Sep 10

Psychiatry and Big Pharma: James Davies, Author of “Cracked”

Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good is by British therapist and researcher James Davies. In it he takes on psychiatry and Big Pharma.

According to the author’s literary agency, Davies set out to answer three puzzlers:

  1. Why has psychiatry become the fastest growing medical specialism in history when it still has the poorest curative success?
  2. Why are psychiatric drugs now more widely prescribed than almost any other medical drugs in history, despite their dubious efficacy?
  3. 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 psychiatry and Big Pharma have intersected adversely: “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.

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 and David Healy. But it’s not only disgruntled psychiatrists who aren’t enthralled with the drug-related hijinks—others are catching on too.

The 2007 book Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness, by Christopher Lane, revealed how a pharmaceutical company can use pathologizing towards unscrupulous ends. Lane concludes, “Before you sell a drug, you have to sell the disease. And never was this truer than for social anxiety disorder.” Paxil anyone?

Also on the topic of Paxil, Alison Bass wrote Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and a Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial, which Arnold S. Relman, M.D., from Harvard Medical School called “a richly detailed account of the disgraceful self-serving ties between drug companies and the psychiatric profession.”

A 2010 article by Tyler Woods, Ph.D., reports that 68% of members of The American Psychiatric Association’s task force writing the next (2013) edition of the DSM admit to “economic ties with drug companies.” How do you think this might affect their opinions regarding whether something belongs in the DSM as a mental disorder?

As therapists and clients become increasingly aware of the implications of pathologizing as well as the actions of Big Pharma, perhaps we can be more careful ourselves about not “buying into” the costly and misguided labeling of our problems.

Aug 08

Definition of a Psychiatrist (Urban Dictionary)

If psychiatry is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders” (Free Dictionary), then the definition of a psychiatrist is one who practices in this field. Right?

Kind of surprisingly, given the iffy track record on behalf of social workers, therapists, and psychologists, one top entry in the Urban Dictionary seems to agree:

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD or DO, NOT a phd) who has graduated medical school and undergone at least 4 years of specialized training in mental illness and its treatment – be it pharmacological, therapeutic or otherwise.

A psychiatrist can practice in a hospital with very sick patients, or in an outpatient setting, such as a private practice or clinic.

Psychiatrists out there, I must warn you not to get a swelled head—there are many worse ones yet to come. Close by, in fact, is a definition of a psychiatrist that’s much less flattering: A dandified drug dealer.

An idea commonly held. Take, for example, the long-winded number three:

A modern-day cultured witch doctor who administers drugs and other ‘cures’ for mental conditions which more often than not only alleviate a patient’s symptoms mildly or at the very worst damage and cause irreparable harm to their brains. Most seem to be nihilistic misanthropes who are primarily concerned with their paychecks and the daily quota of Big Pharma untested drugs they can sell to misinformed and desperate people. In privacy, many of them likely sacrifice kidnapped children to evil spirits which ensures the continuation of their rotten and dehumanizing stranglehold on the psyches of those who have often times been subjected to quite enough pain and suffering in their lifetimes. The entire ‘science’ of psychiatry has dark ties to the elitist-backed philosophy of eugenics, which is obsessively focused on ridding the world of those people which are genetically ‘unfit’ by the ruling classes’ own godless standards. All around psychiatry is mostly a gigantic demonic sham and legal drug-pushing designed to rob willing victims of their money and remaining sanity and brain power.

Then there’s four: “A head doctor who gets paid to judge you. They love to make psycho babble comments to get you riled, then defend themselves with more psycho babble to make themselves sound more intelligent than they actually are. They like to affix imaginary disorders to people so they can write prescriptions for unnecessary meds.”

And it doesn’t stop there. Number five definition of a psychiatrist:

A modern-day version of a witch-hunter. In medieval times they used to burn recluses or anyone else they considered ‘different’ for being witches, werewolves or vampires. These days we have psychiatrists to put away people who are just trying to get on with their lives. They seem hell-bent on handing out drugs like they’re sweets, probably because they have shares in the drug companies. Psychiatrists also make a fortune by finding excuses for thugs, murderers, rapists and thieves.

If the practitioners of psychiatry aren’t generally well-regarded on the Urban Dictionary, psychiatry as a field fares no better. From that relevant page, here’s a part of one entry:

A profession that is seemingly obsessed with enforcing the status quo. Genuine emotional understanding, empathy, and deep interactions have been replaced by some supposedly ‘objective science’; a mere attempt to ignore the talent that some have with relating to others and medicalize emotions. Whether a person has a ‘disorder’ or ‘disease’ is not determined by whether someone has a visible ailment that has a specific biological cause, but by a system of observed behaviors that can wildly vary from psychiatrist to psychiatrist.

Another excerpt: Psychiatry is pseudoscience (fake) and a waste of money in society. It serves to control people, like religion, feeding them lies and absolute bullshit that they are expected to believe.

And another: A medical specialization satanized by people who have nothing to talk about and/or write self-help books. Usually they need mental counseling themselves, they just don’t have the IQ required to know who a good psychiatrist is.

Amazing how such unintelligent creatures can get through the required medical school. Then again, here’s one contributor’s dim view of said type of educational experience: any prolonged experience that includes alcohol, 8am clinics with rectal exams, lab coats with unexplainable stains, and unsurmountable [sic] debt.

Smarties need not apply.