Why do I no longer practice conventional psychiatry, or what I term pharmapsychiatry? Four reasons. First, it cures almost no one, thus fueling the increased prevalence of chronic mental illness in our society. Can you imagine a dental profession that could not fill cavities? Or a legal profession that could not craft contracts? Of course not. So why should we accept a psychiatric profession that cannot truly heal people, help them fully resolve their problems? The answer that we should accept psychiatry’s limitations because (according to psychiatry) most mental illness is incurable is not a satisfactory answer. Because it is not true. What is true is that in pharmapsychiatry’s hands, mental illness is incurable.
As for the second reason, the side effects of psychotropic drugs create more chronic physical illness in our society. True, pharmapsychiatry helps a number of individuals to feel better and to function more effectively and safely. However, its practices are inimical to the health of society as a whole. My profession can do much, much better.
Third, psychotropic drugs explode the cost of health care—the more so because of psychiatry’s inability to help patients get off those drugs and remain well.
But the most important reason is the fourth: there are other, well-documented ways of addressing mental health problems that do help people become fully well. All of these treatments rely on our own natural, self-healing capacities.
But on what basis do I disparage pharmapsychiatry’s ability to help people become fully well, so they need no further treatment? What is my evidence?
FACT: In recent decades, there is no psychiatric disorder that has become less prevalent in our society. In fact, almost all such disorders, major and minor, have steadily proliferated.
FACT: Ask any conventionally practicing psychiatrist what percentage of his/her patients become fully well and stay well, with no need for further treatment. The answer in most instances will be “very few” or words to that effect (When I practiced conventional psychiatry, my answer would have been the same.)
FACT: As of 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 25 percent (that is not a typo) of all adults in the U.S. are mentally ill.
FACT: Since 1955, the proportion of the U.S. population that is disabled because of mental illness has quintupled
FACT: The Star* D study, involving over 4000 subjects and conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, is the largest and best-designed study to date of the effectiveness of antidepressants. When the results were rigorously analyzed, they revealed that of all those treated for depression, only 2.7% became and remained well.
FACT: Other studies of the efficacy of psychotropic drugs for depression have reported full and lasting resolution of depression to occur in only 5 – 15% of subjects.
FACT: Studies of the efficacy of psychotropic drugs for other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have reported even worse outcomes.
In short, we need to employ more effective and safer methods for achieving mental health than the wholesale prescription of pharmaceuticals that my profession espouses. Fortunately good, curative alternatives exist. I look forward to examining them with you in subsequent posts to this blog.
Originally published at http://www.greenpsychiatrist.com.
Steven Goldsmith obtained his M.D. from the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. After experience in general practice and internal medicine he completed a psychiatry residency at Boston University Hospital. Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology, he has held faculty and staff positions with the Boston University, NYU, and Tufts Schools of Medicine. He has authored the books, The Healing Paradox: A Revolutionary Approach to Treating and Curing Physical and Mental Illness and Psychotherapy of People with Physical Symptoms: Brief Strategic Approaches. In addition, he graduated from the International Foundation for Homeopathy training program and the North American Homeopathic Master Clinician course and has been practicing homeopathic medicine since 1992. His private practice in Portland, Oregon emphasizes natural solutions to health problems.