Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Comments by PeerWorkAdvocate

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  • My work is in promoting egalItarian, social relationships between people with similar experiences in order to promote mental health via strong communities (i.e. “peer work”). I strongly believe in the effectiveness of this approach, as it provides more dignity, understanding, personal autonomy, and respect for human rights than a hierarchical, illness-based view of mental health.

    Admittedly, I still have much to learn, in this field. I was very interested to read that the chemical imbalance theory has been scientifically disproven, many times. Showing evidence of this would certainly help me to promote peer work as an alternative. But the author states, “there is no scientific evidence of a chemical imbalance resulting in any mental disorder.” When I was in school, studying psychology, many professors admitted to many of the limits of the chemical imbalance theory mentioned by the author. Yet, they explained that this theory is used because of patients’ responses to drugs. Drugs meant to increase serotonin levels in synapses resulted in heightened mood… Therefore, low levels of serotonin are reasoned to be involved with depression, etc. They explained that psychiatric research is based on assuming causation based on the effectiveness of manipulating levels of various neurotransmitters in neural synapses. That’s the basis of the chemical imbalance theory, as far as I can tell. I’ve worked in a neuroscience lab, a bit, and know that this thinking guides a lot of research, not just in psychiatry, but treatment for neurological disorders such as ALS and Parkinson’s, as well. Can anyone please refute this basis of the chemical imbalance theory? Again, I fully agree that the chemical imbalance theory has been used in pervasively harmful ways, which is why I’d like to better understand arguments against it. Currently, in my work, I simply focus on arguing in favor of the more effective trauma-based peer models for mental health support, and reference the psychological harm and ineffectiveness of an illness-based model. Being able to scientifically refute the concept of chemical imbalances would make my arguments more compelling. Thanks.