Editor’s Note: With this column, Mad in America is launching a media-watch column. Here, MIA editor and contributing writer Miranda Spencer will be reporting on press coverage and pop-cultural depictions of mental health topics.

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We don’t usually think that it is the news media’s job to “scold” a presidential candidate for their opinions, and do so while expressing the certainty in their own “knowledge” of a subject. Yet, that is what happened recently in press coverage of longshot presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson.

In their review of the Democratic debates, several progressive pundits and journalists praised Williamson, a best-selling self-help author, for her forceful comments on social problems including racism and poverty. She was described as “really compelling” and “surprisingly eloquent,” and praised for her “meaningful answers.”

However, after Buzzfeed’s AM to DM podcast held a wide-ranging interview with Williamson that included questions about mental health issues, the media’s tune noticeably changed.

Buzzfeed News, MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber, The New York Times and CNN* all published or aired interviews with Williamson that criticized her for stating that the way we look at and treat “depression” today might be problematic. Anderson Cooper, for his part, was openly belligerent toward her, which in turn triggered recaps and/or scathing commentary from Rolling Stone, Vox, The Daily Beast, Yahoo Finance, RealClear Politics, Fox News, and HuffPost.

So what had she said? As Maggie Astor’s interview in The New York Times put it, “In books, interviews and posts on social media, Ms. Williamson has criticized the widespread use of antidepressants; suggest they were to blame for some celebrities’ suicides; characterized treatment guidelines for postpartum depression as a way for pharmaceutical companies to make more money; and called the distinction between ordinary sadness and clinical depression ‘artificial.’”

The news media, in response, called her “dangerously wrong,” an “irresponsible” “menace to public health” whose “fringe ideas” were akin to climate-change denial. Continuing to give her a news media platform, several suggested, would only encourage the spread of flaky or poisonous ideas the way the spotlight on Donald Trump in 2016 helped usher White Supremacism into the Oval Office. Such comments, asserted CNN’s Joe Lockhart a few days later, amount to “throwing away the science.”

A Closer Look

In this column, we are not concerned with assessing the merits of Williamson’s comments about other health issues (such as vaccine safety), or the merits of her candidacy. What we are focused on is the media’s response to her comments on mental health, and how those who interviewed her wrapped themselves in the cloak of science to chastise her.

So let’s check the facts.

Overprescribing of Antidepressants

Since the launch of Prozac in 1988, antidepressant use has quadrupled in the United States, and more than one in 10 Americans now takes antidepressants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a recent report, the health agency told of how the percentage of Americans 12 years and over who are taking antidepressants rose from 7.7% in the 1999-2003 period to 12.7% in 2011-2014.

In a recent blog on Mad in America, attorney Kenneth F. McCallion, citing studies from the Rand Corporation, American Psychological Association and in JAMA, described how much of the explosive growth in the prescribing of antidepressants was due to their being given to patients who don’t meet the established criteria for depression. The 2016 JAMA study found that nearly half of all prescriptions for antidepressants were for other conditions.

This extraordinary rise has stirred debate in the British Medical Journal and other scientific forums on whether the drugs are being grossly overprescribed. Some defend the increase in prescribing, while others argue that the growth reflects the success of drug company marketing more than medical need.

For the purposes of this review, it is immaterial which side is presenting the most compelling argument. Williamson’s comments about the “overprescribing of antidepressants” clearly fall within the bounds of reasonable societal discussion about an important issue.

Overdiagnosis of Depression

Williamson has expressed concern about the “medicalization of normal human despair.”  As she told The New York Times:

“People go through personal loss. That’s not a mental illness. People go through a breakup. That’s not a mental illness. . . . Traditionally, people recognized that grief was a part of life. These days people talk like, ‘Your mother died, it’s been a month, aren’t you over it?’ . . . the term [depression] is used so loosely today that people who I have seen experiencing what I consider a normal spectrum of human despair have been termed ‘clinical depression’ as though that is supposed to shut down the subject.”

Williamson is not alone in questioning the medicalization of normal human despair. This is the very concern that prompted Allen Frances, who chaired the task force that created the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, to write a book titled Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis.

Here is how one reviewer summarized Frances’ book:

“Anyone living a full, rich life experiences ups and downs, stresses, disappointments, sorrows, and setbacks. These challenges are a normal part of being human, and they should not be treated as psychiatric disease. However, today millions of people who are really no more than ‘worried well’ are being diagnosed as having a mental disorder and are receiving unnecessary treatment. In Saving Normal, Allen Frances, one of the world’s most influential psychiatrists, warns that mislabeling everyday problems as mental illness has shocking implications for individuals and society: stigmatizing a healthy person as mentally ill leads to unnecessary, harmful medications, the narrowing of horizons, misallocation of medical resources, and draining of the budgets of families and the nation.”

In other words, Williamson’s opinion on this subject of medicalization of normal human despair echoes that of the architect of the DSM-IV.

Nevertheless, the media critics went on the attack. The New York Times reporter asked whether she believes “clinical depression doesn’t exist.” Similarly, Vox said, “She has repeatedly cast doubt on the idea that clinical depression is real.” MSNBC’s Ari Melber inquired, “should people take [it] that you don’t believe in real, clinical depression, and how would you approach what doctors and science says is depression… if you were President?” Though Williamson apologized for a past “glib” comment on the topic, Anderson Cooper insisted, “It does seem like, again, you’re suggesting that clinical depression is a scam.”

The media, in their response, was doing just what Williamson had said it would do: shut down the subject. The irony of this particular criticism is that when Allan Frances published his book, the media treated him with respect, and as something of a brave “truth-teller.”

Is Depression a Disease?

Williamson has stated “there is no blood test” for depression and once quipped that clinical depression is when “someone in a clinic says so.” There is, she has said, “no particular scientific evidence to prove” that depression is due to a chemical imbalance.

She is correct that there is no blood test for depression. Indeed, though she’s admitted to being “glib” about the topic, the diagnosis of depression, as set forth in the DSM, is based on a construct. There is a checklist of symptoms to be assessed, and a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder is to be made when the required number of symptoms are present. There is an arbitrary aspect to it, and in clinics, prescribers may just listen to a person’s story and conclude, “you’re depressed.”

Williamson is also correct in stating that there is no scientific evidence to prove that depression is due to a chemical imbalance. Numerous Mad in America posts have addressed this myth, and such mainstream figures as Ronald Pies, former editor in chief of Psychiatric Times, and Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, have acknowledged that the hypothesis never panned out.

However, Anderson Cooper—like many in our society—failed to get that message. He asserted that “clinically depressed people are not depressed just because the world is depressing. They have a chemical imbalance.”

As he told Williamson, “I don’t hear you saying, I encourage . . . everybody to talk with a medical provider.” A couple of days later, Chris Cuomo endorsed his approach: “You can’t let it go when somebody is confusing emotion and illness.”

Cooper, Cuomo and others were assuring viewers that depression is a disease and that people suffering from it need medical treatment for it, and thus were depicting Williamson as one who would discourage people from getting it—in essence, chastising her for not repeating the marketing campaigns that have been used to sell antidepressants to doctors and consumers.

Do Antidepressants Work?

Williamson has argued that people often are healed by experiencing and working through their pain rather than by muting its symptoms via prescription drugs, which she’s described as “masking” or “numbing” emotions:

“Normal human despair… traditionally was seen as the purview of spirituality and religion; that which gave people comfort and gave people hope and inspiration in their times of pain. And with the advent of modern psychotherapy, a lot of the baton sort of passed from religion and spirituality to modern psychotherapy . . . And then over the last few years, very, very quickly, the baton was passed again to psychopharmacology.”

Here, Williamson is arguing that there may be non-drug methods that are effective for treating people who are in despair, and that our society should not discard useful approaches from the past. At the same time, she has not argued against prescribing drugs for deeper depression: “If anyone is helped by an antidepressant, I’m happy for that.”

Hers is a perspective shared by many mental health professionals as well as philosophers. There is a long history of cultures relying on religious beliefs for support prior to the Freudian era and the advent of Prozac. She is also correct that non-drug treatments may be effective. The UK’s National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidelines for depression states that antidepressants should not be a first-line treatment for mild depression.

As for antidepressants deadening emotions, studies have found that they blunt empathy and flatten affect in many people. A large survey of nearly 2000 antidepressants users found that 60% reported that the drugs made them feel numb.

However, once again, Cooper and many others were quick to denounce her for this perspective. “Isn’t the fact that depression numbs you and masks you, and telling a seriously depressed person that taking an AD they’re going to be numbed, isn’t that not a good message?” Cooper said.  “If you’re on an antidepressant, you’re not numbing your pain, you’re actually trying to feel again, no?”

Vox warned against “the potential damage she can do to real lives by . . . convincing a person with depression that they don’t need to take their meds.”

Rolling Stone put it this way:

“There is established consensus within the scientific community that [antidepressant drugs] pose relatively low risk for most people. Further, there is significant evidence that antidepressants are beneficial to those suffering from Major Depressive Disorder, which affects nearly 7 million adults in the US, according to the NIMH.”

A “2018 meta-analysis,” Rolling Stone wrote, “found that antidepressants were uniformly more effective for treating MDD than placebos.”

Rolling Stone was the one media outlet that cited a study to support its assertion that antidepressants were effective, but, not surprisingly, it misunderstood the study’s findings and the larger context for the debate. In short-term studies funded by pharmaceutical companies, antidepressants have been shown to reduce symptoms slightly more than placebo (by two points on the HAM-D scale for measuring depressive symptoms), although that difference is not understood to be clinically significant. (See the MIA Report “Do Antidepressants Work?” for an in-depth review of this topic.)

The 2018 meta-analysis by Cipriani, which is the study cited by Rolling Stone, just reaffirmed that this was the case. The “effect size” Cipriani and colleagues reported in their analysis of antidepressant trials told of the same bottom-line: The benefit of drug over placebo didn’t rise to a clinically noticeable difference. Moreover, if the Cipriani study is carefully deconstructed, it shows that seven out of eight people treated with an antidepressant receive no benefit from the drug: either they are non-responders, or would have responded to placebo. Yet, this group that doesn’t benefit—88% of all patient— is exposed to the adverse events caused by the drugs.

Studies in real-world patients have found even lower response/remission rates with antidepressants, and there are numerous studies, including this one and more recently this one, that have found that the medications worsen long-term outcomes.

In sum, Williamson was chastised for not “knowing” that antidepressants were beneficial to most people, even though the scientific literature tells of drugs that are of questionable efficacy over the short term, and may expose long-term users to a litany of harms.

Do Antidepressants Protect Against Suicide?

Williamson has drawn attention to a possible link between antidepressant use and suicide, once tweeting a Citizens Commission on Human Rights article with the comment “helpful to some, harmful to others,” which suggested at least some celebrity suicides were due to their use of the drugs. And in her interview with Anderson Cooper, Williamson asked why—if antidepressants were so effective—suicide rates have climbed steadily over the past 20 years.

Cooper’s reply: “But you’re relying on the Church of Scientology for factual background to your argument. When I read people saying ‘well all these drugs caused suicide,’ I mean, that’s just not true.”

Cuomo made a similar statement: “It is one of the biggest diagnoses in the country, depression. And when you mess with people taking medication and you stigmatize it . . . the suicide rate goes up.”

The press also took issue with Williamson’s citing the Food and Drug Administration’s black-box warning on the risk of suicidality in people under 24 who take antidepressants, one of the few times they cited any scientific sources. According to The New York Times, “Its warnings . . . also show no similar risk in people over 24, and that untreated depression is itself a risk factor for suicide.” Cooper said the same, and Rolling Stone also dismissed it: “The FDA issued the black box warning in 2004 for . . . SSRIs, not all antidepressants; in 2007, it revised the warning after receiving backlash from the scientific community.”

However, if Cooper, Cuomo and others writing about Williamson were informed about the scientific literature, they would acknowledge that this suicidal risk with antidepressants remains a controversial subject. Here is a quick review:

  • The black box warning on the risk of suicide in youth prescribed SSRIs remains on the label; the FDA has not rescinded it.
  • As biologist Patrick Hahn wrote in his MIA blog on antidepressants and the suicide epidemic, a July 2019 meta-analysis of randomized control trial data for fourteen antidepressants published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics reported that these drugs caused a near-tripling of completed suicides compared to placebo.
  • Earlier this year, an MIA report told of how suicides in the United States have steadily increased since 2000, and that this steady increase has come during a time of increased prescribing of antidepressants.
Fighting Against Stigma

Williamson has stated that “depression wasn’t stigmatized until it was medicalized.” And the topic of stigma is the one reporters seemed most concerned about, suggesting that she shouldn’t raise questions about depression rates and the relative value of antidepressants in a public forum because it will stigmatize those so diagnosed.

There is, of course, a long history of stigmatizing the “mentally ill.” But the media suggested that her comments would further stigmatize those who are depressed, and that would, in turn, prevent them from getting needed medical treatment.

Cooper demanded, “I’ve never heard you express, though, real concern for the stigma surrounding depression,” later hammering the point: “What I care about is people who are dying, and there’s a stigma for people actually seeking medical help for something that could save their life.”

The Times article noted that despite Williamson’s “claim that ADs are overprescribed,” unnamed “experts say [this] stigmatizes mental illness.”

Vox’s Zack Beauchamp, who has a depression diagnosis, wrote that “this type of rhetoric could serve as depression’s agent, worming into a depressed person’s brain in a way that might cause them to avoid something that could literally save their life. This isn’t just my anecdotal experience but the view of [unnamed] actual mental health professionals.”

All of these reporters were repeating a talking point long promoted by the pharmaceutical industry and the American Psychiatric Association: Depression is a disease, not the person’s fault—the message of ongoing anti-stigma campaigns devoted to telling that message (and selling antidepressants.)

However, research has shown that such anti-stigma campaigns may increase negative attitudes toward people struggling with psychiatric or emotional difficulties. A 2019 article in Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, for example, documented how stigma and discrimination linked to the biomedical model of mental health. Previous studies have shown similar findings, including this one in the American Journal of Psychiatry, which showed that pro-treatment sentiment among the public has not reduced stigma against people diagnosed with mental illnesses.

Like Vox’s reporter, I should share my personal history here. I once suffered debilitating depression and anxiety and duly tried hospitalization and many different drug cocktails, which didn’t help and led to horrific side effects. So I find the idea that people in emotional crisis need to be protected from those who would talk about possible problems with medical interventions paternalistic at best. There are thousands more who’ve shared stories of iatrogenic harm from antidepressants on MIA and elsewhere, and yet the media, in scolding Williamson for her comments, seems to want to erase these experiences from public discussion.

The Know-It-Alls

What we see in the comments by Cooper, Cuomo and others is an air of superiority: They are the ones who supposedly know the science and consider it their public duty to castigate Williamson for challenging those “facts.”

What we see from this review, however, is that it is Williamson whose “opinions” on depression are more in line with the science, and it is the “know-it-all” assertions by Cooper and colleagues that are belied by it.

Moreover, in their bottom-line assessments of Williamson’s view on psychiatry, many in the media portrayed Williamson as not just inaccurate on mental health issues, but as a conspiracy theorist influenced by anti-science ideologues. Both Anderson Cooper and Ari Melber asked Williamson who would guide mental and physical healthcare policies in her administration: a cult, or the Surgeon General?

As Joe Lockhart summed it up on CNN’s “New Day”:

“We can’t have a president who goes on gut and is anti-science, and is anti-data. And you know, takes information from… with Trump from white nationalists. With Williamson, from you know, the… the Scientologists. That’s very dangerous. We have to get away from this sort of anti-intellectualism of ‘It’s all about how I feel,’ and you know, this spiritual sense and throwing away the science.”

One wishes that reporters would spend time reviewing the scientific literature—or at least interviewing experts who have—before denouncing a candidate in this way. Unfortunately, the media’s treatment of Marianne Williamson is an example of how press reporting on mental health often reinforces conventional wisdom and, in so doing, misinforms the public.

57 COMMENTS

  1. This is the normal runing of the “free” press: The 5 Filters of the Mass Media Machine

    Robert Withaker or other Mad In America authors should expect to be the subject of a denigration campaign at some point in the future, if their audience and speech exceeds certain limits, especially on TV show.

    Do not expect loyalty among journalists. On the contrary, they will use scientifically proven means to discredit you:

    _ ask unexpected, complex and multiple questions that require thought, research and rigor, but require short and immediate answers,

    _ appeal to public opinion, common sense, and popular sentiments,

    _ rely on non-existent, questionable or misunderstood scientific research that can not be challenged without rigorous verification,

    _ use the editing: select the plans to give an impression of hesitation, stupidity or ignorance of the person interviewed, or mount the plans in a wrong order,

    _ use advertisements that contradict the speech,

    _ distributing speech in an unfair and biased manner,

    Etc., etc.

  2. Miranda, this was a very interesting article. But as usual I have to point out something. Anderson Cooper lost his brother to suicide and my best guess is the concept of a biological issue since this was decades ago was brought up and was used as a hold to help deal with the loss. Defense Mechanism. Anna Freud identified a number, I think there are are many human defenses against pain or memories or uncomfortable realities as there are stars in the sky.
    I just wouldn’t be so hard just because of this though I understand and at times been if not out loud internally as you.
    This is just such a good start- just tone it down because many folks will know his history or others and again I would say most of us have been affected by suicide in some way shape or form including our own history.
    In defense some folks will just focus on your non support of him and damn again.
    Continue but ah an interview with Cooper or Chris and along the way other voices chiming in our something.
    What we need is a light bulb moment.
    The powers that be have done their all mightiest not to allow any light in folks and professionals minds right. And the folks do not know what they don’t know.
    So keep on but and consider my thoughts and do what you will.
    And remember-there are always folks who say and think and feel they were helped and are on them as they speak. My guess this is a big issue. Even if they are aware of problems. Denial is not a River in Egypt.

    • It is sad that the interviewer lost a brother to suicide, but I’m not sure that justifies his response. If this is a personal issue that is upsetting to him, perhaps another reporter may have done the interview. Or, should he have been chosen to be the interviewer just for this reason, and it is personal, then maybe Ms. Williamson may have responded in a more clinical sense and said something like, “It seems that the death of your brother to suicide must have been devastating for you.” What I see here is the confusion to whether this is a fact finding interview for a political candidate, or a dialogue between a professional and one who would benefit from counseling.

  3. A few years ago, I sent Anderson Cooper a copy of Anatomy and later verified receipt of the book with his staff in NYC. For someone who lost his brother to what appears to be medication-induced suicide, it is particularly disheartening to hear Cooper talk of chemical imbalances and the like.

  4. There are people who defend the religion (that isn’t a religion. HOW DARE YOU SAY IT IS A RELIGION) of the worship of the holy molecules of science that can only do good things to people.
    When in fact the molecules, the drugs can hurt people as well as “help” people.

    “Cooper … there’s a stigma for people actually seeking medical help for something that could save their life.”
    This person can not conceive that the psychiatric drugs ( renamed medications) could END and damage peoples lives.

    Magic chemicals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twhvtzd6gXA

    • Coming off my Effexor ended my desire to commit suicide. I actually care about things again.

      And leaving psychiatry has helped reaffirm the faith of my childhood which I could never reconcile with the a priori assumption of materialism bio-psychiatry is built upon.

      • a priori assumption of materialism bio-psychiatry is built upon.

        This sounds suspiciously like Dragonslayer talking. 🙂 If not could you break that statement down?

        Also there is no “bio-psychiatry” distinct from psychiatry in general; this is a technique “progressive” shrinks use to imply that some psychiatry (i.e. their brand) is better than other psychiatry. Just like arsenic is better than cyanide.

        • Probably because it’s one of those things he and I agree on.

          By bio psychiatry I mean as distinct from the talking on a sofa kind. Or Freudian psycho analysis.

          I don’t agree with psycho analysis either. But bio psychiatry has hoodwinked a lot more people by posing as a legitimate branch of medicine.

          • Again there is no “bio-psychiatry” as distinct from any other brand. This is a distraction used to divide the movement and to get people thinking in terms of “which” psychiatry is “better.” I think Dragon Slayer would concur with this, and that you might be starting to take some of the reformists on MIA a little too seriously.

            Psychoanalysis is not psychiatry and never has been, they are two different things. Psychiatry did not “evolve” from psychoanalysis, but predated it, and has always been “biological.” Psychiatry has never been about “talking on a couch,” though some shrinks may do that too; what separates psychiatry from psychoanalysis is that psychiatry believes people suffer from literal diseases known as “mental illnesses.” And psychiatrists were forcibly drugging people since way before the DSMs. How could one version of a fallacy be “better” than another?

            But back to this “a priori assumption of materialism bio-psychiatry is built upon” — can you break that down in plain English? 🙂

  5. Thank you Miranda, for this really valuable article! It shows how much the decades of the psychiatric, NAMI and drug company propaganda about the chemical imbalance lie, and that psych drugs are the cure, have influenced the full media spectrum, and all areas of our lives.
    Even Rolling Stone is promoting psychiatric drugs!
    I hope you can get your article to Copper, Cuomo and the editors of the other media outlets too.
    Michael

    • Surely a person can have an opinion on whether “depression” is not an illness, when there’s no evidence to suggest it is (at least most of the time).
      I don’t think any doctor is qualified to claim depression to be an “illness”

      A lot of people that try anti depressants find that they make no difference anyway.

      But it’s up to the person themselves maybe to decide whether they want to go through with their feelings or whether they think they’re better off with chemical help.

  6. [email protected]#k Anderson Cooper.

    The problem is not ADs being “overprescribed” but that they are used at all. Let’s not be mealy-mouthed about this, or about the fact that “clinical depression” is indeed a scam. We need to take Willamson’s comments FURTHER, not be defensive about these typical bogus charges made by the ignorant and pompous.

    Also lets drop this whole charade of defending Williamson’s statements based on any so-called “science,” or by quoting psychiatric “experts”; this is simply a way of taking up the enemy’s narrative and lending it credibility. It is not helpful to any of us.

  7. The media has decided who should win the Democratic nomination (Biden) and who should not capture the public’s interest at this early stage. (Sanders, Williamson, to name two.) The media hasn’t learned a thing since their slavish support of Hilary. Who knows what pharmaceuticals Cooper is on. Why do we listen to these people? Well, I for one, have opted out of watching news shows. British interviewers ask better questions. They generally don’t toe the party line.

    • Reading Rossa’s comment, I had a perverse thought (for me anyway) that, since presidents don’t really run things anyway, all those who oppose psychiatry, from the most radical to the most apologetic and reformist, could support Williamson as a concerted push against forced psychiatry. Is she thinking about being a 3rd Party candidate? Normally I don’t think this way but in this case it might have a shot of at least bringing some AP (anti-psychiatry) consciousness into the public debate. Problem is too many people might believe the hype that the coming election has apocalyptic significance and is “too important” to “waste” one’s vote on a “single issue,” even though 20% of the population have their brains addled due to ingesting psychiatric neurotoxins. However votes don’t ultimately matter either, so pushing Williamson as a vehicle for consciousness raising might not be a totally outrageous thought. Certainly Bernie, for whom I might vote if I vote (the bigger decision) has a horrific pro-mh position.

      Thoughts?

    • People don’t need others to respond to this stuff, write letters editors, call radio shows, pass out leaflets exposing psychiatry, etc. This is what a good organization would be coordinating anyway. Organization is good but not mandatory, at least at this level. Plus we shouldn’t react to every a-hole who has a line of crap to peddle, it’s a fine line knowing when to respond. This is one of those times we should, as Cooper is being used as the front man for the neoliberal pro-psychiatry juggernaut.

  8. Since “depression” isn’t a disease unto itself, but a syndrome that can have one or more of a number of origins, the ineffectuality of antidepressants comes as no surprise. What is surprising are these individuals puffing them as lifesaving drugs, without knowing anything about the syndrome, itself, because there are different causes for depressed moods with correspondingly different treatments (although Anderson Cooper may not believe it) that are likely to work far better than antidepressants could ever hope to.

  9. The mainstream media is obviously owned by the pharmaceutical companies, and it is called “fake news” for a reason. The truth is lots of people, of all ages, are harmed by the antidepressants. As happened to millions, the adverse effects of my antidepressant were misdiagnosed as “bipolar.” And my “mental health” workers weren’t intelligent enough to even read their own “bible.”

    “Note: Manic-like episodes that are clearly caused by somatic antidepressant treatment (e.g., medication, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy) should not count toward a diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder.”

    That’s not to say, some people are not helped by the antidepressants. But it is a topic about which our country does need to have a truthful discussion. Shame on the media for berating Williamson for speaking truth about the antidepressants. But there’s a reason CNN’s ratings are in the toilet, it’s “fake news.”

    “Over the past six years, as soon as Jeff Zucker took over, CNN got every major national story exactly wrong, including…

    “Hispanic George Zimmerman: The White Racist Killer
    “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot
    “Trump Can’t Win
    “Brett Kavanaugh: Serial Rapist
    “The KKKids from KKKovington High School
    “Trump Colluded with Russia”

    And their attacks on Marianne Williamson are just more lies. The antidepressants are dangerous, mind altering drugs, that can create the symptoms of the more “serious mental illnesses.”

    • A side note, I went to try to try to listen to the conversation myself, and found on numerous websites, that they cut the interview off, and the entire conversation is not even able to be seen. For example:

      https://www.huffpost.com/entry/marianne-williamson-mental-health-anderson-cooper_n_5d439766e4b0ca604e2f75b0

      But I will say, she does do a good job of pointing out that issues, such as spiritual ones, were handed off to the (in my case, Holy Spirit blaspheming “Christian”) psychologists, then quickly handed off to the psychopharmacologists.

      • Psychiatry=materialistic monism.

        To them all people are machines. All belief in the supernatural is a symptom of defective machinery.

        Self-styled Christians go along with this because they have no compassion for the “SMI” so they just don’t care if we die. And they think they’re normal so it’s not their problem and not worth researching.

        “If you did it not for the least of these you did it not for Me.” 🙁

    • Someone else:

      Our Media Watch should not be confused with the politics of Trump’s “fake news” comments.

      The problem here, with the media’s interviewing of Williamson, is that this shows how psychiatry, as a guild, together with the pharmaceutical company, told to the press a false story about chemical imbalances and so forth, which by and large the media bought. Our goal here in this particular report was to assess whether the media, in its interviews with Marianne Williamson, displayed a knowledge of the science that exists within the research literature, or whether they had been informed by the false story that has been peddled to the media and to the public.

      I hope this distinction is clear.

  10. Miranda, a great piece to address this issue! You have presented it very well and supplied a great deal of back up evidence and information. I had rather liked Anderson Cooper before but it was a real turn off to see him so combative and forceful on a subject he has not even educated himself on. As Dr. Cornwall suggested, please get this article to Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo and the others who are still living in the dark ages!

  11. One way to fight back against the media is to support campaign to end direct to consumer advertising. I don’t have a figure at hand, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount of advertising revenue on mainstream media from big Pharma constitutes 15-20% of the advertising pie. Even the AMA is proposing and end to direct to consumer ads on TV. Australia and the US are the only counties that permit this. Another way to push back is to create and enforce stricter rules regarding board of directors. All the major news outlets save CBS have at least one board member who sits on the board of a major pharmaceutical company. So when it comes time to run a story, or debut a new miracle drug, media board members, whether consciously or not are making decisions that have to do with content and news, that directly impact an area of their lives in which they have a vested interest. This is a conflict of interest plain and simple. We need to strategize some campaigns around this. I think Ralph Nader and Pro Publica and the AMA are possible partners. Anyone?

  12. Let me add that another inappropriate argument is regarding whether AD’s “work” — even when they do “work” they are “working” to distort people’s neural biochemistry in order to “adjust” them to a social system which does not serve their interests or address their needs.

  13. In terms of the lack of validity of the testing brought up here, a recent Ontario, Canada legal case won on the MotherRisk test being proven to cause false positives resulting in children being put into foster care.
    There is current , final solution, in the Canadian legal system by an outspoken “mental health” advocate, who ironically, is senior crown counsel at the Serious Fraud Office of the Ministry of the Attorney General to encourage the Law Society of Ontario, Convocation,  and all willing justice sector participants, to forge partnerships committed to improving the mental health of the legal profession, including lawyers, students, and paralegals. The LSO is also well suited, through strategic partnerships, to address the mental health of the broader justice community, including, judges, prosecutors, first responders, jurors, self-represented litigants, and vulnerable members of society engaged in the justice system.
    The ATSSC provides support services and facilities to 11 federal administrative tribunals through a single, integrated organization, including the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, with a budget of approximately $100 million.
    If allowed to be further entrenched into the law without challenge, there will be no way to roll it back.
    The lack of validity of the DSM opens the door to conducting:
    1. a junk science litigation case asking the court to stop the specious labeling of millions of people.
    2. a public debate and transparency about the true nature of the diagnosis and treatments
    3. to enforce strict legal informed consent forms to be signed prior to dx and treatment
    4. to investigate any financial conflict of interests they may have with the pharmaceutical and “MH” industry that works hand in glove with the legal industry
    5. to ascertain if the confidentially he is seeking for lawyers with “MH” problems is different from level of “privacy” that the public ‘enjoys”
    7. using the example of ADHD, Breggin argued that the public has the right to know their lawyer will be forgetful, unorganized etc and put their case/future at risk.
    8. and potentially question if the fact that 75% of young drs on psych drugs, put the public health & safety at risk.

    • I like the first two points. But

      enforce strict legal informed consent forms to be signed prior to dx and treatment

      I think we need to reject the very concept of “informed consent.” Anyone who is adequately informed about psychiatric neurotoxins and ingests them anyway is engaging in self-harm, which supposedly is something psychiatry is dedicated to stopping. Would “informed consent” prior to ingesting cyanide make everything copacetic?

  14. Journalism is supposed to be a profession. However, there is no body that I can find to complain to, when a prominent journalist breaks the supposed code of his profession and provides significant misinformation.
    I do not know whether Ms Williamson plans to do anything to protect her brand from unfounded attacks.
    Everyone who reads this site agrees on the basics. We know that Anderson Cooper, with his influence, is doing harm by reinforcing damaging myths. I just want to know how I can help stop him.

  15. One does need to remember he lost his mother and is part of an othered group.
    Doesn’t make it right but if we lead with bitterness then nothing will ever be accomplished. According to John Lewis on Krista Tippet’s On Being series the Civil. Rights moment met and read and gathered and actually practiced being confronted. Their lead was this person was not born this way, this person was exposed and learned.
    “Beautiful Mind” how did they get the movie to change the facts? And how do we get professionals to aid instead of play games?
    And again, one does not want to be sidelined fighting red herrings.

    • Ditto to your last sentence!

      I would not look to mh pros for the solution any more than John Lewis would have counted on compassion from Southern cops.

      In the end Cooper must be responsible; if his apologies for psychiatry drive more people into its clutches their genesis matters not.

  16. It’s only a matter of time before mainstream “wisdom,” which I find to be woefully academically-based, is replaced by actual truth, which to me is founded on actual human experience–unique to everyone, on the whole. There is a wide and seemingly irreconcilable gap between these two perspectives.

    Long held beliefs are being repeatedly challenged, and it’s causing an un-civil war, so to speak. At some point, hopefully sooner than later, the smoke will clear and more and more truth will come to light for everyone to see. It’s all being fought out in the media, in plain sight at this point. Everyone has their opinion about it, that’s the world in all its diverse glory.

    Truth always comes to light, one way or another, despite the extreme resistance to it by those who are prospering in the current system, based on secrets and lies. So much change happening now, it’s hard to keep up. Thanks for highlighting this extreme split in our society.

    • One needs to go through writings on medicine with the sharp fine toothed comb- along with others – and yes my comment in regards to John Lewis does not forget the waterhosing of children and the four girls burned to death and oh yes the pictures of those who actually marched st Selma.
      House of God – old novel- very interesting to read author now. Oh my a psychiatrist who may have had a partial epiphany. If one totally bashed and ignored all- the diamonds in the rough are laid to the wayside and are no help at all. Robert Coles and his experience with Dorothy Day and her house of hospitality and the farm and Peter Maurin who was literally on the edge of the margins and today would have been taken off the street and medicated out of his mind.
      There was beside everything else a forceful great forgetting. Look at the RC church and the almost total forgetting of the system of Abbesses and Dorothy despite her ironclad following of the system just not holy enough- she lived with “ those” folks.
      And if things ever get better- we all will still have to live with one another. We have several Pharma Reps in our area and their kids and all that. To lead with hate and blame never works because after usually comes if not taken over like with the Jim Crow laws. And even then what happens to those in WWII who worked for evil systems. How to configure justice?

      • Yes to all of it, Rosalee! MW would be the shot of light and heart-based vision we need, although that would require a shift in consciousness. I’m glad at least she is getting attention, she is learning as she goes. And she’s getting more support than I would have thought she would, she is reaching people because she makes sense, so that’s encouraging. I so admire and respect her courage, given the climate of things around “differences.”

        And yes, by now I’m sure my opinion of anything mh is pretty clear. As I say above, we need something new and different…wayyyy different. Like, honesty, integrity, clear and direct communication, flexibility in thinking, awareness, etc., that kind of different.