A few days ago, I received notification via Tweetdeck that my handle (@BigPhilHickey) had appeared in a Twitter conversation between one of my Twitter followers and Samei Huda, MD. My follower had mentioned me, and had pointed out that I critique “… the ideas, value systems, politics, practice etc of psychiatry…” To which Dr. Huda replied:
“he hates psychiatry and gets its concepts wrong. Anyway I am busy today so will have to ciao 🙂 “
Samei Huda is a British psychiatrist who, according to his bio has worked as a consultant in the British mental health system for over twelve years.
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“Hate” is an interesting word. It used to mean intense dislike. For instance, a person might say “I hate sushi”, or “I hate snow”, and so on. But in recent decades, the word has acquired connotations of mindless, bigoted animosity. We have “hate radio”, “hate crimes”, “hate journalism”, “hate mail”, etc… Now I will readily acknowledge – indeed it is obvious – that I am extremely critical of psychiatry’s spurious concepts, and their destructive, disempowering “treatments”. But to characterize my position as hateful, given the modern connotations of the term, is, I suggest, misleading.
It is also, and more importantly, a way of avoiding the issues. In effect, Dr. Huda is saying: We psychiatrists don’t have to look at the substance of Phil Hickey’s critiques – he just hates us. This is not a stance that inspires much confidence or respect.
But of much more concern is the second part of Dr. Huda’s assertion: that I get psychiatry’s concepts “wrong”. This also strikes me as a way of avoiding the issues: Phil Hickey just doesn’t understand our concepts.
One of my fundamental criticisms of psychiatry is that, in general, they avoid the issues, and Dr. Huda’s tweet certainly lends support to my contention. But Twitter, while an excellent medium for certain kinds of communication, is not a suitable vehicle for serious debate.
So I invite Dr. Huda to critique any of my writings – to set out which of psychiatry’s concepts I “get wrong”, and to point out the flaws in my analysis. I hope that Dr. Huda will pick up this challenge, and I very much look forward to reading his critique of my work.
I promise to respond.