Sociologist Explores the DSM-5’s Failed Attempt at Validity

In a new article for the journal Social Science & Medicine, sociologist Owen Whooley investigates how the DSM-5 creators failed in their attempt to create a valid diagnostic system.

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“Has Psychology Sold Out to Psychiatry?”

On his "From Insults to Respect" blog, psychologist Jeff Rubin examines the APA’s participation in the labeling practices promoted by psychiatry. “It just so happens that the DSM-5 has huge anomalies that have been recognized for years, and despite this, APA continues to utilize it without taking substantive steps to create a more scientific alternative.”

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Psychologists and Psychiatrists Approach Mental Health Differently

Psychiatrists and psychologists have traditionally taken distinct approaches toward mental health and, according to a new study, these differences may be here to stay. Researchers in the UK surveyed psychiatrists and psychologists in training about their perspectives on the causes of mental health issues and found that, despite attempts to integrate the field, the two disciplines “continue to sit at opposite ends of a biological/psychological spectrum.”

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Antidepressants Often Prescribed to Enforce Heteronormativity, Study Concludes

A new study investigating fifteen years of patient records at a Midwestern hospital found that psychiatrists almost always responded to patient complaints about their relationships by prescribing antidepressants, despite the fact that these complaints had little to do with the DSM criteria for depression. The study’s lead author, Jonathan Metzl, a professor of Sociology and Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt, suggests that after the decision in 1974 to remove homosexuality from the DSM, psychiatry continued to enforce forms of socially accepted relationships through the prescription of antidepressants.

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“Medicalization and its Discontents”

An editorial in The Lancet Psychiatry discusses the potential harms that come with the use of the medicalized language of mental health.  Medicalization, which can be “responsible for applying harmful labels to suffering individuals in the form of diagnoses and pseudo-technical descriptions,” has crept into social and political explanations of violence and terrorism. But another form of medicalization, what the editor’s dub “non-medical medicalization,” has grown up alongside this tendency, providing clinical weight to non-clinical social phenomena.

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Smoking in Pregnancy Linked to Risk of Schizophrenia Diagnosis in Later Life

In the first study of its kind, researchers from Finland found the “most definitive evidence to date” that smoking during pregnancy is associated with the eventual diagnosis of schizophrenia in offspring.  After controlling for other potential variables, the study, published ahead of print in The American Journal of Psychiatry, revealed a 38% increased odds of developing symptoms diagnosed as schizophrenia in young adults who were exposed to high levels of nicotine in utero.

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Illness Inflation: Expanded Medical Definitions Create More Patients

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has issued a watchdog report titled “Illness Inflation” that examines how new medical conditions are often the product of industry groups aiming to create a market for expensive new drugs. "There are powerful interests that want the numbers to be inflated," said Allan Horwitz, a professor of sociology at Rutgers University and author of "Creating Mental Illness." "All of these estimates push the numbers upward."

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Finding Clarity Through Clutter

For the last three years, I have been working with people, labeled “hoarders,” who have become overwhelmed by their possessions in their homes. This has been some of the most interesting, challenging and thought-provoking work I have ever done. It is also an area that, I think, highlights all of the issues that challenge us in helping people who feel overwhelmed, for whatever reason.
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NIMH Info for Parents on “ADHD” Misleading, Researchers Say

A new analysis of the information that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) publishes for parents about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) concludes that the children’s experiences and contexts are ignored and that medication is presented, misleadingly, as the only solution supported by research evidence. The researchers also point out that “cause and effects of ‘ADHD’ are intertwined through circular argumentation,” with the materials describing certain behaviors as a disorder and then later asserting that those same behaviors are caused by that disorder.

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“The Philosophy of Psychiatry and Diagnosis”

This week’s Philosophy Bites podcast with David Edmonds discusses the philosophical problems inherent in psychiatry and our mental disorder diagnostic symptoms. “Are mental disorders like other illnesses? Can they be adequately categorised in relation to a set of symptoms? Steven E. Hyman discusses some philosophical questions that arise from the widely-used DSM-5.”

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The Genetics of Schizophrenia: A Left Brain Theory about a Right Brain Deficit in a Left Brain World

In recent months, two teams of researchers in the UK and the US published complementary findings about the epigenetic origins of schizophrenia that have scientific communities who indulge in ‘genetic conspiracy theories’ abuzz. While these results are intriguing, and no doubt involve pathbreaking research methodologies, this line of thought represents a decontextualized understanding both of the symptoms that are typically associated with schizophrenia, and their causes.
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Duty to Warn – 14 Lies That Our Psychiatry Professors in Medical School Taught Us

Revealing the false information provided about psychiatry should cause any thinking person, patient, thought-leader or politician to wonder: “how many otherwise normal or potentially curable people over the last half century of psych drug propaganda have actually been mis-labeled as mentally ill (and then mis-treated) and sent down the convoluted path of therapeutic misadventures – heading toward oblivion?”
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Reflections on How We Think About and Respond to Human Suffering, Existential Pain, and Traumatic Injustice

Any attempt to establish an alternative diagnostic system to the predominantly biologic DSM-5 classifications or to initiate a transformation of the individually oriented mental health treatment systems needs to critically explore how, not only what, we think about health and healing, about mental and emotional suffering, about traumatic experiences and injustices, and the multiple forms of pain that are part of our human existence. The broad critique of the DSM-5 by so many national and international organizations and individual colleagues will in the end not be powerful and far reaching enough without this inquiry into the foundations of our thinking and without reflection about our ways of thinking.
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“The Nixon-Masked Man Who Helped End Homosexuality as a Disease”

In a Forgotten History article for the Daily Beast, Brandon Ambrosino tells the story of the 1972 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. There, a man disguised in a Nixon mask stood up and declared himself a gay man and a psychiatrist at a time when homosexuality was still treated as a medical “disease.”

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“How James Bond is Helping Mental Health Diagnosis”

“The paper, The  psychopathology of James Bond, and its implications for the revision of the DSM-007, has just won first prize in the Australian Medical Journal's Christmas edition. But while the tongue-in-cheek study of Bond may seem light-hearted, it has a serious message: it wants to stop diagnostic creep. Its authors, from the University of Auckland, hope it will help halt the overdiagnosis of mental disorders, and the stigma attached to diagnostic labelling.”

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Depression Discrimination More Severe in High Income Countries

According to a study published in this month’s British Journal of Psychiatry, people diagnosed with depression in high-income countries are more likely to limit their behavior and community participation because of the anticipation of discrimination. The researchers point to cultural differences between high-income and developing societies as a possible reason for this difference. They also suggest that the biomedical model of mental illness, prevalent in industrial societies, “results in stigmatization and rejection from the outside, and self-attribution and self-blame from the inside.”

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Researchers Develop New Model for Understanding Depression

Acknowledging that current depression treatments are failing many people, researchers from Michigan State and MIT have developed a new model for understanding how multiple psychological, biological, social and environmental factors contribute to the onset of depression.

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Brain Imaging Reveals Psychiatric Disorders are Not Neurological Disorders

Some researchers have been arguing to reclassify all psychiatric disorders as diseases of the brain and nervous system, similar to epilepsy or Parkinson's disease. Neuroimaging research, however, reveals that psychiatric disorders appear to be distinct from neurological disorders, according to a new study published in this month’s issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

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“Why We Need to Abandon the Disease-Model of Mental Health Care”

In a guest blog for the Scientific American, Peter Kinderman takes on the “harmful myth” that our more distressing emotions can best be understood as symptoms of physical illnesses. “Our present approach to helping vulnerable people in acute emotional distress is severely hampered by old-fashioned, inhumane and fundamentally unscientific ideas about the nature and origins of mental health problems.”

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NIMH Funding Changes Threaten Psychotherapy Research

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is increasingly shifting its research emphasis toward attempting to uncover biomarkers for “mental diseases,” which may have dramatic consequences for research and training in clinical psychology. In an article to be published in next month’s Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Marvin Goldfried outlines how the shift in funding priorities for psychological research is tied to the needs of pharmaceutical companies and the biological model in psychiatry.

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Large-Scale Study Reveals Arbitrariness of DSM Depression Diagnosis

A new study on the depression symptoms of over three-thousand patients challenges the criteria used for diagnosing major depression with the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). Current diagnostic systems are based on an assumption that the symptoms of depression point to a common underlying “illness," but research suggests that this framework may be outdated and oversimplified.

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Mental Health Professionals Critique the Biomedical Model of Psychological Problems

While a great deal of the excitement about advances in psychological treatments comes from the potential for research in neuroscience to unlock the secrets of the brain, many mental health experts would like to temper this enthusiasm. A special issue of the Behavior Therapist released this month calls into question the predominant conception of mental illnesses as brain disorders.

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Series on Anti-Psychiatry and Critical Theory for World Mental Health Day

To coincide with World Mental Health Day on October 10th, 2015, Verso Books, the world's largest independent and radical publishing house, released a series of blogs on mental health and critical and antipsychiatry.  The posts include pieces on R.D. Laing, colonialism, women’s oppression, delusions and art, “The Happiness Industry,” and social and institutional oppression.

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“A Checklist to Stop Misuse of Psychiatric Medication in Kids”

Former DSM-IV task force chair Allen Frances takes aim at the “massive overuse of psychotropic medication in children” in an article for the Psychiatric Times. He shares a checklist of questions for doctors to consider before prescribing medication to children.  Frances warns: “We simply don’t know what will be the long-term impact of bathing a child’s immature brain with powerful chemicals.”

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Are Psychologists Behaving Unethically By Using the DSM?

Many psychologists do not believe the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is scientifically valid, reliable or even helpful, according to a study in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. So when those same psychologists admit that they nevertheless continue to use the DSM for financial reasons, asked the researchers, is that not a violation of their most basic ethics? More →

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