Dr. Joanna Moncrieff

Joanna Moncrieff (@joannamoncrieff) is a Reader in Critical and Social Psychiatry at University College London, and a practising psychiatrist with an interest in the history, philosophy and politics of psychiatry, and particularly in the use, misuse and misrepresentation of psychiatric drugs.

She is the author of several books including “The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment“, “A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Drugs“, and “The Bitterest Pills: The Troubling Story of Antipsychotic Drugs“.

Joanna is also is also a founding member and co-chairperson of the Critical Psychiatry Network, a group of psychiatrists from around the world who are sceptical of the idea that mental disorders are simply brain diseases and of the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry.

In today’s episode we explore the history and development of psychiatric medication, why there is little, if any, evidence to support the idea that psychiatric medication is correcting a “chemical imbalance” or any other underlying cause of mental illness, why the disease-centred model of mental health issues is both misleading and disempowering to service users, and ultimately, why much of the “science” supporting psychiatric medication is based more on ideology than evidence.

This episode has 12 minutes of bonus content! Subscribe for as little as $2 /month to gain access to this and other exclusive content.

Related Links

JoannaMoncrieff.com – Books, papers and blogs by Joanna Moncrieff

Mad in America – MiA’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for rethinking psychiatric care in the United States (and abroad)

Critical Psychiatry Network (CPN) – A network primarily for psychiatrists, psychiatric trainees and medical students with an interest in psychiatry

Rxisk – A free, independent drug safety website to help you weigh the benefits of any medication against its potential dangers

Mental Elf – Keeping you up to date with reliable mental health research, policy & guidance

Hearing Voices Network – For people who hear voices, see visions or have other unusual perceptions

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Image courtesy: IGypsyWoman

1 reply
  1. Psychiatry Capitalist Fraud
    Psychiatry Capitalist Fraud says:

    Psychiatry and psychology are total frauds and forms of social control to uphold and justify the unequal capitalist mode of production. Did you know psychiatrists use to label black slaves with “drapetomania” because they wanted to flee captivity in the 19th century. Today if you can’t handle the stress of working for the minimum wage, being constantly tested or bullied at school or any other social problem then you get labelled with a mental illness and drugged to the eyeballs to keep you quiet while the other slaves work for nothing, or immigrants do the job. This is why people are labelled with a mental illness, their personality is incompatible with our heartless exploitative capitalist environment and rather than change the environment to meet your needs YOU have to change. Because people with mental illness can’t change psychiatrists need to do research in to why and how you can change in the future but all they need to do is accept that our environment is the cause of peoples misery and change the environment.

    Well if its that simple why don’t they change the social environment? Because our environment is based on inequality, someone become rich and someone becomes poor, the minimum wage goes up then so do your bills and food so your always stuck in poverty. If they give people with Autism a job in the community and help it goes against the principles of our capitalist environment which isn’t about help and caring for each other. Then there’s another problem, if they give a job and help to people with Autism what about all the people who have depression because of their low paid jobs, people in prison with mental illness who need help and everyone else. The capitalist system would collapse so its imperative that people with mental illness are dependent on mental health services which creates jobs for psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and neuroscience research teams. They uphold and justify the capitalist mode of production which is why after 200 years of psychiatric research suicide is on the increase and they can’t even diagnose properly like real medicine does.

    At the moment the whole premise behind psychiatry is that if you’re mentally ill its due to a biological problem like a brain disease which is a lie. This means society can carry on screwing people over and making them ill because if its a brain problem then nothing needs to change and those who do thrive in this environment will continue to do so. Most of the illnesses in the DSM are voted into existence by the American Psychiatric Association, none are discovered in the laboratory. In fact most mental illnesses are diagnosed through an interview. Can you imagine a normal doctor giving someone insulin, chemotherapy, drugs to treat cancer etc on the basis of an interview? If I’m going to have chemotherapy or be put on a life long drug treatment plan then I want a test to prove it especially when psychiatric drugs can causes liver, kidney damage and other health problems.

    But isn’t capitalism the best social environment? Well for some people it might be like a business man but because different environments effect different people differently it doesn’t work for everyone. Also we’re told at school to think about ourselves, get good grades, go to Uni and get a good job but we don’t look over our shoulder to see how these stresses affect other people. We’re not told that it’s an unequal exploitative, capitalist system where employers mainly care about money and will screw you over. In Business Studies we are taught about the differences between sole trader, partnerships and limited companies when discussing business but we are conveniently kept in the dark about the dark side of business.

    What do you mean? Take the slave trade for example, slavery expanded to satisfy European consumers and enrich merchants and bankers. in the 1700’s the British were the main consumers of these goods. ports like Liverpool and Bristol became rich during the slave trade and lots of people depended on it including boat builders, sail makers, rope makers, carpenters, sailors and shopkeepers who sold the products. Slavery was seen as normal and even shopkeepers with savings to invest would finance slave voyages and the economy would boom. Sir Francis Baring founder of Barings Bank was one of the many bankers in the city of London who made fortunes out of the investments in the slave voyages without seeing any of the suffering inflicted on the Africans. Lloyds of London ( the insurer) has its roots in the slave trade. It was founded by Edward Lloyd in the 17th century in Tower Street and became a major insurer of slave ships during the Atlantic slave trade. it was originally called Lloyds Coffee House.
    A bronze statue on a pedestal of Portland stone was unveiled in Bristol city centre (in 1895) showing a deep thinking Edward Colton leaning on a stick, its inscription reads “Erected by the citizens of bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city”. Not mentioned are the thousands of slave victims that Colston and his family trampled over to obtain much of their wealth.

    Ok but slavery ended now business is a good thing? No business exists to make money and screw you over that’s why there’s always been a conflict between employer and employee, like in 1823 The Master & Servants Act was a law which required obedience and loyalty from the workers to their contracted employer, with punishment enforced by jail or hard labour. It was used against workers organizing for better working conditions until the Trade Union Act of 1871 was implemented and secured the legal status of Trade Unions. Even today workers go on strike asking for better pay and conditions because their employers are taking advantage of them. Also think about all the cheap clothes and products we can buy, somebody somewhere must be getting screwed over. In April 2013 an eight storey building the Rana Plaza collapsed in Savar in Bangladesh, over 900 people died. The building contained clothing factories for companies like Benetton, Primark and Monsoon. The workers were worried about the state of the building because cracks appeared in the walls but they were forced to return to work and threatened with loss of pay if they didn’t. It doesn’t end there there’s also corruption.

    What do you mean about corruption? Well business exists to make money and that’s all they care about. Take Libor for example (the global benchmark for interest rates) was manipulated during the financial crisis of 2007 so Banks could carry on doing business. Also in 2012 an investigation by the US authorities found that HSBC the UK Bank was failing to stop criminals using the banking system. Mexican drug traffickers like the Sinaloa Narco Cartel laundered hundreds of millions of dollars with the bank. The New York Times reported that Federal Authorities would not prosecute HSBC in case a criminal prosecution would topple the entire capitalist system.

    This is all too much for me, why can’t I be normal? Well normal isn’t anything to shout about, 21 million people died during World War 1 because it was normal to pick up a weapon and go to war, 60 million during World War 2.

    What can I do? Look up “psychiatry fraud” on You Tube and do some of your own research, spread information and hopefully doctors who work in REAL medicine will make a stand before Big Business and Big Pharma destroys the community.


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