30 jul. 2011

Angell Takes Very Few Prisoners

Here is Marcia Angell's defense of her articles against the psychiatrists, who gleefully admit they don't know how their drugs work. They just know they do work. Somehow or another.

7 comentarios:

Spanish prof dijo...

Yes and no. I completely agree that drugs are overprescribed in America, when other methods would work much better. However, as the sister of somebody who tried to commit suicide 3 times and is now leading a "normal" life while on Prozac and therapy, I dislike people who completely dismiss psychiatric drugs.

As a counterexample, I can give you the case of acupuncture. Most people have no idea of how it works, but it does (at least, it has work better on my husband than any painkillers for his chronic arm pain). When I told my father, a self-described XIXth century positivists scientist, for whom empirical evidence is everything, that my husband was doing acupuncture for his chronic pain, his (slightly politically incorrect) answer was: "That's great. I have no idea of how that works, but the Chinese have 3000 years of empirical evidence that it does".

Jonathan dijo...

My wife swears by acupuncture too. In that case the evidence is a bit more longstanding than for prozac.

Spanish prof dijo...

True. But honestly, I don't care if it's therapy, a placebo effect or what. If taking Prozac allows her to have a normal life, then I'm very happy that Prozac exists. Even if everything is a placebo effect. One thing that doesn't happen that often in the US is the combination of prescription drugs AND therapy. It's usually only the former, and that is awful. However, people judgmental towards psychiatric drugs because they are over-prescribed bother me. Maybe I'm an exception, but I've seen the difference it made in my sister. She still has her ups and downs (like everybody, obviously), but she went from trying to commit suicide 3 times and changing college majors 4 times in 2 years (college is free in Argentina), to majoring and actually working and making a living out of her job. She is independent, she has her own apartment, she pays her bills, and my parents don't fear a call in the middle of the night. I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, but it's good enough for me.

Jonathan dijo...

Honestly, I wish that the psychiatrists had had stronger arguments against Angell. I was rooting for them, but she still won the debate. This round at least. I agree that drugs without therapy are a disaster.

Clarissa dijo...

I'm one of those people who are judgmental about medication. Sure, it deadens people's responses to the point where they become socially convenient. The underlying issues they experience, however, don't go anywhere. Nobody suggests that these drugs actually "cure" the issue once and for all, right? All that happens is that this set of symptoms goes away. Then, the underlying issue will simply create another set of symptoms.

This is not meant as a criticism of your relatives, of course.

Jonathan dijo...

I think it is wise not to be too dogmatic. I've experienced the deadening numbness of prozac, but it is hard to argue with someone who has been helped, or whose relative has benefitted. I never argue against someone who says that "x" has helped them, whether x is a religion, a drug, or something like meditation or yoga. You can't really argue against someone's personal experience. My experience of prozac is negative, and I don't think anyone can argue against that either.

Spanish prof dijo...

Honestly, Clarissa, I'd rather have my sister's responses deadened "to the point where they become socially convenient" than have her DEAD. It's that simple. Of course those drugs are not the cure once and for all. They are something that help some people. They do not eliminate the symptoms, they improve it, and for some people, it's the difference between being able to manage their life or not. And by the way, trust me, my sister responses are as temperamental as usual, there is nothing "socially convinient" in them.