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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 13457

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: book

Moncrieff J.
The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment
: Palgrave Macmillan 2007


This book exposes the traditional view that psychiatric drugs correct chemical imbalances as a dangerous fraud. It traces the emergence of this view and the way it supported the vested interests of the psychiatric profession, the pharmaceutical industry and the modern state. Instead it is proposed that psychiatric drugs ‘work’ by creating abnormal brain states, which are often unpleasant and impair normal intellectual and emotional functions along with other harmful consequences. Research on antipsychotics, antidepressants and mood stabilisers is examined to demonstrate this thesis and it is suggested that acknowledging the real nature of psychiatric drugs would lead to a more democratic practice of psychiatry.


The Disease Centred Model of Drug Action in Psychiatry
An Alternative Drug Centred Model of Drug Action
Physical Treatments and the Disease Centred Model
The Arrival of the New Drugs and the Influence of Interest Groups
The Birth of the Idea of an ‘Antipsychotic’
Are Neuroleptics Effective and Specific? A Review of the Evidence
What do Neuroleptics Really Do? A Drug Centred Approach
The Construction of the ‘Antidepressant’
Is There Such a Thing as an Antidepressant? A Review of the Evidence
What do Antidepressants Really Do?
The Idea of Special Drugs for Manic Depression
Evidence on the Action of Lithium and Mood Stabilisers
Democratic Drug Treatment: Implications of the Drug Centred Model
The Myth of the Chemical Cure


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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963