Psychiatry Debunks the ‘Myths’

Psychiatry has always had its share of critics, but in the past two decades these criticisms have increased in frequency and intensity.  Psychiatry’s underlying concepts are being denounced as spurious to the point of inanity, and its practices are being accurately and forcefully exposed as destructive, disempowering, and stigmatizing.

Psychiatry has no rational or logical response to these criticisms.  Its leadership and its rank and file remain stubbornly blind to the arbitrariness and invalidity of its so-called diagnoses, the unquestioning adoption of which distorts their perceptions of people and their problems.

Psychiatrists no longer perceive childhood misbehavior as a problem that needs to be corrected through normal parental discipline and correction – but rather as a manifestation of a pediatric illness:  conduct disorder, or oppositional defiant disorder, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.

They no longer perceive human despondency as the normal response to oppression, misery, poverty, discrimination, victimization, overwork, or an empty, purposeless lifestyle, – but rather as major depressive illness.  They have convinced themselves that they can treat, and even cure, depression by tinkering irresponsibly with people’s internal chemistry, while blithely ignoring the circumstances and context that created and maintain the negative feelings.

Painful memories, with which the human species has dealt successfully since we were hunter gatherers on the plains of Africa, are now also illnesses which can, by some amazing coincidence, also be cured by tinkering with people’s internal chemistry.

Psychiatrists betray no trace of insight into the fact that they “see” these illnesses because of their dogmatic conviction that they exist, in the same way that the early microscopists “saw,” and even drew pictures of, homunculi in human sperm.

Psychiatrists, enthralled as they are in their own self-congratulatory rhetoric, are blinded to the obvious reality that giving people the false message that they are damaged, and need to be “treated,” by psychiatrists for problems that previous generations took in their stride, is inherently crushing and disempowering.  Falsely telling people that they are broken, breaks them.

Humanity is so much more than the crippled caricature of helplessness and dependency that psychiatry has self-servingly invented, and which, with pharma promotion, is tragically becoming the norm for countless millions of people worldwide.

And psychiatry has no defense.  They hitched their wagon to pharma decades ago.  They willingly and knowingly became drug pushers, no different in essence from those that work the street corners, and they developed an elaborate web of rationalizing deceptions from which there is no way out.  All they can do now is find new ways to promote their spurious doctrines and, of course, to regurgitate their criticisms of those of us who dare to speak out against their sacred scriptures and their shameless “treatments.”

A standard part of the latter endeavor is the contention that all criticisms of psychiatry are myths, and, on a fairly regular basis, one of their number undertakes to “debunk” these “misguided” notions.

On June 19, 2014, Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill (CPCH) published 10 Common Myths About Psychiatry.  From their website, it would appear that CPCH consists of two psychiatrists:  Jennie Byrne, MD, PhD, and Nicola Gray, MD.  Both Drs. Byrne and Gray are published and widely experienced, and I think by any conventional standards would be considered well-informed and knowledgeable psychiatrists.

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Here are some of the myths that they “debunk,” interspersed with my comments.

“Mental Illness Diagnoses Are Labels For Normal Behavior
We have been asked quite often over the years, where Psychiatrists draw the line between normal behavior and mental illness. Where someone who is a little shy, becomes a case of anxiety, or where someone who gets sad, has depression. Much like a benign tumor, vs. cancer, we determine a diagnosis when the behavior becomes debilitating and the patient can no longer go about their daily lives as they have in the past.”

This particular “debunking” is standard DSM fare.  A problem becomes a mental illness when it causes either:

a) significant distress

or

b) significant disability in social, occupational, or other important activities.

There are two problems with this definition of a mental illness.  Firstly, there is no reliable way to assess the term “significant.”  A “diagnosis” of “mental illness” always and inevitably hinges on the subjective judgment of a psychiatrist, who, incidentally, always has a vested interest in the outcome.  Secondly, a problem that is not an illness doesn’t become an illness simply by becoming more severe.  The only human problems that are illnesses are those that entail biological pathology.  This is what the word “illness” means!  Apart, obviously, from those conditions labeled “due to a general medical condition,” no psychiatric diagnosis has been definitively linked to a biological pathology.  In the words of Thomas Insel, MD, Director of NIMH, DSM is “…a dictionary, creating a set of labels and defining each.”  It is emphatically not a list of illnesses.

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Psychiatrists Will Force Medication On You
Every patient is different, as are his or her needs. A good Psychiatrist will never force medications on their patient. Patients should have a treatment that is completely unique to them, and a practiced Psychiatrist will work with them to find that exact treatment they need.”

This is not only false, but is also, I suggest, offensive to the millions of people worldwide who have been committed to mental hospitals and forcibly drugged.  Unless, of course, Drs. Byrne and Gray are saying that only bad psychiatrists engage in that sort of practice?  “Psychiatrists will force medication on you” is certainly not a myth.  Note the spelling of psychiatrist with a capital P!

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Psychiatry Only Involves ‘Crazy’ People
Actually, the majority of patients we see have an actual illness or imbalance (much like diabetes), that with the proper treatment, the imbalance is corrected and they are no longer ill…”

This is the old, never-confirmed-and-in-fact-much-refuted-chemical-imbalance-theory that, according to the confident assertions of the eminent psychiatrist Ronald Pies, MD, was never subscribed to or promoted by any well-informed or knowledgeable psychiatrists.

Well, the spurious, simplistic theory is still very much alive, at least in Chapel Hill, NC.  Note even the “much like diabetes” deception, and the sheer intellectual effrontery:  “…with the proper treatment, the imbalance is corrected and they are no longer ill.”

This is particularly troubling in that there are no psychiatry-pharma products that correct any neural imbalance of any kind.  All psychiatric drugs are neurotoxins that produce their effects by creating a pathological state within the brain.  The quote is even more troubling, in that it is clearly aimed at potential clients, and as such constitutes recklessly false advertizing.

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And in case there is any doubt as to CPCH’s intended meaning:

The Mentally Ill Will Never Recover
As we discussed in our 3rd myth, many patients that see a Psychiatrist actually have an illness or imbalance that is causing a mental discrepancy. Once this imbalance is corrected, they are, in fact, cured of their mental illness. However, there are still some cases that involve life-long treatment and monitoring.”

So, the “mental discrepancy” is caused by an imbalance, which can be “corrected” by psychiatrists, which effects a “cure.”  Perhaps Dr. Pies needs to pay a visit to Chapel Hill.

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Mental Illness is Uncommon
This is one myth we wish were true. However, one in every five Americans will be diagnosed or touched by a mental illness in their lifetimes, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.”

Again, this is standard psychiatric fare, though they’ve got the numbers wrong – it’s fully 50% of us poor, broken, disempowered Americans who will be “diagnosed with mental illness” in our lifetimes.  The one in five figure is the official prevalence at any given point in time!

Of course, the reason these prevalence figures are so high is because for the past sixty years, psychiatry has steadily expanded its “diagnostic” net by two simple expedients: increasing the number of “mental illnesses”; and lowering the thresholds for each.  Unlike real medicine, psychiatrists don’t discover their illnesses, they just decide, usually by a vote, that a problem that hitherto had been one of the ordinary challenges of life is now, by psychiatric fiat, an illness.  This is disease-mongering without even a pretense of legitimacy.

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Psychiatric Drugs Will Change Your Personality
Any medication out there can cause negative effects for a patient if taken too long or given the wrong dosage. The way we see it, is this; if someone with depression overcomes it through their medication, their personality will be changed, yes – they will be free from negative thoughts, anti-social behavior, and feelings of defeat, which is a definite change in personality – a positive change. The same can be said for an illness like Schizophrenia, with the right treatment plan, their minds will become less consumed by hallucinations, delusions, and irrational anxieties – another healthy and positive personality change.”

Note the implication, which is, incidentally, false, that negative effects only occur if the drug is taken for “…too long or at the wrong dosage.”  And then the spin:  antidepressants liberate the user from negative thoughts, anti-social behavior (Department of Corrections take note), and feelings of defeat.  And the glorious prospect for people suffering from the “illness” called schizophrenia, if they follow the “right treatment plan” (and I wonder what that would be): their craziness will fade like a morning mist under a summer sun – “another healthy and positive personality change.”  What planet do these psychiatrists live on?  Have they ever even seen a person ravaged by tardive dyskinesia or akathisia?

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But it gets worse.  On June 27, Psychiatric Times linked on their Facebook site to the 10 Common Myths article by CPCH.  Here’s what Psychiatric Times said:

“There are many stigmas out there regarding Psychiatry, both good and bad.  Today, Cognitive Psychiatry will debunk 10 myths revolving around their practice.”

I can’t even imagine what’s meant by “…stigmas…both good and bad…”.  But setting that aside, it is clear that Psychiatric Times is endorsing CPCH’s efforts at myth debunking, and is also, presumably, endorsing the contents of the article – chemical imbalances (just like diabetes), and all.

And who, or what, one might ask, is Psychiatric Times?

Here’s what Wikipedia says:

“Psychiatric Times is a medical trade publication written for an audience involved in the profession of psychiatry.”

“Psychiatric Times was first published in January 1985 as a 16-page bimonthly publication. It was founded by psychiatrist John L. Schwartz and originally edited by Ronald Pies.” [Emphasis added]

On Psychiatric Times’ home page there’s a link called “Editorial Board.”  It you open this you’ll see that the second name on the list is none other than the very eminent psychiatrist Ronald Pies, MD.  He is also listed as one of the three editors-in-chief emeriti.

And this is the same Dr. Pies who described the chemical imbalance theory as “…a kind of urban legend – never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists.”

Well, as an “urban legend,” it’s proving remarkably resilient.  And it’s proving resilient because it has indeed been promoted by psychiatrists.  And it is still being promoted by psychiatrists, including, at least in this instance, the Psychiatric Times editors.

On one matter, however, I am in complete agreement with Dr. Pies.  The psychiatrists concerned are definitely not well-informed.

  • Neo

    Well . . . I set out on my knight’s quest to topple the entire axis of evil only to be foiled by the lyrics to a song from none other than the band Kansas. LMFAO http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/kansas/carryonwaywardson.html

    The level of chaos here is far beyond our powers of discernment. The shadow of man exists collectively, and that exponentially increases the difficulty in exposing it. Dissociated conspiracies are the worst. There are bad guys who actually think they are good guys. And, how could I forget, you also have good guys who are pretending to be bad guys. Depending on the moment, I could easily have ended up eviscerating myself. There are some advantages to chaos but overall I think it only makes things worse. We are not going to twist our way out of this mess.

    The only solution to the madness is for each individual to somehow be brought to recognize his/her own shadow. This is difficult to do in the age where “normalcy” is favored above authenticity. We all need to quit being normal. “The adjuration to be ‘normal’ seems shockingly repellent to me; I see neither hope nor comfort in sinking to that low level. I think it is ignorance that makes makes people think of abnormality only with horror and allows them to remain undismayed at the proximity of ‘normal’ to average and mediocre. For surely anyone who achieves anything is, essentially, abnormal.” Karl Menninger.

    The good news is I think this will somehow get done. It all works out in the end or we wouldn’t be here today. There is another version of Star Wars that has been floating around in the archetypal/episodic memory. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15pOr1E6hvc

    Most people are clueless as to how conspiracies work. Some words of wisdom about the Dark Side from a great Jedi:

    “Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.”

    “Psychology and Religion” (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.131

    “It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster; and each individual is only one tiny cell in the monster’s body, so that for better or worse he must accompany it on its bloody rampages and even assist it to the utmost. Having a dark suspicion of these grim possibilities, man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature. Blindly he strives against the salutary dogma of original sin, which is yet so prodigiously true. Yes, he even hesitates to admit the conflict of which he is so painfully aware.”

    “On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1912). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. P.35

  • cledwyn bulbs

    Yeah, this cultural obsession with being normal is the root of much of evil. I think people desire it because of the (figuratively speaking) protective coloration normalcy affords. The disguise of normalcy helps to divert the the attention of predators onto someone else.

    Then there’s a little thing called normative social influence, which (just in case you don’t know) denotes the role of the influence of others in determining our behaviour, our tastes, our thinking. Man has such a dread fear of loneliness, or of ending up in the role of the mental patient, that he ultimately chooses to go down the well-beaten path, and in doing so loses his individuality.

    This desire to be liked by others is one of the centripetal forces in human society, leading to increased support for the state and the laws and institutions of society. Problem is, people, in their desire to conform and be liked, often lose touch with themselves and their humanity, and people end doing and supporting things they shouldn’t.

    Yeah, to be normal is to be no-one.

  • Neo

    Check this out. From “False perceptions & false beliefs: Understanding schizophrenia.” Chris D. Frith & Karl J. Friston. Neurosciences and the Human Person: New Perspectives on Human Activities Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Scripta Varia 121, Vatican City 2013 http://www.casinapioiv.va/content/dam/accademia/pdf/sv121/sv121-frithc.pdf

    “Explorations of abnormal behaviour and experience will
    always illuminate our general understanding of the mind. This account of the generation of false beliefs in the case of schizophrenia, makes me realise how fragile this process is and how easily it might go astray in the normal case. Given the right anomalous sensory experiences each of us could develop some bizarre and erroneous belief system. Why does this not happen more often? We believe that we are usually saved from taking such erroneous paths by the constraints
    provided by those even higher levels of the belief hierarchy that are external to our brains. These constraints arise from our interactions with our peers and with our culture. Even at the lowest perceptual level of the hierarchy the high level constraints that arise from interactions with others enable us to achieve accounts of the world that are more accurate than those that we can develop on our own (Bahrami et al. 2010). It is this submission of our own ideas to the criticism of others that has been formalized in the practice of science.

    In the case of schizophrenia, in contrast, these high level
    external constraints no longer seem to operate. Patients stick to their false beliefs in spite of the objections of others. Is this an inevitable consequence of the process by which prediction errors filter up through the hierarchy, or is this evidence for some additional problem that needs to be identified? Further research is needed.

    Acknowledgements

    Our work is supported by the Wellcome Trust . . . “

    Normative social influence as the driving force in science . . . or is it the money.

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’stard

    Where did I say that everybody else’s english is beneath my own? This is why I said having an argument with you, besides providing an object lesson in the futility of argument, would be pointless.