Follow the link to the website for CEP. In the writer’s view, anyone working in the therapeutic/allied world has an ethical responsibility to be aware of, and evaluate, these arguments. CEP has some seriously intelligent, aware and informed people on its roster – both in terms of writers, academics and medical professionals, and in terms of those with experiential knowledge of the effects of psychiatric drugs/psychiatric drug withdrawal.
This is their Autumn conference in Roehampton:-
And here is a helpful summary of some of the issues, which is on the website under the heading ‘Unrecognized Facts’:-
‘No known biological causes
There are no known biological causes for any of the psychiatric disorders apart from dementia and some rare chromosomal disorders. Consequently, there are no biological tests such as blood tests or brain scans that can be used to provide independent objective data in support of any psychiatric diagnosis.
Myth of the chemical imbalance
Psychiatric drugs have often been prescribed to patients on the basis that they cure a “chemical imbalance”. However, no chemical imbalances have been proven to exist in relation to any mental health disorder. There is also no method available to test for the presence or absence of these chemical imbalances.
Diagnostic system lacks validity
Psychiatric diagnostic manuals such as the DSM and ICD (chapter 5) are not works of objective science, but rather works of culture since they have largely been developed through clinical consensus and voting. Their validity and clinical utility is therefore highly questionable, yet their influence has contributed to an expansive medicalisation of human experience.
Psychiatric drugs cause altered mental states
Just like other substances that affect brain chemistry (such as illicit drugs), psychiatric drugs produce altered mental states. They do not “cure” diseases, and in many cases their mechanism of action is not properly understood.
Antidepressants have no benefit over placebo
Studies have found that antidepressants have no clinically significant benefit over placebo pills (inert pills) in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, while they provide some benefit for severe depression, at least in the short term. Recent research also suggests that antidepressants may be associated with a risk of increased mortality, at least among the elderly.
Worse long-term outcomes
There has been little research on the long-term outcomes of people taking psychiatric drugs. The available studies suggest that all the major classes of psychiatric drugs add little additional long-term benefit, and for some patients they may lead to significantly worse long-term outcomes.
Long-lasting negative effects
Psychiatric drugs can have long-lasting negative effects on the brain and central nervous system, particularly when taken long term, which can lead to physical, emotional and cognitive difficulties.
Negative effects are often misdiagnosed
Psychiatric drugs can have effects that include mental disturbance, including suicide, violence, and withdrawal syndromes. These can be mis-diagnosed as new psychiatric presentations, for which additional drugs may be prescribed, sometimes leading to long-term use of multiple different psychiatric drugs in the same person.
Psychiatric drug withdrawal can be disabling
Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs can be disabling and cause a range of severe physical and psychological effects which often last for months and sometimes years. In some cases, withdrawal charities report, it may lead to suicide.
More medicating of children
Use of psychiatric drugs in children and adolescents has been rapidly expanding across the developed world. The potential long-term damage these drugs can have on developing brains has not been properly assessed. Furthermore, there is now some evidence that increased use of medication within this age group is leading to worse long-term outcomes.
Regulator funded by industry
The UK regulator of psychiatric drugs (the MHRA) is entirely funded by the pharmaceutical industry, and employs ex-industry professionals in leadership positions. Such conflicts of interest could lead to lenient regulation that places commercial interests above patient protection.
Conflicts of interest
Ties between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry are particularly widespread in psychiatry. In the UK psychiatrists do not have to report to any agency or authority how much industry income they receive each year.
Manipulation and burying of drug trial data
The majority of psychiatric drug trials are conducted and commissioned by the pharmaceutical industry or those who have extensive ties with them. This industry has a long history of burying negative results, and of manipulating research to highlight positive outcomes.’
We are well aware, from daily experience at this service, of the extent to which people taking these drugs are unaware of these facts. Many coming here assume – for example – that the ‘chemical imbalance’ myth is proven scientific fact, or that ‘mental health disorders’ are objectively ascertainable ‘illnesses’. This obviously brings up issues of informed consent. So far as we are concerned, it is a matter for each person to decide whether or not to take a psychiatric drug, and to gauge the effects of any they do take – but we strenuously object on therapeutic, ethical and political grounds to the current practice of prescribing the drugs ever more extensively on the basis of inadequate and unbalanced information given to the ‘patient’. We think this is – and is beginning to be revealed as – one of the largest scale and most serious/toxic cultural phenomena of our time.
In this service, what we offer (and know to be effective – supported by evidence over decades) is in-depth human relationship between the therapist and the person they are working with. Obviously there are all kinds of factors that go into how useful therapy is for any given person – and many other roads to healing and growth besides therapy. One size does not fit all. However, we do know for sure and certain that a therapeutic relationship characterised by the core conditions has the potential to bring into being all sorts of shifts, insights and growth – deep inward transformative change, which the person concerned lives through in the world. And this arises through the therapist’s meeting and accepting themselves and that person exactly as they both are, in the moment, with authenticity, loving presence and empathy – thereby enabling that person to offer this same quality of engagement to themselves.
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling Exeter since 1994