Maudsley Debate: long-term use of psychiatric drugs is causing more harm than good?

Following its launch last year and the subsequent criticism of its position by prominent psychiatrists in the The Times and The Lancet Psychiatry, CEP responded by issuing a challenge to its critics to engage in an open, public debate on psychiatric drug harm.

CEP is therefore pleased to announce that Kings College London has agreed to host a Maudsley Debate starting at 17.30 on 13 May 2015 entitled: ‘This house believes that the long-term use of psychiatric medications is causing more harm than good’.

Speaking for the motion will be CEP members Prof Sami Timimi (consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, University of Lincoln) and Prof Peter Gøtzsche (director of The Nordic Cochrane Centre). Speaking against the motion will be Prof Allan Young (professor of mood disorders, King’s College London) and Mr John Crace (journalist at The Guardian).  The debate will be chaired by Prof Til Wykes (professor of clinical psychology and rehabilitation, King’s College London).

The debate will be held at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at Denmark Hill Campus, London.  Tickets are free but must be booked online in advance.  There are limited numbers available and CEP encourages potential attendees to book as soon as possible.

Tickets can be booked here.

More information about the event can be found here.


, ,

21 Responses to Maudsley Debate: long-term use of psychiatric drugs is causing more harm than good?

  1. Dr Bob Johnson 04/03/2015 at 11:03 am #


    The major tranquilisers are useful as just that. However, since the central cause of psychotic symptoms [in my clear view] is past trauma and fears of that trauma, that the sufferer is already trying to suppress, essentially by ‘denial’, or in Freud’s case, by his ‘unconscious’, what these drugs do is increase that suppression, when a more rational therapy is to ventilate these repressed emotions such that the whole episode recedes into the past where it belongs.

    These drugs are intended to interfere with cognition, which they do, similar to the action of alcohol, as per Dr Joanna MonCrieff’s “the Myth of the Chemical Cure”, where page 244, she equates them all with ‘intoxication’. Their damage to brain tissue parallels that of alcohol, and that alone should limit their use to emergencies only.

    The symptoms may go, as when ‘intoxicated’, but this is mere chemical suppression, aiding the suppression by emotional means that the sufferer already desperately deploys. Far better to eradicate the original trauma, which persists in the mind, though in reality it ceased longer ago.

    Legal enforcement of such long-term dangerous drugs compromises the otherwise universal consensual medical approach, and should be banned

    Violence is already adequately covered by Public Order laws. This intrusion into personal space is contrary to Human Rights, and, ipso facto, to humanitarian medical practice, and should also be banned.

    Dr Bob Johnson, Wednesday, 4 March 2015.

    • Diane 11/05/2015 at 1:01 am #

      Hi you have hit it on the head here. I am not a professional,
      but have had a keen interest in pychotherapy and their theories,
      since I was depressed about 20 years. I have had a boyfriend
      who is younger than me who is 28 he has been through
      the most alwful time since really when I met him but even so
      we have managed to be very close and he understands himself
      very well he is in a vicious circle he gets psychosis when he starts
      to feel better and he prefers being unwell as when he starts to feel better
      all his problems all come back again and it starts all over again, from what he has told me his life has had alot of things that needs airing and working through, I have had psychotherapy and it helped me alot even just to talk
      to someone who is listening and understanding or trying to! he is a very creative lovely person, I have told the nurse that when starts sam starts to feel better that this is the time he needs help the most!! he needs someone to talk to about his life, (he has told me alot but I am not the person to help him as
      I am his girlfriend. They offer sam psychotherapy when he is least likely to accept it when he is in hospital and then when he gets out and been out for a few weeks/months they say he is on a list and just dont offer any emotional support really but a support worker who really dont have a clue! I have worked with many of them. People without mental health issues get psychotherapy much quicker than someone like sam who has had 3 diagnoses since I met him!! Bi polar rapid, cycling bi polar, schizo affective disorder, and border line schizophrenia!! It is a joke. and I do believe that alot of these people are more evolved human beings more sensitive more intelligent and more wise!
      I am going to train to be a psychotherapist and only work with this group of people because I think they need it the most.
      Thanks Dr Johnson I hope to hear you at the debate.

      • Dr Bob Johnson 11/05/2015 at 9:39 am #

        HI Diane

        You are so right . . . .

        I’m running a panel discussion trying to change the ethos . . . see details (not all fixed) below.

        I hope to circulate it a bit at the Maudsley debate – it just does need publicising.




        Dr Bob Johnson & Peter Bullimore
        with National Paranoia Network

        Present a Half Day Panel Discussion
        – the case for optimism

        It’s time we – (1) reversed PSYCHIATRIC NIHILISM,
        (2) stopped relying on MIND NUMBING DRUGS, &
        (3) re-kindled the HEALING HAND OF KINDNESS

        (1) DSM-psychiatry isn’t working – 1 in 50 deaths is SUICIDE [~800,000 of 56m in 2012. WHO]
        (2) All psychiatric drugs work by ‘INTOXICATION’→alcohol [Myth of Chemical Cure p 244]
        (3) More psychoses were CURED 1796-1850 than ever since. [Mad in America p24]

        Panel: Dr Bob Johnson, Dr Eleanor Longden, Oliver James(stc), Peter Bullimore.
        Chair – David Brindle, the Guardian

        Saturday 10th October 2015, 1:30pm – 5:00pm
        Venue: Bloomsbury Suite, Friends House,
        173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ

        Rates: £15, concessions £5.00. Contributions/donations welcomed

        Cheques made payable to NATIONAL PARANOIA NETWORK

        Name………………………. Address……………………………………………

        Address for Invoicing…………………………………………………………………….

        Tel/Fax……………………. Email………………………………………………

        Send to National Paranoia Network, Limbrick Centre, Limbrick Road, Sheffield, S6 2PE
        Email: Tel 07763652490/ 07590837694 –

  2. angrydad 05/03/2015 at 10:52 am #

    Excellent news, and power to the voices of Professors Timimi and Gøtzsche.

    As a parent who unwittingly allowed their adolescent son to become embroiled in the drug-centric facade of ‘treatment’ for ‘mental illness’, my carefully considered conclusions support the view of Dr Johnson – against a background of a succession of neuroleptics prescribed to my son in ever-increasing doses I observed a worsening of symptoms, the arrival of new ones, distressing adverse effects and a reduction in cognition that rendered the hapless ‘victim’ incapable of considering any events leading up to the change in his mental state – and consequently detained under the MHA. My suggestion that all the above appeared to be as a consequence of taking neuroleptics was denied by those responsible.

    Following two years of legal battle to stop this toxic, blinkered, barbarism, he is now on a programme of steady neuroleptic reduction, at home, and Lo and Behold, his symptoms are subsiding, his cognition and awareness greatly improving, and some traumatic historic events are beginning to surface. And as Dr Johnson alludes, manifesting as fear more often than not. This is, of course creating some difficulty of its own, but no wonder, given any recollections have been chemically suppressed for 4 years and compounded by the trauma of his encounter with what I have observed to be, in my son’s case, an ineffective, terrifying and damaging mental health system.

    ‘Professionals’ have suggested that his current improvement may be due to my son’s “pathology having run its course”. But those same professionals previously claimed he had an incurable disease requiring a lifetime’s ‘medication’.

    • Eileen 20/01/2019 at 9:55 pm #

      Hello angrydad
      I totally agree with you
      How did you manage to stop the barbarism and could you give me names of any consultant psychiatrist who believes drugs do more harm than good that we could use for a second opinion. Thank you. Eileen
      My email address is

    • Eileen 20/01/2019 at 10:32 pm #

      Ps, I hope you have been successful in your sons recovery and would be interested to know how have done it

    • Eileen 20/01/2019 at 10:33 pm #

      I hope you have been successful in your sons recovery and would be interested to know how have done it

  3. multiscience 05/03/2015 at 12:12 pm #

    Hi there, that is good news! this should happen all at once in all UK! psychiatric drugs have shown more damage than good for more than 40 years now and it is really nothing good for no one, not even for the ones that are making fortunes with this to continuo like that. What are they going to do with an ill society? who is going to work then? it does not matter which side you look at either from the humanitarian (stop abuse from our friends, family, ouselves) or from the economical. There are so many reunion and meetings going own but for my experience never is written in paper the comments made by the patients and families, they are cover up with the word “holistic” treatment but where are the initiatives in the psychiatric universities to change the treatments for a more natural and understandig way? we have now a big issue the people that has been abuse with the drugs and the people that needs help to understand their mental problems. There is a lot of work there

  4. Joy 05/03/2015 at 9:12 pm #

    Most Psychotic episodes are caused by an excessive period of stress which, in some people, can lead to the natural split between dreaming and waking states to break down. (See Human Givens – a new approach to emotional health and clear thinking.(This stress may indeed be based on past traumatic events, but could come about by other stress that is not necessarily clinical trauma.) Whatever, it is absolutely right that the drug industry is failing to recognise this and seems hell bent on mistreating folk with harmful drugs. I work with ex veterans who have been badly managed by NHS and often eventually become psychotic. Once the cause of the stress is dealt with, the individual can often lead a normal health life without the life long need for destructive chemical poison.

  5. Pauline Thomas 05/03/2015 at 10:07 pm #

    Epilepsy medication can also be a cause for concern. Many antiepilectic drugs are also given for bipolar, and are mood enhancers.

    My son has been on Carbamazepine for 25 years and Lamotrigine for 20 years. His seizures stopped in 2008 and my happy cheerful son became angry, aggressive and moody. Taking down his medication has led to a diagnosis of interictal psychosis.

    Many medical professionals say that people with a diagnosis of epilepsy often suffer with some sort of mental illness, which they say goes hand in hand with epilepsy. They do not mention that it could be the medication which causes this.

    Years ago women who had epilepsy often gave birth to children who were disabled. The doctors blamed the epilepsy. Now we know that the cause of some of these birth defects were in fact the epilepsy medication and not the epilepsy.

    Perhaps we can start looking at the side effects of these drugs, because now my son
    is now suffering from a terrible mental illness which is robbing him of any quality of life.

    Incidently my son has a learning disability caused through a lack of oxygen at birth. and will probably be cast aside as not worthy of a cure.

    • multiscience 06/03/2015 at 6:04 pm #

      I am sorry to hear this. I will say the same thing, most sure the medication has provoqued his actual state. Dopamine among other transmisors are need it for normal learning and developing, as this substances reduces this substances could posible cause the angry state of the person. “Ecological medicine”, you can google has GPs that can check the oxygen levels I believe at mitochondrial level and there are certain treatments that may can help. I cannot publish here the name of one of this doctors has a website with all the information of how to access to this kind of treatment. She is a private GP in LD7 1SL. She is an expert in CFS. Wish the best, hope can lead to solution!

  6. Lauren 13/03/2015 at 1:55 pm #

    My son has had a number of psychotic episodes where he does become very distressed by voices and visions telling him to kill himself. The antispychotics have been helpful and though I agree the drugs are merely sedatives and possibly toxic, they may have saved his life. I wish he was not on the drugs and I will encourage him to slowly come off but it is not proving to be so easy.
    Debates like this are very important but there is such a lack of robust evidence about what treatments work in short term and long term. What is the evidence that neuroleptic drugs may make psychosis worse? The successful Finnish Open Dialogue model quotes a success rate of about 70%, but what happens to the 30 % who cannot be treated? Do they use drugs? There is also not much support, knowledge or protocol in the UK and NHS about how to come off neurolopetics.

  7. Jodie 16/03/2015 at 2:26 pm #

    As an American psychiatrist I applaud the open debate. I have yet to see a public discussion occur in this country. Perhaps this will start a precedent. The current strategy here is to simply attack anyone who even poses the possibility that these drugs cause more harm than good –or accuse the New York Times of being “irresponsible” for allowing such voices to be expressed on its editorial page.

  8. Marisa Conover 12/05/2015 at 4:44 am #

    Multiple Award Winning Investigative Journalist, Sheila MacVicar did an Expose’ on the inappropriate drugging of the Elderly with Psychotropic and Anti-psychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes. Victim Gerald Gilgan, a Southern California Resident and retired Lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department was overdosed on a multitude of Psychotropic and Anti-psychotic Drugs, according to his family and substantiated by a State investigation. Also featured, is Victim Genine Zizzo, who my Mother. She did not have Dementia but she did have a heart condition. She went to Roseville Point Health & Wellness Center for a week of Physical Therapy due to a back sprain from an accidental fall at home. She was forcibly injected with Haldol, against her Will and against MY Orders as her Durable and Medical Durable Power Of Attorney. She died 12 days later in an irreversible vegetative state, with dysphagia, dehydration, urinary tract infection, multiple organ failure and a fractured spine! I will not rest until the malicious staff involved in this egregious assault are held criminally accountable….

  9. susan bevis 13/05/2015 at 2:53 am #

    Have taken a day off work to attend with my two daughters, both with serious labels but one is actually on top of the world and will hopefully speak at the event. She was given Rispiriedon as a child and is on top of the world despite a serious label. My elder daughter has been on huge amounts of drugs and I have every bit of proof what harm/injury they have caused her as I have acquired the files. There are many people who are treatment resistant. Patients like my daughter are bombarded with powerful psychoactive substances but treatment resistance refers to non or poor metabolisers. It is terrible that patients are put on huge levels of concomitantly prescribed drugs without any proper tests being done and now I have proven there are physical health problems through a visit to see the Endocrinologist. Such tests on physical health and metabolism should be done at first hand before prescription of drugs on a trial and error basis but physical health is being ignored. Psychotic behaviour can occur in toxic states often mistaken for Schizophrenia. Classic Schizophrenia is thought to be linked to Dopamine and most of the drugs are dopamine receptor antagonists. However Clozapine given to treatment refractive patients is a weak dopamine receptor antagonists which means that symptoms cannot be linked to Dopamine in the brain. Clozapine inhibits 5-HT serotonin, muscarinic, histamine and alpha-adreno receptors. This links this condition irrefutable with endocrine dysfunction. So thousands of patients are being forcibly drugged with medications directed at dopamine receptors when there is nothing wrong with that neurotransmission pathway. Millions of patients are suffering extrapyramidal side effects because the anti-dopaminergic effect of these drugs have severely and irreversibly damaged their nervous systems and neurotransmission. If patients have defective pituitary glands the entire endocrine system will be affected, parathyroid lesions also present in florid psychosis. Any scientist studying the effect of iatrogenic injury to the nervous system will be familiar with this in iatrogenic transmission of degenerative brain disorders via contaminated human growth hormone, a product of the pituitary gland and the effect that calcitonin has on the increase in cell mortility in solid tumour metastasis. My daughter has been told she has to take the drugs for the rest of her life – this despite the fact I can prove injury has been caused. I am appalled at such treatment as it does do more harm than good and there needs to be more than just a debate – there needs to be proper help for someone like my daughter who has diagnoses such as Aspergers, Schizophrenia, PTSD and chronic treatment resistant paranoid schizophrenia. I have overturned a section 3 and my daughter is at home doing well however there are no facilities or help towards someone coming off or being reduced the whole system is rife with bullying and harassment if you are outspoken against such treatment of life time drugging despite the fact the diagnosis is in question.

    • Eileen 20/01/2019 at 9:51 pm #

      Hi Susan
      I totally agree with you
      How did you overturn a section 3 as my partners son is in a lock up ward and has been for 6 months?
      And could you give me names of any consultant psychiatrist who believes drugs do more harm than good that we could use for a second opinion. Thank you. Eileen
      My email address is

    • Eileen 20/01/2019 at 10:30 pm #

      Ps. I hope you have found some help for your daughters withdrawal from psychiatric drugs and that she is in a better place


  1. Maudsley Debate: long-term use of psychiatric drugs is causing more harm than good? 13 May 2015 @CEP_UK | Chrys Muirhead - 04/03/2015

    […] ‘Maudsley Debate: long-term use of psychiatric drugs is causing more harm than good?‘ on, 13 May 2015, Kings College, London […]

  2. Upcoming Debate: Does long-term use of psychiatric medications cause more harm than good? - Mad In America - 16/03/2015

    […] Maudsley Debate: long-term use of psychiatric drugs is causing more harm than good? (Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry Blog, March 4, 2015) […]

  3. BMJ article: is the long-term use of psychiatric drugs harmful? | - 13/05/2015

    […] psychiatric medication is causing more harm than good.  The article is timed to co-incide with a Maudsley Debate which will be held today on the same […]

  4. Broad press coverage for today's Maudsley Debate and BMJ article on psychiatric drug harm | - 13/05/2015

    […] newspapers have included coverage of today’s Maudsley Debate and BMJ article which consider whether the long-term use of psychiatric drugs is causing more harm […]

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes