The Religion of Bio-Psychiatry


If we examine the term ‘psychotherapy’ we will see that it literally means the ‘healing of the soul’. Much of emotional distress is actually a spiritual problem, where an individual has lost meaning and hope. In today’s society, we have lost sight of spiritual values and many have in turn decided to turn to the religion of bio-psychiatry.

Bio-psychiatry has a creed, the creed is that all problems of life are the result of so-called chemical imbalances. Any professional or individual challenging such conception is branded a heretic and subject to sanction.

The psychiatrist is the priest, and in some cases is also looked upon as a messianic figure. As the priest, the psychiatrist defines the Social Law and the infractions thereof.

The religion of bio-psychiatry has its ‘sacraments.’ The sacrament of initiation occurs at intake, and confirmation occurs when the individual is indoctrinated into the credo of bio-psychiatry and led to believe that their problems lie in ‘wiring’ problems in their brains.

The religion of psychiatry has absolution. Through their ritual, adults and institutions are able to be completely absolved from taking any responsibility for meeting the real emotional needs of a person or examining how their own actions and choices could have impacted the challenges faced by the individual.

Ordination occurs at the conferring of the Medical Degree and the completion of a residency in psychiatry.

The religion of bio-psychiatry has the ‘sacrament’ of Matrimony. Bio-Psychiatry is wedded to the pharmaceutical industry, and what a generous dowry the pharmaceutical industry has provided!

The American Psychiatric Association serves as the “Ecumenical Council” to promulgate the creed of bio-psychiatry and to institute the definitions of the Social Law and the infractions thereof.

The Bible of bio-psychiatry is the DSM-IV.

The Deity is the enormous ego of the bio-psychiatrists themselves.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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Dan Edmunds, EdD
Dr. Dan L. Edmunds is an existential psychoanalyst and psychotherapist in Northeastern Pennsylvania. His work has focused on drug free, relational approaches for those undergoing extreme states of mind as well as autism and developmental differences. Dr. Edmunds is the founder of the Center for Humane Psychiatry, an emancipatory movement for human rights in the mental health system. Dr. Edmunds has advocated for psycho-social approaches for those in distress that are affordable and accessible. Dr. Edmunds developed a therapeutic community project and is involved with autism acceptance and the autistic rights movement. Dr. Edmunds is the author of BEING AUTISTIC: AN APPROACH TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING AND ACCEPTANCE; THEY SAY MY CHILD HAS ADHD: DEBUNKING THE BIO-PSYCHIATRIC PARADIGM; THE MEETING OF TWO PERSONS; and MYSTICAL METAPHORS. Dr. Edmunds is a frequent speaker on critical psychology issues.


  1. Interesting comparison, but let’s not forget the fundamental difference between religion and bad science: the relationship to the evidence through verifiable claims. Religion does not care that much about evidence. Bio-psychiatry exists because of dubious evidence, and if accumulating evidence does not add up, at the end, the evidence will prevail. Maybe one way to stop the abuse of bio-psychiatrists is to require known effectiveness (evidence) to be printed on every box of medications.
    IMHO, bad-science should be defeated with better science, not by switching the debate to religion.

    • I liked it. I thought is was different and interesting. I don’t think Dr. Edmunds was setting out defeat the bad science of psychiatry in this very post. Had he been, he probably would have gone the route you proposed. Just an abstract take on psychiatry as it relates to Christianity in his interpretation.

  2. Jeffrey got my point. My piece was not about advocating or not advocating for religion.
    Rather, I believe there are values that are important and common to us all as human
    beings that are important and we must come
    to respect experience. I do feel that biopsychiatry has become a dogmatic system and I used the sacraments to compare to biopsychiatry as I thought it would be something many could relate to.

    • I would like to point out that unlike a religion, bio-psychiatry has a scientific method that analyses, tests, and adapts hypotheses based upon those results.

      I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist with a fairly bio-psycho-social view of the world and recognize the limitations of the biological science of psychiatry, but to dismiss the bio- part of illness as religion is absurd.

      One could make the same comparison to riduculous analogy psychotherapy (Freud is the pope), physics (all hail Newton, the father of it all), etc.

      Genetic studies and even epigenetic studies are providing fantastic insights into how our biological responses to our environmental and social world. Medication trials are becoming under stricter and stricter controls and pharmacological bias is being analysed.

      Because one of the areas I work in is emergency psychiatry, I do tend to see more substantial psychiatric illness in my practice, so I always allow that my particular experience makes it so that I can see far more biological illness/effective biological treatments in my clinical work than general clinicians.

      Biological treatments have a role, as do psychological and environmental treatments. To dismiss “bio-psychiatry” as a religion is rather ridiculous.

      • helo:-)))

        I am “only” a physician:-)))working in functional picture imaging. If somebody disbeleive that there are many situation when you have to use pills because of bizar symptoms coming from traumas for exmpl. so this is the same than slashing also:-))) There is no only the one way to the understanding.Understand the in whole story of the patient- I beleive in this. If you have high blood presure, you have to get something first to anticipate the stroke:-)))I am love in with the patients also and day to day try to modulate my approach. Best regards, Lívia zilahi md.

      • In what area, exactly, does bio-psychiatry express its relevance to the scientific method?

        In analysis? Really? Oh, do you mean diagnoses? Not very scientific, there, chief.

        In testing? Oh, you must mean the chemical imbalance/brain abnormality crap. Not lookin’ too great there, either, bro.

        And Results? Accurately evaluating the results of psychotropic treatments, are you? I doubt it. Taking into consideration the long-term ramifications of their use? Ha!

        Oh, yes, wait, you’re right about one thing. Bio-psychiatry, ever refusing to admit its rather apparent irrelevance and harmful nature due to its inherent DOGMATISM, is putting in some good work on this front: the adapting of hypotheses based on … wait… results!? Hey, wait just one second, what results? I don’t know of any results — or, at least, any legitimate ones. Bio-psychiatry certainly does adapt hypotheses, though. (You are absolutely covered in this regard.) It’s just they are adapted to suit the agendas of pharmaceutical companies, the APA, and the proliferation of your joke of a profession. And these… hypotheses, in case you didn’t know, are adapted — based on utterly squalid, spurious, and fraudulent… “cough,” results.

        Yikes. And you’re a child and adolescent psychiatrist? … How do you sleep at night, dude-guy?

        To dismiss the bio part of (mental) illness is absurd? How come? There are no chemical imbalances. There are no clearly established brain abnormalities that have been shown to result in mental illness — with, perhaps, autism being the exception. (And great work you guys and gals are doing with that. Keep it up!)

        So… how come? Rather, I would think it far more appropriate to dismiss the bio part than not to, and to do anything else would be… absurd.

        To start wrapping up, I want to make this clear, in the unlikely case that I haven’t already: I think you’re ridiculous! And I think millions of people would have been, and would be, far better off had the world DISMISSED bio-psychiatry a long, long time ago.

        Bio-psychiatry should just F-off, and leave people alone.

        • Ah, here I expected an actual discussion. I did not realize this was an echo chamber of hatred for biological psychiatry. My mistake.

          To be clear, I see patients in an emergency setting, generally between the ages of 6-17. It is often non-pharmacological treatments (supporting the family, working with schools, coping with a stress) that leads to a complete resolution of the crisis. I am a firm believer in non-pharmacological treatments if they work. I am NOT overwhelmed with the evidence for psychotropic medications in youth; I am not all gung ho about medicating youth. I am continuously shocked at the overprescription and overdiagnosis of disorders in children.

          However, to also be clearer, I am a scientist. I require evidence. I can read a pharma-produced article and recognize the BS, but in the same way, plaintiff cries of “just don’t diagnose” or “i just talked with them and it worked out” is not evidence.

          The fellow that wrote this blog and responded below demonstrates no understanding of science or how it works; in fact, he cannot separate it from a religion! When he asks “how biopsychiatry would explain the recovery of a number I journeyed with…”, he clearly does not understand the outcomes of the disorders we’re discussing.

          Regardless, it is clear that people, at least on this blog, are not interested in discussion. Apparently by simply existing I am some kind of boogeyman, not, you know, someone who is trying to help very sick people.

          • Ummm… as opposed to a non-actual discussion? Wow, “echo-chamber.” I like it! Why shouldn’t biological psychiatry be hated? Really, why not? It is unambiguously responsible for detrimentally influencing millions of people’s long-term outcomes, people who were having a hard time to begin with. So, should we embrace it? Love it?

            Well, I’m glad you were clear. Why not speak out against them, then? They are doing far more harm than good, as you should know, you big ol’ scientist, you.

            And I’m very glad you were clearer, also. OK, my point is this, something you can perhaps jive with given your supposed appreciation for evidence: there’s plenty of honestly achieved evidence illustrating, rather apparently, that psychotropics negatively impact people’s long-term outcomes. And what is responsible for the ubiquity of these dangerous drugs? Answer: more or less, it’s bio-psychiatry!

            Dude, get over it: bio-psychiatry’s very foundation is bad science — which is different than good science. He can’t separate it from religion? Foolish. I’m going to diagnose you with Inability to Realize an Abstract Concept Disorder (IRACD), right now. The treatment regimen varies in terms of the milligrams associated with the various drugs you’ll be taking, but you’re going to need these classes of psychotropic medications, for sure: antidepressants, and maybe two of them; mood stabilizers; stimulants; anti-anxieties; and antipsychotics. Hope you’ll enjoy permanent disability. Oh, and you’re welcome.

            Yet another cure brought to you by… bio-psychiatry!

            You trying to help very sick people doesn’t mean you’re truly helping them. You’d be good to remember that. And while I’m sure you’d get an A for effort, you’re tools don’t work, chief — at least not when you choose to write prescriptions, which is, I presume, a large part of what you do.


          • I think the science is abundantly clear that EVERY bio-psychiatric “remedy” has done more harm than good to put it mildly. Let’s take a look: we have lobotomy, enough said. ECT, a real winner. Anti-psychotics shrink your brain. Atypical anti-psychotics also shrink your brain. SSRI’s being a real high point in PHRMA’s ability to market and sell poison. Stimulants, essentially synthetic cocaine and the list goes on. I admire your bravery for coming on here but just know there is an ARMY of people who have been ruined by YOUR drugs that cannot help but laugh when any psychiatrist uses the word “science”. I nevertheless believe that some people got into psychiatry to actually help people. That does not change the fact though that your whole medical model is a complete PHRMA funded fraud. Maybe you can help change that.

  3. There have been huge settlements in regards to many psychiatric drugs, more recently antipsychotics.
    I spoke on the possibility of stimulants leading to mania, and later we saw tragic incidents. I
    also saw how though many including myself spoke on need for significant problems
    with overmedication of foster kids in FL, it took a tragedy before much attention came.
    So, safeguards? I am curious to know how biopsychiatry would explain the recovery of
    a number I journeyed with going through extreme states who had none of these pharmacological
    interventions which they say are so necessary. If I go to my physician and he or she
    measures my heart rate and it is fine, then I am startled by the medical assistant dropping
    something and my heart rate is elevated and I am told I have heart disease, this would be absurd.
    but this is what biopsychiatry does as it medicalizes human experience and reactions.

    • I was not aware of the echo-chamber nature of your blog (I was reading interesting google articles and saw this), but now I’m painfully aware of what you believe and do. I am interested in scientific debate on the usefulness of biological treatments for psychiatric disorders. I am not interested in your need to unscientifically provide anecdotes and preach to the converted that “biological psychiatry is evil.”

      There is no conspiracy. There is no dogma. Up here in the far north of Canada, we read psychological articles, pharmacological articles, and sociological articles on the treatment of children and youth. where we find success, we replicate it. Where the science doesn’t pan out, we lose it. Your biased view of the review of literature is rather plain to see, it’s a shame you can’t.

      I spend just as much time countering the notion that we need to medicate children; there are extremists on both sides. I was not aware I poked my head into the extreme on this end.

      continue the echo chamber! sorry for the intrusion.

  4. As usual, there is the desire to suppress and label rather than address concerns. Ethics should
    always proceed technology and science based on duplication of results cannot effectively convey
    the experience of persons. Science is of importance, but we must go beyond in being able to relate and understand the human condition.

  5. What I liked was how your parody highlighted how many people go way of mindlessness when pondering the wisdom of their own self care. They don’t think it over and consider the long term consequences of their choices.

    For me, the religious comparison was clever and well done and would have been purely humorous except for the fact that many patients treat their medical care akin to the blind faith they give to their preachers, and their health declines over time as it is drugged into progressive illnesses leading their body down the rabbit hole of symptom relief over causal treatment. Yes, it is a choice, but is it wise?

    Also, common sense and attention to detail and outcomes, makes clear to the observing mind that to expect solely a chemical intervention as the way of healing is absurd; and it’s a non-think for self approach. After all, a person’s health is in their own hands until they lay it in the hands of another who will not have to endure the consequences of the final choices, eh?!

    Thanks for the write up…quite clever and well done; I enjoyed a few laughs despite the gravity of its implications. I’m amazed at how many completely missed any of your points…