House of Cards: Bad Science Creates False and Dangerous Beliefs

Robert Berezin, MD
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“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.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for your work, and for your whistleblowing against the psychiatric hoax. It occurs to me that the best target is psychiatry’s facility under the law to force their “treatment” on individuals. I have spent the last thirteen years as a lawyer in Illinois, advocating for a universal right to refuse psychiatry. Even the “worst of the worst” — those who have successfully pled “not guilty by reason of insanity” for violent crimes — are entitled to this right. My calculation has been that if I can make it difficult enough, or stop state psychiatrists from coercing even the most violent criminals into “treatment”, then I’ll probably be able to stop them from forcing it on anybody. And if they can’t force their “treatment” on anybody, psychiatry as we know it will certainly wither away.

    Your voice could be eloquent persuasion against Rep. Tim Murphy’s bill (HR2646, the so-called “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015”). It is ironic that under a rubric of preventing violence, a new law could encourage states to put more people on drugs that cause violence! Murphy’s call for more “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AKA, forced psychiatric drugging/shock) plays all too well with a public who blindly and mistakenly believe in the larger hoax, which you have so succinctly identified.

    • S_randolf,

      As an IL lawyer who comprehends the scam that is psychiatry, might you consider a class action or single lawsuit against V R Kuchipudi, his psychiatric “snowing” minions, and his hospitals, including the one he was at prior to Sacred Heart, Advocate Good Samaritan? That’s the one at which I was medically unecessarily shipped to him, psychiatricly misdiagnosed, then “snowed.” Here’s his eventual arrest warrant for doing the same thing to lots of patients. (Thankfully, in my case, the fictitious “chronic airway obstruction” I was admitted with, then massive “snowing,” didn’t result in the uneeded tracheotomy. But that hospitalization was the most appalling experience of my life. And the motive for it was a cover up of a prior medically confessed “bad fix” on a broken bone and “Foul up” with drugs given to cover up the easily recognized iatrogenesis.)

      http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/usao-ndil/legacy/2015/06/11/pr0416_01a.pdf

      And thank you so much for speaking sanity in regards to the stupidity behind the entire psychiatric belief system, Robert. Not having read their “bible” prior to talking to a therapist, I was extraordinarily confused by the massive delusions of all the psychiatric practitioners I met. Now I understand the psychiatric industry is an industry of delusional people, who believe a book of scientifically invalid stigmatizations, that does nicely describe the adverse effects of the psychiatric drugs, is a “bible.”

  2. Correct, severe human distress does not divide neatly into discrete diseases with a biological cause nor a common etiology. But we already know that… I’m not sure how helpful it is to continue repeating these arguments, although it can’t hurt to spread them to more people who don’t know of them. The more pressing question to me is, if the lunacy of the current disease model is already an established fact, and if there are psychosocial approaches with a much better chance of getting good long-term results for conditions like “psychosis”, what might it take to get these approaches implemented in a way that could more seriously threaten the current model?

    Let me take one so-called “class” of severe emotional distress, psychosis (“schizophrenia”). There is already strong evidence that family therapy and individual psychotherapy can relieve this distress much better than medications:

    For example:
    – Open Dialogue 5 year outcomes – https://www.madinamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/open-dialogue-finland-outcomes.pdf
    – A study Colin Ross did on clients with psychotic and dissociative features – http://www.rossinst.com/treatment_outcome.html
    – Bert Karon’s Michigan Project psychotherapy study of schizophrenia, described here – http://psychrights.org/research/Digest/Effective/BKaronTragedyofnoPsychotherapy4Schizophrenia.pdf
    – Gaetano Benedetti’s group’s work with 50 psychotic clients given an average of 3x psychotherapy a week for 5 years, described in his book here Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia.
    – Lewis Madrona’s study of 51 long-term psychotherapies of psychosis – http://www.transpersonalstudies.org/ImagesRepository/ijts/Downloads/IJTS_33-1-07_pp_57-76_Mehl-Madrona_et_al_2014_Results_of_a_Transpersonal_Narrative_and_Phenomenological_Psychotherapy_for_Psychosis.pdf
    – the Vermont project’s rehabilitation approach described by Courtenay Harding in MIA continuing ed – http://madinamericacontinuinged.org/courses/how-vermont-discovered-the-possibility-of-recovery/
    – Other non-medication approaches like Soteria described here – http://internationalpsychoanalysis.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Successful-non-neuroleptic-treatments-for-Schizophrenia.pdf

    None of these studies is strong evidence alone, but taken together these (and many other) studies give the clear indication that long-term psychotherapy or long-term social/family focused approaches are better for people experiencing psychosis than long-term medication. However, a number of them are older studies or not rigorously designed trials. I feel as if several more well-designed, large-scale, long-term trials like Open Dialogue would be needed to start putting more pressure on the existing approach. Currently Open Dialogue is “deniable” because it is “only one” study, but 4-5 replicated studies like it done in separate locations could be devastating to traditional psychiatric approaches to psychosis.

    Given the resistance of psychiatry to being exposed by these superior approaches that would “steal their market share”, what would it take to get a large-scale Open Dialogue approach in America funded? Or to have a large scale trial of long-term intensive psychotherapy for psychosis in a European country or US state?

    I’ve been thinking of some ideas, some of them a bit comical:
    – Get a billionaire to fund such a trial, possibly in another European country outside of Finland!
    – Crowdfund an open dialogue or intensive psychotherapy, low-medication-as-needed trial for psychosis, with individual or family therapists willing to “do the treatment” and follow-up for 2-5 years for a reduced rate. I wonder if anyone else has thought of this idea.

    These are the only ones I can think of; it seems like the existing system of lawmakers/psychiatrists is so filled with lies and ignorance that one has to go around or over it. Another issue is how to overcome the legal barriers of the liars who say that treating psychosis with no or low medication is malpractice. That is why these sort of trials would not likely be done first in America, because America is the country most filled with liars and legal obstacles around psychiatric diagnoses.

    As usual the problems are money and legal barriers, as well as lies/distortions around psychiatric ideas. But I feel strongly that just criticizing the current approach over and over is not enough; new approaches and taking bold risks to secure the systemic/financial/legal resources to implement and prove those approaches for severely distressed people are sorely needed.

    Any other ideas are welcome.

  3. I totally agree with nearly everything said. I know for me- when I was depressed- I was going through a natural process that I would have healed from naturally had I been in the care of someone like Dr. Berezin. Instead I was given Wellbutrin which made me worse- psychotic, manic, and an insomniac.

    But there are many people who will read this and say “wait!. The drugs helped me. The drugs saved me.”