I’ve come across an article by psychologist Bruce Levine, PhD, How the “Brain Defect” Theory of Depression Stigmatizes Depression Sufferers.
Dr. Levine convincingly debunks the brain defect theory, and also the notion that the illness theory destigmatizes depression.
Here are some quotes:
“Americans have been increasingly socialized to be terrified of the overwhelming pain that can fuel depression, and they have been taught to distrust their own and other’s ability to overcome it. This terror, like any terror, inhibits critical thinking. Without critical thinking, it is difficult to accurately assess the legitimacy of authorities. And Americans have become easy prey for mental health authorities’ proclamation that depression is a result of a brain defect.”
“The reality is there is no scientific proof that depression is caused by either a character defect or a brain defect.”
“Thus, by the 1990s, it was known in the scientific community that the serotonin (and other neurotransmitters) imbalance theory of depression had been disproved. Yet, as detailed in Society in 2008 (“The Media and the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Depression”), the general public continued to hear—through antidepressant commercials, the mainstream media, and some mental health authorities—about the neurotransmitter imbalance theory of depression. Even today, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill states on its Web site, “Scientists believe that if there is a chemical imbalance in these neurotransmitters [norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine], then clinical states of depression result.”
The article is cogent and articulate, and I strongly recommend it.