Why do pills triumph?

For a few years, there has been a current among professionals of the mental health sector that has adopted a critical point of view about the prescription of psychopharmacological treatments. One of the most relevant Psychologists in this current is Irving Kirsch, who is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom.

He & his co-workers have been working concretely in the field of antidepressant medication. They published an article in 2008: “Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration” which was very enlightening for professionals in the Psychology sector because of its innovative conclusions: “Drug–placebo differences in antidepressant efficacy increase as a function of baseline severity, but are relatively small even for severely depressed patients. The relationship between initial severity and antidepressant efficacy is attributable to decreased responsiveness to placebo among very severely depressed patients, rather than to increased responsiveness to medication”.

Since then, other authors had written in the same line. I found really interesting a book called “Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life” by Allen Frances, PhD, which presented a deeply, fascinating and urgent critique of the widespread regular medicalization.

Therefore, I personally agree with the previous perspective as according to my twenty years of professional practice as a psychologist, I have found several patients who were wishing to release their life responsibility in any aspect that was not their own decisions, and that type of pills seemed to be magic are the perfect tool to avoid the obligation to lead their life-changing experience.

I personally find a hard task to teach them that this isn’t the right way to live. As well, it’s complicated making them understand that the permanent dependence on a substance that allows them to obviate those parts of life that displease human nature won’t enhance their internal self or motivate them to overtake the new challenges that life offers and the opportunities that future provides will not be different from the ones that the rest of human beings will get.

Dr. Ramón Rizo Gómez

Doctor in Psychology


 Research Associate & IRIANS’s Representative

for the Iberian Peninsula.

IRIANS- The Neuroscience Institute

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