Specific Value of Drugs in Psychiatric Illness

Norman Decker, MD
JAMA. 1965;192(1):65. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080140071031.
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To the Editor:—  In their rebuttal of Dr. Ostow's letter to the editor, "Specific Value of Drugs in Psychiatric Illness" (JAMA190:557 [Nov 9] 1964), which criticizes their study, "Imipramine and Thioridazine in Depressed and Schizophrenic Patients" (JAMA189:605 [Aug 24] 1964), Drs. Hollister and Overall defend their work and attack an untenable philosophic point of view with an enthusiasm which is understandable but unfortunate; they successfully defend the value of scientific research as opposed to "anecdotal" evidence but they fail to consider some telling criticisms of their work.Most of these are methodological in nature. Hollister and Overall make their diagnoses and evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of drugs on the basis of a symptom-rating scale. This is a horizontal evaluation of the patient-of-the-instant rather than a longitudinal evaluation of the patient with a life history. Can one make diagnoses or measure therapeutic effect in this manner? No


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