MindFreedom Editorial: What is a “pharmentalist”? A pharmaceutical fundamentalist believes we can reduce some of life’s most complex problems down to a simple level of a genetically-caused chemical imbalance. This “pharmentalism” can be harmful to our planet’s health.

Pharmamentalism is now a threat in the USA and the planet.

by David Oaks, Director, MFI

There is a chemical crusade.

When one combines the pharmaceutical industry with fundamentalist belief in the power of simple chemicals, one gets “pharmentalism.”

MindFreedom is pro-choice about our members personal hearlth care-decisions. Many of our members, fully informed of the risks and alternatives, decide to take prescribed psychiatric drugs.

However, we all agree the power of the psychiatric drug industry is so immense, so vast, so overwhelming, that this domination is leading to severe human rights violations. Too many people are forced to take powerful drugs against their will. Too many others are pressured and coerced. And countless citizens take psychiatric drugs because they are denied access or information about any other alternative.

If an individual personally believes he or she has a chemical balance, that is their right, and we defend their right.

However, when an enormous and profitable industry imposes an ideology of a “chemical imbalance”…  when that industry is supported by taxpayer money and government authority… and when that ideology is pursued by the mental health system by excluding and trampling upon other beliefs…

… Then we have a right to ask a question:

The special domination of a “chemical imbalance” theory means there ought to be special proof, so where is the proof for a chemical imbalance?

If a licensed medical authority tells you that you have a chemical imbalance ask, “May I see the lab test results please?”

There are no lab test results. There’s no brain scan, blood test, urine test to reveal complexities of the human mind.

The little we know about the mind is that it is an emergent process, and in fact is not in a strict “balance” in any case.

Medscape Medical News has written about a study that shows that many people are misinformed by ads about a chemical imbalance.

Medscape writes, “Advertisements in the U.S. for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs) are not based on science, according to an essay published inthe December [2006] issue of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine.Since the 1960s, investigators have proposed the ‘serotoninhypothesis,’ which implicates low brain levels of serotonin indepression. However, extensive research to date has failed to confirmthis theory.”

Measured by dollar invested and dollar returned, the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry is one of the most consistently profitable in the history of the planet. This unchecked power has been used to mislead the public, a public that mistakenly believes its government is adequately regulating and monitoring the worst abuses of the drug industry.

Years ago when I started in this “mad movement” we had a word to describe psychiatric oppression. Similar to the words sexism, racism, etc. we had the word mentalism. To be a mentalist was to separate people based on their minds into segregated camps based on false information.

So it is with special pleasure that I introduce the combination of pharmaceutical and fundamentalist, to form the word pharmentalism.

Perhaps someone else has used the word pharmentalist. However, the Google search engine was unable to find any use of the words pharmentalist or pharmentalism today 13 September 2007. In fact, Google didn’t even have instances of use of the unnecessarily longer variations of this word, pharmamentalism and pharmamentalist.

A pharmentalist discriminates based on a strict and literal stand, without adequate scientific evidence, that we humans can be segregated into different camps based on our alleged “chemical imbalances.”

There is an antidote to pharmentalism.

For those who wish to learn about a scientific revolution going on throughout so many areas of our society that is challenging this “mechanistic” way of viewing life, please consider reading the book Web of Life by Fritjof Capra. He helps introduce readers to the revolution of “complexity theory” or “dynamic systems theory” or “wholistic theory” that is gaining more and more attention.

Beware pharmentalism.

Too many are dying, and suffering brain damage and injury, and human rights violations, because of the chemical crusade promoted by pharmentalists.

The fact is, we are all in the same boat on our planet. Science is discovering that none of us has a “grip” on reality, and in fact the very idea of “gripping” reality in any true sense may be impossible. The best of science is discovering that reality is far weirder than what mainstream science ever suspected.

  • String theory hypothesizes secret universes.
  • Quantum theory hypothesizes simultaneously linked events may occur on opposite sides of the universe, connected faster than the speed of light.
  • Complexity theory’s feedback loops show there may be some level of what can be called “intelligence” just about anywhere.
  • And of course the Greenhouse effect, and books such as Jared Diamond’s Collapse, are showing that minds that may typically be labeled “normal,” may in fact be one of the biggest threats to the future of humanity.

We need the creativity, the empowerment and — paradoxically — the humility, of the human spirit during this time of planetary crisis.

Perhaps those who have experienced being labeled in a “pharmentalist” society may have something of value to teach the rest of humanity about surviving and even thriving during this global catastrophe.

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