Badiou, the Event, and Psychiatry, Part 1: Trauma and Event


In this piece for the Blog of the APA, Vincenzo Di Nicola critiques the scientism and methodolatry of contemporary psychiatry, and emphasizes the need for psychiatry to be informed by philosophy. He describes the philosopher Alain Badiou’s perspective on psychiatry and philosophy.

“My argument is that like philosophy, psychiatry cannot resolve its truth claims on its own. It can only use its sub-disciplines to generate truth claims. But psychiatry’s current crisis is that it is precisely sutured to one approach to truth, represented today by genetics and neuroscience using its chosen ‘gold standard’ of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Yet, while neuroscience is a potentially valuable sub-discipline (notwithstanding it’s inflated claims and oversold promise—as one leading psychiatrist told me, it’s ‘aspirational’), EBM is hollow. It’s just a rhetorical restatement of the positivistic paradigm, elevating the notion of objective data as the ‘gold standard’ for truth.

My two fundamental critiques of EBM address the scientism and methodolatry of psychiatry and the social sciences today by posing the questions: How can we evaluate the salient evidence in psychiatry? More critically, just what evidence is salient?”

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