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Breggin 2006 Intoxication anosognosia: The spellbinding effect of psychiatric drugs


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This paper explains Peter Breggin's theory that psychiatric drugs exert a "spellbinding" effect causing individuals taking them to believe, despite adverse effects, the drugs are beneficial. In other words, the drugs themselves impair judgment.


Dr. Breggin's citations for his theory are almost all based on his own publications. I would call this Dr. Breggin's provocative but unfounded opinion.


Personally, I believe this effect is explained by cognitive dissonance: If you are heavily invested in an idea, you will explain away or deny any indications the idea isn't working. Further, the idea that psychiatric drugs are invariably beneficial is reinforced by constant and consistent input from doctors, family, advertising, and a medicalized culture in general. Cognitive dissonance is a component of anosognosia.


The out-of-character behaviors are explained by the truly brain-altering effects of these drugs.


Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 201-215, 2006. Simultaneously published in the International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine, 19, 3-15, 2007.


Intoxication anosognosia: The spellbinding effect of psychiatric drugs.

P. Breggin


Not indexed in PubMed. (Dr. Breggin is on the board of both of the above journals.)


Full text here.



Abstract from the paper


Why do so many individuals persist in taking psychoactive substances, including psychiatric drugs, after adverse mental and behavioral effects have become severe and even disabling? The author has previously proposed the brain-disabling principle of psychiatric treatment that all somatic psychiatric treatments impair the function of the brain and mind. Intoxication anosognosia (medication spellbinding) is an expression of this drug- induced mental disability. Intoxication anosognosia causes the victim to underestimate the degree of drug-induced mental impairment, to deny the harmful role that the drug plays in the person’s altered state, and in many cases compel the individual to mistakenly believe that he or she is functioning better. In the extreme, the individual displays out-of-character compulsively destructive behaviors, including violence toward self and others.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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I agree with this, and it really hits home with me, as my mother has taken medication for many years. She has no friends, and cannot interact socially apart from with other family members. She doesn't work and hasn't for years. From my knowledge, she has no history of social anxiety pre-meds, so I believe it is drug induced. I never made this connection until my own experience with withdrawal. And she, and my family, don't see the connection at all, although I keep trying to drop hints.


It's very saddening.

Off Lexapro since 3rd November 2011.

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