Chemical imbalance, huh?

Since someone asked about the use of the term “chemical imbalance” in an article from another blog that I reblogged yesterday. I will post my response (which has been edited and expanded to make a full post for Beyond Meds) here because I predicted there would be people who had an issue with that word taken even remotely seriously on Beyond Meds, given that many of us have an issue with how psychiatry uses the concept of chemical imbalance. For good reasons, of course, and you can see for yourself here and below where I cut and paste an info page on the chemical imbalance myth as perpetrated by biopsychiatry.

The paragraph from: Depression is not a Disease but an Indication that Human Consciousness needs to Change — (the article that offended was):

It is not a disease, but more chemical and emotional imbalance of the brain, normally affected by long-term stress, deep trauma or grief, for some it is difficult to diagnose the root cause. Here is a good article written by Dr John Grohol on defining Depression for those of you that are insistent on calling it a ”disease”. 

I, too, noticed the author’s use of the term and at first cringed, but in context (when you read the whole article not just the above snippet) it shows a sophisticated understanding of human beings being profoundly holistic and connected to the world around us so I let it slide.

We do, indeed, after all, have a biochemical reality.

I’m sharing my response to the person who took issue with it below so that you might consider the position I’m in as the editor and not always an author on Beyond Meds. As an author I control every word that is posted. Not so as an editor:

It’s not my article someone else wrote it and I thought it made a lot of important points…I have a disclaimer on my site saying I do not agree with every thing I publish. This is because I have a lot of different voices on the blog. As human beings we rarely agree 100% with anyone. I will not cease communications with people when they frame things a little differently than I do…in reading the whole article it struck me as a rather small detail and frankly we are biochemical animals and all the things the author talks about do affect that part of us as a single part of the whole…so while I do not frame things as the writer does, I do not disagree with them either.

What psychiatry does is a gross reductionism boiling down to just biochemistry and then they make fictions about that biochemistry which are even more simplistic and ridiculous…

We do have biochemistry that is, indeed, impacted by all we do…it’s simply incredibly more complicated than what psychiatry says.

I don’t believe I need to hand hold my readers. They can do a bit of analysis for themselves…the content of my blog speaks for itself. I trust my readers to do what is right for them. I also feel no need to agree with everyone.

I say something similar in this article on my blog: Chemical imbalance myth takes a big public fall (no, antidepressants do NOT correct an imbalance of serotonin, nor do other psychiatric drugs correct anything at all)

Beyond Meds and anyone who’s actually paid attention to the science for the last many years has known that the serotonin myth about depression and how antidepressants work has no evidence to back it up whatsoever.

Embracing this critique doesn’t mean there is no biological factor to that which gets labeled mental illness…we are holistic beings, so of course there is biology involved in everything about us. What it means is the answer does not lie in the biological reductionism that psychiatry most often espouses and makes up stories about. Everything matters. Until we start attending to the individual as part of the whole of life, intertwined with everyone and everything, we’ll continue to harm.

And to be clear the same article that was being criticized also contains these paragraphs which I thought was highly worthy of sharing and showed a nuance view about that which gets labeled mental illness:

“It is time for humanity to question its actions upon earth and ourselves. It is time to be totally honest and say ‘fuck it’, I need to allow myself to fall apart into the dark hollow and just allow these emotions to flow through, to just be free to feel what comes through, it’s not normal to keep marching on while a war on consciousness is ensuing, the pressures from others, from society which is dictating more and more how people should conform and not make their own choices.

The subtle violence of what society calls normality is disturbing enough and so is what is expected of people to conform in such an environment. Enough to drive someone with depression, to suicide, because they see it as the only means of relief and peace out of a unpeaceful world that currently denies most people their humanity.”  (from here)

Also the author, C. Shaw, refers to and embraces Jeff Foster and Matt Licata, both people who very brilliantly and delicately deal with depression in methods completely in synch with the tone of Beyond Meds. In fact I’ve published three posts inspired by Jeff Foster and Matt Licata is someone I follow and enjoy reading on Facebook.

From Beyond Meds with Jeff Foster:

So, considering the vast bulk of info in Shaw’s blog post is also in synch with Beyond Meds, plus the fact that the writer has links to these two men who also really get it, I think that getting hung up on her use of a word that is a trigger for some of us, would be a loss to all of us. I encourage anyone who got triggered by those words, (and yes, I did too, briefly) to consider reading the article because it’s darn good.

Below I’ll post the info page from here on Beyond Meds about the Chemical imbalance myth and biopsychiatry links.

chemical-imbalance“A theory that is wrong is considered preferable to admitting our ignorance.” – Elliot Vallenstein, Ph.D.

Beyond Meds and anyone who’s actually paid attention to the science for the last many years has known that the serotonin myth about depression and how antidepressants work has no evidence to back it up whatsoever.

Embracing this critique doesn’t mean there is no biological factor to that which gets labeled mental illness…we are holistic beings, so of course there is biology involved too. What it means is the answer does not lie in the biological reductionism that psychiatry most often espouses and makes up stories about.  Everything matters. Until we start attending to the individual as part of the whole of life, intertwined with everyone and everything, we’ll continue to harm.

This page has a collection of links that speak particularly to the idea that mental illness is NOT best explained via a chemical imbalance in the brain:

●  The chemical imbalance myth (mental health): by Chris Kresser

●  Chemical imbalance myth takes a big public fall (no, antidepressants do NOT correct an imbalance of serotonin, nor do other psychiatric drugs correct anything at all)  — includes a collection of links from other blogs and news outlets as well

●  Depression is not a disease

●  “The chemical imbalance theory of mental disorders was disproven long ago”

●  Bipolar Medication Myths — Joanna Moncrieff MD

●  An Interview with Joanna Moncrieff: The Myth of the Chemical Cure

●  Biopsychiatry: a critique

●  Do psychiatrists understand psychiatric drugs?



●  Psych drugs and brain injury, antipsychotics and brain shrinkage

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters