It is easy to vilify psychiatrists. Their spurious conceptual framework, toxic “treatments’ and blatantly corrupt links to pharma make them easy targets. Their destructive activities, to which they resolutely cling, invite criticism which they steadfastly ignore. Any thoughts that perhaps they had seen the errors of their ways have been dashed by the soon-to-be published DSM-5, which promises to be business as usual, only more so.
HOW DID THEY GET THIS WAY?
In the first half of the twentieth century psychiatrists worked either in mental asylums or in private practice. The dominant philosophy was psychoanalysis, which essentially means helping people by getting to know them and talking to them. The concepts of psychoanalysis migrated way beyond the consulting room, and became widely known through novels, magazine articles, movies, etc…, and in society generally, psychiatrists were well regarded.
PSYCHIATRY AND GENERAL MEDICINE
But within medical circles they were something of a laughing stock. From the late 1800’s on, general medicine had abandoned its folklorish roots and climbed squarely on the back of science. By 1950, it was based almost entirely on science, and empirical validation was the yardstick by which treatments were evaluated.
By contrast, psychiatry couldn’t even produce scientifically acceptable definitions of its subject matter, and behind their backs, psychiatrists were frequently ridiculed by physicians in other specialties.
COMPETITION FROM OTHER PROFESSIONS
To compound the psychiatrists’ plight, other helping professions were beginning to muscle in on their turf. Freud had stated that a medical degree was not necessary for the practice of psychoanalysis. (The Question of Lay Analysis, 1926).
By 1950, psychologists, social workers, and other professionals were using psychoanalytic concepts in their work with clients, and were beginning to be seen as a threat by the psychiatrists themselves.
ENTER THE DRUGS
There had been a few psychotropic drugs available to psychiatrists prior to 1950, but their impact was fairly minimal. From the 50’s on, however, more drugs came on the market, and the psychiatrists tragically latched onto these as the solution to both problems. The fact that they were prescribing drugs created the impression that they were “real” doctors, while their prescription privileges set them apart from the other professionals who were snapping at their heels.
People, including psychiatrists, hate to be inconsistent. Since they were prescribing drugs, the psychiatrists had to persuade themselves that the conditions they were treating were real illnesses. From 1952 to the present time, one of their primary endeavors has been the spurious medicalization of virtually every human problem, and the promotion of the idea that these “illnesses” are best treated by drugs. The self-serving aspect of this activity, as well as the corrupting impact of pharmaceutical money, is finally being exposed widely for the destructive travesty that it is.
A small number of psychiatrists have responded positively to this wave of outrage, and have taken appropriate steps. But the body of psychiatry not only clings persistently to their errors, but, with DSM-5, has made it clear that their policy is still: full speed ahead.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
This is not an academic matter. Psychiatry is destroying people daily on the altar of psychiatric turf and pharma profits. The destructive nature of psychiatric treatment is documented daily in journals, medical articles, and, most compellingly, in the heart-rending stories of survivors.
Psychiatry is a lost cause, and there is a pressing need for members of the helping professions, both individually and through their professional associations, to distance themselves from psychiatry and to speak out clearly and strongly against its meaningless concepts and destructive “treatments.”
We can no longer say that we didn’t know. We can no longer say that we were trying to change the system from the inside. We can no longer say that we were doing good despite the evils being perpetrated in the next room.
It’s time for divorce! If psychologists, social workers, counselors, case managers, addiction counselors, job coaches, etc., want to retain any shred of respectability in the coming decade, they need to distance themselves from psychiatrists and speak out against the abuses.