Real Doctors Are Peddling Fake Diseases: Here’s How to Spot Them


We now live in a world of constant deception: Phone and internet scammers pose as trusted authorities. The news is often biased or fake. People we interact with online may not be who they say they are; they may not even be real. The products we use might be counterfeits. Images we view could be computer-generated or photoshopped.

We’re also bombarded with endless ads for newly discovered diseases. Are they all legitimate, or are some sham illnesses that were created to sell more drugs? If so, such disease mongering1 could be problematic; the pills may not only be unnecessary/wasteful, but also harmful. Who can we trust to warn us? We doubt doctors would scam us, but the huge profits to be reaped could tempt them. Patient advocacy groups and government agencies accept drug company money, so they can’t be trusted either.

Thus, you can only trust yourself to tease out any fake diseases. You may think you need a scientific background to be qualified to do so. But I’ll show how no medical knowledge is needed; you only have to use your ability to think logically. Here are four ways to logically test whether or not something really is a classic (physically-based, symptom-causing) disease:

1. Is your ‘illness’ merely a labeling of your complaint (such as feeling depressed due to ‘having depression’)? Or is it an underlying bodily anomaly that’s causing your outward complaint?

This is crucial, since a complaint can only be deemed a symptom if it’s a symptom (i.e. effect) of something else (it can’t be a symptom of itself — how could it cause itself to occur?). Otherwise it’s just a complaint. Not all complaints are a result of illness. Some are a result of life.

Let’s use this qualifier to test out the validity of some diseases:

ADHD is only a description of a complaint rather than its explanation (the DSM clearly states this is true for all its ‘disorders’2). So it isn’t a causative physical illness. But hyperthyroidism is a classic disease, since high thyroxine levels are causing complaints (insomnia, agitation, etc.) which are thus its symptoms.

Fibromyalgia is Latin/Greek for pain. It’s a label applied to a pain complaint if no bodily cause is found.3 It can’t be said to be a cause of pain; how could it be both a cause and its effect? But arthritis is a joint disease that can cause pain; if verified by exam/x-ray, then your pain can correctly be called a symptom of it.

There’s no underlying bodily disorder in Restless Leg Syndrome,4 so it’s not a symptom-producing illness; it’s a complaint followed by the word ‘syndrome’. Placing the word ‘syndrome’ or ‘disorder’ after a complaint in no way explains its cause (though it may aid insurance billing). But if brain scans show lesions typical of Multiple Sclerosis, then your shaky legs can be said to be caused by, or a symptom of, a classic illness

Finding a bodily disorder doesn’t necessarily prove that it directly caused your complaint; it could be incidental. In this case you have a real illness, but your complaint isn’t a real symptom.

2. Were labs/x-rays done? If so, was it to rule in your illness, or only to rule out others?

A physical illness would have physical markers to look for. So if a doctor diagnoses you without doing a diagnostic workup, it’s likely not a physical illness. If diagnostic tests are done, but only to rule out other illnesses, then your doctor is making sure you have no physical illnesses. Psychiatry has always been the field referred to after a physical cause is ruled out. So if your doctor illogically says: “Since your brain scan and lab chemistries were normal, you must have a brain disease caused by a chemical imbalance,” beware!

3. How was your new ‘illness’ discovered?

Was it already known to be a disease, but not well-understood/treated yet? That’s plausible. Tuberculosis, for example, was long known to be a disease but it was called ‘consumption’ and was often fatal, before infections/antibiotics were discovered. Or was your illness previously thought to be a non-medical issue and thus handled by an established non-medical field, until doctors realized it was a disease and thus took it over? That’s suspect; how could no one have had a clue, until the 1990s, that some common experience is actually a disease? A more plausible explanation is that it’s a non-illness which the medical field turned into one in order to expand its realm.

Here are examples of illness-creation enabling medicine to annex non-medical fields’ territories. Do any apply to you?

A. Mental illnesses used to be defined as non-physical. They were addressed by therapy, which used to be psychiatry’s domain. But in the ‘70s/80s, psychiatrists were displaced by cheaper, more numerous non-MD therapists (MSWs and PhDs). Then psychiatrists proclaimed, without evidence, that ‘mental illnesses’ are physical. They reinvented themselves as prescribers who “treat diseases of a bodily organ — the brain — just as cardiologists treat diseases of the heart” (despite neurologists already treating real brain diseases). This enabled them to regain dominion over the ‘mental health’ field in the ‘90s.

B. Psychiatrists also broadened ‘mental illness’ criteria, so that we could all get diagnosed: Unpleasant feelings became serious ‘diseases’ that must be managed by doctors (depression, bipolar, or anxiety disorders). They thereby usurped our personal responsibility to address/solve/adapt to whatever problems upset us.

C. People used to go to AA meetings or substance abuse counselors in order to kick an alcohol/drug habit, which was considered a non-physical problem. But then it was declared to be a literal physical (brain) disease and thus also became a doctor’s realm — addiction medicine. These doctors lure and steal clients by offering addictive medicine to addicts!

D. In general, people seeking good feelings from chemicals used to go to drug dealers or liquor stores. But the ‘discovery’ of many new ‘diseases’ that just happen to be ‘treated’ by opiates, benzos, speed, ketamine, or pot enabled doctors to encroach on their turf, too.

E. It used to be the parents’ role to raise their kids. But now it’s the domain of doctors, who’ve proclaimed that normal childhood immaturity is a disease (ADHD). Parents are told to not waste effort trying to raise their supposedly unraisable kids, who instead “need medicine for their illness” (daily tranquilizer darts).

F. Doctors then tell the school that these kids have a disabling illness that makes them uneducable. These schools must now make accommodations. This infringes on the role of teachers, who will now give up on teaching, molding, and preparing them for adulthood. They’ll instead just let them slide through school.

G. In effect, psychiatry has moved in on the role of priests by promoting faith in a new powerful and undetectable force that controls our fate: the treatable chemical imbalance. It’s religion masquerading as science.

H. Doctors even took over the role of food banks, shelters, and social assistance programs, by claiming that poverty is a medically treatable illness caused by a chemical imbalance. Well… that hasn’t really happened… yet! (“Extreme poverty” is, however, listed as a diagnosis in the International Classification of Diseases.)

4. Were you given real or fake meds?

Fake diseases go with fake medicines, of which three types exist: If your ‘meds’ were proven to only be placebos, as were antidepressants,5 this implies that your ‘illness’ is fake too. It’s also likely fake if you’re given chronic daily addictive pills for it, since these don’t really help: benefits fade and unending withdrawals ensue once tolerance develops, unless the dosage is dangerously raised. The last fake type is non-addictive sedatives. They stop all sensations, thoughts, and behaviors (not just the annoying ones). So other than when used as anesthesia or sleep aids, tranquilizers can’t be seen as helpful to their users.

Using these four tests, you can now logically ascertain whether or not you’ve been scammed. But not always: To verify that your illness is real, you’ll still rely on the medical field’s finding an underlying bodily anomaly, and this isn’t always clear-cut. For example, hypothyroidism had always been defined by thyroid hormone levels falling outside a certain range, which occurred rarely. But in 2002,6 the normal range was greatly narrowed such that millions more met criteria for this illness. This led to Synthroid prescriptions, which carry risks as all drugs do, skyrocketing to become our most used drug by 2013.7 Aggressive diagnosing/medicating may partly explain why healthcare costs are much higher, yet lifespans are falling here.

Show 7 footnotes

  1. Payer, L. Disease Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers are Making You Feel Sick, 1992. New York: J Wiley.
  2. DSM IV, American Psychiatric Association, 1994, pp. xvii-xviii.
  3. Shiel, W. “Medical Definition of Fibromyalgia” MedicineNet, 12-12-2018.
  4. Bozorg, A. “Restless Leg Syndrome Clinical Presentation” Medscape, 2-22-2017.
  5. Kirsch, I. The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, Basic Books, 2010, New York.
  6. Faix, J and Thienpont, L. “Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone: Why Efforts to Harmonize Testing are Critical to Patient Care” American Association for Clinical Chemistry, May 1, 2013.
  7. Brooks, M. “Top 100 Selling Drugs of 2013” Medscape, Jan 30, 2014.


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.


  1. Wickedly good Dr Kelmenson.

    I see it more cult like, than religion.
    I would not be so insulted if psychiatry acknowledged their silliness.
    Then we could all smile about it, but the “save face” defense has crept in now.
    All I want is for the DSM to leave.
    Even IF the basis of every behaviour can be found, the attitudes remain that something of the mind
    originated in mind, and dehumanizing would continue.
    The protest against psychiatry has always been about the classifying of behaviours or suffering and symptoms, into hopeless lifelong afflictions which are by the profession that classified them, to be used as an excuse to infiltrate every niche and also physically restrain and medicate.
    It is the advertising and propaganda, that even if it exists is just wrong.
    No one seems to have thought of a safe place for unruly citizens. They don’t tie biting dogs down, and inject them with Haldol. Why not? because the courts would call that inhumane.
    Neither do we medicate puppies even though they behave anti social, or scared.
    We would have mental health workers who love animals get super enraged if that happened to dogs.
    Of course we do now have AD’s available to dogs, instead of throwing a ball.

  2. A good post in general.

    But the trouble begins long before any “real doctors” give fake diagnoses for non-existent diseases. The trouble is in the myth of “mental illness” itself, a myth that permeates our society and is preached in medical schools. The trouble began long ago when psychiatry, soul-doctoring, came to be perceived as a legitimate branch of medicine.

    This is a good post, but there is one other problem. So-called “antidepressants” and other psychotropic drugs aren’t just benign placebos or generally unhelpful. They are dangerous brain disabling drugs. You hint at this fact, but it needs to be more explicit.

    It is, of course, debatable what it might mean for a person to be a “real doctor.” It’s unfortunate when some people who attend medical school with the intent to help others end up in the trap of psychiatry themselves, since psychiatry is a pseudo-scientific system of slavery that masquerades as a medical profession. When aspiring doctors are indoctrinated with psychiatric propaganda, they may still earn a medical degree, but they’ve learned next to nothing about healing. In fact, they’ve been taught the opposite.

    So it isn’t just real doctors who peddle the fake diseases. There are plenty of fake doctors and quacks, or in other words, there are plenty of psychiatrists who are peddling these fake diseases. Fortunately there are a few psychiatrists who have been enlightened (Lawrence Kelmenson, Peter Breggin, etc.), but the most enlightened (i.e. Thomas Szasz) understand that psychiatry cannot be reformed or criticized. It must be abolished.

  3. Brilliant Dr Lawrence,

    The worst member of the AA is probably better at helping someone with a “Drink Problem”, than the best Qualified Doctor or Psychologist.

    “….C. People used to go to AA meetings or substance abuse counselors in order to kick an alcohol/drug habit, which was considered a non-physical problem. But then it was declared to be a literal physical (brain) disease and thus also became a doctor’s realm — addiction medicine. These doctors lure and steal clients by offering addictive medicine to addicts!..”

    (The organised rehab centres are extremely expensive but subsidised by the taxpayer (in the UK), and once an alcoholic recovers and stays off the booze for a period of time, the counsellor approaches them with a suggestion of attempted social drinking. Acoholism is a relapsing disorder so the client is encouraged to relapse).

    • Back in the 1930’s, AA WAS an early proponent of what was then called the “disease theory”, or “disease model” of alcoholism recovery efforts. AA did NOT say, “alcoholism is a disease”, instead they said “alcoholism is best and most easily treated when we view it like we view REAL diseases”…. The idea was that the shame, guilt, stigma, etc., were all barriers to treatment. One of AA’s founders, “Dr. Bob”, said on his deathbed, to another AA founder, “Bill W.(Wilson), “Let’s not louse this thing up”…., meaning, “AA works best as PERSONAL RECOVERY”. He didn’t want to see AA ruined by professionalism. Sadly, AA HAS been ruined by professionalism. In much the same was that psychiatry has destroyed any hope of “recovery” from so-called “mental illnesses”….
      More sick people means more drugs means more sick people means more drugs means more sick people means more drugs means more sick people means more drugs means more sick people…..etc.,……

      • Well we have reached a point now when psychiatry can no longer question “normality” the tables are turning and questions are being asked of psychiatry and other systems. Thank god for the ability to think, and not be satisfied with simple.
        People are tired of being told what reality consists of. The professionalism is authority. Authority does not equate to any logic or reason, or knowledge. The best answers for a society are those that have people working toward goals, not towards a disease state and include decision making, which takes support…lots of support for some. I think psychiatry has no option but to revaluate. Indeed society has to revaluate. We won’t achieve utopia, but we must stop the false propaganda. Every suffering has been turned into either disease, or the opposite, the Will.
        I call this black or white thinking.

  4. Personally I think it is important to take this matter one step further, that is what happens when the victim of a scam finds out they were scammed?

    Best I ever read on the topic was “On Cooling the Mark Out” by Erving Goffman. Brief article but one that explains what is done by those who scam when they are caught out scamming. In the case of ‘psychiatry’ (and I use this term loosely because the medical people involved try not to get too involved in criminal conduct beyond a little negligence resulting in deaths) I have been informed that making legitimate complaints about their disgusting conduct will result in you (and you family) being fuking destroyed.

    So it’s all well and good to point out how to spot a scam, but no good when the authorities charged with enforcing the rules tell you that they don’t know what the rules are. For example my complaint to police results in them telling me they don’t have a copy of the criminal code whilst the doctor concerned arranges an unintended negative outcome in an Emergency Department.

    Goffmans article is quite instructive in this manner, what would the scammers do if they found out their ‘Mark’ was going to the police? First try to ‘cool them out’ and then if that doesn’t work well……… best we get it done before the stupid police actually figure this out. They will of course help out organised criminals as long as they keep maintaining the lie of the citizen being a “patient” but that fact runs out with proof that your not. Still, the State is giving them the power to distribute fraudulent documents to lawyers, and that tends to bury the paperwork with the unintended negative outcome in the Corroners Courts.

    Respect for the Law? The Chief Psychiatrist and our Minister don’t even recognise the laws that they are responsible for. And I have that in writing.

  5. Errr

    I have Hashimoto’s. If not for the faulty TSH test, I wouldn’t have known what was causing the sluggishness, cold, dry skin, difficulty in losing weight etc etc. Doing without the replacement Armour thyroid med would make me an even worse basket case. But thanks for your ‘opinion’ anyway.

    Methinks the good Dr.’s ‘knowledge’ only goes so far.

  6. Brilliant explanation of mass medical malpractice rampant in the criminal conduct of pseudo-medicine that is the backbone of the sick care industry
    why this generation is the first that will not outlive their parents
    why billions are wasted every year in theft and nothing is done to stop it
    why drs are the 3rd leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer which Allopathic drugs also cause making dr’s the leading cause of death, disability, addiction, w/d and “MI” discrimination

  7. Thanks for pointing out the scam that is the entire “mental health” field, Lawrence. I agree, “It’s religion masquerading as science.” But what’s really sad is, it has taken over my childhood religion. Which used to trust in God, but now trusts in psychologists, psychiatrists, and other “mental health” therapists instead. Which means my childhood religion is a religion I want no part of. But it’s sad the mainstream religions have gone so far astray, and are now trusters in men, not God.

    And since the number one actual societal function of the “mental health” workers is covering up child abuse and rape.

    This means that covering up child abuse and rape is now the business of the mainstream religions, too.

    Despite Jesus stating, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”

    Definitely having the systemic, child abuse and rape covering up, psychologists and psychiatrists take over the once Christian religions is an example of medical overreach, and the annexing of non-medical fields’ territories. And this overreach by the “mental health” field is destroying those non-medical fields’ credibility, morals, ethics, our nation, and all of Western civilization, in general.

    “We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”

    At least we know what “professions” are to blame for the destruction of America from within. And those of us who knew the wrong people were in charge almost two decades ago, were the correct canaries in the coal mine, not the “delusional.” The DSM believers are the “delusional” people now, just like they were two decades ago.

    And they don’t seem to be able to overcome their delusional belief system, since they’ve yet to flush their “bullshit” “bible.”

    • Someone else,
      I honestly think they do not believe their practice. It is one of the reasons they hang on so tight.
      People in their right minds do not participate in harm and try to disguise it.
      They hope it will all quietly go away. I think many shrinks are happy to retire and hope
      if there is collapse, that they won’t be around to see it.
      I include other practices in this as well.
      Most people have no interest in going back to school for another 8 years.

  8. Excellent post Dr. Kelmenson – I see the marketing of illnesses oozing out of all kinds of medicine, not just psychiatry. Such as the statin rort. (also not a fake drug, see below)

    The only thing I struggle with is the 4th one: “fake drugs.” Where you say: “Fake diseases go with fake medicines, of which three types exist: If your ‘meds’ were proven to only be placebos, as were antidepressants,”

    I know you quote Kirsch here, but you are missing the point of antidepressants.

    They are ****NOT*** placebos, they are merely as ineffective as placebo. They do have action and effect.

    If they were merely fake drugs or placebos, then people wouldn’t have so much trouble withdrawing from them, reference the cases at

    They are real, and dangerous drugs that disrupt digestion, sexuality, endocrine, metabolism, nervous system, brain – and other effects which are harder to quantify.

    Please don’t fall into the trap of calling these “fake drugs” or placebo. They are dangerous.

    • I think what most people consider prolonged withdrawal symptoms are simply damage from long term drug use. Before starting my taper I had been diagnosed with pernicious anemia and heart arrythmia. I also was experiencing Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Though the diagnosis was pretty recent.

      Going off seemed to exacerbate autoimmune problems. Not sure why. My pain threshold is lower for one thing. (Psych drugs numb physical pain too.) And my stomach acid levels are different. Was on the stuff 24 years.

  9. Jan Carol,
    You have written so eloquently on what I wanted to say. Unless someone has actually been on and then tapered off psychiatric drugs how can they judge another person’s experience? I was a moderator on withdrawal forums and the stories would break your heart.

    Psychiatric drug tapering — withdrawal — the body desperately trying to re regulate itself (causing insomnia, akathisia, depersonalization and hypersensitivity to sounds, crowds, lights plus numerous other problems). Imagine trying to hold down a job when you’re sleep deprived and every sound you hear is like sharp jab? Imagine going to a psychiatrist when you’re withdrawing from drugs and he doesn’t believe what your going through?

    Dr. K,
    Please be upfront with your clients that you do not believe in w/d after three or four weeks so they can find someone, a supportive source, who does.