Psychiatry’s Manufactured Consent: Chemical Imbalance Theory and the Antidepressant Explosion
The title of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s book Manufacturing Consent derives from presidential advisor and journalist Walter Lippmann’s phrase “the manufacture of consent” — a necessity for Lippmann, who believed that the general public is incompetent in discerning what’s truly best for them, and so their opinion must be molded by a benevolent elite who do know what’s best for them.
Starting in the 1990s — despite research findings that levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin were unrelated to depression — Americans began to be exposed to highly effective television commercials for antidepressants that portrayed depression as being caused by a “chemical imbalance” of low levels of serotonin, and which could be treated with “chemically balancing” antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Why has the American public not heard psychiatrists in positions of influence on the mass media debunk the chemical imbalance theory? Big Pharma’s corruption of psychiatry is only part of the explanation. Many psychiatrists, acting in the manner of a benevolent elite, did not alert the general public because they believed that the chemical imbalance theory was a useful fiction to get patients to accept their mental illness and take their medication. In other words, the chemical imbalance theory was an excellent way to manufacture consent.