Government News
Editorial Criticizes NIMH Agenda
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 5 page 8-8

In an editorial titled "Bird Brains" published in the January 20 Wall Street Journal (WSJ), psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., president of the Treatment Advocacy Center, in Arlington, Va., argued that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) funds too many studies of a dubious nature and too few studies of serious mental illnesses.

Torrey claimed that NIMH spends just 5.8 percent of its research budget on studies of serious mental disorders, though it is research into those disorders "that could lead to more effective treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, and other serious mental afflictions."

Between 1972 and 2002, NIMH funded 92 research projects on how pigeons think and only one study on postpartum depression research, "a devastating mental illness that affects women like Andrea Yates, who killed her five children in Texas in 2001," Torrey stated.

NIMH Director Thomas Insel, M.D., responded in a letter to the editor published in the January 26 WSJ that NIMH in fact spends at least 60 percent of its research budget on serious mental illnesses and funded 33 studies on postpartum depression last year alone.

"Torrey fails to recognize how basic behavioral and neurobiological research has been, and will continue to be, critical for us to make progress against serious mental disorders," according to Insel’s letter.

Insel concluded in his letter, "Torrey is right about one thing: these illnesses inflict an enormous cost, in emotional and economic terms, for patients and their families."

Torrey’s editorial and Insel’s letter to the editor are posted online at www.wsj.com; free access is limited to subscribers.

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