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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?”
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 →
On Critical Psychiatry, Duncan Double discusses an article written by MIA Blogger Joanna Moncrieff and Hugh Middleton. "They argue that the concept of 'schizophrenia' is neither valid, nor useful, and suggest replacing it with more generic concepts such as 'psychosis' or 'madness'." More →
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is an "obstacle" that is preventing "a fruitful synthesis" between our neuro-biological and sociocultural understandings of the human mind and of psychological problems, according to a study in Frontiers in Psychology. The researchers examined the "bereavement exclusion" as a case study. More →
In Somatosphere, Owen Whooley discusses Anne Marie Jutel's 2011 book, Putting a Name to It: Diagnosis in Contemporary Society. "When we treat diagnosis as simply a medical issue, we mask the tremendous social power involved in putting a name to human suffering," Whooley writes. More →
A massive effort led by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom led to a wide variety of non-mainstream sexual practices being removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013, reports The Atlantic. More →
In Psychology Salon, Randy Paterson compares life in the present to life in the past, to try to see if there are any clues there as to why the incidence of depression seems to have been increasing so dramatically. More →
In The Lancet Psychiatry, three Australian psychiatrists analyze the modern history of bipolar disorder in children, and explore how it came to be that, "By 2004, bipolar diagnoses in children and adolescents had increased 40 times in US primary health care and become the most common diagnosis in preadolescent inpatient units." More →
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