By Debbie Thurman, Christian Communication Network
MONROE, Va., July 18 /Christian Wire Service/– “Shut up and pass the Prozac.” That is the consensus of the media in the most volatile round of psycho trash talk in recent memory. Since Tom Cruise kicked it up a notch on the “Today” show with Matt Lauer, all manner of “experts” have weighed in on both sides of the debate.
One of the most articulate and credentialed critics of current psychiatric practices was notably absent, however. Dr. Peter Breggin of The International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, was essentially shut out of the debate by the media, at one point being forced to watch a 90-minute-long exchange between Jane Pauley and CNBC’s Donny Deutche, which he was invited to join by link-up, but to which he was never asked to contribute a comment.
Such an insulting slight is beyond the pale, says Debbie Thurman, another outspoken critic of psychiatric over-drugging for so-called brain diseases. Thurman, a journalist, author and Christian family mental health advocate, knows debilitating depression from the inside out .The author of “Outsmarting Depression: Surviving the Crossfire of the Mental Health Wars” also helps other women (and men) recover from it, both individually and in small groups.
“The effectiveness of this type of structured support is as little talked about by the media as complementary and alternative medicine is,” says Thurman. Both approaches to mental health care far outstrip psychiatry’s effectiveness, but the public perception is something entirely different, thanks to slick pharmaceutical advertising.
Thurman, a contributing researcher of mental health issues to Focus on the Family, cites the overwhelming success of ministries like Celebrate Recovery, originating with Rick Warren’s mega-church community in Southern California, as proof that psychiatry is missing the boat in changing lives. “Psychiatry has become a religion unto itself, and Big Pharma is its god” she says. The trouble is, depression and anxiety have increased since the Prozac revolution began in the late ’80s. “We have medicated ourselves into a corner; the system is broken.”
Psychiatry still suffers from an identity crisis, says Thurman. Only last week, the New England Journal of Medicine ran an editorial by a Columbia University physician that appeared to suggest lobotomies actually might have helped some people. Doctors at Columbia University also formulated TeenScreen, the controversial mood assessment tool that even its own co-director says can’t really determine which kids are suicidally depressed.
It is the insidious move within the federal and many state governments to institute universal mental health screening, beginning in our schools, that rankles many pro-family advocates. “The recommendations of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health would essentially turn our schools into mental health clinics, resulting in a much higher percentage of children on dangerous psychiatric drugs,” claims Thurman. Anyone who doubts that assessment needs only to check out the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP), the “model” drugging program gushed over by the New Freedom Commission.
Thurman shares this concern with other prominent conservatives, such as Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly and Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye. Such pro-family advocates are largely ignored by the media in the mental health debate. “I think TV pseudo-journalists, the American Psychiatric Association and Big Pharma are afraid of us,” says Thurman, “and they ought to be.”