Alice Keys, MD, has recently written a short article for Mad in America. You can see it here.
Dr. Keys points out that to maintain a medical license, one must accumulate continuing education credits, and that these credits have to be approved by state licensing boards.
It’s widely known that pharmaceutical companies have largely hijacked this process in recent decades, and that their “educational” presentations might be better described as infomercials.
Dr. Keys alludes to this phenomenon, but also provides an important insight into one of the techniques that pharma uses to keep the medics hooked – flattery.
Dr. Keys reports that there is a pharma-maintained website which she uses for continuing education, and that recently she read an article there which was not-for-credit, but was spotlighted. The article discussed the enlightened, liberal-democratic tradition of psychiatry, and apparently was little more than a fluff piece, designed to get psychiatrists nodding and smiling, and to keep them in an accepting mood with regards to the rest of pharma’s message.
Dr. Keys saw through this. Here are some quotes:
“I like to think that my smart self can filter out the repetitive pharmaceutical messages. I like to think that the often-used marketing premise, ‘repetition causes belief’, doesn’t apply to such a thoughtful reader as myself.”
“But I stumbled when I ran smack into the psychiatric flattery section of the article. Obvious ego-stroking sets off warning bells in my head, no matter where it comes from.”
“Flattery is one way to get an audience nodding and agreeing. A nodding and agreeing person is likely to continue to nod and agree. This is a well-known sales technique. It is also useful in consensus building.”
“And I cannot use the term ‘enlightenment’ when it comes to prescribing drugs with serious medical side-effects and efficacy in the range of an enhanced placebo effect.”
“My conclusion is that a website which baits readers with ‘free’ continuing medical education credits, which are paid for by the pharmaceutical companies, may not the best place to go for professional information.
I hesitate to say that this is a superb article, for fear of setting off “warning bells” in Dr. Keys’ head. But it does provide a critically important insight into one of the ways that pharma has contaminated psychiatry, and that psychiatry has allowed itself to be contaminated. Is it possible that pharma knows more about human nature than most psychiatrists?
My criticisms of psychiatry, of course, go much deeper than pharmaceutical contamination, but this contamination is a major stumbling block to any possibility of progress.
I strongly recommend this article.