Full title: Psychiatry Beyond Scientism: Exploratory Models, Professional Practices, and Socio-cultural Contexts
January 22-24, 2015
VU University Amsterdam
This international three-day conference investigates the role and nature of knowledge in psychiatry, both as a scientific discipline and as a professional practice. It aims to create a platform for an in-depth philosophical discussion on different forms of theoretical knowledge (e.g., statistical, molecular, genetic, psychological, social) and their interrelatedness, what happens when these forms of knowledge are applied in psychiatric practice, and how they are translated to and received by the general public. The conference is part of a broader research project, titled ‘Science beyond Scientism’. In general terms, scientism is the claim that only science can provide us with knowledge about ourselves and the world around us. In the context of psychiatry, this manifests itself most clearly in the tension between theoretical knowledge acquired in a scientific setting and practical knowledge applied to the concrete cases in the consultation room. The aim of the conference is to investigate this tension, and explore how scientific knowledge can be integrated with other sources of knowledge, such as practical understanding, expertise, experience, intuition and wisdom.
There is a call for papers and posters on:
1) Models of explanation in psychiatry
2) Psychiatry as normative practice
3) Psychiatry in the public context
Abstracts by November 1, 2014
Note: Much bad practice in psychiatry has stemmed from scientism; for example crackpot theoretical explanations of mental troubles and/or claims that high doses of medications can simply fix them. Not all theory is wrong, and medications frequently help, but medicine has always been as much an art as a science. Scientism tends to cause overreliance on theory.
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a few assorted notes of related interest:
“it is important to see that it is not just immortality that man needs if life is to be meaningful. Mere duration of existence does not make that existence meaningful. If man and the universe could exist forever, but if there were no God, their existence would still have no ultimate significance. To illustrate: I once read a science-fiction story in which an astronaut was marooned on a barren chunk of rock lost in outer space. He had with him two vials: one containing poison and the other a potion that would make him live forever. Realizing his predicament, he gulped down the poison. But then to his horror, he discovered he had swallowed the wrong vial—he had drunk the potion for immortality. And that meant that he was cursed to exist forever—a meaningless, unending life. Now if God does not exist, our lives are just like that. They could go on and on and still be utterly without meaning. We could still ask of life, “So what?” So it is not just immortality man needs if life is to be ultimately significant; he needs God and immortality. And if God does not exist, then he has neither.”
~ William Lane Craig, The Absurdity of Life without God
along that line:
Humans prefer an electric shock to being left alone with their thoughts – July 4, 2014
Excerpt: So the researchers decided to give each participant the option of doing something else, besides just thinking. But what they came up with wasn’t exactly pleasant because, instead of just sitting there, participants were now also allowed to shock themselves as many times as they liked with a device containing a 9 volt battery. Still, for many, that option seemed like a better deal.
also of related note:
Social isolation and its health implications January 2012
Excerpt: Studies show that social isolation and/or loneliness predict morbidity and mortality from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and a host of other diseases. In fact, the body perceives loneliness as a threat. Research from the University of California suggests that loneliness or lack of social support could triple the odds of being diagnosed with a heart condition. Redford Williams and his colleagues at Duke University directed a study in 1992 on heart patients and their relationships. They discovered that 50% of patients with heart disease who did not have a spouse or someone to confide in died within five years, while only 17% of those who did have a confidante died in the same time period.12
Study finds it actually is better (and healthier) to give than to receive – February 4, 2013
Excerpt: A five-year study by researchers at three universities has established that providing tangible assistance to others protects our health and lengthens our lives.
Of snakebites and suicide – February 18, 2014
RESULTS: Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.
Christians respond better to psychiatric treatment than atheists: – July 21, 2013
Excerpt: “Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation. Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm,” explained Rosmarin.
The study looked at 159 patients, recruited over a one-year period. Each participant was asked to gauge their belief in God as well as their expectations for treatment outcome and emotion regulation, each on a five-point scale. Levels of depression, well being, and self-harm were assessed at the beginning and end of their treatment program.
The Healing Power of Positive Words By Linda Wasmer Andrews – Jun 08, 2012
Excerpt: When researchers analyzed the autobiographies of famous deceased psychologists, they found that those who used lots of active positive words (such as lively, enthusiastic, happy) tended to outlive their other colleagues.
Within this category of words, the biggest boost came from humor-related terms (such as laugh, funny, giggle), which were associated with living six years longer, on average. In contrast, passive positive words (such as peaceful, calm, relaxed) and negative words (such as worried, angry, lonely) didn’t affect longevity.