it the psychiatrists that refused to demand that the FDA hand over the data from the drug trials along with the adverse effects and their percentages. I would love to see some numbers on how many GP are handing out psychotropic prescriptions vs psychiatrists and the break down. And I would disqualify the ones that are antidepressants and prescribed off label like incontinence and it’s actually an antidepressant. That would just muddy the waters.
Thanks for your detailed comments! What you are proposing is definitely worth further study!
The drugs marketed as anti depressants and many others are so easy to get prescribed and as the article states prescriptions rise year in year out.
We’ve had a century or more of clinical psychology and now hundreds of talk therapies, dozens of drugs and an ever increasing deluge of harmful,stigmatizing limiting diagnostic labels also easily caught by word of mouth.
Surely by now with the focus on the individual and our alleged imbalances, faulty genes, disordered thinking, behavior, attitude and beliefs we are moving towards better well-being or improving well-being – NO its the exact opposite – the therapy industry can do little to help those suffering and it actually causes huge amounts of suffering for the staff it employs at least in the UK within IAPT and secondary care services with ever increasing burnout and other manifestations of suffering caused by human beings caught in toxic or disordered elements of the culture, targets and empty notions of recovery.
Surely we need to move away from this myopic, harmful, individualistic, decontextualizing mental (ill) health system and its clearly unhelpful but well meaning raft of ‘therapies’ and seek to identify and treat the cultural disorders we are all stuck with.
Thanks for your comments! Agreed!
Apollonian ego war against psyche is disgusting. This is just disgusting.
James Hillman “Re- Visioning psychology”
Thomas Szasz “Manufacture of madness”
Try to redefine the mental health theory rather than to create a new mental illness theory.
Thank you for this very important piece, which covers a concept so extremely important and so utterly disturbing, that the reason it isn’t discussed more among intelligent people can only reasonably be due to timidity, and self-delusion. There’s very clearly an “elephant in the room,” and it’s a giant elephant with enormous implications.
I highly recommend that you read Kaczynski’s two books he has written and published since his incarceration, which go far, far beyond the manifesto in their analysis of the influence of radical technological progress on the evolution of human society. These are:
“Anti-Tech Revolution” (2016) and “Technological Slavery” (2010, 2019).
Sorry for the late reply, but thank you very much. Also, yes I will have to check out those books!
Every thing about psych drugs, psychiatry, psychotherapy, recovery, and the Jesusolotry Industry, is designed to suppress political consciousness and to make people conform, and to see their difficulties in life as the cause for a self-improvement project.
Hi Melody, Thanks for this well stated and informative blog. I just read your prior blog as well and how after having had a very difficult experience with amitriptyline you decided to speak out and become an advocate. I am hoping the scary brain zaps have finally subsided.
You have great quote at the end of this blog. I hope all professionals who are now aware of the harm of psychiatric drugs (and labels, etc) soon start speaking out too.
Sorry for the late reply. Thank you very much for reading my blog and my personal story! Indeed I hope more and more people start to speak out!
Political activism is the remedy to all the supposed maladies which get people on drugs and into therapy. And said activism has to include efforts to punish perpetrators, usually parents and doctors.
Why Children Don’t Belong in Therapy — Daniel Macker
Why I Quit Being a Therapist — Six Reasons by Daniel Mackler
Had to respond to the notion of providing oxytocin to Germans to help them accept immigrants. My understanding is that oxytocin only increases bonding to people we consider our “tribe”; it makes us more competitive with people we consider “others”, which means that experiment would have ended in disaster!
More generally, what’s next? Since consumption, entertainment, distraction, and numbing are all failing us, what will come down the pike next to keep this anti-human system afloat?
Sorry for the late reply, but thank you so much for reading it!
Q: Are Antidepressants Enabling the Population to Tolerate the Intolerable?
A: No. Alcohol has been serving that function for many thousands of years.
The explosion in antidepressants is a reflection of how miserable modern life makes many people. And has been making people miserable for a very long time. Only in recent times it’s become more acceptable to come out about it to doctors who, these days, fear the patient, fear doing nothing, and so prescribe antidepressants.
Unfortunately, even on SSRIs etc, people continue to be miserable, but maybe a little bit less so, in that their misery is at least acknowledged now, and kinda cared for, and they can feel like something is being addressed. And at the same time go on drinking copious amounts of alcohol…
Your reply got me to thinking……this is probably not something that just popped up in modern times, this feeling dissatisfied and unhappy with one’s life situation. If you were working on building the Great Pyramid in Egypt 4,000 years ago you probably weren’t real happy about where you were at and what you were being forced to do. From what archeologists can figure out the people who built the Pyramid didn’t get to choose whether or not they were going to do the work; they were forced into working pretty much like chain gangs. They were allowed to construct huts to sleep in and they were given bread to eat, and yes….they were given an allowance of beer!
Men who went to sea from the European nations didn’t have such a wonderful time on those sailing ships. Many were kidnapped from pubs and the streets and were forced to climb the rigging of those ships to furl or unfurl those sails. And you were usually dead ducks if bad storms overtook you or you got caught in the doldrums. But guess what? They were given their daily ration of grog, usually rum, until the stores ran out.
Women and children in the late 1700’s, early 1800’s, forced to work in the new factories for their overlords from daylight to dark, seven days a week. Poor working conditions, poor living conditions, poor health conditions…..is it any wonder that the people turned to cheap gin in England to drown their sorrows in?
And here we are in the age of super technology! Life is easier, things are more convenient, we work forty hours a week (if you have a true full time job, many people in this time of the “great and wonderful” economy must work a number of part-time jobs to make ends meet for their families because many companies like Walmart will not employ people full time), we drive our big SUV’s pretty much anywhere we want to go. But we are not happy. We are not content.
I believe that whatever the psychiatrists and drug companies want to call depression has always been with us, the causes may change from one age to another but it’s always been there. People just didn’t have the time to think about it, they were miserable enough due to life conditions. And I think that people from earlier ages were taught by those above them that misery and unhappiness were just the normal conditions that you had to accept and deal with. If you weren’t of the noble, priestly, warrior class then your lot in life was to live in misery and you accepted your lot without too much complaining. It didn’t get you anywhere anyway since you didn’t count in the first place.
Wait a minute……have we made the full circle and arrived back where human societies began from in the first place? A few “Haves” tell the “Have nots” how they should feel and if they don’t approve it doesn’t matter because you don’t count anyway. The big difference is that we have to buy our own alcohol since the “Haves” are not going to provide that for us. But they will support the large drug companies that try to convince us that we need to take their devil’s tic tacs in order to find some semblance of happiness.
The poem Ecclesiastes was written over 2 millennia ago. Nothing new under the sun.
Our society has no patience with the unhappy.
There’s a real stigma against unhappiness. Unless you get an official “diagnosis” and take pills for it. Then you can explain your blues by saying “I have a real brain disease causing my depression. I take drug/s X for it.” Then everyone is expected to show sympathy.
My response? Who the heck says you have to grin ear to ear all the time? We have the right to feel unhappy.