Shorter – Before Prozac

Before ProzacDid the FDA Outlaw Perfectly Good Psychiatric Drugs?

Adams, W. A. (2009). Psychopharmacology and Depression.
[Review of the book, Before Prozac]. PsycCRITIQUES – Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, August 5, 2009, Vol. 54, Release 31, Article 4.

Medical historian Edward Shorter claims that no progress has been made in psychiatric treatment since the 1950’s. The old drugs were far more effective than anything available today, drugs like amphetamines and barbiturates, tranquilizers like Librium and Valium, antidepressants like Marsilid, and antipsychotics such as Thorazine.

Why did all those great drugs disappear?  According to Before Prozac, some went off patent so became unprofitable and were no longer marketed, but many were regulated out of existence by the FDA, leaving, in the author’s view, only Prozac and other virtually useless antidepressants.

Shorter’s thesis is that melancholic depression is a particular biological disorder best treated by electroconvulsive therapy, but everyone has been deluded by the DSM, FDA, and big pharma into thinking that depression is a diffuse category of  disorders for which SSRIs like Prozac are the best treatment, even though they are based on a false theory and no more effective than a placebo.

He does not prove that he is right and everybody else is wrong.  Still, it is an interesting, though not impartial, history of psychopharmacology for mood disorders since 1938.

Before Prozac-2009-4846-1-4   Click the link to see full text of the review.


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