The Austin Chronicle

Appreciate Harman's Opinion

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 26, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I appreciate Greg Harman's resistance to hopelessly giving up and his determination to keep doing things that might help with his depression ["The Egg & I,” News, Aug. 23]. I especially appreciate his recommendation of Robert Whitaker's 2010 book, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, perhaps the single best resource on the actual research data on psychiatric drugs and their dangers and lack of effectiveness. Harman is courageous to share his personal struggle as an example of Whitaker's main point, that psychiatric drug treatment appears to be the main cause of an epidemic of disability in this country; we are now approaching a 2% rate of people on social security disability for psychiatric reasons. That is an astounding tragedy!
    Harman did well to avoid electroshock, a procedure that causes brain damage. Many of us are trying to get that one abolished (see However, it is sad to see that he thinks the wave of the psychiatric future is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). While apparently more benign than electroshock, this approach still rests on the same failed assumptions of biopsychiatry that have led to rampant drug use and electroshock. As Harman mentions, regarding the drugs, people are more likely to recover without them. And as he personally demonstrates, many who go down the drug path end up disabled.
    Whitaker and others also show that the chemical imbalance theory has never been scientifically demonstrated. And just as Harman reveals that even a desired uplift from TMS is usually temporary, so does the history of physical psychiatric treatments (various drugs, lobotomy, cold wraps, spinning chairs, insulin coma shock, electroshock, etc.) show that the range of miraculous new treatments are soon revealed to be ineffective and harmful. Buyer beware.
    It is worth remembering that depression is a virtually universal human experience, and that it has many meanings and purposes. For most of us, this troubling descent responds to time, gentle self-care, human connection, and counseling.
John Breeding

Copyright © 2017 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.