It is inevitable that the question of medication divides therapists at this point as it reflects the fundamental divided consciousness of our era – the division between mind/body or spirit/matter. Certain people in this group are convinced that to heal (which comes from the root of whole) one must accept something beyond materialism.
Medication “cures” nothing of the psyche (being, soul, subject) – as all psychiatric studies have to admit – it temporarily substitutes biochemically induced experiences. Pharmaceutical medicine is made from a base common to coal tar (think of the oil industry) and by adding certain side chains chemists are able to manufacture certain biochemical responses in the body – which can even reverberate to “trick” the mind or body. But no actual change occurs at the higher organizing level of self or bodymind – no cure. That is why they have to be administered forever – unless a higher cure comes about through other means – psychotherapy or the individual’s innate healing capacity.
Thankfully the resilient human usually heals himself despite the intrusion of biochemicals which interrupt the immune system’s natural process, but they leave toxic residues of increasing danger. Iatrogenic (medically-induced) illness is the number one cause of death now. True it may be useful to use these material medicines in emergency situations to stabilize murderous/suicidal possibilities, organ failure, or pain which prevents sleep and healing for example, but few understand the costs – most important of which is robbing the individual psyche and somatic immune system of assimilating and transforming life experience. Although this is a growing perspective held by phenomenological, existential, psychoanalytic, and spiritual approaches, it still comprises the minority in today’s institutions.
The bodymind is a homeostatic system. The more pain blockers are administered, the more pain is produced by the body in response, causing habituation, addiction, and increased doses. Withdrawal requires the body to readjust – not just to getting along without it but now to the fact that it has more of the very problem it took the medicine to cure. This has been demonstrated in recent studies of anti-depressants but covered up and/or not comprehended. The side effects of this type of medicine are seen as unwanted by-products when they are actually inevitable effects of isolated mechanistic tampering with a homoeostatic system (the same way orthodontic teeth straightening creates TMJ jaw dysfunction.)
The question is not “medicine or not” but what kind of medicine and how. There are forms of medicine (naturopathic, homeopathic) which effect changes at the higher level subtly while allowing the conscious mind or self to assimilate these changes and thus work with the psychotherapeutic process of true transformation. Even this has limitations. If therapeutic techniques or ideologies – or even the ego of the therapist – come to fill in for the self of the patient they are not much better than drugs. Psychotherapy is not inherently good:
A lot of psychotherapy is worthless if not damaging and the patient often knows it is not helping.
A lot of times the psychotherapy cannot break through certain patterns without other interventions, but again pharmaceuticals and surgery are not the only alternative.
And sometimes it just takes time and patience – something this culture does not respect.
The ideal trajectory would be to use the least amount of coercive therapist-induced medical intervention necessary to produce temporary stabilization and containment and break patterns, while providing the non-judgmental ethical-aesthetic space for the deconstruction and reconstruction of new subjectivities in line with the drive, desire, soul, spirit, destiny (take your pick) of the individual. Of course this makes it clear that the socio-economic problems of this culture cannot be separated from questions of psychic and somatic healing.
Pain and illness are messages and opportunities for healing a bodymind out of balance. Can we respond to this message through contact, sympathy, mutual aid, and courage, or will we repress the message with drugs and therapies until it returns with a vengeance. Have we forgotten this simple and profound rediscovery of Freud.
Sigmund Freud “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”
Carl Jung “The Psychology of the Transference”
George Cangilhem “The Normal and the Pathological”
Hans Selye “The Stress of Life”
Samuel Hahnemann “Organon of Medicine”
George Vithoulkas “A New Model for Health and Disease”
Hans Reckeweg “Homotoxicology”
Jean Elmiger “Rediscovering Real Medicine”
Wilhelm Reich “Discovery of the Orgone”
John Upledger “Your Inner Physician and You”
Ron Dunselman “In Place of the Self: How Drugs Work”
LFC Mees “Blessed by Illness”