Dr. Datta – Still Repackaging Psychiatry

Philip Hickey, PhD
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Editor’s note: The article here is identical to the one posted on Dr. Hickey’s blog, but with an incorrect reference to Dr. Datta’s current position removed. Dr. Datta will post a general reflection that he hopes will clarify where he stands, as well as correct what he feels are assumptions that Dr. Hickey has made.

On December 1, Mad in America published an article titled When Homosexuality Came Out (of the DSM).  The author is Vivek Datta, MD, MPH, a British physician.  The article was also published the same day on Dr. Datta’s blog site, Medicine and Society.

The article focuses on the removal of homosexuality from the DSM, which occurred in 1973.  Dr. Datta discusses this issue and various related themes, and he draws some conclusions that, in my opinion, are unwarranted and misleading.

Here are some quotes from Dr. Datta’s article, interspersed with my comments.

“Paradigmatic of the social nature of psychiatric diagnosis, the purging of homosexuality from the psychiatric nomenclature highlights the instability of the psychiatric sign: once signifying disease and perversion, homosexuality came to be recognized by the establishment as a normal variant of human sexuality.”

The purging of homosexuality from the DSM does indeed highlight the “instability” of psychiatric labels.  Homosexuality was a “psychiatric illness” prior to 1973; after 1973 it was a variant of normal.  Similarly, but in the opposite direction, childhood temper tantrums used to be a variant of normal, but, thanks to the promotional efforts of pharma-psychiatry, are now considered to constitute a  psychiatric illness (disruptive mood dysregulation disorder).

But instability isn’t the only issue.  The fact that these human activities can become illnesses or cease to be  illnesses by the voting authority of the APA suggests, at least to me, that psychiatry’s so-called nosology is spurious.  The instability of psychiatry’s “diagnoses,” which Dr. Datta mentions, is indeed a reflection of the social aspect of psychiatric labeling, but it is also, and much more fundamentally, a reflection of its spuriousness.

If people with real diseases, pneumonia or kidney failure, for instance, were to become dissatisfied with receiving these diagnoses, and were to stage protests, initiate lawsuits, etc., it wouldn’t materially alter their diagnosed status.  They would still have pneumonia or kidney failure or whatever.  The medical specialties involved can’t vote these illnesses out of existence any more than they can create new illnesses by fiat.  Psychiatry is the only medical specialty that can do this.  And it can do this because it has decreed, arbitrarily and without justification, that all significant problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving are psychiatric illnesses.

It is a pity, and also noteworthy, that Dr. Datta did not take the opportunity to point this out.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“As discussed above, the removal of homosexuality from the DSM was the result of sociopolitical forces, and not a reflection of scientific advancement. Even within psychiatry, the mass proliferation of psychiatric diagnoses is viewed as something commercial. Up until the 1970s psychiatric diagnoses were not necessary to treat individuals with a wide range of problems, and psychiatrists had little competition from other mental health professionals. With the growth of clinical psychology and other mental health professions who could provide psychotherapy more cheaply, psychiatrists needed to maintain their moral authority over the mental life that had come under their purview. What psychiatrists, as physicians, could do that others could not was make diagnoses. Thus the medical profession created new diagnoses for the range of mental life that psychiatrists were already seeing in their offices; and these became the signifiers that these patients had a medical illness that required treatment. The growth of psychopharmacology allowed the boundaries for these new diagnoses to expand, creating new markets, not only for the pharmaceutical industry but also for the mental health field. There was no problem too small to warrant pharmaceutical relief.”

These are complex issues.  Dr. Datta asserts that up until the 70’s, psychiatrists had little competition from other mental health professions, but as competition of this kind began to emerge, they needed to medicalize the human problems that they encountered in order to maintain their “moral authority” in these areas.  I’m not sure that psychiatrists ever possessed moral authority in the usual sense of the term, but setting that aside, it should be emphasized that they  didn’t need to spuriously medicalize these problems.  Rather, they chose to do so.  Faced with the prospect of losing turf and prestige, they fabricated an elaborate house of cards, foisted this hoax onto their clients and the general public, marginalized all opposition, and routinely suppressed evidence of the subsequent destructiveness and disempowerment.  This is not, I suggest, how a profession with moral authority would respond to increased competition.

But there is a much more significant aspect to the competition issue that Dr. Datta completely ignores.  And that is psychiatry’s competition with natural helpers.  In earlier times, and certainly into the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, problems such as shyness, worry, temper tantrums, feelings of guilt, experiences of failure, painful memories, bouts of depression, etc., were routinely dealt with by the individuals themselves, with help from parents, siblings, extended families, friends, co-workers, clergy, barbers, etc…  In effect, these natural helpers were psychiatry’s competition in the “treatment” of these problems that have, since about 1980, increasingly come to be seen as illnesses requiring professional psychiatric intervention.  In order for psychiatry to expand, the role of these natural helpers had to shrink.  And shrink it has under a barrage of psychiatric assurances that these problems are illnesses (“just like diabetes”), that they need professional treatment, and that amateurish interventions are likely to be counter-productive.  Psychiatrists routinely, and disrespectfully, marginalized these natural helpers, and relegated them to the status of compliance monitors – encouraging the “patient” to take the “medications” to “treat” his “lifelong illness.”  Psychiatry didn’t need to do this.  Psychiatry chose to do this for reasons that had nothing to do with client welfare, and everything to do with psychiatric profit and hegemony.

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

“But what of the social and political forces that facilitated the growth of mental illness? At the same time that homosexuality was losing its status as mental disorder, the US was in the midst of a deepening economic crisis. By 1980, the year of publication of DSM-III, a new republican government headed by Ronald Regan entered the White House. Rather than draw attention to the psychiatric casualties that would amass under neoliberal policies, it became convenient to locate mental illness within the self – in brain, cell, and molecule – rather than as a product of community, society, and state. It is for this reason that psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff has suggested that a “marriage of convenience” exists between biopsychiatry and the politics of neoliberalism. A biological model that was gaining ascendance was fortified by the political expedience of supporting a paradigm of psychic discontent that obfuscated the wider social, economic and political forces at play. In the same way the removal of homosexuality from the DSM was not the result of scientific advancement but political will, the solidifying of disease status of minor psychiatric diagnoses and their biological basis are more the result of these same forces than scientific triumphalism.”

In discussing and analyzing human activity, it is certainly important to remain cognizant of the various cultural, economic, social, and political forces that have an impact on human decisions.  But it is equally important to recognize that these forces are themselves created, shaped, and nurtured by the decisions of influential people.  Certainly, the practice of spuriously pathologizing individuals serves to draw attention away from social, political, and economic issues.  But by the same token, emphasizing the social, political, and economic issues serves to draw attention from the fact that psychiatry’s ardent and unchecked drive towards the medicalization of every conceivable human problem was primarily the result of decisions taken by psychiatry’s leadership with the wholehearted endorsement of the rank and file.  Psychiatrists were, at all times, firmly in the driver’s seat in their profession’s descent into moral and intellectual bankruptcy.  The medicalization travesty was not something that was perpetrated on psychiatry by outside forces.  Rather, it was something that psychiatry, with eyes wide open, inflicted on its clients and on society generally.

And psychiatry’s motivation in this regard was greed, prestige, and the desire to retain hegemony in an area in which at the present time, they can claim no particular expertise or experience, i.e. the provision of real help to people who are troubled by problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving.

And incidentally, note the word “minor” in Dr. Datta’s last sentence, the presumed implication of which is that he is excluding “major” psychiatric diagnoses from his critique.  In reality, there is no more evidence supporting the disease status of major psychiatric diagnoses than minor ones.

It is noteworthy that in his final paragraph, Dr. Datta mentions the British psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff, and the impression given is that his and Dr. Moncrieff’s positions are broadly similar.  And indeed there may be a good deal of overlap.  But with regards to the ontological status of psychiatric “illness,” Dr. Moncrieff is unambiguous:

“Thus I refer sometimes to ‘mental illness’, although I do not consider that psychiatric conditions are usefully or validly regarded as illnesses.” (The Myth of the Chemical Cure, 2009, palgrave macmillan, p xi)

Dr. Datta, of course, is entitled to critique as much or as little of his profession as he chooses.  But I think it’s important to clarify two important issues.  Firstly, one of the effects of Dr. Datta’s critique is to relieve psychiatry of blame:  in the framework sketched out by Dr. Datta, the present scandalous state of affairs is not the result of corruption, greed, and venality within the profession, but rather is the result of social, economic, and political “forces.”  Secondly, although Dr. Datta’s critiques are in some respects far-reaching and insightful, he does appear to endorse the disease status of at least some psychiatric diagnoses.

The problem with this kind of partial critique of psychiatry by one of its own members is that it conveys the impression that compromise is possible – that psychiatry is taking our concerns on board and is agreeing with us.  But this impression can be misleading.

The fact is that psychiatry’s primary premise:   that all significant problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving are illnesses – is false.  Apart from those psychiatric diagnoses that have been clearly established as “due to a general medical condition” or “due to the effects of a substance”, there is no substantive evidence to support the disease status of the wide-ranging DSM entities.  As long as psychiatry clings to the obviously spurious notion that distress or impairment constitute illness, then there can be no valid compromise, even if individual psychiatrists express a willingness to cede the matter with regards to some conditions. The problem for psychiatrists, however, is that as soon as they acknowledge the truth, and abandon their basic falsehood, there is no longer any need or justification for medical involvement in these areas, and they will cease to exist as a profession.

What psychiatry has been doing for the past 50 or 60 years is obfuscating the issues in the hope that their nosological edifice will ultimately be rescued by neuroscience. They asserted the known-to-be-false chemical imbalance theory with vigor, and now as it crumbles under the criticism of anti-psychiatry, they are asserting – again without evidence – the neural circuitry anomalies theory.

Individual psychiatrists, of course, have to find their way through this intellectual and moral quagmire as best they can.  Some, and perhaps most, just ignore the issues and go on pushing drugs as they have been trained to do.  Others vehemently deny the arguments from this side of the issue. Others ostracize us as “deniers,” on a par with evolution-deniers and conspiracy theorists.  Most of the leadership continue to use spin and PR in a futile attempt to offset valid and legitimate criticism.

In this context, Dr. Datta’s approach – which incidentally is similar to that adopted by Allen Frances, MD – is relatively rare:  agree with the opposition on secondary issues, but hold fast on the core principles.  It is analogous to jettisoning the cargo to save the ship.  With psychiatry, however, it is the ship itself that is flawed.

Psychiatry is not something basically sound that needs some minor corrections or repackaging.  Psychiatry is something fundamentally flawed and rotten.  The notion that all significant problems of thinking, feeling, and/or behaving are by their very nature illnesses is the fallacy from which all psychiatry’s destructiveness flows.  And no amount of repackaging can correct that fallacy.  And by the same token, no significant progress can be made in this area until that fallacy is finally and totally discarded.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Phillip. I couldn’t agree with you more. The whole psychiatric thing is rotten to the core. When Allen Frances speaks about more “pie” for all the paid mental “helping” professions, he is pitching to a very greedy group. I also agree with David Walker in his ideas about the damage psychiatric reductionism does to human reality. The joke is that that wider reality wasn’t just true for Native cultures. It used to be ours as well.

  2. Thanks Philip, and I second that. The diagnoses forecast a dead end and the treatments make sure this happens. All the expensive research has also gone nowhere.

    After years of disabling treatment (Diagnosis of Acute Schizophrenia, Chronic Schizophrenia and then Schizo Affective Disorder) I moved from psychiatry to psychotherapy, (30 years ago) where I found solutions.

    I can explain how recovery worked for me. I presented any limitations I had and practical solutions were suggested. There was no great mystery (or cost).

  3. “result of corruption, greed, and venality within the profession, but rather is the result of social, economic, and political “forces.””
    One does not exclude the other. The system which creates wrong incentives and is based on unhuman principles is bound to open the gates for all kinds of questionable behaviors.

    • B,

      I agree that the one does not exclude the other. In fact, I stated clearly:

      “In discussing and analyzing human activity, it is certainly important to remain cognizant of the various cultural, economic, social, and political forces that have an impact on human decisions.”

      My problem with Dr. Datta’s analysis was that he focused exclusively on the “forces” and neglected to mention the other matters.

  4. I have to say, I didn’t read Vivek Datta’s post as an effort to absolve psychiatry of anything. It seemed a pretty biting critique to me. I don’t know enough about him or his writing to really say where he’s coming from, but the comparison with Frances seems odious. I can’t see Frances ever writing anything as powerful or honest as Vivek’s post, since he’s still spending most of his time trying to distinguish between the DSM IV and 5, while not substantially critiquing the basis of the diagnostic criteria themselves. Vivek’s post seemed to suggest that psychiatric diagnoses are entirely social constructs that can be voted in and out of existence on the whim of a bunch of entitled white guys who have a change of heart, and that they lack any real scientific validity. Which is absolutely the case.

    I don’t really disagree with anything you’re saying about psychiatry’s real intent and choices (I rarely do), but I just had to say that my reading of Datta’s last post was quite different than the take you had on it. I found it powerful and very much contributory to our intent, as opposed to Frances’s whiny after-the-fact hand wringing.

    —- Steve

  5. Interesting post.

    Some people think psychiatry is reformable but I think of a freind of mine. He was forcible pinned down and drugged a long time ago and has been damaged by psychiatric drugs for about 20 years. He was also given ECT on the whim of a psychiatrist with a mania for it. He is also traumatised by childhood and adulthood events that happend to him.

    I was talking to a psychologist who told me my friend could get therapy for the traumas if he wanted. But who would want therapy from a health service that has consistently damaged you, ignored your cries for help (he consistently told them that the drugs were damaging him and they consistently ignored him).

    If I was beaten in by the police I would not go to a police paid counsellor for help with the subsequent trauma

    • Just to be clear, I don’t really see psychiatry as reformable, as its basic premises have been skewed far back in history toward viewing differences as something to be stomped out. There have always been enlightened reformers in the system who have worked to change that, but at its core, psychiatry appears to have always been about controlling and eliminating anything (and anyone) uncomfortable and challenging from human experience. It is hard to imagine that basic orientation ever changing. Of course, I never thought the Berlin Wall would come down, and I was wrong on that point, but this may be an even tougher change to make.

      —– Steve

  6. Philip

    I love your unrelenting critiques of Biological Psychiatry and I agree with all those who say it cannot be reformed.

    However, I believe you narrow and weaken your overall critique when you criticize Dr. Datta’s attempt to analyze the particular political context for the meteoric growth of modern psychiatry.

    In Bob Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic” he makes a salient point about the weaken position of psychiatry during upheaval of the 1960’s when all institutions of power and control were being exposed and critically evaluated.

    We cannot forget the fact that the uprisings of the 60’s shook the entire American capitalist system to its foundations. It was very important for the ruling classes to re-contextualize the myriad of innate forms of trauma (poverty, racism, patriarchy, war, and psychiatric abuse) away from the system that creates and sustains these injustices to INSTEAD target genetic defects and so-called brain diseases. The newly developed biological theories and forms of psychiatric “treatment” not only conveniently “blame the victim” but also create favorable conditions to anesthetize those sections of the population most likely to become potential political rebels.

    This was not necessarily some grand conspiracy of social control (however, I believe some of the 1% are very aware of its value), but rather a perfect melding of political and economic interests of multiple institutions whose collusion advanced their own agenda and helped preserve and strengthen the status quo. This collusion of necessity had its origins even prior to the Reagan years, although it certainly did grow exponentially during this period.

    We cannot forget that Biological Psychiatry is the WEDDING of the American Psychiatric Association (and other leading psychiatric organizations in the world) with the pharmaceutical industry and the major training institutions of modern psychiatry. Each part of this marital triad represents a “perfect storm” of existence for the preservation of the whole.

    Philip. I think it is correct to challenge Dr. Datta regarding what parts of psychiatry he wishes to defend or want to preserve. So far I have found his blogs to be educational and interesting. It has not been clear to me that his writings are somehow aimed at preserving the status quo. I look forward to his response.

    Richard

    • Thanks again, for your contemplations, Philip, I’m always grateful for your perspectives.

      Richard, I still consider myself new to the psychiatric survivor movement, and the fourth and fifth paragraphs of your comment struck me personally as interesting, thank you for the history.

      “The newly developed theories and forms of treating psychiatric ‘treatment’ not only ‘blame the victim’ but also create favorable conditions to anesthetize those sections of the population most likely to become potential political rebels.” “… some of the 1% are aware of it’s value,” just like some we’re aware of the value in defaming the Jews as “mentally ill” in Nazi Germany.

      But since I hadn’t previously been aware of the psychiatric industry’s deceptions and fraud, and it hadn’t occurred to me that the 1% bankers would proactively utilize these tactics against the intelligent children of the former 2% of ethical American bankers (who would understand their crimes). I had no idea I might possibly be a target. But at least many are now pointing out the fraud and evil of the 1% “banksters,” all over the internet. Trying to find the actual truth behind why one was actually attacked by psychiatric fraudsters is challenging.

      Perhaps we should rid society of those (the psychiatrists) who go outside the law (via psychiatric social control) to destroy the decent, for the criminals? And go back to belief in the concept “all people are created equal and have certain inalienable rights.”

    • Richard,

      I appreciate many of your insights regarding the uprisings of the 60’s, and agree with your analysis re: the reaction of the American capitalist system. However, you lose me entirely when you propose that the fabrication of *brain diseases* and *biological- even genetic defects” was a legitimate role for psychiatry to play– as a means for control, and suppression of the truth that still remains to be dealt with if we are ever to create a peaceful, prosperous society that respects the dignity of all of our lives.

      I take issue with your suggesting that there could be a reason for those in whom our society placed explicit trust, to undermine every aspect of medical practice that we believe exists for our protection. Psychiatry/psychiatrists lied, Richard. They went beyond proposing and discussing *theories* of so-called brain diseases and genetic defects to establishing a paradigm of treatment grounded in these theories that to anyone with a rational mind, appeared cruel. Psychiatrists adopted an attitude of indifference to the individuals who were suffering from or reacting to the inequities in our unjust social system. Is this the behavior you expect from a doctor?

      Perhaps my 14 years practicing nursing in medical and critical care settings primed me to expect psychiatrists, MD’s, after all, would exhibit at least one trait that demonstrated his/her realization that his/her patient was a human being. Perhaps my years of education and training predispose me to believe that standards of caring for vulnerable people should reflect not only what is actually known about diseases and disorders, but also take into consideration how individuals will respond differently– to the same disease and the same treatment. It is far from acceptable, that any medical professional would decide to diagnose and treat patients based on taking the pulse of society for cues on how to attain a seat of power. This is what psychiatry did, and still does–

      Allen Frances goes so far as to claim that psychiatry is needed to abate the overcrowding of prisons with those he would assign a label from his manual of made up disorders, but for convenience just refers to as, the ‘mentally ill’. Even when he is willing to admit that psychiatrists’ diagnostic criteria has reached the level of absurdity, he is not willing to be accountable for participating in creating the delusion that psychiatrists are actual doctors.

      Maybe you are willing to accept there was some need or reason for doctors to step completely outside of their professional duty; to disavow any obligation to ethical practice, and make up whatever increased their power, authority and income— because you have not witnessed how these theories are translated into a clinical practice. -?

      It makes a difference, I think to encounter faces, names, stories– attached to real people, who were powerless to reject what psychiatrists conjured up and sold as *treatment for the mentally ill*. Makes for a different perspective on the role and purpose of psychiatry– if one dares to consider that psychiatry is, after all, practiced by licensed medical doctors.

      Best,
      Katie

      • Katie

        I can only respond briefly before I head off to work.

        You have misread my comment . In no way was I implying that psychiatry’s disease labeling was or is legitimate. I was only framing the political context in which these oppressive theories and practices arose.

        My stand against psychiatry has been well documented in the content of all my blog writings.

        Richard

        • Richard,

          I am only responding to what you are writing here. You have restated what I responded to, so I will try again…

          As you say

          ” I was only framing the political context in which these oppressive theories and practices arose.”

          The theories, and practices, regardless of how they arose, were unproven. Psychiatry, a medical specialty, propagated these theories as the knowledge base and foundation for what amounts to inhumane, unethical experimentation carried out with both authority and impunity against vulnerable people. This is fraud, and quite a serious offense for a medical professional. Medical fraud of this calibre is indefensible but at the very least it is grounds for disciplinary action and certainly loss of license to practice medicine.

          The fact that psychiatry continues to violate all standards for ethical, safe medical practice based solely on their authority, while choosing to remain ignorant of all scientific evidence that refutes their *theories* casts a dark shadow over our present day-*political context* with its absence of social justice and indifference towards the harm suffered by the victims of criminal doctors.

          I completely agree with Philip’s criticizing Dr. Datta’s for failing to draw the conclusion that accurately identifies psychiatry, and it seems you , too, dismiss the crucial choices psychiatists made, which all point to their being criminals without conscience.

          And perhaps I am unable to understand what “a stand against psychiatry” actually means, because I stand FOR the moral and ethical obligations that delineate a licensed medical professional from an entrepreneur in a capitalist system. From this stance, which more accurately puts psychiatry into its proper context, psychiatry would not exist– by virtue of its choice to ignore criteria for its inclusion in the medical profession.

          Best,
          Katie

          • Katie

            When I say that Biological Psychiatry (with all its genetic and reductionist theories and practices) is very useful to the ruling classes in order to maintain an overall oppressive system, how does that somehow translate into my supporting psychiatry’s legitimacy???

            If I were to say that the two psychologists who made a few million dollars for designing and leading the torture program for the CIA were very USEFUL for the nefarious goals of the U.S. government, how would that somehow translate into my supporting their premise for doing so???

            You said: ” However, you lose me entirely when you propose that the fabrication of *brain diseases* and *biological- even genetic defects” was a legitimate role for psychiatry to play…”

            Where have I ever stated that psychiatry’s role in creating disease labeling is legitimate? All my writings have criticized such practices on the part of psychiatry. I would agree with the thrust of all your above stated critiques regarding psychiatry’s lack of scientific, moral, and ethical legitimacy. Where have I implied anything different?

            You said: “I take issue with your suggesting that there could be a reason for those in whom our society placed explicit trust, to undermine every aspect of medical practice that we believe exists for our protection.”

            Katie, in order for us to create the material conditions for Biological Psychiatry’s demise, along with all other forms of human oppression, we need to critically understand how all oppressive institutions have come into being and how the ruling classes RATIONALIZE and sustain their need to exist. “Know thy enemy” is a mantra for any successful liberation movement. That is all I was attempting to do with my prior comments.

            Richard

            Richard

    • Richard,

      Thanks for coming in. I do obviously recognize the impact that socio/cultural/political forces have on human decisions. But one of my problems with Dr. Datta’s critique was that he ignored the effect that individual decisions, particularly the decisions of powerful, influential people, have on socio/cultural/political forces. I have written elsewhere about the pharma-psychiatry marriage, and I agree with what you say. I also look forward to Dr. Datta’s response.

      • Richard,

        I am inferring your acceptance of the unique role psychiatry,MD has played in the heinous destruction of humanity, based on what you have *not said*, which is also what Dr.Datta leaves out of all of his scholarly critiques of the field he has chosen as a *profession*.

        Above, Dr. Hickey points to my argument in a more eloquent manner saying:
        “… that he [Dr.Datta] ignored the effect that individual decisions, particularly the decisions of powerful, influential people, have on socio/cultural/political forces.”

        You say above:
        “Know thy enemy” is a mantra for any successful liberation movement.”

        Yet, you avoid direct confrontation with *the enemy* insisting that :
        “… we need to critically understand how all oppressive institutions have come into being and how the ruling classes RATIONALIZE and sustain their need to exist.”

        How is it that you missed Dr.Datta’s focus on socio/cultural/political forces, *rationalizing* that psychiatry merely responded to *our* social climate? How is it that you missed this prime example of psychiatry [ruling class?] maintaining their need to exist by supporting and fueling the lower, base-minded, herd mentality of *the ruling class*? I think it is because you do not “know” the enemy.

        Psychiatry, comprised of individuals with both influence and power, executed, as only they could, the plan to oppress, enslave, and destroy those who oppose or trouble the *ruling class*. In fact, without the willful, conscious decisions of this *pimple on the a**of the medical profession, the ruling class could never have grown into what it is today. Psychiatry IS the enemy of all that defines us as human beings- and its place in the medical profession is what granted psychiatry the power to destroy us.

        Where does the power reside that can oppose and defeat psychiatry? It has been demonstrated admirably by psychiatric survivors — the first. and most courageous group to debunk the hoax that was sold as *medical authority* to diagnose and prescribe treatment for *medical authority’s* definition of *mental illness*. The power of the pioneers of the movement to bring about -” … the material conditions for Biological Psychiatry’s demise” have clearly identified the enemy, psychiatrists,MD– having been the victims of psychiatrists,MD– after the fact, of having suffered the socio/cultural/political forces of the ruling class.

        I totally agree with the mantra for any “successful liberation movement”:
        KNOW THE ENEMY!!

        I do appreciate both your insights and Dr. Datta’s scholarly essays for providing the landscape and the details that do explain why there has been no socio/cultural/political action against the scourge of psychiatry. However, there is a large hole in the reasoning that would let Dr. Datta off the hook– and that is; the absence accountability of the medical profession for aiding and harboring the enemy within its ranks. His failure to acknowledge this is far more troubling than any of the commenters here who have defended him for his “other critiques” of psychiatry.

        Dr. Datta has chosen to write for this site in addition to sharing his concerns about his profession on his own blog. He has opened the door for feedback, and would do well to consider Dr. Philip Hickey’s feedback as the mercy offered by a good friend– one who is courageous enough to truthfully point out the flaw that has the greatest potential for bursting Dr. Datta’s bubble — that he[Dr. Datta] is anywhere but in the base camp of ‘the enemy’, in danger of adopting the same tactics of obfuscation and rationalization for indefensible crimes against humanity, that bears the signature: Psychiatry,MD.

        Best,
        Katie

        • Katie

          You said: “I am inferring your acceptance of the unique role psychiatry, MD has played in the heinous destruction of humanity, based on what you have *not said*…”

          Katie, it is impossible to have principled dialogue or struggle with someone who speculates on inferences and bases the essence of their criticisms on things “not said” by someone. I am not sure what your motivation or purpose would be to conduct discussion in this manner with me.

          As to your references regarding the “enemy,” you said:

          “Yet, you avoid direct confrontation with *the enemy*

          Rather than inferring your meaning, I will ask you if you’re implying that Dr. Datta is your enemy merely because he is a psychiatrist or because you have disagreements with him?

          You also said: “How is it that you missed this prime example of psychiatry [ruling class?] …Psychiatry, comprised of individuals with both influence and power, executed, as only they could, the plan to oppress, enslave, and destroy those who oppose or trouble the *ruling class*. ”

          Katie, are you inferring by this statement that all psychiatrists are part of the” ruling class” and are oppressors by virtue of their membership in this profession? If you are, this is both wrong and counter productive to a movement that needs to “unite all who can be united” ( including radical and dissident psychiatrists) to end psychiatric abuse and all forms of human oppression.

          When I refer to the “enemy” I am making a class analysis. All psychiatrists are NOT part of the 1%, nor should they be labeled as a group as the “enemy,” as if they were all part of the ruling class. Yes, psychiatry needs to leave history’s stage along with the entire mental health system, but I believe there are some psychiatrists who can be united with over the long haul to help make this happen. Putting them all in the camp of the “enemy” represents the opposite of a winning strategy.

          We should be targeting the KOL’s (key opinion leaders) within psychiatry (including shock doctors etc.) and those members of the powerful organizations within psychiatry who have colluded with the pharmaceutical industry at the highest levels to promote the agenda and practice of Biological Psychiatry. These people are part of the ruling class (not necessarily by their level of income) but by virtue of the important role they play in leading and maintaining an institution that has become increasingly necessary for the survival of the entire capitalist system.

          At MIA there are several psychiatrists who write here that are part of the “Critical Psychiatry” movement. I have challenged their thinking on many questions (as many others have), including there efforts to hold onto or salvage the profession of psychiatry. While I might have certain criticisms of some of their positions, I would still evaluate their role (in this period of our history) as overall positive and I would NEVER refer to them as part of the “enemy” despite my critical analysis of Biological Psychiatry as a whole.

          Even if Philip Hickey is correct in his analysis that Dr. Datta is defending or holding on to elements of psychiatry’s epistemology, this does NOT, therefore, make him the “enemy.” This only makes him (IMO) wrong on certain positions but clearly someone still on our side of the barricades that we can have principled struggle with as our movement continues to develop.

          Nor do I believe that Philip Hickey is somehow labeling Dr. Datta “an enemy” because he has these disagreements with him as a member of the psychiatric profession. I hope he and others will speak to these questions of how we define “friend” and “enemy” in the context of these polemics that take place at MIA and other websites. Certain language and characterizations of people are vitally important to consider when viewing the overall mission and purpose of MIA.

          Richard

          • Richard,

            I think maybe I should just try to be a little more clear with regards to the meaning of what I infer from what is not being addressed.

            Do you know whose duty, role, job it is to hold psychiatry MD accountable for fraud,& corrupting the medical/science process?
            Actually, more to the point, who CAN hold psychiatry,MD accountable?

            From the perspective of 40 years working with doctors and psychiatrists, I have to do my duty and speak out regarding the *brotherhood clause* that has allowed for a sham medical practice to harm and even kill innocent, vulnerable human beings. Doctors–all MDs have a duty to maintain both the integrity of their profession and the trust of the public.

            Yup! That’s the bottom line– and I know too well the toll- still being paid by innocent vulnerable people, especially children for disregarding something so straight forward and simple as this axiom:
            -” Who can protest an injustice but does not is an accomplice to the act.”
            —–The Talmud

            There is the “WE” that denotes the collaborative efforts of *layman*or non-licensed medical professionals, who comprise the *movement*– and I appreciate the efforts on this site to unite diverse individuals and groups behind a common goal and sense of purpose, for as YOU claim -successful liberation movements require that the crusaders “know thy ENEMY”–

            And, then, there is the “WE” that denotes licensed medical professionals, who have a leg up on all of us, with regard to their unique power to report their colleagues for negligent and harmful *medical* practices*. I think we could count on one hand the number of MD’s in the U.S. who are rising to this duty; to assume responsibility for the integrity of the medical profession–which is directly linked to the safety of the public. They, MD’s have, with regards to the elimination of sham medical practices,what you might call, super powers.

            So your broad and generalized categories, socio/cultural/political forces, are what you may be calling the “enemy”. My targeting the one group responsible for blowing the whistle on psychiatry, MD– for their egregious corruption of science and degradation of humanity– calling any MD who is not at least directly speaking out about the actions of psychiatry, MD ; my calling them all “the enemy”– has something to do with the first post I wrote for MIA.

            So– we go from made up disorders that can be called, “medical diagnosis’ and treated with “dangerous poisons” and other brain disabling methods ,to hijacking kids with complex medical issues from their pediatric medical specialists, and kidnapping them if parents don’t believe in their “made up disorders”, and *forcing* these kids to believe they don’t need medical treatment as they strip them of all of their human rights, traumatize them further by locking them away from their families and subjecting them to an abusive behavior modification regimen that would horrify even B.F Skinner. And still there are psychiatrists, who feel comfortable “criticizing” their own profession, and winning support from “layman” who [like critical psychiatrists] will never see the damage done to the young victims of their “spurious” colleagues.

            I am not so inclined to look for reasons to praise anyone in the psychiatry,MD field who is not moved to employ his/her super powers to save children from their colleagues— those still being labeled, Bipolar; those still being forced to take dangerous poisons that destroy aspects of their humanity -before they are fully developed–; all those kids and the new crop of high end medical insurance users, that have become easy prey for psychiatry.

            I am targeting the enemy, “I” know well, with a message meant only for them:
            “Your silence will not protect you.”

            I understand that you may prefer Dr. Hickey’s style. I have great admiration for his manner of telling the truth and appreciation for his taking Dr. Datta to task–.

            I have zero desire to protect psychiatry, MD. I fully admit that I do see psychiatry, MD as THE enemy–. Rather than argue my case on comment threads, I will get back to work on writing that will better demonstrate where I sit with regards to psychiatry,MD and where I stand with regards to its total elimination.

            Best,
            Katie

  7. Thank you, Philip, for writing in such a thoughtful manner about the same issues I had with Dr. Datta’s post, though I would say that his efforts at rearranging the furniture on the titanic evoke more anger than pity from anyone who has spent a few decades looking for the humanity in a psychiatrist– on a locked ward.

    I recall from my psychiatry rotation in nursing school (1973) a particular description of mania- the grandiosity exhibited out of context with reality, like; “pleasantly on his way to achieving amazing feats of grandeur”, “defying the impossible”– etc. As a nursing student I found nothing in that description to warrant alarm. However, many years later, after observing the transformation that occurred from graduation to appointment as an attending psychiatrist of one particular *grandiose* psychiatry fellow, I at least have a reference point for understanding that *mania* can be dangerous– in the context of a doctor exerting nothing but her authority over a patient.

    Come to think of it, just about every term I learned to describe, or rather support the need for “inpatient level of care”, terms like: delusional, disorganized, poor reality testing, all seemed to fit the psychiatrists’ behavior and many of the psych staff in general, more so than the inmates these *professionals* were calling, patients.

    I am sorry to have to stoop so low to make a point, but the fact that there are doctors- board certified, licensed and practicing a recognized medical specialty, psychiatry, who make up the disorders they diagnose and then have the gall to ignore the horrific reactions human beings suffer in response to their *mad* experiments with brain damaging poisons — is just about the most bizarre thing imaginable. Even when exposed, confronted, busted, these *doctors* try to pull something else out of their– (insert appropriate orifice)– to confound, amuse, entertain?? Anything but simply be accountable.

    It is extremely difficult to even broach the issues, that amount to a rap sheet of the crimes committed by psychiatrists without sounding crazy or actually losing it– . So, again, thank you, Philip. I hope to recover sufficiently from my close encounters with the carnage that lies in the wake of grandiose maniacs , to find my voice and make a compelling case for writing psychiatry out of our history.

    Best,
    Katie

    • Katie,

      The prophets of old who spoke against the vile injustices of their day were not only called seers but also poets. What other kind of proclamation speech can truly capture the depth and height, the breadth and width, of the human spirit’s encounter with “radical evil” – that kind of evil that turns good into evil and evil into good?

      And so your words have reached into the depths and heights of the “poet”, indeed! A homiletic in the making?

      After the seas are all cross’d,
      After the great captains and engineers have accomplish’d their work,
      After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the geologist, ethnologist,
      Finally shall come the poet worthy of that name

      Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass (“Finally Comes the Poet: Daring Speech for Proclamation” , Walter Brueggemann)

      Blessings,
      Reverend Haynes

  8. As medicine becomes increasingly demedicalised psychiatry is going to find itself marooned ….. even if no one critiqued psychiatry….. psychiatrists would and will sound increasingly anachronistic…… they will start to sound increasingly crazy to the general public all on their own……

    Its a slow process that the internet will only speed up…..

  9. Dr. Hickey, There definitely is no problem asking the critic if he’s sure that he hasn’t missed something in his analysis, or misunderstood the character of the perceived target of his speech. Once you get into discussing the nuances in someone’s approach to defining their own perspective, questioning their intentions has to happen. You can’t just assume the best and let the ambiguities ride. Thanks for furthering our opportunities to put the dialogue here to work for ourselves each according to our own best interests.