An article appeared in the New York Times on April 7, 2018. While Dr. Caplan felt much of it was good she also noted that it had significant problems. She sent the letter below to the NYT Editor but they choose not to print it.
Because far fewer readers read beyond the first part of an article than read the first part, how unfortunate -- and curious -- that right on the front page of Sunday's New York Times there appear the words, "Many, perhaps most, people stop the medications without significant trouble," but only those who bother to go to page 17 and read to the third column there will discover that actual research has revealed that in one study, half of longterm users of the drugs experienced "severe" withdrawal problems when trying to stop, nearly half who tried to quit finding they could not do so because the symptoms were so bad, and in another study, well over two-thirds reported withdrawal problems, almost half saying they felt addicted to the drugs. In an otherwise fine and important article, the authors make another major error: Also on page 1, they say the drugs "have helped millions of people ease depression and anxiety, and are widely regarded as milestones in psychiatric treatment." Had they read Pulitzer-nominated Robert Whitaker's classic book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, they would have learned that they harm far more people than they help, that since they went on the market, recovery rates from sadness, fear, etc., have plummeted, and rates of longterm disability for such suffering have skyrocketed. The authors would have done well to note that tapering almost unimaginably slowly (slower than they mention) can help and that withdrawal effects are often wrongly labeled as proof of the presence of the alleged mental illness and the alleged need to get the patient back on the drugs.
Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D., Clinical and Research Psychologist, Associate, Hutchins Center, Harvard University
Author, They Say You're Crazy: How the World's Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who's Normal; Editor, Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis; former ethics consultant to Ontario Board of Examiners in Psychology (now called College of Psychologists)
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