Following on from the BBC’s recent Panorama documentary on SSRI’s causing violence in some people, a series of articles defending the use of SSRI’s appeared in the media. One of the commentators (who also appears frequently on twitter defending the use of SSRI’s) is Dr Carmine Pariante.
Pariante is a psychiatrist, from Kings College London, and judging by his tweets he seems to believe firmly in the bio-medical/brain disorder approach to depression and ‘mental illness’. He also seems to have no problem accepting funding linked to various pharmaceutical companies.
“...Dr Carmine Pariante has received Funds for a member of staff and funds for research. Professor Pariante’s research on depression and inflammation is supported by: the grants ‘Persistent Fatigue Induced by Interferon alpha: A New Immunological Model for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’ (MR/J002739/1) and ‘Immuno – psychiatry: a consortium to test the opportunity for im munotherapeutics in psychiatry’ (MR/L014815/1; together with GSK), from the Medical Research Council (UK); the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre in Mental Health at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundati on Trust and King’s College London; by Johnson & Johnson as part of a programme of research on depression and inflammation; and by a Wellcome Trust -led consortium that also include Johnson & Johnson, GSK and Lundbeck….”
Psychiatrists linked to drug companies (or just taking money from drug companies) are nothing new; it’s the norm. This kind of intrinsic conflict of interest is widely accepted in psychiatry. Psychiatry is awash with pharmaceutical money and influence, and has been for a very long time. Conflicts of interest are important, but in relation to this post, they don’t interest me that much.
What interests me most about Pariante is his appearance in an article in the Standard. The article is relatively balanced, and includes Pariante’s views on SSRI’s and some counter view points from Dr David Healy and Robert Whitaker. It also includes a comment from a woman called Martha, who used Seroxat-
Martha said:

…‘As a teenager, Seroxat gave me auditory hallucinations, night sweats and made me suicidal,’ she says. ‘Coming off it was like coming off heroin…” (Evening Standard Article 2017)

I find it interesting that it is stories like Martha’s (above) that get completely ignored by mainstream psychiatrists like Carmine Pariante. Pariante would likely dismiss Martha’s experience as ‘anecdotal’. He would probably attempt to link her Seroxat side effects to her ‘mental illness’ as opposed to highlighting any real serious problems with SSRI’s themselves. Pariante has faced a backlash of commentary, about his pro-SSRI views on Twitter, yet in most instances he fails to even respond to views that don’t concur with his own. He seems unwavering to any opinion that does not tally with the consensus of the royal college of psychiatry, and incidentally- the drug companies.

Why is Pariante so unwilling to engage with people who have had serious adverse effects of SSRI’s? Why is he so fixed in his views, why is he also unwilling (and seemingly unable) to listen to our experiences of the drugs that he promotes? Why does he ignore different opinions?

Could this have anything to do with his declared interests with the drug companies who manufacture (and profit off) psychiatric drugs, or is it merely because his psychiatric reductionist world-view has become utterly blinkered from his total immersion in the ‘biological brain disease paradigm’ of depression and mental illness that maybe he can no longer see the wood for the trees?

Maybe he needs to listen to his patients more?

Pariante states, in the Standard article, that antidepressants stimulate the birth of new brain cells and that they ‘regulate’ stress hormones, he also says that the chemical imbalance theory is too simplistic….

See here-

“…Experts argue that the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory is simplistic. Professor Carmine Pariante of King’s College, London, tells me: ‘The action of antidepressants is more complex than that and involves stimulating the birth of new brain cells and regulating stress hormones.’ However, it’s a shorthand that makes sense to many.”..

Psychiatry and drug companies sold people millions of SSRI’s in the 90’s and 2000’s on the basis that SSRI’s (like Seroxat) fixed a ‘chemical imbalance’ in people’s brains, and it was this imbalance (so they claimed) that was causing the person’s depression. Now, it seems psychiatry is trying to distance itself from the theory- is this perhaps because the theory itself was little more than a pharmaceutical marketing ploy? a fraud? a fairy-tale sold to vulnerable people in order to get them to take mind-bending pills?

Who is going to tell all those millions of people who took SSRI’s, that psychiatry has now abandoned the chemical imbalance theory? Who will tell them that they were duped? Will Pariante do it?

Whilst dispelling one myth (the chemical imbalance theory) on the one hand, Pariante seems to have no problem planting outrageous new ones (such as SSRI’s regulating stress hormones and making new brain cells) into the discourse about SSRI’s, in the media. You’d have to wonder, with folks like Pariante (considered ‘experts’) as part of the ‘authority’ on mental health, are patients being harmed or helped by these kinds of glib pseudo-scientific statements?

Personally, I would like to see the evidence that SSRI’s regulate stress hormones, I’d also like to see hard evidence that SSRI’s creating brain cells is a good thing (where in the brain do these ‘new cells’ appear – for example).

It wasn’t long ago that psychiatry was telling us that homosexuality was a mental illness.

Psychiatry changes its theories like the weather, it depends on which way the ‘consensus’ is blowing. It also depends on who is feeding the ‘consensus builders’.

The consensus is now being altered by the internet, and patients voices (on twitter etc).

No amount of ignorance from people like Carmine Pariante can quell the tide of change that is now happening online.

Is it time for psychiatry to reform?

I think so..

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One thought on “What Does Professor Carmine Pariante Think Of Seroxat Making People Suicidal?…

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