Freud’s Cocaine Cure for Depression

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Depression

Actually, Freud advocated cocaine for “whatever ails you”. Partly because he got so much benefit from using it himself, partly because he was paid handsomely by two competing drug companies to promote it.

What I find so shocking about this is — nothing much has changed in the “depression business” since cocaine fell out of official favor. Its been a parade of one drug after another, sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, loyal psychiatrists and media to the detriment of those who are having some real problems in life. In fact, recent statistics show that these psychotropic drugs result in 700,000 adverse reactions and 42,000 deaths a year in the United States and Europe. Folks, this really has to stop. Depression can be successfully treated without the use of dangerous drugs.

This is the first of a series of posts outlining the problem. We’ll then invite you to discover the solution.

If I were the Empress of the United States (oh, heck, ok,┬áthe world)…I’d require everyone to take a day off to watch the documentary “The Marketing of Madness”. Since I lack that regal standing, the best I can do is present it in small segments here. Many of you are unable to watch YouTube videos (broadband issues, data limits, etc.) so I will summarize this excellent body of work as we go along. Watch it if you are able, its captivating!


What causes psychological distress? Long ago it was thought to be an imbalance of the humors, easily cured by bleeding patients with knives or leeches. Others thought it was due to an organ, such as the tonsils or spleen and the offending organs should be removed.

Today’s psychiatrists tell us the way to fix unwanted behavior is to balance brain chemistry with a pill. Did they get it right this time?

In the video, Dr. Claudia Keyworth notes, “They say you have an imbalance of serotonin and dopamine. There’s never been a study to prove that…ever. Its just been indoctrinated into the culture and television advertising to the point that people now believe it as fact.”

Despite the lack of evidence, psychiatrists will tell you that psychotropic drugs are just like mainstream medical drugs. Can this be true? Unlike drugs like insulin, that correct a measurable and proven imbalance in the body, psychotropic medications have no noticeable or measurable physical abnormality to correct. How can you medicate something that isn’t physically there?

Because psychotropic drugs are designed to get past the body’s protective blood/brain barrier, they can upset the very delicate processes the brain needs to ensure the body runs smoothly. Dr. Beth McDougall explains, “Every time you throw something that’s foreign into the system, you’re creating imbalances elsewhere in the system.”

Clinical psychologist, Richard Landis adds, “The body changes as a result of taking the medication so when you stop taking the medication the body’s got to change back to the way it was before, if it can, because it can’t always And, in doing so it disrupts the whole system.” This is what creates the sometimes serious side effects. The video goes on to introduce us to individuals who were on these drugs who were not helped by them, but rather, their conditions worsened.

Despite the many problems created by these drugs, the psychiatrists and drug companies have made a huge and lucrative market raking in a third of a trillion $ a year. They’ve done this by naming more and more of life’s common problems as medical disorders requiring psychiatric treatment.

For example:

Shyness has been re-defined as “social anxiety disorder”; Loss of a loved one is “Major Depressive Disorder”; Homesickness is now “Separation Anxiety”; Suspicion is “Paranoid Personality Disorder”; Having ups and downs is “Bipolar Disorder”. This is why its almost impossible for anyone to see a psychiatrist today and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Such a diagnosis requires psychotropic drugs.

“How did psychiatrists convince people that these problems were signs of mental illness?”

The issue isn’t whether or not people’s emotional problems are real, they are. What we need to be asking is, “How did psychiatrists convince people that these problems were signs of mental illness?” How did they use these illnesses to create a demand by doctors and the public for psychotropic drugs? How did these drugs, with no known curative powers and a long list of side effects, become the standard treatment for every problem in life?



History of Psychiatric Drugging

Psychiatrists assert that they have made much progress in the field of mental health over the past century and a half. To prove this they claim a history of great advancements in the area of psychotropic drugs. But is this parade of brain chemicals the scientific breakthrough they are leading us to believe?

Modern institutional psychiatry has depended on psychotropic drugging since its beginnings in insane asylums during the 19th century. During that period psychiatrists functioned as attendants promising to cure the seriously mentally ill. But as they could not, they were not regarded by mainstream medicine as “real doctors”.

Landis tells us, “Other physicians regarded psychiatrists as “almost a doctor”, because they weren’t doing medical stuff. So, to increase their status they needed to become much more scientific.”

Psychologist, Daniel Mackler, “They need to prove that this is a legitimate scientific field, a legitimate medical profession, so they start medicalizing everything.

Morphine, Opium, Heroin, Cocaine

To control behavioral outbursts among inmates, psychiatrists employed early psychotropic drugs such as morphine and opium. But these drugs cured nothing and proved to be highly addictive which led to a whole new generation of dependencies. A solution worse than the original problem.

Attempts to control objectionable behavior continued. By the turn of the 20th Century, phony cures for mental illness, such as heoin, could be found peddled throughout the United States and Europe. Even psychologist, Sigmund Freud played a major role in the creation of the cocaine industry in the Western world, writing many glowing articles promoting its use for “spiritual distress” and behavioral difficulties. Freud did not reveal a significant conflict of interest involving two rival pharmaceutical giants, Merck and Park Davis, both paying him to promote their cocaine extracts.

Freud’s early psychiatric drug marketing campaign helped create a major cocaine epidemic throughout Europe at the turn of the century. Clearly, another happy pill would have to be found.


It wouldn’t take long. In the first half of the 20th century, psychiatrists turned to amphetamines, as before, these drugs were known to be toxic and very addictive. Each fad followed the same pattern. First the drug would be hailed as a medical breakthrough for mental problems, then, increasing reports of serious side effects would trickle in. Finally, after years of denial, when psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies could no longer deny the dangers of the drug, they would abandon it in favor of their next wonder drug.


In 1954, their dream, they believed, was realized with the introduction of psychiatry’s first so-called miracle drug, chlorpromazine, better known as Thorazine, originally designed and tested as a synthetic dye, then as an anti-parasitic in pigs, Thorazine was accidentally discovered to shut down human motor controls. One of the first paper promoting its psychiatric use stated, “The aim is to produce a state of motor retardation, emotional indifference and somnolence”…

We’ll pick this up in the next installment. Here are some additional links :

On Freud and Cocaine:

Freud’s Cocaine Years, NY Times

Freud and Cocaine – The Deal

Psychiatry in Britain 100 years ago

History of Drug Use in the United States

Series NavigationPraise for the Chemical Lobotomy >>

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