Major Limitation #2:
Dr. Brogan is a Cherry-Picker Who Ignores the Empirical and Promotes the Anecdotal
“I have few like-minded colleagues,” Dr. Brogan states in her book “A Mind of Your Own” (page 272).
After reading her book, I have to say that I am relieved that few of the practitioners in the field of psychiatry share Dr. Brogan’s narrow approach to treating depression or her negative view of the “medical industrial complex,” the “powers that be,” or the field which she claims “assaults” and “attacks” patients, to use just a few of her terms of endearment for the field in which she is employed.
Dr. Brogan also claims that the medical community has “blacklisted” her book and is somehow blocking any media reports about it. Her colleagues at GreenMedInfo seem to think the media is “afraid” of Dr. Brogan. Well, they should be! There is good reason for the medical community to ignore this book: Dr. Brogan is a paranoid cherry-picker.
“Cherry-picking” refers to the act of only selecting the data available which supports your argument or theory while completely ignoring all which doesn’t. Much like the anti-vaxxer who clings to one retracted study while ignoring the mountains of data which demonstrate the safety of vaccines, Dr. Brogan employs her readers to share in her mistrust for “Big Pharma,” the FDA, all corporations and the tens of thousands of medical professionals which comprise the entire medical industry…while simultaneously inviting them to trust only her. This is the best example of cherry-picking I have ever witnessed, especially considering that Dr. Brogan has not conducted a single study.
Dr. Brogan states, “I’m generally rather suspicious of other people’s recommendations, doctors included, and I’ve always been a bit of a rebel.” (page 97). “I have strong opinions about all pharmaceutical interventions (is that obvious?) (page 136) At least she admits to her narrow-minded views and interventions! Dr. Brogan cherry-picks big time when it comes her opinions on when someone should trust the medical community…and when they shouldn’t. Don’t trust any doctor but me, she all but states. Don’t trust the CDC, FDA or pharmaceutical industries, but definitely trust the lab where I send the dozens of expensive and unnecessary blood tests so that I can develop a specific plan of supplements for you. Don’t trust any pharmaceutical medications, regardless of the stringent approval processes they must pass, but definitely trust the coffee enemas, clay, magnesium baths and supplements I recommend even though they have never been tested or approved by any agency, let alone the FDA.
Throughout her book, Dr. Brogan employs this cherry-picking method in an attempt to add validly to the points which are completely one-sided and narrowly-presented.
What’s ironic about the title of this book is that Dr. Brogan claims she will teach her readers how to have a “mind of [their] own,” but then she lays out a strict road map and tells them that she wouldn’t continue to see them as patients if they don’t follow every step. Dr. Brogan also instructs her readers to choose anecdotal, cherry-picked evidence over the evidence-based, empirical evidence which is widely available on the topics covered in this book, including depression, antidepressant medications, the environment, health in general and even vaccines. Vaccines have nothing to do with mental health, and Dr. Brogan has probably never even administered a vaccine in her entire career so why Dr. Brogan even includes this topic in her book is beyond me.
Dr. Brogan, who associates with the Thinking Mom’s Revolution, certainly promotes non-thinking in her readers as she employs them to adopt her flawed methods solely, or she won’t continue to be their doctor.
“Before I stopped prescribing, I had never once cured a patient. Now people are cured every week in my practice,” she states (page 19). This statement seems completely backward when compared to the larger majority of the medical community who cure people and save lives every day thanks to the Western Medicine Dr. Brogan spends her entire book bashing; the very system which she profits from. It’s wrong for “Big Pharma” to make money off medications, but it’s ok for “Big Natural” to make money off coffee enemas.
Dr. Brogan states “Have you ever stopped to wonder if depression has benefits?” (page 30). Patients who are depressed experience awful symptoms and often suffer from a reduced quality of life and inability to perform basic job functions, so is it “outlandish,” to use one of Dr. Brogan’s favorite words, to ever suggest that depression can have benefits. Considering that Dr. Brogan devotes an entire chapter to discussing how every single thing we do and eat causes inflammation which Dr. Brogan claims causes depression, it doesn’t make sense that she would even state that this process she works so hard to define as “toxic,” “dangerous” and “damaging” could have any benefit at all.
Dr. Brogan refers to depression as an “opportunity.” (page 35) “For now, accept the fact that we are all designed for depression as humans. It can be a warning sign that something isn’t right within,” she states (page 37).
She claims that her readers should consider how to restore their bodies to homeostasis and how lifestyle choices can “cure” their depression instead of pharmaceutical interventions. Dr. Brogan chooses studies which demonstrate how changes in lifestyle lead to progress and reduced depression, but completely ignores that fact that depression can also be caused by extrinsic factors like homelessness, divorce, the death of a loved one or even war. She never addresses these extrinsic factors once in all 293 pages of her book, which is positively the largest and most alarming limitation of her work. One stroll through her Facebook posts can illustrate how Dr. Brogan truly believes that she has found the answer to curing depression in just four weeks, yet her work is so limited and narrow.
Consider the mother who just lost her infant child to pertussis. What diet or lifestyle modification would Dr. Brogan prescribe to assist this mother with the coping and grieving process? Less gluten? (page 89) Coffee enemas? (page 257) Epsom salt baths twice a week? (page 256) Dry skin brushing? (page 256) Less legumes and more proteins? (page 159)
Dr. Brogan’s program does nothing for the typical psychiatric patient. As I completed her book, it became obvious to me that Dr. Brogan has lost sight of the typical psychiatric patient from the perspective of her cushy Manhattan office chair.
How should the woman who just lost her entire 401K savings due to a stock market crash react to her depression? Go for thyroid testing to see why she isn’t coping with her stress? (page 114) Recount all of her environmental exposures, how she came out of the birth canal or whether she was breast fed or not as Dr. Brogan suggests her patients disclose on page 4 of her book? Dr. Brogan’s ideas, program or book do not apply to these patients.
Dr. Brogan only presents a part of the story of depression yet claims that her four-week program will “cure” you. Her program is actually cherry-picked for the wealthy feminist woman who has total control of all extrinsic factors of her life, has some sort of gut imbalance or “leaky gut syndrome” (page 76) As a Med/Surg nurse who cares for patients both before and after GI surgeries, I am very familiar with the wide variety of issues the human gut can develop; leaky gut is simply not one of them. Whenever a doctor states that someone has “leaky gut syndrome,” a major red flag should go up for readers. Just to illustrate this point, I searched The Mayo Clinic for “leaky gut syndrome” and nothing turned up. However, go to google and dozens of results come up from websites like Mercola.com and GreenMedInfo, two of the most non-credible resources to ever hit the Internet.
Dr. Brogan even cherry-picks when she respects and disrespects her patients, as demonstrated in this statement where she completely insults the intelligence and pragmatics of her patient. “Then, one week later, she got a flu shot. She hadn’t yet put on her thinking hat, the one that says ‘My immunity is within my control and a pharmaceutical product…isn’t aligned with this perspective.’” (page 135).
Dr. Brogan details a case report of a woman whose catatonic state was healed with a simple vitamin B12 injection. She states, “Coincidence? I think not. While it may be one of the more extreme cases, it’s emblematic of how a simple but critical deficiency can be at the causal root of psychiatric manifestations.” (page 37) This is another example of how Dr. Brogan chooses cherry-picked case studies to present to her readers. She details how medical doctors who cannot find the cause of their patient’s illness often refer them to a psychiatrist to rule out somatic illness, or one which is “in their head.” (page 21). If the patient’s symptoms of depression were due to a simple vitamin B12 deficiency, then the blood work their physician surely ordered would have detected those levels and replenished them long before referring the patient to a psychiatrist, thereby making her cherry-picked, badly-presented point completely moot.
When discussing SSRIs, Dr. Brogan states, “To think we can cherry-pick one brain chemical and cure all and every behavioral disturbance is a gross oversimplification and downright absurd.” (page 48) Dr. Brogan’s thoughts on antidepressants and their overuse are nothing new; many psychiatrists agree that these medications are over-prescribed, yet Dr. Brogan carries on as if she thought of this notion herself. When considering that of the 326 references Dr. Brogan makes in her book, which is entirely about pharmaceutical interventions and her shift away from them, I would have to say that what is actually “downright absurd” is that she doesn’t reference the U.S. Food and Drug Administration once on her notes page. Not once.
When Dr. Brogan does refer to the FDA, it is in a derogatory and insulting way which brings to light the question of why Dr. Brogan chooses to stay in a field regulated by an agency she appears to despite and propelled by pharmacological interventions she has vowed to never prescribe or personally use again. Why even call herself a “Holistic Psychiatrist?” Why not invent a whole different title for herself being that she deviates so far from psychiatry in practices? Perhaps she should call herself an anti-psychiatrist, one who follows her intuition and rejects Big Mind.
Here’s my favorite cherry-picked moment in her book which actually made me laugh out loud. Dr. Brogan states, “Over the past three decades, there have been hundreds of mass shootings, murders and other violent episodes committed by individuals on psychiatric drugs.” (page 60). Dr. Brogan is cherry-picking the evidence to make a point which is not conclusive. Similar crimes were committed over this same time period by individuals who were not on psychiatric drugs, so it’s disturbing to me that a medical doctor would set up a statement to insinuate some sort of link between the medications and violent behavior where the evidence isn’t in any way conclusive. Couldn’t it be stated that people who take psychiatric drugs have mental illnesses and that the mental illnesses could’ve caused their behaviors and not the medications themselves? There is no way to definitively prove that the meds caused the behavior or that the behavior occurred independent from the meds, thereby making Dr. Brogan’s point irrelevant.
Dr. Brogan misuses a quote without reference by Rene Dubos, a founding father of modern microbiology and pioneer of the germ theory, to insinuate that he suggested there is harm to be associated with this ground-breaking theory which led to the development of the first antibiotics (page 71). In his quote, Dubos is clearly speaking of the delicate balance between microbial life and human life and in no way does he state that germ theory is “dangerous:”
“Man himself has emerged from a line descent that began with microbial life, a line common to all plant and animal species…he is dependent not only on other human beings and on the physical world but also on other creatures—animals, plants, microbes—that have evolved together with him. Man will ultimately destroy himself if he thoughtlessly eliminates the organism that constitute essential links in the complex and delicate web of life of which he is a part.”
Here is a reputable source demonstrating this quote from Dubos and illustrating how he understood how environments can be impacted by anthropogenic (human) activity but never once does he call his life’s work “dangerous.”
Throughout her book “A Mind of Your Own,” Dr. Brogan presents cherry-picked arguments, cherry-picks which medical professionals and organizations should be trusted without any clear guidelines, and even cherry-picks her patients in order to prove some sort of miracle four-week program chock full of holes (probably from all of the coffee enemas) which the medical community obviously sees right through.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next time when I discuss the #3 limitation of Dr. Brogan’s book: Dr. Brogan’s Abundant Utilization of Non-Credible Resources. In case you missed it:
Part 1: Dr. Brogan is a conspiracy theorist
Angela Quinn, BSN, RN is a registered nurse on Long Island, NY. She is passionate about nursing and public health and is involved with a number of projects which promote life-saving vaccines. Angela volunteers as an Executive Board Member in Vaccine Advocacy for Nurses Who Vaccinate, is the founder of this blog, Correcting the Misconceptions of Anti-Vaccine Resources and is the creator of Future Nurse Abby.