super-drugs over mind or super-drugs over matter?

Darshini, I really like your point about nature versus nurture and I was thinking about that as well when I read through the article.  So many topics of the literature go back to the nurture versus nature debate and it seems that more specifically, the same debate applies to psychology versus biology.  This debate greatly interests me.  In high school, I took one psychology course senior year and remember that it was mostly from a psychological behavioral standpoint (except for the Phinneas Gage case, where behavior changed when brain changed). When I started taking psychology courses in college (specifically Melissa’s biobasis of behavior course), I became intrigued of this intersection between psychology and biology.  It seems that the two do run in parallel much like the standpoint that both nurture and nature shape the person we are.  I like Jessie’s reference to a roundabout.  I agree in that I think there are many different avenues that stem from this bigger picture that we can take to come to a conclusion, but both psychologists and biologists must work together to forge these paths in these fields of science.  Miller and Keller referenced a study from Thase et al. who showed that a combination of medication and psychotherapy was more effective than either of the treatments alone.  This is good evidence to our claim that psychology and biology must work in harmony to explain behaviors, diseases, and disorders.

On another note, taking medications seems to be a cultural phenomenon, especially in our culture in the U.S.  Large pharmaceutical companies pump millions and billions of dollars into advertisements to make the average consumer question whether some symptoms they may be experiencing are because of a condition needing this new super-drug that will cure all.  In turn, consumers may be made to believe that they are feeling a certain way (mind over matter, again!) and simply get a prescription for it.  This, in turn, generates more revenue for the pharmaceutical companies.  A cyclical process emerges that ultimately puts more and more power into the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical corporations.  This power influences the way consumers think.  In addition to the mind over matter phenomenon, some studies have actually shown that, in some cases, for some patients, placebos may be just as effective as the pharmaceutical brand name drug.  Why is our culture so caught up in using medication to “cure”, where in some cultures like Darshini was saying, medication is frowned upon?  Do we really need this “cure”?

I am excited to learn more through this class on the psychology and biology debate and whether there are effective ways to bind the research in order to effectively treat disorders.

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4 thoughts on “super-drugs over mind or super-drugs over matter?

  1. I agree with you Sara that chucking culture into the mix will definitely be interesting and may very well reveal a lot about the interplay between psychology and biology in a society and on an individual level. Clearly a serious matter to ponder and potentially very illuminating.

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  2. What you said about revenues and pharmaceutical companies depending on advertisements made me think that perhaps the cultural differences aren’t only a matter of psychological/biological perspectives and education, but values as well. It can tie into religious/spiritual beliefs as well- in Senegal, it is widely believed that evil spirits can take people over and cast spells that make people act in strange/different ways. Perhaps this is the “diagnosis” for people with mental illness, and if so, they definitely would never turn to Prozac for the cure. Instead, they would go visit the spiritual leader/healer and hope he can remove the evil spirit… taking the skeptical stance, is this the Senegalese version of our placebo effect?

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  3. I definitely think we should all be somewhat concerned about the degree to which, especially in the US, pharmaceutical companies seem to push their products-particularly to people who may not even require medication. However, I think we should also be wary of being overly critical of medication. Despite the ‘overmedicating’ that seems to overrun our culture, the reason most of these pharmaceuticals are so widely used has a lot to do with the beneficial effects (i.e. helping people to feel better). Of course, it can be argued ‘what IS better?’

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  4. I think that especially in our culture we are so intent on a cure because we have the image that we are so technologically advanced. I think that America’s mindset is that if we can videochat with someone across the globe or perform micro-surgeries then why can’t someone just feel happy? Medication is the quick-fix that everyone is looking for and other cultures don’t experience this level of intent of quick, easy solutions

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