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Book charts psychiatry’s decline

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Remember when psychiatry was considered a science? High hopes. So what happened?

Here’s a review of Our Necessary Shadow The Nature and Meaning of Psychiatry, by Oxford social psychiatrist Tom Burns, which tries to unpack the problems, while defending psychiatry as a legitimate medical specialty:

The halcyon days of psychiatry — when this medical expertise had status, when the most intelligent interns and residents chose the mind over the body, when popular culture regarded the discipline with fascination rather than contempt — are long gone. In its place is a field that has been eclipsed by the glamour of neuroscience, the juggernaut of Big Pharma, and a general confusion about its place in both medicine and the crowded field of mental health professionals.

Burns clearly despairs at what has happened recently to his beloved profession and his chapter “A diagnosis for everything and the medicalization of everyday life” is an impassioned, rigorously argued indictment of ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), FSAD (Female Sexual Arousal Disorder), and the alphabet soup of what he calls “improbable-sounding new diagnoses floating about.” He insists that alcoholism and other addictions should not be considered mental illnesses because, unlike with mental illnesses, the addict is the only person able to effect change. Would that a person suffering from schizophrenia could will him or herself to sanity.

Yes, shades of free will again.

“Are psychiatric disorders . . . illnesses like pneumonia or arthritis? Or are they just a part of an individual’s unique identity?” he asks. “Such philosophical questions engage serious thinkers in heated debates in a way that does not seem to happen in dermatology or neurology or any of the other medical specialties. There is clearly something that has always been different about psychiatry.” … More.

Possibly because psychiatry is dealing with the mind, which is immaterial and therefore does not follow all the same rules that the body does?

See also: Physicist George Ellis on the importance of philosophy and free will


Problems that sank the psychiatric handbook DSM-V

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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

3 Replies to “Book charts psychiatry’s decline

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Mosab Hassan Yousef (Son of Hamas Founder) tells the truth about Hamas.

  2. 2
    OldArmy94 says:

    I am puzzled that this revelation is just now coming; I remember thinking MANY years ago that the “diagnoses” in the DSM were an awkward, contrived exercise in circular logic. It was self-evident to me then that this was a crock, so I can’t see how all of these smart folks missed this for so long.

  3. 3
    Axel says:

    Did you like my post under the u/n, V Thant, BA? Or did you recognise it? I have a suspicion I may have posted the link about the dog, here. But maybe not.

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