Salon: And yet many studies have shown that antidepressants can treat depression, especially in severe cases.And later...
Robert Whitaker: In severe cases, you do see that people benefit from antidepressants, and that shows up consistently. But you still have to raise the question, even in that severe group: What happens to those medicated patients in the long term, compared to what happened in previous times? One thing that surprised me, looking at the epidemiological literature from the pre-antidepressant era, is that even severely depressed, hospitalized patients could with time expect to get well, and most did. Today, however, there’s a high incidence of patients on long-term drug therapy that become chronically ill.
Salon: Are you suggesting that psychiatrists are beholden to pharmaceutical companies?So, psychiatrists are worried about losing their place in the therapy marketplace... so they spin some sophistic defenses to keep themselves relevant. But I'm sure my sophistic friends will tell me I should've titled this post, "The Problem with Psychiatry and ineffective Sophistry." Yeah, maybe.
Robert Whitaker: Not exactly, although most of the leading academic psychiatrists act as consultants, advisors and speakers for them. The problem is that psychiatry, starting in 1980 with the publication of the DSM-III, decided to tell the public that psychiatric disorders were biological ailments, and that its drugs were safe and effective treatments for those ailments. If it suddenly announces to the public that a long-term NIMH-funded study found that the 15-year recovery rate for schizophrenia patients was 40 percent for those off meds and 5 percent for those on meds, then that story begins to fall apart. By not reporting the results, psychiatry maintains the image of its drugs in the public mind, and the value of psychiatrists in today’s therapy marketplace.
Or somebody could just tell the unvarnished truth once in a while, to everyone's benefit: "Ladies and Gentlemen, your mental and emotional problems are real, and perennial, and difficult. With patience and discipline, you have a good chance at significant recovery. Good luck. These pills don't help much. And they might turn you into a chronic head-case, whereas staying off them gives you a chance at recovery."