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Study: Psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless”

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Further to “Psychology almost never gets religion right,” a new University of Liverpool study concludes that psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless”:

“Although diagnostic labels create the illusion of an explanation they are scientifically meaningless and can create stigma and prejudice. I hope these findings will encourage mental health professionals to think beyond diagnoses and consider other explanations of mental distress, such as trauma and other adverse life experiences.” Lead researcher Dr. Kate Allsopp explains in a release.

John Anderer, “Study: Psychiatric Diagnoses Are ‘Scientifically Meaningless’ In Treating Mental Health” at StudyFinds

From the release:

The main findings of the research were:

• Psychiatric diagnoses all use different decision-making rules

• There is a huge amount of overlap in symptoms between diagnoses

• Almost all diagnoses mask the role of trauma and adverse events

• Diagnoses tell us little about the individual patient and what treatment they need

The authors conclude that diagnostic labelling represents ‘a disingenuous categorical system’ …

Professor Peter Kinderman, University of Liverpool, said: “This study provides yet more evidence that the biomedical diagnostic approach in psychiatry is not fit for purpose. Diagnoses frequently and uncritically reported as ‘real illnesses’ are in fact made on the basis of internally inconsistent, confused and contradictory patterns of largely arbitrary criteria. The diagnostic system wrongly assumes that all distress results from disorder, and relies heavily on subjective judgments about what is normal.”

Professor John Read, University of East London, said: “Perhaps it is time we stopped pretending that medical-sounding labels contribute anything to our understanding of the complex causes of human distress or of what kind of help we need when distressed.” More.

Paper. (open access)

People can certainly derive help from their relationship with a psychiatrist but that is an entirely different matter from saying that the science is sound. As science buckles under the strain of trying to be a secular religion, it pays to get things like this straight.

Hat tip: Ken Francis, co-author with Theodore Dalrymple of The Terror of Existence: From Ecclesiastes to Theatre of the Absurd

See also: Tom Gilson: Psychology almost never gets religion right Some of us remember back when religious figures were urged to make some sort of accommodation with psychology. Now that psychology has largely become one big Sokal hoax, it’s hard to see why anyone would bother.

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2 Replies to “Study: Psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless”

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    This is actually kind of refreshing to read as often there is a push to get rid of what is called folk psychology and replace it with a bio medical diagnosis.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note:

    Putting Soul Into Psychiatry: Religious sensitivity is key to wholesome healing – video
    https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/2529042/jewish/Putting-Soul-Into-Psychiatry.htm
    The early development of psychiatry led to medical reductionism, allowing no place for a positive interchange with religion and spirituality. But modern advances show that a sympathetic understanding of a patient’s religious orientation greatly increases the practitioner’s ability to effectively heal.
    – Andrew Sims is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Leeds, Past President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

    “I maintain that whatever else faith may be, it cannot be a delusion.
    The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – preface
    “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – page 100
    https://books.google.com/books?id=PREdCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA100#v=onepage&q&f=false

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