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Dr Peter Breggin

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Has he been mentioned before on here? I bought his book Talking back to Prozac years ago and was browsing it today. It is interesting but I don't agree with his complete sense of mustn't use psyche drugs ever. He fails to mention how many lives have been saved by Prozac and other ADs. I'm sure my life has been saved by SSRIs.

Talking therapy is a good thing but resources can't stretch to it in every instance, or take too long to get an appoinment and this is where drugs come in to help. Yes they have side effects but you live with that and try to get better.

Anyway, would be interested to hear what others think of him.

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A Bit of Puffery?

Breggin's resumé and other biographical reports describe him as a Diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners; a "Specialist in Psychiatry" recognized by the State of Maryland, Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, Board of Physician Quality Assurance; a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Medicine; and a Fellow of the American College of Forensic Examiners. He also states that he is (or has been) on the editorial board of six peer-reviewed journals and has published more than 25 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Although these accomplishments might sound impressive, they actually are much less than they might seem.

  • Breggin is not certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, which is the recognized agency for certifying psychiatrists.
  • Having completed three years of psychiatric training, Breggin is entitled to call himself a psychiatrist or a "specialist in psychiatry." Until 1996, the Maryland Board of Quality Assurance maintained a list of "identified" specialists. Anyone who completed an approved training program was eligible for listing. No special examination or additional qualifications were required.
  • To become licensed in the United States, every physician must pass an examination given by the National Board of Medical Examiners or an equivalent examination by a state licensing board. Thus being a "diplomate" of the National Board of Medical Examiners means nothing more than the fact that the doctor has passed a standard licensing exam. Most resumés I have seen do not list this credential.
  • The American Board of Forensic Examiners is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which is the recognized standard-setting organization. ABMS offers subspecialty certification in forensic psychiatry and forensic pathology, neither of which Breggin has achieved.
  • Only one of the six journals with which Breggin has been affiliated is significant enough to be listed in MEDLINE, the National Library of Medicine's principal online database.
  • On September 5, 2002, I found that Breggin had 33 citations listed in MEDLINE. None of these publications appears to be a research report. Eight were letters to the editor, two were books, and most of the rest were expressions of his opinion on various psychiatric topics.

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Of all the antipsychiatry sorts out there, it seems like he is for some reason treated as even slightly "credible", even when there is very little actual reason to regard him as so. Why, I am not entirely sure...

(And even if one is going to take the argument-from-authority tack, as mentioned above his actual credentials are nil.)

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