Mourning with those who mourn

This is an old post from Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog, but they recently re-posted it on their RSS feed: “Should Christians Take Antidepressants?

That headline is infuriatingly stupid. The subhed for the post is even worse: “Medication can help, but it can also hinder our reliance on Christ.”

Is insulin just a crutch that Christians use to cope with diabetes instead of relying on Jesus?

This is cruel and ignorant.

And when ignorance strikes a pious pose of sanctimony, that makes it worse, not better.

No pious jackasses sit around pondering “Should Christians Take Insulin?” No insufferably holier-than-thou idiots pretend it would be deeply spiritual if they said, “Rattlesnake anti-venom can help, but it can also hinder our reliance on Christ.” Or “An emergency appendectomy may sometimes be beneficial, but only if we’re careful not to allow it to overshadow our true savior.”

Yet when it comes to any kind of mental illness, evangelical Christians suddenly turn into Christian Scientists or Scientologists — preferring “spiritual” treatments over medicine.

This hurts people. This kills people. This needs to stop.

Here’s a taste of the article:

In a 2010 Revive Our Hearts radio interview, Reformed writer Elyse Fitzpatrick, author of Will Medicine Stop the Pain? (Moody), said:

It’s so important for us just to remember that yes, perhaps the anti-depressants are making it so that we’re not feeling those raw, painful emotions. But those emotions are given to us by God to drive us to himself and then to force us to ask questions about our faith and about the way that we’re living and thinking and responding to things.

Should Christians avoid taking antidepressants, instead “letting go and letting God” lead us through the ups and downs of life? I’m not sure.

Again, would these people talk like this about any other ailment? What if she had written this?

Should Christians avoid taking antibiotics, instead “letting go and letting God” lead us through the ups and downs of infection? I’m not sure.

Or who wrote the following as the conclusion of the essay?

Certainly antibiotics can take the edge off the pain of living in this broken world. But is it possible that we need those edges, which so often lead us to Christ?

I only changed one word in that — the rest is verbatim from the last two sentences of the actual article.

Seriously, this is abysmally stupid and it does real harm to real people. Knock it off.


"I have thought about it, and I think I can answer my own question. Trump ..."

It’s not 2011, and no one’s ..."
"My response:It was the SERVERS who asked that they not be made to SERVE her. ..."

It’s not 2011, and no one’s ..."
"I've never tried to link to Joe.My.God., but disqus won't let me link to the ..."

It’s not 2011, and no one’s ..."
""It is only slightly surprising that someone named Fuentes imagines it’s safe for him to ..."

It’s not 2011, and no one’s ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Lori

    Please explain why, exactly, people need to read Peter Hitchens on this issue. He is not a doctor. He, apparently, has no personal experience with depression, treated with antidepressants or not. So why, exactly is it so vital that we read his opinion on the subject?

    Why should I spend my time, which is not in infiate supply, reading more from a person who acts as if he’s discovered a big secret that is not in fact a secret at all and which I and many others have known about for years?

    You have now said several times that the point is that more research is needed. No one, including me, has disagreed with you about that. What we have disagreed with is the scare-mongering tone and the implication that people shouldn’t take antidepressants now because they are not perfect and we don’t know everything about them that we should or would like to.There is literally no reason to listen to a newspaper columnist and a random guy on the internet about those issues.

  • Lori

    You don’t get to keep complaining about ad hominem attacks while referring to us as pro-antis, you hypocrite. That’s especially true since most of what you’re calling ad hominems are actually not.

  • P J Evans

    You’ve made it really, *really* clear that you’re against antidepressants. You *haven’t* given us any reason why we should consider your opinion to be authoritative, particularly when there are quite a few people her who have direct experience that says you’re talking out the other end.
    With this comment, you’ve outed yourself as someone who doesn’t seem to believe they have *any* value.
    Don’t let the door hit you.

  • Lori

    You are acting as if this is a game of tallying up anecdotes. That is ridiculous.

  • Your arguments are all ad hominem, so I guess we can consider you an expert on that.

  • Ross Thompson

    Sure. Anti-depressants are not the best possible treatment. More research needs to be done. And is being done.

    But, until we have that hypothetical prefect cure for depression with no side effects, let’s keep on using the best weapon in our armamentarium, no?

  • Lori

    What would a person have to do for you to agree that the arguments have been addressed? Is there anything other than agreeing with you that would get you to stop saying that the arguments haven’t been addressed? Is there any way that a person can disagree with you without you labeling them “pro-anti”? If so, please describe what that would be.

  • When there are SEVERAL people with experience, all saying the exact same thing, then it’s worth listening to.
    Good day; enjoy what life you have.

  • Ross Thompson

    OK, how should it be treated? You’re against anti-depressants, andf you’re against no treatment, so what’s left? Exorcism? Telling patients to just snap out of it?

    What do you recommend that is more effective or has fewer side-effects than the current medication-based approach?

  • There are also studies, using fMRI, that indicate that antidepressants DO work.

  • Ross Thompson

    He absolutely is arguing science. Specifically, he’s arguing the sciences of “psychiatry” and “pharmacology”. If you admit he’s not qualified to do so, why are you putting so much effort into this?

  • other lori

    I just want to throw a genuine question out there: Is it possible that anti-depressants are being over-prescribed, especially to women, and that some doctors are defining sadness and anxiety that is a valid, non-pathological response to distressing circumstances as an individual disorder, because it’s just easier to deal with that way?

    I mentioned this in a reply below, but a good friend of mine broke down crying in her doctor’s office once. Her boyfriend of seven years had just left her, her grandfather had died the previous day, and she was overwhelmed at work. When her doctor asked her, at her yearly check-up, how she was doing, that was it. She just broke down. And, rather than acknowledging that those are indeed really hard circumstances and that her sadness was totally normal, her doctor offered her a prescription for Prozac. My friend happens to be a clinical psychologist, so she knew what she was experiencing was a normal adjustment to hard circumstances, and turned her doctor down. But I imagine that a woman with less training or less self-assurance might believe that, in fact, she was suffering from depression rather than feeling normal, legitimate pain. It can be easier sometimes to write a prescription than to acknowledge that life can hurt. The woman who breaks down in her doctor’s office might indeed be suffering from clinical depression, but she also might have just had a really, really hard day (or week, or month). Sometimes doctors can be too quick to jump to writing a prescription.

    I am totally in favor of medications for mental illness. I do think, though, that we do sometimes pathologize normal sadness and normal worry, and I don’t think that’s very helpful. In the situation the author was talking about, it can be hard to tell. Having a baby is a big adjustment, and you are very hormonal, and often incredibly sleep-deprived. Sadness and worry you feel during that time might be a perfectly normal response to a new and difficult situation that will naturally pass (or, as in the author’s case, what happens when one’s unrealistic expectations meet reality), or it might be a sign of a serious case of PPD that would be greatly helped by use of an SSRI.

    I don’t want to see people who are suffering from clinical depression or anxiety disorders told to just suck it up. Medication can be incredibly helpful in those cases. But I also don’t want to see people, especially women, told that if they don’t feel happy and carefree and fulfilled all the time, no matter how difficult (like having a newborn baby) or unjust (like having all of the responsibility for caring for the home and children placed on them) the situation they find themselves in might be, that it’s because of some individual pathology.

    Life is just complicated. Sometimes you are sad or worried because parts of life just naturally lead to that, and you do need to ride it out and may indeed gain some wisdom through going through it. Sometimes you are sad or worried because of injustice that needs to be addressed on a societal or institutional level. And sometimes you are sad or worried because you are suffering from a mental illness that requires treatment, including medication. There’s no one-size-fits all model.

  • It’s possible that they’re overprescribed, but many people who need them aren’t getting them, for various reasons, including the crap in the articles linked at the top, or the comments by that troll. And a lot of people don’t even have regular doctors (never mind a psychiatrist).

  • Ross Thompson

    Maybe it would help if you listened to what other people were saying, instead of expecting them to swoon over the wisdom of your every utterance?

    Of course, even that would be less creepy and more like a discussion if you weren’t actually expecting people to swoon over the wisdom of someone else’s every utterance…

  • My theory, because I’m apparently a naive fool who wants to think the best of people, is that while the chemical perspective is excessively leaned on nowadays, part of it is because the clinicians know that the alternative (rigorous psychoanalysis, behavior and cognitive modification, etc) are untenable due to the high cost per visit, the unlikelihood of insurance cooperation and the time expenditure.

  • other lori

    But you seem to be talking about clinical depression and anxiety disorders, in which case I agree that medication, for a variety of reasons, can be the best alternative. Psychoanalysis has no research to back it as working, and CBT alone can be very, very difficult and time consuming. Certainly in the case of diagnosed clinical depression or anxiety disorders, I’d be the first to say that SSRIs should be offered, if the patient is willing, as the first line of therapeutic intervention.

    I’m talking more about the idea that women have no right to be unhappy, and if they are, it’s because something is wrong with them, not because of their circumstances.

  • other lori

    And access to quality mental health care is a huge, huge issue. A person is going to be a much better diagnosis and treatment plan from a mental health provider than from a GP, but many people do have to rely on their GPs, who have far less training in distinguishing normal adjustments from mental illnesses. And, as you note, many people lack any access to regular health care at all.

    I don’t think that problem is solved, though, by ignoring that there has been a long history of attributing women’s problems to individual pathology instead of their circumstances, just as there has been a long history of blaming mental illness on individual weakness or moral failure rather than biological/environmental factors beyond a person’s control.

  • Psychoanalysis has evolved a bit since Freud (who I agree was kind of a kook). Nowadays it’s more of a “talk it out” therapy. It’s not incredibly useful for things like bipolar disorder, but the more professional practioners are like… professionally trained friends. Sometimes just a great deal of care, attention and a neutral atmosphere can help a lot. I tend to see it paired along with cognitive and behaviorial therapy as a one-two punch: “If you know why and under what circumstances you feel this way, then it’s that much easier to avoid these circumstances or curtail the feelings before they become overwhelming.”

  • Lori

    Of course there are some doctors who prescribe anti-depressants when they should not. I personally don’t think GPs should be allowed to prescribe them, but getting that rule passed would be basically impossible with our current insurance nightmare.

    The thing is there are also doctors who prescribe antibiotics when they should not and yet you don’t see a lot of people arguing that no one should take antibiotics.

  • Lori

    That’s not naive, that’s basically true.

  • Forgot where I was going with that. XD (It’s 9 AM. My braining is not so good yet.)

    I think what it boils down to for some clinicians is knowing they won’t be allowed to spend the time and money it takes to more seriously address an issue. If you know you’ve only got a patient for half an hour this year, would you rather spend that half-hour just barely getting to know them, or prescribe something that can continue to have effectiveness after they leave the office? It’s not ideal, but there aren’t many alternatives when working with people who don’t have huge amounts of disposable income…

  • other lori

    I’m not sure that the author was arguing that nobody should take them. I think she was just conflating her own circumstances with the circumstances of everybody who is diagnosed with depression. She was probably just having a period of normal postpartum adjustment, and she assumes that others who are diagnosed with depression are also probably going through a period of normal adjustment.

    She’s most likely wrong. Most diagnoses of clinical depression are no doubt correct. But she’s probably not wrong in noting that some people, particularly GPs who have limited training, may mistake normal adjustment for mental illness, and that accurate diagnosis is absolutely essential, because taking medications to get through normal adjustments may not always be the best idea.

    I just hesitate to pathologize things that might better be addressed in other ways. Perhaps more women are feeling depressed and anxious not because depression and anxiety are on the rise or are even being better diagnosed, but because the family and economic pressures on women can be extremely difficult to bear. I know a whole lot of people, myself included, who have a great deal of stress and anxiety around finances, but handing out Xanax would be a far less productive way to address the problem than actual system-wide economic changes. That’s why it is so important to distinguish between clinical problems (for which medication can often be a cure, and in which the symptoms are the problem) and circumstantial problems, where medication might be helpful in the short-term for some people but either the situation will pass (like with normal postpartum adjustments) or other changes need to occur (like with stress and anxiety over financial difficulties due to un/underemployment and other economic stresses).

    Or, maybe, the enemy of our enemy is not our friend. The pharmaceutical industry has provided some very helpful treatments for a variety of diseases and disorders, but it’s still a for-profit business that needs to be looked at critically.

  • Lori

    No, you are not citing yourself. You are citing a guy who rights opinion columns for a newspaper. IOW, you’re citing someone who has no qualifications. “Looking into” the subject is not a qualification.

    You need to provide a valid reason for any of us to care what an opinion columnist with no medical, psychological or scientific qualifications thinks about a complex medical issue.

  • Absolutely agreed that some people, including health care professionals, sometimes pathologize ordinary life experiences. And I don’t think you would deny that some people, including health care professionals, sometimes deny the presence of pathologies and insist on treating them as ordinary life experiences.

    Which means what’s needed is some kind of framework for what to do when faced with a situation that might or might not be pathological.

    My own approach to these kinds of situations is to enthusiastically embrace the idea that (a) tools are useful, and (b) medicine is one of a number of useful tools. Deciding to use a hammer rather than banging nails with my palm doesn’t require classifying my soft, easily damaged palm as some kind of illness, it simply requires acknowledging that it is inadequate for the task at hand.

    Deciding to take antidepressants or other medication to supplement my natural mood-management or other mental capabilities can be equally straightforward. The fact that my culture turns it into the kind of ideological struggle we’re seeing here is an unfortunate fact about my culture, which is deeply confused about its notions of purity.

    That said, unfortunate or not, it is a fact about my culture, and that means that some people will be attacked as unnatural or tainted or otherwise wrong for their choice to supplement their natural capabilities with artificial aids, and others will be attacked as prudish or superstitious or otherwise wrong for their choice not to.

    I don’t have a better answer than to avoid attacking people for their choices.

  • This is still assuming, though, that there’s some unresolved issue that
    is causing somebody to be depressed or anxious that needs to be

    Is it? I don’t quite see how I’m assuming that here (especially since I agree with you that frequently it’s just not true), although it’s certainly possible that I’m doing so without realizing it.

    If you could clarify where you see my reasoning assuming this, I would appreciate that.

  • Lori

    I’m not disagreeing with you. My point was that the general discussion about mental illness tends to bring out a lot of ignorance and unreasonable claims. This thread providing a couple of prime examples.

    The fact that a medication is sometimes misused or that it’s created by a self-interested industry is reason to be careful with it. It’s not a reason to dismiss it, or act like the only people who are in favor of its use are self-interested or ill-informed. That’s what we’ve been seeing too much of in this thread and in general and that’s what I’m arguing against.

  • AnonaMiss

    CN suicidal ideation

    We’ve all agreed that antidepressants aren’t perfect and that a better solution may be found.

    You don’t seem to be satisfied with that. You seem to be advocating against anti-depressants without presenting any alternative except “living without anti-depressants;” which, for people with major depression who are being helped by anti-depressants, can be functionally equivalent to “killing yourself.”

    When anti-depressants are necessary to keeping a person alive, attacking anti-depressants (without providing an alternative) is the strongest “personal attack” imaginable – on par with to attacking eating*, drinking, taking insulin, or any other activity that keeps one alive. You are attacking Ellie’s, and my, and many other people’s both on this thread and off, ability to remain living persons.

    Until you stop making personal attacks, you cannot expect others to stop their personal attacks on you.

    * Eating is dangerous! 41,500 people in the USA died as a direct result of eating in 2010 alone! And that’s not counting auto deaths caused by distracted drivers eating, or falls from distracted drivers eating, or diseases caught by eating contaminated food!11

  • other lori

    I completely agree about not attacking people for their choices, and that medication can be a useful tool.

    I do think, though, that it’s not just ideas like the one expressed in the article linked to that make it hard to make a straightforward choice. The fact that the pharmaceutical industry is a for-profit business generating hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and one that markets directly to consumers and courts GPs, also can make these decisions harder or more confusing than they’d otherwise be.

    It does seem that, to some extent, part of the way the pharmaceutical industry has grown itself is by redefining normal life experiences or changes as pathologies requiring treatment. And I do think there is wisdom in not simply accepting that assessment, any more than we’d uncritically accept the claims used to sell any other product (no matter how useful or necessary that product might be in the right circumstances).

  • other lori

    Yes. This is exactly what I was trying to get at. A lot of GPs, rather than making a referral, would have just written a prescription. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s also not a great thing, since it contributes to the idea that feeling sad after you have a baby is, in itself, a problem, and that therefore any woman who doesn’t automatically feel joyful and fulfilled after having a new baby has something wrong with her. And that just ramps up the pressure on new moms, and makes it more likely she’ll feel anxious or sad. So I think it can become this self-generating problem, and the kind of careful assessment your ob/gyn and the psychiatrist engaged in is exactly how these things should be approached.

  • AnonaMiss

    I know that my antidepressant is not a placebo, because when I switched to the generic after being on the name brand, fully expecting no change, my depression came back and hit me like a truck.

    If my antidepressant were a placebo, since I believed the generic would work the same as the name brand, it would have.

  • AnonaMiss

    It’s the “lobby” part that’s name-calling. “Pro-anti camp” would be acceptable. “Pro-anti lobby” makes it sound like you think we’re trying to influence legislation extralegally, and/or that we are being paid to be pro-anti (and thus our opinions are suspect).

  • EllieMurasaki

    Are you a medical professional with expertise in mental illness?


    Then fuck right the fuck off and take your ideas about how mental illness should be treated with you.

  • I’m not sure you understand what “ad hominem” means. If I had said “You’re an idiot and I won’t listen to you”, that would be an ad hominem attack. Stating that important medical decision should be handled by the patient and his or her doctor, and shouldn’t necessarily involve taking the opinion of strangers on the Internet (who, quite possibly, don’t have any medical or psychiatric experience), is not an ad hominem attack.

    You’re not making any reasonable arguments at this point. Your first few posts were; however, your postings after that seem to have devolved into some pretty angry stuff when you discovered that the majority of posters on this thread (many of whom have pretty extensive experience with psychiatric medications) didn’t agree with you.

  • Again, I agree that there’s wisdom in not redefining normal life experiences or changes as pathologies requiring treatment, but I wholeheartedly embrace the usefulness of tools.

    Consequently, I can endorse not pathologizing normal experience while at the same time endorsing the use of antidepressents when they’re useful.

    By way of analogy, the automotive industry is unquestionably engaged in the process of convincing people that our natural locomotive abilities are inadequate for various day-to-day tasks, and in part as a consequence of that we create environments in which our natural locomotive abilities genuinely are inadequate for various day-to-day tasks. I don’t in the least doubt this.

    But I don’t endorse giving up cars. Cars are useful, and I endorse the use of cars when they’re useful, even though my legs are not in any sense pathological.

    Cars also have unfortunate side-effects, especially when used carelessly (e.g. traffic fatalities) but also when used as recommended (e.g., pollution). I therefore endorse mitigating those side-effects, reducing various causes of careless driving, installing safety features in cars, etc.

    But I still don’t endorse giving up cars.

  • I would love to have my meds prescribed to me by a psychiatric professional rather than my GP. However, I don’t have medical insurance, and I’m unemployed. Many psychiatrists don’t take health insurance, anyway, and cost much, much more money to visit than a GP. For example, the last time I tried to see a psychiatrist, he wanted $935 up-front for my first visit (which was to last 15 minutes). My GP, on the other hand, charges $75 for a visit, which is a lot easier for me to scrape together than $935. My GP contacted my therapist, and talked to her at length about the medication I would like to take (I’ve been doing this long enough now that I know which meds work for me wand which ones don’t), and now he’s my primary source for medication. (My therapist cannot write scripts; the only reason why I’m still seeing her twice a week is because she treats me for free)

    Overall, I agree that some GPs over-prescribe drugs of all sorts, from tranquilizers to anti-depressants to antibiotics. However, for a lot of people with low income, they’re the only choice they’ve got for medical treatment.

  • Okay. I read the articles. Several of them. Then I started using CTRL+F and searching for “antidepressant” because Hitchens spends 90% of every article angrily denouncing all of society, government, the NHS and the justice system. He believes he is a persecuted minority and that he will one day be cracked down upon by government officials he compares to Joseph Stalin. He ascribes this gradual slide into barbarism and moral failing to the decline of Christianity.

    Here are my qualifications: psychology and psychiatry were why I went to college. They weren’t just my major; I took psychology classes that weren’t even on my degree because the field has been such a major part of my life. I’ve suffered on and off from clinical depression over the last decade or so, dating back to when I started trying to address the problems caused by my antisocial personality disorder. I graduated head of pretty much each of my classes. I have a shiny piece of paper. My preferred psychiatric perspective is in cognitive and behavioral therapy. I have no ties to medication companies whatsoever and I’ve never been medicated for my depression because “physician, heal thyself!” actually turned out to be okay advice.

    The only scientific link he’s found in all of his articles is that people with a history of depression and anxiety often take antidepressants, and then he says “AHA!”

    I bit my tongue when I first read of the tragedy of Felicia Boots, her life now a desolation of unbearable grief. As soon as I learned that she had killed her own children and then tried to do away with herself, I was sure that I would find she had been taking ‘antidepressants’. And so it proves.

    I take no pleasure in being right, but as the scale of this scandal has become clear to me, I have learned to look out for the words ‘antidepressant’ or ‘being treated for depression’ in almost any case of suicide and violent, bizarre behaviour. And I generally find it.

    The rest of each article is dedicated to how society is corrupt and falling apart. When he does get on to a proper diatribe about antidepressants, he offers nothing but a combination of anecdote and biased ignorance. Then he typically starts making ominous rumblings about Russia and how Britain is encouraging terrorism in Syria.

    This man is disgusting and there is no reason whatsoever to take him as an authority on antidepressants. His only argument simplifies to “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that depressed, anxious people kill themselves,” except for the sake of professional journalism, he leaves off “depressed” and “anxious” and inserts “normal” and divorces trained and licensed physicians from medical experts.

    Normal human beings become abnormal, possibly forever, as soon as they first ingest these powerful, poorly-researched chemicals, often prescribed by doctors shamefully ignorant of the growing body of expert criticism of them.

    There’s no reason to read this garbage.

  • I can see your point. When it comes to me, personally, and my condition, I flip-flop back and forth between the “disability” and “difference” aspects. Sometimes, my problems can be debilitating; I can’t leave the house, I have problems with auditory hallucinations, anxiety, and at times I lose touch with reality. Sometimes, my problem actually helps me function in the world (I don’t want to get too specific; I’m still a little uncomfortable about talking about this issue in public, what with the stigma present in our culture).

    The thing is, though, it’s *both*. It is an illness, and it is a different way of seeing the world. If I were “cured” tomorrow, and all the negative (and positive) effects of my illness went away, I would still look at the world differently because of my experiences. It doesn’t have to be an either/or choice.

  • Lori

    This is exactly what I meant by “insurance nightmare”. I am so sorry you’re caught in it and I wish that we had a better system.

  • other lori

    I don’t endorse giving up cars, either. But, it’s good to consider, in any given circumstance, whether driving is necessary. If I’m going to another state, sure. If I’m travelling to do my weekly grocery shopping, probably. If I’m headed to the branch library 2 blocks away, not so much, unless the weather is really, really bad. And certainly we might have reasons, as a culture, to discourage driving in instances where walking would be very easy, so that we aren’t a culture that decides that if we’re travelling more than a block, we’re going to take the car.

  • LMM22

    I get what you’re saying. I think the issue I have is that it seems impossible to have an ambiguous narrative, let alone a narrative where individuals have different opinions about a situation. I can like a town sometimes and complain about it once I realize I can’t get a specialized ingredient for dinner that night — and I can say I wished I lived somewhere with enough of a population to support a specialized cheese shop without having someone explain (citysplain?) to me that the problem is not that a town of 5,000 people can’t support a cheese shop but that cheese shop owners are too snobbish to move to such a remote location. I can say that I needed to move to Boston because that’s where the biotech hub is without having someone try to tell me that I should petition to get the biotech hub moved to me. And I can say that my town is full of misogynistic asshats and be sure the response will be “kill it with fire!” instead of some lecture about intersectionality.

    I can’t do that with a mental illness. I can’t tell someone that there are pluses and minuses but, after evaluating the situation, I’d rather not have it — and I definitely can’t be willing to make the crass decision to be cured based on my desire to advance my career. We’re willing to accept that sparsely populated geographic locations limit ones choices (no, most guys aren’t going to move to a rural town just to be with me — and, if we lived in the same location, I might happily marry on of them who refused), but we’re not willing to accept that other things do as well.

  • Sure, we might.

    Conversely, if I live in a culture where I see people around me frequently making judgments of other people’s driving behavior on ideological grounds, without paying any real attention to their individual situations, I might choose to counter this tendency by loudly encouraging people to make their own driving decisions and interfering with such ideological interventions.

    In the same spirit, I encourage people to make their own decisions about psychiatric care, and about what artificial tools they choose to use as part of that care. And I reject attempts to discourage (in the absence of clear harm) people from choosing to use such tools, just as I reject attempts to discourage (in the absence of clear harm) people from choosing to reject such tools for themselves.

  • “Ad hominem” applies if we discount your opinion for something about you which is irrelevant; “Just Sayin’ is a blonde so we can just toss everything he says.” The logical fallacy I think you intended to say is that ‘anecdotes aren’t data’ which, well, anecdotes are what a blog has and that’s why its a blog and not a published scientific paper.

    Now, if I were to call you an idiot for confusing the two, I might be out of line, but that would not be an ad hominem either. It would just be name-calling.

  • Ick. That passage reminds me of nothing so much as that old net.forward by that guy who was obsessed with the idea that canola oil was the most toxic substance known to man. It even follows the same methodology: someone gets sick; writer assumes they used the thing he’s against; turns out they did indeed use it; writer takes this as proof of causality.

    You know, the proof that water causes cancer.

    (The canola article and its debunking can be found at for the curious)

  • This is still assuming, though, that there’s some unresolved issue that is causing somebody to be depressed or anxious that needs to be addressed.

    It’s not assuming that, necessarily. There are, in fact, lots of chronic medical conditions where certain behaviors can keep the condition under control and alleviate symptoms. Those treatments, when they work, often have better medical outcomes, and pretty much never carry the same risk of side effects. And that doesn’t assume anything about there being “unresolved emotional problems or hidden abuses or unfulfilled desires.”

    I find it interesting, though, that when my doctor tries to sell me on managing my diabetes with exercise and diet, he puts me on medication first with the plan to take me off if lifestyle changes help, but when it’s depression, a lot of people start from the assumption that we should try therapy first, and only “resort” to medication if it doesn’t work.

    (Though a lot of doctors treat chronic pain the same way. Try exercise and PT first, only offer medication if that doesn’t help)

  • More deflection and accusations against people rather than reading and responding to their arguments. Do you pro-suicides have any actual arguments out there?

  • More deflection and accusations against people rather than reading and responding to their arguments. Do you pro-suicides have any actual arguments out there?

  • Darkrose

    One of my best friends is a filmmaker. One of her first projects was a short film about a black woman going to therapy for the first time. The line that always stuck with me is when she tells her therapist, “We don’t go to therapy; we’re supposed to take our problems to Jesus.”

    That attitude has done so much harm in general, and to me personally, that I start grinding my teeth whenever I hear it. It was certainly the subtext of my mother’s constant concern trolling about my weight whenever I pointed out that the only way I was going to lose the weight I put on after going on SSRI’s was to go off the SSRI’s.

    Part of the problem is the misconception that clinical depression is the same thing as having a couple of days when you’re feeling a little down. It’s not. It’s a disease.

    All of that said, I’m not sure the diabetes analogy is a good one–at least if you have Type 2–because there’s strong undercurrent that diabetes is a result of your being fat, and if you’d just eat less and exercise more and not be such a fatty mcfatterson, you wouldn’t need the insulin.

  • Darkrose

    Thinking good thoughts for you about your new therapist. Speaking as someone who’s been through more than my share of mediocre ones, a competent one is worth their weight in gold.

  • Oh, hey, I know that film! That’s Running on Eggshells, isn’t it?