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Medicine Education United States Science

Mass Psychosis In the USA? 542

Hugh Pickens writes "James Ridgeway writes in Al Jazeera that with over $14 billion in sales in 2008, antipsychotics have become the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the U.S., surpassing drugs used to treat high cholesterol and acid reflux. While once upon a time, antipsychotics were reserved for a relatively small number of patients with hard-core psychiatric diagnoses, today it seems, everyone is taking antipsychotics. 'Parents are told that their unruly kids are in fact bipolar, and in need of anti-psychotics, while old people with dementia are dosed, in large numbers, with drugs once reserved largely for schizophrenics,' writes Ridgeway. 'Americans with symptoms ranging from chronic depression to anxiety to insomnia are now being prescribed anti-psychotics at rates that seem to indicate a national mass psychosis.' By now, just about everyone knows how the drug industry works to influence the minds of American doctors, plying them with gifts, junkets, ego-tripping awards, and research funding in exchange for endorsing or prescribing the latest and most lucrative drugs. According to Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, under the tutelage of Big Pharma, we are 'simply expanding the criteria for mental illness so that nearly everyone has one.'"
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Mass Psychosis In the USA?

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  • Everyone wins (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Saturday July 16, 2011 @08:30AM (#36784884)
    Last year my wife was suffering from some anxiety during her pregnancy. An internal medicine doctor prescribed an anti-psychosis drug to treat bipolar disorder. The list of side effects included just about everything you wouldn't want to happen to a pregnant women. What would a drug like this do to an unborn child, let alone an adult!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 16, 2011 @08:33AM (#36784906)

    Check out the BBC show "The Century of the Self"


    When you see that, it becomes pretty clear that the US population were unsuspecting guinea pigs in what's certainly the biggest experiment in mass psychology ever done. And that experiment FAILED.

  • Evidence & Problems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover ( 1679530 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @08:43AM (#36784978)

    The point is that it's evidence of overprescription, not of excessive psychotic behavior.

    There is also a problem in the observations in the summary--notably, the mere fact that we are expanding our clinical definitions of psychological diagnoses is NOT a bad thing--the problem is when people treat them wrong. The good thing about expanding and re-working the definitions is that it lets you describe and identify conditions better in each generation than you did in the generation before, and maybe learn something more about how they should be best treated.

    The problem is that almost nobody does real psychotherapy anymore (except for the filthy rich), so in most cases all people do is prescribe medication as if that would treat the problem. There are cases where it will, and there are more cases where it will treat the symptoms, but it often is very much the wrong approach. You can't sit down with someone and cure a psychological issue with a talking-to or folk medicine--they can be complex and very time-consuming and difficult for people to learn to live with or move past or adapt to the world in spite of--but conversations, activities, and the development of a support network in almost every case I have seen has made a bigger impact by far than the use of drugs.

  • Forced (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ChaoticCoyote ( 195677 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:07AM (#36785106) Homepage

    Over a decade ago, a school psychologist noticed "odd" behavior in one of my daughters. Under the guise of "vigilence", they looked for people to put on drugs. My girls, in grades 1 and 3, were interrogated -- without my permissions or knowledge -- by a school psychologist, who diagnose them with various psychotic disorders. Why? Because the girls told wild tales -- one claimed to know how to fly, and the other told dark tales ala Poe and Lovecraft.

    This bitch of a psychiatrist demanded that we drug our children, and began the process of forcing us to give the girls "medicine" (i.e., anti-psychotic and ADHD drugs), even when other psychiatrists said that my daughters were fine. When asked why she was so insistent on treating my daughters for something that didn't exist, the offending psychiatrist said:

    "I've been taking these drugs most of my life. I know they're good for your kids."

    Needless to say, I no longer live in Colorado, where this travesty was legal. My girls are intelligent, creative, productive young adults (with lots of quirks, like any smart person). Now that they're adults, they can chose what the do and do not put in their bodies.

    American society is driven by a need by people's to feel like a victim, by fear, and by selfish greed. It is a recipe for disaster.

  • I Am Not Surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by improfane ( 855034 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:09AM (#36785114) Journal

    I imagine it's pretty easy to become depressed in our society.

    • Consumerism people judge themselves by products (Apple, car brands, discount retailers), they depend on corporate products to do what they could otherwise do, they are powerless to the system, they buy cake mixtures or microwave teleivsion dinners.
    • Devoid of meaning I'd hazard that most people feel that their life is meaningless which brings me to my next point.
    • Life = job People (by necessity) live life a job, not a life. office workers and labourers.
    • Unchecked capitalism Capitalism doesn't feel soft and fuzzy. You feel powerless. Advertising is harmful.

    People who live a job rather than a life do things that advertising and media tell them to do or what other people in their situation do to escape. They turn to alcohol, nightclubs, meaningless sex*, gambling, smoking or anything that is meaningless or self destructive.
    * Not that meaningless sex means anything to Slashdotters but I hope my point is made intellectually.

    I imagine that these factors, plus the fact that everyone seems to be a big asshole these days contribute to people turning to drugs. Ultmately, people feel disconnected from other people, they are ostracized and bullied. Drugs don't solve problems. You do.

      I feel powerless because of the following:

    • My Privacy invaded day by day
    • My Government and the US government is massively corrupt, doesn't tax companies
    • The unjust succeed while the moral wither
    • Everyone thinks they are right so nothing gets done

    As Adam Smith said, agriculture is the root of all progress. Our society is unsustainable and growth seems to be on top of artificial markets. For example, digital markets like the domain market. Or on advertising.

  • by improfane ( 855034 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:19AM (#36785162) Journal

    Ask yourself.

    Why aren't you happy? You (probably) have: electricity, abundance of food and water, computers, video games, (some) free time, a job, a loving girlfriend/wife? Money?

    You're not happy because you cannot be you in this society.

    It's that trite cliche that materials do not bring happiness but they are necessity for happiness. You cannot be happy about something before you have shelter, food and water. (Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)

    Our society lacks somethin that people need. Drugs really don't give that to you.

    Arguing about happiness on Slashdot. Very odd.

  • by improfane ( 855034 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:31AM (#36785266) Journal

    If I took the pill, I wouldn't be taking responsibility for what I feel.

    What is the biological reasoning behind people who are depressed anyway? How can it be evolutionary? Surely it doesn't serve any good purpose besides feeding predators?

    Perhaps it's a side effect of sapience? (of which sapience is a side effect of something else) Perhaps are consciousness and sapience is so unbelievably complex that it simply has 'failures' from times to time, overstimulation or sensitivity. In that case, that makes the pill more like a mechanical fix rather than a cop out.

  • by derGoldstein ( 1494129 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @10:00AM (#36785470) Homepage
    I know that it's cliche, but someone has to bring up nietzsche at this point. He kept pointing out that people in "the modern era" were really just carts on a rail, regardless of their social-economic status. Whoever you are, there are things that "are expected of you", which, if you chose to avoid, either make you "weird", or even downright rejected.

    It doesn't matter that you have food and shelter. These things don't provide you with real freedom. You're still restrained by society and forced to choose between several pre-determined, "acceptable" paths. If you do anything else, there will be social penalties. His famous collapse at the reigned horse was him weeping for mankind -- we're all shackled and bound, because if we weren't, we'd be too destructive.

    We can't change our lives in order to become happy, so the next logical step is to change our brain chemistry. Maybe then we'll be slightly happier broken-in horses.
  • Re:Lack of exercise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Brewmeister_Z ( 1246424 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @10:35AM (#36785734)

    I started dealing with depression about 10 years ago. I have tried many drugs with little benefit but plenty of the worse results such as weight gain, sexual side effects, and mania. I have been hospitalized multiple times on both sides of the spectrum but nothing was ever stated as a physical cause other than stress.

    Only in the past year was a test done to check for imbalances that may lead to depression. It turns out my vitamin D levels were very low. Many people cannot create or absorb vitamin D very well (especially a problem in winter). To treat it, I was told to take 5000 IU of D-3. Guess what, it worked! And within a few days and not 30 days like some drugs that must build up in your body. Now I take a lower dose (2000 IU) as supplement. If I feel a bit off mood-wise, I can take a dose and it makes a difference within 30 minutes. Also, it significantly cheaper. I can get a 100 doses of D-3 5000 IU for $5 or 200 doses of 2000 IU for $6. I would pay at least $25 for a 30 day supply of anything else as a prescription and that is only if my deductible was met.

    Big pharma always downplays nutrition supplements (even studies that support it) as natural cures because they cannot patent it and charge $5 and up per dose. That being said, some of these drugs do genuinely help people with certain conditions. The problem is the lack of diagnosis to determine the cause of the problem and just trying to chase symptoms with drugs that create more problems than they may fix and may take a month before any benefit is seen. With depression, that is a long time to basically go without help and subjected to immediate side effects only to make a person feel even worse about life.

    Exercise and diet is not downplayed because they know that people do not have the drive, resources and/or time for it be a factor in not needing to take their drug for whatever condition.

  • by improfane ( 855034 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @11:24AM (#36786114) Journal

    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

    I can be happy in my circumstances but not completely content given all the things that are happening in the world. Call it idealism.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 16, 2011 @11:45AM (#36786246)

    "We can't change our lives in order to become happy" - no, because we need to change ourselves to become happy. Go to a developing country and they'll almost certainly idolise the West because they are trying to "change their lives to become happy", and have seen the 'benefits' of consumerism.

    Once our basic needs are met, we should spend time removing the junk from our minds, the inaccurate notions and ideas, the misperceptions that have led to us to conclude that happiness depends on something external to ourselves. This is critical to understand, and without deep investigation allows feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency to fester and grow. These feelings can drive some people to work 80 hour weeks, others just have a breakdown.

    The problem is one of focus, but also of education. We aren't taught how to deal with the stresses and strains of life at school, we're just sculpted into workers, cogs in machines. We aren't taught the truth of practices that can rejuvenate our lives, and little is made of balance. Instead, these misunderstandings allow us to be hijacked by advertising and media, and be turned into slaves.

    The current situation isn't sustainable. Just this week I read that the US, on the brink of default, will decide to pay its interest even if it means cutting benefits. This is crazy. Numbers get pushed around so that wealthy investors become even wealthier while those on the lower rungs of society - people who actually need help and suport - are left with nowhere to turn.

    We need heart.

    Apparently during the Roman era, people identified themselves with their hearts - i.e. if you asked a Roman where in his body his consciousness was, he would have pointed to his heart. Whether this is true or not, romance and the heart were certainly dominant in the high art of the pre-1700s - Shakespeare, the Renaissance, etc. Now, we're all logic. Cold, calculating logic, stuck in our heads. I believe that only when these two aspects of ourselves are balanced will humanity reach its true potential. I just hope we don't destroy ourselves or our chance on this planet before this happens.

  • Re:Forced (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @01:06PM (#36786896) Journal

    "we have been doing it like this for generations, it must be right", the foundation for religion. Tho these days also the basis for a lot of basic political thinking (see Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau being deemed basically infallible).

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