Sunday, September 19, 2010

Psychology Today: Lennard Davis and SSRI's


Here's an interesting article from Psychology Today written by author Lennard Davis from January 2010 that offers some food for thought as the discussion about if psychotropic drugs are any better than placebo's continues to ramp up....

The introduction to this article...

For the past five years, and in my recent book OBSESSION: A HISTORY, I have been questioning the effectiveness of Prozac-like drugs known as SSRIs. I've pointed out that when the drugs first came out in the early 1990's there was a wildly enthusiastic uptake in the prescribing of such drugs. Doctors were jubilantly claiming that the drugs were 80-90 per cent effective in treating depression and related conditions likeOCD. In the last few years those success rates have been going down, with the NY Times pointing out that the initial numbers had been inflated by drug companies supressing the studies that were less encouraging. But few if any doctors or patients were willing to hear anything disparaging said about these "wonder" drugs.

And the conclusion....

If each person takes a stand, is willing to engage in therapies beyond drug-taking, we might actually have a responsible and informed public confronting an increasingly powerful medical-pharmalogical establishment. Drugs may not be the answer for you, and now it turns out that some drugs may not be the answer for almost anyone.

My note: While I agree on Lennards assumption in this final paragraph - I want to point out that the mental health system around long term chronic "mental health" issues seems to not be based on insightful work but that of a "therapeutic relationship" where little insightful work takes place.

And - while I agree with his assumption and proposed solution....after 15 years in the mental health system I can speak from experience that my efforts to "learn" how to change my life were more often discouraged and labeled as "intellectualizing" and being "resistant" in the "therapeutic relationship".

In this "therapeutic relationship" the focus was on changing my behavior through compliance - rather than guiding me to life changing insight that would enable me to resolve these issues and empower me to create my own change in behaviors - because the maladaptive coping would no longer be needed once my distress was resolved. (Read The Pied Piper here)

So yes and "here here" for the idea that we can learn to change our thoughts, feelings/moods and thus shift from avoidant and dependent behaviors to become more independent and interdependant participants in society.

But - the reality is that the system that tells us these "miracle drugs" are the solution has no clue how to go about educating us to the insight required to create the necessary change in our thoughts that are the source of creating change from within.

This is what I heard from my psychologist when I told him I wanted to do this kind of insightful work ...

"Susan, I don't know how to take you there and bring you back".

While I love and respect this man, who by the way is an instructor at the local University, how is it that he, who teaches the next generation of psychologists and influences psychiatry this way does not know how to help me heal from trauma and develop the insight that I might live free of the cognitive and emotional distress that - up to this point in our relationship (2007) I had believed was a "chemical imbalance" in my brain that would require these (numerous) psychotropic drugs and the weekly therapy sessions ("lifetime subscription" no less) to manage?

(comment: "Trauma informed therapy" is making it's way into the mainstream and I'd like to point out that it is being integrated by the same industry that continues to direct us to pharmaceuticals as our solution and the authortarian therapeutic relationships that are very influential to trauma survivors who are vulnerable to their suggestions and directions - IMHO and experience anyway)

As in any post here on A Journey, my intention is not to convince anyone of anything but to provide food for thought that you may begin to ask your own questions and thus find your own answers that will in the end support your best life ie: the life that you choose for yourself each day.

You can read the entire article at Psychology Today here.

Please note: While I appreciate the content of this particular article, I can not speak for this authors work in general.

As always...your comments, questions and suggestions are invited:)

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