Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, is the President of the APA, and every two weeks or so he writes psychiatric propaganda articles on Psychiatric News (the APA’s online bulletin).
On December 26, his piece was titled APA Successful in Attaining Higher Work Values for Psychiatry. Here’s the first paragraph:
“In an ideal world, value and price would be closely aligned. This alignment doesn’t occur, however, when the value of a service or good isn’t understood. One only has to look at the huge disparity between the salaries of teachers compared with entertainers and sports figures to appreciate this incongruity; or between compensation in the financial-services industry and medicine. For too long, this has especially been the case for psychiatric services. Mental illness is a health care disparity, and mental health care has been stigmatized and undervalued, as have been the physicians who provide it. The result has been inappropriately low reimbursement rates for psychiatric treatment and a corresponding lack of access to mental health care for too many patients.”
In recent years, psychiatry has come in for a good deal of criticism on various grounds. These include the spuriousness of their basic concepts; the invalidity of their so-called diagnoses; and the destructive quality of their so-called treatments. Psychiatry’s response generally has been to ignore these criticisms, and instead to parrot a series of inane mantras to the effect that they are really good guys (and gals); that they’re doing great work; that they are real doctors (really!); that their treatments work; and that they are simply misunderstood. Dr. Lieberman has been an inspiring leader in the creation and dissemination of this propaganda, and his present article is no exception.
“In an ideal world, value and price would be closely aligned.”
He’s referring to financial remuneration, of course, and he delivers this piece of economic “wisdom” as if it were self-evident. But he doesn’t seem to recognize that the concept of value is very subjective. I believe that most people, if they had to choose between having psychiatric services available in their community and having sewage services, would choose the latter. So, in Dr. Lieberman’s ideal world, sewage workers would be paid more than psychiatrists. Clearly economics isn’t Dr. Lieberman’s strong suit.
“… when the value of a service or good isn’t understood.”
Ah – psychiatrists aren’t paid enough because their great contribution to humanity just isn’t understood. The average earnings for US psychiatrists is $199,000, which I think most people would consider pretty decent pay. But let’s not get petty.
“… the huge disparity between the salaries of teachers compared with entertainers and sports figures…”
Now notice what he’s done here. He has aligned psychiatry with school teachers, whose average income, by the way, is about $56,000, and who do incredible work under trying circumstances. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, do more damage than good, doing 15-minute med checks, one client at a time, in pleasant surroundings with a nurse and a secretary running interference for them against any untoward impingements from the outside world.
In this regard, incidentally, Daniel Carlat, MD, the penitent psychiatrist who wrote Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry – A Doctor’s Revelations about a Profession in Crisis, expressed the opinion that all of the skills and knowledge involved in conducting med-checks, which are the backbone of the psychiatric industry, could be acquired in a two-year postgraduate course! But again, I’m being petty.
“Mental illness is a health care disparity…”
I think what he means here is that there are disparities in income between psychiatrists and other physicians. (I have developed some expertise in unraveling the esoteric vagaries of Dr. Lieberman’s prose.)
“… mental health care has been stigmatized and undervalued…”
And, I would suggest, deservedly so. But he never addresses that
“… as have been the physicians who provide it.”
This is a standard item that he includes in every propaganda piece: We’re real doctors, you know – honestly!
” The result has been inappropriately low reimbursement rates for psychiatric treatment…”
We need more money! And then so as not to appear too grasping or self-centered, we get the standard add-on:
“…and a corresponding lack of access to mental health care for too many patients.”
So we have the eminent President of the APA still burying his head in the sand with regards to the devastating criticisms directed against his profession in recent years; still insisting against overwhelming evidence that they’re great guys (and gals), and that they are doing sterling work, bringing chemical happiness to the burdened and downtrodden. And now, they are demanding more money.
As I’ve often asked: where do they get the gall?