In this first of three planned volumes, an Irish doctor and psychotherapist discusses the lack of scientific evidence for a long-held, widespread theory of depression.
Lynch (Beyond Prozac, 2001, etc.) provides hundreds of quotes from multiple sources—from the American Psychiatric Association, highly respected physicians, drug companies, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Mayo Clinic, just to name a few—that promote the idea that decreased levels of serotonin in the brain is the biological cause of depression. Lynch clearly and painstakingly analyzes and breaks down their arguments, refuting the claims based on his conviction that “There is no reliable scientific evidence…that brain chemical imbalances are known to be a feature of depression” and that “we do not know what serotonin levels should or should not be.” He includes several admirable, fervent missives to various editors at publishing companies whose medical textbooks include the theory of chemical imbalances, as well as to medical journals that espouse the same claims. Lynch’s basic complaint is that the authorities that the public deems trustworthy—such as government organizations, physicians, and scientists—have wittingly or unwittingly bamboozled them about the causes and appropriate treatments for depression. Consequently, he says, “The development of a comprehensive holistic understanding of depression has been thwarted.” The author also discusses how pharmaceutical companies, psychiatrists, and general practitioners have profited from the chemical imbalance theory and asserts that the psychological phenomenon of “Groupthink” has enabled the theory to become intractable. The author’s prodigious citations create a solid case for his beliefs. However, they eventually become a little too overwhelming, as his refutations of the chemical-imbalance concept grow wearingly repetitive. Still, this shouldn’t dissuade readers from delving into this scrupulous study of a topic that holds profound consequences for so many people.
An eye-opening look at how a singular theory of depression has pervaded and persuaded the medical world.