Are You Kidding Me?
Are You Kidding Me?
by Phil Sinaikin, M.D., M.A.
In an August 5, 2022 edition of The Week (an excellent magazine by the way) there is a brief article entitled “Reassessing depression” that reports the results of a recent study by Joanna Moncrieff and her colleagues. The opening line: “Depression may not be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, a new analysis of research says--a finding that could upend our understanding of the science behind antidepressants.” (p.21, italics mine)
A new analysis? It’s been decades since we have officially debunked the chemical imbalance theory of depression and all other psychiatric “disorders.” How can this possibly be news now?
It is because it has nothing to do with science or research. What this is about is the social construction of “truth” independent of facts or science.
Those of us living in the current political environment of the past few years are acutely aware of this phenomenon: Pick a leader and trust them and what they claim. Don't trust your lying eyes. Don't be skeptical. Don't demand evidence. Don't think for yourself.
The institution of psychiatry is one of these leaders in our world, and it has unjustifiably attained that position of authority by sinking its tentacles into every aspect of life. It is fed by guild interests and financial gain, based on a lie, but has built itself to look like a shining city on the hill, when, in fact, that city is an alluring facade with no foundation. It is more like the seductive but inescapable hotel in the Eagles' song "Hotel California."
Psychiatry demands we trust it and its claims of personal disorder and illness. But it discourages us from asking the hard questions that would be demanded by science and logic. Chief among these is: Where is the evidence of brain disorder? So far, no such evidence has ever been found, despite decades upon decades of claims to the contrary. But psychiatry knows that one of the best marketing techniques is repetition - just ask Joseph Goebbels. It also knows that the best way to silence dissent is to attack the dissenters, like Dr. Moncrieff and her colleagues, who speak up about this charade.
And this is why the above "revelation" about depression seems to be news.
I am no longer practicing traditional psychiatry. My job now is prescribing medical marijuana exclusively. But as such I am kept acutely aware of the ongoing polydiagnosis, polypharmacy practices of psychiatrists. How often I see poor victims of this now seeking an alternative in medical marijuana? Very often. Usually after numerous medication trials rife with undesired side-effects (except of course for legal methamphetamine, Adderall, for recently diagnosed adult ADD).
So what do I want to say here? What can I say? I’ve already said it in my 375-page 2010 book Psychiatryland. From what I am seeing this book and numerous others critical of the medical model has done little to change psychiatric thinking or practices.
Perhaps the reason is best summarized by the final sentence in the above article in The Week: “The use of these medicines is based on clinical trial evidence,” says Allan Young, from Kings College London. “This review does not change that.” And I would add: nor his ability to make a good living practicing psychiatry.
By the way, notice the article doesn't say "Depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain." The power of psychiatry still has a hold on people's thinking, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence, enough to force "Depression may not be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain."
I'll leave on a somewhat positive note. In the article it is stated: “Instead the researchers found a strong link between depression and negative life events.” To that I say No s**t Sherlock.
Phil Sinaikin, M.D., M.A., is a psychiatrist who has been in clinical practice in numerous venues for over 35 years. He has been involved in the critical psychiatry movement for many years. He has published critical, humanistic and philosophical articles in peer reviewed journals and books. He is also the author of Psychiatryland, a comprehensive consumer friendly examination of what has gone so terribly wrong in psychiatry and what, if anything, can be done about it.
Yes Phil, it is amazing that, despite the lack of scientific evidence its practices and in spite of the harm that it does, psychiatry maintains its authority and power in our society. According to David Cohen, that is because the general public believes that psychiatry is protecting it from "crazy" people, so will give it a pass. We're up against some powerful forces and progress is slow but I believe we are making a difference, the same kind of difference the suffragettes were making as they made speeches, sent letters to the editors and encouraged each other at annual conferences during those 75 years between when people started challenging the notion that women couldn't vote and when they gained the right to vote.