Neuroscientists at University of Chicago released a study earlier this month showing the relationship that benzodiazepines have with decreased empathetic social behavior. This is a symptom that has been reported for a long time by users, but is very poorly understood by the medical community as a classifiable symptom.
The study at hand was conducted with the usual laboratory rats. When sober, the rats demonstrated an empathetic social response that is natural among all mammals, specifically when related to a mammal of the same species. Through control methods it was determined that the study demonstrated an empathetic social behavior, and not a rodent ingenuity of some kind that was socially nonspecific. The basic premise was a primary mouse (the subject) and another mouse in a cage, who could only be freed when the subject mouse pressed a button. When giving the adjustment time to the environment, the rats always tended to release the captive rodents.
Interestingly, when these rats were injected with the benzodiazepine drug, Midazolam, they were statistically less inclined to let the other rat out of the cage in which it was trapped. With the simple ability to push a button and let its fellow rat escape, those rats dosed with Midazolam were simply less responsive to the stress responses of the rodent that was stuck in its cage. Drawing attention back to the aforementioned control methods for empathetic responses, rats in the study were also tested in a similar scenario with one small twist: This time, a piece of chocolate was in the cage instead of another rat. Of course, any rat would try to find its way to the piece of chocolate, but the intriguing note here is this: While the doped-up rats were less inclined to help their fellows escape, they still did not hesitate to attain the chocolate.
Albeit, this is a bit of a crude study in suggestion to human sociological implications in relation to the widespread prescriptions of benzodiazepines–but with the distinct mammalian commonalities between rodents and humans, it would be very dangerous to sweep this discovery under the rug, as Big Pharma most assuredly will do. Time and time again the modern western medical industry has proven that profit, at the expense of all else, is the primary objective. It is questionable if the intention is to make well-meaning medicine at all. Not only has Big Pharma continuously been deceptive about the negative results of its drug studies, but the documented money-connection between the scientific studies and the industries creating the drugs cannot be denied–the common practicing doctor being a primary mediator between the two. When broken down in these terms, is anyone really surprised that these benzodiazepines have a detrimental, crippling side-effect on a human’s social connectivity?
Even more disconcerting are the concerns raised by anti-depressant SSRI’s like Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro and others; and neuroleptic “anti-psychotics” like Thorazine, and more wide-spread drugs like Risperidone. Both classes are known to reduce empathetic levels in human beings by synthetically modulating a variety of essential neurotransmitters, neuroleptic use has also been linked to brain tumor formations, and yet there is still so much scientific exploration that is simply not being done on these subjects.
The fundamental problem is that these chemicals take the brain’s reward systems into its own “hands,” when very literally, these reward systems were set up in the brain to instigate these interactions with the environment in gauge. When the equation between brain rewards and positive environmental interactions is disrupted, the entire signal is lost, and the natural social function that is represented here is in danger of being entirely irrelevant. Unfortunately, this social function of empathy is all but overridden, and as the emotional “balance” of the person is considered a pharmaceutical success, these decreased empathetic levels tend to fall all but under the radar of social detection.
Since it is ineffective to give blanket-term statistics about drug use, here is an in-depth scientific study done in 2014 about the statistical analysis of Americans using benzodiazepines on a daily basis, and the mathematical variances between different age groups.
Here is a scientific study statistically analyzing the numbers of children being prescribed anti-psychotic neuroleptic medication.
And here is a study about the analytics of adults using these same medications.
Regardless of the specific numbers, it is by no means controversial to say that millions of people globally are being prescribed these substances, and oftentimes a combination of them, and it borders on horrific to think about not only the neurological implications that this usage may have on long-term patients, but the interruption of human free will in the process by the disruption of natural human sociological interaction. How metaphorical is it, then, to consider these synthetic pharmaceutical modulations of a person’s neurochemistry like the fingers of the Big Pharma chemists in the brain of the individual user, helping them along their thought process?
Sources: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00850/full, https://www.drugs.com/drug-class/benzodiazepines.html, http://www.psypost.org/2016/06/anti-anxiety-medication-limits-empathetic-behavior-rats-43548, http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=26299, http://www.naturalnews.com/019628_tumors_drug_drugs.html