Minds

Have dominant paradigms failed psychiatry?

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In a review of Desperate Remedies: Psychiatry’s Turbulent Quest to Cure Mental Illness by Andrew Scull, a Cornell prof gives his reasons for wondering:

Scull’s book is a must-read for those who have been – or fear they will be – touched by mental illness. The rise of psychiatry, he reminds us, was linked to the emergence of asylums based on the premise that a carefully calibrated regimen could restore lunatics to sanity. By the end of the 19th century, however, therapeutically inclined institutions had become “mausoleums with a mad, captive population.”

Psychiatrists then reinvented themselves as “bio-psychologists.” Deploying an array of treatments for what had been deemed intractable diseases over the objections of family members, they claimed substantial success rates. Convinced that sepsis acting on brain cells caused psychosis, Henry Cotton removed the teeth and tonsils of asylum inmates. The insulin coma therapy of Manfred Sakel, “the Pasteur of Psychiatry,” was hailed as a treatment for schizophrenia. In 1927, Julius Wagner-Jauregg won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for inoculating syphilis patients with malaria. In 1949, Egas Moniz, the pioneer of frontal lobotomies, became psychiatry’s second Nobel Laureate.

Glenn C. Altschuler, “Is Psychiatry Facing an Existential Crisis?” at Psychology Today (April 20, 2022)

We didn’t know this. And the rest is worth a read too.

9 Replies to “Have dominant paradigms failed psychiatry?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    These “crises” occur every few decades, then the profession continues creating drug addicts. An earlier book on the subject by Thomas Whitaker told what asylums were really like BEFORE the physical approach took over. Asylums tried to create an orderly and useful life, with lots of farm work. They cured people quickly, because most despair and craziness comes from chaos and uselessness.

    My review of Whitaker’s book:

    http://polistrasmill.blogspot......demic.html

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    The human brain has been called the most complex object in the known Universe. Psychologists and psychiatrists have been trying to unravel this nearly impenetrable complexity from scratch- without the benefit of an owner’s manual. Small wonder they got a lot wrong but you have to start somewhere. Even wrong ideas are useful in that they can be eliminated and research can move on to what may be more likelt to be closer to the truth.

  3. 3
    chuckdarwin says:

    What’s next? Is UD going to herald in a new “paradigm” in dermatology……? The Xanax study shows that it does what it was designed to do. If meds work, so much the better…..

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Seversky

    Psychologists and psychiatrists have been trying to unravel this nearly impenetrable complexity from scratch

    Shouldn’t evolutionary biologists be able to help them out with that?

  5. 5
    chuckdarwin says:

    Use of therapeutic medications, even if required for a lifetime, like venlafaxine, lurasidone, lithobid, etc. that have demonstrated clinical efficacy, is not an “addiction” any more than BP meds or diabetes meds. These meds are dirt cheap and can be much more efficient and cost-effective than psychotherapy or counseling. Ideally you would use both in conjunction, but that’s not realistic given the US attitudes towards mental health treatment, which most health carriers only cover 50% for time-limited treatment.

    This type of OP is illustrative of UD’s penchant for always commenting negatively and demonizing any mainstream practice, whether in medicine, science research or public policy matters such as gender equity, without ever offering anything positive or constructive.

  6. 6
    zweston says:

    CD@5… so the negative observation isn’t valid because someone hasn’t offered an alternative. Got ya. — seems like I’ve heard it before with the larger discussion on UD regarding Neo-darwinism.

  7. 7
    chuckdarwin says:

    Zweston/6
    I don’t see how an article that cavalierly characterizes psychiatric patients as drug addicts and psychiatrists as drug dealers is helpful. The ID community does two things really well, whining and criticizing. Throw in the occasional condescending put-down and eventually people will simply stop listening to IDers. That is if they haven’t already…..

  8. 8
    TAMMIE LEE HAYNES says:

    Yes.
    Drug Addicts and Drug Dealers. The cold truth,
    As the article pointed out…..
    “With one in five high school boys and one in 11 girls now diagnosed with ADHD, the United States, for example, accounts for about 92% of worldwide expenditures for treatment drugs.”

    And its mandated by the government, and promted by our public heath establishemnt
    So If the shoe fits, wear it. Call a spade a spade. Tell them the straight skinny.

    Psychiatry was bad enough 60 years ago, when it was all about the Greatest of Quacks in History, Sigmund Freud.
    But its even worse today with millions and millions of kids getting dangerous drugs, with no discernible effect on the problems. After all, if psychiatrists were any good, ADHD would be as cured as smallpox by now.

  9. 9
    asauber says:

    “people will simply stop listening to IDers. That is if they haven’t already…..”

    CD,

    You can go ahead, then. 😉

    Andrew

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