|Irish Times Columnist and Psychiatrist, Patricia Casey|
On Saturday 14th April the Irish Times published an extremely well written account regarding the use of antidepressants. The article, entitled, 'Bitter pills to swallow', should have created much debate, alas the powers that be at Ireland's best selling newspaper seem to cherry pick comments for approval.
The account itself was an unusual step for the Irish Times particularly as it threw up the question that many people have been asking for some time now. Do antidepressants really work? Regulary quoted by the Irish Times, Patricia Casey, seems to have all the answers and, it appears, is wrapped in cotton wool by the Irish Times staff.
I left a comment at the end of 'Bitter pills to swallow', sadly the moderators didn't allow it through. Maybe the mention of Patricia Casey raised a red flag. It seems that anytime an opinion is offered about Casey she threatens with a warning letter from her solicitors. The Irish Times have, in the past, fallen foul of Casey's iron fist. They had dared to allow a comment through that had criticised Ireland's darling of psychiatry, a comment that, apparently sent Casey running to her solicitors threatening the newspaper with legal action. Their apology to Casey came in August 2010 where they wrote:
On May 23rd, a comment related to this article was moderated and published by The Irish Times on its website in the “have your say” section. The comment concerned Professor Patricia Casey. The allegations published in the comment were without foundation and were seriously defamatory of Professor Casey and have caused her great personal hurt and distress. The Irish Times accepts that Professor Casey is an internationally-respected psychiatrist of the highest standing and reputation.
The content of the offending comment is unknown, as is the level of 'personal hurt and distress' it casued Casey. How would one measure levels of personal hurt and distress anyhow? Maybe the same way the field of psychiatry magically measure levels of serotonin in the brain's of their patients?
This isn't the first time Casey has ran to the protection of law firms. Last year Casey didn't like what she saw on Leonie Fennell's blog - Fennell, whose son, Shane, suicided after 17 days on Cipramil [citalopram] had wrote a piece involving a statement from another woman that prompted Casey to turn to her legal team. The opening paragraph of the letter from Brophy Solicitor's reads: "Our client has instructed us in relation to comments appearing on your internet blog in which you repeat a statement that another lady made to you that “Patricia Casey ruined my son’s life”.
I can only assume that my comment left yesterday was deemed inappropriate because I mentioned Casey's name. The Times, it appears, wouldn't dare allow a comment through that mentioned Casey - why would they want to go through the legal battlefield again?
It appears that many folk are frightened by Casey, I've spoken to one such person this week, he wishes to remain anonymous, sufficed to say he didn't speak too favourably of her.
Casey, like me, is opinionated. Where she believes that antidepressants cannot cause suicide, I, on the other hand, think the complete opposite. Where she claims there is no evidence that supports the antidepressant/suicide link, I, once again have an opposing view to hers. Quite why Casey believes there is no suicide link is a mystery given that the manufacturers of these drugs have admitted that there are suicide events associated with their products.
Casey, like me, is entitled to her opinions. She's wrong on the antidepressant/suicide link though, so very wrong.
My comment is below. I think it's fair and balanced. Casey, can use the comment section on this blog if she wishes to respond. Any move toward solicitor's offices will be seen, by me at least, as being rather churlish.
An extremely good article, not before time too.
The mainstream press seem to tow the pharmaceutical company line when reporting on antidepressant drugs due, in part, to being cautious as any negative reporting of SSRi type drugs may make those on them abruptly stop taking them.
The industry along with medicine regulators and healthcare professionals claim that the "benefits outweigh the risks" - What are the benefits? Do these drugs actually cure anything or do they merely paper over the cracks?
SSRi's are not just handed out for depression or anxiety - the marketing genius of pharma has branched out and now we see these drugs prescribed for all sorts of human emotion.
It's not okay to feel blue anymore because we are told feeling blue is a mental disorder, it's become as common as a sore throat and runny nose, one only has to look at the prescribing statistics to see this.
We have regulators in place to safeguard human health but are they really doing so? What do they actually do with the thousands of adverse events sent to them by patients and doctor's? Do they follow-up by visiting the GP or patient or do they just add the report to their bulging database of adverse events? We know the answer to this already, right?
Key opinion leaders have a huge part to play too. Those who oppose the over medicating of normality are rarely given their own newspaper columns where those who are pro-antidepressant are given weekly columns promoting the use of these drugs, it's advertising by proxy and really should be regulated.
Case in point being Irish psychiatrist, Patricia Casey, who is often quoted in The Irish Times where she speaks about the dangers of various mental illnesses and various 'fixes'. I don't see the Irish Times offering the same column inches to those who oppose her views.
In essence Casey's musings come without the black box warning or patient information leaflets, they are sugar-coated, unbalanced and all based without any scientific data.
What surprises me most about this is that the Irish Times always strive to report on the facts, they have to for fear of being dragged through the courts on a defamation charge. The reporting has to be accurate and backed up with evidence. It's the Editor's mantra but one that, it appears, does not apply to the thoughts and scribblings of an influential psychiatrist in Patricia Casey.
Carl O'Brien has offered readers a superb balanced argument in this article, one that is worthy of debate. The Irish Times should give themselves a huge pat on the back and maybe offer regular column inches to those who have a different opinion to that of Casey, what have they to lose by offering a different opinion?
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