Day 379: This is for all You Pill Poppers

I am currently doing a module on Abnormal Psychology in my 3rd year of Psychology, and an interesting fact has come to my attention. This module looks at the nature of specific mental disorders, the possible causes and the possible treatments. Aside from the disturbing fact that no one knows how or why these disorders manifest, no one knows how or why the drugs given to people actually work.

We think we're so smart because we maybe discovered the God Particle - the Higgs Boson - but what the scientists and media fail to tell you is that everything that we're doing is shrouded in unproven theories, assumptions and uncertainties. Psychologists and scientist don't know how the chemical reactions within our bodies happen, only that they (probably) do. Psychologists and scientists, therefore, do not know how medications interact inside our bodies, only that they have certain outcomes (sedatives dull manics, anti psychotics make the delusional less interested in what's going on around them (or in their heads), mood stabilisers make depressed people less sad.)

Every expert puts on an air of absolute knowledge. When you speak to a psychologist, or read a book about psychology, the impression you get is that these guys really know their stuff, and the possibilities of human knowledge and learning are endless. Look closer at their words, though and you will realise that every single word is based on an assumption. Every word is based, essentially, on a guess.

We have no idea how the human body or mind functions. Psychologists love to sound reasonable in their explanations of behaviours, throwing in a bunch of possible contributing factors that led to the behaviour in question ("there are a number of influences contributing to this person's abnormal behaviour, such as biological traits inherited from their parents; the social environment like family and friends; the sociocultural context like race, sexuality and gender; and finally the psychological influences, which will depend on who you ask, a behaviourist, humanist, cognitive psychologist and so on") - but the truth is that they don't know. All they do know is that sometimes some of these factors contribute.

So what are these drugs really doing to our bodies? How are we comfortable with popping a bunch of pills with no real understanding of how they work? When new medications are developed, they go through a series of trials to see if they have any harmful side effects (they will only fail these trials if they have a high risk of bad side effects) - but I have never come across a medication that has absolutely no possible side effects. When a pill has the risk of killing you instantly, shouldn't there be warning bells clanging in our heads?


  1. Thank You!Cerise!!I had the same question when I was in nursing school and had a practice in psychiatry ward. The approach which the doctor had was first -giving very strong drugs ,so the patients want be danger to anybody or themselves (YES some of them really require this action,...but mostly not .
    AND this is what we call it a health care.

  2. Cerise,
    I've been researching a branch of supplements called Nootrpoics. Some examples are Piracetam, Adrafinil, Noopept, and many many more. There's a whole sub-culture of of people researching how these 'smart drugs' interact and affect the brain. They claim little to no side effects because only each substance targets specific neurotransmitters. Thoughts?


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