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3.4 Pharmaceuticals for mental health: a brief history

The ‘revolution’ in drug therapy is widely credited with causing the mass closure of psychiatric hospitals in the 1950s and 1960s, meaning that patients who had previously been considered too much of a danger to themselves or others could be safely housed ‘in the community’ as long as they took the medication. However, the trend for a reduction in numbers was already evident at the time the drugs in question began to be available, and academics such as Joan Busfield and Andr
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3.3.1 A conflict of interest

One of the difficulties of the involvement of drug companies in the mental health field is that it produces a conflict of interest. To put it crudely, drug companies rely on a continuing supply of patients to keep them in business. This is not always congruent with people's best interests, as you will see below. Although mental health services are intended to help people experiencing mental distress, they also have other driving forces. The market economy model of provision has encouraged the
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3.3 Mental health as business: the profit motive

There is little question that the use of drugs to treat mental distress has become the dominant strategy. The historian Edward Shorter puts it graphically:

If there is one central intellectual reality at the end of the twentieth century, it is that the biological approach to psychiatry – treating mental illness as a genetically influenced disorder of brain chemistry – has been a smashing success.

(Shorter
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3.2 Mental health as business: introducing the debate

Is mental health a business? There are a number of signs that it could be, and Activity 8 presents a discussion between two people with strong views on mental health services and how they should be delivered. Dr Harvey Gordon is a forensic psychiatrist who has been a long-term consultant at Broadmoor High Security Hospital, and also a consultant at the Maudesley Hospital in London. Jim Read has worked for many years in organisations and networks of mental health service users/survivors as a c
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