Theater of Cruelty

Medication with off-taste

Åse Dragland
Åse Dragland
Dragland is the author of the book Medication with distaste, recently published on Flux.
MEDICATION / In this article, author Åse Dragland criticizes widespread medication. There is no evidence that long-term treatment with Ritalin or antipsychotics is good. Many mentally ill people experience themselves as zombies without thoughts, feelings, taste and smell.


The medication of vulnerable groups has increased dangerously. From 2010 to 2018, consumption increased by ADHD medications by 88 percent. And the elderly who live at home can be on more than 15 prescription drugs in the course of a year.

In nursing homes, it turns out that one in three nurses distributes sedative and anti-anxiety pills every month due to lack of time. This emerged in a survey conducted by the journal Sykepleien a few years ago. The questionnaires showed that 25 percent of the nurses thought that too much anxiety and sleep medication was used in their workplace. The reason was also established: Patients receive addictive anxiety and sleep medication because the staff experience a lack of time and resources.

In 2019, approximately 345 people were medicated after being diagnosed with depression.

The main offer for the mentally ill in Norway today is medication. The increase is greatest when it comes to antidepressants. In 2018, approximately 332 people were medicated after being diagnosed with depression. In 000, the Prescription Register shows that the number had increased to 2019.

The experts say that the medical / biological explanation for diseases has emerged in recent years. In addition, cynical economic assessments are likely to succeed. It is cheaper with sleeping pills than hiring more people in nursing homes.

What is a mental illness?

The Norwegian health service is arguing about how mentally ill people should be treated. Throughout the history of psychiatry, there have also been various explanations for what a mental illness is.

Since psychiatry is a branch of the medical profession, a mental illness is explained as a medical condition. Psychiatrists say that depression and schizophrenia are due to an imbalance in the brain – a malfunction. Ergo, one must find a drug that can repair and regain balance. For example, repeated depression is explained by the patient lacking the drug serotonin. Schizophrenia is explained by the patient having too much of the drug dopamine. Pills should increase serotonin levels or block dopamine. These explanations are also used for the disorder ADHD.

The only catch is that none of the parts have been thoroughly scientifically proven. Medication may be effective in acute psychoses and major ADHD disorders, but there is no evidence that long-term treatment with Ritalin or antipsychotics is good. The side effects of the medication can be great, and many mentally ill people experience themselves as zombies without thoughts, feelings, taste and smell.

Psychologists do not accept that mental disorders are physical defects in the brain or body. They believe that emotions will always have their starting point in the human. This profession offers various forms of conversation, strengthening social networks, physical activities and therapy as an aid.

User organizations such as White Eagle and We shall overcome have in recent years fought for "drug-free offers". In 2020, small units were established with this offer at all Norwegian health trusts. The first evaluation report, which came out at Christmas time last year, shows good results for mentally ill patients who want to reduce their pill consumption and choose other aids.

Medications and lobotomization

In general, medicines have been of great help to people and saved both children and adults from a premature death. Penicillin and other antibiotics have fought off bacteria and infections and have been vital for many. Maternal and child mortality has declined worldwide. Life expectancy is rising in all countries. Many people take medications that are necessary to be able to live a normal life. But within vulnerable groups, there is undoubtedly an overuse of medication.

It is always difficult to assess one's own contemporaries. We are so entangled in political values ​​and cultural codes. At the time when lobotomy was used on mentally ill people, few or no one thought this was wrong. On the contrary, Egas Moniz, who launched the procedure of cutting the nerve fibers between the forehead and the midbrain of patients, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1949. Today, the treatment is condemned, and many victims have been compensated financially.

Will our descendants hold us accountable for doping an entire generation of drugs?

Dragland is the author of the book Medication with off-taste, recently published by Flux Forlag (


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