Remember not so long ago when Prozac became the world’s largest selling medication of any kind, and then for years how Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft took over many of the top 10 spots? Remember the explanations at the time—that they were wonder drugs and that 15-50 percent or more of Americans would need them some time in their lives? To many people this seemed like a scientific breakthrough when in reality it was … a triumph of marketing. Some studies suggest that the antidepressants are little or no more effective than a sugar pill and a lot more dangerous. Recent research examined all antidepressant studies submitted in recent years to FDA in regard to antidepressant efficacy and found that the drug performed no better than placebo except in “severely depressed patients,” reaching “clinical significance” only “at the upper end of the very severely depressed category.” Even then, the difference between the antidepressant and the placebo was “relatively small.”
I am best known from my critiques of biological, mechanistic psychiatry with its cookie-cutter diagnoses and brain-disabling drugs and shock treatment. Establishment and institutional psychiatry can be like a dark shadow that crowds out the light. Even as we grow in awareness of the harm perpetrated by biological psychiatry, we need more focus on the light — on the life-giving principles that have moved me and so many others to take up the cause of reform in psychiatry and psychotherapy. These underlying principles try to capture what is good and important in human relationships beginning with empathy, love and respect for each individual’s unique life.