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by Sophie Jones

I have recently come across an argument put forward by a psychiatrist and a nurse that I thought required a little critical evaluation. It goes something like this: the doctor has got a background and experience in psychopharmacology and believes – and I'm assured by the nurse that there's evidence for this – that if you do not experience side effects from the medication, this means that you must be in need of the medication for symptom management.

To me, it seems like an attempt to get people to take medication when they do not want to. It is masked in pseudo-science and has the effect of reducing people who experience psychotic symptoms to less than a human being.

A nervous breakdown or psychosis cannot simply be reduced to a set of symptoms which can be solely acted upon by pharmacological intervention. The whole human condition has to be considered – not reduced to being an object on a conveyor belt.

How can it be possible to make a recovery without medication, if it is true that presenting with no side-effects means that the medication is required? It could simply be the case that after many years taking it, the body has adjusted to the pharmacological intervention. Prior to hearing this particular psychiatrist's argument, I believed that the afore-said was indeed the case.

It just goes to show how unscientific the psychiatric system is and how little agreement there is among them. I met once a ‘lithium’ doctor who just wanted to put all his patients on lithium, often with terrible consequences to them. It is quite possible to make a full recovery without any medication, as is the case for people living in hunter-gatherer societies, where presentation of symptoms is revered and those people are thought of as being close to the gods. They make full recoveries and are well integrated back into the community, leading full lives. We have no choice but to be in the psychiatric system. I just wish we could be treated more respectfully.

Sophie Jones