What Is the Importance of Nassir Ghaemi’s Conclusion that Psychiatric Drugs Do Not Provide a Long-term Benefit?

“… [Nassir] Ghaemi, a professor of psychiatry at Tufts Medical School, concluded that psychiatric drugs, except for lithium, do not provide a long-term benefit and thus should mostly be prescribed for short-term relief of symptoms.

This article by Robert Whitaker has been published by Mad in America. It begins:

Ghaemi’s Analysis Tells of a Failed Paradigm of Care

The understanding that has animated Mad in America since its inception has been this: Our society has organized its psychiatric care and use of psychiatric drugs around a false narrative, one out of sync with the scientific literature. In this paper, Nassir Ghaemi—even while viewing psychiatric disorders through a disease lens—has for the most part validated that understanding.

What gives his paper particular importance is that Ghaemi is a prominent academic psychiatrist, with notable standing within the profession. If his peers were to take his analysis to heart, American psychiatry would need to radically change its prescribing practices.

The conventional narrative tells of how the introduction of chlorpromazine into asylum medicine in 1955 launched a psychopharmacological revolution. Psychiatry now had disease-specific drugs to prescribe: antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety agents. After the American Psychiatric Association published the third edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in 1980, the public was informed that psychiatric disorders—schizophrenia, depression, bipolar, ADHD and so forth—were discrete illnesses of the brain, caused by chemical imbalances, with psychiatric drugs fixing those imbalances, like insulin for diabetes. A second generation of psychiatric drugs were touted as safer and more effective than the first generation …”

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