FDA Warnings on Psychiatric Drugs

Orion Reasoner
Issue XXI - April 20, 2004
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Recently, the “ever-venerable” Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning on a whole list of antidepressants, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs), and antipsychotic “medications” such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Effexor.  The organization warned that these chemicals may cause possible suicide, severe depression, anxiety, and panic attacks in children and adults.

Well, DUH!

I mean, I know that we’re all supposed to be hazily dwelling in Fantasyland these days, but just for a nanosecond, let’s perhaps try and create a refreshing oasis of real honesty … These drugs are largely garbage, the culmination of pure arrogance and pseudo-science at their very most contemptible.  While profit is the noblest of pursuits, it is conditional upon the free and competitive sale of quality goods, unaided by government assistance.  The present sale and marketing tactics of psychiatric drugs violate all principles of objectivity, decency, and true capitalism.
As a former premedical and graduate student in both neuroscience and clinical psychology (both fields which I ran screaming from, horrified), I can tell you with no uncertainty whatsoever that virtually nothing is really understood about brain cell function, or how neurochemistry actually translates into mood or intelligence.  The neuropharmaceutical industry likes to talk as if it knows precisely what neurotransmitters do precisely what, and precisely where… but all that talk is just designed to impress and mystify those they frequently regard as contemptible sheep.
The truth is that the human brain literally throws together hundreds of thousands of random assortments of atoms and molecules constantly, and in yet-unpredictable arrangements all over the brain, to serve as neurotransmitters.  When one of these companies creates its newest “wonder pill” and calls it a “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor,” for example … well, to say that its efforts are clumsy and overconfident is a galactic understatement.
In actuality, the industry has almost no definite idea whatsoever where the drug is doing its work, or even if it really makes a difference.  It’s like trying to perform delicate microsurgery on a field mouse, by flying a half-mile overhead in a helicopter, and dropping machetes out the door while wearing a blindfold … with 90 mile an hour winds.  It’s sheer madness, arrogance, and wishful thinking.
As I see it, a very likely reason why these “wonder drugs” are actually causing increased rates of despair and suicide, is that life today is pretty hellish.  I mean, once again, let’s be honest.  You have to be truly living in a cave or in deranged denial nowadays to miss that far too many of us live in an alienated, unaffectionate, non-nurturing, untrustworthy snake-pit.  This state alone causes unimaginable grief.
When such a person, who clearly needs the milk of human logic and kindness, naively walks into a doctor’s office seeking answers and human connection and instead has slung at them a bottle of cold, plastic pills … well, is there a clearer example of what the criminal justice system calls “depraved indifference”?  Could anything more concretely validate his inner conclusion that there is no hope in life?  To then pretend that such people suffer from a “chemical imbalance” is… well, no other term really applies … it’s evil.  Textbook evil.
Two opposing poles of treatment choice exist in the mental health field; the first, more heroic and empowering option known as “cognitive therapy”, assumes that a human being is an engine of inner and rapid logic, and chooses to employ logical dialogue, cognitive analysis of one’s situational logic, and thereby, real trust-building, to alleviate anxiety, depression, and psychosis.  The second option, the much more cynical, dehumanizing, and sado-masochistic one, conceitedly assumes that a human being is merely some form of  dumb animal and/or a mere stew of a few, easily manipulable chemical circuits, and goes from there, employing such methods as “behavior therapy” and/or “drug therapy.” Guess which of these two methods is almost exclusively used by the resoundingly conceited and lazy mental health industry…
As a general point of truth, “mental health” facilities are typically staffed by too many of the most callous, childish, and sado-masochistic so-called “professionals” imaginable.  Mind you, there are some good people there, but the dominant mob tends to drive them out, or at least into deep silence.
What this industry desperately needs, is an enema.  We need to flush out from the mental health industry all those individuals who cherish their secret preoccupation with depraved and dehumanizing methods such as “behavior modification” and drug “therapy” and bring in people who understand what human beings really need:  logical and objective dialogue, honesty, and in general, what all these things come together to constitute:  real love.

And while I'm at it, I also want to tack on something to what I've said about the mental health industry (MHI) that is highly relevant, yet does not have to do specifically with the use of drug therapy.  It instead does have oceans to do with Ayn Rand's monumentally important observations that 1) it is the choice of philosophy that determines the world, and that 2)
unchecked premises can have galactic, pivotal implications in our lives.

Here is the yet unmentioned revelation upon which the rest of this essay is based: The philosophical construct that the MHI subscribes to, to define "mental illness" is largely and invalidly based on something called "the normative model".

The normative model, a statistical construct that is applied to the practice of psychology, basically states that the distribution of all human thoughts and behaviors across a population falls somewhere inside a normal, or bell-shaped, curve. As an extension of this principle, it then preaches that those thoughts and behavior which deviate too much from mainstream behavior, constitute a form of "mental illness". By this model, when a way of thinking or behaving lies too statistically far from a population's average, it is a "valid" candidate for inclusion as a brand-new mental illness diagnosis.

I'm not completely sure about you, but to me, that's extremely scary...

What this says is that it's not the state of a client's logical functioning or honest observance of reality (i.e., objectivity) that constitutes the mental health industry's definition of "mental health", but rather whether that
client conforms to whatever is the mainstream status quo, whether it is logical and/or objective and/or unjust and/or destructive or not.

And how often is the truly logical and objective individual RIGHT, when everyone else -- the wailing, chanting masses who love to establish "truth" by coercion and consensus -- is just plain WRONG? Does the name
Galileo ring any bells?

No doubt many of us have heard the old cliche about the mother who admonishes her child, "Well, if all your friends were jumping off buildings, would you, too?" By the standards of any objective and rational person (and especially Objectivists), the answer is a resounding "NO!"

But, brace yourselves... because by the normative model employed by the mental health industry, the correct answer is "YES". The MHI basically states in effect that
you should do whatever your friends do, or you are mentally ill.

Do you begin to perceive the very real, outwardly-spreading, nucleus of horror here?

But wait; it gets even worse. The MHI relies upon public ignorance of the existence of the normative model as its oracle, and instead of informing the public as to that fact, instead chooses to dishonestly cultivate the public illusion that
the standard of logical objectivity is their standard! Yet they know that logic has nothing to do with it... In fact, under their system, the truly logical, objective person could not conform, and would be diagnosed as "mentally ill"!

All of this of which I speak, is put forth in the Holy Bible of the mental health industry, called
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, or "DSM-IV" for short. It is taught to graduate and undergraduate students in all subject areas that touch upon the MHI, but particularly to graduate students.

What is also very alarming about this book, is what it gives in terms of the numerical prevalence of its many disorders. Typically, it will give the percent occurrence of something like anxiety or depression in the general population as a
single digit number... in other words, up to nine percent of the population, at MOST.

Um, excuse me? Have I missed something here? When I look around the world today, and look at the expressions and demeanors and attitudes of just about everyone I come across, an
enormous percentage of people are depressed or anxious... and even the incidence of schizophrenia seems to be rising fast. Where are they getting these abominably low figures, and more importantly, why would they publish them as fact?

The only truly explanatory two reasons that I can see, are that 1) these figures represent the small percentage of those people in the general population who are so incapacitated and desperate as to actually cross the Maginot Lines of reasonable cultural paranoia of "shrinks" and present themselves for diagnosis to an MHI practitioner. The DSM then states that the incidence of these various patient diagnoses are what constitute their numbers.

But think about this... Which is a truer measure of the incidence of "paranoia" in our culture: the incidence of paranoia within those patients who are trusting enough to actually submit themselves for diagnosis, or all of those countless many in the general population who are
much too cautious to even make an appointment in the first place?

But regardless; for whatever reasons, these ultra-small percentages must be invalid by any truly comprehensive standard of measurement, as is even evidenced by our ever-disturbing popular culture.

What other purpose could these invalid percentages then serve? Well, 2) if you think back to how the MHI relies upon the normative model which it has chosen as its philosophical standard to justify labelling something as "mental illness", then that means that they have to present a certain way of thinking of behaving as being
in the minority... and that means, they need small percentages of occurrence... however they be gotten.

So, if the DSM can publish that the incidence of, say, depression is statistically in the single digits, which is of course insane, then they can employ the normative model and say that it is a mental illness, and therefore illogical... and so, an unjustified response to this modern society!

And that's when they can employ their oftentimes iron-fisted government mandate to force the toxic and misunderstood chemical substances that I mentioned earlier upon that person, and even involuntary commitment to a psychiatric facility, and thus conform them through a slick and fast shell game of logic. But this is no mere shell game, you see; it is actually an entire worldwide industry that rests upon the cleverly inserted, false premise that "normality, not objectivity, is sanity", and thus drives the "divine mandate" of this industry. As Francisco d'Anconia advised Dagny Taggart: "Contradictions do not exist; whenever you think you are faced with a contradiction,
check your premises. You will find that one of them is false."

The corrupt Sophists of ancient Athens who were the sworn ideological enemies of Aristotle (Ayn Rand's proclaimed philosophical mentor) never vanished, it seems; their guiding philosophy, indeed their very spirit, drives the mental health industry.

Make no mistake, nor dismiss this smugly; this is an air-tight, well-oiled machine that can be conveniently employed at a moment's notice a nightmarishly effective way for snuffing out all dissidence and dissidents... all nonconformists... all logical thinkers... all those with conscience and courage... all those who revere objectivity... and this logically implies you, the reader, the Objectivist.

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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

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Read Mr. Stolyarov's four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.