For the longest time, the field of psychiatry remained silent about the STAR*D scandal. Ed Pigott and colleagues first published a deconstruction of the study in 2010, detailing the protocol violations that the STAR*D investigators had employed to inflate the cumulative remission rate, and even after Pigott and collaborators published a RIAT reanalysis of the study findings this past July, there was silence from psychiatry regarding this scandal.

Now that silence has finally been broken, and in a powerful way.

The first crack in that code of silence occurred on December 1, when the STAR*D investigators, in a letter published by the American Journal of Psychiatry, sought to defend their actions. They did so with a claim—that Pigott and colleagues had created “post-hoc” criteria in order to remove good responders from their analysis—that was easily shown to be a lie. As such, it simply served to deepen the scandal, and further impugn the credibility of the American Journal of Psychiatry, and by extension, the American Psychiatric Association, which is the publisher of the journal.

But then the Psychiatric Times reported on Pigott’s RIAT re-analysis in its December issue, and this was a report of a very different kind. The article, written by John Miller, editor-in-chief of Psychiatric Times, prompted readers to consider the possible extraordinary harm done.

Here is the cover from that issue:

In his essay, Miller repeatedly stressed that ever since 2006, the STAR*D study had stood “out as a beacon guiding treatment decisions.” And while he didn’t conclude that Pigott’s reanalysis was proof the STAR*D results were grossly inflated, he described the paper as a “well-researched publication,” and he reviewed several of the protocol violations that Pigott and colleagues had identified.

Most important, he emphasized that psychiatry needed to turn its attention to the Pigott paper:

“In my clinical opinion, it is urgent for the field of psychiatry to reconcile the significant differences in remission rates for patients with MDD as published in the original STAR*D article in 2006 with the reanalysis just published in the BMJ article this year.”

And he succinctly identified what was now at stake:

“For us in psychiatry, if the BMJ authors are correct, this is a huge setback, as all of the publications and policy decisions based on the STAR*D findings that became clinical dogma since 2006 will need to be reviewed, revisited, and possibly retracted.”

That sentence tells of how the STAR*D study was a pivotal moment in American medical history. The published findings told of drug treatment that led to two-thirds of all patients getting well, their symptoms having vanished by the end of the four stages of treatment. This was evidence that the treatment “worked,” and worked well, at least for the majority of patients.

Pigott’s reanalysis tells of drug treatment that failed to help two-thirds of patients, even after multiple drugs and drug combinations had been tried. Equally important, his work tells of how the study failed to provide evidence that such treatment helped patients stay well.

That is the narrative clash at stake here. The published findings supported the public understanding that antidepressants are an effective treatment. Pigott’s reanalysis told of a failed paradigm of care. Thus, the question ultimately posed by Miller’s thoughtful essay: What if the STAR*D authors had told the truth? How might psychiatric care—and societal use of these drugs—have changed?

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Show 2 footnotes

  1. D. Healy, Let Them Eat Prozac (New York: New York University Press, 2004): p. 9
  2. This history is excerpted from R. Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic (New York: Broadway Books, 2010): p. 150-170.

26 COMMENTS

  1. “in a National Institute of Health study that compared Zoloft to St. John’s wort and to placebo, 24% of the patients treated with St. John’s wort had a “full response” compared to 25% of the Zoloft patients and 32% of the placebo group.”
    Placebo rocks- Capitalism sucks.

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    • That’s not the worst of it. If you’re citing the study I saw, truth was totally trashed when the study headline and comment was that Zoloft had outperformed St. John’s wort – not only ignoring that it was by just one point, but more spectacularly, ignoring that placebo beat them both substantially (they did iist the placebo outcome, but without any comment).

      The Phara/psychiatry propaganda machine was in high gear way back then.

      Report comment

    • Dear John and Robert Whitaker,

      I have a disease. My schizophrenia is my difference.

      The Hearing Voices network was so successful because it held up its hands in bewilderment and honestly said it did not have ANY answers. From that point onwards it could only listen and listen and listen and listen and not know and not know and not know. It did not try to pigeonhole its attendees into a trauma box or an abuse box or a chemical imbalance box or a disease model box or social deprivation box or or or or or or or or.
      There were no theories. You yourself were your own expert. You were free to say your hallucinations were caused by rotten school teachers or poverty or a curse or something in the city water supply or a strange virus or mistreatment by nurses or a comet passing near Mercury. Now the Hearing Voices Group is captured, given a memo to explain to attendees that their symptoms come from only one thing, usually trauma. Fifty percent of schizophrenics say they never had trauma. Are we to close to their difference? The rush to cure often conceals a rush for symmetry. Intellectually satisfying explanations, not mad ones. Not mad people saying they have a curse or a disease or freaky things like that. No. It’s all to be tidied up yet again, in satisfying theories and answers.

      Look, I applaud all the brilliant work being done to explore whether the medications are wrong. I see that noble cause as being like taking away the blinkers that stop people seeing that the climate emergency IS real. It is heroic to cast a light on medical harms. But not everything medical is wrong for individuals who experience being different. There has to be an openness to the unique. An acceptance that the words they themselves use to describe their own experiences are the best words.
      The Hearing Voices Group is beginning to school attendees in how to look at their hallucinations and delusions, even though those volunteers have zero experience of schizophrenia themselves. They are more or less being given carte blanche to call a schizophrenic a liar.

      Does reviewing dubious toxic medications need to arrive also at accusing the sick of not knowing themselves?

      Here’s a good tune for us all. This is all any schizophrenic needs of a Hearing Voices Group.
      https://youtu.be/sN-ZlmWO-ps?si=c5kSTEqrGm_097ZT

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  2. “Winding Back the Clock: What If the STAR*D Investigators Had Told the Truth?”

    To more fully answer the questions posed by this title, we must also dig deep into some of the possible connections between the rise in SSRI prescriptions (over the last 3 decades) and the simultaneous emergence of increasing numbers of deadly mass shootings in this country.

    In addition to the millions of people (taking SSRI drugs) being left in a suffering state of “tardive dysphoria,” with enormous difficulty (if not, impossibility) of safely withdrawing off these toxic drugs due to unrelenting withdrawal problems, there is also a smaller number of people who are directly pushed into a dangerous “rabbit hole” of multiple DSM diagnoses and psychiatric drug cocktails.

    Among those people who end up in this (psychiatric “medical model” created) “rabbit hole,” are a subset of individuals who are so harmed by these multiple drug effects that they are pushed over the edge of intolerable psychological anguish. There are too many stories of chronic insomnia, unrelenting akathisia side effects, drug induced mania, loss of human empathy and desire for connection, and obsessive thoughts of self-harm and/or violence toward others.

    While there are many societal factors that have contributed to the the growing spate of mass shootings and suicides in recent years, we cannot discount the psychiatric drug connection in certain cases.

    Just as psychiatry, Big Pharma, and the media have hid the true story behind the SSRI and STAR* D Trials, the same can be said about the actual psych drug connection to mass shooting events. There are so many examples of mass shooting where, to this very day, we still have no revealed knowledge of the exact cocktail of psych drugs in the bloodstream of the perpetrators.

    Bravo! to MIA, Robert Whitaker, and other medical model critics of psychiatry and Big Pharma, for these devastating critiques of major medical malpractice and societal harm on a grand scale.

    Richard

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    • Great comment, Richard. And, I agree, thank you to “MIA, Robert Whitaker, and other medical model critics of psychiatry and Big Pharma, for these devastating critiques of major medical malpractice and societal harm on a grand scale,” including thanks to the BMJ.

      But especially since the Psychiatric Times article gives zero credit to MiA or Robert Whitaker for intelligently addressing this subject, which he did indeed do. Many thanks to the many truth tellers of MiA.

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  3. The longstanding silence surrounding the STARD scandal in psychiatry has been shattered, with the STARD investigators attempting to defend their actions in a letter published by the American Journal of Psychiatry. However, their claim, refuted as a lie, has intensified the controversy, raising questions about the credibility of the journal and the American Psychiatric Association. The Psychiatric Times’ coverage further highlights the potential significant harm revealed by Ed Pigott’s RIAT re-analysis.

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  4. Well, I commend and praise RW because it did a nice recap, don’t know how thorough, of the pre DSM history of depression and it’s treatment.

    As far as I can tell, poorly, it has not bee done properly.

    That historical context I think to a critical mind can provide a LOT as to what is being discussed when speaking of depression now, and it’s treatments now. STARD or no STARD. That is important I think. More than the findings of the STARD.

    As a former practitioner that was trained during THAT transition, I am aware that is difficult to appreciate.

    And although RW does a great job sumarizing it, from the previous comments alone, I can presume it kind of misses the audience.

    But I am biased.

    More critically, still, to me the that summarizing does not make justice to the critique of the STARD protrayal, just on the comments alone. Not of it’s findings. But, perhaps, general readers have trouble appreciating the history of psychiatry in the context of depression. Why it matters, and why transcends particular findings that tell of statistical signifcance, benefit, riks, publishing, corruption, effectivenes, etc.

    It’s findings are one thing, its sumarizing and publicity are another.

    The publicity RW does a good job coveying. it’s findings, in HIS at least third attempt at MIA? in the “last” year?, he does not, in my opinion. At least, it seems to not explain why those findings where publicized as they were in a way that does not become OPINIONATED. The findings unclear to me. The 3%… is just…

    Speaking of corruption, fabrication, etc., leaves it outside the mainstream media, somehow. I guess RW knows that, and the why, he does not seem to me to know how to address…

    I can’t make, honestly, respectfully, and humbly, a conclusion what those researchers found out. And that is beyond how to present that…

    I know the conclusions, no need to repeat that: WE were lied, the NYT, The Guardian and many others were lied.

    Antidepressants do not work. Standard of care do not work, etc. They make a single episode disease into a recurrent, multiepisode, chronic IMPOSSIBLE to treat one. I got that reading only your books.

    I got all of that almost a decade ago thanks to Robert Whitaker. Yet, he fails in these, less than a year ago MIA posts.

    That is EVIDENT from the comments and the lack of, outside niche, publicity, ironically. One is motive of this MIA post after all, apparently.

    And in that sense, the historical summary provides clear enough context. Again, ironically. But understandably if one was there…

    Saddly, to me, without me making further claims, and saddly, analysis, I can’t go further.

    I invite MIA and RW to do BETTER.

    These last pieces of the STARD are still lacking, I think because they don’t tell an UNDERSTANDABLE narrative: they pamper to the convert, and they give the convert no further than their already held beliefs.

    That, as in publicity, can’t go further, there aren’t enough.

    Even if, as from my point of view, I can see clearly enough. Withouth agrandizing myself.

    But, the rest of the readers, not because individual differences, but because of CIRCUMSTANCE, might not.

    Still, this is the BEST piece I’ve read about the STARD studies.

    Kudos!.

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  5. Oh, I think I just figured out what the original STAR*D researchers found out: NOTHING.

    Because there is, still, misrepresentation of the results, that I think, if I remember correctly, was described as fabrication, then I think they can’t claim validly they found out anything at all. It would be sort of a poisoned fruit thingy. And with incentives and behaviour that cold speak of bad faith: cover up after the fact of the truth being uncovered. But I am no lawyer.

    Piggot and RW did found out something: fraud, if I remember correctly, and then some.

    And that under standard of care, only 3% were well and stayed well when diagnosed and treated for depression. And that is way worse than ye’old depression and current depression!. It would make all those patients treatment resistant and that is worse than even the most fervient propagandists of the baloobahoo of treatment resistant depression claim treatment resistant depression is. I think.

    But the original STAR*D did not found anything, if at all invented something!. They behaved as creators not investigators. Of fiction nonetheless!. With misrepresentation, fabrication or fraud, and I think bad faith, since those published scientific reports are still “published”, not withdrawn.

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  6. I can imagine that I wouldn’t have been called “treatment resistant” after 6 years of drugging with various SSRIs, and therefore would not have been passed on to another psychiatrist, who recommended ECT, and then would not have had brain damage from ECT and a borderline diagnosis that followed, and then I would not have wound up taking methadone to try to keep doing my job, I would not have become a methadone addict, I would not have had to go to rehab for a week and spent the next year deathly ill, I would not have been put on antipsychotics after the ECT, I would not spend years in and out of undiagnosed akathisia that was always labeled “your mental illness”, I would not have had to go on SSDI. I would not have lost my condo. Or my physical health. I would not have become a pariah from being taken away in an ambulance under orders of the police so many times. I wouldn’t have lost all hope and began a routine of wishing for death every time I go to bed.

    Maybe I would have been able to be a better mother and my son would not have spent the last two decades in and out of suicidal depression.

    That’s just off the top of my head.

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  7. I wonder how long it will take for this information to trickle down to the average prescriber or the average patient. Judging by Reddit and YouTube comments, there are still patients being told by prescribers of SSRIs that their body doesn’t produce serotonin and that’s why they feel bad, that the drug will “balance out their hormones” or “help their neurotransmitters” so that the patient can “have a good life/function/not kill themselves.”

    Either the prescribers are unaware of the new information that’s become available about AD drugs, or they’re sticking with a useful lie/hoping the patient trusts them enough for the placebo effect to kick in and that they don’t immediately suffer from akathisia upon starting the drug.

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    • Hi, Katel.

      I am very sorry to read of your absolutely awful struggles, and of your son’s, too.

      Is there anything, at all, that gives you hope?

      I can and do now joke that I suffered 49 years of post-natal depression, and nine months or so of prenatal depression, and that, in between, life was…challenging, also.

      I feel certain that everyone has suffered from anxiety/depression. Why? Because nobody can enjoy that s**t, not while it is happening, anyway. But, looking back, it can be very, very, very precious.

      I was most fortunate to hear some of this,

      https://hiddenbrain.org/podcast/where-do-feelings-come-from/ ,

      “Where do feelings come from?” earlier today, and I think you may enjoy it, too.

      An old veterinary physiologist once told me that “Depression is when the reward no longer justifies the effort,” or words to that effect. I liked that idea.

      I have ridden a bike all my life, but only in recent years realized that it’s not gravity which makes it harder to ride uphill, if you have plenty of gears. I mean, obviously, it takes more work per foot pedaled, but it would be harder to ride downhill if we had gears big enough and pedaled harder, if you see what I mean.

      I think it’s the same with everything in life: Things seem tedious when the payback seems puny for the effort put in.

      When we are deeply depressed/hopeless, of course, any or every effort can seem utterly futile, and therefore overwhelming. Until Cheerfulness resumes, hope swoops in, and the nightmare ends. Or until we somehow figure out how to fully accept the utterly unacceptable, even for a moment.

      I loved Lisa’s perspective on “depression,” but I think you may agree that we are not merely our bodies+brains, but truly that which can observe and direct the workings of those brains and bodies – our thoughts and feelings/emotions.

      I have listened to many, many NDE accounts (many of them on “Thanatos TV” or “JeffMara” podcasts on YouTube) and read many fascinating comments beneath those videos, often telling of even more fascinating experiences, but also telling of the tremendous uplift and hope such stories have given them.

      Having had a few NDE-like experiences, I regard this as my (actual) afterlife.

      As I see it, to believe you are precisely where you are meant to be at any given moment, and experiencing precisely whatever it is you are experiencing, is to be in Heaven-on-Earth. Very soon, now, I expect us all to be living in just such a state of consciousness here on Earth.

      If you are still there, Katel, and if you have not yet seen this one, I think you may find comfort in it. It illustrates several interesting phenomena, not least being how our nightmares seem to end when they’ve reached the point we consider unbearable…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9Y3WnsaejA

      Katel, I hope and pray your and your son’s agonies may very, very soon be over, forever.

      Thank you for such insightful and extremely moving contributions, and for all the sacrifices which made them possible, even inevitable.

      Tom.

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  8. Kudos to another meticulous analysis by Robert Whitaker and how he has relentlessly continued to expose this huge and harmful scandal. Very glad to see the recent validating article by John Miller in The Psychiatric Times. BMJ and Psychiatric Times must realize the integrity and extent of the well-researched, skillful journalism presented by Mr. Whitaker and the Mad in America website. The American Psychiatric Assoc, and powers that be, can no longer hide the truth. There MUST be a retraction. The deceptions and lies have ended up causing unimaginable pain, grief and harm to so many.

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  9. Psychiatry is very successful in destabilizing patients and for long term very poor outcomes. In Psychiatry failure is success as once a patient starts on the never ending course of complex poly-pharmacy the patient gets on the merry go round and roller coaster ride of a lifetime. Finally the patient does the musical chairs bit and then left on the ground as “treatment resistant” and then cast aside.

    Tamping down symptoms and drugging to oblivion is not medicine. It is opinion based medicine and all that matters is how the practitioner feels about the patient not how the patient feels!

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  10. As a practicing psychotherapist and very much critical of psychiatry, I very much appreciate MIA and Mr. Whitaker’s excellent work with this thorough article and many others. These articles and webpages provide me with evidence to TRY to refute the myths that all of my patients come into therapy with about a supposed chemical imbalance and that drugging is the only solution. I have yet to find a patient who was given any type of informed consent about the effectiveness of these drugs (3%!) and/or the numerous harms. From these anecdotal experiences I can confirm that it will be several generations before we can unwind the urban myths regarding depression (and other psychiatric “diagnoses” and “treatments”) from out of the minds of the public. The STAR*D trial and media coverage were a fraud. Sadly, the millions harmed in the meantime will be the biggest public health disaster since smoking was promoted as healthy.

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  11. “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.”
    From letter by Abraham Lincoln (aged 33) to John Stuart, January 23, 1841.
    While applauding another absolutely superb essay on this topic, I think it tremendously important to debunk the notion that there is or can be any such “mental disorder” as depression – or as anything else.

    A disease [or disorder] of the brain, as Thomas Szasz pointed out, is a neurological disease [or disorder]. There can be no disease or disorder of the mind, and Thought Police, be they state sanctioned Inquisitors or state sanctioned participants in coercive psycho pharmacology, need to be identified and recognized as such.

    Robert Whitaker wrote:

    “Those scattered voices didn’t seem to make much of a mark on U.S. psychiatrists. Yet, in 1980, when the American Psychiatric Association published the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it newly conceptualized depression and other major mental disorders as diseases of the brain, which suggested they were chronic conditions.”

    Depression, like jaundice, in humans as in other animals, may be a sign or symptom of various different diseases, but it can never be a disease or a disorder.

    Depression cannot cause hopelessness: Depression IS hopelessness.

    (And, as Bob Whitaker himself pointed out, speaking in Cork, Ireland, I believe, when one is feeling yucky, it can be hard, if not impossible, to say whether one is “anxious” OR “depressed!”

    How could anyone ever even feel “anxious” without being “depressed” about IT, or vice-versa?!)

    “No behavior, or ‘misbehavior’ is or CAN be a disease! That’s not what diseases ARE!” said Thomas Szasz.

    While certain signs/symptoms (or behaviors) may be diagnostic or even pathognomonic for certain diseases or disorders, no sign or symptom can BE a disease or disorder, either.

    Once we understand this, we understand that calling any drug an “antidepressant” is already deceptive, that prescribing or taking “an antidepressant” for “depression” and or “anxiety” is much like prescribing or taking alcohol for it, and that highly educated men and women who would have us believe otherwise cannot be trusted.

    “Those who can make us believe absurdities can make us commit atrocities,” have done so, and continue to do so.

    When we see the psyche as consisting of not just our mind – our thoughts and emotions – but also that which can observe the mind, and, left to its own devices, that mind’s hypervigilant, frightened or paranoid madness, we can understand that patterns of behavior labeled as “mental disorders,” neuroses and psychoses, are merely manifestations of conditioned responses to stress. Then we can learn how and why we have been so conditioned and, by making the unconscious conscious, as Carl Jung so well knew, we can awaken, recover, and thrive, as Lincoln seems to have done once his melancholia had taught him all it needed to.

    What a different world we (had any of us been born) might inhabit had either Lincoln or Churchill been prescribed and imbibed “antidepressants.”

    https://www.npr.org/2005/10/26/4976127/exploring-abraham-lincolns-melancholy

    https://winstonchurchill.hillsdale.edu/winston-churchill-and-the-black-dog-of-depression-by-wilfred-attenborough/

    “There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” – Carl Jung.

    “Who looks outside dreams; who looks within awakens.” – Carl Jung.

    “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” – Carl Jung.
    “Enlightenment is the end of suffering.” – Buddha, reportedly.

    “Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.” – Eckhart Tolle.

    With enormous gratitude to MIA and wishing everyone, psychiatrists most definitely included, a 2024 which is far, far, FAR from depressed,

    Tom.

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  12. Do we really think this situation will change without revolutionizing relations in a society ruled by predatory profit and power over the masses of us? The system isn’t broken. It’s working as designed. Madness to think we can reform abuses of bizzness as usual.

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    • Niko

      Couldn’t agree more!!!

      There is MORE than enough scientific evidence AND credentialed critics (including the millions of psychiatric victims) that prove (without a doubt) that psychiatry’s and Big Pharma’s medical model has become a major societal institution of oppression and deceit on so many levels. Yet, somehow this soul crushing monster seems to only have gained in strength, AND its critics are relegated to just another set of “alternate facts” in the vast capitalist “marketplace of ideas.”

      The profit system brings out AND sustains the very WORST aspects of both human behavior and related thought patterns in our species. These traits are NEITHER inevitable NOR necessarily enduring. We desperately need an economic and political system (of a NEW socialist nature) that brings out AND nurtures the very BEST aspects of the human species.

      With the heightened dangers of world war and world wide climate destruction, the stakes couldn’t be any higher for the necessity of major revolutionary change in this country and throughout the world.

      Richard

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  13. Great question, Niko!

    Yes, I agree.

    What we need is a transformation of human/planetary consciousness.

    And what we are witnessing, the world over, nowadays, I believe, is a transformation in human/planetary consciousness…to Consciousness, I believe.

    One very outstanding example of this is surely MIA, itself, lead, as it seems to me to have been from the get-go, by utterly inspiring brilliance and insight coupled with an unerring determination to maintain and to personify the discipline and the lack of bitterness needed to see all this through.

    “Come the hour, come the man/woman.” And “when the teacher is ready, the student appears,” and vice-versa, etc. etc. etc.

    Don’t you think?

    Very best wishes, Niko, whose name itself may be seen to encapsulate this:

    Greek Νικόλαος, Nikolaos: victory of the people! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas

    Tom.

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  14. Possibly MIA’s most comprehensive and thorough deconstruction of how widespread commercial fraud fueled the medicalization of sad feelings (Tom, yes, let’s call this what it is though I do believe Depression is a very rare illness, I’ve personally only seen it once in 15 years of practice) and other symptoms of emotional distress. Great comment by Richard as well– one that speaks to another urgent problem: How can we assess side effects of a chemical that appear years or even decades later, sometimes even after discontinuation?

    Unless something changes in the FDA approval process, this is likely to become a more urgent problem as we develop more complex and obscure psychoactive substances– and it has happened already with illicit drug manufacturing, e.g. research chemicals (first) and cathinones (later) as well as new formulas for meth and fentanyl. As chemists kept tweaking drugs to stay one step ahead of the DEA, the substances become more dangerous, and harder to discontinue. It’s rumored that some of the cathinones bind to receptors and never really let go. There are now credible reports of cathinones that are highly addictive even though the effects they produce are horrible and unpleasant. It seems likely that commercial development of prescription medication could follow a similar trajectory, even if the reasons pharmaceutical companies keep tweaking the formula are different.

    Another thing that keeps me up at night is the nagging suspicion that once we started accepting crackpottery like STAR*D as scientific research… what other evidence-free quack treatments have become commonplace?

    We have reached the point where every time I– or a family member, one of my clients, even my damn dogs— are prescribed a drug or treatment developed after 1988, psychiatric or medical, I feel compelled to leap down a six-hour research rabbit hole, poring of literature for evidence of the same kind of quackery. Sometimes, this is a total waste of time, and the treatments were derived from solid research. A lot of the time, I throw up my hands in frustration, because I don’t have the skills in research and writing to determine whether any academic fraud took place.

    But it does seem like modern medicine is now riddled with junk science that has many of the same methodological issues that RIAT and others found in STAR*D and the reanalysis of Paxil Study #329.

    This has to end somewhere, someday.

    Right here and right now would be a great timeline for that.

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    • Hi, Catalyzt.

      Awesome insights, thank you.

      I am very curious for details on that single case of “the disease of depression” which you believe you encountered in your 15 years, but, obviously, you know I am probably going to want to argue about it if you provide any, please.

      I believe Thich Nhat Hanh is right about the potential, the power of deep, unconditional listening…and that it’s inevitable that any paid, credentialed “mental health” or medical professional is most unlikely to trust to the power of such listening, and to discount a therapee’s presumed expectations of words

      “Deep listening, compassionate listening is not listening with the purpose of analyzing or even uncovering what has happened in the past. You listen first of all in order to give the other person relief, a chance to speak out, to feel that someone finally understands him or her. Deep listening is the kind of listening that helps us to keep compassion alive while the other speaks, which may be for half an hour or forty-five minutes. During this time you have in mind only one idea, one desire: to listen in order to give the other person the chance to speak out and suffer less. This is your only purpose. Other things like analyzing, understanding the past, can be a by-product of this work. But first of all listen with compassion. Compassion.” – Thich Nhat Hanh.

      Thanks again for a superb piece of writing.

      Best wishes.

      Tom.

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