Psychiatry: Still Trying To Rewrite History

Philip Hickey, PhD

On October 15, psychiatrist Allan Tasman, MD, published an article in Psychiatric Times.  The title of the article is The Most Exciting Time in the History of Psychiatry.

Psychiatric Times describes itself:  “Our Focus:  News, special Reports, and clinical content related to psychiatry. Our Audience:  Psychiatrists and allied mental health professionals who treat mental disorders.”

According to Wikipedia:  “Psychiatric Times is a medical trade publication written for an audience involved in the profession of psychiatry.”  It is published by UBM Medica and is distributed to about 50,000 psychiatrists monthly.

Dr. Tasman is their recently appointed editor-in-chief, and this article is his inaugural piece.  Dr. Tasman is Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Louisville, Kentucky.  He was President of the APA from 1999 to 2000 and has held various other offices.  His research, according to his bio,  “…has emphasized the role of brain mapping techniques in the study of the neurophysiology of cognitive processes…”  His research has been supported by grants from Upjohn, Pfizer, Forest Laboratories, and Lilly.

The article’s lead-in is interesting:

“Advances in psychiatric research, spanning the entire spectrum of biological, psychological, and social aspects of mental processes and functions, have transformed the field of psychiatry.”  (Since publication of the article, this lead-in has been deleted, but an almost identical sentence is retained in the article.)

I was immediately intrigued at the notion that advances in psychological and social research have transformed the field of psychiatry, and I read on expectantly.  But, as I suppose I should have known, one can’t judge the article by the opening blurb.

Dr. Tasman begins by telling us that he is honored and excited to be appointed Editor-in-chief of Psychiatric Times.  He assures us that he will continue the “visionary approach” of the previous editors, who were committed to ensuring that “Psychiatric Times” provided “an unparalleled source of high-quality information” aimed to assist psychiatrists in their practice.

He continues:

“We live in what is arguably the most exciting time in the history of psychiatry. At the dawn of the 20th century, though, the themes that would occupy psychiatry in the coming century were already in evidence. One theme has been the emphasis on understanding brain pathology in psychiatric illness, building on the work of the generation of Eugen Bleuler, Emil Kraepelin, and Adolf Meyer.”

Note the phrase:  “…brain pathology in psychiatric illness…”  This is standard, unadorned bio-psychiatry, i.e. that all significant problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving are illnesses, caused by brain damage/malfunction.  Dr. Tasman’s identification of Eugen Bleuler, Emil Kraepelin, and Adolf Meyer as early proponents of this position is misleading.  Here are some quotes from Drs. Bleuler and Kraepelin that suggest otherwise.

Eugen Bleuler:

“The conclusion that the development of paranoic delusions is essentially the same as the formation of errors in normal people is therefore warranted.” [p 104]

“Since he [a case study] was sensitive, grounds were not lacking for the feeling that he was being injured by other men and for ascribing to these his failures.  And, since the abyss between the wish and its accomplishment always remained, these ideas were continually maintained, and the patient became paranoic.” [p. 97-98]

Emil Kraepelin:  Dr. Kraepelin was indeed committed to the general concept of biopsychiatry, but was also honest enough to admit:

“As long as we are unable clinically to group illnesses on the basis of cause, and to separate dissimilar causes, our views about etiology will necessarily remain unclear and contradictory.” [As quoted in The Lancet Editorial of April 5 1997]

Adolf Meyer, according to Wikipedia:

“…is most remembered for reframing mental disease as biopsychosocial ‘reaction types’ rather than as biologically-specifiable natural disease entities. In 1906 he reframed dementia praecox [i.e. schizophrenia] as a ‘reaction type, a discordant bundle of maladaptive habits that arose as a response to biopsychosocial stressors.” [Emphasis added]

Clearly Dr. Meyer was not a supporter of biopsychiatry.  It was, in fact, largely through his influence that the various entities listed in DSM-I (1952) were referred to as reactions.  This practice was unceremoniously dropped in DSM-II (1968), as psychiatry and its pharma allies embraced the practices, profits, and deceptions of unambiguously biological psychiatry.  This decision was deceptively rationalized in the Introduction to DSM-III on the grounds that it  “…did not imply a particular theoretical framework for understanding the nonorganic mental disorders.”  In fact, its purpose was to clear the way for an entirely biological, and incidentally, fictitious, psychiatry which had to be developed and maintained in order to take advantage of the drugs that were beginning to come on stream.  Note in passing the quaint phrase “unorganic mental disorders,” which was also allowed to slip quietly into the black hole of psychiatric revisionism.

It’s possible that Dr. Tasman isn’t aware of these heretical tendencies on the parts of Drs. Bleuler, Kraepelin, and Meyer.  Or it’s possible that he is ignoring these troubling deviations from psychiatric orthodoxy in order to convey the impression of a long history of unanimity within his profession.  Either way, his statement is inaccurate and misleading.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Back to the article:

“Also, 1900 marked the publication in Europe of Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, and the beginnings of the modern understanding of psychological development and our emphasis on psychotherapeutic treatments.”

Ah!  Perhaps this is where Dr. Tasman is going to tell us about “the great psychiatric advances in psychological and social research.” [Emphasis added]

Alas, no!  For as soon as Dr. Tasman has mentioned Freud’s psychological work, he immediately dismisses it.  Watch this:

“Less well known, however, is another work on which Freud was laboring at the same time. In the ‘Project for a Scientific Psychology,’ Freud was attempting to understand the neural basis for psychological processes. While the ‘Project’ was not discovered or published until 1953, this century-old quest has marked one of the most important preoccupations of modern psychiatry.” [Emphasis added]

So we’re back to good, old, thorough-going biological psychiatry.  But wait!  There’s a glimmer of hope.  Dr. Tasman describes the quest for brain pathologies as one of the most important preoccupations of modern psychiatry.  What were the other preoccupations?  Dr. Tasman poses that very question, and obligingly provides us with an answer:

“Providing humane and effective treatment for psychiatric disorders, developing a meaningful diagnostic classification, and overcoming substantial societal forces working against rational diagnosis and humane treatment were clearly at the forefront.”

Well there’s nothing there to suggest anything other than broken brain psychiatry.  And the notion of psychiatry providing humane and effective treatment is a little difficult to reconcile with innovations like lobotomies, insulin comas, rotational chairs, hydrotherapy, and chemically and electrically induced seizures.

Also the notion of psychiatry “…overcoming substantial societal forces working against rational diagnosis and humane treatment” is simply false.  The major consequence of psychiatry’s assumption of control of the asylums was the collapse of what was known as “moral therapy”, a model that was based on the view that “insane” people were essentially normal people who had undergone severe psychological and social stressors. James Coleman, in his classic psychology text, Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life, (Fourth Edition, 1972) writes:

“There seems little doubt that moral therapy was remarkably effective, however ‘unscientific’ it may have been.” (p 43)


“Despite these impressive results, moral therapy declined in the latter half of the nineteenth century – in part, paradoxically, because of the acceptance of the view that the insane were ill people.” (p 43)


“In any event, hospital statistics show that recovery and discharge rates declined as moral therapy gave way to the medical approach.” (p 44)

Other writers have made similar comments on this matter.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Then Dr. Tasman gets into some serious cheerleading:

“Building on the tremendous scientific advances of the late 19th century, the beginning of the past century marked a time of great optimism for what 20th-century science would bring to psychiatry.

We have not been disappointed, and we are all aware of the broad range of amazing advances that have occurred.”

Well, Dr. Kraepelin, as we saw earlier, was honest enough to admit that his classification system, lacking as it did any clear understanding of etiology, would inevitably remain “unclear and contradictory.”  And today, 118 years later, psychiatry is in the same position. Apart from those DSM items listed as “due to a general medical condition” or “due to the effects of a substance,” no psychiatric disorder has to date been definitively linked to any specific neural pathology.

So whatever “amazing advances” Dr. Tasman has in mind, it is not in the area of basic causes.  Nor is it in the area of abandoning this futile quest, and recognizing what has been common knowledge for thousands of years:  that distress is largely the ordinary human response to distressing circumstances.

But in fairness, Dr. Tasman takes a small step towards acknowledging this:

“We are still preoccupied with many of the same issues as our colleagues from a hundred years ago.”

But that precipice looks too scary:

“…but, of course, in ways transformed by over a century of experience and newly discovered knowledge.”

Well, certainly, psychiatry has had over a century of experience, but I’m not aware of much in the way of newly-discovered knowledge – certainly there have been no breakthroughs in the quest for neural explanations of problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving.  But, “…transformed by over a century of experience and newly discovered knowledge” sounds good.  It’s good spin, and when everything one does is flawed and spurious, spin is all one has left, which is why psychiatry is becoming extraordinarily skilled in the use of spin!

Now, emboldened perhaps by his own cheerleading, Dr. Tasman takes another look at the issues that have preoccupied psychiatry for over a century.  But his choice of issues is somewhat selective:

“Social ostracism, stigmatization, discriminatory government and corporate policies, and discriminatory limits on access to and reimbursement for optimal care are but a few manifestations of these ongoing concerns.”

So, there it is:  all the wicked things that big bad government and big bad insurance companies are perpetrating against psychiatry – the lily-white injured innocent!, the provider of “optimal care.”  There’s not one iota of critical self-scrutiny.  No mention of invalid basic concepts.  No mention of fraudulent research.  No mention of ghost-written textbooks.  No mention of damage from psychotropic drugs.  No mention of corrupt payments to psychiatrists from pharma.  No mention of pharma commercial-fests being accepted as continuing education.  Nothing but:  Oh, my!  How everyone hates us!

And then, just to cement himself firmly into place as a psychiatric leader:

“And, we are still working to develop more effective treatments based on a growing understanding of brain structure and function and an etiologically based system of diagnosis.”

An etiologically based system of diagnosis!  The most fundamental issue in the entire debate tossed in like an after-thought – after social ostracism and reimbursement limits!  Proof of neural pathology underlying every conceivable problem of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving is just around the corner where, incidentally, it’s been for the past forty years.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

At this point, Dr. Tasman restates the optimistic assurances of his lead-in: 

“Advances in psychiatric research, spanning the entire spectrum of biological, psychological, and social aspects of mental processes and functions, have transformed our field and our clinical work.”

Ah, the hopeful reader thinks, now we’re going to hear about psychiatry’s embracing of psychological and social concepts.  This is what we’ve been waiting for.  But again our hopes are dashed by the very next sentence:

“We are, though, only in the early years of studying underlying mechanisms of both normal and abnormal brain function and structure via direct functional imaging and sophisticated lab techniques. More exciting findings lie ahead.”

More exciting findings lie ahead from functional imaging and sophisticated lab techniques.  But don’t expect too much.  We’re still in the “early years.”  And don’t expect anything from psychiatry in the psychological or social areas.  Those references were window dressing, designed to create the impression that psychiatry is taking these kinds of issues seriously, even though they aren’t.  And in case there’s any doubt:

“We will undoubtedly, at some point, learn to influence these [neural] processes with more precision than is now possible.”

New drugs?  Different voltages on the shock machines?  More exciting findings lie ahead!  It reminds me of the old serialized movies from my childhood.  Can Captain Marvel escape the molten lava?  More exciting adventures next week!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And then the ultimate dismissal of any kind of psychosocial interventions:

“It is also true, however, that interpersonal experiences, such as in psychotherapy, can alter brain function in the same way as medications, as we have seen in studies of OCD and depression.”

There’s no need to talk to anybody; no need to acquire new skills or coping strategies.  Pills have exactly the same effect in the brain as these old-fashioned folk remedies.  Pills are modern.  Who has time for all that old-fashioned stuff anyway?  Life shouldn’t be difficult.  There’s a pill for every problem.

Dr. Tasman then directs his attention towards the biopsychosocial model.  This is an interesting notion. A  biopsychosocial approach to problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving means that one acknowledges the obvious reality that these kinds of problems can arise from biological, psychological, and/or social factors, and that interventions should be based on a realistic assessment of the relative weight of each of these factors in individual cases.  It is emphatically not what is found in psychiatry today, where all significant problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving are conceptualized as biological illnesses, best “treated” by drugs and/or electric shocks to the brain.  Under the present psychiatrically-managed mental health system, the biopsychosocial approach means, at best, the development of a “good bedside manner” and at worst, the use of non-psychiatric personnel to persuade clients to take their pills, keep their appointments, and be generally compliant.

But watch Dr. Tasman at work.  He describes the biopsychosocial model as “…an integrative approach to understanding not only what the illness is, but also who the person with the illness is – both areas providing essential information for optimal clinical understanding and intervention.”  Note the term “illness,” with its clear implications of biological etiology.  The notion of needing to know “who the person with the illness is…”,  is a caricature of the biopsychosocial model, designed to create the impression of an integrative approach while requiring no deviation from the status quo.  A genuinely biopsychosocial approach in this field would entail, as a fundamental prerequisite, the recognition that most of the clients don’t have an illness at all, and don’t need medical care.


Psychiatry clings to the broken brain theory, because without it, there is no justification for the employment of medical techniques in this area.  Without the broken brain theory, psychiatrists are unnecessary, and even counterproductive.  In their hearts, all psychiatrists know this, which is why they never address the fundamental question:  why should all significant problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving be considered illnesses?  Instead, they rely on simplistic, unsubstantiated assertions, and dismissive sidestepping of anything that challenges these assertions.  They also make extensive use of spin, cheerleading, and outright deception.  Self-congratulatory rhetoric has become the hallmark of psychiatric writing.

Psychiatry’s edifice is crumbling.  It’s crumbling because it was founded on spurious premises, and has shamelessly embraced destructive and disempowering “treatments”.  But it will not address these issues.  Instead, it conceptualizes the problem as PR.  They believe that they need to become better at “educating” the media and the public.  They feel the need to maintain a constant flow of spin, both internally – to convince themselves that they are a benign institution, and externally – to convince the world that the cries of their detractors are baseless.

But there’s only so much mileage in spin and PR.  And for psychiatry, time is running out.

* * * * *

The article also appears on Philip Hickey’s website,
Behaviorism and Mental Health

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    • Thanks again for taking the time to fish out these inconsistencies. When the Civil War era hospital went out of business in Weston. WVa in 1993, a recreational firm bought the building and grounds. They do daily tours and have a Bedlam Ball over Halloween, and they use the grounds for bog racing. Oh yea, they remained it the original name-Trans Allegheney Lunatic Asylum. This of course got the advocates for the “mentally Ill’s panties In a bunch. At the tim I thought what’s in a name? Phillip, what you appear to be telling me is despite the original name that the original approach of the institution was, if any thing, on a higher moral plain, than what our social betters are ladling out to us benighted “mental patients.” How ironic.

  1. Oh Dr Hickey,

    I can not thank you enough. I read each of your articles and know that I am learning from them, because I had a discussion with a psychiatrist today that was like throwing holy water at a vampire.

    Bobbing and weaving, and when she realised there was nowhere to hide, I was summarily dismissed.

    I have been EMPOWERED 🙂

  2. As I remarked on Psychiatric Times, the kind of uncritical thinking represented in Allan Tasman’s article may reasonably be regarded as “delusional”. Dr Tasman insists on repeating assertions about mainstream psychiatry that are widely contradicted by observation and simple common sense. There is little or no prospect that neuroscience will EVER explain the functioning of the human personality. The brain itself is too complex and too many of its processes are massively redundant, stochastic, nonlinear or parallel-processing in nature.

    This being said, there is still a huge missing piece in the puzzles of human distress and disturbance: how will professionals and patients come together to generate a new standard of practice which is humble in its assertions, reliable in its remedies, and repeatable between practitioners? I have thus far heard little beyond opposing arguments, accusations (however well founded), and the self-interest of entrenched psychiatric priesthoods.

    How can we move this issue meaningfully off dead center and toward better results for people who are in distress?

    • By doing what we can to take away the power of psychiatry to hurt people. The psychiatric profession certainly isn’t going to cooperate with that. So I just can’t understand this delusion that if we just have enough “dialogue” among the “reasonable” people, all the abuses of psychiatry will be ended.

      There are already many attempts to provide real help for people, many of which are written about on MIA. The response of psychiatry and the drug companies that own it is to do everything they can to prevent these programs from taking hold.

      The argument that by fighting psychiatry we are preventing people from getting help is complete nonsense. This is the program of Allen Frances, who has said elsewhere that his reason for criticizing such excesses as DSM 5 is to save psychiatry from itself. I am not interesting in saving psychiatry. But I want to save as many of my brothers and sisters as possible from the atrocities that psychiatry now perpetrates.

      Then it will be possible for programs that really help to succeed.

    • For me, the ANSWER, especially as a theologian, is, quite simply, by RECLAIMING the original definition, concept, and understanding of “PSYCHOLOGY” as being “the study of the SOUL”. And likewise, by reclaiming “PSYCHIATRY” as being “the healing of the SOUL”.

      And it is by “renewing” this old-original “standard” of psychology-psychiatry (rather than generating a “new standard”) that I, earnestly, believe to be THEE “missing piece in the puzzles of human distress and disturbance”.

      At present, Biological Psychiatry is, indeed, a “psychiatric priesthood”, as you have said. Though it is a SECULAR psychiatric priesthood WITHOUT a SOUL!

      And until we reclaim this original paradigm of the SOUL (i.e. reclaim it back in the way we CHOOSE to do psychology and psychiatry) I believe we will NEVER “move this issue meaningfully off dead center and toward better results for people who are in distress”.

      And it is this, particular, CALL for a, much needed, paradigm shift that is, wonderfully, proclaimed by Psychiatrist Jeffrey H. Boyd (Chair of Psychiatry at Waterbury Hospital) in his book “Reclaiming the Soul”:

      “I propose a paradigm shift with respect to our understanding of human nature. The old scientific paradigm rejects the soul because it is ‘unscientific’. We need a new paradigm that endorses the soul as the cornerstone of our anthropology.” (Boyd p.109)

      Reverend Haynes

      • Reverend

        You say: ” At present, Biological Psychiatry is, indeed, a “psychiatric priesthood”, as you have said. Though it is a SECULAR psychiatric priesthood WITHOUT a SOUL!”

        How can you really call Biological Psychiatry a “SECULAR psychiatric priesthood”? I would bet that the vast majority of the adherents to Biological Psychiatry are firm believers in religion and God and attend some church or synagogue on a regular basis.

        In reality there is more of a direct religious connection by the mere fact that Biological Psychiatry presents a diseased/based/drug centered/medical model that is essentially founded on a base of “GENETIC THEORIES OF ORIGINAL SIN.”


          • Duane

            Yes, anyone can be reductionist if they do not apply science and other forms of investigation in a correct way.

            My point was not that Biological Psychiatry is absolutely derived from religious philosophy, but only that there are some similarities to the theories of “original sin.”

            The problems with Biological Psychiatry cannot, and should not, be blamed on atheism or secular humanism: this is foolishness.

            In the source you listed above the statistics used were only based on a survey of 1820 physicians in which only 100 psychiatrist replied. This is hardly a fair or scientific appraisal of psychiatry.

            However, in this survey you cited only 17% of the psychiatrists said they were non religious, which only proves my point stated above:

            ” the vast majority of the adherents to Biological Psychiatry are firm believers in religion and God…”


        • Richard,

          Thank you, kindly, for your question and comments. I sincerely appreciate the feedback. As the old saying goes “iron sharpens iron”. Also, my apologies for being a little late in responding.

          With respect to your (somewhat) rhetorical question about calling Biological Psychiatry a “Secular Priesthood”, I would, first of all, like to say that it was actually Dr. Richard Lawhern, himself, who employed the term “psychiatric priesthoods” (above) and that I was simply agreeing and adding to his comment.

          I think part of the confusion, and which is very common in our contemporary society, is over the term “secular” itself. That is, most people (especially Christians) tend to equate the word “secular” with “atheism”. However, both of these terms were originally used within (or with respect to) a Christian worldview. For example, the word “atheist” was, actually, a term used to describe early Christians within the Roman Empire. That is, in Koine Greek it simply means belief in one (“a”) God (“theos”) as opposed to belief in many (“polloi”) gods (theoi). Of course, and over time, or as we have all come to know, it is a term used to describe belief in no God or gods.

          The same goes for the term “secular”. That is, the English word “secular” is derived from the Latin “saeculum”; which simply means “of this world” or “this worldly”. In fact the Constitution of the United States of America, even though mainly drafted by Christian Theists and Deists was, for the first time in the history of Western civilization, I do believe, a completely “secular” (i.e. “this worldly”) Constitution without any mention to God (i.e. anything “other worldly”) whatsoever.

          Moreover, the term “secular” was actually, or at one time, a theological term, used by theologians, to distinguish between that which was “this worldly” (Immanence) and that which was “other worldly” (Transcendence).

          And so, I think the key difference between our two perspectives is one that involves ontology vs. function. That is, I would contend that Psychiatry (including Biological Psychiatry) is not only functioning as a secular (or completely “this worldly”) religious system but actually IS (i.e. ontologically) a false-pagan religion (i.e. wherein the “belief” in Philosophical Naturalism venerates Nature as Ultimate Reality) that seeks to destroy the true Christian religion (i.e. wherein the “belief” in Christian Theism venerates God as Ultimate Reality). I would tend to believe that this is where Dr. Thomas Szasz was heading when he stated:

          “It [Psychiatry] is not merely a religion that pretends to be science, it is actually a false religion that seeks to destroy true religion. … psychotherapy is a modern, scientific-sounding name for what used to be called the ‘cure of souls’ … with the decline of religion and the growth of science in the eighteenth century, the cure of (sinful) souls, which had been an integral part of the Christian religion, was recast as the cure of (sick) minds, and became an integral part of medicine.”

          Hence, I believe that the key word, in the above quote, by Dr. Thomas Szasz, and with respect to our discussion of Psychiatry being a “secular” (or “this worldly”) religion, is the word “recast”. And this “recasting” can be, somewhat, traced to the year 1812 when Dr. Benjamin Rush published a first of its kind, medical text book entitled, “Medical Inquiries and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind”. It was a book that not only significantly transformed the face and scope of medicine and medical practice, but also it became the standard text, at that time, for medical training in the treatment of, what was previously known as, the maladies of the “soul”.

          This ever so subtle linguistic shift and emphasis from a theological orientation (i.e. maladies of the “soul”) to a medical orientation (i.e. diseases of the “mind”), marked the beginnings of an unprecedented, cultural and jurisdictional transference in the care and treatment of personal problems. That is, or more specifically, a progressive (and some would add inevitable) movement from the clergy to the medical doctor.

          As a result of this jurisdictional transference of caring and curing authority to the medical profession, the medical model, with its medically prescribed treatments, or treatment modalities, has gradually (or swiftly, depending on your view of time) gained an overwhelming dominance in our lives today; especially in the West. Consequently, and sad to say, the clergy have been either forced (through persuasion, professional posturing or lack of resources) to abandon any attempts to deal with these newly medicalized categories of behaviour or else to willing submit, with utmost deference, to the new medical expertise due to a supposed lack of any specialized knowledge in the field.

          Regardless of how one looks at the cultural-historical reasons for this shift, “the personal problems jurisdiction”, one way or the other, has been largely usurped by the Medical Profession and abdicated by the Ordained Ministry; especially as it pertains to those more severe-mental-emotional maladies. This usurpation and abdication, is exactly what Professor of Sociology, Andrew Abbott, highlights in his award winning book, “The System of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labour”:

          “The clergy were in fact the heaviest losers from the creation of the new psychiatric jurisdiction … by the 1920s, the clergy had lost any vestige of cultural jurisdiction over personal problems. No longer were such problems signs of God’s word, or occasions for thinking about ultimate reality. Rather, they were complete and entire problems unto themselves … The gradual recognition of personal problems as legitimate categories of professional work did not bring a serious clergy effort to conceptualize them. The clergy’s failure to provide any academic foundation for their practice with personal problems ultimately proved their undoing. If another profession should establish relevant diagnostic, therapeutic, and inferential systems and legitimate these in terms of general values, the clergy’s cultural jurisdiction would be easily usurped.” (Abbott 308,309).

          Historically speaking, the cultural effects upon this jurisdictional transition (i.e. from the clergy to the medical doctor) had its subtle beginnings long before 1812 with the appearance of “Medical Inquiries and Observations”, by Benjamin Rush. That is, it began to make its initial manifestation when Western thought and culture started to edge, ever so slowly, away from that delicate (and undivided) medieval balance between Transcendence and Immanence.

          Dr. Charles Taylor, in his magnum opus, “The Secular Age”, describes the commonly held beginnings of the historical process of secularization in the West, along with its “disenchantment” of life and reality, through a growing emphasis on “Nature”:

          “Part of our story seems to lie in the increasing interest in nature, as it were, for its own sake, not simply as a manifestation of God; an interest that can be seen in science, in art, and in ethics. This process starts far back and goes through several stages … Now the relationship of this to modern secularism can seem obvious … people begin to be interested in nature, in the life around them, ‘for their own sakes’, and not just in reference to God. Where before they had one goal in portraying or thinking about nature or human life, now they have two. They have taken the first step on a journey which leads to us. It suffices that they take more and more interest in nature for its own sake, and gradually this will grow, while the reference to the divine atrophies.” (Taylor 90).

          This atrophying of the divine, particularly within the medical profession, reached its apex of thought in the late nineteenth century with the writings of two key philosophers of science; Ludwig Feuerbach and Ludwig Buchner. It was principally through the influences of Feuerbach and Buchner that the atheistic foundations of modern medicine were clearly laid.

          Theologian, Hans Kung, in a series of lectures given at Yale University, in 1979, discussed Feuerbach’s and Buchner’s relationship to, as well as their sway over, the Medical Profession. Together with their overt hostility toward Christianity, the Supernatural and God these two philosophers of science have, undoubtedly, helped to establish the terms of endearment between Science and Faith ever since. Professor Kung, in this regard, is definitely worth quoting at some length:

          “Feuerbach prophesied another successful revolution, which would be speeded up by the natural sciences … the natural sciences had ‘long before dissolved the Christian world view into nitric acid’ … (Feuerbach) insisted that philosophy should be linked no longer with Christian theology but with the natural sciences … It was Moleschott, together with Carl Vogt and Ludwig Buchner among other young natural scientists, and supported by Feuerbach’s philosophical criticism of religion and immortality, who brought a specifically natural scientific materialism to fruition in the nineteenth century … it was clear that religious persuasions had no place in questions of natural science or medicine … religion had nothing to do with science and if it counted at all was a private affair … Ludwig Buchner, a doctor, produced his Kraft und Stoff (Force and Matter). More than twenty editions of the letter made it the militant bible of the new scientific-materialistic world view. According to Buchner, the world as a whole, and also the human mind, are explained by the combined activity of physical materials and their forces. God is superfluous. It was mainly the epoch-making progress of the two basic medical sciences of anatomy and physiology (including pathology) that favoured a kind of medical materialism … For Ludwig Feuerbach, at any rate, it was clear at this time that the medical man was by nature and training a strict materialist … In fact medicine in particular was of the greatest importance for materialistic atheism in the second half of the nineteenth century.” (Kung 3-6)

          Thus, Ludwig Feuerbach and Ludwig Buchner, together with a host of others, helped to, utterly, destroy Christianity as the foundational worldview for doing medicine in the modern period; while, at the same time, establishing a naturalistic-atheistic foundation in its place.

          And so, or as we can clearly see, from just a very brief examination, it is natural human reason alone, informed by the observable, natural, physical laws of force and matter, under the authority of a natural science philosophy, which determines virtually all medical pronouncements. At a core level there is no room, whatsoever, for the Supernatural, God, Faith or Divine Revelation to inform medical decisions, its uses, and limits. At a fundamental level the Medical Art has not considered the knowledge of God and the Revelation of His Holy Word worthwhile, let alone foundational, to how we “choose” to do medicine today.

          As Christians, we confess that God Himself, as revealed in Christ Jesus, is the fundamental source of Life and Light unto all of the created reality. Furthermore, and in particular, it is in the Light of His Eternal Creative Word, and not the (idolatrous) light of modern Empiricism, that all creatures and “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13).

          Therefore, or in terms of Medicine (i.e. Psychiatry) historically “recasting” Christianity into its own, pseudo scientific-religious image, I would boldly contend that Empiricism (or Scientific Method), as a willful creation of the human mind is, at present, rooted and grounded in the demonic – through its allegiance with materialistic-atheism (or Philosophical Naturalism) rather than its allegiance with Christian Theism. That is, though it may, at one particular level, be a useful (or utilitarian-based) tool of rational investigation it is also, at present, being used as an idolatrous, methodological model at the level of “means”. As such, it has not only excluded God from the equation but has also attempted to “re-create” (or “recast”) our very perception of reality itself. How so? That is, by engendering a falsely perceived, impassable divide (or split) between the transcendent sphere and the immanent sphere within the ONE, created reality. Dr. Bob Goudzwaard in his book, “Idols of Our Time”, underscores this fallen (or idolatrous) human tendency toward “re-creation”:

          “The redefinition of norms is what characterizes an ideology … It defines goodness, truth, justice and love as that which serves the end. In its original sense, therefore, ideology has every thing to do with religion. It is religion’s substitute. Ideology says: ‘As God I create my own norms and values. I say what will benefit humanity. And I allow no god above or power below to make any other law.’ Ideology is an attempt at the re-creation of life with the material of a new source of meaning. Its origin therefore lies in the demonic.” (Goudzwaard 18).

          The specific idolatrous nature of, or “meaning” contained within, the empirical method (mainly developed by Sir Francis Bacon) was also, in part, founded upon a radically implicit or self-determined “individualism”. Dr. Montague Brown, in his book, “Restoration of Reason”, elaborates on this development along with its consequences:

          “Although Bacon, Descartes, and Hobbes do not share Montaigne’s general skepticism, they do adopt features of his method – chief among them the implicit individualism. In contrast to the attitude of the ancient and medieval philosophers who saw themselves in a long philosophical tradition that had painstakingly worked its way toward the truth, each of our modern philosophers is self-consciously announcing a brand new way to truth discovered by himself alone. Whereas Aristotle and Aquinas hold that the method must suit the object, the modern philosophers make method primary. The new method is, in fact, necessary if one is to discover the object.” (Brown 56).

          Thus, the very real and direct implication is that without this empirically developed method or “means” of science one cannot essentially discover “truth”. Not to mention that empirically discovered truth, as being “self-contained” within a (so-called) self-sufficient, immanent frame of reference, now becomes the only recognizable or valid reality. As such, or at fundamental level, this method has idolatrously substituted for God Himself as the Transcendent Ground and Source of all “Truth”. Therefore, the essential (or rather hidden) “meaning” contained within Empiricism today, along with its trajectory, is one that seeks to voice a “re-creation” of ultimate reality itself.

          Hence, the idea that we can make some kind of separation between Philosophical Naturalism (which Professor Phillip Johnson in his book, “Reason in the Balance”, calls “the reigning religious philosophy of America”) and Empiricism is untenable, at this present time; for the simple reason that Empiricism has allied itself with Naturalism and Naturalism has allied itself with Empiricism. They are, at present, two sides of the same coin, as Phillip Johnson relates:

          “To my argument that blind watchmaker evolution owes its support more to naturalistic philosophy than to empirical science, (the very atheistic physicist) Steven Weinberg responded in effect that science and naturalism are basically the same thing, because ‘the only way that any sort of science can proceed is to assume that there is no divine intervention and to see how far one can get with that assumption'”. (Johnson 91, 92).

          This hidden assumption (or rather dark, occultic voice) within Empiricism, today, as a fatally truncated method of moving from “matter to meaning”, would appear to have run its course; hence, ultimately ending in the utter, intellectual bankruptcy of skepticism. Jesus said that “a good tree cannot produce evil fruit” and neither “can an evil tree produce good fruit”. Once again, Dr. Montague Brown, I believe, exposes the evil fruit of Empiricism (i.e. as an idolatry of “means”) as its true and essentially empty nature, over time, has been inevitably exposed:

          “The ultimate implications of empiricist principles seem to be well borne out in Hume: we return to a skepticism much like Montaigne’s. Not only is reason incapable of pronouncing on metaphysics, ethics, or aesthetics; it is incapable of even pronouncing on science. The ideal of explaining everything by reference to matter in motion (scientific method) proves unable to explain anything … Matter in motion is always changing and hence can provide no intelligibility over time and space, and if we act mechanically according to the dictates of matter in motion, then we are not free. If thought is unintelligible, then so are all the pronouncements of thought … This is skepticism, the inevitable end of making a subrational principle the principle of all explanation.” (Brown 111).

          Thus, the dominant (or governing) principle within Medical Science today (e.g. Biological Psychiatry) is nothing less than a deaf and dumb idol. That is, a subconscious, subrational principle whereby humanity has exchanged, once again, the glory (and Voice) of God for the worship (and Voice) of Nature. Hence, giving rise to a modern, though more sophisticated, form of Canaanitism.

          Ultimately, Natural Science and its handmaiden of Empiricism, it would seem, have not only miserably failed, both ideologically and foundationally, but it is also miserably ignorant as a dominant or governing discipline itself. It is not capable of reaching the full, as well as transcendently grounded, scope of human reason (made in the image of God) as Truth, Goodness and Beauty. It is a discipline that not only exists, exclusively, within an immanent frame of reference but has also arisen out of the ground, by its own feeble strength, from below and not from above. For some strange and wonderful reason I can hear the voice of the true governing Queen (Theology) calling us back. The question is, will we heed her voice?

          When I stop and ponder how modern, Western civilization, including much of the Church, has had such an insatiable appetite for the brokenness of Natural Science, and its handmaiden of Empiricism, one cannot help but consider the familiar words of our Lord to His people Israel through the prophet Jeremiah:

          “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the Fountain of Living Waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2: 13).

          Kind Regards,
          Reverend Haynes

          P.S. I hope to respond to your (most interesting) comments on the relationship of Biological Psychiatry with “Genetic Theories of Original Sin” in another post.

  3. ““It is also true, however, that interpersonal experiences, such as in psychotherapy, can alter brain function in the same way as medications, as we have seen in studies of OCD and depression.”

    This is a blatent lie.

    People who stop being depressed have different brain scan results from people who are depressed. That is true, but drugs alter brain chemistry in certain specified ways whether you are depressed or not and talking to someone has different effects. It might be the placebo effect of the drug that cuases the same brian scan results and not the actual drug.

  4. I enjoyed this article, very much, although it is very disappointing that even though I left the profession to become a ‘patient’ 3 years ago, and, things really haven’t moved on over the years, since I began nurse training in 1994, and for the century before that. Even though every few years claims of ‘new and innovative practice’ and ‘revolutionary discoveries’ in the field are passed around by researchers, writers, clinicians, teachers and managers.

  5. Truly a wonderfully insightful (and, pleasantly, humorous) article exposing biological psychiatry’s “insatiable” appetite (not to mention “intellectual gymnastics”) to re-write its own history!

    As an ordained Christian minister, and theologian, what is MOST disconcerting to me (i.e. with respect to contemporary psychiatry and psychology) is that the VAST majority of people have absolutely NO, “historical”, knowledge, whatsoever, that the very word “psychology” itself was coined in the mid-sixteenth century. And whereby, it was, “intentionally”, brought into academic use, or academic parlance, by two biblical-Christian scholars, Marco Marulic and Philip Melanchthon, as the study of the “SOUL”.

    It was only, somewhat, later on, during the seventeenth century, that the “science of the soul” (i.e. as the “form” of all living-physical bodies or organisms) was recast, in part, into the “science of the mind”. And even then, it was not until, significantly, more time had elapsed that the “mind” of the SOUL, together with its maladies, had been, unfortunately, reduced (or rather collapsed) down to the elemental-materialistic notion (or “one theme”) of “brain pathology in psychiatric illness” in the twentieth century.

    In other words, a strictly natural-scientific psychiatry (or rather, its staunch medical proponents) had, historically speaking (principally through Ludwig Feuerbach and Ludwig Buchner during the late nineteenth century) simply, CHOSE, as an act of their will, to banish, or dissolve into nitric acid, the Christian World view on which the “science of the soul”, and “science of the mind”, had been given birth to in the first place.

    Consequently, psychiatry (as well as psychology, I am afraid) happily aligned itself with a naturalistic-atheistic world view instead. And somehow, or subsequently, it was, mysteriously (or should I say “ridiculously”) claimed that the Christian world view was no longer compatible with Natural Science or a Natural Philosophy. And so, Western civilization, as I have come to see it, is simply “reaping” what biological psychiatry’s, and naturalistic psychology’s, presuppositional (or evolutionist-atheistic) faith commitment has “sown”.

    Of course, this presuppositional faith commitment (or historical antecedent, whereby psychiatry and psychology, historically, “chose” to align itself with an evolutionist-atheistic world view) is completed dressed up in (or rather hidden behind) the garments of a, so-called, strictly natural scientific, and supposedly value neutral, empirical methodology.

    The truth is, as I am sure most academics would know, is that there is a fundamental (or foundational) world view philosophy POWERFULLY driving biological psychiatry. And that world view philosophy is, of course, philosophical Naturalism. And philosophical Naturalism has become, in my view (or as professor Philip Johnson has called, in his book “Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law, and Education,) “the reigning religious philosophy in America”.

    Therefore, or likewise from my point of view, the ONLY way we can, truly, destroy (or possibly reform) present day biological psychiatry is to RECLAIM the original “Christian theistic” world view as THEE foundational world view for how we “CHOOSE” to do science. And by doing so, we will, in turn, quite naturally, reclaim the traditional, Christian concept of the SOUL (i.e. the full scope of the SOUL in both its transcendent and immanent, natural and supernatural, physical and spiritual, temporal and eternal powers and capacities, modes and relations) as THEE cornerstone of our psychology and psychiatry, once again. Any thing less, in my view, will ONLY keep us, and uncontrollably, heading down the same, destructive-pathological path of bio-psychiatry.

    Therefore, or as I perceive reality, we ONLY have TWO possible FOUNDATIONS for the study and practice of Psychiatry (lit. the healing of the SOUL) and Psychology (lit. the study of the SOUL): 1. The Voice of God (i.e. Divine Revelation) or 2. The Voice of Nature (i.e. Human Reason). And accordingly, or as a consequence, we ONLY have two possible contenders, therefore, for the “Queen of the Sciences”: 1. Theological Science or 2. Natural Science.

    And so, or in the words of Joshua: “choose you this day whom ye will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

    Furthermore, the Christian (or Christian world view) understanding, of the “early modern” history and development of psychology, is for the most part, conspicuously, absent from most histories of “modern” psychology textbooks.

    Notwithstanding, or as a much, needed corrective to this (unscholarly) bias, an excellent book on the “early modern” history of psychology has been, recently, written by Fernando Vidal, entitled: “The Sciences of the Soul: The Early Modern Origins of Psychology”. A concise summary of his book is as follows:

    “The Sciences of the Soul is the first attempt to explain the development of the disciplinary conception of psychology from its appearance in the late sixteenth century to its redefinition at the end of the seventeenth and its emergence as an institutionalized field in the eighteenth. Fernando Vidal traces this development through university courses and textbooks, encyclopedias, and nonacademic books, as well as through various histories of psychology.

    Vidal reveals that psychology existed before the eighteenth century essentially as a “physics of the soul,” and it belonged as much to natural philosophy as to Christian anthropology. It remained so until the eighteenth century, when the “science of the soul” became the “science of the mind.” Vidal demonstrates that this Enlightenment refashioning took place within a Christian framework, and he explores how the preservation of the Christian idea of the soul was essential to the development of the science. Not only were most psychologists convinced that an empirical science of the soul was compatible with Christian faith; their perception that psychology preserved the soul also helped to elevate its rank as an empirical science. Broad-ranging and impeccably researched, this book will be of wide importance in the history and philosophy of psychology, the history of the human sciences more generally, and in the social and intellectual history of eighteenth-century Europe.”

    Reverend Haynes

    • Reverend,

      Re: “… Christian world view was no longer compatible with Natural Science or a Natural Philosophy.”

      I’m not a member of the clergy, but I am a person of faith; a Christian (Catholic).
      As I understand it, Natural Law is the foundation of faith, law, freedom, responsibility….

      It can be seen in the Catechism of the Catholic Church; the U.S. Constitution; the Bill of Rights… It was understood and appreciated for hundreds of years by the great philosophers – Plato, Aristotle, Cicero. You can find it in our courtrooms…

      But not in psychiatry.

      Thank you for your comments. I appreciate what you had to say.


      • Duane,

        Thank you, kindly, for your comments! Also, my apologies for being, somewhat, remiss in responding! I was away for a time.

        The notion (or idea) that a Christian-Theistic worldview is incompatible with Natural Science or Natural Philosophy is not only erroneous but historically inaccurate as well. An excellent work, attempting to correct this misconception, is: “The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy” by Nancy Pearcay and Charles Thaxton:

        A sampling of their main thesis is as such:

        “The typical science textbook is narrowly designed to acquaint students with major scientific discoveries. It presents little of the scientists’ underlying philosophy or religious motivations. The sole exceptions to that rule seems to be instances when philosophical or religious beliefs were rejected – such as Copernicus’s rejection of Ptolemaic geocentric cosmology or Galileo’s rejection of Aristotelian physics. Typically the student also assumes, at least unconsciously, that the historical characters who led this emancipation must have shared the same derogatory view of religion and philosophy. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

        In terms of “Natural Law” being “the foundation of faith, law, freedom, responsibility” etc., the Church’s (historical-theological) position is: It is the Eternal Word of God (i.e. as the Eternal “Logos” – which upholds all of the created reality – including the Moral Universe in which we live and move and have our being) that is the Ultimate and Transcendent (as well as Immutable and Eternal) ground of faith, law, freedom, responsibility intelligibility, etc.

        The Natural realm, or the Creation, i.e. as a creative ACT of the Eternal Logos (Eternal Word), is a “contingent” (and NOT a non-contingent or self-sustaining) reality that points “beyond” itself to that Eternal Ground.

        And so, the Creation (i.e. in terms of Natural Law) functions in a “Declarative” (or “Didactic”) capacity. That is, as a “General” (and not “Special”) Revelational knowledge of God’s person, power, glory, and law (i.e. as the Law of God written, or creatively inscribed, upon the human soul’s created power and capacity for “conscience”).

        However, with the historical movement toward Enlightenment thinking (i.e. where the light of human reason replaced the Light of Divine Revelation) Western society, as we know, moved from a Theistic to a Deistic to a Naturalistic view of life and reality.

        Of course, the Constitution of the United States (being heavily influenced by Enlightenment Deism) became the first secular (i.e. a totally “this worldly”) Constitution, in the history of Western thought and culture, with absolutely NO reference to God, whatsoever.

        Accordingly, we can, clearly, see this progressive-historical development in that huge political-cultural shift from Monarchy to Democracy. That is, from 1. Divine Right (of Kings) to 2. Natural Right (of Kings and Subjects, under Natural Law) to 3. Natural (or Inalienable) Rights of ALL citizens within a Republic – regardless of birth or blood to 4. Equal Human Rights for ALL within a modern Liberal-Democratic society.

        Three excellent works, I would highly recommend, on this historical (i.e. Natural Law) progression in Western-American culture are: 1. “The Theory of The Divine Right of Kings” by John Neville Figgis 2. “The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America” by Frank Lambert and 3. “Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present” by Mark Noll and Luke Harlow.

        Kind regards,
        Reverend Haynes

    • I really appreciate your historical information and perspective, which I was largely unaware of. I would only add that the entire discipline of psychology as you describe it clearly has roots in Western European culture. I’d suggest that the issue of the “soul” as opposed to the “mind” and the “brain” encompasses a wide range of spiritual traditions worldwide, and that psychiatry as currently conceived is interested in wiping out the validity of any of those traditions, regardless of their cultural origins, as providing any kind of explanation or solution for “mental illnesses.” The denial of the spiritual nature of human beings has been relegated to the realm of delusion and/or superstition, with dire results, at least from the point of view of anyone who cares about human beings more than making a lot of money and maintaining control over the masses. I hope that any future conception of “psychology” as the study of the human spirit will include the incredible array of possible spiritual philosophies, as well as acknowledging that this is an area requiring great humility in the face of the mystery of life. Such humility is almost unknown in psychiatric circles, and the lack of it is the ultimate downfall of psychiatry as a profession and a field of study.

      —- Steve

      • Steve,

        I am, truly, glad that you appreciated the “historical information and perspective” on the original (or “early modern”) psychology as a “science (or physics) of the soul”. Unfortunately, this “early modern” psychology has, or by and large, been conspicuously, absent from most “modern” textbooks on psychology.

        As such, one of my main points, in this article, and which I addressed to Dr. Hickey, was, that is was not ONLY the discipline of Psychiatry that was (or is) guilty of re-writing its own history but also the discipline of Psychology as well.

        And so, I am hoping that Fernando Vidal’s book (“The Sciences of the Soul”) will bring a, much needed, corrective to this modern-contemporary bias, in Psychology, to exclude its “early modern” Christian origins, etymology and foundations. And most especially, in light of the fact that not “only were most psychologists convinced that an empirical science of the soul was compatible with Christian faith; their perception that psychology preserved the soul also helped to elevate its rank as an empirical science.”

        With respect to the original-Christian definition, and understanding, of “psychology”, as being the “study of the soul” (and NOT “the scientific study of mind and behavior”), the “mind” (i.e. the “mind” in Christian Theology) essentially belongs to that elemental (or metaphysical) “substance” (or “principle”) of “spirit” within us.

        That is, Christian Psychology perceives human nature as being composed of two opposite (or elemental) “substances” known as “spirit” and “matter” (and NOT “force” and “matter” – as in Atheistic-Naturalism); and which is mysteriously, and wonderfully, conjoined together to form a living “soul” (or living “being”) in the physical world.

        Hence, it is the “metaphysical” substance of “spirit” (and not the “physical” substance of “force”) that is THEE self-conscious “principle” (Lat.”principia”) of life with the human “being” (or human “soul”); and whereby it shares that life with lifeless “matter” so as to form a “single” human nature in an earthly mode of existence.

        The “brain”, on the other hand is, therefore, ONLY an “instrument” of “world-consciousness” for the human spirit’s earthly mode of existence. In other words, the “mind” is ONLY an emergent property of “brain” in the sense of being a mediated (or proximate) cause; but NOT as being an essential or ultimate cause. In other words, the human “being” (or the human “soul”) is essentially “spirit” and only incidentally “matter”
        Moreover, or theologically speaking, the human “being” (or human “soul”) is not only essentially “spirit” but also a unique “kind” of spirit. That is, the “self-conscious” human “spirit” was created by God to be an “embodied” (or to use terms borrowed from Chemistry, a “compound”) “spirit”. Whereas angels were created by God to be “pure” (or elemental) “spirits”. And God, Himself, being pure and un-created “Spirit”.

        Therefore, the “essence” of human personality (or person-hood), within a Christian-Theistic worldview, essentially, exists within the realm of “spirit” and NOT within the realm “matter”. Thus, the human “soul” (or human “being”) has its existence both WITHIN the physical universe and OUTSIDE the physical universe at the same time.

        Therefore, the human “soul” (or human “being”) is both subject to the laws of physics and also (wonderfully) free from the laws of physics, also, at the same time. Accordingly, the possibility of true, libertarian agency (or free will) can now logically (or philosophically) exist within the powers and capacity of the human “soul” (or human “being”); where as in Naturalism that possibility can NOT exist within a closed (and NOT open) system (or universe) of “cause and effect” relations.

        As such, it is my hope (or goal) that once this Christian-Theistic understanding of the “soul” is (democratically) reclaimed back to the way we CHOOSE to do Science (i.e. by 80%, or by the “overwhelming” majority, of Americans who hold to a Christian-Theistic Worldview), Biological Psychiatry will, “metaphysically”, die a swift death! And rightfully so!

        Furthermore, or as a Christian Theologian, the best Biblical-Theological definition of the “soul”, that I have read, so far, is by (one-time) professor of Historical Theology, John T. McNeill, in his book “A History of The Cure of Souls”:

        “The soul is the essence of human personality. It is related to the body, but is not a mere expression or function of the bodily life. It is capable of vast ranges of experience and susceptible of disorder and anguish; but it is indestructible and endowed with the possibilities of blessedness within and beyond the order of time. The cure of souls is, then the sustaining and curative treatment of persons in those matters that reach beyond the requirements of the physical-bodily life.”

        Finally, or in my own Latin to English translation of an 18th century psychology textbook (“Fundamenta Psychologiae Ex Sacra Scriptura Sic Collecta” – “Fundamentals of Psychology Collected from the Sacred Scriptures”), written by Lutheran Prelate, and Theologian, Magnus F. Roos, in 1769, it, wonderfully, adds to John T. McNeil definition, and understanding (above), of the “Study of the Soul” (i.e. Psychology):

        “It is obligated of an individual intending to search out the nature of the human soul to first of all consider carefully when it lives a life on this earth, which part is itself in common with the brute beasts and which part is of the nobler nature, and abides eternally. Thereupon he may give consideration to, the vast number of realities a living human being is able to desire or to loathe, with some to be delighted in, with others to be overthrown. Ultimately he should weigh it carefully, not for the reason that all these realities may be attributed to an individual person, insofar as one may bear a fleshly body, but that a part of it may exist as a being having been separated from the body, however much this being may have been formed at union with the body, and with that union may constitute together a single person.” (Roos, p.1)

        Reverend Haynes

      • Boans

        The answer to your question is, simply, NO!

        That is, it is NOT possible, within the context of a Democratic-Republican society, to “force” a people (or nation) “to a Christian World View”.

        On the other hand, it would be a very, REAL possibility to “force” a people or nation (but NOT individuals, per say) within a Christian-Monarchical society – for example, as was done under king Alfred the Great – whom Sir Winston Churchill considered to be the greatest English king in English speaking (or Anglo-Saxon) history.

        [Note: Just as a point of interest, under the rule of king Alfred it was impossible, in Alfred’s mind, for Humanity to establish a Constitution (Lat. Constitutio). That is, it would be rebellion against God for a Christian king to establish THEE “Fundamental Law” for Humanity – since ONLY God, alone, could do so, and did so, on Mount Sinai; when He wrote, in human history, the Ten Commandments, by His own hand, in tablets of stone.]

        Thus, the REAL issue (or dilemma), here, as I perceive it, is that the dominant World View (or “reigning religious philosophy”), in Western-American Science, Law and Education, is NOT Christian Theism but rather Philosophical Naturalism. And, to which some scholars, myself included, have termed, as being nothing more than, ancient “Canaanitism” (i.e. the Worship of Nature) but only in a more modern or more sophisticated form. And so it would appear, or in the words of Solomon, “there is nothing new under the sun”.

        However, approximately 80% of Americans are professing Christian Theists while approximately 10% are professing Atheists. Hence, one would, quite naturally, think (i.e. by virtue of living in a Democratic society) that a Christian Theistic World View would (democratically) come to dominate our understanding of Science, Law and Education in the Academy. Yet that is NOT the case!

        And so, or somewhat ironically, the question (or rather YOUR question regarding “coercion”) begs to be asked: How did an Atheistic-Philosophical Naturalism come to (undemocratically) “force” its way into the Western-American Academy? I find THAT to be a, rather, strange anomaly in a society that so values democracy!

        In other words, in Western-American society, at large, Democracy is upheld, and defended, even to the death. However, in the Western-American Academy it is the Atheistic-Naturalistic “Philosopher kings” who have decreed themselves that THEY, and THEY ALONE, have NATURAL right to rule the Academy. I don’t know about you, but “I’d have a problem with that”!

        Notwithstanding this democratic perplexity, or inconsistency, my main thought, in response to this enlightening article, was that the ONLY way that Biological Psychiatry (including a Naturalistic Psychology, as its rival sibling) can be brought down from its heights of cultural dominance and authority is to, first of all, EXPOSE the dominant “religious philosophy” (i.e. Philosophical Naturalism) that is POWERFULLY driving it! And then, in turn, rightfully establish (i.e. within the Academy) a Christian Theism as THEE overwhelming majority, and democratically accepted, Western-American World View in its place.

        And once this Christian Theistic World View was (rightfully and democratically) established, in the Western-American Academy, then the original psychology (i.e. as the study of the SOUL) would, quite naturally, become the cornerstone of our psychology and psychiatry, once again.

        Hence, the “essence” (or “constitutive element”) of human personality would NO LONGER be reduced down to a mechanistic level of being (nothing more) than an emergent property of electro-chemical brain activity. On the contrary, by reclaiming the traditional Christian concept of the SOUL the “essence” of human personality (including the “essence” of the human “mind”) would be, infinitely, raised above the natural-physical realm of “matter” and into the realm of “spirit”. And what would the consequence of such a psychological paradigm shift be? The DEATH of Biological Psychiatry!

        And so, or as the old preacher once said: Either say OUCH or say AMEN!

        Reverend Haynes

        • Thanks for the answer Reverend. Lots there for me to think about.

          80% of Americans are Christian Theists? Words from a son by a fella called Kev Carmody.

          Gee I’ve seen some funny women and men
          That think that Christianity’s beginning and end
          Is to sit up in them old Church pews on a Sunday Morn

          Now there’s 168 hours in any one week
          and 1 and a 1/2 in Church seems pretty weak
          They think their Jesus lives behind them locked Church doors eh.

          So instead of sittin in church pews on a Sunday morn
          holding sinners up for righteous scorn
          lets identify with those he (Jesus) loved and cherished most my friend.

          The poor, the poor
          let replace the systems core
          and reshuffle the cards the elite have stacked and dealt.

          The poor, yeah the poor
          let us modify the law
          and redistribute the elites immoral wealth.

          I’m up for it 🙂

    • Reverend: Much food for thought here. While I come from an Anarchist/Liberation Theology bent, I am always interest in taking a step back and looking at things from another perspective. Awhile back, the young black women moderator on CSPAN had a minister on explaining his view about creeping secularism and the dangers it poses for us. While I can’t exactly replicate his argument, he was quite pleased to have the opportunity to lay out his view in an hour long give and take format. I think this was a relief for him in that he was more accustomed to brawling with critics of the church with barbs and sound bites.
      Back here in the Kanawha Valley we have a strong component of Christian schools which harken back to what we call The Great Textbook War. The folks in the coal mining region in the upper end of the valley found their grievances funneled along a path by a school board member on loan from Columbus Ohio, who was coached by the John Birch Society, The National Educator, and Mel and Norma Gabler the anti-secularist textbook protesters from Texas. The editors from the staunchly liberal Charleston Gazette, poured oil on the fire of the dispute by denigrating the protestors. I would argue that this dust up was equal in national significance to the Scopes Monkey trial, and was perhaps the first shot fired in what is called the cultural wars-1974. I was at ground zero at consolidated Riverside High School, just down from the DuPont plant on Friday. As a substitute, I get around a bit, and I noticed that the Great Gatsby was featured heavily around the schools in the valley including my son’s consolidated high school at Capital-the Westside and East End School in Charleston withstood the push back and dismantling of school desegregation unlike what was experienced by the opening of George Washington High School, an elitist public private lilly white institution in South Hills.
      Anyway, back to Gatsby, I was inspecting one of the displays in the school and remarked to a fellow teacher, that the whole Gatsby experience left me with a feeling of emptiness. Upon which he remarked that materialism was no substitute for taking God out of the schools. At one juncture of my life I probably would have bristled, but on FRIDAY I pressed on. It turns out the English teacher graduated from Ohio Valley University in Parkersburg just across the river from Marietta, Ohio. The old campus consisted of a Church of Christ chapel and newer buildings on the other half of campus. My son had a quiz bowl completion there. Also many of the cast and crew at Children’s Theatre of Charleston are home schoolers who end up at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. For younger readers and those outside of the United State, Liberty was set up by the lightning rod Evangelical Jerry Falwell-no speaking in tongues or snake handling-See Redneck Manifesto for more on the latter. Any way my son’s girl friend attends a Christian School across from Wheeing in Ohio in order to evade the vaccination mandate of WVa. She was interested in going to Liberty, until my agnostic leaning son read here the strict rules Liberty has for going to movies and other secular pursuits. Besides the secular Bible Belt divide, we also have to live down the hillbilly stereotype-For you American Studies students from abroad and Green Horns see the top rated television Show, the Beverley Hillbillies. Part of what drives the misunderstandings here is the inability of our city folk to embrace our hillbilly roots and hence think you’re better than the folks from the hollers and coal camps. For what it is worth-Obama carried the near-by coal county of Boone with 55%.
      It is often said that Americans don’t know what it is like to lose a war, but go tell that to a white southerner in the former Confederate states. What one has to watch out for my opinion is not prayer in the schools and right to life beliefs, but how Falwell and Pat Robertson reintegrated the fallen south into a staunch supporter of Yanqui militarism. Keep your eye on the ball. Also recently, ESPN ran a segment on the African-American football star Randy Moss-a graduate of DuPont High along with Miami Heat champ point guard Jason Williams. DuPont along with Cedar Grove and East Bank-home of Zeke from Cabin Creek LA Lakers great Jerry West were all consolidated into Riverside. I know I am probably committing a big sin here mixing religion, politics, history, and sports.

  6. Dear Philip
    Thanks for the Great Blog – its all about money.

    Professor Martin Knapp, Economist to Kings College London, puts the cost of Severe Mental Illness per person/per year to the UK at £60,000. Severe Mental Illness I presume, being the most extreme of categorizations.

    I found to my horror in 2012, that my GP surgery had been claiming for me as a ‘Severely Mentally Ill’ for 10 years. I’m a subcontractor in the building industry with 30 years of wellness (I got well through not taking my medication and moving to psychology).

    The Surgery tried to justify the categorization with an Irish Record Summary sent to the UK in 1986. The problem is this record is ‘dodgy’ and I can prove it (with hard evidence).

    They’ve now pulled the 1986 Irish Record off the System and they’re trying to avoid explaining why. But I’m staying on the case.

    • Fichara: I was hit with the tag chronically mentally ill after my second run in with the white coats. The original diagnosis was manic illness which then morphed into bipolar effective disorder I knew that they had tagged as grandiose, but it was a bit annoying when I discovered years later that the had tagged with an Axis 2 DSM for narcissism. The psychiatrist assured me that they weren’t being judge mental, just a form of short hand communication between professionals. He is from Syria, but it is hard to imagine that the significance of such a slander is over his head. Any way, I had a new student this week from Ireland. He informed me that we guys aren’t encumbered by political correctness like us here in the US.

      • Hi chrisreed
        Thanks for the feedback. I’ll continue to take it through the official procedures.

        (The GP that put my name on the ‘list’ was asked to leave on account of his own mental health problems – and the next GP taking over, could see the money in it.

        I spent an hour in the room with him, explaining my circumstances. He wrote me a letter removing diagnosis but at a later date claimed he was not qualified to do this).

  7. Kudos. But I have to admit that I am absolutely dumbfounded that even on a site that is dedicated to helping those who have been abused and tortured by psychiatry has so few voices that actually oppose the evils of biological psychiatry. Ted Chabasinski is right. Trying to negotiate with psychiatry is like Neville Chamberlain trying to appease Hitler. Improving psychiatry is like trying to form diplomatic relations with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Anyone who has actually read Whitaker’s books should understand this already. Reformation is not an option. One cannot simply reform evil. It must be uprooted, eliminated, and replaced with something good. Why? Because evil produces harm, and good produces blessings. Good will eventually triumph over evil, so I’m optimistic about the future. But for heaven’s sake, no more pussyfooting around the evil that is psychiatry. We need bold, fresh, courageous leadership against the onslaught of psychotropic drugging and relentless erroneous diagnoses, not to mention stronger opposition to perpetual scientistic reductionism and medicalization of the human soul. Slay the dragon of psychiatry, and health will emerge, as it always has, naturally.

    • Slayer: Was poking around Directory of Open Access Journals. It appears that that Iranian medical establishment subscribes to bio psychiatry. As for the breech with the Iranians, when Ahmajenidad came to Columbia he was tagged with official enemy status. The flap with the Iranians runs pretty deep owing to 1953 coup and tilt to Sadam during the Persian Gulf War. A man wife team defected fromUS State Dept. Wrote a book a couple of years ago calling for Detente with the Iranians-The Laverettes. Their contention is that the strength of the Green Movement there is overblown, and that it is high time to bury the sword. After all, women there get a much better shake In higher education than in Saudi Arabia. We have a Bahia Community here, but they will tell you that they also caught hell from the Shah. My understanding is that the religious figures there have a hard time catching a cab, so I am not sure how hard the Theocrats thumb is down on the people. Also, I wrote a paper in graduate school dealing with cross cultural cooperation between counselors from Iran and the US.

  8. An enjoyable article cutting through the pretensions of the psychiatry profession. Although supposedly more progressive groups of the profession has been professing to adopt a “biopsychosocial model” rather than a more limited “biological model” – in practice this has just meant seconding psychologists and social workers to play their part in enforcing the “biological model” and the “chemical imbalance” with genetic predisposition theories. They add the possibility that non-specific “stress” contributes to the development of the “mental illness” – this is the “psychosocial” bit. Their understanding of the social and familial factors that lead to distress are minimal and their “interventions” compound whatever distress their “patients” have in the first place.

    “Biological psychiatry” is also a misnomer. It has nothing to do with bios – life. In fact it shortens life and worsens its quality. It is actually anti-biological.

  9. Gratitude again to Philipp Hickey for another informative article based of independent and historical research.
    Appreciate the Reverend to remind us of the soul in psy-s.
    Nevertheless the sould has been annihilated: bio-neuro-techno-psychiatric chemical machinery or rationalised: psych-o-logy.
    The latter professions increase their warm up and take over from psychiatry in crisis – psychiatry subject to the categorical error of postulating neurological causes for mental and cultural productions of a different order: the cognivitists drawing from experiments and cognitive-schemata-modelling, another science fiction as modus operandum – are claiming power for the dressage of patients disturbed thought processes. CBT build on, wait, the PSYCHObiosocial models of human minds functioning.
    Even more dangerous than stupid old neuromythological psychiatry.
    Of course, the knowings of the people in mental and emotional and reallllll social and moral distressess NEED be excluded – as well as those of ‘spiritual healers’, reverends or other humble spiritual guides.