Within the last two decades the field of psychiatry has mushroomed from a fringe body of Sigmund Freud admirers to a mainstream player in the field of medical pharmacology, largely because of an unseemly union between that profession and the drug industry, leading to the creation of many never before known disease states and profitable ways to exploit those alleged diseases with psychiatric services and drugs.
The discovery that many people with life problems or occasional bad moods would willingly dose themselves with antidepressants sailed pharma through the 2000s. A good chunk of pharma’s $4.5 billion direct-to-consumer advertising has been devoted to convincing people they don’t have problems with their job, the economy and their family, they have depression. Especially because depression can’t be diagnosed from a blood test.
Unfortunately, three things dried up the depression gravy train for pharma. Blockbusters went off patent and generics took off, antidepressants were linked with gory and unpredictable violence, especially in young users and…they didn’t even work, according to medical article
In writing this post, I may be crashing the American Psychological Association’s annual blog party. Naturally, I’m in favor of joining others to increase awareness and reduce stigma around psychiatric problems. But despite the spirit of solidarity, I’m perhaps an outsider, because I no longer believe ‘mental illness’ serves as a helpful concept.
…instead of decisively helpful treatments, the mental health system strung me along with decades of therapy and thousands of little pills, none of which improved my mood or outlook very much. It seems to me that if psychiatric diagnoses were truly valuable, they would guide clinicians to life-changing therapeutic choices. But how often do people diagnosed with ‘major mental illness’ leave the Psychiatry Department with an effective cure?
We’re ashamed that exploitation of children for profit was once tolerated in America: such as children as young as five shackled to machines while working 16-hour days in factories, or black children auctioned and sold as slaves. Yet future generations will look back on our era too with shame: a time when labeling kids with fictitious mental disorders and hooking them on drugs was a multi-billion dollar business.
About 10 percent of U.S children – over five million – are said to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a mental illness treated with drugs. A recent study blows a wide hole in that myth.
You may think there is enough disease in the world already, and that no one would want to add to the diseases that we humans must deal with. But there is a powerful industry in our society that is working overtime to invent illnesses and to convince us we are suffering from them. This effort is known as “disease mongering,” a term introduced by health-science writer Lynn Payer in her 1992 book Disease-Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick.