Get Real: Peter Gøtzsche Responds

Editorial Note: Two weeks ago we ran Peter Gøtzsche’s Psychiatry Gone Astray. There was a context – a Danish  doctor had been found responsible for the suicide of a young man put on antidepressants. This and Peter’s article stirred up debate in Denmark drawing a hard to credit defensive response from senior Danish Psychiatrists.

Peter’s blog was critiqued by George Dawson on Real Psychiatry. An anonymous tweeter @psycrit said “a post about @DrDavidHealy‘s nuttiness turns into an amazing discussion, with unbelievably high-quality comments”. Apparently my nuttiness lies in having anything by Peter G on the site. 

There should be new word for this kind of ad hominem attack – which also flavor’s Dr Dawson’s post. It’s ad hominem by association or ad parahominem.

A number of colleagues such as Barney Carroll thought Peter’s piece was over the top. There are major differences between Peter and I – he locates the problem within industry in a way that I don’t. But the correct analysis is not always what carries the day. People like Peter, Ben Goldacre and Bob Whitaker can be effective – the worry then is whether the change they deliver is the right one – are GSK really one of us now?

History will recognize Peter as the man who, among other achievements, prised open the question of access to RCT data, forcing the European Medicines’ Agency to open up their files. His motivation to do this came in part from a discovery of how appallingly bad the state of affairs in psychiatry IS. How almost all trials on which the field depends are ghostwritten, all data withheld and all dissent suppressed. Whatever it is this is not science and there has to be a good chance it’s killing and disabling more people prematurely than it helps.

What you hear from Peter is a howl of horror. The rest of us have got so inured to the situation we can no longer see how bad it is. The Allied troops arriving at concentration camps must have reacted the same way, where many inmates had gotten used to the situation.

It’s quite possible as George Dawson says that psychiatrists could make equivalent comments about other concentration camps in internal medicine. That doesn’t excuse what’s happening in either psychiatry or the rest of medicine. It’s time to Get Real or at least recognize how an outsider from the media or elsewhere would react if they found out what is really going on.

Peter’s response to George Dawson is here.

Unwarranted criticism of “Psychiatry Gone Astray
Peter C. Gøtzsche Copenhagen

On 6 January 2014, I published the article “Psychiatry Gone Astray” in a major Danish newspaper (Politiken), which started an important debate about the use and abuse of psychiatric drugs. Numerous articles followed, some written by psychiatrists who agreed with my views. For more than a month, there wasn’t a single day without discussion of these issues on radio, TV or in newspapers, and there were also debates at departments of psychiatry. People in Norway and Sweden have thanked me for having started the discussion, saying that it’s impossible to have such public debates about psychiatry in their country, and I have received hundreds of emails from patients that have confirmed with their own stories that what I wrote in my article is true.

Three months earlier, I gave a one-hour lecture about these issues in Danish, which was filmed and put on You Tube with English subtitles: After only two weeks, it had been seen by over 10,000 people from over 100 countries.

What this tells me is that I must have hit something that is highly relevant to discuss. I therefore translated my article and David Healy uploaded it on his website: It also came up on, the website of the science journalist Robert Whitaker, who gives many lectures for psychiatrists and whose recent book, “Anatomy of an epidemic,” was an eyeopener to me, as was David Healy’s “Let them eat Prozac.”

On 8 February 2014, psychiatrist George Dawson wrote “An Obvious Response to ‘Psychiatry Gone Astray“‘ on his blog. Having read Dawson’s blog, I feel the final sentence in my article, which was not translated into English, becomes relevant: It will be difficult when the leaders in psychiatry are so blind to the facts that they will not see that their specialty is in deep crisis. It is also relevant to quote the opening sentences in my acticle:

“At the Nordic Cochrane Centre, we have researched antidepressants for several years and I have long wondered why leading professors of psychiatry base their practice on a number of erroneous myths. These myths are harmful to patients. Many psychiatrists are well aware that the myths do not hold and have told me so, but they don’t dare deviate from the official positions because of career concerns. Being a specialist in internal medicine, I don’t risk ruining my career by incurring the professors’ wrath and I shall try here to come to the rescue of the many conscientious but oppressed psychiatrists and patients by listing the worst myths and explain why they are harmful.”

I listed 10 myths in my article, which I shall repeat here, and will now rebut Dawson’s criticism of them. Dawson says that the myths I describe “are mythical in that they are from the mind of the author – I know of no psychiatrist who thinks this way.” As I have just indicated, there is no person as blind as he who will not see and no psychiatrist as deaf as he who will not listen. Everything I wrote in my article has been documented, most of it in my book “Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime,” and many responses on his own blog shows Dawson to be wrong.

Myth 1: Your disease is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain

Dawson: “This is a red herring that is frequently marched out in the media and often connected with a conspiracy theory that psychiatrists are tools of pharmaceutical companies who probably originated this idea. What are the facts?”

The facts are abundant. Many papers written by psychiatrists have stated this, and it is also what most patients say that their psychiatrists tell them. I have lectured for patients and asked them, and every time most patients say they have been told exactly this hoax about a chemical imbalance. The drugs don’t cure a chemical imbalance; they create one, which is why it is difficult to get off them again.

Myth 2: It’s no problem to stop treatment with antidepressants 

Dawson: “Another red herring.”

Dawson agrees that there may be “difficulty discontinuing antidepressants” but then tries to get off the hook by noting that this can also be seen with other drugs than psychiatric ones. Allow me to say that one illegal parking doesn’t make the next one legal. Dawson agrees with me but tries to say he doesn’t. Pretty weird.

Myth 3: Psychotropic drugs for mental illness are like insulin for diabetes

Dawson invents strawmen here, e.g. by saying “Am I getting prednisone for my asthma because I am deficient in prednisone?”

That’s totally off the point, as no asthma specialist would be as silly as many psychiatrists are. Again, most patients have told me that this is what their psychiatrists tell them, and professors of psychiatry have also propagated the myth publicly, e.g. in numerous interviews and in articles written by themselves.

Myth 4: Psychotropic drugs reduce the number of chronically ill patients 

Dawson: “I don’t know of anyone who has actually suggested this.”

Pardon me, but Dawson must be both blind and deaf to have escaped this, which psychiatrists say and write all the time. Dawson finds the argument “demeaning to anyone with a severe psychiatric disorder who is interested in staying out of hospitals and being able to function or trying to avoid a suicide attempt. Being able to adhere to that kind of plan depends on multiple variables including taking medications,” and he furthermore says that, “It is reckless to suggest otherwise and any psychiatrist knows about severe adverse outcomes that have occurred as a result of stopping a medication.” Whitaker has documented at length in his book that the increased use of psychotropic drugs has led to an explosion in the number of chronically ill patients on lifelong disability pension and he has also explained and documented the mechanisms behind this.

Myth 5: Happy pills do not cause suicide in children and adolescents

Dawson believes that I reveal my “antipathy to medication used by psychiatrists” by referring to antidepressants as “happy pills.”

Dawson plays the antipsychiatry card here, which is the ultimate trump card psychiatrists use when they have no valid arguments. I consider the term happy pill extremely misleading, as, for example, half of those treated get their sex life disturbed, which has led me to call them unhappy pills whose main action is to ruin your sex life. However, since everybody uses the term (instead of the cumbersome “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors”), including many psychiatrists, I also use it. Dawson says he has never met a psychiatrist who calls antidepressants “happy pills,” but what can you expect of a man who seems to be both blind and deaf? Dawson claims that “saying that happy pills are a cause of suicide is the equivalent of saying that “sugar medicine” (insulin) is a cause of hypoglycemia that harms children and therefore it should not be prescribed.” What exactly does Dawson mean by this smoke and mirrors? It is a fact, which the FDA has demonstrated, that SSRIs increase suicidal behaviour up to age 40, and package inserts warn about the risk of suicide and recommend not using SSRIs in children and adolescents. Then why do psychiatrists use them in this age group? To use Dawson’s allegory, we wouldn’t use insulin if it increased blood glucose and the risk of dying in a diabetic coma.

Myth 6: Happy pills have no side effects

Dawson’s naivity with respect to the drug industry is heartbreaking. About the incidence of sexual problems caused by SSRIs, he refers to FDA data. But what is buried in FDA archives is not what the companies tell doctors. It is true when I write that companies have said that only 5 % get sexual problems. The true rate of sexual problems is above 50%, and there are reports that these disturbances might become permanent, which agree with rat studies where the rats showed less interest in sex long after they had come off the drugs.

Myth 7: Happy pills are not addictive

Dawson’s says that ‘antidepressants aren’t addictive’.

They surely are, as half of the patients have difficulty coming off them again even with slow tapering and experience similar symptoms as patients who try to come off benzodiazepines.

Dawson claims that SSRIs have no street value and will not make you high, and that my comparison with amphetamine is completely off the mark and consistent with my general lack of knowledge of addiction. Allow me to say that there are striking similarities between the effects of amphetamine and SSRIs and also to quote a few sentences from my book:

“In 2004, the FDA issued a warning that antidepressants can cause a cluster of activating or stimulating symptoms such as agitation, panic attacks, insomnia and aggressiveness. Such effects were expected, as fluoxetine is similar to cocaine in its effects on serotonin (73). Interestingly, however, when the EMA in 2000 continued to deny that the use of SSRIs leads to dependence, it nonetheless stated that SSRIs ‘have been shown to reduce intake of addictive substances like cocaine and ethanol. The interpretation of this aspect is difficult’(77). The interpretation is only difficult for those who are so blind that they will not see.”

“Until 2003, the UK drug regulator propagated the falsehood that SSRIs are not addictive, but the same year, the World Health Organization published a report that noted that three SSRIs (fluoxetine, paroxetine and sertraline) were among the top 30 highest-ranking drugs for which drug dependence had ever been reported (62).”

Myth 8: The prevalence of depression has increased a lot

Dawson and I seem to agree that there is hardly any true increase in the prevalence of depression. The apparent increase is caused by lowering the criteria for what is considered a depression. I also agree with his argument that since 80% of antidepressants are prescribed by primary care physicians we might call this “Primary care gone astray.”

Myth 9: The main problem is not overtreatment, but undertreatment

Dawson’s main argument is that we should not blame psychiatrists for the overtreatment but the primary care prescribers. Well, they are certainly to blame but so are the psychiatrists. Although the Danish National Board of Health recommends that only one antipsychotic should be used at a time, this is not the case. According to a report by the Board of Health, only half of patients with schizophrenia received one antipsychotic drug, one third got two drugs, and the rest got three, four or even more drugs.

Myth 10: Antipsychotics prevent brain damage

Dawson calls my arguments “More rhetoric.”

They are not. Leading psychiatrists have written this and tell their patients that they need to take the drugs in order to prevent brain damage, although it has been documented that antipsychotics cause brain damage in a dose-dependent manner. Dawson continues his futile attempts at killing the messenger: “He also talks about antipsychotic medication with the arrogance of a person who does not have to treat acutely psychotic people and incredibly talks about these drugs killing people.” These drugs do kill people. Doesn’t Dawson know this? I have estimated that Eli Lilly has killed 200,000 people with Zyprexa, and that is just one of the many antipsychotic drugs.

Dawson ends by saying: “At the end of this refutation what have we learned? I am more skeptical than ever of David Healy and his web site.” Dawson is very much against that Healy put my article on his website and he seems to suggest again that one illegal parking makes the next one legal: “It is well known in the US that the 20 year CDC initiative to control antibiotic overprescribing is a failure.” So what? That doesn’t let the psychiatrists off the hook, does it? I think a dose of self-criticism would help not only Dawson, but many other psychiatrists, and their patients.

Dawson finally says that:

“internists have enough to focus on in their own specialty before criticizing an area that they obviously know so little about. The author here also states that he is affiliated with the Nordic Cochrane Center and I think that anyone who considers the output of that Institute should consider what he has written here and the relevant conflict of interest issues.”

These are the words of a desperate man. Short of good arguments, Dawson shoots in all directions. I have done research on SSRIs for several years; had a PhD student who defended her thesis on SSRIs in 2013; have access to unpublished clinical study reports on SSRIs from the European Medicines Agency that no one else outside the agency have access to, and which tells a completely different story to that in published trial reports; and I therefore know more about these drugs than most psychiatrists do. I don’t have a clue what my relevant conflict of interest should be about. I have none! Finally, the Nordic Cochrane Centre, which I established 20 years ago when I co-founded the Cochrane Collaboration and whose director I have been ever since, is highly respected for its research. As an example, I have published more than 50 papers in the big five (BMJ, Lancet, JAMA, NEJM, Annals), which very few people in the world have done. So I think my credentials and my centre are okay.

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  1. For people, particularly psychiatrists, to go round calling people they disagree with (including other psychiatrists) “nutty” or “mad” or just in some way defective, is obviously troubling, abusive and evades the real reasons for differences which the abuser can’t address.

    As for Peter Gøtzsche, I hope he really isn’t anything “like” Ben Goldacre. Some years ago I was concerned over a paper of his that recommended “self-regulation” but it is still giving Goldacre too much credit.

  2. Outsiders would not be able to believe the truth of corruption and severe abuse including non-concensual and depraved treatment which still continues today, and in the UK. Indeed it certainly appears that for some of us who are ‘service users’ and who were brave enough to highlight real abuses within the system, we are deliberately ignored and dis-credited again. The very label of mental illness itself is used to dis-credit us and prevent so-called intelligent men in high circles to ever listen, investigate and believe what we say.

    The wheel within the wheel which keeps the abuse of mental health patients, and now it seems some brave psychiatric practitioners, in motion, involves far more people than those working in the health sector. We are tied in by corrupt medical insurance companies, the revised unfair legal system, military interests and a political system prepared to buffer the illegitimate use of psychiatric treatment in order to cover-up past severe abuse and to promote our system to the world. The ring that corrupts is also linked to proft, the banking sector’s excesses and a desperation to improve the British economy at any cost, even ignoring the most vulnerable in society and those it purports to safeguard.

    I probably shouldn’t say this, but if some of you psychiatrists are being given a hard time, some of us so-called mentally ill and shunned for it, at least aren’t left feeling quite so isolated in our incarceration. So for being labelled as ‘nutters’ yourself now, thank you.

  3. Medical people need to watch their language. In particular, psychiatrists need to watch their language. Psychiatry is the one field, where language is crucial to the patient who is being analysed, in case, they are defective.

    Peter Gotzsche is a one off. David Healy is always polite, always compassionate.

    Be grateful to have these two on board who have the killer put down at their disposal with more common sense than anyone else in the field of psychiatry, apart from 1Boringoldman who is just pure gold and helps out considerably with his constant churning of self-evident pharma manipulation.

  4. Anne-Marie says:

    I would lose confidence in any psychiatrist I heard using the word “nutter” on anyone.

  5. What I found interesting is that after Dr. Dawson suggested that psychiatrists no longer adhere to the “chemical imbalance” theory, one of his commentators – presumably a psychiatrist – wrote in:
    “Irrespective of what factors are precipitating the depression, we also know that ultimately, as a final step in the process of becoming a person suffering from depression, all the symptoms are the result of abnormal function of certain certain chemicals called neurotransmitters that nerves use to talk to each other. As a result, antidepressants, which can help normalize the function of those neurotransmitter systems can be a useful tool.”

  6. One of the benefits of being a blogger with no real educational background is that I get to publish whatever I write, I answer to no editor who fears a lawsuit. This could have landed me in hot water a few years ago when GSK’s Alistiar Benbow was, apparently, deeply upset by a video I had created about him that implied he was lying. His lawyers, Addleshaw Goddard, threatened to sue me if I didn’t retract the statement and remove the video from YouTube. The outcome is highlighted in my book and was covered by US Journalist, Ed Silverman.

    Basically, people target the likes of Healy, Whittaker and Gøtzsche because they know that their profession prohibits them from getting into a public pissing match. It’s a bullying tactic that is used in school playgrounds and business.

    I’ve been labelled many things over the years I’ve been writing, it used to bother me but I now wear these labels proudly. It’s a badge of honour to be called a nutter or words to that effect…okay it’s not very nice if you are suffering from a deep depression and someone labels you a nutter but to be called one because you have stood up for what you believe in [evidence based science] means that you are annoying those who choose to bury their heads in the sand.

    I was in LA a few years back and an unnamed whistleblower approached me. She said, “I can’t ell you anything about the case I am involved with but I can tell you that Glaxo cringe at you blog”

    Music to my ears, I ordered a beer and slept really well that night.

    Getting back to Dawson… maybe he should go visit some graves of the kids who have died as a result of SSRi induced suicide, maybe he should approach the parents of those children and claim that their kids weren’t killed by the antidepressants…they suicided because they were ‘nutters’.

    I’ll bet my left testicle that Dawson doesn’t have the bottle to approach any one person whose hands are not tied by their profession.

    He could, if he wanted, have a pop at me. Fiddaman is a Scientologist [I’m not] – Fiddaman was expelled from school [Tell me something I don’t know] – What does Fiddaman know, he’s an ex Land Rover worker, etc, etc…

    I’ve heard it all before.

    One thing that the likes of Dawson don’t like is when the man on the street fights back. He will use the ‘uneducated’ slagging off as his choice of weapon.

    Dawson’s stance on those that speak out against antidepressants says more about him than those he targets.

    Must dash, I have to meet some aliens at the foot of my garden.

    • “Getting back to Dr Dawson… maybe he should go visit some graves of the kids who have died as a result of SSRi induced suicide, maybe he should approach the parents of those children and claim that their kids weren’t killed by the antidepressants…they suicided because they were ‘nutters’

      The bottom line is that he probably couldn’t care less. With him and many of his ilk and profession, there is an arrogance that knows no bounds. They truly don’t care if these drugs harm, ruin lives or cause people to kill themselves…that’s the bottom line. They couldn’t give a toss.

      It beggars belief to me that most Pyschiatrists ever chose the career path they did because most seem to have patient welfare and good mental health as the lowest matter of importance as a consideration for treating people.

      Dr Dawson and his colleagues World Wide are an arrogant and dangerous breed of person. Thank Goodness that technology at least now allows people to share information, especially such information that reveals the lie that these professional “cartels” peddle to people already at their lowest ebb and who are desperate for the magic pill to make them better. Sadly, in the hands of these professionals they are likely to descend into a pit of Hell.

      Well Done Peter & David

  7. Thanks for writing this rebuttal, Dr. Gøtzsche.

    I fear though, like Ron Pies, Dr. Dawson prefers to rewrite history (e.g. denial of the popularity of the “chemical imbalance” theory among psychiatrists) rather than deal with psychiatry’s recent past and conflicted present. Debates with those who resort to sophistry go nowhere.

    However, for astute readers, Dr. Dawson’s writing speaks for itself.

    Dr. Dawson’s use of devices to deny the truth reveals his anguish at the state of his profession and his outrage at “antipsychiatry” critics betrays how painful it is for him to experience lack of authority.

    The parlous state of the profession must cause a lot of distress in physicians who depend on identification with psychiatry for their sense of self-worth and status.

  8. Psychiatrists should start reporting the patients that committed suicide because of drug-induced suicidal ideation.
    Why not?
    “The patient that was taking ………………….. committed suicide.”

    I’m waiting for the first psychiatrist, or any other field of medicine, to do so.
    ” I lost a patient for Effexor.”
    “I lost a patient for a statin.”

    Is it too idealistic? What harm would it cause? Would the doctor be responsible?
    Who is responsible?
    Regulators are free?

    Jurisprudence. A jurisprudence change is necessary.

  9. ” It’s ad hominem by association or ad parahominem.”

    I like it. I have already stated that I admire your culture Dr. Healy.
    It is rare among physicians.
    Most doctors are stupid. Renaissance happened to other people not to them.

  10. WOW! So many thanks to you and to Peter Gøtzsche from a psychiatry survivor! I have linked to this in a separate post in my blog, for easy reference.

  11. George Dawson is typically arrogant, it seems to be the hallmark of many in his profession, he is also disparaging of Peter Gotzsche because he feels undermined my the truth therefore he attempts to discredit it. His response came across more like a teenage girl in a high school spat than an educated professional working in the highly delicate position of choosing chemicals which may, or may not, harm people.

    In many cases, these drugs do harm people, I am the walking embodiment of SSRI damage. I’m the type of evidence that people like George Dawson ignore.

  12. After reading this, and before turning in for the evening, I am having an extreme, “I really appreciate David Healy except for Electroshock” moment. I’ve been working on recruiting people to get involved with his study on eye problems associated with ssri’s. This is really important research. I know people reading this know someone who might be able to contribute. I’ve written for Mad In America on eye problems related to seroquel. an “antipsychotic”/neuroleptic. So I’m really, really on board with research……..especially because that will lead to real research on withdrawal. There is none, and it’s absolutely outrageous. People are gathering in droves on facebook as they withdraw from these drugs and their doctors have nothing but hocus pocus advice to offer. “oh, just cut it in half and then stop taking it after a week”, or, “I have found that people who are addicted to benzodiazapine’s can switch to depakote for one week and then not experience withdrawal” (!!???@#@#??!!). The medical profession MUST take responsibility, and I support and applaud Peter Gotzche for going out on this limb so rationally and with the appropriate sense of outrage. Add to that his witty knack for pointing out semantics and psychodynamics. The truth is out. Now what? It’s time to think about what people need. Wasn’t that the whole idea in the beginning anyway? People need research on Withdrawal. THIS is the real suffering that is happening now, and it can longer be shrugged off by talking about who did what. We need research now.

  13. Thank you David and Peter. This site allows the professionals to discuss their field of expertise but also gives SSRI survivors an opportunity to tell their stories for the benefit of all. This can be the only way forward. There was a time when nobody listened. Doctors blamed patient problems on their condition and just kept writing prescriptions. Prescriptions that killed and incapacitated many.

  14. Well educated men argue over my reality, on sand-box level!

    SSRI’s can cause horrendeous side-effects, some scientists acknowledges them, some don’t.

    Me? I just live day to day with these things that some people say cannot happens.

    People has ended up with narcolepsy from a flu-vaccine, and no one argues with that, but getting your brain altered by a medication MENT FOR YOUR BRAIN causes a stir…

    Start to listen to us who suffer this very instant!

  15. Professor Göran Sjöberg says:

    I find this extremely interesting not least since I have experience from four persons on the SSRI stuff and all of them has failed to leave them behind and in two cases with severe consequences.

    I am pretty well acquainted with R&D in natural science (Aerospace Materials at Chalmers) by a lifetime experience and earlier I also had a belief that medicine was also a “true” part of that natural science but as with this belief has eroded away in me the more I try to understand what medicine is about.

    Now I am reading Peter Götzsches book “Deadly Medicines ….” with great interest and not much is left of my earlier naive beliefs in medicine.

  16. PsychsLieInFinlandToo says:

    Long Live Peter C. Gotzsche!

    …and shame on Dr. Dawson.

    I myself was damaged by one of these “happy pills” in 2013. A psychiatrist from my local psychiatric “care” center prescribed me some. I was told I had a biochemical imbalance in my brain related to serotonin deficiency. I was told SSRIs have no permanent side effects and that possible sexual adverse effects, for example, would go away after drug discontinuation. That is of course not always the case and this applies also to other form of damage these drug can cause like cognitive and emotional ones. The psychiatric profession here has done their best to deny all harm done but the reality is terrifying as, especially us victims, already know too well. And the withdrawal hell is just another horrifying story to tell.

    A Psychiatry Victim,
    Southern Finland

  17. Dear Peter and David

    There is no such thing as a ‘chemical imbalance in the brain’ in terms of human distress – this is a major fraud on the taxpayer.

    The drugs themselves turn people into long term psychiatric patients, not the original problems. I can substantiate this.

    When I sought help in 1980, I asked for psychotherapy. This was denied to me and I was forced to take strong drugs. I remained disabled until I stopped these drugs by means of slow taper in 1984.

    I then made full recovery and a return to productivity through straightforward understandable psychotherapy. And I have remained well since.

    Successful Recovery was as a result of rejecting the mainstream chemical
    treatment and accessing suitable non drug help.

  18. David_Healy says:

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: “Peter C. Gøtzsche” Date: 18 February 2014 07:24
    Subject: my response to your criticism of “Psychiatry gone astray”

    Please explain why you refused to accept my little entry on your blog where I say I responded to your criticism and gave a link to Healy’s website where my response is.

    Don’t you favour an open debate?


    Peter G

    • Dr Dawson has posted up a slightly different version of events, accusing someone ‘who claims to be Peter Gotzsche’ of sending him an abusive email with a potentially malicious attachment.

      I can’t speak for Peter Gotzsche but if I were him I would be demanding that this nonsense be taken down immediately.

      • David_Healy says:

        Its very unfortunate that abusive comments of any sort are used. But to some extent these seem an inevitable manifestation of the hidden violence the system inflicts on those whom it injures and who have the temerity to protest.

        It should be less acceptable if the abuse comes from the pillars of the establishment.


        • I have been watching this unfold from the start, and I have stopped myself from commenting up until now. But this latest post from Dr Dawson marks a new low.

          Abusive comments are understandable, I have to fight with myself every time I make a comment on this subject. But normally if you call someone a #&@% other readers take it for what it is and understand that this slur says more about the person saying it that it does about the person receiving it.

          But here we have an email which I don’t believe for a second came from Peter Gotzsche and I am certain Dr Dawson doesn’t believe it either. For example, did it come from the same address? He doesn’t say. And why would a prominent researcher even feel the need to do such a thing?

          Yet this hasn’t stopped him treating it as if it was from Peter, and posting a response in public while ignoring the real email and the challenge of open debate.

          He doesn’t have time to tackle Peter’s actual response but somehow has time to reply to this phantom message. This goes way beyond simple abusive comments and is IMO an extremely underhand attempt to discredit another person. There is no excuse for this type of behaviour.

      • This demonstrates how Dr. Dawson, author of a blog called Real Psychiatry, is naive about the real world, in this case Internet spoofing.

        That he used the occasion for yet another rant about antipsychiatry speaks volumes about his ability to think clearly. (If anything, it calls for an editorial about how those opposed to psychiatry damage their own cause by intemperate online behavior.)

  19. Professor Göran Sjöberg says:

    Having now read almost the whole of Peter Götzsches book I fully understand his frequent urges to vomit in front of those psychiatric “professionals” on the pay roll of Big Pharma.

    Today I learnt that one of those four victims, a young person that I know closely, who have unsuccessfully tried to get away from the SSRI treatment now probably is “beyond hope” in the hands of the psychiatrists. Being young he will though probably generate big profits.

    The sad thing is that this corruption seems to be in all fields of medicine. I have personal experience from the cardiology field as a surviving victim of a severe heart attack 15 years ago. I did my then “homework” (I am pretty good at that!), refuse by-pass operations, take no heart medicines but have my “tricks” (as for instance excluding all transfats/margarine from my diet 1999) which the cardiologist blatantly tells me that he does not want to hear about.

  20. Someone has to speak up for the underdog.
    If behoves me to say that *Doing a Dawson*©, could do the rounds in the world of psychiatry.
    If, all patients, sitting in front of a psychiatrist, asked *You’re not Doing a Dawson on me, are you?*
    To, which, the psychiatrist, might reply *what are you talking about?*
    Then, the, ‘mouth-watering opportunity’, to take a pill, might pass……………….

  21. What are the best primary sources that support the proposition that the serotonin hypothesis of depression has been refuted? I am always in debates with people but don’t know what to cite other than secondary articles. PS It’s astonishing how pervasive neurotransmitter imbalance theories are in the alternative medicine community at least in the US. Several doctors have told me I am anxious because of a GABA/glutamate imbalance, for example. These theories seem to have gained new currency with the advent of the notion that methylation cycle “defects” underlie many illnesses including mental ones. It is all so upsetting, really. Thank you for what you do.

    • David_Healy says:

      The serotonin hypothesis of depression so called was dead by the late 1960s – the people who put it forward like Herman van Praag and Alec Coppen stopped believing it then.

      The serotonin myth you are talking about was invented in SmithKline Beecham and other companies to market SSRIS. There was never any evidence for it – calling it a hypothesis is unwarranted.


      • Its amazing how some doctors like Peter Breggin/Terry Lynch can describe the experience of human distress with real insight.
        Dr Ivor Browne also, and he explains clear routes out.

      • There are a couple of good references here (see their citations).

        Also of interest:

        Psychiatry’s New Brain-Mind and the Legend of the “Chemical Imbalance”
        By Ronald Pies, MD Psychiatric Times July 11, 2011 (free registration required) which claims:

        “….I am not one who easily loses his temper, but I confess to experiencing markedly increased limbic activity whenever I hear someone proclaim, “Psychiatrists think all mental disorders are due to a chemical imbalance!” In the past 30 years, I don’t believe I have ever heard a knowledgeable, well-trained psychiatrist make such a preposterous claim, except perhaps to mock it. On the other hand, the “chemical imbalance” trope has been tossed around a great deal by opponents of psychiatry, who mendaciously attribute the phrase to psychiatrists themselves.2 And, yes—the “chemical imbalance” image has been vigorously promoted by some pharmaceutical companies, often to the detriment of our patients’ understanding.3 In truth, the “chemical imbalance” notion was always a kind of urban legend- – never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists…..”

    • The methylation thing is another fad.

      When 40%-50% of the population has a genetic “mutation,” it’s a normal variation that confers some survival benefit. That benefit has not yet been discovered. Who knows, it might be a different way to metabolize B vitamins.

      The factors that go into methylation are so complex, no one has unraveled them yet, and so-called treatment is trial-and-error.

      What we do know is raw green leafy vegetables are good for you. Eat them at every opportunity. They are very much absent in the modern diet.

  22. Yeah methylation is now being promoted by people such as “Dr.” Amy Yasko (not a real doctor) and many others (some of whom are real doctors) as a cause or major factor in everything from autism to chronic fatigue to whatever. So people get expensive genetic testing for methylation “SNPs” and are prescribed hideously complex supplement regimes. The message boards naturally are full of people comparing notes, recommending practitioners, listing their SNPs and their supplements. “Dr,” Amy charges $600 just to test you, and you could spend hundreds or even more monthly on the recommended supplements. Uh, sorry to interrupt the flow of money, but where is the science supporting this? I don’t know, and it doesn’t seem to matter.

    • How is it, by the way, that licensed MDs can get away with charging people for urinary neurotransmitter testing, which as far as I can determine has at least two fundamental flaws: (1) it says nothing about what’s going on in the brain and (2) even if it did it wouldn’t say anything about a person’s mental and emotional state? Yet a search of the web reveals almost countless “functional” medical practitioners touting their ability to assess your neurotransmitter status and to fix your imbalances through orthomolecular methods. What on earth is going on and are we truly powerless to stop it? I try writing these people to ask them for the science supporting their claims but of course they universally ignore me.

  23. Mary Rives Brown says:

    Dr. Dawson’s arrogance is not surprising but very disappointing. He reminds me of a right wing climate change denier: faced with both scientific and anecdotal evidence, he chooses instead to rely on ad hominem attacks, a sure sign that he has already lost the argument.

    He challenges and criticizes Dr. Healy and Dr. Gøtzsche and all but calls them irresponsible quacks but does not seem to mind using his own unproven opinions of myth versus reality as to what the patient/public’s understanding is of the true benefits and science (or lack of) behind antidepressants. What about the reality of the small studies done with few subjects before new ADs are approved? What about the clinical trials that have gone missing, presumably because the drug company that pays for the trials is not happy with the outcome? Why didn’t he ask a few people/patients whether they had certain knowledge of being exploited by these so-called myths? I have been. I suppose he couldn’t be bothered.

    I am a SURVIVOR of Effexor and I mean that quite literally. If it were not for a forum I found online and later Dr. Healy, I never would have survived withdrawal from this poison, the effects of which linger on nearly three years later. Now, for the first time, there is a final safe withdrawal guide, thanks to Dr. Healy and his colleagues, that I can freely share with people I know who are or will be suffering.

    I have nothing but respect for those who care enough to keep digging and questioning and nothing but contempt for those who do not and who refuse to listen, especially those like Dr. Dawson who are in some position of influence. If Dr. Dawson really cared, he’d jump on board and try to wade through the time-consuming data that is being collected for analysis rather than sit back and cast aspersions on those who are trying to get to the bottom of what I call white-coated murder for the love of the almighty money.

  24. Regarding Dr. Dawson’s and other psychiatrists’ reactions to criticism, on Facebook recently, a smart psychiatrist, Jim Pfrommer recently posted:

    “…it would be important to keep in mind Helen Bloch Lewis’ concept of “humiliated fury.”

    Most psychiatrists really only want to help their patients. If you approach as an angry victim, it is very likely you will trigger an intense shame in the psychiatrist for errors causing you harm. If this is done without significant tact, the likelihood of the doc being overwhelmed with his shame and responding in the “attack other” pole of the Compass of Shame is immense. I would think most doctors would want to learn how to be more effective, but if one goes in triggering too much shame, they are likely to shut down, not be able to listen well, and possibly automatically attack. Many of these docs have “helping people” as a central part of their identity, and if hit hard with hurting people, are liable to shut down respond really poorly.”

    This fits well with my perception of Dr. Dawson’s general attitude towards “anti-psychiatry” criticism.

    It still doesn’t explain how to effectively communicate to individual psychiatrists how they’ve harmed us or made mistakes. Given the doctors’ fragile emotional states, patients must exercise a consideration and “tact” that perhaps was not extended to them by the doctors.

    Still, it seems to me that when you get to “with all due respect, the mistakes you made ruined my life,” you’re still going to meet some resistance.

  25. It is interesting to see a leading European medical researcher challenging the pharmaceutical industry and the way our medical/health system works.

    Hamlet once wrote, “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Sure, one could argue that is the case but the truth is that duty of care is the responsibility of all, including our Doctors.

    This is a challenging issue of international proportion, it goes beyond the borders of the state of Denmark.

    The abuse of psychiatric drugs is indeed real, having had family members being part of this I can truly relate to Gøtzsche’s argument. In my view – Peter C Gøtzsche is doing a great job, it is about time the public gets more insight into these issues.

    So where do we go from here – as a certified practitioner of Reconnective Healing I encourage the medical community and indeed our doctors to take more interest in complementary medicine and approaches.

    There are many different ways to achieve balance and wellbeing…

    • We shouldn’t forget that Gøtzsche has challenged “the way our medical/health system works” and the medical industry at another front: mammography. He’s been the leading critic of systematic screening with mammography for well over a decade. Apart from “The Mammogram Myth” by Rolf Hefti, Gøtzsche’s book “Mammography Screening: Truth, Lies and Controversy” is among the very few extensive, eye-opening, and real accounts about mammography.

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