Dr. Brogan Promotes Unnecessary Fear and Fallacies About Western Medicine, the Same Field from Which She Profits:
The best you can do today is use common sense and sound judgment based on current science.” (page 204).
In her book “A Mind of Your Own,” Dr. Kelly Brogan is a cherry-picking conspiracy theorist who promotes non-credible references. Aside from these major limitations is the fact that Dr. Brogan spends all 293 pages of her book completely bashing the field of Western Medicine, an ironic and contradictory choice considering that she profits from this system. Her entire book promotes unnecessary fear and misconception about Western Medicine, or the “medical industrial complex” as she refers to it. Additionally, Dr. Brogan insults all psychiatric patients by referring to them as “pill popping patients” (page 125) on her self-proclaimed mission “to serve as a gatekeeper, keeping [women] from the psychiatric pill mill” (page 97).
Dr. Brogan spends nearly her entire book bashing the pharmaceutical industry with cherry-picked points that inflate the risks and completely undermine the benefits of a variety of life-saving medical interventions. She states “I am here to tell you that saying yes to yourself begins with saying no to the medical-agricultural-industrial complex “(page 277) and then goes on to refer to modern medicine as an “attack” and a “danger” to our bodies (page 94). The thing which stands out the most about Dr. Brogan’s book is that she offers nothing new to the conversation of psychiatry. There is nothing ground breaking about her book at all yet she proceeds to bash the same medical industry which agrees with her that anti-depressants don’t always address a patient’s issues and that they are often over-prescribed. Rather than partnering with other great minds in her field, Dr. Brogan chooses to subscribe to a narrow theory that gut composition leads to depression while completely ignoring the extrinsic, uncontrollable facts which may lead to depression as well.
Without any evidence, Dr. Brogan states, “…conventional medicine can make grave mistakes, something the pharmaceutical industry is more than happy to encourage.” (pave 14) It’s no secret that the Instutitute of Medicine (IOM) reports that up to 98,000 preventable deaths occur each year in hospitals. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there are over 35.1 million Americans discharged from hospitals each year, so while 98,000 may seem like a large number, it’s actually far less than 1% of all hospitalizations. Further, pharmaceutical companies have nothing to do with this issue, leaving Dr. Brogan’s one-sided statements to fall on deaf ears as she completely ignores the danger which can be associated with holistic medicine. “It is my grave concern that this power has been co-opted by a paternalistic system that seeks to engender fear and control by coercion and undermine a woman’s inner voice by suggesting that science has cracked the code of the human condition. A system that turns a blind eye to all the times science and medicine have been in error. That we as a society have let fear lead us down a shameful path.” (page 276)
Holistic medicine is not without its faults or dangers. For example, a Canadian couple is currently on trial for treating their infant son’s meningitis with maple syrup and not taking him for prompt medical attention, which ultimately led to his death. It’s worth noting that even the child’s naturopath recommended that he be taken to a Western hospital but the family chose holistic treatments over conventional, proven approaches to treating meningitis. In another example, a 12-year-old came to the ER with pancreatitis which was brought on by her mother’s self-prescribed daily routine of taking over 200 supplements to treat her “Lyme disease,” a condition which she didn’t even have. A Norwegian study also demonstrated that cancer patients who use alternative medicine die at a rate of 14% higher than those who use just their recommended oncology treatments. (It’s typically frowned upon to use an abstract as evidence but since the numbers are clearly stated in this abstract, it is acceptable as peer-review).
Dr. Brogan states, “Personally, I have no intention of ever returning to a lifestyle that involves pharmaceutical products of any kind, under any circumstances.” (page 16) The problem with this statement is that there are some circumstances in which medications are needed in order for the patient to remain alive. Dr. Brogan details her own experience with the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s (page 96), a form of hypothyroidism, and how she healed herself by visiting a naturopath. This is a dangerous story to share with readers as forgoing the necessary medication (synthroid) a patient with hypothyroidism is prescribed is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious complications and even death.
“Drug-based medicine makes you sick. I will go as far as to say that hospital care makes you sick,” she states (page 16). When people sustain life-threatening injuries, they go to hospitals which save countless lives every year so implying that hospital care makes people “sick” without any references is a gross injustice on the part of Dr. Brogan. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 700,000 people die in hospitals every year, which is far less than 1% of all of the 35.1 hospital discharges each year. Further, antibiotics have saved an estimated 2 million lives since Sir Alexander Fleming made the first discovery of penicillin in 1928. it would seem that Dr. Brogan’s statements couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dr. Brogan describes the fact that patients feel that “doctors know that they are doing” as the “Western Medical Illusion” is a “vicious system that ushers you into lifelong customer status, dependent and disempowered.” (page 13) She also makes similar generalizations without evidence: “…it appears that they have a personal or family psychiatric history (though doesn’t that include the entire population at this point)” (page 116) Dr. Brogan proudly proclaims that she specializes in psychology, yet she dispenses advice which in nature is purely oncological, gastrointestinal and nutritional, just to name a few examples, instead of referring her patients to these specialists which is the customary practice in the field of medicine. Further, patients must fill out an application and pay hefty office fees before even being seen by Dr. Brogan, which sounds to me like a “lifelong customer status” she accuses Western Medicine of promoting. Additionally, she admits right in her book that she’ll fire her patients if they don’t follow every step of her protocol (page 89), an action which would certainly leave her patients feeling “disempowered” on their journey toward holistic psychological healing.
Dr. Brogan states “The medical industry isn’t selling a cure. They are selling sickness.” (page 42). If this were true, then “Big Pharma” wouldn’t promote vaccines. Vaccines are one of the least profitable components of the pharmaceutical industry and treating vaccine-preventable diseases themselves is far more profitable. According to the CDC, vaccines have not only saved millions of lives, but they have saved over $295 billion in direct costs a total of more than $1.3 trillion in societal costs.
“While I believe that a doctor’s role is to share the tolls for self-healing with a patient, I also believe in finding your healing team,” Dr. Brogan states. However, she goes on to encourage her patients to ignore the advice of their Western Medicine doctors for whom regulatory agencies are in place in favor of professionals who are not regulated or nationally recognized by any professional associations. “I am an avid supporter of a variety of practitioners and refer widely…craniosacral therapists, neurofeedback specialists, acupuncturists and through energy medicine modalities from sound healing to bodywork to homeopathy.” (page 238). Dr. Brogan orders thyroid and A1C tests on patients which are typically within the scope of practice of an endocrinologist. Should the patient present with symptoms which need to be followed by a specialist in endocrinology, it doesn’t seem that Dr. Brogan would make this recommendation based on her list of unconventional references and her own touting of her naturopath. There is only one word which comes to mind here: dangerous.
Dr. Brogan makes generalized, false statements about medications without any evidence to back up her claims:
Dr. Brogan states on pages 92-93 of her book that “antibiotics…have never been adequately studied for safety.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has one of the most stringent drug approval processes in the entire world. There have been so many studies detailing the effectiveness and safety of every class of antibiotics that it would take me months to collect them all. Here’s a brochure about the safety of antibiotics produced from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).
Dr. Brogan states, “optimal health is not possible through medication.” (page 13) I’d like her to say that to the type 1 diabetic who depends on insulin to make it past the first year of his/her life to continue into adulthood, or the child with Cushing’s syndrome who depends on steroids to live his life.
Dr. Brogan states, “I ask my patients to…shed their fear of infection that has little chance of killing a health individual and to support their system through…diet…and the use of natural antimicrobials…” (page 93). There’s a good reason why people have a fear of infection: it kills people! Infections such as meningitis can claim someone’s life within 24 hours of exposure. You can use all the “natural antimicrobials” one would like, but the reason why hospitals use alcohol-based sanitizers instead of “natural antimicrobials,” which Dr. Brogan does not elaborate upon in her book, is because the evidence demonstrates that they are effective.
Dr. Brogan discusses the effects which proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can have on the gut bacteria, claiming that they will lead to “dysbiosis” in the gut (page 94) but she completely ignores the fact that some patients have no choice but to take these medications. “The problem with acid-reflux medications is that they can render you deficient in B12, which can put you on the path to depression,” she states (page 124). Patients who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) rely on PPIs to function on a day-to-day basis and Dr. Brogan’s “miracle” diet may not be appropriate for him/her; it’s dangerous to suggest that the patient stop taking these important medications when she could just prescribe a vitamin B12 supplement if the extensive blood work she requires of her patients demonstrates that the levels are low.
Dr. Brogan explains her own struggles with her diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder in which the body destroys its own thyroid tissues. Dr. Brogan states, “I also know that there are clear, evidence-based strategies for restoring thyroid function, no prescription needed.” (page 97). Her choice of wording in explaining how she saw a “wonderful naturopath” who “ushered me into the gentle, hopeful world of self-repair” (page 97) as if to tell patients that if it worked for her, it can work for them, too. For a medical doctor who has greatly criticized the consumer-based model of advertisement, she sure knows how to write one and charge an adequate price for both her book and her sessions. “Given that thyroid hormones are essentially the metabolic lifeline for every cell in the body,” Dr. Brogan states on page 99 of her book, it’s especially alarming that she would brag about her dangerous choice to forgo the recommended treatment of her doctor and continue for two years to solve her thyroid issue “naturally” (page 97). In that two-year span in which Dr. Brogan personally chose to ignore the advice of her medical professionals and forgo her synthroid medication, a patient surely could die from lack of vital thyroid hormones which are responsible for many functions in the body.
When discussing SSRIs, Dr. Brogan states that “I was never taught to taper.” (page 270). This is simply not plausible considering that she took advanced pharmacology courses in med school and then learned how to care for patients in her residency; sure at least once patient needed to be tapered off medicines in the decade it took her to become a psychiatrist and complete her residency. If my nursing school pharmacology course was sure to include the importance of tapering medications such as steroids and SSRIs, then it would surely appear within the curriculum of a medical program.
Throughout her book, Dr. Brogan bashes the Western Medical system which she profits from and promotes life-threatening choices to forgo necessary medications prescribed by other medical specialties because they don’t fit into Dr. Brogan’s narrow, limited miracle plan for solving depression.
Stay tuned for next time when I demonstrate the #5 limitation with Dr. Brogan’s new book: she promotes a limited, narrow view of depression which only applies to the patients she selects for. In case you missed it:
Part 1: Dr. Brogan is a conspiracy theorist
Part 2: Dr. Brogan is a cherry-picker
Part 3: Dr. Brogan utilizes non-credible resources, most of which she profits from
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.