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Evaluating the latest hype: can antipsychotic drugs protect your brain?

The latest way to sell antipsychotic drugs appears to be to tell people that psychosis will damage your brain, and so people need antipsychotic medications to protect those brains.  This claim was recently made by Jeffrey Lieberman on a PBS television show.  Fortunately, Robert Whitaker took some time to analyze the science behind these claims, and you can read his column on that here.

4 comments… add one
  • The protect your brain argument has been around for a long time. What it does is to scare people like me and my husband into forcing drugs on their children. Madness does look like brain damage to the newly initiated, so it’s an easy sell for pharma.

  • I think, the first time I heard of this nonsense was back in 2006 or so, when a consumer in a drugs-no drugs discussion with me said: “Yeah, but psychosis wears out the brain.” As I’d never heard anything like that before, I didn’t even get what he meant. Certainly, going through “psychosis” wasn’t a walk in the park, but the brain? What’s that got to do with the brain??

    It doesn’t only scare family, it also scares the person in crisis herself. And every professional who hasn’t done their homework (which is most of them).

    And if you take into consideration that neuroleptics can’t cure the “illness”, which psychiatry admits, but only “treat” (= suppress) symptoms, it makes no sense to say they would protect the brain. “Schizophrenia” is regarded an illness that causes progressive deterioration of brain functioning, like arthritis for instance causes progressive deterioration of joint functioning. No matter how many pain killers you pop, as long as the arthritis itself doesn’t get cured, your joint functioning will continue to deteriorate. Pain killers don’t protect them from that (on the contrary… )

  • All you have to do be scared into buying the protect your brain argument is to go look under a bridge and realize that most of the people there had their first psychotic break years ago. You think, oh my goodness, their “untreated” psychosis has led to this. To my mind, what has been “untreated” is the cause, and meaningful psychotherapies have been rejected in favor of the diseased brain argument. If they won’t take their meds, the reasoning goes, they are finished. I like Marian’s sentence about psychiatrists not doing their homework. If you did your homework, you would realize that psychosis is an understandable reaction to human pain.

  • A contradiction. Psychosis does not damage the brain however the neuroleptic drugs that are touted as brain protectors in fact do damage the brain. Two examples include tardive dyskensia and neuro malignant brain syndrome.

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