The Cuckoo Nest Fallacy: Drugs do Work

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The iconic scenes from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest of Nurse Ratchet handing out pills to shuffling invalids has become part of pop culture. But since then we’ve had a needless hangover

Some of the debate surrounding pharmaceuticals is suprising vitriolic. Everyone has an opinion, but the one trending is this, drugs are bad: They don’t work, rely on the placebo effect, cause longterm damage to the brain, interrupt the the body’s natural homeostasis, are con created by pharmaceutical companies, or are used by lazy GPs to avoid treatment. Despite the populist argument, there are scientific and ethical reasons, which suggest drugs do work, and can be a vital tool in mental-health recovery.

Psychiatric medication, is backed up by hard science and empirical results.

Even from here, they have to pass stringent checks by the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and sometimes the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Not only does this government body have the power to grant a license to a pharmaceutical company to manufacture a specific drug, they also have the power to revoke it if standards are breached. This whole process can take up to 15 years.

A diabetic who needs a regular shot of insulin; the cancer sufferer who needs HRT; the arthritic who takes his anti-inflammatory. Blood pressure, cancer, headache, cough, cold, sleep, and sex, we are all quite happy to take the pills, but for mental health their is unwarranted suspicious.

Health has become one of the core anxieties of the western world.

We are inherently suspicious of abstraction, and there is nothing more abstract than the brain. Nevertheless there are mental illnesses with a neurological basis. Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Psychosis, and Depression, all respond well to medication, and even have an organic cause. Of course their is a psychogenic component to any disease, but medication can be a helpful tool in crafting out a new life.

The split between biological illness and psychological disorder is a split between neuropsychiatry and psychoanalysis. Yet there is broad consensus; medication can help.

I know this from personal experience: Clomirpamine is an old fashioned tricyclic, used to treat OCD and panic-attacks. It has a litany of side effects, ranging from low blood pressure to dry-mouth. This medication, has transformed my life, and helped me achieve things I didn’t think were possible.

While medication might not be for everyone, for some conditions, it saves lives.

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Freelance journalist writing on mental health and disability. Words have the power to shine a light on realities otherwise missed.

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