Physician, Heal Thyself (Luke 4:23)

Dan Kriegman, PhD
4
248

It’s rather ironic that psychiatry appears to have a fundamental problem facing reality. At least that seems to be the conclusion Bob Whitaker has been reaching in a body of well reasoned and meticulously documented writing on the field.

In his recent reflections on what he learned when writing Psychiatry Under the Influence with Lisa Cosgrove, Bob offers us the hopeful observation that the pharmaceutical industry’s influence over psychiatry is being brought under control. And while they are no longer able to buy allegiance with overt gifts and financial handouts disguised as consulting fees, I found myself shaking my head at his optimism. It reminded me of Bob dubiously shaking his own head in 2004 as Loren Mosher opined that the new warning labels on the SSRIs would lead to their no longer being casually prescribed.

Big Pharma has done their job so well that they no longer need to bribe doctors with cash to get them to tout the party line. Their neurobiological belief system — that complex mental states can be meaningfully reduced to neurological structures and biochemical processes — is now so well entrenched in our culture it is becoming more and more difficult to find folks who doubt it, especially in medical schools and in departments of psychiatry. While MIA and similar efforts may be making headway in challenging the notion that drugs are a safe, effective response to life’s problems, the underlying belief in the brain chemistry explanation of human experience is still becoming more, not less solidly rooted in our culture.

Within the boundaries of their new, self-imposed restraint, the pharmaceutical companies can still support research, psychiatric training, departments of psychiatry, and continuing education without disguised cash handouts directly to prescribers. So while I doubt that they will lose their hold on psychiatry due to some cosmetic policy changes, they will eventually lose their pernicious influence. I believe there is hope; in fact, I am confident that as Shakespeare’s Launcelot said, “In the end truth will out.”

There is a solid principle underlying my faith. It is the principle underlying all science, which as Thomas Kuhn elucidated does not simply advance with new evidence and insight. Science is riddled with political struggle and ideological commitments to various theories and beliefs. Such commitments and beliefs die hard.

Though we may actually come to understand more about the relationship between our brains and our psychological experience, in the end truth will out and clinical, pharmaceutical biopsychiatry as it is understood and practiced today will be a thing of the past. Indeed, MIA is part of the political struggle that will enable reality to triumph over fiction in our collective understanding. This is how science progresses. Unfortunately, I believe that the struggle will be long and hard fought before most minds are won over. But truth will triumph in the end.

My favorite expression of the all-powerful principle that will yield this outcome was formulated by Philip K. Dick, a visionary who struggled with and explored the boundaries between reality, psychosis, and the manic depressive diagnosis given him by the doctors at the Orange County Medical Hospital. Dick said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

And while psychiatry has been tonguing and spitting out the bitter pill of reality, it won’t go away. In the end, they will have to swallow the bitter pill and face reality.

4 COMMENTS

  1. “In the end, they will have to swallow the bitter pill and face reality.”

    Pray to God. And I agree with Joanna Moncrieff, the antipsychotics are “The Bitterest Pills.” Especially since adverse reactions to them are actually known to cause both the negative and positive symptoms of schizophrenia. But the psychiatric industry itself seems completely ignorant or in denial of this reality:

    “Neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome is principally characterized by the same symptoms that constitute the negative symptoms of schizophrenia—emotional blunting, apathy, hypobulia, difficulty in thinking, difficulty or total inability in concentrating, attention deficits, and desocialization. This can easily lead to misdiagnosis and mistreatment. Instead of decreasing the antipsychotic, the doctor may increase their dose to try to ‘improve’ what he perceives to be negative symptoms of schizophrenia, rather than antipsychotic side effects.”

    And when people who suffer an adverse reaction to a neuroleptic are misdiagnosed and mistreated, most often as noted above, by increasing the dose of the antipsychotic or adding another antipsychotic. The negative symptoms of schizophrenia may disappear, but the positive symptoms of schizophrenia will likely materialize via the central symptoms of neuroleptic induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome:

    “neuroleptics … may result in … the anticholinergic intoxication syndrome … Central symptoms may include memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, hallucinations, psychosis, delirium, hyperactivity, twitching or jerking movements, stereotypy, and seizures.”

    I’m glad we have a good God who helps the patients play “physician heal thyself.” And my understanding of His teachings is he believes all people should, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” so I imagine this may be how he will judge all of humanity some day.

    Based upon this theory, it seems an eternal hell will indeed be needed for the psychiatrists who are deluded about the actual effects of their bitter pills. Who also believe all so called “delusional” people should have their hope taken away, and be stigmatized with “life long incurable” disorders, then tortured for the rest of their lives. What a shame. Let’s hope and pray they wise up, and learn to repent soon instead.

  2. “Big Pharma has done their job so well that they no longer need to bribe doctors with cash to get them to tout the party line. Their neurobiological belief system — that complex mental states can be meaningfully reduced to neurological structures and biochemical processes — is now so well entrenched in our culture it is becoming more and more difficult to find folks who doubt it, especially in medical schools and in departments of psychiatry…the underlying belief in the brain chemistry explanation of human experience is still becoming more, not less solidly rooted in our culture.”

    This is what comes from brainwashing, mind-programming, personal manipulation, and fear-mongering. This is the CULTure of psychiatry, dangerous group think.

    • It is veiled in the cloud of pseudo-science which people who know little about actual science but are eager to trust the “experts” vehemently believe in. The number of times I’ve heard people talking about chemical imbalance and fMRI studies showing this or that is enormous.