Three years ago, I was reminded in dramatic fashion of the chasm between psychiatry and more-effective branches of medicine. My 14-year-old son, Mac, while playing lacrosse, emerged from a collision with his right arm askew. I drove him to a local hospital, where an orthopedic surgeon on duty immediately diagnosed the injury: dislocated elbow. He gave Mac an oral and local anesthetic and put him in a portable X-ray machine that showed Mac’s elbow joint on a screen, in real time. Watching the screen, the doctor quickly snapped Mac’s elbow back into place.
Overcome with gratitude to the doctor, I was leading my groggy son out of the hospital when my cellphone rang. An old friend, whom I’ll call Phil, was on the line. He was in the psychiatric ward of a New York hospital, to which his 16-year-old son had been committed. The boy, who was taking antidepressants for depression, had threatened to commit suicide, not for the first time. The doctors were recommending electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT. Knowing that I had written about shock therapy and other psychiatric treatments, Phil asked my opinion. The fact that Phil had called me, a mere journalist, for advice in such a dire situation spoke volumes about the troubles of modern psychiatry. […]
Although I do not agree with some of the statements of this article (and yet, I’m not a great drugs’ supporter, I only have some critics about how Withaker draws his conclusions), Hargon underlines important issue.
But there is something maybe it’s worth saying: dealing with the brain, depression and suicide is much more complicated than dealing with a dislocated elbow.
Extremely interesting article. If you have 5 minutes, take a look. Despite my issues with the author’s huge bias, the facts presented should make anyone think. For me in particular, as someone who has had years of experience with depression and psychiatric medication, it underlines and explains a lot of the concerns I have about what exactly this treatment is doing and why. How much of my mind is formulated by my own nature, and how much of it comes from the drugs?