Cognition & Reality

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Fantasy Drug

Filed under: Chemical Imbalance,Medical Morality,Propaganda,Psychomyths — drtone @ 3:04 pm

For someone like me who believes that there is a great confusion around the meaning and effectiveness of psychiatric medications, it can get pretty discouraging. What I mean is that the idea that psychiatrists and pharmacologists can develop medical cures for what ails us is so embedded in our culture that it will be decades before people will be able to get a genuine perspective on the causes of and cures for psychoemotional distress. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether a given cultural product was deliberately created as a piece of psychiatric propaganda or the creators simply take for granted that eventually there will be a medicine for every form of disturbance.

The latest case in point is an episode from the first season of “The Closer,” starring Kyra Sedgwick (Mrs. Kevin Bacon). The plot revolves the development of an “antidepressant” that can “cure” teenage drug addiction while also treating teenagers’ anxieties. Problems arise in the development of the drug, but not because, strictly speaking, it doesn’t work. It does seem to “cure” all the worst ills of adolescence (from many parents’ point of view), but it also has potentially fatal side effects. Early in the episode, moreover, mention is made of the various drugs of abuse the new medication sort of works against. The implication is that merely trying these drugs (Ecstasy, speed, etc.) is highly likely to do permanent damage. So the faith in drugs works both ways: Drugs are so strong, for good or ill, that we are helpless before them, as if the world is a giant 12-step meeting.

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