Sunday, May 07, 2006

To Drug or Not to Drug?

[posted by dinah]

Face it, even though psychotropics do wonders for many people, as a society-- and even as a profession-- we remain ambivalent about medicating people for what goes on in their mental life. Oh, of course, there are many examples of people where it's not an issue-- we don't medicate one night of insomnia, and we pretty much agree to medicate anyone with severe symptoms who arrive screaming in psychic pain, but on the edges of the symptom spectrum, there is still controversy, there is still hesitance, and there is still stigma. As psychiatrists, we each have our own threshold in the question of when to medicate.

As we go on with Sigmund Freud's birthday weekend, William H. Gass writes about Freud in The Inside Man in Sunday's New York Times Op-Ed section:

Had there been pills and similar potions he might have prescribed them and swallowed the rationale for their use as well. Cocaine, after all, was a chemical solution he used and quite in harmony with psychiatry's present pill pop, hip hop, rub out attitude.

Pill pop, hip hop-- so this is what I do for a living?
Mr. Gass goes on to note:

It became fashionable to be neurotic, to be in analysis and to be able to afford it. And we were having such a good time, we scarcely noticed that this therapy-- which took so long and cost so much-- wasn't curing anybody.

Interesting that Mr. Gass manages to disparage both psychoanalysis and psychopharmacology. I won't speculate on what he does advocate for the treatment of mental illness.