“Grandpa, I know what a hypothesis is.”
“You do?” (Scrambling to figure out its definition for myself without much success.)
“Yes… It’s a theory that needs to be proven.”
— Conversation with my four-year-old grandson, Brady.
We are talking about the quest for truth and beauty. We have the Big Bang theory, the second law of thermodynamics (the theory that order inevitably decays into randomness), fractals (the theory that a detailed pattern repeats itself which reflects the structure of the universe, and is seen over and over from subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, all the way out to the planets, stars and galaxies, black holes, DNA, single-celled organisms, invertebrates, crystals, pineapples, blood vessels, trees, cells, heartbeats, snow flakes, clouds, and lightning bolts). We have theories of the properties of energy, matter, electromagnetism, gravity and time. We have the theory of relativity, E=MC2; and we have the theory of evolution.
The point here is; this is science. What is used to justify psychiatry today is not. If it is science at all, it is bad science. Both the pharmaceutical industry and many of today’s psychological theories including those that support CBT employ the hoax of evidence-based psychiatry. We need to blow their cover. The pharmaceutical industry has been exposed as having been engaged in study suppression, falsification, strategic marketing, and financial incentives. In one generation the APA, in collusion with the drug companies, have destroyed psychiatry. The American Public has been sold a bill of goods. People actually believe that human struggle is a brain disease. It is now taken as fact that there is a chemical imbalance in the brain [even though his has been recently disavowed by the APA] and psychoactive drugs is just what the doctor ordered. The specious claim is that we can now cure biological depression with antidepressants; biological anxiety with benzodiazepines; and the fictitious ADHD with, of all things, amphetamines.
Do not be intimidated by so-called ‘evidence based theories.’ Ben Goldacre, in his illuminating Ted lecture, “What doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe” shows the evidence in relation to antidepressants. A fifteen-year review of antidepressant studies showed that 50% of the 76 studies were positive and 50% were negative. All of the positive studies were published and all but three of the negative studies were suppressed and not published. In 2004 approximately half of all studies that weren’t already suppressed by the pharmaceutical industry concluded that antidepressants are not significantly more effective than placebo alone. And two thirds of studies for children given antidepressants show the same. Even the standard for the positive studies by which effectiveness is scientifically accepted is that if antidepressants work 40% of the time and placebos work 30% of the time, it is deemed to be an effective drug. This means that the antidepressants apparently work 10% of the time in only 25% of the studies. So much for this evidence based theory. In real science, the exception proves the rule. For a theory to be correct it has to be correct 100% of the time. in addition to not being efficacious there are considerable side effects, habituation, drug tolerance, addiction, and horrible and frightening neurological and psychiatric effects if one tries to discontinue the drugs.
Despite all of this, the myth of molecular psychiatry is believed. The prescribed treatment for somatic psychiatry’s phantom brain diseases are psychoactive drugs. The cure for human struggle has been reduced to a pill, as if pharmaceuticals address the agency of human suffering. This is an insult to the human condition. The real source of human suffering is not now, nor ever has been, the brain. The issues are in the person, the human being, in the context of damage to the play of consciousness, created by deprivation and abuse in the context of our temperaments in the formation of our character. There are no miracles and no shortcuts, as drugs, like the other somatic therapies, always promise. All the issues of psychiatry operate purely on the human and social level, not the molecular level.
Now that we have swallowed the belief that psychiatry is composed of molecular diseases there is no limit to the absurdity. And we have crossed the threshold of delusion. I was perusing the Clinical Psychiatry News, August 2015, and I found four articles, each more bizarre than the last. Once the delusion is accepted, science builds a house of cards based on the previous misinformation accepted as truth. The lead article was “Cytokine levels variable in bipolar, schizophrenia, MDD”. The point of this article is that these so called psychiatric diseases are immune disorders and inflammatory in nature. Not only that, Major Depressive Disorder is a made up so-called disease in the first place. Depression is simply a form of human suffering, not a disease. And there is no proof that Schizophrenia and Manic-Depression are molecular diseases, just an unproven theory accepted as fact. Taking the deluded belief a step further, the next article is “Inranasal esketamine bests placebo for depression.” What is advocated here is that Ketamine, a hallucinogen, should be used for this ‘biological depression’. This is actually being taken seriously because depression is falsely believed to be a molecular disease. A hallucinogen is the next cure for depression? [See – Enough is Enough Series #3: “A Hallucinogen for Depression?”] Then we move on to “Trigeminal nerve stimulation improves depression.” Now we have a new, improved form of shock treatment. And finally, “Brain fMRI may benefit mood disorder research.” “Imaging offers investigators a ‘completely objective’ measure of changes in brain function, and thus is an important tool in clinical trials for medications and treatments for mood disorders.” Of course the brain changes over time when certain pathways are used and others are attenuated. After psychotherapy this reverses itself. The changes are functional not causal. This is not evidence of anything, and not as the authors claim of “significant and cognitive and emotional components that contribute to the disease process.” There is no disease process.
As far as psychological theories go, there was a good article in the New York Times, August 27, 2015, “Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says.” They document studies that fabricate data, and half of psychological studies don’t hold up when retested. And this is happening on a large scale. In the Reproducibility Project it was found that the published findings were weak. Fact checking is a scam; (they didn’t address that peer review is also a scam), and statistical bases of significance did not hold up over 50% of the time. In the article they didn’t even address the issue of specious definitions, so that it is unclear that what is being tested in the first place actually corresponds to something real. Studies should not be designed to promote a theory, but to be rigorous and to try to disprove one’s own theory. Instead scientists are self promoting for ego, financial gain, fame, and professional competition. All of these studies lead to more studies based on specious conclusions.
I believe it’s mandatory to address the destructiveness of today’s psychiatry. In equal measure there is a responsibility to present the constructive alternative. As a psychiatrist over the last 45 years, the arena where I have some direct knowledge is about consciousness, personality, and human nature. I have had the unique opportunity to sit with so many people and learn in depth about their stories. A theory about human nature is different from these other more circumscribed theories. It does not lend itself to scientific proofs in the narrow sense. A more comprehensive theory cannot be evaluated this way. For an understanding of human nature to be valid, it has to be consonant with the actualities of human life. Likewise, it has to conform to the actual brain-body in its development and organization. It cannot be a pastiche of ideas that fits a theory but does not correspond to the actualities of the human genome as it orchestrates morphogenesis into the mature adult brain-body. The test, then, for a theory of consciousness and personality is that it incorporates all of the facts. Such a theory must be universally valid, with no exceptions. The lion’s share of today’s science is pretty much a deductive enterprise. Most legitimate theories are arrived at inductively.
What I propose is “The Play of Consciousness,” the organization of human consciousness as a living drama in the theater of the brain. The ‘play’ is an entire representational world that consists of a cast of characters who relate together by feeling, scenarios, as well as plots, set designs, and landscape. It is a unified field theory of human consciousness, which includes psychiatry, neuroscience, dreams, myths, religion, and art—all elements of the same thing. It derives from and is consonant with our child rearing and culture. The “play” encompasses the ineffable human mysteries—birth, death, and the disparity between our ordinary sense of self and our intimation of a deeper authenticity. It includes as well the dark side of our nature. And finally, it holds the key to the nature of beliefs in general. Human consciousness and human nature are one and the same. The creation of our inner play by the brain is the consummation of our Darwinian human evolution.
This is a clear and incisive paradigm that is consonant with new knowledge and old wisdom. The treatment is the psychotherapy of character. We explore, within the safe emotional holding by the therapist, and heal our unmourned pain as our psychiatric symptoms dissipate. Psychotherapy is the real item. [See – Psychotherapy Is the Real Deal. It is the effective treatment.”] It fosters the recovery of one’s authenticity and the capacity to love. This is the source of all psychiatric struggles. It taps into the heart of life’s mysteries and wisdom. The practical application of this theory is so important for psychiatry and society at large. I am suggesting that this theory is the E=MC2 for consciousness and psychiatry.
I am well aware that the history of psychotherapy is checkered. Its practice suffered from dogmatic theories and miscast beliefs, which worked to the detriment of responsiveness to our patients. Although my own roots are in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, I moved on to develop the psychotherapy of character. It is a specialized form of human engagement that repairs the damage to one’s character by acting on the play of consciousness in the very way that it formed in the brain in the first place.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.