Blog Archive: Aug. 2002

Blog subjects:

  • Pseudoscience in the mental-health industry

  • Unethical behavior among pharmaceutical companies

  • Whatever else strikes my fancy

Note:  This site has absolutely no association with any outside group, and most especially not with the “Church” of Scientology.

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Blog archives:

Saturday, August 31, 2002

The Chinese are apparently making tons of fake pharmaceuticals.  In some cases, this could be a good thing.  Reminds me of the quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:  “I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes.”  He may have been exaggerating a bit, but there's a grain of truth there.  Remember how doctors used to think that hormone-replacement therapy was the shiznit?  Oops.

The Sept. 11th anniversary is coming up soon.  Which reminds me – do we really need an army of grief counselors to descend upon us every time there is a tragedy?  Psychiatrist Sally Satel thinks that the “trauma industry” is getting out of control.

Just a reminder to any new readers:  My “pseudoscience in psych” page is the main raison d'&#ecirc;tre of this whole site.  Click on the link at the left.

Friday, August 30, 2002

I like this Dilbert cartoon (though someday I'll have to PhotoShop-it to change “therapy stuff” to “antidepressant”):

Dilbert added a link to this blog page.  Coolness.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Nothing too significant in the news today, so I'll post a link to an older story.  Psychologist Stanton Peele argues that nobody should be forced to attend 12-step programs.  See “Drunk With Power”, from Reason magazine.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

I added a section called, “The Rule of Thirds” to my “pseudoscience in psych” page.  It took a bit of work to track down that 1975 article from The Minneapolis Star.

Is Alcoholics Anonymous a cult?  Essayist Paul Roasberry sure thinks so.  So does Charles Bufe.

You know how some people are always going on about “out-of-the-box” thinking?  Um, I'll stay firmly inside the box, thanks.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Interesting article in today's New York Times:  “Like Drugs, Talk Therapy Can Change Brain Chemistry”.  I have mixed feelings about this article.  On the one hand, I'm happy that the author (Richard A. Friedman, M.D.) acknowledges the strong, positive effects of cognitive therapy and interpersonal therapy.  On the other hand, I don't think he exhibits enough skepticism with regard to the (alleged) benefits of psychotropic drugs.  In the experiments he cites, there were only two groups – a drug arm and a psychotherapy arm.  If a placebo group had been included, I bet that the placebo would cause changes in brain chemistry, as well.  Certainly, this is what we would expect, based on studies such as, “The Emperor's New Drugs” (see also the original published in Prevention and Treatment, Volume 5).

Misleading headline of the day: “Anti-Depressant May Not Be Cure-All”.  You might reasonably think that the story would do some debunking of antidepressants, but this Associated Press article ends-up largely perpetuating the hype.  (See Sunday's blog entry for links to stories that are more skeptical of Forest's new drug.)

Should complete abstinence be the goal of all alcoholism/drug-addiction treatment centers?  Sounds like a good idea, but it doesn't work well in practice.  Psychologist Stanton Peele – a frequent critic of the recovery movement – has written an eloquent defense of harm-reduction as a more-desirable, more-realistic goal of rehabilitation programs.  (Too bad the small font-size is “hard-wired” into that page.  Sigh.)

Monday, August 26, 2002

CNN does the right thing and forces celebrity guests to disclose any financial ties to drug companies, when those celebrities endorse particular medical treatments.  Good for CNN.  Now let's hope that other media outlets implement similar policies.

Health-policy researcher Thomas J. Moore has written an excellent article about the lessons to be learned from the hormone-replacement debacle.

Swedish scientists have found some strange particles in the cerebrospinal fluid of schizophrenics.  Interesting, but we'll have to see if other labs can replicate the result.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

The FDA has recently approved a new antidepressant – Lexapro (generic escitalopram) – and news reports were filled with the requisite amount of hype.  However, cooler heads may be prevailing in Denmark, where the drug was originally developed.  (Note that Lexapro is known as “Cipralex” in Europe.)  There's skepticism in England, too, where one official was quoted as saying, “This seems to me to be a strikingly stark demonstration of a pharmaceutical corporation throwing scientific honesty to the wind in the pursuit of profit.”

A few months ago, the Washington Post published an article that's moderately skeptical of Alcoholics Anonymous and the addiction-treatment industry.  “Breaking Out of the 12-Step Lockstep”, by Maia Szalavitz, could have gone further, but I'm still pleased to see the mainstream media running an article that's even slightly critical of the recovery movement.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

USA Today has an excellent opinion piece about the corrupting influence of pharmaceutical money.  (Incidentally, I'm really annoyed by news sites that don't include a full date with every article.  I'm guessing from the URL that this article was published on August 1, 2002, but I'm not positive.)  The Nation recently featured a similar, scathing column called, “Big Pharma, Bad Science”.  I don't always agree with The Nation, but this time they're right on the mark.

A judge rules that pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline can continue running ads for Paxil, a drug that allegedly treats depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

Friday, August 23, 2002

E. Fuller Torrey – a psychiatrist who does research on schizophrenia – is wrong about a lot of things (he over-emphasizes the benefits of antipsychotic drugs), but he's right on the money with this article from The American Prospect magazine: “The Going Rate on Shrinks: Big Pharma and the buying of psychiatry”.  It's refreshing to hear someone from inside the psychiatric establishment express dismay at the undue influence wielded by drug companies.

This looks interesting: Critical Thinking on the Web.  I found this site by accident, when I did a Google search looking for something else.