In a recent article in Wired Magazine, Josh McHugh writes about Charles Barber’s shock at discovering that the everyday people he interacted with were taking the same psychotropic drugs as the schizoid, homeless, crackhead patients he was treating in Bellevue Hospital. He goes on to summarize Barber’s view of the drug industry and its willingness to blatantly peddle drugs to us. The whole thing strikes a chord with me after having spent the better part of the last decade trying to find help for my youngest child. However, I blame the drug industry less than the psychiatric professionals. Mental Health today is where physical health was in the Dark Ages.
We heard so many half-baked theories about what was wrong with our son and what “treatment” was going to help him. There were points where I would not have been surprised if the therapist had pulled out a chicken claw and waved it over us while screaming something primal that would chase away the evil spirits who were interfering with us. Insert into this mess a promotion for a little blue (or yellow, or green, or even white) pill that will make everything better and you get a line of people wanting to have that pill.
Barber, according to McHugh, thinks we should say no to the “drug peddlers” and turn our hopes instead to “talk therapy” techniques. I challenge him to spend some time researching the history of this approach before he starts throwing stones at the drug industry. Start with a Newsweek article by Sharon Begley. In it, she describes the lack of research to substantiate the success of McHugh’s recommended “talk therapy.”
Having witnessed and experienced both drug and talk therapy in the past decade, I believe this is a Buyer Beware marketplace. Mental health today is where the rest of medicine was in the Dark Ages. I constantly expected one of the therapists to reach into a desk drawer and pull our a chicken claw to wave over my head in order to heal me.