Prominent Psych Writer Denounces Over-medication

Over the past several decades, the emergence of powerful new drugs has made recovery possible for many people who had previously struggled with other methods. While there are advocates of medication for use in mental health treatments as well as fervent opponents, however, the prevalence of these drugs tends to be collectively understood as inordinately high, especially in wealthy Western societies. Stressing the need for quality, comprehensive therapy for clients intent on resolving their issues, many professionals have jumped on the bandwagon of educating the public about their range of choices when it comes to seeking mental health treatment. Recently, famed writer/psychologist Richard Bentall, who has previously published award-winning books on the mental health fields, has released a tome which underscores the need for a collective makeover of the psychiatric landscape, a book which has firmly ensconced itself in the effort to bring about more therapy and less drug dependency.

Bentall’s new book, Doctoring the Mind, does its fair share to expose the modern professional preferences for medication, but also works toward the encouragement of healthier and more accessible alternatives. One of the writer’s key points is that mental health clients in search of professional support are often seeking just that –support–, rather than a write-off with a pathologizing diagnosis and a trip to the pharmacy. As a result, Bentall notes, people suffering in countries with poor medical care and widespread poverty are often actually more likely to achieve a greater standard of mental well-being; as their concerns are met with the support of extended family or community or religious leaders rather than impersonal treatment and pills, their likelihood to experience a lasting, meaningful improvement is increased. While mental health medications are not outright condemned in every instance, their prevalence in treatments is likely to take a hit from the new text, adding to the success of professionals rallying for a different kind of “care” in mental health.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Dr. Ralph

    Dr. Ralph

    June 26th, 2009 at 11:33 AM

    psychiatric care in the US is in a sad state, that’s is for sure. of course many people benefit from medication. but the majority just avoid really making emotional changes and use rx psychotropic meds as any other crutch..not to mention the physical side effects..glad people are actually speaking up…

  • Robyn


    June 27th, 2009 at 5:23 AM

    There ARE so many other alternatives for treatment when it comes to psychiatric care, and I am glad to see that finally people of note are willing to stand up and fight for some of these alternative therapies. Yes they may be experimental or maybe we have all just gotten to the point that we feel like only medicine can make things better but that is absolutely not true. I work in the psychiatric field and have to say that I have observed numerous instances in which meds were not helping the patient at all, that sometimes it just took time and the right therapist and program to get things moving in the right direction. How long will this take to catch on? Who knows. But this is at least a good start.

  • sandy,phd


    June 27th, 2009 at 8:10 AM

    Thanks for the heads up and summary of a necessary book. I have seen my share of clients who seem more drugged up than helped.

  • runninfast


    June 28th, 2009 at 9:44 AM

    But a combination of different medications helped my daughter a good deal when she went through a serious bout of depression while in college. Don’t you think that they still have their place because I fear that without them my daughter would have hurt herself eventually.

  • Liza


    June 29th, 2009 at 1:23 AM

    I think very few mental health professionals have everybody’s best interests in mind. It has proven to be a trap for so many people courageous enough to seek therapy. A friend of mine lost both her kidneys because of a long term anti depressant prescibed 10 years ago.

  • Bob


    June 29th, 2009 at 2:56 AM

    I was on a slight sedative as I was suffering from stress related insomnia. Today I am hooked to that pill and I would have definitely been better off quitting and taking a holiday.

  • Bob


    June 29th, 2009 at 3:00 AM

    I was on a slight sedative as I was suffering from stress related insomnia. Today I am hooked to that pill and I would have definitely been better off quitting and taking a holiday

  • Michelle


    June 30th, 2009 at 2:33 AM

    Its good to know that things that go under the carpet in the medical fraternity are being aired in public.

  • Richa


    July 1st, 2009 at 3:11 AM

    I have cousins and friends back in India who go through the same things in life or much worse than I do. They dont have the same level of freedom in thought or deed when they grow up and they seem to be in better control of their lives than me. I do agree that people with lesser conveniences learn to sort out their problems better than all of us.

  • Jen


    July 1st, 2009 at 6:06 AM

    Before we judge we have to take a step back and look at how much many of these drugs have helped certain people. I am not saying that they are the answer for everything that ails us but I do feel that they are not all bad and for some patients they do have their place. But just like everything else they have to be used wisely and monitored by a doctor.

  • Stacy


    July 2nd, 2009 at 7:36 AM

    I hate to see when people are obviously on too much medication. They just have that look about them, foggy almost, and you know that even though one set of symptoms are being controlled, all of the medicine brings up a whole other set of issues.

  • Faye


    July 4th, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    My mom was in an institution in the 1960s when over medication was standard. I last remember my mom looking like a zombie and only wish that the critics had come out sooner.

  • Donna


    July 5th, 2009 at 8:50 AM

    For the most part I think that most in the mental health profession think that they are doing the right thing for their patients when they offer them medications as a way to stem unwanted feelings and behavior and to hopefully help them reach a level where they can function normally in society. I do not think that there are too many physicians who would knowingly endanger the livelihood of their patients, but you know there are people out there all of the time who are self medicating and dosing in a way that is totally inconsistent with what their doctors are telling them to do. Is there too much medication on the market? Maybe. But I also think that many times we have brought some of this on ourselves. There are people who are always pushing for the quick fix and they see prescriptions as the answer for this. Unfortunately there are many doctors who cave to this pressure and who have in turn with collaboration with their patients caused an epidemic of misuse of medications that were created to help, not harm.

  • Samantha


    July 6th, 2009 at 5:17 AM

    This is such a serious concern. I hope that there are more doctors out there willing to take a look at this problem and do something about it.

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