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The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment Paperback – 4 Dec 2007
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Shortlisted for the 2009 Mind Book of the Year
'A revolutionary book written with the calm assurance of someone who knows her subject matter – and the people involved - extremely well. Essential reading for anyone interested in mental health.' - Dorothy Rowe, www.dorothyrowe.com.au
'This is a sober and thoughtful book. I found it very engaging and worth the effort to be better informed about a subject that affects many of our clients and impinges on our professional lives as therapists.' - Existential Analysis (Society for Existential Analysis)
'...Joanna Moncrieff, a practising psychiatrist and academic, has produced a devastating critique of the use of psychiatric drugs...This courageous book has the potential to revolutionise psychiatric practice and the care of people with many forms of mental distress. Many in the therapy professions will, I am sure, celebrate its message.' - Rachel Freeth, Therapy Today
'This book does what it says on the cover. It is a concise, powerful, well-referenced and well-constructed critique of psychiatric drug treatment...If I had the power to, I would make it essential reading on all counselling and psychotherapy trainings.' - Pete Sanders, Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal
'It should be compulsory reading for any person who thinks that people's behaviours and experiences are caused by chemical imbalances in their brain and that psychiatric medications treat these imbalances – psychiatrists, other professionals and people who are taking or considering taking these drugs...Read and share the book and speak out….come on - the emperor has no clothes!' - Guy Holmes, Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy
'This remarkable book should be required reading...as the author exposes misconceptions and assumptions about biological mental illness...[it] is far from one-sided, and argues that rather than discarding drugs we should use them properly and concentrate on their effects rather than upon traditional but ultimately unscientific assumptions.' - Stuart Sorensen, Community Care
'This is a book that should change psychiatry forever.' Mental Health
This controversial book refutes the idea that psychiatric drugs are thought to work, and examines how vested interests have shaped this ideaSee all Product description
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But in every morass, there are safe places, where one may find solid ground and sure footing. And Dr Joanna Moncrieff is one of those places. As a psychiatrist with a conscience, she has ripped open the ‘can of worms’ which conceals much of her profession. There was a time when the whole panoply of psychiatric drugs was considered for exactly what they were – a temporary relief from the distressing symptoms of emotional anxiety or distress.
But fast-forward from that scenario by 30 years, and we now have psychiatry pushing crude chemicals made in a factory as a permanent ‘cure’ for depression – how ludicrous is that proposition, with the immense complexity of the human brain being reduced to a series of chemical reactions?
In great detail, Joanna analyses the development and propagation of the range of psychiatric drugs, and by rigorous analysis, highlights the deficiencies, drawbacks, and plain fabrications attributed to these drugs, with wholly inadequate oversight by the relevant authorities.
Anyone who is uncertain about whether or not to ingest these drugs needs to read this book: to accept what Big Pharma and chemical psychiatry claim is to subject oneself to a very unpredictable and risky chemical experiment. You only have one brain and one body, and no-one will accept any responsibility for harm induced upon you by powerful drugs which give very dubious and uncertain benefits.
If a patient gets better while on SSRIs, the drugs are credited with a positive outcome (notwithstanding the fact that most people will naturally recover from depression in about 6 months if they are not medicated). If they don’t get better quickly, then another toxic drug is added to the mix, and then another one, ad infinitum. Having converted the patient into a walking chemistry set, and zombified them along the way, so that they no longer show symptoms of distress, the chemical psychiatrist then claims ‘success’. But would these men ‘take their own medicine’? Not very likely – they know too much about them.
The ‘disconnect’ between Big Pharma’s claims about ‘side effects’; and those suffered by patients is absolutely vast. Multiple internet forums attest to lives ruined by this unnecessary SSRI proliferation. Like many others, I knew nothing about these drugs until my ex-partner started ‘treatment’ at a provincial private UK hospital, ostensibly for 12 months of psychotherapy. At her very first one-hour session, she gave her life story, was diagnosed as ‘severely depressed’ (utter bollocks), and her SSRI prescription was immediately raised to the maximum possible dosage.
Within days, she became intensely ill with anxiety and agitation, as the hideous neurological condition ‘akathisia’ took a grip upon her. She should have been taken off the drugs then, but she was not. Within three weeks, she had been ‘zombified’, and had turned cold and hostile towards me, ending our relationship. Over 8 months after her so-called ‘treatment’ ended, she remains utterly indifferent towards me, and I believe that the expensive psychotherapy never happened; her ‘very experienced’ doctor fraudulently substituting the sedative effect of cheap pills, as a ‘rapid chemical cure’, with built-in ongoing dependency.
If you think the worst excesses of psychiatry are confined to the USA, then you had better reconsider. And if you doubt me about the effects of psychoactive drugs upon intimacy between loving partners, then please google ‘relationships destroyed by SSRIs’ (373,000 hits!).
Am I ‘anti-psychiatry’? Dead right I am, and I will stand with Joanna and anyone else who considers these toxic and pointless drugs to be an abusive and barbaric affront to sentient humanity.
About 10 years ago my neuroleptic medication was accidentally discontinued and in the lucid period that followed I read `Toxic Psychiatry' by Peter Breggin. Realising for the first time how damaging these drugs are I told my psychiatrist to write `The End' in my case notes. I managed to wean myself off my drugs and since then I have recovered my capacity to function normally and enjoy life. (It is important that you withdraw slowly: neuroleptics in particular, but other psychiatric drugs also, make semi-permanent changes in the brain; you must withdraw by small increments well spaced out to give your brain chemistry time to normalise. Don't rush it and risk withdrawal symptoms.)
Since then I have wondered how long I would have to wait before society at large came to understand what has really been going on and make psychiatrists account for how they have been misleading us. I believe that `The Myth of the Chemical Cure' is a milestone to this wider understanding: my guess is that in 20 years' time it will be regarded at a classic.
For three decades American psychiatrist Peter Breggin has crusaded against the use of drugs in psychiatry, and now in Britain Joanna Moncrieff continues this educational campaign. For her's is no anti-psychiatry rant. This is sweet reason: page after page of hard facts and logical analysis, stripped of rhetorical flourishes or appeals to emotion. She is asking her fellow psychiatrists some very hard questions.
She points out that psychiatry's covert mission is less the alleviation of human suffering than the exercise of social control. Society has to find some way of dealing with those people who cannot adapt to the demands of a business-based, consumer society that requires us to do our jobs, pay our taxes and conform to social norms. Aided by the commercial imperative of the drug companies and with the complicity of the political elite, psychiatry has devised a fiendishly clever system of zombiefying people who are a nuisance and making them biddable; because they would refuse the drugs if they knew the real purpose was simply to render them passive they are persuaded that they are ill and must take medication to keep well. If psychiatrists did this wittingly surely they would be wracked with guilt; thus they have little choice but to believe that emotional distress is caused by faulty brain chemistry and that their drugs alleviate distress. And since they have to believe it, they do. Are we not all pre-disposed to believe what we find it convenient to believe? Psychiatrists, it turns out, are just as human as the rest of us.
What leads me to believe that psychiatry is more about social control than about the alleviation of suffering? I have a friend who has been labelled schizophrenic. Once in a blue moon she get angry with the bus drivers at the local bus station and shouts at them. The last time this happened a bus station supervisor employed by the local council reported her to the psychiatric service and her medication was increased on the grounds that if she shouted at the bus drivers again THE PSYCHIATRIST would get into trouble with the police! My friend begged the psychiatrist not to put her medication up. She felt worse, not better, on the increased medication, but how she felt wasn't the point. Public order had to be preserved. And although voluntary patients are supposed to have the right to decline treatment, this is another psychiatric fiction. Neuroleptics induce indifference and undermine the patient's will to resist. You have to admire the cleverness of the system.
To clarify the real nature of psychiatric drugs Dr Moncrieff introduces the concept of the `disease-centred' model of drug action that assumes that drugs reverse an underlying pathology and contrasts it with the `drug-centred' model that avoids suppositions and lets the evidence speak for itself. She finds that psychiatric drugs simply intoxicate those who ingest them; on occasion this may be beneficial but more often is harmful. She thus argues that psychiatric drugs are much less effective than claimed and their long-term effects on patients' mental and physical health are seriously deleterious.
Much of the more technical bits of this book examine the ways in which randomised controlled trials have been manipulated and misinterpreted to `prove' that drugs are effective and more-or-less safe. There is something sad and desparate about psychiatry's quest for scientific justification. The profession surrounds itself with a fog of impressive-sounding neurobiological terminology and goes in for fancy statistical analysis, yet when this fog is penetrated by an intellect as acute as Joanna Moncrieff's it turns out that the data their clinical trials produce don't support the conclusions they draw from them. Psychiatrists may be good at social control but they're rubbish at science.
Just how long it will be before we achieve humane treatment for the mentally distressed I cannot say, but I continue to believe that psychiatry's critics will eventually persuade enough of us that psychiatry doesn't work to enable us to force them to change. If everyone who finds `The Myth of Chemical Cure' as persuasive as I do sends a copy to an opinion-maker they judge might be receptive then perhaps we can change a few minds. I am going to send a copy to my local MP. He just might listen.
So firmly entrenched in our culture is the myth of mental illness that I always hesitate to come right out with it and tell people that mental illness is an unfounded supposition and that psychiatric drugs are disabling rather than therapeutic for fear of being dismissed as a crank, but in future I will speak with greater confidence since I can now add: `And, if you don't believe me, read "The Myth of the Chemical Cure" by Joanna Moncrieff.'
I would recommend to someone who has had the same trouble with antidepressants that I have had.
Thank you very much for quick efficient service, it arrived quickly.