Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Corcoran, Malis, Hussain, and Sobut: The Great Failure

Barton Swaim recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that, “The great theme of the Trump years, the one historians will note a century from now, was the failure of America’s expert class. The people who were supposed to know what they were talking about, didn’t.”

Swaim gives several examples, all of which are sharply political at this moment in time. Regardless of those particulars, and our current American ultra-emotional divisiveness aside, I think the fundamental prediction is absolutely, over-the-top-brilliant, and correct. (It is a prediction about the notations of historians a century into the future, so my bet about it is admittedly cheap. I’ll only pay or collect if I’m around in a hundred years....)

According to my neighbors and even my own family, I have two serious social failings, summarized under hate and fear: I don’t hate Trump enough, and I don’t fear Covid enough. I’m absolutely not bringing up Swaim’s opinion piece here to inspire any such continuing arguments.

Years ago I wrote about the dangers from catastrophic failures of confidence in authority, and how psychiatry contributes to that risk, as a “sub-prime crisis waiting to happen.” The “experts” who have failed more than any others are those in the mental health field! They are in a class by themselves, both because no other experts really have direct legal powers to force other people to comply with their prescriptions and believe in their opinions, and because their record of failure is far more sustained. When media pollsters or WHO and CDC advisors give advice, they at least have to rely on political leaders or government agencies to enforce it.

The epidemiology of illiteracy, substance abuse, family dysfunction, criminality, racism, mental disorder, depression and anxiety, shows a much longer record of failure than just the last couple of election cycles. It goes back more than half a century. These are problems to which our supposed mental health expert class should have attended with some success, if their vaunted brain science and behavioral knowledge had been real. The government-supported guild of forensic psychiatrists, psychologists and other assorted “professionals” has only tried, more and more desperately, to convince the public that they know what they’re talking about. They don’t.

James Corcoran, Richard Malis, Syed Hussain and Robert Sobut receive their salaries and benefits and pensions from the pockets of taxpayers. It’s a ripoff. These guys do and produce NOTHING in exchange, except dehumanization of individuals in their custody or their employ. They only create profound animosity and cynicism, and ruinous disability.

We pay them for that! We should stop, and we should collect restitution.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Open letter (email) to Tomislav Mihaljevic, MD, CEO of Cleveland Clinic

 Dear Sir,

I recently read a blog article which unabashedly promoted old misinformation about depression. Unfortunately, Cleveland Clinic appears to be implicated in this. 

The article itself can be seen at:

Author Sherry Christianson makes the statement that, 

“...clinical depression is a set of signs and symptoms that may add up to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This chemical imbalance is thought to be the underlying cause of clinical depression.”

As I believe you would know, the chemical imbalance “theory” of depression was rather officially disavowed, ten years ago. A recent article about the circumstances and implications is:

and the original disavowal (by no less than the editor, at that time, of Psychiatric Times) is at:

Since 2011, there has been voluminous discussion in public media, and increasing controversy about motives for the continued credulity and frequent mentions of this discredited idea — that “depression” (possibly meaning various indeterminate things) is a chemical imbalance that needs to be corrected in many people with drugs or electroshock. 

When I noticed that the website verywellhealth.com maintains a “proud partnership with Cleveland Clinic” it occurred to me that your institution is also promoting, perhaps inadvertently, the old urban legend. 

I would prefer not to believe that. Modern medicine confronts too many cynics these days, when we are fighting a world-wide pandemic, and we need to trust science. 

I would appreciate any clarification about this that you are willing to offer! My intention is only for broader understanding of the truth.

Yours truly,
S. Randolph Kretchmar
The Law Offices of Kretchmar & Cecala, P.C.
Wilmette, IL
847-370-5410 (mobile)

Does venerable Cleveland Clinic promote the old urban legend?

Yesterday Bob Fiddaman noted on Twitter another recent article, unabashedly promoting the infamous falsehood about depression being caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Bob has provided a critically important and very valuable service by “outing” idiots and charlatans who continue to push the all-too popular theory, which was disclaimed a decade ago by none other than the editor of Psychiatric Times as nothing more than an urban legend.

The article currently at issue was authored by Sherry Christianson, “a medical writer with a healthcare background” who “has worked in a hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer’s research,” appeared on the website verywellhealth.com, on 12/21/2020.

One has to wonder how any qualified professional medical writer could make this error or forward this bullshit. One must also question why the fact-checkers, medical review board and senior management team at "an award-winning online resource for reliable, understandable, and up-to-date health information" would allow any writer to assert admitted bullshit on its website.

The plot thickens, when we notice that verywellhealth.com is “a proud partner of The Cleveland Clinic, the #2 rated hospital in the U.S.”

I emailed the website this morning, as follows:

TO: feedback@verywell.com

Sent: 01/05/2020, at 8:53 AM

RE: What Is Clinical Depression?

Dear Sir/Madam,

Sherry Christianson’s article of 12/21/2020 on your website, contains this statement:

“Clinical depression is a set of signs and symptoms that may add up to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This chemical imbalance is thought to be the underlying cause of clinical depression."

Ms. Christianson should know better, and verywellhealth.com should never have allowed this statement to appear on its website. 

The first of the two sentences is technically true only with its prospective, MAY add up to.... Of course, the cited “signs and symptoms” MAY also add up to various other things instead, e.g., a meningioma, cancer, recent bereavement causing loneliness, or unemployment leading to probable poverty. Or those “signs and symptoms” MAY add up to nothing with any more specific name than “life”. 

The second of the two sentences is inaccurate without an additional clause to modify or ascribe “thought to be” such as, “...by uninformed laypeople whose opinions are affected from deceptive marketing.”

The “chemical imbalance in the brain” meme has no connection whatsoever to scientific or clinical medicine. This should not be news to you. 

No less an authority than Ronald Pies, MD, author of the world’s leading textbook on psychopharmacology, exposed the “chemical imbalance” meme some years ago as an urban legend, not any credible theory in psychiatry. (See, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/holistic-therapy/202009/questioning-the-chemical-imbalance-theory?amp, and Dr. Pies’ original statement in 2011, https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/psychiatrys-new-brain-mind-and-legend-chemical-imbalance.)

Hence, verywellhealth.com has opened itself up to charges of deceptively misinforming the public, and even health care fraud. In the least, the referenced Christianson article is utterly inconsistent with any purpose such as you claim, for helping “more than 30 million people each month to feel better and be healthier.”

In fact, promoting a long discredited urban legend about depression makes you, and by association even such a top-ranked institution as Cleveland Clinic, look ridiculous.

Yours truly,
S. Randolph Kretchmar
Attorney, Wilmette, IL
847-370-5410 (mobile)