Response to James Davies (CEPUK) on Pillshaming

(20th May 2019: I asked CEPUK to comment on their inconsistent position and they blocked me from Twitter. They also refused to comment on the wider range of approaches needed to remedy overmedication, or on my suspension initiated by an anonymous GMC psychiatrist. Recent Tweets suggest their primary concern is

Screenshot_2019-05-20 CEP on Twitter Anthropology teaches there are countless ways of validating suffering that don't invol[...]

to promote anti-diagnosis purism. Or perhaps their careers: James Davies is an academic anthropologist at Roehampton University.)



(Well done CEPUK for publishing this comment, in contrast to the closely linked MITUK , who have Peter Kinderman as their lead professional).

James Davies writes ‘I would agree that what is being called ‘pill shaming’ is both wrong and indeed does happen.’

Does he agree that pillshaming is encouraged by his fellow CEPUK ‘members of council‘ Dr Joanna Moncrieff, who has stated ‘there’s no such thing as an antidepressant’ (, and Peter Goetszche, who has disparagingly called them ‘happy pills’ (


(Added 16th February 2019: I met James Davies at the 2018 ‘Critical Psychiatry Network’ conference and we had a good conversation about his book Cracked.

He has not responded to my above question. I have reminded CEPUK of it several times on Twitter.)

About Dr Neil MacFarlane MRCPsych

Independent Psychiatrist providing culturally informed mental health opinion, advice, and a few new facts. Based near London, UK. Main qualifications: BA MBBS MA MRCPsych.

4 responses to “Response to James Davies (CEPUK) on Pillshaming”

  1. Dr Neil MacFarlane MRCPsych says :

    Steve…I have quoted Dr Moncrieff in my ‘pillshaming’ and ‘neoliberalism’ pieces. I will have some further critical things to write about her work in future Blog pieces, although I do not reject everything, especially her earlier work on placebos.

    Yes, in some contexts I would say alcohol is an ‘anxiolytic’ although not as good as other drugs, and probably with worse unwanted effects.

    Re the opposite (‘drugfree-shaming’?) yes I agree it is a problem. However, in my view many people, especially those with more severe mental disorders, do benefit from carefully prescribed medication. I do not agree with Dr Moncrieff’s view that these are only sedatives.

    Overmedication and ‘drugfree-shaming’ are of course substantially due to guild interests and Pharma, as Robert Whitaker and others have shown. My proposals for addressing that are here:

  2. Steve McCrea says :

    Not at all. You’re obviously not reading Moncrieff correctly. She is saying that drugs have effects, and some effects are considered positive by the recipient. I have never read a single word she wrote accusing medication users of being lazy or foolish or deluded or needing to stop taking them. She is saying that “antidepressants” as a class don’t specifically act on “depression,” they act on serotonin or norepinepherine or some other system in the brain, just like other drugs. Would you call alcohol an “anxiolytic” or “antianxiety” drug? Or would you say it’s a drug that tends to relax most people in small doses, and can have temporary benefits if it is not abused?

    The truth is not “pills shaming.” “Pill shaming” is when you say to someone, “Why are you taking that? Don’t you realize that this whole drug thing is a scam? [Swearing deleted]

    And BTW, have you considered the opposite effect? Since the original article came out, I’ve heard a number of comments regarding the effects of “non-pill shaming,” the kind of pressure and aggressive humiliation that is foisted on people who chose NOT to take pills as an approach to their “mental health” issues. This comes both from family members and from powerful people within the MH system. Why isn’t there a campaign about “pill rejection shaming?” Or maybe there should be a campaign against SHAMING OF ANY SORT, or one promoting INFORMED DECISION-MAKING, whether the person chooses pills or not?

    Where is the outrage against all the media memes of “he’s off his meds?” or similar shaming techniques that portray the “unmedicated mentally ill” as stupid or dangerous? Why are the vast numbers of people who recover with temporary or no medication use not afforded any voice in these discussions?

    In my experience, this assumption that medication is required for everyone who qualifies for a “diagnosis” and that the “unmedicated mentally ill” are dangerous and ignorant is a MUCH more common, more destructive, and much less discussed trend toward “othering” the “mentally ill,” and deserves a lot more attention. But it doesn’t receive such attention. Can you guess why?

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