‘Psychiatric prejudice’- a new way of silencing criticism

‘Psychiatric prejudice’ is a term being bandied about these days, mainly by aggrieved psychiatrists who feel that psychiatry is not being given equal status with other medical specialities. Ordinary people, other doctors and medical students are all prejudiced because they do not appreciate that psychiatry is a proper medical activity, and critics of psychiatry are prejudiced because their analyses undermine this medical point of view (1).

Obviously no one can afford to be labelled as prejudiced, so whether it is conscious or not, this looks like an attempt to silence criticism and shut down debate . If successful it will deny people access to many valid criticisms of psychiatric diagnoses and treatments and to hearing other views about how to respond to mental health problems.

Some of the recent accusations of psychiatric prejudice were made in response to articles in the British press by Danish doctor, Peter Gøtzsche, a leading member of the highly respected organisation for analysing medical evidence, the Cochrane Collaboration (2).  Gøtzsche argued that evidence for the benefits of psychiatric drugs, like antidepressants, was so weak and flawed, and adverse effects so often under-rated or ignored, that the widespread use of these drugs was likely to be doing more harm than good. Other people have made similar claims, including Peter Breggin, Irving Kirsch and Robert Whitaker, but coming from the heart of medicine itself, this attack may have been more painful than others.

In a direct response to Gøtzsche’s article, five leading psychiatrists accused those who criticised psychiatric drug treatment as demonstrating ‘deep-seated stigma’ against mental health, insulting psychiatry and ‘reinforcing stigma against mental illnesses and the people who have them’ (3). In another article in the Times, psychiatrist Simon Wessely, newly elected president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, complained that other doctors were prejudiced against mental health, and look down on psychiatry. Although acknowledging widespread overmedicalisation and overprescription, Wessely too asserted that psychiatric drugs treat real disorders and that it is ‘nonsense’ to suggest that antidepressants don’t work (4).

The job of psychiatrists, according to Wessely, is to identify these real ‘disorders’, and to make sure that the people who have them get the drugs, but others don’t.  This position assumes that psychiatry is basically the same sort of activity as physical medicine, as if you could easily distinguish those who have ‘real,’ clinical or major depression from those who are just sad or discontent, and once identified prescribe a treatment that targets the origin of the problem.

But, of course, you can’t. No blood test, X-ray or brain scan can reveal depression, schizophrenia or any other ‘mental disorder’. There is no underlying psychological process either that can somehow be separated off from an individual’s feelings and behaviour and designated as ‘the disorder’. Psychiatric diagnoses are based on judgements made by patients, doctors, relatives and other people (such as the police) about someone’s behaviour and whether it conforms to what is expected in any given society and situation. Think about depression for a moment. It is when someone stops functioning as usual- when they start to have difficulties fulfilling their roles – going to work, looking after family – that they seek help and are diagnosed. Until feelings affect someone’s behaviour, it is rare that they would come to psychiatric attention, or be considered severe enough to require intervention.

Apart from its conceptual incoherence and lack of empirical support, the problem with the concept of ‘mental illness’ is that it assumes that what psychiatrists are treating is not a person with problems and difficulties, but a disease- or its pseudonym, a ‘disorder’. This is why so many people accuse psychiatry of being dehumanising.

Despite decades of propaganda from the pharmaceutical industry and sections of the medical profession, much of the public and many doctors and medical students are not convinced that mental illnesses are illnesses, ‘just like any other’. Many people remain inclined to view the difficulties we label as mental disorders as understandable reactions to adverse life events or circumstances and importantly, evidence suggests that people who think in this way are more tolerant of such situations. Contrary to what some psychiatrists are now saying, viewing mental disorder as a brain diseases leads to less tolerant attitudes- in other words more prejudice (5).

Psychiatrists’ complaints only betray their continuing insecurity about their status as ‘proper’ doctors. But helping people with mental health problems does not have to be regarded as second class just because it is not the same sort of activity as other medical specialisms. Education and social work are different from medicine, but no one suggests they are not important. In my view, there is a role for medical expertise in helping people with mental health problems, but that does not mean we have to call those problems illnesses. As I have suggested in other blogs and articles, drug treatment can help to modify unwanted thoughts and behaviours or subdue overwhelming emotions in some situations, and people who prescribe and recommend drugs should have a thorough knowledge of all their effects and the body’s likely response to them. Although I think drugs should usually be a last resort, it takes more knowledge and expertise, not less, to use them sparingly and selectively.

Nevertheless, psychiatry is different from the rest of medicine. When its differences are not acknowledged, and psychiatrists behave as if they were treating chest infections, people are objectified into diagnoses. It is then a short step to subjecting them to all sorts of physical intrusions in the name of treating the disease. Criticism and debate are essential to enable mental health services to develop their own distinctive ethos and practice.

  1. http://www.wpanet.org/detail.php?section_id=7&content_id=922 (I am grateful to Phil Hickey to alerting me to the WPA’s position: http://www.behaviorismandmentalhealth.com/2014/06/19/psychiatrys-response-attack-and-pr/)
  2. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/30/psychiatric-drugs-harm-than-good-ssri-antidepressants-benzodiazepines;
  3. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(14)70232-9/fulltext
  4. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/health/news/article4125848.ece
  5. Read J, Haslam N, Sayce L, Davies E (2006) Prejudice and schizophrenia: a review of the ‘mental illness is an illness like any other’ approach. Acta Psychiatr Scand, 114, 303-318
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39 thoughts on “‘Psychiatric prejudice’- a new way of silencing criticism

  1. Reblogged this on Beyond Meds and commented:
    I’m not sure this is particularly new. It’s been going on as long as I’ve been doing this work. It’s certainly getting louder as Joanna Moncrieff points out here. To be clear: appropriate criticism is not prejudice and when people who have been harmed by psychiatry speak the truth that is most often done from a place of civic responsibility. I’ve often said I know things I wish I didn’t know, because there is no way that one can witness and understand the harm I (and folks like Joanna Moncrieff) have seen and stay silent in good conscience.

  2. Writing as a survivor and unaffiliated anthropologist, I wish more people with altered qualities in experiencing the immense complexity in realities/life worlds were asked to explore and witness how to gain more ‘musicians’ competencies in navigating them, ways of ‘normalizing’ which are not ‘eradicating’. I will never ever forget the relief of sharing the first time with others the subjective and intense experiences in this altered ways to be in an altered world. I was welcomed into a, certes, wider and broader humanity… the ways of mind, soul, perceptions, affects are so manifold. Without any romantizising, also referring to a recent German anthology where pychoses-experienced people reflect on these, it is soul-opening how meaningful people found these overwhelming breakthroughs with all their charges. I also know of some who find them terrorizing and dead-threatening, still were relieved by sharing and shifting perspectives and contexts. May be it will take manifold sanctuaries for sharing and interweaving the altered quality messages, before larger groups may develop lived cultures to welcome and embedd/contextualize these experiences, carefully using cultural and anthropological knowledge of human’s enlargened life worlds. In how many cultures have visions, voices, intense missions, mysticism, ghostly rememberance and ‘visits in the flesh’ been integrated in rituals and acknowledgement of … the many transgenerational and historical, ethical and cultural traumatisations with their ‘irrational’ sense-mind-perception altering lived messengers’. Having explored in my family’s history some transgenerational ‘traumatisations and disruptions, WW2, value-in-mind-and-flesh threats, terrors, fears, losses, tortures and sufferings, known and unknown, affecting both individuals as social trust in ‘fundamental ethical values’, I wonder how the traumatisations in lived/haunted bodys and minds have never been taken into consideration in ‘psy-thinking’… as being deeply humane messengers without words who interplayed through generations in the reappearence of overwhelming ‘psychotic’ experiences (visionary, halucinatory, intense experiences breaking the walls of acknowledged human reality). I am hoping for a wider cultural and ‘ritual’ repertoire of witnessing to ‘connect’/relate these extreme experiences with, hoping that instead of fear, we created a culture with wider perceptual means of ‘understanding’ the messengers. Re-reading old sagas may be healing, Ulysses epopees and many others with their interplaying messangers and honoring of the abysses in human histories. A ward filled with dramas,but somehow more deeply transhistorical than Peter Brook’s famous theatre plays. Perhaps one day we can create a culture where listening and witnessing in ‘reflective copoetization’ invents rituals for healing and remembering unspeakeble traumata as ‘inscriptions’ of the terror in the promises of human history/histories. Leave behind the shocking stupidity – all manifold dimensions of culture banned and silenced from psy’ treatments – of ever having set out to individualize, neurologize, de-historize, technically isolate and alienate as ‘delusions’ and ‘hallucinations’ the manifold dimensions of the extreme messengers of psychotic experiences. Dear unknown authors of history’s known and unknown sagas and epopees, what would your perspective be on the powerful neuromythology of a ‘medical?’ psychiatry without subjects with no immortal legends.

  3. Pingback: "Psychiatric Prejudice" - A New Way of Silencing Criticism | Mad In America

  4. I would say most psychiatrists have ‘Psychiatric prejudice’. That is, a prejudice for propagating their hypothesis that some brain chemical or electrical malfunction is the source of the nearly 400 ‘mental disorders’ in Psychiatry…and a prejudice against anyone who asks for objective definitive proof of this. Oh sorry, I was using the definition of prejudice as ‘any preconceived opinion or feeling, favorable or unfavorable’. Rather trite for Wessely to think the term prejudice can only be used to his advantage.
    I’ve seen psychiatrists state Psychiatry is a pseudo-science, pretend science, junk science, not a science, a belief system, the softest of social sciences, a set of descriptors, a list of behaviors, scientific-sounding labels, and far far more professional statements about psychiatric drugs, the DSM, etc. These people certainly cannot be discounted especially when so many have been stating such things. Anybody can call it what they want—‘psychiatric prejudice’ lol—all that’s actually important is whether what they are saying is true or not.
    The term ‘mental health’ is such a general catchword now that the average person instantly equates whatever a person is negatively experiencing mentally or emotionally, in different degrees, with what Psychiatry calls it. Instant equate! I don’t want to say it approaches a state of hypnosis but…some ‘authority’ that repeats a mantra over and over with enough intention and impact whereupon the subject will end up accepting and agreeing with whatever they say is hypnosis. “You do have adhd’. “Yes, I have adhd’ ‘You have been down, sad, quite a lot, and you don’t know why so I will tell you…you have Depression’ ‘Yes, I have Depression’. You get the point. The end of such a road is simply more and more mass drugging of humanity to ‘fix’ more and more descriptions of behavior by Psychiatry.

  5. I noted under the report of Wessely in The Times that there are in my experience a number of known conditions other than heart disease which can cause chest pains that are hard to confirm. Some years ago I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis although it was never completely confirmed (even after a surgical investigation). Oesophagitis is another possibility. However, saying “it is all in the mind” is impossible to confirm, although apparently Wessely is the co-author of many papers making such claims (often involving state liability for such thing as GWS, ME etc).

    http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a220?tab=responses

  6. Reblogged this on Rising from the Ashes and commented:
    One could even argue that psychiatry is the most difficult of medicine’s specialties. Trying to understand the mind and to figure out solutions to its problems is the hardest given that so little is known about it. If a person has a broken bone, the doctor knows exactly how to heal it. If a person has a broken mind, no one really knows what to do. The best that can be done is try the different options and see what works, using the psychiatrist’s experience and knowledge as a guide.

  7. The allegation that Gøtzsche fell victim to “psychiatric prejudice” needs to be understood as a typical theme (aka a ad hominem attack) of organized medicine in general against people who threaten their highly lucrative business. Gøtzsche is probably best known as a harsh critic of mammography. In that alleged scientific arena of orthodox medicine, mammogram zealots had smeared him with the term “pseudo-critic” or significantly distorted Gøtzsche’s perspective on the value of mammography (google/bing “A Mammogram Letter The British Medical Journal Censored”).

    The medical industry doesn’t like Gøtzsche because he factually exposes many of their dogmas and lies.

  8. It’s been a couple of weeks since I read Nutt et al’s Lancet article, but I remember being struck by the reliance on ad hominem, and the efforts to paint the modern critical psychiatry perspective and the older anti-psychiatry movement as one and the same.

    The article (as I remember it) also aligned psychiatry’s critics with conspiracy theorists for alleging corporate conspiracy within the pharmaceutical industry in how it portrays the legitimacy of psychiatric drugs and illness. (I’m aware that sentence seem may seem tautologous, but a difference between the modern-day conspiracy theory (e.g. faked moon landings) and the genuine exposé of conspiracy (e.g. the sinking of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior) tends to be on how it invents facts from speculation to explain apparent anomalies, versus positive evidence of wrong doing.) It is disappointing that Nutt et al. made no effort to explain why we can safely dismiss (for instance) Speilman & Parry’s (2010) evidence of corporate corruption from internal industry documents, or the entire premises of Goldacre’s (2012) hugely influential Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients .

    I also recall that Nutt et al. presented some evidence of anti-depressants’ safety and efficacy, but chose not to address Kirsch et al. (2008). It is my understanding that Kirsch et al. is widely regarded as the ‘go to’ antidepressant study by the medical/mental health community (for various methodological – if scandalous –reasons), so it is odd that Nutt et al. made no attempt to educate post-Kirsch critics about how we have been mislead.

    I’m being lazy, but I think I recall Nutt et al. even making arguments tantamount to “psychiatric drugs obviously work because thousands of prescribers can’t be wrong in what they observe”. If this is an argument, surely it raises the question of why we do clinical science at all, and whether the blood-letters of the past have been harshly ‘scienced’ against (surely most believed they were doing good based on experiential evidence).

    I first heard of Professor David Nutt when he so famously fell out with the Labour government for not towing the party line on illicit drug data, and was impressed by his story of scientific impartiality. However, now I am left wondering whether one of us has an intellectual blind-spot when it comes to the scientific claims and merits of biopsychiatry, and this disappointingly weak Lancet letter – with all its appeals to authority, anecdote and cherry-picked data – has done little to re-position me.

    Anyway…

  9. It’s been a couple of weeks since I read Nutt et al’s Lancet article, but I remember being struck by the reliance on ad hominem, and the efforts to paint the modern critical psychiatry perspective and the older anti-psychiatry movement as one and the same.

    The article (as I remember it) also aligned psychiatry’s critics with conspiracy theorists for alleging corporate conspiracy within the pharmaceutical industry in how it portrays the legitimacy of psychiatric drugs and illness. (I’m aware that sentence seem may seem tautologous, but a difference between the modern-day conspiracy theory (e.g. faked moon landings) and the genuine exposé of conspiracy (e.g. the sinking of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior) tends to be on how it invents facts from speculation to explain apparent anomalies, versus positive evidence of wrong doing.) It is disappointing that Nutt et al. made no effort to explain why we can safely dismiss (for instance) Speilman & Parry’s (2010) evidence of corporate corruption from internal industry documents, or the entire premises of Goldacre’s (2012) hugely influential Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients .

    I also recall that Nutt et al. presented some evidence of anti-depressants’ safety and efficacy, but chose not to address Kirsch et al. (2008). It is my understanding that Kirsch et al. is widely regarded as the ‘go to’ antidepressant study by the medical/mental health community (for various methodological – if scandalous –reasons), so it is odd that Nutt et al. made no attempt to educate post-Kirsch critics about how we have been mislead.

    I’m being lazy, but I think I recall Nutt et al. even making arguments tantamount to “psychiatric drugs obviously work because thousands of prescribers can’t be wrong in what they observe”. If this is an argument, surely it raises the question of why we do clinical science at all, and whether the blood-letters of the past have been harshly ‘scienced’ against (surely most believed they were doing good based on experiential evidence).

    I first heard of Professor David Nutt when he so famously fell out with the Labour government for not towing the party line on illicit drug data, and was impressed by his story of scientific impartiality. However, now I am left wondering whether one of us has an intellectual blind-spot when it comes to the scientific claims and merits of biopsychiatry, and this disappointingly weak Lancet letter – with all its appeals to authority, anecdote and cherry-picked data – has done little to re-position me.

    Anyway…

  10. https://truthman30.wordpress.com/category/simon-wessely-psychiatrist/

    I have asked Simon Wessely on my blog (post above) – why he stated on BBC radio (in a debate with James Davies) that he has never worked for pharma when quite clearly he has (or had) previously done work for Eli Lilly and Faby Pharmaceuticals. The contempt which psychiatrists like Wessely (and Ben Goldacre) have for the public (patients and psychiatric service users) is astounding and also deeply disturbing.

    • Thanks for this Truthman30

      I read this comment with interest, and briefly followed up a couple of your links, but am confused about your implication of Goldacre (and Sense About Science) in this debate about the benefits and harms of biopsychiatry. Are you able to elaborate on this please?

    • Thanks for this Truthman 30.

      I have now had a read of your article, and was just thinking about a response when I noticed Ben Goldacre himself has already engaged you on this. He is obviously much better informed on all this and has covered more than I could hope to in response. But here goes…

      I appreciate that you have obviously been personally affected by psychiatric drug ‘treatment’ (I haven’t, …yet!), but I’m not sure this makes you the authority the correct breadth/depth of analysis and indignation on this issue. I too wish that Goldacre – as a qualified psychiatrist, epidemiologist and philosopher – would focus his journalistic and intellectual lens more acutely on the whole issue of psychiatric diagnosis and drug treatment, but accept that we have the right to choose where and how we focus our activism.

      I personally thought his coverage the SSRI fraud in Bad Pharma was well articulated, and recall he also discusses other psychiatric scandals including Seroxat side-effects, Olanzapine marketing, and the techniques used to make newer anti-psychotic drugs appear superior than older ones. Perhaps you are entitled to criticise him for not going far enough with respect to one company or drug group, or even accuse him unoriginality in his exposés, but this isn’t the same as concurrently being in the pockets of Big Pharma because he once called a CEO a rare ‘good guy’, used the euphemism ‘rather badly behaved’ whilst unpacking widespread industry corruption, has inadvertently picked up an industry-sponsored science-writing award, and recognises that value of vaccines. (If you are critical of industry self-interest for not developing a new, unlucrative, anti-biotic in 20+ years to avert the impending public health crisis – perhaps you’re not – you are also endorsing the medicinal potential of these drugs, made and sold exclusively by the industry. I personally wouldn’t see your support of anti-biotic development as absolutist pro-pharma position.)

      I haven’t read much David Healy, but would interested to know if he has had anywhere near the political impact of Goldacre and Bad Pharma in terms of tightening regulation and addressing research fraud within the pharmaceutical industry. Even if Goldacre is unoriginal and short-shooting, it is my view that he is personally responsible for the most significant lurch forward in recent decades addressing Big Pharma corruption. If he leaves it there before heading off on his unrelated next project, I believe that is his right, and not mine to insist he applies those brains solely within the parameters of my political raison d’être if he is to avoid charges of under-performance and hypocrisy.

      Not sure what you think?

      • Hi,

        I understand what you are saying, but my point (and David Healy’s points) illustrate that Ben Goldacre’s transparency agenda is misguided. GSK are using Goldacre’s credibility, popularity and celebrity in order to gain good PR. The ‘transparency’ that they have offered in regards to data has been described as little more than a smokescreen and also access is gievn to a remote desktop- which renders the process almost impossibly frustrating for researchers to gain any insight into the data. David Healy, and others fear that Goldacre has been led up the garden path- and in the process – straight into pharma’s agenda. See this post for more

        http://truthman30.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/the-great-glaxo-transparency-swindle-david-healy-says-now-is-the-time-of-greatest-peril/

      • adzcliff

        I meant to say,

        You ask has David Healy had anything near the impact of Ben Goldacre?

        Ben Goldacre is a relatively new kid on the block when it comes to this stuff. Dr Joseph Glenmullen, Dr Peter Breggin, Dr Michael Corry, Dr Terry Lynch, Dr David Healy – and many others- have been publishing critical psychiatry books and articles, etc for many years on pharmaceutical corruption and undue influence of the industry upon psychiatry and the dangers of psychiatric drugs. Many years before we even heard of Ben Goldacre they were writing about all the issues of Bad Pharma. They all paved the way, Goldacre was merely repeating stuff that was already very well documented. He brought nothing new to the table except perhaps a wider interest from a different demographic which would not have been exposed to some of these issues. The only reason why Ben is more well known is because he had a huge cult following from his Bad Science thing- his book was a fluke- and he got lucky. As a matter of fact if you look at my blog, and Bob Fiddaman’s blog – our blogs go back to 2006/2007 – we have been documenting much of the stuff which Ben only decided to write about in 2012. GSK using his cult or personality in order to drive their own agenda. They had to agree to a corporate integrity agreement for 5 years with the dept of US Justice because of their 3 Billion fine for fraud- part of that agreement is they have to bring in some transparency. Hence why they have signed up to Ben’s alltrials. The only problem is- Alltrials are weak- and GSK have already run rings around them. IF GSK get what they are aiming for- we will be in a worse position then before…

        David Healy is a true patient advocate. He is 100% on the side of patients. He is extremely critical of pharma and psychiatry and he dares to speak the truth no matter what the consequences. Goldacre, on the other hand, seems to be more of a gimmick than anything else, he is very much part of the (medical) establishment which Healy, Gotzsche, and others are trying to change. The danger with someone like Goldacre is, they believe in their own cult of personality. Personally, I think he is being led astray by GSK, but perhaps his ego will not allow him to see this until its too late…

        Only time will tell…

      • I agree with you hummingbird,

        Healy’s stance on ECT is strange, and I don’t agree with ECT personally, although, I have never had it.

      • Thanks for this Truthman30

        I think you are right that Goldacre may not necessarily be original in his expose of Big Pharma, and that other writers have been campaigning for years on these issues. It may well be that others’ word-counts outnumber his significantly, and that he is standing on the shoulders of giants, but my question was whether they have had the same impact. My view is that the Critical Psychiatry network is growing in influence and is doing some valuable work, but many mental health professionals and service-users will still go their whole careers without having heard of them – such is the influence of biopsychiatric assumptions and ideas. If I am right, then critical psychiatry’s influence, even within its own specialism, remains dwarfed by more traditionalist understandings of mental illness and treatment. Let’s hope that is changing. Regardless of Goldacre’s alleged egoist agenda, unoriginality or lucky timing, he has found himself on best-sellers lists, fills theatres and cinema halls with his book tours, has prompted questions in parliament, has spoken on prime-time radio (at least), and has brought these issues to an unseeking public in an unprecedented way. And that’s not even mentioning his central role in the imperfect AllTrials: “an initiative of Bad Science, BMJ, Centre for Evidence-based Medicine, Cochrane Collaboration, James Lind Initiative, PLOS and Sense About Science and is being led in the US by Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. The AllTrials petition has been signed by 79250 people and 496 organisations.” So when we talk about ‘impact’, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to conclude he has made much more than many other campaigners on these issues, even if it can be argued that his output has been less.

    • Fair enough Truthman30

      Clearly there is plenty more for me to read and digest, but I think I even recall Goldacre saying himself that GSK has been dragged kicking-and-screaming to their current leading position amongst industry competitors in promoting trial transparency. I think I have also read him more than once arguing that they still have far to go (e.g. releasing all past trial data), and only time will tell if they live up to current and future promises.

      My guess is that Goldacre and his collaborators know full well that GSK’s modest promises are motivated more by PR than moral conscience, and that they will only go as far and fast as they can possibly away with in their own interests; so this idea that this award-winning investigative journalist and public health expert is walking blithely into a complex machiavellian plot, only visible to us outsiders and his puppeteers, just seems too far-fetched for me. With respect, I know that no one likes to be called a conspiracy theorist, but on my limited reading of yours and Healey’s positions, they do seem to have some of the ingredients.

      Thanks for your time though.

      • That is fair enough,

        But I think you miss mine (and Healy’s points) on several levels I am all for data transparency, but what Goldacre and Sense About Science have asked for doesn’t come close to the raw data. Also RTC’s are the gold standard way to disguise side effects. Add to that- the fact that GSK control the whole process, and even when a researcher gets by the lengthy process of application- they are allowed access through a primitive system which serves only to obstruct their research. Then we have the fact that GSK signed up to giving access to data as part of their settlement of 3 Billion with the dept of US justice in 2013. Ben did not inspire them- they were ordered to do it by law anyhow but the way its spun makes it look like Ben asked them and they said yes. This is not the case. Ben also has a lot of praise for Andrew Witty CEO of GSK. he seems to think he is a nice guy. It’s just not possible to be a nice guy and preside over the biggest pharmaceutical company in the UK. Andrew Witty is paid million to be the face of GSK- he has worked his entire adult life with them- been part of a company which has been implicated in dozens of unethicl and immoral scandals – some involving death to patients because of hiding data- Avanida and Seroxat are two examples. Call me a conspiracy theory if you like but I have researched and blogged for several years on all this- my blog speaks of itself…

      • Yes Adzcliff

        I am very much aware of the ‘success’ of Alltrials, Sense About Science and Ben Goldacre.
        In theory the initiative sounds great…
        but can you tell me what has Alltrials actually achieved so far? (not in terms of people signing up, popularity or pledges, but in terms of results – results for patients and access to the raw data)
        What will Alltrials ultimately achieve?
        If they don’t get access to all the original data, and merely drug company spun ones in the end, then the whole exercise is pretty pointless.. as far as I am aware they are not looking for the raw data…
        Why does Alltrials not demand that drug companies give FULL access?
        Why are drug companies even allowed to dictate the terms?
        Alltrials are in ‘partnership’ with GSK..
        The most corrupt company on the planet- what does that tell you?

        I disagree with you that most mainstream psychiatry is oblivious to the critical psychiatry movement, and I disagree that the works and ideas of those critical advocates already mentioned are by and large unknown or unacknowledged. Mainstream orthodox psychiatry is very much aware of the growing dissent and discontent, both in the general public and from within its own ranks…

        PS.. Ben Goldacre is a psychiatrist, under the reign (and supervision) of Sir Simon Wessely, I recommend you Google Wessely and see his opinions on psychiatric drugs- particularly anti-depressants…

      • Cheers Truthman30.

        Firstly, I stand by my view that many ‘mental health professionals’ and ‘service-users’ will go their whole careers without having heard of the critical psychiatry network (CPN). It may well be that most psychiatrists have heard of the CPN, but most psychiatrists are not most mental health professionals, and ‘hearing’ of them isn’t the same as ‘listening’ to them, or allowing their ideas into your beliefs/practices . Certainly most mental health professionals I talk with – outside of the critical community – are surprised to hear that biochemical imbalances remain unproven and diagnoses invented, and junior psychiatrists in particular still seem very invested in their narrow medical models of diagnosis and treatment. (And I believe the vast majority are essentially ‘good guys’.)

        As for AllTrials, I concede that I am yet to see any game-changing results as yet, but I do hear positive noises. I also see the industry dragging their heels, and too suspect they are using their lobbying powers to protect their commercial interests by not going a millimetre further than they’re made to and/or a second sooner. It is frustrating that the EMA continue to delay on their promised data-sharing policy, but they have been cajoled into promising one. So I guess I would need to see how the Healys, Breggins and CPN (etc.) have made bigger strides into domestic and European policy on drug research and industry regulation, and without consulting a single pharmaceutical company, before I accept that they have out-performed the fresh-faced journeyman Goldacre in terms of ‘impact’.

        And finally, yes I do know Goldacre is a psychiatrist (so is Healy, Breggin, Moncrieff, Double, Thomas etc.), and that doesn’t concern me. I didn’t know he was under the supervision of Wessely (I will check that), which also doesn’t worry me hugely, as I know he has written about anti-depressants in a way that Wessely would disapprove of. Again, I think these are loose connections designed to disparage Goldacre’s character rather than address his work.

        Thanks.

  11. adzcliff…

    I pointed out that Ben Goldacre is a psychiatrist because this is something which I was surprised by when I discovered it. I suspect that others would be surprised also because this is something which Goldacre does not advertise for whatever reason. As a matter of fact, Goldacre cultivated an image of just your regular old local GP originally. I suspect that this was because the GP image was much more palatable and marketable than the image of ‘just your average, harmless, friendly local psychiatrist…

    None of what I said is disparaging to Goldacre. He chooses to be in the public eye, he makes a lot of money from his celebrity, and he feels he has a right to scrutinize, analyze and disparage the careers and views of many people, from homeopaths to parents who believe that vaccines harmed their children. Yet, he can’t seem to engage in a debate where his views and his stance might be under the microscope- personally I find that a little odd…

    I have pointed out to you why I think Alltrials are misguided, David Healy has explained it much better, but I think that this post from the psychiatry blog of 1boringoldman is the best summation:

    http://truthman30.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/are-ben-goldacre-and-alltrials-being-manipulated-by-gsk/

    “I notice GSK is a member of both organizations. Is this GSK’s policy on data sharing as well? If so, I think it poses a real question for the AllTrials group and particularly those who have expressed enthusiasm for GSK’s data sharing initiative. (I like a number of things Ben Goldacre has done but I am really puzzled as to why he wants to “do cartwheels” over GSK’s offerings in this field so far. And I fear he and AllTrials could get manipulated into total irrelevancy, or worse, if they get too trusting.)”

    • Fair enough, but I don’t see Goldacre advertising/concealing that he is a psychiatrist any more or less than, say, his credentials as a epidemiologist or philosopher. I was never aware of any GP image. Goldacre’s media persona is as a doctor, science writer/journalist and campaigner. For those of us more interested in the specifics of his background/qualifications, they are there for all to see (at least) on Wikipedia. I’m still not sure what you mean when you say “something which Goldacre does not advertise for whatever reason”, and still think you’re trying to imply some sort of conspiracy. If you do have a point about the shortfalls of Bad Pharma and AllTrials, they should be good points in their own right without have to invent false anomalies that cast doubt on Goldacre’s character. (And by the way, he may well be a lying megalomaniacal sociopath, but just for none of the reasons that I have read here or elsewhere.)

      Thanks for the blog recommendation, I will try and give that a read.

  12. adzcliff

    We are going round in circles here adzcliff, maybe if you read the links I left then you might have a slightly different opinion? ..

    Goldacre never ever mentions that he is a psychiatrist, or that he he connected to Simon Wessely. Why doesn’the mention this? because he gets by on the image that he’s a ‘doctor’ and most people assume a GP…
    His media persona is carefully constructed. I am not saying he is a megalomaniac either or a sociopath, I said he is misguided… mostly by his own ego.. I have always said I think his heart is in the right place… that doesn’t mean that people with the best of intentions can’t be gullible or align themselves with nefarious forces, or lead us all into disaster!…
    I am not implying a conspiracy, I am merely being skeptical and expressing doubt. Just because people don’t take things at face value all the time and choose to investigate beyond the facades doesn’t make everything they say a conspiracy theory… doesn’t Goldacre himself espouse the merits of evidence? and skepticism? Well I have given you evidence- go take a look at it…

    • Fair enough Truthman30, but notice “never ever mentions” (dirty secret theory) is entirely compatible with “has never ever concealed” (open and transparent theory); and “connected to” is entirely compatible with “wholeheartedly disagrees with” (as well as a whole host of other possibilities). So my sceptism requires me to regard this as evidence for nothing in particular, whereas yours seems to want to interpret it in a particular direction. I think this is where conspirational thinking deviates from classical scepticism. I may be wrong on that.

      Sorry if I’ve got a bit too much time and energy for this today.

      • adzcliff…

        If you have no intention of reading my blog, or Healy’s, or the links I have provided then there is no point in having this discussion…

        I have been researching and blogging for over 7 years on GSK, and the related issues- how long have you been blogging about it? How many posts have you on your blog about it? I have several hundred… if you don’t intend to read them then you don’t have an argument…

      • Okay Truthman30, I have been reading some of yours and others’ blog posts, and have found much of interest. The fact that I still find points of disagreement, and that I take issue with some of your thinking methods (as you do mine), doesn’t necessarily mean that I am arguing from a glib perspective. (I assume you are not claiming that your methods and conclusions are perfect?) And I’m sorry to say that last paragraph of yours made me wince slightly, and you’ll have to forgive me for dismissing it as one massive appeal to authority (“I have done this much, you have done that much, therefore I am right and you are wrong”). I will therefore leave this discussion there. Thanks for your time.

  13. adscliff…

    I was merely drawing attention to the fact that I have been blogging for several years. I have several hundred blog posts of opinions which you can analyze and criticize – I don’t see yours? This puts me in a disadvantageous position in terms of discussion but in my blog posts I have already stated my case so really it’s up to you to state yours. Thanks for your time also.

  14. Smoke and mirrors. On a youtube video, Joanna Moncrieff says that anti depressants produce an effect which is ‘appealing’. We aren’t talking about whether cappuchino beige is more appealing than moonlight blue. We are talking about whether to leave someone in hell or not. I think a psychiatrist should not be using misleading expressions.

  15. Pingback: ‘Psychiatric prejudice’- a new way of silencing criticism | Chaos Theory and Human Pharmacology

  16. Pingback: Joanna Moncrieff on “Psychiatric Prejudice” – BEYOND THE PALE

  17. Pingback: ‘Psychiatric prejudice’- a new way of silencing criticism – Bhor

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