Mother’s Little Helper

The New York Review of Books has the first of an incisive two-part look at antidepressants and the epidemic of mental illness in America, in which they review three books from the growing body of contrarian literature.  I’m always intrigued when normally skeptical, scientifically-minded folks blindly accept conventional medical wisdom: unlike, say, theoretical physics, medicine is a field defined by structural incentives far outside of the academy, as pharmaceutical profit margins hold a greater sway than ego ever could.  Beyond anti-capitalist conspiracy theories, though, is the simple fact that modern medicine is very, very new, and that the human body and mind seem to be among the most complex systems we’ve ever encountered – a little bit of humility goes a long way in evaluating claims of efficacy.  We’re not so far off from the days of bloodletting as we’d like to think, and failures of both theory and practice are necessary in the process of figuring it all out.

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