Joanna Moncrieff, MD, has an article up on Mad in America. It’s called Antipsychotics and Brain Shrinkage: An Update, and is dated June 19. Joanna Moncrieff is the author of The Myth of the Chemical Cure, a widely-read book which challenges the entire concept of mental illness. In the book Dr. Moncrieff also makes the point that the brain shrinkage associated with a “diagnosis” of “schizophrenia” is in fact caused by the neuroleptic drugs, and is not, as psychiatrists claim, a consequence of the so-called illness.
The current paper updates the arguments, and was written specifically to address a re-assertion of the old dogma that it is the “schizophrenia” that causes the brain shrinkage. Here are two quotes:
“These researchers seem determined to prove that ‘schizophrenia’ causes brain shrinkage, although their data simply cannot establish this, as none of their subjects seem to have gone without drug treatment for any significant length of time. So even though their recent analysis once again confirms the damaging effects of antipsychotics, they conclude that the results demonstrate the need to make sure patients take, and do not stop, their antipsychotic medication.”
“People need to know about this research because it indicates that antipsychotics are not the innocuous substances that they have frequently been portrayed as. We still have no conclusive evidence that the disorders labeled as schizophrenia or psychosis are associated with any underlying abnormalities of the brain, but we do have strong evidence that the drugs we use to treat these conditions cause brain changes.”
And remember, these drugs are now being given to children as young as 2 years of age.
Dr. Moncrieff refers to an animal study, and summarizes the findings as follows:
“After 18 months of treatment monkeys treated with olanzapine or haloperidol, at doses equivalent to those used in humans, had approximately 10% lighter brains than those treated with a placebo preparation.”
You can see an abstract of the original study here.
People, of course, aren’t monkeys, and we need to use appropriate caution in applying the results of animal research to people. But 10% seems an enormous amount of tissue loss, after such a relatively short exposure time. People are often given these drugs for years, and are usually strongly discouraged from coming off them.
Dr. Moncrieff’s article is detailed, and well worth reading.