MGH and the rise of psych meds

Tuft psychiatrist and blogger Daniel Carlat details how his education at Mass General focused on medication over therapy. In tomorrow’s NYTimes Magazine features his story  “Mind over Meds: How I decided my psychiatry patients needed more from me than prescriptions.”

He takes us back to MGH to explain.

 …(On)a steamy July day in 1992, I stood on a Boston street, far from home, gazing at Massachusetts General Hospital (known as M.G.H.), where I was about to start my training.

This was a momentous time at M.G.H. Prozac was introduced four years earlier and became the best-selling psychiatric medication of all time. Zoloft and Paxil, two similar medications, were in the pipeline, and many of the key clinical trials for these antidepressants were conducted by psychiatrists at M.G.H. who were to become my mentors. M.G.H. and other top programs were enthralled with neurobiology, the new medications and the millions of dollars in industry grants that accompanied them. It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the drug approach to treatment. Psychopharmacology was infinitely easier to master than therapy, because it involved a teachable, systematic method. First, we memorized the DSM criteria for the major disorders, then we learned how to ask the patient the right questions, then we pieced together a diagnosis and finally we matched a medication with the symptoms.

 BHN links to his blog — to your right —  at  “Pharma and med ed

For more on MGH psychiatrists’ excitement over those industry grants, see The Boston Globe’s reporting on pharma funding and conflicts of interest at MGH.

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