Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Pill or a Person...?

These days we are faced with many social problems, even those with ethical implications.  One such issue relates to potential collusion between authoritative entities and those who may benefit from the wielding of their power. Such examples include the below video demonstrating breach of trust in government officials or legislation such as eminent domain laws. These questionable and collusive relationships seem fraught with incontrovertible evidence of corruption.  Even seemingly good work by researchers positing important findings that will purportedly aid the depressed such as this study can be tainted with question. 

Wait. Pause. Look a little deeper. One my my friends and colleagues, Jeffrey Lacasse, published a letter in JAMA offering some dialectical discussion on this as well as another letter in BMJ after they'd discovered that the researcher failed to disclose funding provided by the maker of the drug. One consumer advocate writes in detail about the draconian sequel that ensued, directed toward Leo and Lacasse.

Ah, the quandary. I will resist the urge to amass evidence, often under-reported, regarding duplicitous relationships and the ethical implications of such travesties.  

Instead, I offer my thoughts on our proclivities toward the short-cut to healing.  In sum, there is no way to bypass suffering as a part of the human condition. Clinical depression that is endogenous is vastly different from that which rises from the exogenous, a particularly traumatic event or circumstance.  Yet, some fail to recognize this, and in so doing, they marginalize some of the most important healing potentialities of the human condition: people.   Whether it be in the psychotherapeutic relationship or generalized social support vis-a-vis friends and neighbors, you simply cannot compare the benefits of positive human relationships with psychopharmaceuticals.  Trying to do so, I would posit, is not only inherently dangerous to the individual who is depressed, but it also abdicates the responsibility that we all have to care for one another and to take the time to really be with each other through the ebb and flow of life.

There simply is no pill that can act as a proxy. There is no pharmacy that can fill the visceral need for compassionate interactions with other humans. There is no panacean riposte. Instead, the answer to human suffering is both within us and between us. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Warning: Not bereavement related but certainly traumatic

My allotted annual political rant...there is, indeed, a crisis in leviathan


The soul still sings in the darkness telling of the beauty she found there; and daring us not to think that because she passed through such tortures of anguish, doubt, dread, and horror, as has been said, she ran any the more danger of being lost in the night. Nay, in the darkness did she, rather, find herself.

--St. John, Dark Night of the Soul

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