Are we any closer to finding a cure for depression?

Some years ago, the Harvard psychiatrist Leon Eisenberg commented that, in the course of his lifetime, his discipline had swung from the brainless psychiatry propounded by psychoanalysts to the mindless psychiatry of those enamoured of biological reductionism and neuroscience.  Camilla Nord, who runs a neuroscience laboratory at Cambridge, is firmly a member of the latter camp. Though in a few places in The Balanced Brain she is driven to concede that social factors seem to play a role in mental health or mental distress, she immediately insists that ‘the process by which social factors are able to cause mental illness is entirely biological’. With the zeal of a true believer,

How we fell for antidepressants

The French novelist, Michel Houellebecq, with his accustomed acuity about modern culture, titled his last novel but one Serotonin. By then, of course, this famous neurochemical had become the key to a perfect human existence, too little or too much of it resulting in all the little problems that continue to plague mankind. If only we could get the chemical balance in our brains right, all would be well, life would return to its normal bliss! After the commercialisation of Prozac, people started talking about the chemical balance in their brains in much the same way as they talked about the ingredients of a recipe. As Peter D. Kramer put