Sunday, June 02, 2013

The ethical corruption of academic psychiatry

Phil Thomas asks why Charles Nemeroff has been asked to give the inaugural annual lecture of the new Centre for Affective Disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry (IOP) (see blog post). After all, Nemeroff has been one of the most blatant examples of psychiatrists' wrongdoing by under-reporting of pharmaceutical company earnings (see previous post). It's this sort of thing that makes even the most biological of psychiatrists concerned about the moral integrity of modern psychiatry (eg. see post by Michael A Taylor).

Ironically, from his previous published research (eg. Nemeroff et al 2003), Nemeroff may be seen as promoting psychotherapy in his lecture rather than necessarily any psychotropic medication. Nonetheless, of course, he does think monaminergic drugs are therapeutic in depression. His speculation is that the reason some people survive early life stress (ELS) is because of their genes. In a clinical trial, it was found that depressed patients with a history of early childhood trauma did better with psychotherapy alone than antidepressant monotherapy. Don't be misled by this! Maybe paradoxically, Nemeroff thinks psychotherapy is a "biological treatment". He believes it changes gene expression. As I've warned previously (see previous post), don't be taken in by such neuropsychotherapy.

Nemeroff's lecture at IOP may not be that much different from the one he gave at NYU last year (see video). It may not be that exciting or interesting. His NIH grant in 2012 caused controversy because of his past ethical problems (eg. see letter from Senator Grassley). The project information for the study explains that he's wishfully looking for the genetic risk factors for PTSD. Maybe the Centre for Affective Disorders will also undertake similarly misguided research. Let's at least know from IOP where it's getting its funding from, because choosing Nemeroff as its inaugural lecturer for its new centre does not bode well.

1 comment:

Cem Atbasoglu said...

Our article on why psychiatry should be redefined as neuropsychiatry:
Science, Psychiatry and the DSM.
In Press at Turk Psikiyatri Derg.