Psychiatrist blows the lid on the psychiatric profession

While I am fan of certain aspects of orthodox medicine, I think overall it’s less effective and more hazardous than we generally imagine. As I wrote recently here, there is some thought that less medicine can result in improved outcomes. There is certainly some evidence that less can be more, where conventional medical care is concerned.

One medical speciality that this may be often true of is psychiatry. This brand of medicine used to be a primarily ‘talking’ therapy. But an ever-expanding medicine chest available to psychiatrists, particularly anti-depressants, have meant that psychiatry has become based on pharmaceutical approaches. One of the problems here is that many of the drugs used in psychiatry are not particularly effective. And these drugs are not without risk: not only are side-effects common, they also can lead to dependence which can be tricky to break (see here for more on this).

On top of this, we’ve had increasing recognition of the fact that the psychiatric profession tends to enjoy a close and quite cosy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry which jeopardises proper clinical care. See here for a 2005 article in the journal Psychiatric Bulletin which highlights the major issues here.

There been growing recognition in recent years of payments made by drug companies to doctors to promote their wares. In the US, congressman Chuck Grassley has been waging an almost one-man war on the tight bonds between the pharmaceutical industry, researchers and clinicians. Grassley’s attempts to get a bit more openness and transparency have highlighted the fact that those in the psychiatric profession appear to be some of the worst ‘offender’ where financial conflicts of interest are concerned.

Well, it seems that psychiatry is in for even more scrutiny now on the publication of a book entitled: Unhinged – The Trouble with Psychiatry – a Doctor’s Revelations about a Profession in Crisis. It’s by a US psychiatrist Dr Daniel Carlat.

I’ve not read the book, but as it title suggests, it purports to detail what is so wrong with modern-day psychiatry. You can read an overview of the book here. You can read here Dr Carlat’s highlighting of the fact that, in his opinion, psychiatry has become a profession of blind pill-pushing. He also makes special mention of the fact that psychiatrists have allowed themseives to be “bought off by the pharmaceutical industry”. Dr Carlat specifically refers to the fact that he used to speak for the drug company Wyeth Pharmceuticals, until he realised he was “being paid to deceive other doctors”. Dr Carlat wrote a piece in the New York Times in 2007 which recounted his experience as a hired hand for Wyeth which you can read here.

Because I haven’t read the book, it’s impossible for me to comment in a detailed fashion about it. However, just reading the overview of this book and Dr Carlat’s New York Times piece convinces me that this book will serve as a timely reminder about some major issues within the psychiatric profession, which apply to much of mainstream medicine too.

9 Responses to Psychiatrist blows the lid on the psychiatric profession

  1. Mallory 27 May 2010 at 11:17 pm #

    this is so so so so so sooooooooooooooooo true

  2. Debra 28 May 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    This is why I find your blog so refreshing…..much less “traditional” westernized “medicine” and big pharm intrusions. Much of these so called medications are wreaking havoc on people, making people sicker than they already were. Of course big pharm loves it because it calls for more of their poisons.

  3. Green Deane 28 May 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    This past week a former coworker of mine died in an auto accident. Not that unusual but like many things it was the end result of a long chain of decisions and events. When we worked together he was nearly coping with the angst of being a 27-year old male in todays’s rather conflicting society. His fatal mistake was to visit a psychiatrist who put him on powerful drugs that changed a minor problem in life into a major disruption. They added mood swings, attacks of incompetency, and emotional collapse to what was just one of life’s usual problems. Then the same psychiatrist “diagnosed” the exact same problem in his here-to-fore fine girlfriend and put her on the same drugs. Now we had to cope with two jellyfish. This legal drug pusher essentially ruined their young lives, changing a bump in the road to an impossible ugly detour. Worse, these professional pushers teach their victims a drug culture. Thus the patient then self-medicates. Not right, not reasonable, but it happens. I am sure my former colleague was probably one some drug at the time of his fatal accident, whether legal or not is rather moot at this point. But I bet it was legal, I bet it was powerful, and I bet the psychiatrist doesn’t give a damn as long as he gets paid.

  4. Margaret Wilde 28 May 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    It’s great that a respected member of the medical profession – yourself, Dr Briffa – is drawing attention to this shocking abuse of the trust of patients. Thank you.

    When, I wonder, is anything effective going to be done to stop the pharmaceutical industry’s unethical practices?

  5. R Vasudevan 29 May 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    It is bewildering to know what is happening in the field of psychiatry these days. The psychiatrists’ nexus with the drug industry is a criminal conspiracy. The whole matter should be investigated thoroughly and the offenders should be brought to book.

  6. Debbie 17 June 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    As the mother of a 9yo with “mood disorder” or bipolar on several meds, it is all so distressing.

  7. Kevin Owen 14 February 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Psychiatry: No Cures No Science [4 mins]
    Psychiatrists openly admitting at the 2006 APA convention that they have no scientific tests to prove mental illness and have no cures for these unproven mental illnesses.

  8. Kevin Owen 14 February 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Making A Killing: [Video]
    Psychotropic drugs. It’s the story of big money—drugs that fuel a $330 billion psychiatric industry, without a single cure. The cost in human terms is even greater—these drugs now kill an estimated 42,000 people every year. And the death count keeps rising. Containing more than 175 interviews with lawyers, mental health experts, the families of victims and the survivors themselves, this riveting documentary rips the mask off psychotropic drugging and exposes a brutal but well-entrenched money-making machine.

  9. marcel gendron 8 March 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Excellent article.Fair and balanced

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