There’s a Facebook post doing the rounds at the moment. It was made and shared by a woman called Kelly Brogan, MD, who bills herself as a “Holistic Psychiatrist”.


I’ve seen it shared quite a bit, primarily by pissed off women who, to paraphrase a friend of mine, cannot believe this fuckery. On the original post, dissenting comments are periodically deleted.

Feminism 101

We could talk for ages about feminist theory and the current wave, but let’s just stick to the basics. Feminism is the belief that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. How this relates to using pharmaceuticals is beyond me.  I don’t know what kind of feminism Kelly Brogan, MD, subscribes to. As far as I know, shaming people for using medication has nothing to do with feminism but plenty to do with privilege.


This is a word you’ll often find in feminist discourse. We should try to be mindful of our privilege. Kelly Brogan, MD, clearly missed that memo, judging by her post. She must be a privileged woman who doesn’t need or want medications. Lucky her. Others, however, rely on pharmaceuticals as a matter of necessity. Some rely on pharmaceuticals as a matter of choice, that other often discussed aspect of feminism.

Kelly Brogan, MD

Kelly Brogan MD is apparently quite well educated, according to her bio on her website. She says she’s an actual doctor and yet, with one post, she advised people to stop using pharmaceuticals. That’s some 80,000+ Facebook followers alone. Baffling. If you look her up online, it becomes clear fairly quickly that while she might have had the benefit of a good education, her views often fall short of those held by major health authorities.

Her stance on vaccines, for example. To summarise, she’s against them. Why? MMR vaccine causes autism, Gardasil vaccine kills girls, pertussis vaccine doesn’t work, flu vaccine kills foetuses and so on. Can’t let the facts get in the way of a good story, right? She’s even written articles for notorious pseudoscience/anti-vax site, GreedMedInfo, including a cracker titled “Why Vaccines Aren’t Paleo”.

Kelly Brogan, MD, also endorses therapies like homeopathy, which has been proven ineffective over and over again. Apparently, it’s one of her first choices for kids with ADHD because “Children are also intensely sensitive to energetic interventions”. This, Brogan says, also makes them suitable candidates for “energetic medicine”, a form of pseudoscience based on the belief that practitioners can somehow channel “healing energies” into their patients.

It’s hard to fathom what would motivate an apparently well-educated doctor to abandon everything she’d learned in her training.  The motivation becomes a little clearer when you see her “Vital Mind Reset” online course. She’s selling it for the bargain price of just $597 USD. Not to mention book sales, affiliate links and so on. Ironic, for someone who spends so much time railing against “Big Pharma” and their profits.

Why this message sucks

Kelly Brogan, MD, has co-opted feminism to send a dangerous message. Feminism is not meant to shame people who use pharmaceuticals. There’s no disclaimer or clarification; if you use meds, you don’t have faith in your body. You are afraid to feel. Apparently, you should feel things like high blood pressure, diabetes, mental health conditions and period pain, because feminism. Give me a break.

I’ve used pharmaceuticals to cope with long term back pain. To treat colds and infections. I was on medication for years, by choice, to prevent pregnancy. Medication enables me to deal with conditions that would otherwise hinder my life. It has enabled me to control my fertility. Pharmaceuticals do not hinder my belief that women deserve equality.

Other women on medication usage

There are lots of women, who, for various reasons, rely on medication. Some examples:

“I’ve been taking low dose antidepressants – in combination with counselling – since my youngest child was 13 months old. I call them my gift givers. They’ve given my kids the gift of a present and involved mother, and me the gift of joy in parenting. I tried coming off them once. I felt great for about 7-10 days. Within 4 weeks I was non-functional and rocking in the corner of the kitchen. I went back on them and don’t plan to come off them again for a very long time. There’s no shame in needing medication to be healthy. Diabetics don’t come off their insulin just to see what would happen.” – Rebecca Bowyer

“As a migraine sufferer since the age of 11 (hereditary) I’ve had my fair share of painkillers. I spend a lot of time researching diet, sensitivities, the power of the mind and general wellness which has reduced the number and severity of my migraines, but they’re still part of who I am. Pain is debilitating. It is exhausting. As a go-getter, I refuse to let pain define me. Which means painkillers are in my handbag all the time. It’s not ideal, but neither is pain. I thank science daily for what it’s done for me, my family and what it continues to do for our longevity.” – Leanne Shea Langdown

“I have been on numerous medications over the last 15 years, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Medications have at times saved my life, they have brought the level of blah, up to meh. It might not seem like much, but when you are in a downward spiral it can be like a rope thrown down into the hole you are digging yourself.

I admit that I haven’t felt ashamed of taking the medications that I do, because I don’t believe that I need to be. I shouldn’t feel ashamed for taking a medication for a physical ailment and I believe that mental illness is no different. It’s just a different part of our body.” – Tegan Churchill
“When I have a headache, I take paracetamol. Hayfever? I take antihistamines. When my brain is not producing enough serotonin, I take Prozac. Without anti-depressants, my brain feels foggy and overcrowded. I can’t concentrate. I cry a lot. I shout and I lose my temper quickly. I wake up in the morning with an anxious, nausea-inducing knot in my stomach. I feel like the world is against me, even though my life is pretty bloody sweet. Prozac readdresses the chemical imbalance in my brain. There’s no hocus pocus, no black magic, nothing at all sinister. It clears my head so I can find the simple moments of joy and happiness. I’m not giving in by taking anti-depressants. I’m not admitting defeat. I’m simply taking a shot of happiness every morning, so I can be me.” – Lisa Shearon
“If I wasn’t using pharmaceuticals right now in an attempt to control chronic tonsillitis, I would be in emergency with a high possibility of being diagnosed with rheumatic fever.” – Vanessa Smith
“I’ve seen body shaming, food shaming and now medical shaming – where people are made to feel guilty or fearful for their medical treatment choices.” – Carly Findlay
“Being a feminist has absolutely nothing to do with falling back on painkillers. Being feminist is taking control of a disease that breaks me – a disease exclusive to the biologically female. Without painkillers, I simply cannot function. If I don’t take painkillers, I lie in bed, having taken my fifth sick day, wanting to vomit or shit myself or die, thinking over and over again about how this disease could very well strip me of my fertility, my ability to carry my future children safely into this world.
What I DON’T do is suffer through the agony and think to myself “Hey, at least I’m stickin’ it to the man!” I take the medications my doctor has prescribed to stop me bleeding so heavily that I need hourly tampon changes. I take my progesterone to minimise the growth of my endometriosis until they can cut me open and burn it away. Painkillers get me through the day. Without them, I can’t even stand upright. I learnt very early on in my diagnosis that it doesn’t pay to be a hero. There’s no prizes for crying at your desk at work.” – Amiee Gomm

In conclusion…

Kelly Brogan, MD, and her idea of what constitutes feminism can take a hike. There’s nothing feminist about refusing medication. Feminism isn’t a hive-mind and there’s a lot of different views under that umbrella, but I’m pretty sure feminism doesn’t want you to just put up with a debilitating migraine or die from untreated infections.

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