Tuesday, 16 April 2013

What do 'antipsychotics' do to people?

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An interesting quote from Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic: magic bullets, psychiatric drugs, and the astonishing rise of mental illness in America.

This is a quotation from a 1952 article by Delay and Deniker describing the psychic syndrome caused by their newly discovered drug chlorpromazine (Thorazine/ Largactil) the first of the class of agents now called antipsychotics, but then called major tranquillizers (in the USA) or neuroleptics (by Delay and Deniker) .

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Seated or lying down, the patient is motionless on his bed, often pale and with lowered eyelids.

He remains silent most of the time. If questioned he responds after a delay, slowly, in an indifferent monotone, expressing himself with few words and quickly becoming mute.

Without exception, the response is generally valid and pertinent, showing that the subject is capable of attention and reflection. But he rarely takes the initiative of asking a question; he does not express his preoccupations, desires or preference.

He is usually conscious of the amelioration brought on by the treatment, but he does not express
euphoria.

The apparent indifference of the delay of the response to external stimuli, the emotional and affective neutrality, the decrease in both initiative and preoccupation without alteration in conscious awareness or in intellectual faculties constitute the psychic syndrome due to the treatment.

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Yaaas...

And this is exactly what antipsychotics do - more or less, in a dose dependant fashion and with varying degrees of potency. It is not a 'side effect' it is their core clinical effect.

Wouldn't imagine that people would be queueing up to take that stuff would you? Yet chlorpromazine became one of the biggest selling drugs to that date, and one of the most influential drugs of all time.

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Of course, people never have been keen on taking antipsychotics voluntarily, except when they were in extreme distress - but this does not matter, because these drugs have mostly been given by various coercive means, and once established on treatment they produce dependence, so it is often very difficult/ impossible to stop taking them without provoking a psychotic breakdown.

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Anyhoo - over the last couple of decades antipsychotic class of drugs has been thriving, in newly patented versions, and is current being force-fed to children diagnosed as ADHD or 'bipolar disorder', and in general pushed to hard and in such quantities that antipsychotics became (as Whitaker documents) the top revenue-producing class of drugs of 2008.

Clearly, my article of 2006 had no effect:

http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/99/6/417.full

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