The Media’s False Narrative About Depression Pills, Suicides, and Saving Lives

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When the media tell of a serious harm of a psychiatric drug, they follow a standard script, which involves that they must also praise the drug.

Illustration of a head with hands over eyes and the word "PROPAGANDA"

There are at least five main reasons why psychiatric drugs are portrayed in the media in a light that is far too positive.

First, journalists learn at journalism school that they should be balanced. But there are reasonable exceptions. An article about Hitler and the tens of millions of deaths his megalomania caused does not need to say that he was kind to dogs, was opposed to smoking tobacco, and sometimes smiled between all his shouts.

Journalists should also consider that misguided “balanced” reporting often leaves the public confused. When both sides are given similar prominence, people might conclude that the jury is still out even when there is nothing to doubt about, e.g. that smoking kills or we experience a man-made climate change. What is often wrong with “balanced” reporting is that it makes people dumber than they need to be.

Second, many journalists or their close relatives or friends take psychiatric drugs, and when you do that, you tend to think you benefit from them. This anecdotal evidence has no scientific value and is contrasted by the results of placebo-controlled trials, but people unfortunately believe more in what they think they experience than in science—even though they cannot know if they might have become better without treatment.

Third, the corrupting influence of industry money is seen everywhere, even in our most prestigious medical journals. I have experienced several times that a newspaper interview with me about psychiatric drugs the journalist was very eager to publish was rejected by the editor, and in one case, it was revealed that it was all about not losing advertising income for the newspaper from the drug industry.

Fourth, editors know that they could make hell for themselves if they publish critical articles or documentaries about drug harms. They might face a storm of protests from key opinion leaders, often financed secretly by the drug industry, questions might be raised in parliament, also often by people with financial conflicts of interest, etc, etc. The pressure can be so high that some of the world’s very best journalists get fired and the editors apologize publicly even though there was absolutely nothing to apologize for. This happened for my deputy director at the Institute for Scientific Freedom, Maryanne Demasi, and her team who aired two brilliant documentaries about statins on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Fifth, even though journalists are usually critical towards statements from politicians and often check if they are true, they are surprisingly uncritical towards statements from powerful people in healthcare, which they propagate as if they were eternal truths, even though such people often have guild or financial interests or both to protect.

The standard script used for psychiatric drugs: a BBC report

Let us take a typical example. On 9 August 2023, BBC Scotland reported that Dylan Stallan, who had never expressed suicidal thoughts before he started treatment with sertraline for anxiety, committed suicide at age 18.

Neither he, nor his mother, were warned that depression drugs can cause suicide, and BBC misled the public substantially. Here are the worst examples.

“The effectiveness of antidepressants on under-18s is not fully known and in the UK only one kind of drug—Fluoxetine, also called Prozac—is commonly prescribed to this group.” It is very well known that depression drugs don’t work for children, and this applies also to fluoxetine. When psychiatrist David Healy and I analysed the clinical study reports Eli Lilly submitted to the drug regulators for getting approval for using fluoxetine in minors, we found that the drug was ineffective and very harmful, and that published trial reports were so biased that it comes close to fraud.

“There is some clinical trial evidence to suggest the risk of suicide in 18-24 year-olds is increased when they take these medications.” This is the type of parlance the drug industry use. In medical research, we don’t look at “some” of the evidence, we collect it all and subject it to a meta-analysis. When we do this, the placebo-controlled trials do not “suggest” an increased risk of suicide, they prove it. It has been known for decades that these drugs double the risk of suicide in youngsters, which is why the FDA introduced a black box warning in 2004. In addition, depression drugs increase aggression in children and adolescents 2-3 times, which can lead to suicide, violence, and homicide.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Professor Bernadka Dubicka told the BBC that “The data seems to show that up until the age of 25, one in 50 young people who are on an antidepressant might experience an increase in suicidal thinking and self-harm in those first few weeks after taking an antidepressant.” In accordance with this, Anton Ferrie from the BBC wrote that among the more severe side-effects were “suicidal thoughts.”

This is horribly misleading. Suicidal thinking and self-harm are relative mild events, but these drugs double the suicide risk and have caused numerous suicides. Moreover, the suicide risk is not limited to the first few weeks of therapy. People can kill themselves at any time, often within hours after their relatives thought they were fine, and any dose change increases the risk of suicide, which the FDA warns about in package inserts.

Dylan’s mother told his story “to a new documentary for the BBC iPlayer [the link only works in the UK] which features the stories of young people whose lives have been changed—and saved—by antidepressants.” A family doctor and sexual medicine expert, Dr Ben Davis, said: “There are people for whom they are life-saving medication.” And comedian Elliott Brown said that the drugs had reduced his libido but had also “saved his life.”

This is horribly misleading. Depression drugs don’t save anybody’s lives. They kill people, in large numbers. In the elderly, presumably mostly because of falls and hip fractures. In a radio debate I had with Danish MIND‘s Chairman, Knud Kristensen, he argued that some of their patients had said that depression pills had saved their life. I responded that it was an unfair argument because all those the pills had killed couldn’t raise from their graves and say the pills killed them.

Depression drugs not only double the risk of suicide in children but also in adults. I therefore wonder why media reports about suicides never mention that psychotherapy halves the risk of suicide among those with the greatest risk, admitted acutely after a previous suicide attempt. The obvious reason is that psychotherapists do not corrupt the media, key opinion leaders in psychiatry and politicians with their money, which the drug industry does.

“Experts say there is not always time for these side-effects [including loss of sexual function and suicidal thoughts] to be fully discussed at the point the drugs are prescribed.” This is not a valid excuse. If there is too little time to discuss these and other severe drug harms with the patients, and a plan for tapering off the drug again, it is obviously unethical and therefore malpractice to prescribe them.

“The BBC has spoken to more than 100 people who have used or are using antidepressants, and all of them report side-effects of some kind.” Allow me to ask then why these drugs are used at all? The effect they have on depression and anxiety is so small that it lacks clinical relevance and they are very harmful, also for people’s sex life:

The sexual medicine expert said that sexual difficulties on antidepressants are prevalent: “We know that one in two people with depression will have some difficulty with sex.” The BBC described a man who lost his sex drive within 24 hours of his first pill who is now asexual, with numbness in his genitals, which still persisted 12 months after he stopped taking antidepressants. He has Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) and is one of more than 1,000 people who are part of the PSSD Network, an online community started to raise awareness of the condition, which is not currently recognised by the National Health Service.

Horribly false statements by the Norwegian Psychiatric Association

Two days after the BBC report, the chair and other prominent members of the Norwegian Psychiatric Association published an opinion piece in a major newspaper: “‘Pill shaming’ Is a Serious Societal Problem.” Their misguided defence of psychiatric drugs comes close to what leading psychiatrists opine everywhere. The worst falsehoods were these:

“It is a misconception that psychiatric drugs change the personality, have greater side effects than other drugs and are harmful or unnecessary. Conspiracy theories abound that the pharmaceutical industry only wants to profit on making people as dependent as possible.” It is a fact that these drugs change people’s personality; the rationale for using them is to change people’s brains, and the patients perceive that they are no longer themselves, which their relatives confirm. It is also a fact that the drugs are very harmful. I have estimated that psychiatric drugs are the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. Finally, it has been abundantly documented that the drug industry doesn’t care about the harms it causes; it only cares about its profits, which are often obtained through organised crime.

“Drug treated patients return to work more quickly, and disability can be prevented.” The opposite is true. The more psychiatric drugs are being used, the more people end up on disability pension.

“The prognosis and risk of relapse are improved significantly when patients take antipsychotics.” The trials that provide the basis for this misconception are deeply flawed. Patients randomised to placebo experience cold turkey symptoms, which the psychiatrists erroneously interpret as relapse. They make the same error with depression trials.

“Patients with ADHD often have reduced quality of life, more frequent depression and more drug problems and criminal behaviour if they are not treated.” This is not correct. In the long run, these patients are harmed by the drugs; they do not prevent depression; they do not increase quality of life; and they do not reduce criminal behaviour, they tend to increase it.

“Drug treatment makes patients more accessible to psychotherapy.” This has not been documented and it is unlikely to be true. Psychiatric drugs change brain functions and bring the patient to an unknown territory where the patient has not been before. This is problematic because you cannot go from a chemically induced new condition back to a more normal state unless you taper off the drugs, and even then, it will not always be possible, as you might have developed irreversible brain damage. In contrast, the aim of psychological treatments is to change a brain that is not functioning well back towards a more normal state.

“There is no biological basis for saying that commonly used psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics cause dependence.” This is blatantly false. Psychiatric drugs influence neuroreceptors in the brain and it is well documented that abrupt withdrawal can cause horrible and dangerous symptoms. It is accepted, even by psychiatric opinion leaders, that benzodiazepines cause dependence, and the withdrawal symptoms of depression drugs are very similar as those for benzodiazepines. About half the patients have difficulty stopping depression drugs.

“So far, most studies indicate that drug treatment is absolutely necessary to achieve recovery and increase quality of life and prevent relapse for most patients with severe psychiatric disorders.” As noted above, and in many scientific articles and books, these statements are also blatantly false.

Recommendations for better journalism

Virtually always, the media are the uncritical mouthpiece of the drug industry and the psychiatric guild, to the great detriment of the patients. Journalists should avoid such misguided journalism. In particular, they need to be aware that most leading psychiatrists have serious misconceptions about their specialty, which go directly against the most solid science we have.

In 2022, I published Critical Psychiatry Textbook, which is freely available on my website and is being translated into Spanish. My book describes what is wrong with the psychiatry textbooks used by students of medicine, psychology, and psychiatry. I read the five most used textbooks in Denmark and uncovered a litany of misleading and erroneous statements about the causes of mental health disorders, if they are genetic, if they can be detected in a brain scan, if they are caused by a chemical imbalance, if psychiatric diagnoses are reliable, and what the benefits and harms are of psychiatric drugs and electroshocks. Much of what is claimed amounts to scientific dishonesty. I also describe fraud and serious manipulations with the data in often-cited research. I conclude that biological psychiatry has not led to anything of use, and that psychiatry as a medical specialty does more harm than good.

These are harsh conclusions but they are based on solid evidence (there are 701 references in the book).

When journalists interview a psychiatrist or other health professional about psychiatry, they should always check if what is being said is correct, which it rarely is. In the UK, they can contact Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry or Hugh Middleton or Joanna Moncrieff, the co-chairs of the UK Critical Psychiatry Network. In North America, they can contact science journalist Robert Whitaker, founder of the website Mad in America, or psychiatrists David Healy or Peter Breggin all of whom have written excellent books about psychiatry. For other countries, they can contact me, and I shall help myself or refer them to other people.

Above all, please be concrete and truthful. Avoid meaningless marketing statements such as “despite their side-effects, the drugs are worth taking,” or “many people have been helped by them.” These sweeping statements are false. Harms and benefits are rarely measured on the same scale, but when patients in a placebo-controlled trial of a depression pill decide whether it is worthwhile to continue in the trial, they make a judgement about if the benefits they perceive exceed the harms. My research group did such an analysis based on clinical study reports we obtained from drug regulators and found that 12% more patients dropped out on a depression pill than on placebo (P < 0.00001). Thus, the patients consider placebo more useful than a depression drug.

Recommendations for leading psychiatrists

The misconceptions among psychiatric leaders are so much at variance with the scientific evidence and with what the patients and their relatives and others experience that it seems justified to say that they suffer from a collective delusion. A delusion is a belief that is clearly false and a person with a delusion will hold firmly to the belief regardless of evidence to the contrary.

Delusions are a key symptom for psychosis where people’s thoughts and perceptions are disrupted and they have difficulty recognizing what is real and what is not.

I shall end with a thought experiment. Using the psychiatrists’ own diagnostic systems and practice, it can be argued that psychiatric leaders such as those who wrote the totally false opinion piece above should be forcefully treated with neuroleptics, also called antipsychotics. I am convinced that if they tasted their own medicines, few of them would sustain their delusions about how good they are, for the benefit of mankind.

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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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38 COMMENTS

  1. As always, great piece. I thank PCG for his eloquent and on point analysis.

    There is the old synedoche: confusing someone who has been saved/benefited, with take it, it will/may save your life…

    “Suicidal thinking and self-harm are relative mild events” but, following the pharmaspeak, COULD lead, there is no evidence for it, to more serious diagnosis like BPD, BPD or other personality disorder diagnosis that make surveillance more intense, treatment more intense, stigma more serious or employment/education less available. Beyond the epistemic injustice and it’s effects.

    Harms in suicides which would become meassurable only in studies beyond the typical one year, or the extended follow up of 10yrs. It could be, parlance, beyond the clinical studies horizons. Even the epidemiological studies might not show it…

    “it is obviously unethical and therefore malpractice to prescribe them.” I totally AGREE! I have for a WHILE!. At least 15-20yrs.

    “organised crime.” TOTALLY agree, for a while too, around 30yrs.

    Misconception + Conspiracy theories in the same paragraph invites some loose associations on the reader. Basically misconception means false, since in specific meaning is ambiguous as to where the error lies.

    But it takes time for one’s mind to adapt when hearing it or reading it, so, before the reader or listener understand what it actually means in the context used and since misconception is a relatively rare used word, just provide a guiding word to what you want the audience to think: opponents are meanspirited people and can’t be helped. Just dress it in nicer words…

    And passing those words in sucession in that order actually might, pharmapaspeak, make the audience less likely to ask what’s the evidence, the argument, behind the statement. By the time the audience understands might, parlance, be so insensed againts conspiratorial and IGNORANT people. Since most critical people are actually educated (!?).

    And actually misconception invites the audience to contemplate the word MISSUNDERSTANDING, and since the audience does not want to be conspiratorial, most likely, pharmaspeak, will choose the speaker, instead of the critic. Since the audience doesn’t want to be either missunderstanding nor conspiratorial. The audience in some conditions might actually say something that has no way to know, just not to seem missunderstanding…

    All of that happening at listening, or at faster speed, reading it. Even reviewing it afterwards takes at least experience.

    Which pressumably also will estimulate the “conspiratorials”. i.e. the opponents, and drive them to be more vociferous, therefore confirming the rethorical cliche. Since they will react in somewhat opposite way, also numbed by the speed and ORDER of the discourse. It’s to my mind a classical rhetorical taunt both belittling and inciting.

    Sounds to me like mind numbing rhetoric with a manipulating intention. Very well crafted I might add…

    As analysis that to my mind gets confirmed by the fact that a more accurate word was not used, instead of misconception: mistake, missunderstanding, error, false, misaprehension. Which is a sign to my mind that the writer is not aware that another more accurate word could be used, is not crafty, or actually is now meanspirited.

    Selection of words in professionals that go public that actually means something, unlike the rest of us that use language “casually”. If for nothing else, they probably have done it for a while, even if they are not interested in linguists, but only by survival in “the circuit” tend to get selected. Like a weed, dumb with no brain, but if allowed to proliferate can grow big, even if they don’t know how…

    A trained and carefull reader or listener might pick on the ambiguity and follow from there, in personal fashion, but, I admit it’s fast. It’s the detection in time that counts, and that takes at least training…

    “Drug treatment makes patients more accessible to psychotherapy.” sure, without labeling, when they are more impulsive, with less knowing of their feelings and motivations (less insight), and some others sure…

    “A delusion is a belief that is clearly false and a person with a delusion will hold firmly to the belief regardless of evidence to the contrary.”, music to my ears, I’ve been saying that to any one who can stand it for 30yrs. Otherwise it’s just a deliroid idea, not as sexy, or stigmatising, and invites questions…

    “Delusions are a key symptom for psychosis” and are solid evidence for stubbornness, faith, trolling, antagonism, etc. Not just psychosis. The differential diagnosis existed for a reason, but psychiatry forgot all about it around the DMS-IIIR, at least.

    The final paragraph, to my mind, invites ECT, they won’t respond to medications, they, I predict, will be medication “resistant”, since medications works sooo poorly. Let them forget about it, maybe permanently along with their training…

    jk, not a proposal, not a serious thougth.

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  2. Peter Gøtzsche gives good reasons why journalists write such poor and biased articles about psychiatric drugs. I’d like to add one more reason: Their lack of knowledge, which biases their writing about all drugs.

    Many reporters have a poor grasp of statistics and an inability to read or interpret a scientific study. Numerous times they cite relative risk reduction as proof of the efficacy of a drug without even mentioning absolute risk reduction. Among other things, they often seem unaware of problems with observational studies.

    This ignorance makes it difficult for them to ask intelligent questions of the researchers they interview, which makes the reporters easy to fool.

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    • I think it’s a great article, as always, thank you Dr. Peter. But I completely agree, Living, we really do need to get rid of the direct to consumer pharmaceutical industry advertising in the US. As allowing DTC big Pharma advertising has resulted in a lot of “Fake News.”

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    • I agree that pharma advertising funding is a major cause of biased, pro-psychiatry coverage seen in mainstream media. (Russell Brand did a compilation video of all of the news broadcasts that begin with a shot of the Pfizer logo and the statement “… brought to you by Pfizer!”. It’s astounding how many there were.)

      This issue is addressed here, I think:

      “Third, the corrupting influence of industry money is seen everywhere, even in our most prestigious medical journals. I have experienced several times that a newspaper interview with me about psychiatric drugs the journalist was very eager to publish was rejected by the editor, and in one case, it was revealed that it was all about not losing advertising income for the newspaper from the drug industry.”

      The focus here is on newspapers and journals, but of course the same monetary influence is at play in all forms of news media.

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      • Kate, you have said it really well! Thank you! “the corrupting influence of industry money is seen everywhere” — I agree! The dominant media is controlled by money and power for everything, including the message for psy drugs.

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  3. a doctor in turkey lynched by both society and psychiatrists after that saying ‘antidepressants disrupt the brain’.psychiatrists imprison her in the clinic by force. psychiatrists report % 80. a people can not work with %80 report. psychiatrists say ‘why does not a people who diognosed schizophrenia by psychiatrists work’ this is imbalance. psychiatry is a fake science. there is not right to conscientious objection in military service in turkey. really rosenhan is right. psychiatrists lie

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  4. Well yes the advertising is massive though I havent seen for ADD/ ADHD more for depression and depression add ons and TD.
    The other part is the people in communities thst were served are served suppossedly by the medical community. We can blame the medical advertising hall of fame all we want but the missing link are the marks that were us.
    At the time of the oxy contin massive campaign and piring of money into not only museums folks were told and I heard it not addicting great breakthrough. This happened shortly aftet the big biological psychiatry push thst used that very same ohrasing. Better living through chemistry. This was the time just after the movie Wall Street came out snd the education systems were coming out with testing standards systems were inbflux. And at our community center thr psych doc did try and ssid here take one no one did stvtgevtime nut by the time I quit my proffesion many staff at many levels were involved in biological psychatry and that included neighbors , friends, and relatives. It became such s thing that even felt I was dtanding on a besch without sny bsrriers from the crushing waves of multimodal systemndysfunction. And then the only issue was well let the doc be the gate kerper and better a prescribed pill then experience st pill parties were kidsvwould bring pills instead of the stolen wine and vodlka from the liquor cabinet. It was like living in a perfect storm of systemic collapse with no life guards or bouys or adequete tools to help keep afloat. The hsrdest was saying no because no became not annsocietal acceptable option.

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  5. Inspired by a close collaborator who has a huge experience of working with journalists, I want to say this, based on his email to me:

    There are also substantial pressures from users of depression pills. They can have a decisive role when the editors remove critical comments on the use of these pills. Some of them are activists, either individually (including celebrities, journalists/hosts from TV programs) or in organisations. Often, they have rather blunt demands to have their individual experiences of being helped mentioned. And often with a readiness to be offended, e.g. if you “don’t recognize their illness” or if you question the use of psychotropic drugs. During research and casting for broadcasts about depression in particular, many journalists will feel the need to accommodate these individual, anecdotic and unscientific stories, often with contributions from various psychiatrists who support them. The result is horrifying. The science is edited out in favour of personal accounts. If I were to list the worst challenges in telling the truth about the drugs and the harms they cause, these activist patients would be at the very top. Followed by editors’ fear of offending consensus. Oddly enough, people also buy the argument that any bad publicity about psychotropic drugs can cost human lives. They don’t seem to know that psychiatric drugs do not save lives; they kill very many people.

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    • Thank you Peter for this. You said, “There are also substantial pressures from users of depression pills. They can have a decisive role when the editors remove critical comments on the use of these pills. Some of them are activists, either individually (including celebrities, journalists/hosts from TV programs) or in organisations. Often, they have rather blunt demands to have their individual experiences of being helped mentioned. ” Are more individuals harmed than those helped in terms of using psy drugs? How do you explain why those are helped by the psy drugs?

      I would like to hear everyone else’s view on this too. Thanks!

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      • From what I understand of recent studies, the scientific consensus is about 30% of people taking antidepressants express finding improvement. When you take the placebo effect into account, that number drops even lower, and if you talk about an ACTIVE placebo, Kirsch puts the effectiveness rating near zero, at least in terms of any kind of significant clinical benefit.

        The drugs do DO something (mostly a stimulation effect, with a dampening of emotional reactivity), and some people find that SOMETHING positive for them. And more power to them. But we should remember that some people find marijuana or controlled doses of alcohol or taking DSMO or St. John’s Wort helpful, too. The problem isn’t that some people don’t report benefitting, it’s selling the idea that there are NO harms and that EVERYONE who is feeling depressed needs some, and even worse, that people who have adverse reactions or simply don’t improve are “treatment resistant” or are being dishonest!!!! Just because a person or persons report they like this and it helps them feel better is no reason to create a false narrative and make people who don’t feel such a benefit into some kind of monsters for “preventing effective treatment”!

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        • Thanks a lot, Steve for giving me the three powerful explanations about we should resist psy drugs though some individuals find the drugs useful —-1. The clinical effectiveness rate is low considering the placebo effect; 2. While the drugs do provide a stimulation effect with a dampening of emotional reactivity for some individuals, they are not the only solution; 3. It is wrong to present the drugs as the universal approach for all emotional problems.

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  6. There is a reason that the pharmaceutical industry can do what it does. It far outpaces the profit margin of any other sector. That comes in handy it you need to buy off politicians, pay lobbyists or throw your weight around. There are no negative studies.

    Doctor’s don’t know to ask for a descending Pareto of side effects. Doctor’s don’t know how to interpret a bell curve or even have to understand statistics. The medical schools that require statistical analysis as a course to be taken are few and far between. They don’t know how to evaluate processes or how to prove them productive. It’s a perfect scenario. They are proverbial mushrooms (it’s an old saying that I will not reiterate here) which make them the perfect salesmen. They are highly educated but not schooled in engineering.

    You forgot to mention 2 factors. Antidepressants cause akathesia and it’s deadly. And it’s how patients lose credibility very quickly. It proves the doctors’ diagnosis after the fact whichever side effect you choose to “make your case” that the DSM is valid. Luciere was correct and god forbid anyone try and repeat her experience that violent behavior is correlated with this poison. What? Prove repeatability? How dare we suggest that. The math proves it. The problem lies with psychiatric drugs causing brain damage (Ho and Andreason). They even discuss in the conclusion that it will cause some to go off their medication. Somehow I find that amusing. Unless people donate themselves to a study after they pass and have been taking psychiatric drugs, that little genie is staying in the bottle. It’s a perfect revenue stream: get the patient to take the gateway drug: antidepressants, addiction will take over immediately, withdrawal looks like relapse, other side effects cause more prescriptions to be written, more revenue is created, brain damage occurs and the patient is doomed to be on the drugs for a lifetime. And there you have it. You have a cash flow in perpetuity which is the monthly amount spent on this crap; an investor’s dream.

    And let’s not even mention ECT. My take on the matter is prove to me it is safe. Get ONE electrician to agree to go through that torture and you’ll have my attention.

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    • I did once faced two psychiatrists who didn’t knew how to interpret the TWO standard deviations required to “diagnose” a deficit in two tests applied at different intervals. Two different tests I may add, with different standard deviations, and “at the long thin tail”, no regression to the mean useful understanding. And for the first they only got a narrative result, and for the second, a lot of confounding factors.

      And I never got payed for explaining that to them, just weird, “crazy” looks from them. That big of an ignorance and shamelessness.

      But, in full disclosure, I didn’t try to explain what a confidence interval was, nor that those meassurement refered to POPULATIONS not individuals. That given the time lapse, were probably different. Neither than in intelligence that was SO important, since it changes in years and decades. so I guess I didn’t earn my money… 🙂

      And they came from the second “top” psychiatric institution in my country: Mexico. I read those in the “top” one believed fMRI in the 2000’s was going to tell them how the brain worked regarding psychiatric “disease”. Such i g n o r a n c e…

      But, many physicians who diagnose Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive deficit do not understand that either…

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  7. I’m a trained MD who moved onto other professional work early in my career. I developed acute and rapid onset psychotic mania and akathasia, in a test-retest dose-dependent fashion, related to the starting a SSRI, and with increases and decreases of the dose, and that met the Naranjo adverse drug reaction criteria for definite – and I was still not believed. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t believe me, as it was such a clear history – but unfortunately I was not yet educated about the psychiatric system. The problem then continued after stopping the drug after 6 weeks (and I almost lost my life in the rapid withdrawal process), and developed into a mixed state then becoming a hyperenergised suicidal psychotic depression – for which they firstly refused to acknowledge (which was even more confusing, as even though I was so unwell, I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t understand me), and then they drumroll….. prescribed another antidepressant and didn’t monitor for the mixed manic state that it caused. I met 12 psychiatrists over 21 months (lots of locums) and 17 months of drug harms, and the level of delusion and gaslighting has been one heck of an education and mindblowing. Almost half of them severely broke the professional codes of ethics, not even practicing the principles of medicine, such as taking a good history – or even taking a history. Instead they used anchoring bias (first thought becomes what it is – eg: women with emotions who’s assertive and equally educated with equal power, that’s too challenging for our lack of interpersonal skills and lack of understanding of human responses – must be BPD), and then confirmation bias every after. When I naively kept giving a clear history of what had happened (and the treatment f.. ups), I was met with victim blaming and further pathologisation, lol – that they tried to slap on me even though I don’t meet the criteria at all for BPD from their made up DSM cult-bible. I mistakenly thought I was dealing with professionals and professionals with ethics. Sigh – same story over and over with psychiatry. I’m left with a permanent problem and now unable to work. It’s one heck of a system of ongoing denial not to listen to the thousands and thousands of people harmed by this system and it’s drugs, no matter how clear and articulate and accurate they can be. Delusional for sure.

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      • Thank you 27/2017. Not offended at all, glad you asked as firstly I though no I they didn’t, I thought they just hoped I’d go away as I was so articulate and assertive. Then I realised that one told me I had a sickness mentality. I couldn’t figure out how on earth they came to that conclusion, when I was arranging my own assessments for the cognitive problem that they denied even though I had an OT assessment showing it, and was paying for my own rehab that I was engaging in to improve my functioning and doing inner psychological work to try to recover. Huh, so can you tell me
        more about that tactic? I’m now wondering if it’s a DARVO response to the harm that has resulted, blaming the patient for the harm from their actions.

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        • “sickness mentality”? I don’t know what they meant by that. I could imagine, but it seems out of place for me, sorry 🙂

          My question came since I was wondering since a lot of mental health uncare workers blame the patients/families for bad outcomes and take credit for good ones.

          And since psychiatry considers a lot of patients “incurable”, that they have to be in treatment forever, the question came to me from what I narrate below.

          Close to 20yrs ago, there was an often quoted figure of 5% patients, 1 in 20, managed to lose > 7% weight at one year, under medical treatment. Non-surgically.

          Similar to quit smoking or stop drinking ethanol, 5% stopped at 1yr, under medical, generally GP treatment. AA, support groups on patient preference.

          And if I remember correctly the how to achieve that did not made much difference. There were better or more successfull approaches, but apparently the working part was keep trying.

          How did that worked in the long run? Apparently patience, being realistic, supportive, no finger pointing, non-confrontational, and certainly no blaming. Specially no “it is incurable” speak, no “you will be in treatment forever”. In the “hope” eventually that 1 in 20 would be the patient. Detecting complications of the behaviours and treatments was mandatory, really it was, at every visit.

          Even failures achieved some positive result that could be used to motivate a bigger change in the future. And for that it was essential the patient had realistic accurate knowledge and the confidence to keep trying. That whatever happened the GP was not gonna be judgemntal, grouchy, grumpy, blaming, aggresive, frustrated, etc. Kinda open arms policy.

          That was contrary to popular belief and some misguided practitioners ideas, i.e. negative/positive reinforcement, tough love, and had if I remeber correctly empirical backing, and morally was superior.

          And usually the one that “succeded” was no first timer at trying to get better.

          And certainly no involving the family, even in people who had “trouble” drinking. Autonomy was central to willingness and effort to get better, to try again, given the odds and the recurrences. Pressure or coercion by relatives was actually harmfull, it lessened the chances of trying again. It made even “problem” behaviours worse!, and could lead to complications, like homelessness, violence, accidents, imprisonment, sickness, etc.

          I’m missing the family part, but that’s what I remember, since if the family wanted help they had to ask for help for themselves, not for the patient. That was a no no too, “interventions” were kinda frowned upon among GPs if I remember correctly.

          There were family support groups too, and they could go to a lawyer or a psychotherapist, with the risks that could bring. And since that is not strictly medical for relatives, it was out of my expertise.

          And at least in those cases no GP could talk to the family without the patient’s explicit fully informed permission and/or presence…

          And for patients the benefits were relatively big in those 3 cases, even from temporary decreases in “harmfull behaviours”, like less chance of an accident, better physical/CV health, etc.

          So those kind of treatments, weigth loss, for excessive drinking or smoking were potentially very frustrating for practitioners and patients. But benefits even if small made a worthwhile difference.

          And somewhat making clear to the patient that recurrences were common, but benefits great even if they looked small, i.e. let’s not loose hope…

          Which I imagine is way diffferent from psychiatric treatments even if there is transitory improvement reported by some patients, as MIA has documented extensively.

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          • Yes, I think it was blaming me for their errors and not being well. Yeah, seem so illogical to have a system of ‘healthcare’ that isn’t connected to how humans function – is decades / century out of date even for white majority / colonising mindsets, let alone missing other wisdom from non white cultures, and since it’s ‘made up’ – to then blame people for being unwell and not getting better, in the face of being harmed by the system itself with it’s ineffective treatments. Bullying, coercive control, gaslighting. Not taking notice of their patient outcomes. Really is so delusional. Sorry I’m still not cognitively back to my usual thinking to be able to properly get what you’re saying and reply in a tuned in way. I’ll have a go here and apologies if I’m not quite getting what you’re meaning. Yes, agree, how can anyone get better without firstly some kind of empowered understanding of what might be helpful for them, good support, and genuine care from the heart, in the face of the real and repeated effort that inner change requries – rather than the pathologise, blame and stupify with drugs system. ie: We’ll give you the wrong, ineffective, harmful kind of help and if you don’t get better it’s your fault and if you do we did it. Truly love is all there is and the universe if beautiful beyond what we can imagine. Walking with wisdom and love is the medicine we all need.

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    • Thanks a lot for sharing, Michaela! I am glad that you speak out about the harms you experienced from psychiatry as a trained MD. Your sharing contributes a lot to the exposure of and resistance to psychiatry and to the growth of the social justice community.

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  8. “The point is that it is almost impossible (except in the form of fiction) to write in America about America for Americans. You can, as an American, go the South Sea Islands and write upon your return; you can, as a foreigner, travel in America and write upon taking leave; you can, as an immigrant, write as you get settled; you can move from one section of this country or from one “class” of this country to another, and write while you still have one foot in each place. But at the end you always write about the way it feels to arrive or to leave, to change or to get settled” E. Erikson in Childhood and Society.

    I would like to emphasize that this profile offers insights into the American psyche, as the US is a relatively young nation that was founded a few hundred years ago by diverse groups of individuals who did not share a common ancestry prior to their arrival. Throughout its history, America has expanded westward, often through brutal conquest, and the process of forging a collective identity is still ongoing (we still have serious identity issues). It is essential to recognize that this description does not apply to indigenous groups due to their distinct historical experiences; hence, the reasons some may prefer reconciliation rather than detachment or isolation etc.

    Moreover, mental health in America mirrors this dynamic. Recovery, healing, and recognition are not static states but rather ongoing processes of the split psyche. Achieving and maintaining mental well-being in this context requires continuous effort and adaptation.

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