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.


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  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.

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  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.

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  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).

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    • 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.,……

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      • 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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  6. furies:

    My statements about hypothyroidism in the last paragraph do not question its existence, and they are not opinions; They are statistical facts, and I quoted their sources so that anybody could verify them. And the whole point of this blog is that people don’t need to depend on a doctor’s “expert knowledge”. They can instead rely on their own ability to think logically as I tried to demonstrate.


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    • You are poo-poohing thyroid conditions when in fact, there is a gross *undertreatment* of hypothryroidism.

      If I could ‘dose’ myself, I wouldn’t need the gatekeeper.

      Dessicated thyroid has been in the phamacopia for hundreds of years…but now must adhere to the ‘expert’ opinions of MDs.

      Not happy about daily meds but it most def affects my quality of life without it.

      I can find facts to support my view…show me yours Dr.

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    • thinking “logically” is difficult when one has solidified “thinking” into the negative realm. Or for that matter, even in the positivity realm. Opposites of states makes for questions and doubts, We become even more programmed by outside influences, depending on how influential or authorative they are, depending how vulnerable.
      Psychiatry’s push is evident through the advertisement of anything of a variant as disease, or else this would not have resulted in invading the lives of children and teens. And a disease state would never result in affecting people’s basic rights, ever. Psychiatry is the new religion and possibly is a result of overpopulation. Which of course no one wants to really talk about.
      We seem to not really know what overpopulation is, we tend to think of it as bodily space, not mental space.

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        • It’s funny that at the same time I was being fed these same lies, Rachel, I was an honors student, a voting representative for my school’s PTK chapter, volunteering for multiple organizations, traveling with friends and family – even internationally. It seems the only place I’m not allowed, indeed expected not to be CAPABLE of thinking for myself is where it concerns psychiatric drugs. How convenient…

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        • Only a psychiatrist can decide if one’s thoughts are competent. They own the blueprint for rational thought. It is an insult.
          I cannot imagine having a job where I let my thoughts define another person, and get paid for it.
          If anyone wants to be defined, I will do it for free.

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          • Interesting that after I was snatched from my bed and tortured for 7 hours that a psychiatrist said there was nothing wrong with me and released me back into the care of people who had conspired to poison me with benzodiazepines, and then plant items on me for police to find. I would have thought that a psychiatrist would have had the insight to realise that this type of conduct might result in harm to my person?

            A lot like the panel beater encouraging drink driving really, they’re going to get the business in the end.

            And really, where do these people get off encouraging the spiking of citizens when our politicians claim that the practice is “abhorrent and extremely dangerous”? We’ll except where it is being done by bus drivers to make it easy for citizens to be subjected to known torture methods. The “acquiescence” of public officers in these circumstances constituting a breach of the Convention against the use of Torture. Fortunately my State is renegging on their duty to train public officers who are involved in the incarceration of citizens in their duty under the Convention. Hence the high level of human and civil rights abuses oçcuring in Australia, and then need to silence our media with threats and intimidation.

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  7. 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

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    • Pretty soon we will see more patient blaming.
      I believe that is the next move by docs in general.
      They are starting to realize that the choice of their careers were
      made at a young impressionable age and can’t find their way out,
      so yes, discontent.

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  8. 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.”

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    • 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.

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  9. 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.

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    • JanCarol:

      Thank you. But you misquoted me: I said “fake meds”, not “fake drugs” – of course antidepressants are drugs. Also, the fact that they can truly disrupt the body doesn’t imply they’re medications: If you ingest broken glass, you’ll disrupt your body, but broken glass isn’t medicine. And difficulty coming off antidepressants doesn’t prove that their benefits aren’t purely placebo: If someone stays on them due to their faith in needing them and faith that they benefited from them (placebo effect), then of course they’ll have faith that they’ll fall apart if they come off them, so they will fall apart (reverse placebo effect). And since antidepressants became the top selling drug class, their placebo effects must be incredibly strong, which suggests that their reverse placebo effects could expectably also be incredibly strong/dangerous.

      I agree that there can be some physical withdrawals for a week or two after coming off antidepressants. But when I hear people say that for many months, or years after, they struggle emotionally and blame it on “chronic antidepressant withdrawals”, I view this as further medicalizing life’s struggles, and thereby further strengthening biological psychiatry’s power by agreeing with its claim that sadness is caused by a chemical imbalance. And just as there’s no validating underlying physical exam, lab, or x-ray marker found in people with “depression”, there’s no validating underlying finding in “chronic antidepressant withdrawals” either, so both fail the “real disease” test. In my practice, I’ve gradually taken nearly all my clients off antidepressants without much difficulty, by first introducing them to Irving Kirsch’s work and discussing it in depth with them, which led to their losing faith in antidepressants and thus having minimal reverse placebo effect upon stopping them.


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      • I would add that “withdrawal” may not be the proper term for this experience. It is more like “recovery from brain damage.” Most people know that the specific withdrawal period for cocaine, for instance, is pretty short – a matter of hours. But for someone taking cocaine long-term, the recovery period can literally take years. I find it pretty easy to believe that the exact same kind of mechanism would be at play for any psychoactive drug, in fact, I’d be stunned if it were not at play. There is plenty of research regarding neurological up- or down-regulation in the brain when the brain is flooded with/deprived of normal brain chemicals. Recovery from this kind of damage is going to take a hell of a lot longer than it takes the drug to exit the body, and I think it is pretty disingenuous to suggest that people suffering months or a year later are automatically suffering from some psychological problem when it is very possible they are continuing to suffer from brain damage induced by neurochemicals provided by their friendly “medical professionals.”

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        • There are so many possible variables on so many levels that it’s hard to make too many blanket statements, since there will always be exceptions based on people’s individual biochemistry and stamina. But it’s not necessary to pin down the exact biochemical process to conclude that you have been fucked up by a drug when you take it and your brain explodes.

          Certainly a false belief that you need a drug may create or exacerbate the likelihood of withdrawal-like physical symptoms; however this doesn’t exclude the possibility of the drug itself creating such symptoms as well or instead. In some people there might be a “reverse placebo” effect and an actual chemical effect occurring simultaneously. In any case, as Jan in essence said, these effects are created by real drugs — not imaginary or metaphorical ones — prescribed for fake diseases.

          It would have been interesting to see Dr. K discussing this with biochemical researcher Zel Dolinsky, who until recently was also a “survivor.” He told me shortly before his death that he hadn’t slept in seven years due to past SSRI use. This was definitely NOT simply because he believed he needed the drug.

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      • Thanks for replying, but you’ve only angered me. Yes, swallowing glass causes problems. The “reverse placebo” effect has nothing to do with the damage and disruption caused by these drugs.

        Your statement about “Medicalising withdrawal” tells me that you are out of touch with what really happens:
        1. when people take the drugs
        2. when the drugs are continued for longer than 5 years (and systems start to break down), and
        3. when the drugs are discontinued (especially after long term use).

        “Medicalising withdrawal” means you still think that the “patient/client/sufferer” is crazy and “making things up.”

        It’s my understanding that when you take that first SSRI/SNRI/ Neuroleptic drug, they alter – possibly permanently – the neurotransmitter cascade in the brain. From the FIRST PILL. talks about liver DAMAGE. (that’s not a placebo, or a “reverse placebo” effect, that’s medical, bodily damage).

        These are just two quick examples I can find off the top of my head on a lazy Sunday morning.

        If you are talking about the psych difficulties of withdrawal (I was not) – that is caused by the antidepressants, as well – since your neurotransmitters are changed, it makes it much more challenging – if not impossible – to return to “baseline.” Hence, Whitaker’s “Anatomy” points out the way use of these drugs increases the chronicity of the disturbances. The baseline is gone.

        I stand by my statement (elsewhere) that doctors should take these drugs for 3 months, then cold turkey – it’s the only way you will understand what really happens with them. And they should try not only “antidepressants” but also neuroleptics, like the experiment David Healy did. To find out what akathisia is. You know we had a suicide here at MIA recently – due to extreme akathisia? Is that “medicalising withdrawal?” or “medicalising drug sfx?”


        I understand you do not prescribe – but you are still falling into a pit of denial about just how much damage these “placebos” cause.

        I’ve been off the drugs for 3 years. I went through most of the symptoms that Rachel describes below – the arrhythmias (which were medically charted) have cleared, the IBS (I refuse to call it “disease”) is improved, and I am leading an amazing, fulfilling life. Yes, I still fall into a depressive pit – but that’s not “medicalising withdrawal” My withdrawal is DONE, and has been for years. That’s the “new baseline” that my brain set after 20 years on the drugs.

        Read the case studies at There will be a large amount of noise to pick up the signal – that these drugs are damaging, harmful. Dare I say – that pharma wants to make more patients? It’s not such a long bow to draw – I think it was Peter Gotzsche who pointed out the irony of the metabolic disorder induced by olanzapine – and the metformin to help diabetics = both from Eli Lilly.

        And please, when you are talking to survivors, take care not to imply that we are “making things up” or “focusing only on problems,” or “medicalising our suffering” that was INDUCED by medicine, medical practice, and “standard of care.”

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        • Well stated JanCarol.
          How would Dr. K explain this: a relative has been taking Effexor for about 15 years and trying to manage a busy life. Then one day she gets so violently ill she has to go get into bed. As she is laying in bed that evening still very ill she suddenly remembers she forgot to take the Effexor the day before. How is that “reverse placebo effect”???

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          • Lawrence, can you please address the issue of long-term neurological damage that extends beyond the technical withdrawal period from the drug itself? This is not really a controversial issue, at least in the world of substance abuse – it can take a long time for the brain to recover from years of drug-induced altered functioning, and in some cases, there is evidence of permanent damage. Why would this not apply to psychiatric drugs?

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          • Dr. Kelmenson –

            A COUPLE OF WEEKS?

            …”a couple of weeks” tells me that you do not understand about the adjustment of neurotransmitters. It takes at least 3 weeks for the neurotransmitters to adjust. This is why, when someones starts taking the drugs, they are told by physicians (and pharma) that it might take at least 3 weeks to work. See Anomie’s comment, above.

            In my work with Surviving Antidepressants, I have seen Cold Turkey withdrawal that went fine – until a stressor hit – then the compromised neurotransmitter system collapses. This is a COMMON occurrance that can happen 3, 6, 9 months or even 2 years out from “withdrawal”

            These drugs *change* and *alter* the pathways of normal, natural firing. They may never go back to baseline.

            In my opinion you are not qualified to do anything with these drugs, (in spite of your expensive degrees) as you do not understand how they work. See works here at MIA by Stuart Shipko, who postulates that it’s often impossible to “heal” from these drugs. He’s a doctor, perhaps you will listen to him, if you are unable to hear what survivors are saying:



            Unlike Shipko, I like to believe that there is improvement – but – there is also the mitigation of damage, and the change in baseline to deal with. My cardio health is better, other symptoms are not.

            Your “clinical experience” may be achieved because the patient is too afraid to tell you what you’ve already explained to them is not possible.

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          • All I can say in Dr. K’s defense is maybe all his clients are newbies to psychiatry who have never taken SSRIs for more than 6-12 months.

            Or maybe they know that psychiatrists will always laugh at how horrible they feel–say it’s imaginary and/or they’re faking it for attention. Like the seizures I had on Haldol. 😛 After that I quit sharing anything negative about ye precious pills.

            (Your mainstream shrink would rather hear you insult his own mother than the pills he prescribes. Like his whole sense of self worth is wrapped up in those things.)

            Dr. K is obviously not a mainstream psychiatrist. That’s why so many here–including myself–get upset and angry at his casual dismissal of our suffering. We expect it of the dangerous quacks working in community mental illness centers. But we hope for better from mavericks like him.

            Very disappointing! 🙁

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      • “I agree that there can be some physical withdrawals for a week or two after coming off antidepressants. But when I hear people say that for many months, or years after, they struggle emotionally and blame it on “chronic antidepressant withdrawals”, I view this as further medicalizing life’s struggles, and thereby further strengthening biological psychiatry’s power by agreeing with its claim that sadness is caused by a chemical imbalance…..”

        I don’t think suffering before or after strengthens the biological theory. There could indeed be secondary “emotional” suffering as is evidenced in mania or psychosis induced from meds. Prednisone can cause symptoms and harm.
        Knowing that chemicals cause brain change does not prove that suffering came from chemicals imbalance, although we might see post suffering changes. We know abuse causes suffering and I’m sure it can be measured post abuse.
        It is the belief that it can be corrected by throwing chemicals at it, that is false, as is proven by placebo.
        Psychiatry has to acknowledge that they do not know and that their theories are most likely completely wrong, and the expense of following theories is to subject people to the experiments, of their theories.
        It is these falsities that have to be acknowledged and the harms of experimenting with chemicals, and the ideas that the suffering, that people came to them with was a RESULT of imbalances.
        Benzos are well known for creating greater anxiety after going off, or interdose withdrawal syndrome, so yes, in fact throwing chemicals at the brain can indeed make one worse. And it can take years.

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    • 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.

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      • My struggles are PHYSICAL in nature Dr. K. Off my SSRI drugs I’m no longer suicidal. On them, I thought of it every month at least.

        My emotions are pretty stable considering I struggle to have fewer than a dozen bowel movements a day. 🙂

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  10. 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.

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  11. I am sorry that I offended so many people with my insensitivity. I realize that since I’ve never been through what so many of you have been through, I’m in no position to make assumptions about it. I appreciate your feedback. I erred in getting away from my main point, which is that getting upset (experiencing life struggles) has profitably been turned from a normal, unavoidable human experience into a “serious but treatable disease” by the ever-greedy, ever-expanding health care industry

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    • Thanks Dr K.
      Appreciate the recognition of “assumptions”.
      I think we all do that from time to time, even on MIA, member to member.
      I guess we hold the pros to a standard, because of, they are in fact involved in care
      and the need for recognition of many possibilities.
      My biggest problem with something that was said, was the feeling that I could or should
      no longer be hurting emotionally post WD, or else I was somehow contributing to the medical theory.
      But then if I can’t suffer post WD, emotionally even for years, it means I also should not
      suffer emotionally before AD’s.
      I think we can suffer without stipulations put upon it.

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    • Thank you for the community service of advocating that emotional suffering is natural rather than pathological; it is a critically important point for improving the quality of life in the community. What is difficult to understand about natural emotional suffering is how painful it can be when distressful experiences become extreme. I would not have believed that emotional pain could be as strong as physical pain until after experiencing trauma in early adulthood; for the following decade, I could no longer feel physical pain because the emotional pain was so strong. Thereafter, I came to believe that a prerequisite for discussing emotional suffering is to state outright that current theory discounts its painfulness.

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