Did you see Newsweek's cover this week at your local grocery store?
Yes, I know, I know... let's take the middle path and approach this subject with serious and "relatively objective" eyes. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, etc. But Sharon Begley's article appearing in Newsweek, lay-person journalism though it is, is pretty damning. What I find most ripe and fascinating about this conversation is the very real possibility that we've basically been using mustard seeds for a generation to "treat" sadness... and often, they worked! They worked as long as we expected them to work. With articles like Belgey's, expect to see these magic pills working even less effectively.
Confidence, man! I've heard that aloe, burdock, coconut, and sandalwood are all possible remedies for depression. But don't go reading the article. Trust me. Go buy a sandalwood necklace and drink coconut milk for breakfast every morning: I can virtually guarantee your recovery.
Yes, and I've got one more secret I'll divulge if you send me $5.00. It's absolutely a fool-proof way of curing depression.
No really: Begley's weird "moral qualm" about blowing the whistle on antidepressants as "expensive tic-tacs" is incomprehensible to me (ALERT: very relevant Melville link!). If it is true that these pills were placebos, and that placebos work as long as nobody knows they're placebos--and if it is true even that doctors are brilliant con-men of the psyche, Gnostically withholding the Truth because of a benevolent decision to keep their healing patients healingly illusioned--even if all of that is true, then it's time for some new doctors, and time for some new placebos. Obviously, you can't get away with saying, "Here's a new placebo." So you keep inventing new pills with increasingly XYZ-ish names... but that's not working anymore. Give us something else! We're still depressed! We know you're conning us. Now start hiding your con better. Invent a new one. If you don't, psychiatry, we'll find better shamans. Begley wrote of this supposed "moral dilemma":
In any year, an estimated 13.1 million to 14.2 million American adults suffer from clinical depression. At least 32 million will have the disease at some point in their life. Many of the 57 percent who receive treatment (the rest do not) are helped by medication. For that benefit to continue, they need to believe in their pills.