Harvard Psychologist Critiques Psychiatry


Eminent developmental psychologist Jerome Kagan, in an interview with Spiegel, accuses the mental-health establishment and pharmaceutical companies of incorrectly classifying millions as mentally ill out of self-interest and greed. “That is the history of humanity: Those in authority believe they’re doing the right thing, and they harm those who have no power,” Kagan says.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Anonymous, I think you have misunderstood what Jerome Kagan is saying. In my opinion he is talking commonsense and pointing out what is wrong with psychiatry today: diagnosing everything as mental illness and then drugging where no drugs are needed.

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    • I don’t believe in mental illness. That is, I don’t believe personal problems, minor or extreme, constitute bona fide medical diseases.

      I haven’t misunderstood Kagan at all. Kagan believes ‘some’ people warrant being called biologically diseased on the basis of their distressing thoughts. This makes him a half-baked critic, who still believes in a substantial amount of psychiatry’s BS.

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      • Anonymous,

        I agree. Kagan should be exposing the fraud of all DSM stigmas and the fact the stigmas are created and voted in with BIG PHARMA to push the latest lethal drugs with no regard for the health, sanity or even survival of the so called patients.

        I also thought this supposed great man came off as very arrogant and dismissive with the interviewer. Also, he showed a total lack of guilt or empathy, remorse or compassion, signs of narcissism. This is despite the huge harm done by the mental death profession of which he is obviously a part, which is why he won’t admit the truth about the harm of psychiatry and all those under its umbrella including Kagan.

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  2. What I appreciated about this interviewing is that Kagan was able to admit that his initial hypthesis was wrong. He also discussed how theories arise within a socail context. Attachment theory and the role of the mother had a certain appeal in the mid 20th century. Similarly, the role of neurotransmitters has had an appeal – for many reasons – for the past 50 years.

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