or maybe never…

Posted on Sunday 23 February 2014

I love the Olympics. It’s always the same. It starts with great conflict in the air – the Ukraine, Terrorists, discrimination, not-ready hotel rooms, who was that lady sitting with Putin?, etc. And then things settle down and you worry about the US atheletes for a while, crestfallen when the heros lose. And by the end, you’re watching some crazy sport like Biatholon or Parallel-Ski-Cross and rooting for athletes from places you’ve never even heard of before. And you find out that the lady with Putin at the opening ceremony wasn’t some mistress. She was a Russian athlete who was disabled for life in a Bob-Sled accident 5 years ago. And then there was the segment about the Russian hockey team, Lokomotiv, who all died in a plane crash two years ago, and how their city recovered.

I’ve been to two Olympics – Munich in 1972 and Atlanta in 1996. It was the same scenario – even with the craziness with the Terrorists. By the last night, we were in a hanger on an isolated military base at midnight being strip searched along with a crowd of people who spoke other languages. But we were all great pals and uniformly relieved the Germans were being so careful. The first days in Atlanta were snafu filled, and let’s face it, Atlanta isn’t Barcelona [and we heard about that]. But by the end, it was great in spite of the bombing. The Olympics always puts me in a good mood about people and the world, something hard to feel if you watch the evening news very much.

There’s been something of a battle going on the Internet spread over several weeks, stimulated by Peter Gøtzsche’s book, Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare and a guest post on David Healy’s blog.
I started a post about it days ago which I worked on when not watching the games. Every time I came back to it and read what I’d written earlier, I erased it and started over. There were others involved in this exchange. Psycritic tweeted, “a post about @DrDavidHealy‘s nuttiness turns into an amazing discussion, with unbelievably high-quality comments.” In those comments to George Dawson’s first post, there were some familiar figures – David Allen of Family Dysfunction and Mental Health Blog, Altostrata of Surviving Antidepressants, and Sandra Steingard of Mad in America. In his second post, David Healy quoted Bernard Carroll of Healthcare Renewal, "A number of colleagues such as Barney Carroll thought Peter’s piece was over the top." In the dialog, things got contentious at times from several directions.

I respect every one of the people listed here. I read their  blogs, and their books. I think each of them has taught me something valuable along the way. Psycritic is a thoughtful, introspective child psychiatrist. Altostrata taught me about the withdrawal syndromes from psychoactive medications, something I didn’t know about. David Healy taught us all about akathisia and suicidality on antidepressants. He parsed the peculiar history of the FDA and explained why the system is so odd like no other has even tried to do. Peter Gøtzsche and the others at Cochrane taught us how to compare studies, how to detect missing data, how to think critically about the ubiquitous clinical trials, how to see corruption. Dr. Carroll has taught me more than I even knew there was to learn about biological psychiatry. And I appreciate both David Allen and Sandy Steingard having the ability to maintain a balanced perspective on matters psychiatric in today’s way too contentious environment. Usually I find George Dawson’s posts acerbic, but I have respected his standing up to many of the spurious criticisms of psychiatry [though the post above wasn’t his best outing].

So I kept deleting what I wrote and starting over. Finally, I came back after watching a 30 mile cross country ski event and erased my musings for the last time. I guess I’m having an Olympic Spirit moment, and not really in the mood to comment on the ad hominems when all the players are people I respect, even if they take pot-shots at each other. In spite of the the differences, Psycritic was right. There are lots of high-quality comments in both the posts and in the comment section. I pass on the links for those. Otherwise, I’m obviously too conflicted to comment, so I’ll just hold my comments for another day…

or maybe never.
    Arby (Not a Doctor)
    February 23, 2014 | 5:55 PM

    I agree with you. I, too, have been writing comments in my head all day, and just decided to not comment in either arena. To me, it comes down to what type of person do you want to be while you work on changing the world or your own little piece of it.

    February 24, 2014 | 4:18 PM

    Thank you for the generous mention.

    I have 1,000 case reports of a certain type of injury from psychiatric drugs. Patterns of clinical error, which could be remediated if psychiatry cared to protect patients, are discernable. Although I am also an injured patient, I am not generalizing from my own personal experience. I will not permit this evidence to be dismissed.

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