Babblegate Revisited

Some time ago we introduced Anthony Daniels, Brit psychiatrist, polymath, great essayist on the culture, with a unique insight into Brit cultural pathology. Daniels, who writes as Theodore Dalrymple, was expounding on the problems of modern psychiatric practice at the City Journal site. Daniels is merciless as a psychiatrist on the specialty and the new DSM V which is their cookbook for diagnosing troubled/crazy/unhappy/problematic people of all ages.

He was talking about one of my concerns in the junk science work we do, and Psychiatry at its worst.

The title is “Everyone on the Couch” and it places the nuttiness of psych practice gone amok in a good perspective, particularly the problem of pushing pills for unhappy people.

Here is another fine commentary on Daniel’s essay and his efforts to warn people about medicalization of behavior and the danger of creative diagnosticating (maybe that’s not a word, but I like it to describe the problem of finding a diagnosis for human foibles and bad habits and cultural/lifestyle problems). the_psychobabble_bubble.html

Recall again my recommendation of Elaine Showalter’s book Hystories about the hysterical epidemics and the work of Paul McHugh and Sally Satel, two very insightful and prescient psychiatrists–who have common sense.

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6 responses to “Babblegate Revisited

  1. Is the thought control that seems part of education psychobabble or that modern educators thought 1984 was an instruction manual and not a warning?

  2. Psychiatry, psychology, and all their precursors have generally been plagued by a tendency to consider disagreement with or refusal of treatment as a symptom which supports the diagnosis. It was hard enough for recalcitrant patients to voice their trepidation when the “treatment” was indistinguishable from torture. Now that the treatment is just a pill, it’s even harder to protest that you don’t need it. The undue power granted to the field is so great that parents can have their children taken away on grounds of negligence if they refuse to give their children potentially dangerous meds just because they don’t like being stuck in a dim lit room for 9 hours a day. A large number of people think it’s wrong to question the experts despite the fact that not so long ago it used to be common practice to commit homosexuals.
    The basic “personality disorder” described, and allegedly suffered by 14% of the population, amounts to little more than disagreeing with the majority and not changing your mind about it. “[Deviating] markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture” could refer to anything from being the only one in your family that doesn’t like watching football to not believing genocide is supported by sound scientific, economic, and political arguments depending on what culture you’re currently steeped in. Legitimizing vague, ambiguous, or meaningless diagnostic criteria like these is what has enabled so many evils to have been committed under the guise of treating mental illness. That long, checkered history is why so many of us distrust the entire discipline today.
    Ultimately, I think the field suffers from a desire to impose faddish social norms through lazy, quick fixes.

  3. What could shrinks do for a living without the power of prescription. It would be easier to legalize all drugs and let Darwin do the rest.

  4. My son has aspergers syndrome and when he was younger (in grade school mostly) he simply could not control his behavior. The world must have seemed a very strange and scary place to him. We went to a number of psychologists and psychiatrists before finding someone that was helpful. The psychologists were the worst, in my opinion; completely worthless. But as a group the psychiatrists were not much better. One told us there was nothing wrong with our 5 year old that didn’t talk and wasn’t toilet trained (although god we tried – this wasn’t our first child). Others wanted to give him speed like Dex-amphetamine and Ritalin. What a roller coaster that was!

    Finally we got him onto a milder drug that was time-released which actually helped him to deal with his issues and learn self-control. Now he does not need any drugs and is living (more or less) independently. When he was 12 I never would have predicted that outcome. So the right drug can be a helpful aid if it leads to permanent drug-free solution, but I am very wary of the idea of medicating someone for the rest of their life.

  5. When even the National Institute of Mental Health starts questioning the foundations underlying the latest DSM and asking for some evidence based proof…
    typical article:

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