When people call me up seeking “medication management,” I first say:
“There are three types of psychiatric drugs to choose from:
1. We’ve got placebos1 for all the suckers who bought into the idea of sadness being ‘a serious but treatable illness caused by chemical imbalance that occurs for no reason if you’re genetically vulnerable’. This turned out to be a pure hoax.2 That’s why antidepressants’ initial benefits invariably and disappointingly fade. It’s likely why users usually worsen over time,3 as they try one after another in futile pursuit of a myth.4
2. We’ve got drugs that really do lift you up — at first. But unfortunately they’re all addictive.5 6 Thus, with daily use, not only do you develop a tolerance, but you suffer horrible withdrawals if you try to stop them. Ultimately you need increasingly higher, impairing, and dangerous dosages in order to avoid withdrawals.7
3. And we’ve got sedatives that ensure that you’ll never again have any feelings, thoughts, or complaints, since they can’t selectively numb just your unpleasant sensations — they numb all sensations. They can be used to zombify your kids to make them instantly manageable, so you don’t need to raise them. But then they’ll never mature or reach their potential, and will likely continue using drugs as their only coping tool as adults.“
Usually people either hang up on me before I finish this speech, or let me finish and then politely request the name of another psychiatrist who’s more gung-ho about my field’s miracle pills. Occasionally they take me up on my offer to instead look into whatever is upsetting them (relationship troubles, losses, fears, life pressures, etc.).
Those psychiatrists who do push the medical model profit from it easily and greatly, since health insurers pay for these scams and since people trustingly line up to see them. Clients faithfully stay with them despite faring poorly, since they’re convinced it’s due to their ‘chronic illness’. Many must return religiously, due to becoming drug-addicted and/or needing ongoing medical documentation of permanent disability.
Psychiatrists are seen as hard-working, caring, understanding healers, but they’re really snake-oil salesmen, drug-dealers, and master-sedaters. What they do should be illegal. Someday everyone will realize that not only do psychiatrists not heal anything, they’re a major contributor to the recent rise in suicides and overdoses.
They say little in their brief sessions. But if you take the few things they do say, read between the lies and boil them down to their essence, you’ll be left with this message: “Whatever is upsetting you is not worth listening to — just shut up and take one of these shut-up pills.” (Isn’t that the gist of “Your painful feelings are mere symptoms of depression — a medically treatable illness,” for example?) It’s the essence of psychiatry’s role — the goal of all its treatments. So there’s really just one type of psych drug, not three, and just one type of medication management session, which I’ve summarized below:
“Shut up and take your pills,
And don’t forget to pay your bill.
Take one or take ‘em all, but please move it along,
‘Cause I’ve got an important meeting with a drug rep… Next!”
- Kirsch, I. The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth. Basic Books, 2010. ↩
- Kapur, S, et al “Why Has it Taken So Long for Biological Psychiatry to Develop Clinical Tests?” Molecular Psych, 2012, 17, 1174-9. ↩
- Whitaker, R. Anatomy of An Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Random House, 2010. ↩
- Kaitrin ”How Many Antidepressant Meds Have You Tried?” Depressionforums.org, Aug 15, 2004. ↩
- National Institute on Drug Abuse “Well-Known Mechanism Underlying Benzodiazepines’ Addictive Properties” April 19, 2012. ↩
- National Institute on Drug Abuse “Prescription Stimulants: Drug Facts” June, 2018. ↩
- Weich, S. “Effect of Anxiolytic and Hypnotic Drug Prescription on Mortality Hazards: Retrospective Cohort Study” BMJ 2014; 348: g1996. ↩
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.