The Depression Epidemic


Trudy Dehue

2008? (not written anywhere)
reviewed by Mira de Vries

Sometimes it seems like Dehue reads along on MeTZelf’s blog. She touches on the following subjects:
  • ever-changing definitions
  • retroactively reconstructed history
  • unfounded claims
  • conflict of interests
  • foxy marketing
  • trade in hope
  • medicalization/biologicalization of deviant behavior and personal misery
  • unreliable medical experimentation
  • juggling statistics
  • privacy violation
  • confusion of causes with consequences
  • “prevention” that makes everybody a proto-patient
  • inadequacy of controls
  • corruption and fraud
She even mentions involuntary commitment, though briefly: ‘The Netherlands has taken to solving difficulties with problem populations by locking them up’ she quotes.

She expresses the elevation of science to a religion thusly:
By evading the discussion [about value-laden instruments, assumptions, and traditions in science] and claiming superhuman validity for its procedures and facts, it turns expressions like ‘evidence based’ into power terms which serve to shut other people’s mouths.
Novel is her comparison of psychoactive drugs to cosmetics. ‘Like the cosmetics industry teaches people to be critical about their and others’ looks, so the helping professions teach people to be critical about minds.’ Elsewhere she uses the term ‘psychic cosmetics’.

She tries to avoid pinning all the blame on the pharmaceutical industry because, she rightly points out, other parties benefit from the belief in depression as a disease as well, such as the providers of all sorts of alternative treatments. But she doesn’t seem much persuaded by her own argument, and keeps returning to the theme of pharma’s role.

Who is behind pharma, according to Dehue? Capitalists, neoliberals, and the free market! She scorns the ‘ties that neoliberal politics forged with the pharmaceutical–scientific complex, marketing companies, and the mega mental health system’ as though psychiatry with its pretensions of (free!) medical care were not precisely the pride of socialism; as though drug companies have much to do with free markets. You can’t just buy an antidepressant anywhere, such as at the supermarket. She refers to Marcia Angell’s book. If she read it, she should understand that pharmaceutical companies are hardly capitalistic.

She also doesn’t seem to have read much by Szasz, as she calls him an ‘antipsychiatrist’ which he precisely isn’t.
And of course she can’t resist slipping in a plug for psychotherapy, apparently at the premium payer’s expense, as well as better rules, better controls, and better research, as though all of that wouldn’t be more of the same.

In spite of these lapses in logic, the balance of her arguments tips to the side of excellence. For people who are new to questioning psychiatric-scientific dogma it can be quite an eye-opener.

It’s a shame you probably can’t read it. It’s in Dutch.

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