While the voices of DSM-5 critics responded inside my head, I tried to listen to a dry reading last week of the changes the APA (American Psychiatric Association) has made to the manual, something I thought I should know more about. Although it’s a tool I don’t support very much, I do need to use it for clients’ insurance claims.
So today I’m trying to offset that experience with the thoughts of British therapist and researcher James Davies, who’s written the new book Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good.
According to the author’s literary agency, Davies set out to answer three puzzlers:
- Why has psychiatry become the fastest growing medical specialism in history when it still has the poorest curative success?
- Why are psychiatric drugs now more widely prescribed than almost any other medical drugs in history, despite their dubious efficacy?
- And why does psychiatry, without solid scientific justification, keep expanding the number of mental disorders it believes to exist–from 106 in 1952, to 374 today?
Cracked‘s publisher states that these questions “can be explained by one startling fact: in recent decades psychiatry has become so motivated by power that it has put the pursuit of pharmaceutical riches above its patients’ well being.”
From the author’s website, some of the ways Big Pharma has affected psychiatric care:
The charge sheet is damning: negative drug trials routinely buried; antidepressants that work no better than placebos; research regularly manipulated to produce positive results; doctors, seduced by huge pharmaceutical rewards, creating more disorders and prescribing more pills; and ethical, scientific and treatment flaws unscrupulously concealed by mass-marketing.
A relevant excerpt from the Publishers Weekly review of Cracked:
On the pharmaceutical front, Davies takes aim at Big Pharma’s tendency to ‘cherry pick’ positive clinical trial data to suit its needs. The results are drugs whose curative efficacy is questionable and which sometimes come with serious side effects (such as the ’emotional blunting’ that occurs in about half of all Prozac users). Further undermining the integrity of the psychiatric profession is the fact that many doctors, having received grants and/or speaking and consulting fees from Big Pharma companies, are essentially prescribing from within the deep pockets of their benefactors. The consequences for patients and the profession are obvious.
Some reviews of Cracked:
- “An eye-opening and persuasive work,” concludes Publishers Weekly.
- “Builds a disturbing picture of a profession that is in thrall to pharmaceutical companies,” states Michael Mosley of BBC Focus.
- ‘If, in the world of psychiatry, the DSM is Holy Scripture, Cracked is set to become a heretical text.” Robert Crampton, The Times Magazine.
Others within the ranks of psychiatry who’ve been protesting the connection between their field and the pharmaceutical industry includes such notables as Irving Kirsch, Peter Breggin, and David Healy. But it’s not only disgruntled psychiatrists who aren’t enthralled with the drug-related hijinks—others are catching on too. Some relevant and recent news reports:
- Deborah Brauser, Medscape (March 2013): “Once again, psychiatrists top the updated Dollars for Docs list of large payments from pharmaceutical companies to individual US clinicians.”
- CCHR International (“The Mental Health Watchdog”) stated this not long ago: “With the U.S. prescribing antipsychotics to children and adolescents at a rate six times greater than the U.K., and with 30 million Americans having taken antidepressants for a ‘chemical imbalance’ that psychiatrists admit is a pharmaceutical marketing campaign, not scientific fact, it is no wonder that the conflict of interest between psychiatry and Big Pharma is under congressional investigation.”
Below, a cautionary news report from last year regarding Big Pharma and mental illness diagnoses: