Peace Partnership

Psychopharmacology Part 2

Posted by on Nov 7, 2013

As the two classes of drugs that had been responsible for launching the psychopharmacology revolution plunged in sales, strides were made to rehabilitate the psychiatry field.

Psychiatrists had a distinct advantage in that they were physicians and the only individuals able to write prescriptions for psychotropic drugs at that time. If the image of the drugs could be revamped in the public’s eyes, it was believed that psychiatry would once again thrive.

A process was put into motion which resulted in the mindset that mental disorders were to be seen, according to Paul Blaney, from the University of Texas, as “organic diseases.” This led to a focus on making diagnoses by cataloguing the “symptoms and signs of illness.” It was further perpetuated that psychiatrists were the only ones who possessed the proper “medical training necessary for the optimal application of the most effective treatments available today for psychiatric patients: psychoactive drugs and ECT [electroshock].”

Throughout the course of this power struggle, the DSM-III was published. “The Freudians had been vanquished, the concept of neurosis basically tossed into the trash bin, and everyone in the profession was now expected to embrace the medical model (Whitaker, 2010).” Note that Loren Mosher and his social psychiatrist peers had also been snuffed out.

In 1981, the American Psychological Association (APA) established a division dedicated to marketing psychiatrists. “The APA also set up committees to review the textbooks it published, intent on making sure that authors stayed on message.”

Whittaker sums it up nicely, “At the start of the 1980s, psychiatry was worried about its future. Sales of psychiatric drugs  had notably declined in the past seven years, and few medical school graduates wanted to go into the field. In response, the APA mounted a sophisticated marketing campaign to sell its medical model to the public, and a few years later the public could only gasp in awe at the apparent advances that were being made. A revolution was under way, psychiatrists were now ‘mind-fixers,’ and as a Johns Hopkins ‘brain chemist,’ Michael Kuhar, told Jon Franklin, this ‘explosion of new knowledge’ was going to lead to new drugs and broad changes in society that would be ‘fantastic!’”

Because of this, we practice apart from the medical model. While there is worth in some short-term use of medications, we do not believe in the long-term efficacy of psychotropic medications.

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