Currently, neuroleptics for schizophrenia, benzodiazepines for anxiety, antidepressants for depression.
What have we found? The chemicals perturb the neurotransmitter systems of the brain. And the brain responds adapting to the local presence of the chemical.
The easiest analogy with an engine, gas and brakes.
For the depressed we found a way to add gas, fire things up. Given the artificial addition of a stimulant of sorts, the natural response by the brain is to strengthen the depressive capacity, the brake. So, the capacity for putting on the brakes is strengthened. When the artificial addition is removed (the patient is taken off the drugs) the newly acquired depressive capacity is left uninhibited. These are called withdrawal symptoms. Because of the newly developed brake-capacity, caused by natural response to artificially inserted chemical-gas, the new depression is worse. So, the “doctor” concludes, “this depression is chronic.”
For the anxious we found a way to add brake power, slow things down. Given the artificial addition of a suppressive of sorts, the natural response by the brake is to strengthen the stimulative capacity, the gas. When the artificial addition is removed, (the patient is taken off the drugs) the newly acquired stimulative capacity is left uninhibited. Anxiety is worse than before. So, the “doctor” concludes, “this anxiety needs an increased dose.
For the schizophrenic we found a way to suppress the psychotic symptoms through the introduction of a chemical agent. Again, the goal here was suppressive. The natural response on the brain was for the brain to build up adaptation against the newly introduced suppressive agent. Once it is removed, the imbalance effects worsening symptoms.
The medicalization of life only increases. Pharmaceutical companies benefit. Politicians benefit. “Patients” (sufferers) do not benefit. They are sold snake-oil, the track record of which is only a worsening of symptoms (suffering), dependency, and thus a higher mountain to climb to the approach of what we all want–freedom and tranquility.
The truth is that there is no easy road. Only the road to hell is labeled “easy”. This is a fundamental principle of life. It is captured in the necessity of labor for production, and spending (of calories and time at least) for labor. Production makes good. Labor makes production. Labor requires the expending of resource. That resource must be laid on the alter.
The evidence we have of schizophrenia, anxiety, depression prior to the introduction of magic-bullet chemicals is of very little chronicity and very regular temporary suffering followed by recovery and reintegration into social life. Since the introduction of the easy-road of chemicals the number of sufferers has ballooned, and their suffering has increased.
Two data points for further reflection from Robert Whitaker’s profound research:
“In 1969, the World Health Organization launched an effort to track schizophrenia outcomes in nine countries. At the end of five years the patients in the three ‘developing’ countries–India, Nigeria, and Columbia–had a ‘considerably better course and outcome’ than patients in the United States and five other ‘developed countries’. They were more likely to be asymptomatic during the follow-up period, and even more important, they enjoyed ‘an expeptionally good social outcome.’ …[These findings stung the psychiatric community in US and Europe. So another study was completed in 1978]…
At the end of two years, nearly two-thirds of the patients in the ‘developing countries’ had had good outcomes, and slightly more than one-third had become chronically ill. In the rich countries, only 37 percent of the patients had good outcomes, and 59 percent became chronically ill. ‘Being in a developed country was a strong predictor of not attaining a complete remission.’…
Only 16 percent of the patients in the poor countries were regularly maintained on antipsychotics, versus 61 percent of the patients in the rich countries. Moreover, Agra, India, where patients arguable faired the best, only 3 percent of the patients were kept on an antipsychotic. Medication usage was highest in Moscow, and that city had the highest percentage of patients who were constantly ill.”
(From Robert Whitaker, 2010/2015, Anatomy of an Epidemic, pg. 110-111.)
“In 1955, there were 38,200 people in the nation’s mental hospitals due to depression, a per capita disability rate of 1 in 4,345. Today, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages fifteen to forty-four. According to the NIMH, it affects 15 million American adults, and researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health reported in 2008 that 58 percent of this group is ‘severely impaired.’ That means nearly nine million adults are now disabled, to some extent, by this condition.”
(Ibid., pg. 170.)
Woe to him who offers the magic-bullet, the easy road leads to destruction. Woe to him who accepts the magic-bullet, the easy road leads to destruction. There is an analogy with religion that is worth taking up but for time. Is the magic-bullet of “believing in the god” any better than the magic-bullet of “swallow the chemical”? Do both at best permit an escape from the reality that it would be best were confronted head on? Maybe more another time.