About the Author

Dr. Timothy Scott, a native of southern California who has resided in Texas for most of the last 37 years, is not a physician but a PhD who holds MS and MMFT degrees.  (Read FAQ: How can someone who is not a physician write a book that deals with medical issues like depression and antidepressants?)  He was a full-time psychology professor for over 20 years during which time his specialty was medical research as it relates to psychology.  He successfully treated countless cases of depression before Prozac, the first SSRI-antidepressant, came to market in 1987.  To suppose that depression could not be overcome without a drug ran counter to his own experience. As he examined the studies that gave rise to the chemical imbalance theory, he kept finding remarkably poor research designs had been used.

In time Dr. Scott learned that most chemical imbalance studies were designed, conducted and written by pharmaceutical company employees and then signed by a physician who would simply read the study and agree to let his or her name appear as the author for a large payment (a very common practice known as ghostwriting).  He also regularly came upon facts that ran counter to the theory.  For example, levels of melatonin, testosterone, estrogen and serotonin all begin declining by age 30 (or earlier).  If the chemical imbalance theory as the cause of depression were correct, all old people should be depressed and no young people should be depressed.  “When the facts do not fit the theory, we must adjust or reject the theory—not the facts.”

Dr. Scott is devoted to educating physicians concerning valid vs. invalid research designs (“no skill is more important and yet most college graduates and most MDs lack that skill”), the harmful side effects of antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs, and more effective ways to treat depression, schizophrenia, and other mental problems.

Dr. Timothy Scott on Critiquing Research:

“In every class I have ever taught I would seek to heighten students’ appreciation of how essential good research design is.  Psychology textbooks are filled with errors because there is simply a failure to uphold adequate research design standards.  The results of correlational studies are commonly reported without any consideration of critical third factors.  Yet if third factors are not controlled, it is absolutely impossible to know if the research results have any validity at all.  Experimental studies are sometimes reported which do not utilize a control group, thus making meaningful conclusions impossible.  The fact that JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), the New England Journal of Medicine, Pediatrics, and other leading medical journals regularly print articles with these design flaws makes it clear that a large number of medical editors, perhaps the majority, simply are not adequately versed in research design.

“I have been forced to conclude that this is a skill that is not wholly a matter of education.  Year in and year out I would drill classes on research design issues, asking students to analyze a study and tell me where the weaknesses were.  Typically I would have one or two students who were fairly capable of this in any given class.  In some classes, no one had this ability.  But then I would occasionally have a student who could easily and immediately see the design flaws in every study I shared.  I remember when I was a graduate student at Baylor and the professor had those of us in the class do the same thing.  We were to find research design errors.  Though these fellow students were all college graduates (and some with graduate degrees), I sat in amazement at how many of these remarkably bright individuals simply could not see very obvious flaws in the research.  These experiences have convinced me that this is a skill that is as much dependent on natural analytical ability as it is training.  Unfortunately, no skill is more important, and yet most college graduates and most MDs lack that skill.  Until large numbers of Americans can read original research and see the flaws in the design of poor or deceptive research studies, Americans will continue to be fooled.”