Is Moncrieff’s Chemical Imbalance Paper a Decent Systematic Umbrella Review?

James Coyne


Edward Shorter comment


        Well, I’m glad that critiquing Joanna Moncrieff is a “lonely process,” because she is absolutely right and best not to have too much clamor claiming otherwise.  She has science going for her rather than politics.  She is not the first person to have called serotonin levels unrelated to depression.  The critique of the “chemical imbalance” school goes back at least a decade and is thoroughly familiar to any researcher in the neurosciences.  As for the pluses and minuses of “systematic umbrella reviews,” let’s not throw sand in people’s eyes.  The underlying point is clear: the importance of the amine neurotransmitters has been vastly exaggerated and Moncrieff is leading us back onto the highway of science.  That this created a media sensation is to be welcomed rather than deplored.

        Whether all this is “anti psychiatry” is another point.  Few would advocate that the resources of psychopharmacology be ditched.  But are the SSRI “antidepressants” inferior agents?  Probably, yes.


Cheers all,




October 27, 2022