The picture features Patsy Stephenson, one of a well-heeled group of women, including Kate Middleton – likely there for the photo-op – protesting the death of Sarah Everard in London, killed for walking down a suburban street at the wrong time. Whether they are black or white, young or old, Muslim, Christian, Jew or nothing, women like Sarah Everard are in a similar position to George Floyd. Patsy isn’t in this position but the photo is eye-catching.
If someone in a group said they had AIDs, others would likely get nervous. If they add, they are on Triple Therapy everyone relaxes.
If someone said they have epilepsy but manage it without anticonvulsants, everyone would get nervous. If they say ‘only joking, I’m taking an anticonvulsant’, everyone relaxes. (Even though lots of epilepsy can be managed without meds and the meds double the risk of suicidal or homicidal outbursts).
If a woman says she is taking an SSRI, everyone relaxes.
As though this demonstrates her competence and reduces the threat to everyone else – the men anyway, perhaps other women. In the case of other women, the reassurance may lie in ‘she’s one of us, she’s on the pills.’
It was a woman explained this to me, a psychiatrist, who was taking meds.
Forty years ago, saying you were on Valium was an admission of weakness. Feminists fought against the subjugation of women by drugs. Ironically the benzodiazepines were more likely to lead women to rebel against the patriarchy than any SSRI does.
SSRIs are Stepford drugs blunting awkward emotions – all emotions that is.
But saying you take an SSRI, if you are a woman, is a statement of competence.
Among a younger generation of white women taking an SSRI has moved beyond being a statement of competence. Good for you if along with eating the right foods, spending hours in the gym, you not just admit but declare you are taking Zoloft, Lexapro or whatever. Their 800,000 followers cheer Influencers on Instagram who make declarations like this.
The word depression may slip in somewhere, but SSRIs don’t treat depressive illness. As Joe Davis in Chemically Imbalanced explains, really what is being said is I am treating a glitch – just like I wear glasses – that is holding me back from seeing and being seen properly. Holding me back from being my true self.
SSRIs numb us, ease the pain. They make us more authentically us in the way alcohol does. At the moment, non-white and non-Christian groups are less likely to buy into this, just as they are less likely to buy into alcohol. You are supposed to have a community for times like this when you need support.
SSRIs though give lots of people the impression they treat an illness. They do treat an illness – it’s called dependence. Miss your pills for a few days, and we feel desperately ill, which getting back on our pills magically relieves. The extreme form of this illness is called Treatment Resistant Depression.
Because so many figure the pills are saving their lives (by relieving withdrawal), if anyone questions these pills, without any bidding from pharma or their doctors, millions of defenders will march out to say these pills saved their lives. Close to 15% of the population at the latest estimate.
Close to 25% of the population of women of child-bearing years are defenders. The last group you’d expect to insist on access to meds they might not be able to get off. Meds that double the rate of miscarriages, and double the rate of birth defects. They also drastically lower libido and make love-making a chore, so maybe miscarriage and birth defects are not an issue.
The defenders of the meds, decent progressive women, portray comments like this is an attack on a woman’s right, duty, to look after herself. Women are too quick to sacrifice themselves for others and this has to stop. Calls for women to think twice before taking drugs that will make them feel better are now a touch twentieth century, second millennium even, we are told. Time to move on.
This is today’s equivalent of Edward Bernays organizing for women to march down the street smoking – as a sign of liberation, equality and access to opportunity. See
Looking after themselves conflicts with the instincts of many women (instincts put there just by the patriarchy?) to take themselves off drugs when they find out they are pregnant, even when male ObGyns are telling them its fine to stay on treatment and an untreated illness can harm their baby more than the meds.
The ObGyns are offering quintessential neo-Medicalism (aka neo-Liberalism) as outlined in Shipwreck of the Singular. There cannot be any clearer divide between how we once thought and the neo-Medical/Liberal way of thinking than the question of taking drugs in pregnancy. It runs smack into Margaret Thatcher’s ‘there is no such thing as society’.
A pregnancy is either an embryonic society or a weird and inexplicable weight gain that happens to some chromosomally compromised individuals.
That progressive women in particular should buy into the no such thing as society mantra shows how much the Left or progressivism has lost its way.
There is a lot going on in between the lines here. Sure there are women who have to insist they are diseased and need treatment, maybe never taking the drugs, in order to get benefits. Telling them they are not depressed is like whipping a lifebelt away from them. And it’s not sin to trumpet a disorder which you are now treating in order to maintain some self-respect. And there are times when the termination of a pregnancy may be the best option.
But there is very little sign of the women’s movement saying to women – sure play the game but remember it is a game. The women’s movement now buys into Evidence Based Medicine and believes the Fake literature (entirely ghost-written literature on drugs with zero access to clinical trial data) is the best evidence we have. Our Bodies Ourselves is now an outsourced marketing arm of Pharma. The movement is petrified of being branded Anti-Vaxx or Anti-Science. Settle for anything other than the full scientific deal – Us? No Way!
The medical model emerged around the same time, or just before capitalism – a movement that figured on making money out of producing goods. Capitalism was and is different to mercantilism or Free Trade and has nothing to do with neo-Liberalism. See Shipwreck of the Singular.
Capitalism was novel and successful – leading to great increases in wealth and goods so much so that, while some of us rejected capitalists, most of us who weren’t capitalists figured it was worth having a seat at this table. All could benefit from this engine which did seem to driving us ‘forward in an acceptable direction’.
Socialism (including trade unionism) was all about having a seat at the table. The communists in contrast figured we needed a completely new set up. Socialists figured there was absolutely no point in not being at the table – so much so they executed communists like Rosa Luxembourg.
The medical model was the Table within health. It produced solid advances in our understanding putting us in a position to correct things and able to choose whether to take a poison or undergo a mutilation in order to correct something that would otherwise kill and disable us. It gave us new abilities to investigate things and intervene so that for most of us having a seat at this table was a no brainer.
Through to 1980 – 1990, medicine and capitalism increased health and wealth. Within medicine the AIDs pandemic is the best example of what could be done. An intense mobilization by activists (lay people with the disease who mostly believed in the medical model) led in remarkably short time to a life-saver if not a complete cure. The activists split into two groups – those looking for a seat at the table (mostly male) who went into FDA and got clinical trial rules and FDA culture changed and those who rejected the entire way medicine was going and called for a totally new set-up (many more women in the mix).
AIDs activism was the final flourish of medicine as was. The vast majority of people now taking poisons have nothing wrong with them – something inconceivable in medical model terms.
Medicine has given way to a neo-Medicalism just as Capitalism has given way to neo-Liberalism. Now financialization leads to money chasing money while poverty rises, and pharmaceuticalization has led to drugs chasing drugs while life expectancies fall.
Socialists hung around at the table too long and embraced the operationalism that made neo-Liberalism, figuring as Maggie said ‘there is no alternative’.
Now that the table has vanished – neither wealth nor health is increasing – socialists have no idea what do. Their ongoing defence of the once very reasonable idea that it is important to have a seat at the table now validates a system that is causing increasing harm.
The idea of a medical model that underpins the giving of a poison or performance of a mutilation within a relationship that is at least semi-genuine still offers a glimmer of what a table we could all get around might look like.
As things stand women seem among the most likely to get cut by the cutting edge of the operationalism that underpins both neo-Medicalism and neo-Liberalism. Their music, art and science vanishes as though written on water. They too can vanish and no-one much is bothered.
Women though may be better placed than men to work out what needs to happen next. For centuries, they have been forced to figure its better have a seat at the table the men are seated around than not. Even when the cost is getting abused, or vanishing while walking down suburban streets in daylight
We can’t go back to the 1980s. We have to go forward. We need to redefine what a seat at the table should look like and unless the table and seating works for women, black, white and brown, rich and poor, old and young, its not likely to be a table worth sitting at.
Drawing Breath in two posts time will offer what seems to me a crazily idealistic proposal about what the table might look like – but the only viable proposal.