Richard G. Petty, MD


There’s a sad situation rumbling around the psychiatric and neurological worlds this week.

The Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta is reported to be stepping down as Editor of the prestigious journal Neuropsychopharmacology, after failing to disclose that he had a financial interest in a treatment about which he had written approvingly.

The editor says that this was simply a clerical error, as on the previous occasion in 2003 when he published an article in which there was a conflict of interest.

This is all a great shame: the treatment that he talked about in this paper – vagal nerve stimulation – really does appear to be a genuine advance in the management of treatment resistant depression.

It is also eminently avoidable. Anybody who is an expert in their field will likely be asked to consult to a wide range of bodies. I have advised many pharmaceutical companies, governments and non-governmental agencies around the globe. Whenever I lecture, wherever it is in the world and whatever the subject, I always show a slide with a list of all the people with whom I have worked, and my office constantly updates the list, so that it can be appended to every document that we send out. And because I consult so widely, I don’t hold stock in any pharmaceutical or medical devices companies.

But here is another piece of failed disclosure. There is a comment to the report at the Scientist. The writer says that “Psychiatry has the greatest conflict of interest possible–they are prescribing drugs and, in this case, mechanical "treatments" for conditions that have no verifiable physical cause.”

This is absolutely and totally untrue. There are mountains of data confirming the physical component of most major psychiatric illnesses. And every day, all over the world, people in their tens of thousands are saved and their lives restored by pharmacological treatments used together with psychological and social help.

This is the same nonsense promulgated earlier this year by Tom Cruise. It reminds me of the critics of Galileo who refused to look through his telescope.

The writer herself fails to disclose that she is also involved in Scientology.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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