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Eiko Fried in APS on Open Science

Although open science reforms have contributed to a more rigorous and robust psychological science, there is still much to improve. In Association for Psychological Science (APS), Eiko Fried points out two norms that open science reforms may have overlooked so far: communalism and universalism. 'Incorporating these norms into open science reforms is fundamental to creating a psychological science that is truly open, transparent, and equitable.'

Association for Psychological Science (APS)

With 'communalism', Fried refers to the common ownership of scientific discoveries, enabling all scientists to access and contribute to them equally. Universalism stands for the focus on logic and arguments rather than attributes of scientists. Four other researchers followed Fried’s introduction with findings and tools in support of these norms. They point out that open science can be improved by enhancing diversity, creating Open Science Communities and paying more attention to education and how we develop and evaluate psychological theories.
Open Science 2.0: Advancing Reform Via Diversity, Communities, Education, and Theory (June 26, 2023).


Psychedelic drugs are sometimes used to treat depression as they can lift users’ moods. However, using psychedelics comes with several risks. They can cause hallucinations that might trigger psychosis. Now, researchers think they may be able to take hallucinations out of the equation. LSD and psilocin can produce an antidepressant response in mice through a molecular mechanism that is completely separate from the one responsible for hallucinogenic effects. Eiko Fried warns however that animal studies of depression often do not translate well to humans. 'Hundreds of papers have found promising mechanisms for antidepressant treatment in mice, none of which made it to the development of new pharmacological drugs that do better than gold-standard treatments for depression,' says Fried. Psychedelic-inspired drugs could relieve depression without causing hallucinations (June 5, 2023).


Psychedelic drugs can be used to treat mental illnesses. Some argue that the treatment’s benefit lies directly in the therapy, and that the psychedelic drug in question simply catalyzes the therapeutic process. However, recently several scientists warn that the therapy component of psychedelic-assisted therapy isn’t being studied enough. Eiko Fried points out that in several of the studies, the therapy-component was not standardised which makes the reliability of the results questionable: “It’s not normal in a treatment study to say, do whatever psychotherapy you want, for whatever length you want. Such inconsistencies inevitably muddle the results', says Fried in Widen. The Therapy Part of Psychedelic Therapy Is a Mess (April 6, 2023).

Mad in America

In March 2023, Eiko Fried and colleague Michiel van Elk published an article in which they warn others by listing ten problems with psychedelic research that make conclusions about efficacy and safety uncertain. Mad in America wrote an article about their study and explained each of the listed problems in detail. Researchers Warn of Major Threats to the Validity of Psychedelic Research (March 20, 2023).

Science News

A chemical imbalance doesn’t explain depression. So what does? Science News investigated this question and conclude in their article that there is simply no scientific explanation for depression. They also interviewed Eiko Fried. He mentioned that it is very difficult to to assess depression. 'Variety in measurement is a real problem for the field and points to the lack of understanding of the disease itself. Current ways of measuring depression “leave you with a really impoverished, tiny look,” Fried says.' (12 februari 2023).


Association for Psychological Science (APS)

Diagnoses often oversimplify complex mental health problems. How can researchers and practitioners avoid oversimplifications, improve research, and provide more effective and customized clinical practices? In a podcast with APS, Eiko Fried presented the advantages of studying mental health problems as systems, not syndromes and how mental-health professionals might create better tools to address early risk of certain conditions, such as depression.
Stop Oversimplifying Mental Health Diagnoses (9 februari 2023)


‘It’s becoming increasingly clear that a first episode of depression is the trigger for a second, so scientifically there’s a decent probability that preventing the first episode can stop the next,’ said Eiko Fried in a interview with Horzion about his new WARN-D study. While preventative programmes already exist, they can work only when at-risk individuals are identified in time. With his study, Fried attempts to build a reliable early-warning system that sets out to forecast who is at risk of ‘falling into the valley’ and then generate a personalised programme for preventing this from happening - Defeating depression through early risk detection and targeted medication (21 december 2022).


For years there has been a debate within psychology as to whether abnormalities in serotonin levels underlie depression. No clear evidence to support his hypothesis had been found until a study that was published in Biological Psychiatry claimed to have found evidence that people with depression have a reduced capacity for releasing serotonin in the brain. Not all scientist reacted to their study with praise. In The Guardian Eiko Fried mentions that he questions whether the results are statistically robust. 'The conclusions the authors draw are not proportional to the evidence presented. The statistical analyses are inconsistent and do not establish ‘clear evidence’ for the serotonin theory of depression' (November 5, 2022)

Association for Psychological Science (APS)

The DSM is a widely used classification system and diagnostic tool in the field of mental health. Since its initial publication the manual has been continually revised, but has never been free of criticism. Chief complaints are that the diagnostic categories lack empirical support and that the reliability of DSM diagnoses are low. APS mentions a study by Eiko Fried that analyzed symptoms of depressive patients and found that non-DSM symptoms were just as intercorrelated—that is, as central—as those in the DSM. In other words, a definition of depression could very reasonably include symptoms that the DSM leaves out. Dueling Diagnoses (30 juni 2022).


The same questionnaires have dominated depression research for decades. However, it is often difficult to find support for the background assumptions of surveys in the research literature. Eiko Fried states in Psykologi that it is time for us to change the way depression is evaluated in research. He critizes the fact that depression is often assessed categorically in surveys. 'If you have ever worked with people diagnosed with depression, you know that they are quite different from each other. It surprised me that researchers reduce such a complex phenomenon into two categories.' What's wrong with measuring depression? (in Finnish) (13 juni 2022).


When Nature Medicine published a paper about what happened in the brains of people with depression who were treated with either an antidepressant or psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, it immediately garnered attention in the field. Several scientists questioned the statistical measures of the study, and whether the data provided enough heft for anyone to really say that there was “proof” as to how psilocybin works differently compared to an antidepressant. This led to a dispute in which scientists questioned eachothers professionality. Eiko fried also interfered in the discussion and wrote the following tweet:


Can Botox ease depression by eliminating frowns? Some clinicians believe that by eliminating negative emotional feedback that frowns feed the brain, Botox can relieve depression. In a meta-analysis combining data from five trials, psychiatrists from the University of Texas found evidence that should "pave the way" for Botox's widespread use in psychiatry. Many other researchers, including Eiko Fried, remain skeptical because of the small sample sizes that were used. Large effect sizes seen in small studies tend to disappear in larger trials—a trend seen even for today's commonly used antidepressant medications, says Fried. He worries psychiatrists who use Botox for depression are giving their patients false hope and neglecting established treatments instead (24 juni 2021).

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