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Skyler

Proven Wrong About Many of Its Assertions, Is Psychiatry Bullsh*t?

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nz11

Skyler thanks for posting i feel like i want to give the author a high five......and Skyler a big hug!!

 

In the current issue of the journal Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Australian dissident psychiatrist Niall McLaren titles his article, “Psychiatry as bullsh*t” and makes a case for just that.

 

The great controversies in psychiatry are no longer about its chemical-imbalance theory of mental illness or its DSM diagnostic system, both of which have now been declared invalid even by the pillars of the psychiatry establishment.

 

In 2011, Ronald Pies, editor-in-chief emeritus of the Psychiatric Times, stated, “In truth, the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend—never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists.” And in 2013, Thomas Insel, then director of the National Institute of Mental Health, offered a harsh rebuke of the DSM, announcing that because the DSM diagnostic system lacks validity, the “NIMH will be re-orienting its research away from DSM categories.”

 

So, the great controversy today has now become just how psychiatry can be most fairly characterized given its record of being proven wrong about virtually all of its assertions, most notably its classifications of behaviors, theories of “mental illness” and treatment effectiveness/adverse effects.

 

Among critics, one of the gentlest characterizations of psychiatry is a “false narrative,” the phrase used by investigative reporter Robert Whitaker (who won the 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors Book Award for Anatomy of an Epidemic) to describe the story told by the psychiatrists’ guild American Psychiatric Association.

 

In “Psychiatry as bullsh*t,” McLaren begins by considering several different categories of “nonscience with scientific pretensions,” such as “pseudoscience” and “scientific fraud.”

 

“Pseudoscience” is commonly defined as a collection of beliefs and practices promulgated as scientific but in reality mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method. The NIMH director ultimately rejected the DSM because of its lack of validity, which is crucial to the scientific method. In the DSM, psychiatric illnesses are created by an APA committee, 69 percent of whom have financial ties to Big Pharma. The criteria for DSM illness are not objective biological ones but non-scientific subjective ones (which is why homosexuality was a DSM mental illness until the early 1970s). Besides lack of scientific validity, the DSM lacks scientific reliability, as clinicians routinely disagree on diagnoses because patients act differently in different circumstances and because of the subjective nature of the criteria.

 

“Fraud” is a misrepresentation, a deception intended for personal gain, and implies an intention to deceive others of the truth—or “lying.” Drug companies, including those that manufacture psychiatric drugs, have been convicted of fraud, as have high-profile psychiatrists (as well as other doctors). Human rights activist and attorney Jim Gottstein offers an argument as to why the APA is a “fraudulent enterprise”; however, the APA has not been legally convicted of fraud.

 

To best characterize psychiatry, McLaren considers the category of “bullsh*t,” invoking philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s 1986 journal article “On bullsh*t” (which became a New York Times bestselling book in 2005).

 

Defining bullsh*t

What is the essence of bullsh*t? For Frankfurt, “This lack of connection to a concern with truth—this indifference to how things really are—that I regard as of the essence of bullsh*t.”

 

Frankfurt devotes a good deal of On bullsh*t to differentiating between a liar and a bullshitter. Both the liar and the bullshitter misrepresent themselves, representing themselves as attempting to be honest and truthful. But there is a difference between the liar and the bullshitter.

 

The liar knows the truth, and the liar’s goal is to conceal it.

 

The goal of bullshitters is not necessarily to lie about the truth but to persuade their audience of a specific impression so as to advance their agenda. So, bullshitters are committed to neither truths nor untruths, uncommitted to neither facts nor fiction.

 

It’s actually not in bullshitters’ interest to know what is true and what is false, as that knowledge can hinder their capacity to bullsh*t.

 

Frankfurt tells us that liar the hides that he or she is “attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality.”

 

In contrast, the bullshitter hides that “the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him.”

 

Are Psychiatrists Bullshitters?

Recall establishment psychiatrist Pies' assertion: “In truth, the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend—never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists.” What Pies omits is the reality that the vast majority of psychiatrists have been promulgating this theory. Were they liars or simply not well-informed? And if not well-informed, were they purposely not well-informed?

 

If one wants to bullsh*t oneself and the general public that psychiatry is a genuinely scientific medical specialty, there’s a great incentive to be unconcerned with the truth or falseness of the chemical imbalance theory of depression.

 

Bullshitters immediately recognize how powerful this chemical imbalance notion is in gaining prestige for their profession and themselves as well as making their job both more lucrative and easier, increasing patient volume by turning virtually all patient visits into quick prescribing ones.

 

Prior to the chemical imbalance bullsh*t campaign, most Americans were reluctant to take antidepressants—or to give them to their children. But the idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance that can be corrected with Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants sounded like taking insulin for diabetes. Correcting a chemical imbalance seemed like a reasonable thing to do, and so the use of SSRI antidepressants skyrocketed.

 

In 2012, National Public Radio correspondent Alix Spiegel began her piece about the disproven chemical imbalance theory with the following personal story about being prescribed Prozac when she was a depressed teenager:

My parents took me to a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She did an evaluation and then told me this story: “The problem with you," she explained, “is that you have a chemical imbalance. It’s biological, just like diabetes, but it’s in your brain. This chemical in your brain called serotonin is too, too low. There’s not enough of it, and that’s what’s causing the chemical imbalance. We need to give you medication to correct that.” Then she handed my mother a prescription for Prozac.

When Spiegel discovered that the chemical imbalance theory was untrue, she sought to discover why this truth had been covered up, and so she interviewed researchers who knew the truth. Alan Frazer, professor of pharmacology and psychiatry and chairman of the pharmacology department at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, told Spiegel that by framing depression as a deficiency—something that needed to be returned to normal—patients felt more comfortable taking antidepressants.

 

Frazer stated, “If there was this biological reason for them being depressed, some deficiency that the drug was correcting, then taking a drug was OK.” For Frazer, the story that depressed people have a chemical imbalance enabled many people to come out of the closet about being depressed.

 

Frazer’s rationale reminds us of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s book Manufacturing Consent, the title deriving from presidential adviser and journalist Walter Lippmann’s phrase “the manufacture of consent”—a necessity for Lippmann, who believed that the general public is incompetent in discerning what’s truly best for them, and so their opinion must be molded by a benevolent elite who does know what’s best for them.

 

There are some psychiatrists who view the chemical imbalance theory as a well-meaning lie by a benevolent elite to ensure resistant patients do what is best for them, but my experience is that there are actually extremely few such “well-meaning liars.”

 

Most simply don’t know the truth because they have put little effort in discerning it.

 

I believe McLaren is correct in concluding that the vast majority of psychiatrists are bullshitters, uncommitted to either facts or fiction.

 

Most psychiatrists would certainly have been happy if the chemical-imbalance theory was true but obviously have not needed it to be true in order to promulgate it.

 

For truth seekers, the falseness of the chemical imbalance theory has been easily available, but most psychiatrists have not been truth seekers. It is not in the bullshitters’ interest to know what is true and what is false, as that knowledge of what is a fact and what is fiction hinders the capacity to use any and all powerful persuasion.

 

Simply put, a commitment to the truth hinders the capacity to bullsh*t.

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nz11

Wow the full journal article is available from the link above and its totally free!!

...whats that i hear....oh its my printer producing the 10 pages of this most beautiful piece ....i just cant believe what i am reading this is just too good to be true.!!

Oh my goodness i honestly cant believe this

 

Heres the conclusion:

The renowned cosmologist, Carl Sagan (1996), said, “. . . at the heart of science is an
essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes—an openness to new
ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive, and the most ruthlessly sceptical scrutiny
of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.”

Psychiatry, as I have briefly shown, is stuffed full of “deep nonsense,” better known
as bullsh*t.

 

I believe it is now appropriate to label the drive to find a biological basis for
mental disorder as pseudoscience, just because the huge endeavor hangs from little more
than blind hope. It would be very nice to see psychiatrists expose their own ideas to “the
most ruthlessly skeptical scrutiny” but there are now so many academic and other careers
dependent on this industry that it would take a revolution to clear the air.

 

later....

 

nz11

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Skyler

Thanks New Zealand (if I did not live in such a beautiful place, with even better peeps, I'd be jealous of your locale).. It does read like a breath of fresh air.  I was going to post part of the article to get folks more interested in following the link, but for some reason my cut and paste function was on the fritz... just an fyi though, best not to post the entire article due to copyright considerations.. that said, its a doozy!

 

Hope you are doing well...  Hugs to you too.

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nz11

Thanks Skyler .

It is now in the journals.

oh yeah i think a mod may have to delete some .

Great find Skyler good going.

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Shep

This is a great discussion, Skyler and NZ.

 

That article made me remember an article I recently came across: 

 

Pediatric Bipolar Disorder in an Era of “Mindless Psychiatry”

 

It's a great historical look at how pediatric bipolar came about in the context of the chemical imbalance and the concept of "brainless" and "mindless" psychiatry, take that however you want.

 

It appears to us that the common application of the PBD diagnosis reflects research and clinical practice that, consistent with the prevailing paradigm, underutilizes psychodynamics, family dynamics, attachment, trauma, and context. Frances (2010), the former DSM-IV task force chair, has gone so far as to critique PBD as a “fad diagnosis” of “epidemic” proportions.

Pediatric Bipolar Disorder in an Era of “Mindless Psychiatry”

 

In Skyler's Alternet article, the concept of calling psychiatry bullsh*t is pretty much the same thing as what Dr. Frances, the former DSM-IV task force chair quoted above, is saying when he uses terms like "fad diagnosis of epidemic proportions". 

 

This is no different than Ronald Pies saying the chemical imbalance is an urban myth when he knows that he and his cronies put that myth in the psychiatric textbooks. 

 

But as someone who was misdiagnosed with manic depression and drugged for 30 years, it's not something I would call a "fad diagnosis". I would call it malpractice.  And to continue to do use these drugs knowing the falsehoods behind it is nothing short of poisoning people for profit. 

 

Pies may be under the influence of cognitive dissonance, but people like Frances who outright admit the problem . . . there simply are no words. 

 

The article goes onto to talk about how the research is regarded:

 

Nonetheless, anecdotally it has been difficult for critics of PBD to publish in the psychiatric literature. In an era in which quantitative research is held in higher regard than qualitative research, it may be that contrary views about PBD are seen as opinion based and lacking data, reflecting a “catch 22”: Those who dispute the construct validity of PBD are unlikely to have generated data on something they don't see.

Pediatric Bipolar Disorder in an Era of “Mindless Psychiatry”

 

 

I think they are onto something here - doctors like to cite data, as the people who get through medical school aren't really people who have insight. These are people who use ratings and check boxes. 

 

And a bit more:

 

Tasman (1999) noted that economic forces have diminished psychodynamic training in the United States to the extent that “many fear we are in danger of training a generation of psychiatrists and physicians who lack … a framework for understanding mental functioning from a psychodynamic perspective” (p. 189). Boyce (2006), in an address to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, blamed the “dumbing down” of psychiatry on “increased service demand, the deification of DSM, the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, a misunderstanding of evidence-based medicine (EBM), managerialism and the influence of consumerism” (p. 4). Commenting further on this paradigm shift, Scull (2010) noted, “A simplistic biological reductionism (has) increasingly ruled the psychiatric roost. Patients and their families learned to attribute mental illness to faulty brain biochemistry. … It was biobabble as deeply misleading and unscientific as the psychobabble it replaced” (p. 1247).

 

Pediatric Bipolar Disorder in an Era of “Mindless Psychiatry”

 

 

And there you have it - "biobabble as deeply misleading and unscientific as the psychobabble it replaced". In other words, total bullsh*t. 

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Skyler

And there you have it - "biobabble as deeply misleading and unscientific as the psychobabble it replaced". In other words, total bullsh*t. 

 

Wow... biobabble... what a concept!  Gotta luv that one.

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Vigor

I didn't see that this was posted here first. So I will say thank you Skyler for the article as well. I left a comment on nz's thread in the journal and sources section.

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btdt

:)

and he wrote a book... 

https://books.google.ca/books/about/Get_Up_Stand_Up.html?id=r2zWJ7YXlKgC&source=kp_cover&redir_esc=y

 

I searched it for antidepressants 

Page 56

people often report these drugs disconnect them from their emotions and from their sense of who they are.  Cocaine and ADD affect the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and antidepressants used in combination affect the same neurotransmitters.

 

I have been saying this for years.  Thanks for the post it is refreshing I can feel NZ joy from here :) 

I may even buy his book I am not American but some people need to be supported and I bet it is an interesting book 

peace

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LiferButOK

Most doctors are not scientific, in my experience.  They don’t question - they remember standards of practice.  That’s their job.  But I prefer the doctors who listen to the patient and adjust, based on the reality of what is before them.   

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