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Canadian Psychiatrists and Sugar Pills

You want statistics? A survey in Canada found that 1 in 5 Canadian physician respondents have prescribed sugar pills. What this press release, The Power of Placebos, doesn’t go into is the ineffectiveness and damaging capacity of almost all prescription psychiatric drugs.

A recent survey, led by McGill Psychiatry Professor and Senior Lady Davis Institute Researcher Amir Raz, reports that one in five respondents – physicians and psychiatrists in Canadian medical schools – have administered or prescribed a placebo. Moreover, an even higher proportion of psychiatrists (more than 35 per cent) reported prescribing subtherapeutic doses of medication (that is, doses that are below, sometimes considerably below, the minimal recommended therapeutic level) to treat their patients.

Maybe, just maybe, the minimal recommended therapeutic doses are too high.

The survey, which was also designed to explore attitudes toward placebo use, found that the majority of responding psychiatrists (more than 60 per cent) believe that placebos can have therapeutic effects. This is a significantly higher proportion than for other medical practitioners. “Psychiatrists seem to place more value in the influence placebos wield on the mind and body,” says Raz. Only 2 per cent of those psychiatrists believe that placebos have no clinical benefit at all.

Psychiatric drugs have been known to impede the process of mental health recovery in some instances. When the drugs don’t work, of course, sugar pills work better. Also when drugs, falsely claiming to be medicine, are harmful, as they all too often actually are, poof, ‘mind over matter’ magic can look sooo goood!

I see an argument against psychiatric treatment coming.

Raz’s own interest in placebos grew out of his work in three very different areas: his explorations into how people’s physiology is influenced by their expectations of what is about to happen, his work on deception; and the time he spent as a former magician. Together, these three separate areas of experience have led Raz to explore what remains an uncomfortable hinterland of medical practice for many practitioners – the use of placebos in medicine.

This line of pursuit has got to lead eventually to some kind joke starting with the line, “What’s the difference between a confidence man and a psychiatrist?” Obviously, the answer is not going to be so much as people might have once thought there was.

Canadian psychiatrists prescribing sugar pills? Considering the 25 years of life lost for the patient, according to some recent studies, because of psychiatric drugs usage, I think they should be commended for doing so.