The Scientism of Psychiatry

Sami Timimi, MD
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Psychiatry likes to portray itself as a scientific discipline, and indeed there is a lot of useful science to draw on when evaluating the evidence base connected to mental health problems, its causes and treatments. Sadly, most of the mainstream psychiatric literature of recent decades has shown a marked preference for rhetoric over scientific accuracy. Research and discourse in psychiatry are now dominated and infected by scientism — the promotion of a belief, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, that because what you do and talk about sounds and looks like ‘science,’ it is ‘scientific’ — rather than a rational engagement with the nature and consequences of the actual scientific findings.

This scientism has sometimes scared critics from engagement with the actual science in preference of critiquing the suitability of using scientific reasoning to understand what we today define as ‘mental health.’ Opening the lid on both issues (the lack of engagement with the actual scientific findings and the suitability of using particular scientific methods for all knowledge generation) is important. We must endeavour to make transparent the grand deception that organisations such as the one I belong to (the British Royal College of Psychiatrists) are selling to the public about the nature of what we have come to call ‘mental illness,’ its causes, its treatments, and the way we should organise services to help those who become mentally unwell.

Science and Evidence Based Medicine (EBM)

Science is generally regarded as the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Science uses a methodological approach involving hypothesis generation and then testing the hypothesis through empirical methods. The best scientists can live with and accept uncertainty as a prerequisite to being objective in the pursuit of knowledge. Knowledge develops and builds through generating a hypothesis (often using results from previous research) and then carrying out an investigation aimed at proving that something called a ‘null hypothesis’ can’t be true. The null hypothesis is a general statement or default position that there is no relationship between certain measured phenomena. Rejecting or disproving the null hypothesis — and thus concluding that there are grounds for believing that there is a relationship and the actual hypothesis may be true — is a central task in the modern practice of science.

One of the major problems with the current concepts used in psychiatry can be understood by going back to the basic assumptions on which much of psychiatric research rests. In order to scientifically evaluate the proposition that there is a natural category of dysfunction/disorder called, for example, ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’ (ADHD), we must start with the null hypothesis. That is, we must assume, until proven otherwise, that there is no characteristic relationship between what we are defining as ADHD and some identifiable measurable biological/neurological feature (if, for example, we wish to categorise ADHD as a ‘neurodevelopmental’ disorder). This is a foundational assumption behind the development of knowledge through the scientific method. Applying scientific methodology is the basis of EBM. Until we have demonstrated that this basic null hypothesis can’t be true, then scientifically, we cannot proceed with research that assumes that ADHD as a concept has explanatory power for the behaviours it describes.

In its broadest form, EBM is an approach to improving healthcare that uses the application of the scientific method for decision-making. For much of its history, the field of medicine relied more on the subjectivity of ‘clinical judgement’ and medical students learned this or that professor’s favourite ideas. Practice developed more through anecdote and the assumed authority of the ‘doctor’ or ‘professor,’ often with little supporting evidence. The shift to greater use of scientifically generated knowledge occurred during the eighties and nineties, with greater attention being paid to research on aetiology and treatment, alongside the development of international institutions such as the Cochrane Collaboration, dedicated to systematically evaluating research evidence on important clinical questions. New approaches (such as meta-analysis and systematic reviews) enabled researchers to pool results of a large number of studies, contributing to the development of a comprehensive evidence base. EBM was an important step forward in developing a more scientifically credible approach to healthcare practice.

However, like all great ideas, it exists within a broader political framework. Scientific endeavour is ultimately a human activity and thus what counts as ‘science’ and how we interpret it is shaped by broader cultural and political processes. As has been widely written about, pharmaceutical companies, to give one example, were able, through a variety of strategies, to bias the evidence base toward the products they made. EBM itself fell victim to these broader political forces of market power, leading to a corrupting collusion between profit-focused organisations and professional guilds (such as the American Psychiatric Association). Marketing triumphed over science. EBM too became susceptible to being afflicted with ‘scientism.’ In Western culture, science has become a cosmology — that is, an ideology/faith that believes that science has an undeniable primacy over all other ways of seeing and understanding life and the world — making us vulnerable to being taken in by scientism. We want to believe there are easy explanations and simple ways to alleviate suffering. Marketing the promise of psychiatric diagnoses and medicinal treatments turned out to be relatively easy.

Psychiatric Scientism

Mainstream psychiatry has been afflicted by at least two types of scientism. Firstly, it parodies science as ideology, liking to talk in scientific language, using the language of EBM, and carrying out research that ‘looks’ scientific (such as brain scanning). Psychiatry wants to be seen as residing in the same scientific cosmology as the rest of medicine. Yet the cupboard of actual clinically relevant findings remains pretty empty. Secondly, it ignores much of the genuine science there is and goes on supporting and perpetuating concepts and treatments that have little scientific support. This is a more harmful and deceptive form of scientism; it means that psychiatry likes to talk in the language of science and treats this as more important than the actual science.

I have had debates with fellow psychiatrists on many aspects of the actual evidence base. Two ‘defences’ have become familiar to me. The first is use of anecdote — such and such a patient got better with such and such a treatment, therefore, this treatment ‘works.’ Anecdote is precisely what EBM was trying to get away from. The second is an appeal for me to take a ‘balanced’ perspective. Of course each person’s idea of what is a ‘balanced’ position depends on where they are sitting. We get our ideas on what is ‘balanced’ from what is culturally dominant, not from what the science is telling us. At one point, to many people, Nelson Mandala was a violent terrorist; later to many more people, he becomes the embodiment of peaceful reconciliation and forgiveness. What were considered ‘balanced’ views on him were almost polar opposites, depending on where and when you were examining him from. Furthermore, in science facts are simply that. Our interpretations are of course based on our reading of these facts. Providing an interpretation consistent with the facts is more important than any one person’s notion of what a ‘balanced’ position should look like.

Looking at the actual evidence provides a worrying picture for mainstream mental health services’ real world effectiveness. Although over-diagnosis and unnecessary care is recognized as a growing problem across medicine, the short and long term outcomes for many conditions dealt with by the rest of medicine have improved, often reflecting genuine technical advances. This is not the case in mental health. Research from a number of countries has found that despite continuous growth in the availability of mental health services, only about 15-25% of those referred significantly improve or recover. This dismal picture is found in both child and adult mental health services. Non-attendance rates and numbers of people dropping out of treatment are also substantial. There has been a steep rise in the number of youth and adults categorized as disabled mentally ill in most Western countries. In the UK, recent research found that mental disorders have become the most common reason for receiving disability benefits, with the number of claimants rising by 103% from 1995 to 2014, whereas claimants with other conditions fell by 35%. Most people who attend standard community mental health services, it seems, experience either no lasting improvement or deteriorate.

In order to ‘cover up’ this disastrous state of affairs we have created an idea that the conditions we deal with are ‘chronic.’ This provides a framework for accepting as unproblematic the expanding numbers of people categorized as mentally ill, who don’t seem to get better or keep relapsing despite our treatments, without feeling that it is, at least in part, the fault of our concepts and treatments. Thus, I know of colleague psychiatrists in adult services with case loads of several hundred patients. They are overwhelmed and all they can manage are 20-minute medication reviews once every six or so months for patients who never get discharged.

This picture of poor real world outcomes may be exacerbated by one of the signs of ‘scientism’ found in psychiatry — the belief that there is such a thing as a psychiatric diagnosis. It is fairly straightforward to demonstrate that the concept of psychiatric diagnosis is scientism, as from a logical/technical perspective, there is no such thing as a psychiatric diagnosis (apart from some forms of dementia and a few other known organically based conditions that sometimes are encountered by psychiatrists). In medicine, diagnosis is the process of determining which disease or condition explains a person’s symptoms and signs. Diagnosis therefore points to causal processes. Making an accurate diagnosis is a technical skill that enables effective matching of treatment to address a specific pathological process. Pseudodiagnoses, like for example ADHD, cannot explain behaviours as there are only ‘symptoms’ that are descriptions (not explanations) of behaviours. Even using the word ‘symptom’ may be problematic, as in medicine ‘symptoms’ usually refers to patients’ suffering/experience as a result of an underlying disease process and is therefore associated in our minds with a medical procedure leading to an explanation for the ‘symptom.’ But psychiatric diagnoses do not explain symptoms.

Consider the following example: If I were to ask the question “what is ADHD?” it is not possible for me to answer that question by reference to a particular known pathological abnormality. Instead I will have to provide a description, such as ADHD is the presence of the behaviours of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and poor attention (plus a few extra qualifiers such as age of onset). Contrast this with asking the question “what is diabetes?” If I were to answer this question in the same manner by just describing symptoms such as needing to urinate excessively, thirst and fatigue, I could be in deep trouble as a medical practitioner as there are plenty of other conditions that may initially present with these symptoms and diabetes itself may not present with these symptoms in a recognizable way. In order to answer the question “what is diabetes?” I have to refer to its pathology involving abnormalities of sugar metabolism. I would get independent (to my subjective opinion) empirical data to support my hypothesis about what may be causing the patient’s described experiences (such as testing the urine and/or blood for levels of glucose). In the rest of medicine, therefore, my diagnosis explains and has some causal connection with the behaviours/symptoms that are described. Diagnosis in that context sits in a ‘technical’ explanatory framework. In psychiatry, what we are calling diagnosis (such as ADHD) will only describe but is unable to explain.

The problem of using a classification like ADHD to explain an observed set of behaviours (i.e., as a diagnosis) can be illustrated by asking another set of questions. If I was to ask “why” a particular child cannot concentrate, is hyperactive and shows impulsivity and I were to answer that these behaviours are caused by ADHD, then a legitimate question to ask is “how do you know that they are caused by ADHD?” The only answer I can give to that question is that I know it’s ADHD because the child is presenting with hyperactivity, impulsivity and poor attention. In other words, if we try to use a classification that can only describe in order to explain, we end up with what philosophically is known as a ‘tautology.’

It is troubling when doctors use a descriptive category like ADHD to explain and cannot see this problem of tautological circularity. Using ADHD to explain the behaviours of ADHD is like saying the pain in my head is caused by a headache. If we don’t communicate to patients the difference between a descriptive and diagnostic classification, the effects can be profound, affecting the patient’s identity and how those around her view her. Furthermore, the idea that a diagnosis like ADHD explains behaviour risks undermining our ability to attend to a whole host of other real-life factors that may have an important role to play in the development of a problem, or to find positive ways forward beyond the focus on reducing what are considered ‘symptoms’ that is typical of many medical-style interventions.

It should be easy to see that once we start interrogating basic assumptions, such as the validity of psychiatric diagnoses, then much of the literature built on such assumptions lacks validity. As ADHD is not a medical diagnosis, but a descriptive classification, we have no reliable empirical method for defining ‘caseness.’ The definition of what qualifies as a case is thus arbitrary and depends on the standards employed by the diagnoser, influenced by whatever prevailing ideology concerning diagnosis they have been exposed to. As a result we cannot eliminate wide variation in ‘diagnostic’ practice.

Psychiatry keeps faith in scientism despite these obvious flaws because we live in a culture where technology and technological achievement are highlighted and promoted, and because this connects with that broader ‘cosmology’ that wants to use ‘science’ to explain everything. In order to have metaphorical and literal purchase in our society, we are inclined to use technological/scientific-sounding language. With this type of scientism (science as a system of faith) so prevalent, eventually what the science says is almost irrelevant as long as you can look like you are doing something that you call science and you can bullshit in a way that convinces others (who are excluded from language and the actual findings) that the knowledge you possess is based on a ‘truth’ (because you are a scientist and you do science). The hidden assumptions disappear and get taken for granted the more you just repeat phrases like “ADHD is a…,” “ADHD is caused by…,” “the treatment for ADHD is…” etc. As Michel Foucault and others point out, this is how institutional power builds up and gets authority to create ‘regimes of truth.’ In this regime what you do is simply keep repeating phrases like “the evidence says…,” “studies have found…,” “evidence-based practice is…” etc.

The promise that psychiatric diagnoses will ultimately be shown to be like any other medical diagnoses keeps failing to deliver. This became obvious with the publication of Diagnostic Statistical Manual fifth edition (DSM 5), where the authors admitted that despite the DSM originally being designed to allow for research to uncover aetiological features, thus making the labels diagnostic, no markers have been identified. Figures for the reliability of a DSM diagnosis have actually decreased for many of the diagnostic categories. But the American Psychiatric Association generates much income for its organisation through publishing new DSM editions. As long as that’s the case, then perhaps the scientism that it embodies matters little to them. It should, though, matter to everyone else.

Beyond Psychiatric Scientism

I often wonder what might happen if we became more curious about differences in practice and outcome. For example, in the UK as a community child and adolescent psychiatrist, I have a particular geographical patch, which has much deprivation, for which I am the responsible consultant. I hold a caseload of around 50–60, see young people and families for one-hour sessions and for some that can be once a week at times. Most (but not all) of the people I see improve and are discharged, and so I am free to do therapeutic work with more people as well as having time to receive and provide supervision and support to and from the team I work alongside. Very few of the people I see are on medication, and with those who are, it is often because I inherited them from another clinician who had initiated the medication.

I am aware that this picture is not one that most of my consultant colleagues in UK community child and adolescent psychiatry (who will also have a similar sized geographical patch) would recognize these days. Like their colleagues in adult psychiatry they also often end up accumulating cases, most of whom will end up being prescribed medication, as sadly this has increasingly come to be viewed as the role of the psychiatrist. Caught in a system that traps you like that, I think it’s very hard for change to come from within the profession. I suspect that psychiatry ultimately will be forced to change by pressures from outside, particularly if the focus is shifted to the poor record of outcomes at the cost of high levels of harm that comes from the focus on ‘medical’ interventions.

The problem for critics like me and critical organizations (such as the Critical Psychiatry Network, a UK-based group I am part of) is at least twofold. First, we cannot match the power and influence that comes from resource-rich bodies like the pharmaceutical industry; hence we have only been able to make marginal differences. Secondly, as individuals, those of us who go against what are considered the ‘standard’ institutional expectations of psychiatrists may become at risk from employers persecuting their practice. I have previously had to robustly defend myself from accusations of incompetence by colleagues with more power than me, and I know of other critically minded consultants who have had to do the same.

Nonetheless, as the old saying goes, “you can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” Resistance movements have often been going for decades before a significant moment when there is enough of a ‘critical mass’ arrives. We don’t know when or how that moment will arrive, but we need to be ready for its inevitability as this particular house of cards will eventually have to come toppling down. We must also be ready for the house to come tumbling down for the wrong reasons and with potentially harmful outcomes. If it becomes about saving money, vital supports for patients could be withdrawn. If patients are suddenly taken off medications without having an understanding of the biological and psychosocial consequences for them, harms may result.

Paying attention to the science tells us that we need to look beyond just a focus on formal services. People are people whether or not they experience states of mind we associate with mental illness. People need connection and meaning as well as basics such as safety, housing, and work. In services, the evidence tells us that relationship is Queen. Services will have to dispense with diagnosis and focus on prioritising and operationalising collaborative models. The science has already pointed to what is likely to be most helpful to people who suffer mental distress. The challenge is to make the transformation that is needed happen.

In this article I have given the briefest review of the nature of scientism in psychiatry. In future blogs I will look in more detail behind particular ‘scientisms,’ including examining common ‘diagnoses’ used in my branch of psychiatry, child psychiatry, such as ADHD, autism, and childhood depression, as well as examining other subjects such as outcomes from treatment and service models.

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115 COMMENTS

  1. Welcome to MiA, Dr. Timimi, glad to have the ethical and intelligent psychiatrists point out the scientific fraud behind the DSM based psychiatric system. Absolutely, I agree, we do need the psychiatric industry to start looking at the true etiology of their assumed to be real, but actually scientifically invalid, DSM disorders.

    Like, for example, the fact that the etiology of much of today’s US “childhood bipolar epidemic,” and all the “bipolar diagnoses,” is iatrogenic, as opposed to “genetic.” It is the result of massive in scale misdiagnoses, even according to the DSM-IV-TR, of the adverse effects of the antidepressants and ADHD drugs as “bipolar.”

    And iatrogenesis is likely also the primary etiology of “schizophrenia,” given the “gold standard treatment for schizophrenia,” the antipsychotics/neuroleptics, can create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.” The negative symptoms of “schizophrenia” can be created via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome and the positive symptoms can be created via antidepressant and/or antipsychotic induced anticholinergic toxidrome. But, of course, these known psychiatric drug induced toxidrome are always misdiagnosed as one of the billable DSM disorders, because neither is listed in the scientifically invalid DSM and the psychiatrists want to be paid.

    Although I do understand that confessing that the etiology of the “serious mental illnesses” is primarily iatrogenic, as opposed to genetic, will be highly embarrassing for the psychiatric industry. But the reality is that harming people for profit is not actually “appropriate medical care.”

    I agree, the “house of cards,” that is today’s DSM based psychiatric system, needs to fall. And it would be wiser if it were dismantled in at least a somewhat organized and patient care oriented manner, especially given the sometimes extremely serious withdrawal symptoms of the psychiatric drugs.

    • I greatly appreciate your reflexion on “iatrogenesis” and got a few thoughts afterward that make me feel cynical. If insurance and reimbursement agencies ever came to recognize the validity or the real existence of medical induced schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and many more, would they not be tempted to try to recover their previous “bad” investments ? To make things even clearer, imagine when the condition of a person worsens, lets say as an example, from a minor transient condition to a much more severe and chronic one, it is legitimate for those who pay for all this to conclude : we have been framed into having the obligation to spend a hell of a lot of money because on an initial misdiagnosis and, as a consequence, a wrong pharmacological treatment that will cost us a lot of bucks, for a long time again. And, since there is scientific evidence that should inform physicians and psychiatrists in order to prevent such errors, someone, somewhere should be liable and take responsibility for such damages. I hope my response is “understandable” and logical. If not, I could try again (I’m french-canadian and often have trouble being clear when writing in Shakespeare’s language). But I do think that the day the industry and stakeholders will “wake up”, the cascade of what is involved will be monumental, financially as well as in many other aspects.

  2. What you write is very correct.

    On the efficacy of psychiatric treatment for schizophrenia, see for example the Jääskeläinen study (2012)

    recovery rate of schizophrenics:

    1941-1955: 17.7% (pre-neuroleptic era)
    1996-2012: 6% (era of neuroleptics)

    middle and low income countries: 36.4%
    high-income country: 13.0%

    The more psychiatry develops, the worse are its results.

    Jääskeläinen, E., Juola, P., Hirvonen, N., McGrath, J. J., Saha , S., Isohanni, M., Veijola, J., Miettunen, J. (2012). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Recovery in Schizophrenia. Schizophr Bull (2013) 39 (6): 1296-1306. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbs130 https://academic.oup.com/schizophreniabulletin/article/39/6/1296/1884290/A-Systematic-Review-and-Meta-Analysis-of-Recovery

    • Hi Sylvain,

      I remember being told by a doctor that “Schz…..” was a serious long term disorder and that a diagnosed person would have to remain longterm unwell (whether they were unwell or not).

      If a person were to recover as a result of leaving psychiatry I’d imagine they would be, a bit of an eyesore.

      When I came off strong “medication” I had to find a way to deal with my rebound “High Anxiety”. If I didn’t find this, I would have had to return to Psychiatry and remain there forever.

      As it happened I was able to get some insight into the Anxiety Dynamic. I was getting worried over nearly every single little item, and I had never been like this before.

      I could see that the anxiety was in me and not in the outside world – when I was levelled off nothing worried me. So I concentrated on dealing with my feelings instead of focussing them (and this worked in the longterm).

      This type of overwhelming anxiety I’d imagine, would be typical of Neuroleptic Withdrawal Syndrome. Its probably typical of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome as well.

      I still use my High Anxiety technique when I get stressed – it’s difficult to apply, but not the most complicated non drug technique to understand.

  3. Bob Whitaker has demonstrated that there is no “evidence base” within psychiatry. This whole notion of “evidence based” medicine is a crock.

    Pardon me for assuming that any medical practice should be based on evidence; why is the notion of “evidence based” medicine considered to be such a ground-breaking concept?

    Btw, as with “biological” psychiatry, we should avoid references to “mainstream” psychiatry, as though there’s another kind that’s better.

    • Exactly. The fact that there is a perceived need for “evidence based medicine” ought to alert us to another fact: medicine is not, and has never been evidence based. Furthermore, the attempt to make medicine “evidence based” will only produce a more sophisticated pseudo-scientific endeavor. More people will buy into the notion because it sounds sophisticated. That’s always how medicine has operated. Like the false priests of days of yore who spouted Latinisms to their illiterate victims, doctors spout off medicalisms in order to reinforce their own perceived authority as masters of the healer’s art. The only reason that so-called “evidence based medicine” seems to be such a ground-breaking concept is because it sounds like a sophisticated alternative to medicine as it is actually practiced. It’s all utter nonsense.

      • medicine is not, and has never been evidence based

        Not quite what I meant. If I have a fever and a sore throat an old country doctor worth his salt can put those and other pieces of “evidence” into context and deduce that I have a cold. That conclusion is “based” not only on the fact of having evidence, but on his skill at understanding it. So what’s important is not only whether something is evidence-“based”, but how accurately that evidence is interpreted.

        For example — a cop is found shot to death next to a man who is found alive and shot by the cop’s gun — a fact of evidence which is undisputed. The man is charged with murder. The prosecutor claims the cop shot and wounded the man in self-defense; the accused says he was caught in a cross-fire between the cop and another man who fled. Both versions are “based” on the same “evidence”; but at least one version is clearly incorrect.

    • I was very impressed by Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic not only by his bold thesis but by specifically its Chapter 5, which starts with a concise summary of dopamine system and serotonin system (best short summary that I have ever read of these systems) to preface the chemical imbalance theory (or the historical development of) for which he would go on to present its refutations which was the goal of that Chapter.

      To give an example,
      “The serotonergic pathway is one with ancient evolutionary roots. Serotonergic neurons are found in the nervous systems of all vertebrates and most invertebrates, and in humans their cell bodies are located in the brain stem, in an area known as the raphe nuclei.” (p.69) No specific mention of molluscs, lobsters necessary by use of “ancient evolutionary roots”.

  4. Outstanding in honesty, humility, integrity and courage. Thank you Dr. Timimi.

    These characteristics underly the basic tenets of medical practice, and when allied to a sincere commitment to listen to our patients: they form those fundamental expectations of their doctors, upon which patients base their trust.

    So many who write here are bereaved or terribly injured by psychiatry’s “Scientism” which is so eloquently exposed and analysed here.
    The scientism of psychiatry and its intertwined tautology form the basis of psychiatry’s unrelenting propaganda machine.

    Ceaseless, ruthless and extremely effective propaganda.

    This sophisticated propaganda machine is main stream psychiatry’s antidote for the poverty of scientific evidence for psychotropic dug “safety and efficacy”.

    Criticism is denounced by denigration of the critic, never by valid scientific debate.
    Fact is subject to daily denial, whist the falsehoods of “placebo controlled, double blind clinical trials”, riddled with academic malfeasance, ghost written and yet naming scores of eminent “authors”: – too numerous to count, are used relentlessly for scientism-based drug marketing.

    The fastidiously investigated evidence of devastating psychotropic drug toxicities such as SSRI/SNRI and antipsychotic induced akathisia (ignored, or cruelly misdiagnosed as Serious Mental Illness) with its sequelae of suicide and violence, SSRI induced psychosis, mislabelled as “emergent bipolar disorder”, Post SSRI sexual dysfunction lasting for years as legacy syndromes – (suffered both by those who can bear the SSRI “discontinuation syndromes” and those who are unable to cease these drugs). Increasing reports of Post SSRI Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, a paradox against the high prevalence of PSSD. Stimulant induced psychosis in children who never had ADHD. Et al, – et al, et al.

    People whose lives were once filled and fuelled with promise, hopes, aspirations and realisable dreams reduced to a miserable drooling psycholeptic-shuffle, ignored by those who still believe that “second generation” antipsychotics cannot cause tardive dyskinesia (Because their drug reps assured them that wasn’t possible).

    Ex-human beings, whose iatrogenic, distorted and disfigured appearance is perceived by
    psychiatrists “in training” to identify pathognomic, physical features of their “genetically defined, biological brain diseases” which caused real, or perceived psychosis.

    This is the reality of propaganda-based psychiatry, observed and/or experienced by those who write comments on inspirational MIA blogs like this message of hope from Dr. Timimi.

    The “chemical imbalance” marketing message – (now disowned and discredited at almost every opportunity by psychiatry’s “Key Opinion Leaders”) – was possibly the most widely believed medical propaganda of all time.

    The dissemination of such falsehoods may be considered to follow the propaganda protocols of the Third Reich, where Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda taught:

    “If you tell a lie that is big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.

    Goebbels also warned that – The group wishing to promote the big lie must:
    “Use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie”.

    Perhaps this mainstream psychiatry dependency on tautology, propaganda and scientism is why doctors of truth and integrity suffer unrelenting professional threats and denigration from their “Academic Colleagues”?
    “Colleagues” who should be filled with remorse rather than vociferously reiterating their denials.

    May we please learn more about childhood pseudo-bipolar disorder and the endocrine, integumentary, metabolic, brain and neurological toxicities of “mood stabilisers” and “antipsychotics” in paediatric patients in a future blog Dr. Timimi?

    With sincere professional respect: TRM 123. Retired Consultant Physician.

    • Hi TRM123,

      I think your reference to historical European monsters from the 1930s and 1940s is very pertinent.

      These people killed Jewish People, Gypsy People, Gay People and the People described as “Mentally Ill”. Here in the UK most people have the same equal horror for the treatment of all these people.

      If the average UK person knew the dreadful suffering (Akathisia) and unnecessary deaths of vulnerable people in “Mental Health Industry” in the UK, they would tear it down.

      The problem is that the majority of these deaths are invisible.

        • Thank you for your replies Fiachra.

          The ignorance of akathisia amongst psychotropic drug prescribers is shameful.

          To describe akathisia as “psycho-motor restlessness” trivialises the intensity and enormity of the suffering experienced.

          Writhing, tormented pacing, intense and extreme agitation with tearing or clawing at the skin, and pulling out of scalp, pubic hair and eyelashes are manifestations of this hideous iatrogenic suffering.

          Rather than carefully correlate these obvious features of life-threatening neurotoxicity caused by the ingestion of SSRI/SNRIs and/or antipsychotics with a rational review of the prescribing history (dose increases, “augmentation therapy” or drug withdrawal):- This intensity of akathisia is more likely misdiagnosed as “agitated” or “psychotic depression” with “self harm”.

          Tapered drug withdrawal based on knowledge of Akathisia/ADRs would save so many from invalid and unlawful incarceration.
          Incarceration based on diagnostic incompetence, followed by further devastating injury, via enforced aggravation of akathisia with serial SSRIs and antipsychotic combinations, with carousel prescribing as the inevitable “therapeutic” failure frustrates and angers the instigator of this brutality.

          I find it difficult not to conceptualise this inhumanity as equating to a Fourth Reich.

          TRM 123.

          • I agree. The ignorance among psychotropic prescribers is unbelievable, considering the risk Akathisia presents to the population at large.

            For Example:- If 10 percent of the Adult population (about 4 million people) consume SSRIs and 1 percent of these ( about 40,000 people) are at serious risk of Akithisia – then this is quite a high risk.

          • Also, the actual rates of Akathisia are probably quite a bit higher than the official rates. I think this is true of most estimations. Consider the mortality rates, for instance, if a person dies of heart attack that’s something the drug might cause, but it is very apt to be put down to natural causes. You know the human services industry wants people to think they’re doing the best for them, and so they’ve already got a vested interest in underestimating harmful effects.

          • Akathisia,
            The UK Information Commissioners Office is at present assuring me that my UK GP Surgery can keep documentary evidence of (Suicidal) Adverse Drug Reaction from my Records.

            I asked the UK ICO ‘Officer’ about the ‘legality’ of this and they said they were not prepared to comment.

        • Oldhead, You have certainly got me thinking hard about POP.

          I do regularly lobby primary care physician publications in the hope of increasing awareness of the enormous deception of prescribers by pharma and the shameless KOLs of mainstream psychiatry.

          There does appear to be a possible, albeit it gradual turning of the tide amongst some responders to such debate.
          Prescribers who may be increasingly questioning that antidepressants are “safe and effective” and some PCPs beginning to recognise and manage SSRI induced akathisia.

          It also deeply troubles me that Neurologists and Neurosurgeons can strive to alleviate organic brain disease and/or traumatic brain injury, only to have their patients “rehabilitated” by exposure to antipsychotic induced additional brain injury and/or the multiplicity of physical, psychological, behavioural, emotional and social injuries of antidepressants.

          That antipsychotics are widely used in those with the progressive, irreversible intellectual impairment of organic dementia when it is accepted that psychotropics are even more toxic in those with organic brain disease.

          My primary advocacy is that of a Physician Opposed To Psychiatric Injury.
          (However that would translate into Pop-I).

          Sir William Osler wrote:
          “One of the first duties of a physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine”.

          Perhaps educating physicians to recognise the devastating toxicities of the drugs they have been deceived into considering safe and effective is also a primary duty?

          TRM 123.

  5. This is a great article and a valuable community service; thank you.

    I believe that psychiatry is plagued with scientism because it is seeking the impossible; scientific legitimacy. Psychiatry seeks legitimacy as a medical science that addresses nonexistent biological (medical) malfunctioning in the minds/brains of people who experience natural emotional suffering (or other natural problem with living). Psychiatry is pseudoscience by definition; a medical (biological) science cannot address a philosophy of “mind.” Neurology is the medical science that addresses medical problems with behavior; psychiatry is “medical” pseudoscience that pathologizes natural emotional suffering (and other natural problems with living).

    • I’m mostly agreeing with you, Steve. But surely you’ve seen how the CMHC’s are all now pushing the language of “behavioral health”? We don’t see neurologists pushing “behavioral health”.
      I’d suggest that the UN-healthiest behavior is going to some quack shrink, and taking their poison pills.
      And I’d bet you’d agree with me, Steve, that psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drug racket, and a means of social control. It’s 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins.

  6. Dr. Timimi, I want to thank you for your book, “The Myth of Autism”.

    My own view is that such myths persist because most of the time they are being applied to children, and children usually are not prepared to do the things they would have to in order to defend themselves against adults. Its that and because people are attracted to denial of their own experience, and so such a myth provides them a way of exonerating perpetrators.

    Most of the time these disability labels amount to pity seeking, and hence they are a severe trap.

  7. Excellent. As a psychotherapist, I educate every incoming client about the myth of “chemical imbalance” and “mental illness” to provide them hope, self-efficacy. and self-acceptance. I find it fascinating that the DSM completely and fastidiously ignores some facts we know about human psychology: 1) emotions are a big influencer of human behavior 2) the emotions of fear and shame are especially important 3) complex and acute trauma are a major cause of self-protective and self-adaptive emotional responses and behaviors 4) attachment patterns learned in childhood influence emotional responses and behavior. How much training did I have on these topics in years of undergraduate and graduate school? About 30 minutes on attachment theory in children, none about adult attachment patterns. None on trauma or emotions. It is appalling. Thank goodness I had the determination to learn on my own about these topics and the influence every session with clients. Keep up the good work!

  8. Nice to see you Dr Timimi, I don’t support scientism either.

    I recovered from a “serious and chronic condition” in 1984 as a result of not taking my “medication”, and I haven’t claimed Disability since.

    But my GP Surgery in Central London had been claiming for me as a Severely Mentally Ill person up to 2012, without my knowledge or consent (and could still be doing so).

    At present the UK Information Commissioners Office is attempting to tell me that I’m not allowed to enter my evidence of 30 years of Wellness in the UK, and my historical evidence of Psychiatric misbehavior from Ireland – to my Medical records.

    But I’m sure I can find a perfectly legal way to do this.

    • Fiachra,

      It is staggering the lengths the psychiatrists will go to cover up their malpractice. I had a psychiatrist inappropriately listing me as her “out patient” at a hospital I’d never been to, for years, according to an insurance company. Once I’d learned about this I called her and told her to stop fraudulently listing me as her patient.

      She then thought it’d be clever to start fraudulently listing me as her “out patient” at the hospital where she committed the malpractice (and her partner in that crime was eventually arrested for similar fraud based treatment of lots of other patients).

      https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndil/pr/oak-brook-doctor-convicted-kickback-scheme-sacred-heart-hospital

      Eventually, I had to tell the psychiatrist’s little lackeys that if they continued to fraudulently list me as her patient they were going to make themselves all look like fools, since I no longer even lived in that state, so of course I’m not making appointments with that lunatic psychiatrist. It’s shocking how unethical the psychiatrists are.

  9. Great article. There isn’t much I would argue with. It’s amazing how this scientism slowly encroaches on the medical community. But, the lack of available providers has shifted the “treatment” to general practitioners and nurse clinicians who are basically clueless for the most part. I had a great CPN who was daring enough to say, these medications (anti-depressants and anti-psychotics though I had no history of psychosis) don’t work for you at all and then helped me to taper off of them.She was a rare find! When my son refused med I applauded him and refused to participate in the craposphere (BS) that is “mental health” . Thank the stars for the resisters! One life can influence so many.
    Every article I read now is full of the same crap that psychiatry has operated by for decades: “we think this is the problem but have no proof to back it up. But, take our word for it because we do science.” Even more disturbing is that medicine is actually buying into this because insurance companies want to cut any possibility of future problems with anything. Research has become an adulterated and overused word because people see it and automatically think “truth”. So not the case. But, take heart. I see many people questioning the value of “mental health” and the ineffective products they supply. We have a few generations now that are seeing that they haven’t delivered on any promise to help with anything. We are seeing first light.

    • “medicine is actually buying into this because” it’s so very profitable to make people sick, while hypocritically pretending to be a doctor whose promised to “do no harm.” Trust me, I tried to convince a pediatrician the other day, to encourage her coworkers to stop psychiatrically drugging the children.

      She eventually said she couldn’t, because it’s so profitable. Ironically, she confessed this to me in a church. I thought to myself, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” I will say her sorrows and embarrassment were quite evident in her body language though.

  10. We need to get clear on some terminology. Psychiatry is a pseudo-science. A pseudoscience, like psychiatry, is a fake science, or a practice that claims to be scientific when in fact it is merely conjecture or speculation. Scientism, on the other hand, is the blind belief that “science” (whatever that could mean) is the only possible means for obtaining knowledge about any given subject. Our world is drenched in scientism, but psychiatry is already a step removed from scientism, as bad as that is. Scientism may have produced the conditions in which pseudo-scientific psychiatry could flourish, but it would be more accurate to call psychiatry what it is, namely, a pseudo-science, or as Szasz rightly put it, “the science of lies.” Psychiatry has as much to do with science as falsehood has to do with truth, which is to say, nothing. There is absolutely nothing that is remotely scientific about psychiatry. It is true that psychiatry likes to portray itself as a scientific discipline, but that’s what all pseudo-scientific endeavors try to accomplish. There is no useful science in psychiatry. It is impossible to evaluate the evidence based connected to so-called “mental health” problems, it’s causes and treatments, because the very notion of “mental health” is a pseudo-scientific concept. Hifalutin terminology cannot change the fact that psychiatry is by definition a system of coercion and oppression that masquerades as medicine. Truth, reason, and science, correctly understood, all demonstrate that the morally correct thing to do is to abolish psychiatry and the slavery that ensues from its nefarious, pseudo-scientific justifications for oppression.

          • The following comment by “Slaying the Dragon” in many ways concentrates everything that is wrong with the term, “scientism”:

            “Pseudo-science naturally emerges in an age of scientism.”

            Here you have someone with an overall Right Wing political perspective complaining about the rise of enlightened science that has seriously questioned many fundamental beliefs promoted by the established ruling elites in the age of capitalism.

            That is, science (as applied to the history of human social systems) has questioned the permanence of class based systems where capitalism is accepted as the highest pinnacle of human social organization.

            This includes questioning the current social status of the working classes, people of color, ethic minorities, different sexual identities, and women etc.

            This is quite similar to the political struggle that emerged in the period in history when the Devine Right of Kings and Queens to rule over the peasantry was being questioned.

            Science, has also been used to deconstruct the major precepts of religion and its conservative pull on the masses of people to not question the current Order of things, and to wait for salvation in the hereafter. (BTW, I am aware that not all religious people are cemented in that view. I am referring to broadly accepted religious beliefs here)

            So with this Right Wing outlook promoted by “Slaying the Dragon”, science (and its application by human beings who do NOT believe in a “natural order” of things) is somehow blamed (using the code word “scientism”) for every major political movement of the masses that is seriously challenging the status quo and/or threatens the major tenants of Establishment thinking.

            Pseudo-science in this historical era has NOT emerged because of “scientism” (a code word for being “too scientific” when science somehow exposes that the “Emperor has no cloths”).

            Pseudoscience in this historical era has FAR MORE connections to those people and institutions that currently control our society and are threatened by those that question the permanence of this Oder of things.

            This is where Psychiatry comes in as a vital means of social control in society maintaining the status quo. It plays an important role in encouraging people to look at “genetic theories of original sin” as the source of our problems and not examine the institutional structures of society that perpetuate daily forms of trauma on people.

            “Slaying the Dragon” would have us believe that Psychiatry is some sort of “evil” force in the world ABSTRACTED from the inherent inequalities in the institutions that exist in a profit/class based system.

            It is no accident that he has adopted the name “Slaying the Dragon” (when it comes to criticizing Psychiatry) because he is stuck in an outmoded way of thinking that accepts some sort of “natural order” of things in the world based on CENTURIES OLD ways of thinking. Hence the need for a “Dragon Slayer” to come to our rescue and root out this “Evil.”

            “Scientism” has too many meanings and interpretations to be of any use to those forces in society deconstructing Psychiatry and all its abuses in society. And it too often is used as a code word by those like “Slaying the Dragon” who wish to promote a Right Wing perspective on the way forward in the world.

            Richard

          • Let me clarify something here, first of all — “Dragon Slayer” is not a name he gave himself, but a nickname that I first used on the MIA “Organizing” forum as a shorter variation on “Slaying the Dragon of Psychiatry.” It’s Romanticism, it’s poetry, and it has no ominous implications for me. It is of course legitimate discourse and inquiry to analyze and criticize his political beliefs as you see fit, even though “DS” may or may not consciously adhere to all your characterizations of his world view (I’m not quite sure myself, but I know it includes a concern for justice).

            Closer to the topic, you call “scientism” a code word for being “too scientific” — but I see people repeatedly saying that to them it refers to assuming and worshipping the trappings of science, not the real thing. Though it could also apply to the worship of science in the abstract, or as an ideal.

            The promulgation of blatant pseudo-science represented by psychiatry and related ideologies certainly contributes heavily to the confusion between the two — as well as the “fake social justice” trends I hear about which talk about our educational efforts as “pill-shaming” and the like.

          • Old Head gets it right. Scientism promotes the trappings of science, or the worship of what is allegedly science, while masquerading as real science. It would take us too far afield to consider the basic question: What is science? But the answer to this question is by no means as simple as blindly embracing Descartes as some sort of a prophet. Even real “science” as it emerged in the Enlightenment is subject to scientific scrutiny. Scientism is a religion of its own that claims to inhabit a realm beyond investigation. It is natural for pseudo-scientific psychiatry to sprout up under such conditions.

  11. I certainly don’t see much psychiatric research today as scientific chiefly because the reason for the research is to reinforce conclusions drawn before it is even conducted. Were it scientific, different theories would be tested against each other rather than relying on the old standard, that theory maintained by the bio-psychiatric orthodoxy. As is, it’s not science but bias that predominates. Research today doesn’t seem willing to test any theory except the theory the mainstream subscribes to. Problem, if you test a theory against itself, your theory can’t lose, however if you test it against another theory, that other theory stands a chance. Scientism it is, sure, as scientism is seeing science where there is no science.

  12. To All

    The last several comments have raised some important questions about the use of the term “SCIENTISM.”

    This blog has some great exposure of the pseudoscience of Psychiatry, but its title and continued use of the word “SCIENTISM” is contradictory and confusing at best, and TOTALLY distracts from its essential content.

    From Webster’s Dictionary: (BTW, I am not endorsing this definition))

    “Definition of scientism
    1 : methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist
    2 : an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)”

    When it comes to analyzing and criticizing Psychiatry (or any form of oppression in the world) we need “more science,” not less. And you can’t be “too scientific” when trying to understand and transform the world into a more humane place to live.

    The historical debate regarding the term “SCIENTISM” is hotly contested in the world today, and some people would say (myself included) that its misuse is essentially a way to discredit and undermine (sometimes in very subtle ways) the role of science in the world. To accurately explain my position on this question would require an entire blog (and more), and is perhaps something I will attempt in the future.

    But for now, I am strongly suggesting that to continue using the term ” SCIENTISM” is both confusing and counterproductive when trying to criticize and deconstruct the pseudoscience of Psychiatry.

    And finally, with all of the efforts in this blog to take on the pseudoscience of Psychiatry and its bogus terminology, WHY, WHY WHY are people (and this author) still calling psychiatric drugs “MEDICATIONS.”

    If there is no disease or underlying cellular abnormality related to psychological distress, why allow Psychiatry to get away with calling all their mind altering (and quite often mind destroying) drugs, some type of “medication” ???

    Psychiatry, while colluding with Big Pharma, have spent hundreds of billions of dollars over 5 decades convincing the world that they are a medical specialty dispensing “medications” to the masses. Why concede to them the use of this language and “enable” them to get over with this charade. Challenging AND changing language is an important part of making positive change in the world.

    Richard

    • Hi Richard. Great comments. Although I greatly admire Dr. Timimi and his blog post, I share your concerns about the term “scientism.”

      For me, this term is complicated. My own history with it is that this term has been used by psychoanalysts, with whom I’ve previously attempted a friendly but critical dialogue, to complain that science-based criticisms of their approach, which is scientifically unsupported, is a product of scientism. Their argument was that their approach was good because their “clinical judgment” said it was good, and that science-based critiques of their approach were unfairly biased due to the false belief that scientific evidence is a uniquely useful source of information (i.e., “scientism”). Those making this argument demonstrated little awareness of the limitations of clinical judgment, including its historical use as the primary source of “evidence” supporting discredited “treatments” like bloodletting, lobotomy, insulin coma therapy, and so on. Science, when used properly, is an effective tool for cutting through bias and revealing the truth regarding matters of objective reality, such as the effects of pharmaceutical interventions. This makes science essential, and I agree with you that we need more science, not less. You said it well, “And you can’t be “too scientific” when trying to understand and transform the world into a more humane place to live.”

      The flip side is that it’s difficult to be a staunch proponent of science given the many ways in which the enterprise has been corrupted. A great deal of our science isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Guild interests, financial interests, and perverse incentives that encourage scientists to publish biased results have corrupted the scientific literature. This is unacceptable on many levels and is good reason to mistrust science, which as a scientist myself I do a great deal. Personally, this corruption of science infuriates me, because not only does it do society a disservice, but it gives those who wish to discredit faith in science as “scientism” good reason to do so.

      I suppose it comes down to the need to conduct a critical analysis of science, and to subscribe to scientific findings that are credible, to expose those that are not as pseudoscientific, and to call out the promotion of bad science as fact as scientism. And on that note, I fully agree with Dr. Timimi that much of what is currently considered by society, professionals, and clients as valid psychiatric theory and practice is based on scientism. I could say the same for much of what is currently practiced in psychology, social work, counselling, and other non-psychiatric mental health professions.

      Cheers,

      Brett

      • Brett

        Thanks for the response. And I agreed with your comment up until these last two sentences.

        You said: “I suppose it comes down to the need to conduct a critical analysis of science, and to subscribe to scientific findings that are credible, to expose those that are not as pseudoscientific, and to call out the promotion of bad science as fact as scientism. And on that note, I fully agree with Dr. Timimi that much of what is currently considered by society, professionals, and clients as valid psychiatric theory and practice is based on scientism.”

        I say stop using “scientism” altogether. It is too confusing, contradictory, and controversial in meaning, and it renders the word useless and counterproductive when deconstructing Psychiatry.

        Science is what it is – it is science. Science CANNOT be “scientism.”

        Pseudoscience is pseudoscience, that is, “pretend science” not based on the accurate use of the scientific method. Corrupted science is science that has been corrupted through the use of false data or methodology, etc. etc. etc.

        Reductionism is reductionism, that is, drawing scientific conclusions from limited data that will not stand the test of time or scientific scrutiny on a macro level.

        Reductionism and all other bastardized versions of science can reflect a level of ignorance and/or serves the subjective, nefarious, and often political desires of those claiming to be scientific.

        We should continue to use the terms “pseudoscience,” “corrupted science,” and “reductionism” because they have a clear meaning and are universally accepted by almost everyone using these terms.

        “Scientism” is a very controversial concept that has multiple meanings NOT universally accepted by most scientists or other critical thinkers. There are well respected scientists who believe there is such a thing as “scientism,” and there are also many other highly respected and accomplished scientists who believe that the use of the term “scientism” is wrong and/or misleading.

        And while the word “scientism” is sometimes used by both sides of the current political spectrum in the world, it is often used by the Right Wing as a way to undercut the value and role of science in understanding and transforming a fundamentally unjust world.

        The use of the word “scientism” to describe Psychiatry is again, very confusing and counterproductive to the goal of ending all forms of Psychiatric abuse in the world, along with the material conditions in the world that give rise to, and nutures its existence.

        Richard

        • Richard, I really appreciate your response. I agree with you that “scientism” is a problematic term. You’ve helped clarify my thinking about this. I’ll stick to more clear terms like “pseudoscience.” On that note, I also think it makes more sense to apply a term like pseudoscience to specific ideas and practices rather than professions. It makes no sense to say psychology is a pseudoscience, for example, because much of what counts as psychological knowledge is in fact scientifically established via credible and replicable research. But psychology, particularly its clinical practice, is also chalked full of bullshit, and it is useful to call it out as pseudoscience.

          • Pseudoscience is pretending to be scientific when you’re not. I think “Scientism” is more of a religious belief system where there are “smart” people who “know science” and we can be “smart” too if we just agree with them and do what they say, and we don’t have to think about it too hard. The second is a much more encompassing concept, but also more complex, as it involves the development of religious/philosophical dedication to a set of dogma, whereas pseudoscience is just straight up deception. I think Scientism certainly applies to psychiatry, but Richard’s point is well taken – it is too complex for people to understand fully and is too easily used by demagogues to promote an anti-intellectual agenda.

            The truth is, very few Americans actually understand science and most are unable to differentiate it from pseudoscience. Most are ultimately either proponents of “scientism” or are knee-jerk opponents of “those left-wing intellectual communists” without any real comprehension of what science is about and what it can do when unadulterated by corruption and politics.

          • Steve

            Please see my related comment to Frank, below.

            You said: “I think “Scientism” is more of a religious belief system where there are “smart” people who “know science” and we can be “smart” too if we just agree with them and do what they say, and we don’t have to think about it too hard…as it involves the development of religious/philosophical dedication to a set of dogma…”

            When you said “…”Scientism” is more of a religious belief system…”, I think you are correct and actually making my point here.

            When people use the label of “Scientism” to discredit people’s dependence and reliance on science to make choices in the world, they are basing this criticism on unproven assumptions and/or faith. They are NOT making a critical analysis of what is legitimate science, and what may be some form of pseudoscience.

            If people are NOT understanding, and/or, NOT employing science correctly, this is NOT “scientism” (which is a nonsensical and controversial term), this IS people simply being UNSCIENTIFIC.

            Richard

          • Right, I’m agreeing with you. Any real scientist, would, of course, be 100% opposed to “scientism,” as it undermines the most basic tenets of science, namely, that we need to be humble and skeptical about our own assumptions and that any theory or assumption can be disproven by data. To use “scientism” as an ad hominem attack on real science is only possible when used on the ignorant. Unfortunately, as stated above, the ranks of the scientifically ignorant are legion.

        • There are well respected scientists who believe there is such a thing as “scientism,” and there are also many other highly respected and accomplished scientists who believe that the use of the term “scientism” is wrong and/or misleading.

          So why take a side without a good reason? People should draw an “evidence-based” conclusion. 🙂

          As with Scientology, I fail to see why our words or actions should be predicated on what the “right wing” says or claims, we should trust our ability to ferret out the truth and broadcast it, and people’s ability to recognize it.

          To me the term “scientism” also connotes a quasi-religious devotion to scientific-sounding concepts, which arises when pressure to detach from religion as “unscientific” leaves people with no outlet for their spiritual needs, which they then attempt to fulfill via turning science — or more accurately the trappings of such — into a religion. (Not that religion generally works either, as it is in many cases an attempt to control spirituality, not to explore it.)

    • My response is contained in the definition, Richard, and in your avoidance of it. ‘The natural sciences’ don’t apply to ‘philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities’ the way they apply to physics, biology, and more mechanistic studies, any more than they apply to studies in divinity school. I don’t share your faith in science when it comes to the so-called inexact or soft sciences. The problem is the number of variables you get when all is variable, and you are dealing with a mere percentage. In such a situation, getting percentages, people fall back on ye old normative average, and doing so does a disservice to the resistant non-conformist exception.

      Psychiatry has more in common with police science than it does with other branches of medicine, and I don’t see anybody arresting, or launching civil commitment proceedings against, a person with an erring kidney, lung, pancreas, or tonsils. There have been recent scandals in social psychology involving fabricated studies. No wonder considering the amount of hard science involved, that is, very little. I think the problem is, really, you have to acknowledge the difference in terms of reliability between these sciences and those sciences. DNA may not lie, but criminals, government officials, and bureaucrats sure do. Ditto research personnel looking for an award to win, or prestige to be gained, and a cushy career serving the corporate elite, among that elite big pHarma exes.

      • Psychiatry has more in common with police science than it does with other branches of medicine, and I don’t see anybody arresting, or launching civil commitment proceedings against, a person with an erring kidney, lung, pancreas, or tonsils.

        Great sentence encompassing several good points, the first being that “police science” describes it exactly, except for the part about “other branches of medicine,” implying that psychiatry is a branch of medicine when in fact, as you point out, it is essentially a branch of the prison system. I think this is an important distinction that often goes ignored, unfortunately, as knowing the difference between medicine, law and politics is crucial to understanding the nature of this particular Beast.

        It would also be a great sociological experiment to collect statistics on violence for heart patients, lung patients, kidney patients etc.; if any of these groups exhibit an equal or higher statistical rate of “violence” than the psychiatrically labelled shouldn’t their guns be taken away?

        • Frank and Oldhead:

          I believe psychiatry evolved as a way to justify/enable the forceful exclusion from society, and imprisonment, of people who were not committing actual crimes, yet were still detrimental to society’s efficiency in that they were not contributing to it by doing their jobs. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that psychiatry and the age of insane asylums arose during the 1800s, an era when many people found factory work conditions maddeningly unbearable. Fear of being forced into an asylum if they didn’t conform likely kept them in line, just as fear of being arrested/jailed keeps people from committing crimes.

          Lawrence

          • Couldn’t have said it better myself, except maybe for the past tense part — the fear of being labeled “abnormal” (OMG!) continues to exert similar control over people’s perceived freedom to explore their dreams and imaginations. Which reminds me of some pretty bold graffiti I noticed on a prominent wall recently, it said “If you won’t let us dream we won’t let you sleep!”

          • Sadly many of us have been sucked in who never would have in the 19th century. For example Charlotte Bronte was eccentric–a very nervous individual. She never was called mad or locked up.

            Never should have taken Anafranil. Can’t stop grieving and wondering what the point was to escaping psychiatry. At 44 I am too old to form new relationships or a new identity apart from mental patient. My shame will never end. 🙁

    • I understand Richard to say that the definition of “scientism” has two different (almost opposite) meanings and that its use to discredit science is now more common than its use to discredit pseudoscience. However, I do not want to concede the definition of “scientism” to the “establishment;” it is important to have a term that describes pseudoscientific overreach. Psychiatry is my definition of “scientism!”

      • Hi Steve

        Please read my other new comment. “Pseudoscience” is quite sufficient to describe pseudoscience.”

        You said: ” I do not want to concede the definition of “scientism” to the “establishment;”…”

        Unfortunately, when you use the term “scientism” you will be often “conceding” to the Establishment. The Right Wing and those in the Establishment holding positions of power (in science and other areas) often use the term “scientism” to undercut and ridicule those using science to change the world.

        I do believe it is worth engaging in a very deep theorectical and political struggle over the role of the word “scientism” in the world. But to throw it into the mix now as as if it is a valuable term to criticize and deconstruct Psyciaitry, will be very confusing and misguided at this time.

        Richard

          • I, on the other hand, wouldn’t want to oversimplify the matter. I have a use for the word scientism. Psychology and the social sciences are examples of soft, or inexact, science. (We could call them “pseudoscience”, too, if you prefer.) Psychiatry, on the other hand, is a soft science that would pretend to be a hard science. I don’t think there is a lot of science, properly speaking, in the social sciences.

          • Right, but that is merely a matter of rhetoric to which one could respond that he is guilty of his own scientism in ignoring the evidence.

            I don’t think, unlike the author of the article in question, that scientism is a partisan matter. It is not as if, as suggested, scientism goes with liberalism, and science with conservativism. To say so is to feed into the absolutely untrue assertion that conservatives are more scientific than liberals that this article is making.

            By the same token, I don’t think it could be said that all conservatives are unscientific. Many of them, after all, are not climate change deniers.

            I’d call the author’s dissing of morality in favor of abstract algorithms very disturbing. If you’re complaining about morality, how can I expect you to be honest, and I don’t think moral scruples are a concern with him, but this is the kind of thing that anybody should be able to pick up on, like the talking Gnat in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.

          • Frank

            When I referenced the different political viewpoints that use (and I believe everyone misuses it no matter what their politics) the word “scientism,” I was not referring to “liberalism” and “conservatism,” They are essentially flip sides of the same coin that seek to maintain the present status quo in the world, with only very slight differences in how this profit and class based society should be organized.

            Science (as a methodology and body of accumulated knowledge) has no partiality to anything other than the “truth” or (in different words) to a potentially better method for humans (IF correctly applied) to understand the world and THUS be in a better position to change it, hopefully for the better.

            The use of the term “scientism,” on the other hand, because it ultimately degrades and undermines people’s belief in science and the scientific method (regardless of who uses the term to describe science), IS partial to maintaining and/or defending the status quo in the world. This is DESPITE the subjective intentions of those using the term.

            Since science, when correctly understood and applied in the world to make things BETTER for ALL of humanity, is a serious challenge to those defending the status quo, it is important for the ruling classes to ONLY use science in a very limited and pragmatic way to serve their class interests.

            Again, because this a complicated and potentially contentious struggle over philosophical concepts and terminology, it is best to avoid this term when taking on Psychiatry. We have plenty of great language to critically analyze and totally deconstruct Psychiatry and hasten its demise into the dustbin of history.

            Richard

          • “The use of the term “scientism,” on the other hand, because it ultimately degrades and undermines people’s belief in science and the scientific method (regardless of who uses the term to describe science), IS partial to maintaining and/or defending the status quo in the world.”

            Basically, Richard, I have to disagree. I think scientism describes exactly what you are advancing, and what I find worrisome, that is, the religion of science. Science is not belief, a faith, but scientism is belief, and a faith.

            Is science partial to maintaining the status quo? Not in and of itself. However it is being funded by, and serving corporate interests (for example, continuing ed classes funded by big pHarma), and people are less apt to call that scientism than any of your proposals, but basically it is the same thing, social control being one form of trying to “change”, or force one’s will on, the world.

          • Frank

            You are continuing the confusion in terminology here.

            You said: “…what I find worrisome, that is, the religion of science. Science is not belief, a faith, but scientism is belief, and a faith.”

            The word religion simply CANNOT ever be correctly applied to ANY aspect of Science. They are polar opposites. Science is based on known facts and a methodology of seeking truth through experimentation and examining processes going on in the material world.

            Religion is based on FAITH, and is not intended, nor can it be, based on facts in the real world. Most religious people would agree with its total emphasis on FAITH. And if they do believe it is based on facts, it up to them to prove those facts.

            Religious people may believe, with a deeply held feeling of certainty, in this FAITH, but it cannot ever be proven with facts and/or the scientific method. And in fact, most religious people don’t care to seek any material form or external proof of their inner faith.

            The above statements are not meant as any kind of put down of religious people, they are simply facts about how people feel attached to their religious belief systems.

            Frank, you said:

            “…Is science partial to maintaining the status quo? Not in and of itself. However it is being funded by, and serving corporate interests…”

            Science is always neutral. However, how science is used (and for what purpose) in the world, is NOT neutral. And when science is used to hold back the forward progress of humanity, this is NOT “scientism.” This is simply the reactionary and oppressive use of science to exploit and/or harm people.

            Richard

          • I see some people developing a religious faith in science that I think is truly overdoing it. It is the science version of art for art’s sake, or what might be termed the religion of art. Most artists temper their faith with a little realism.

            Science is neutral, but the uses to which it is put are not neutral. Yes, and this use, or misuse, in some cases, can result in tainted or corrupt and biased research.

            I don’t have your faith in progress. It is not that I don’t think progress can be made, it’s that I think sometimes what is lost is more impressive than what is gained over time, that is, that things don’t always proceed in a direction going from bad to better. The reaction does impede progress, surely, but not all movement is in a direction that one would desire. Were one to graph matters over centuries, I’m sure one would not get the story they were expecting, that is, I seriously doubt that what you would be seeing would be all incline. I would imagine, as far as it goes, we still have valleys to face.

            I don’t consider medicalization progressive, and yet medicalization, in my opinion, is what the “helping” service industry and profession is primarily about. Increase medicalization and what have you got? More and more literally healthy people claiming to be “sick”. (Literally healthy until harmed by their treatment that is.) Is this progress? I don’t think so.

    • As to the basic theme, I think the term “scientism” is useful in describing the manner in which psychiatry appropriates the trappings of science (and medicine) to further a political agenda of repression and social control. Actually if psychiatry itself were “more scientific” in pursuing its goals it would be even more dangerous. As for “scientific” approaches to fighting psychiatry, while I have no objection to the concept, it’s not exactly “rocket science,” so much as people coming to such a degree of disgust with psychiatric newspeak and double-talk that they reach a collective tipping point, at which time some of our decades-long demands will come to be seen as common sense.

      • Oldhead

        You said: “I think the term “scientism” is useful in describing the manner in which psychiatry appropriates the trappings of science…Actually if psychiatry itself were “more scientific” in pursuing its goals it would be even more dangerous.”

        The above two sentences actually makes a strong case for the essence of my argument on how confusing the use of the term “scientism” is, and how it potentially leads us away from our goal of ending Psychiatry.

        Your phrase “…if psychiatry itself were “more scientific”” is in its essence, an oxymoron.

        Psychiatry by its very nature (and definition) is not “scientific,” in fact we can say it is both “anti-science” and “anti-people.” So therefore, common logic tells us that it is virtually impossible for psychiatry to EVER become “more scientific.”

        The very author of above blog that defines Psychiatry as being an example of “scientism” uses the following phrases in his final paragraphs:

        “Paying attention to the science tells us that we need to look beyond just a focus on formal services…. The science has already pointed to what is likely to be most helpful to people who suffer mental distress.”

        Here again comes the confusion with terms, because the author (Sami Timimi) is CORRECTLY calling for MORE “science” to help solve the problems for people going through intense psychological distress.

        Get rid the of the term “scientism, if it is causing this much confusion within our own ranks, imagine how confused newcomers might feel in such a discussion.

        Richard

        • Psychiatry by its very nature (and definition) is not “scientific”

          Apples and oranges, different levels. It is very scientific in its machinations of social repression and public deception, such as successfully promoting mass acceptance of an impossible concept (“mental illness”) and engineering the Jim Jones-like rush to drink the Kool-Aid of big Pharma.

          the author (Sami Timimi) is CORRECTLY calling for MORE “science” to help solve the problems for people going through intense psychological distress

          The quotes around science are confusing as to whether or not you are being ironic in some way, but I think most people in distress would prefer compassion to “science.”

          • Oldhead

            You are continuing the confusing and contradictory use of terminology. As a result SCIENCE is totally losing its meaning here. You continue to make the case for abandoning the term “scientism.”

            You said: “Apples and oranges, different levels. It [Psychiatry] is very scientific in its machinations of social repression and public deception…”

            This is NOT science you are talking about here. These are devious and well designed and highly crafted public relations strategies to maintain control and power over people and influence broader public opinion.

            You said: “The quotes around science are confusing as to whether or not you are being ironic in some way, but I think most people in distress would prefer compassion to “science.”

            I was not being ironic here, but only putting emphasis on the fact that Sami Timimi was promoting the USE OF SCIENCE as a means to determine those kinds of support systems that provide the best help for people, AND I am quite confident that those positive supports would be based in “compassion.”

            I am surprised you don’t get the big problem with how these terms are being used.

            Richard

          • I’m afraid I agree with Frank that you may unwittingly embody in your philosophy some of the characteristics of what may be the most consensual definition of “scientism,” i.e. exalting the ideal of “science” with the same sort of fervent devotion formerly accorded religion.

            I’ve never used the term, may or may not have a use for it in the future, but I do think it applies to psychiatry, as does the term pseudo-science; I see no mutual exclusion here.

            As to its ultimate importance I would have to disagree; given the in-your-face crimes of psychiatry this seems closer to the proverbial “angels on the head of a pin” argument than anything.

          • Regarding Oldhead’s remark about how psychiatry is very scientific in their techniques of social oppression….

            Wouldn’t that make Psychiatry a lowly “soft science?” What an insult! They are real “hard scientists” gosh darn it! Manly men above foolishness like sociology and anthropology.

            Dr. Quackenbush: I am not a crook! I am a real scientist.

            😛

        • I view the concept of “scientific” as something that can be applied to both good and “evil” ends. Essentially, if one has a goal to achieve, the scientific way of approaching it is by identifying, exploring, and analyzing the available data to deduce the quickest and most effective way of accomplishing that goal — whether it’s developing a hydrogen bomb or curing cancer.

          • To oldhead and Richard,

            I think science has two meanings. First, as a method of finding a knowledge and a body knowledge thus acquired. Second, as an institutional practice of grant patronage system as scientists and scientific activities have bills to pay.

            Psychiatry is problematic because its institutional practice is under the influence of capitalism in present times. But science as an institutional practice was always problematic. Ivan Pavlov was supported by Soviet communists because his behaviourism seemed promising for social engineering. Scientific practice is always under the influence of powers that be.

            Having said that, Scientism is most felt as oppressive in conjunction with colonization in non-western cultures when indigenous experts were displaced by white coats with Western scientific credentials. This was not limited to psychiatry. Also, I think you could produce the central question of those who decry scientism as “Is science infallible?” of which answer is “No” because science evolves over time, paradigms change, but when scientism is dominant people are under the impression that whatever scientific practices/products are infallible.

    • Richard, great point about the so-called “medications.” These “medications” are toxic, noxious, harmful, disabling chemicals. They do not in any way constitute medicine.

      Unfortunately, the notion of “climate change denial” is about as rational as the notion of “mental illness denial.” There’s no need to get into that here, but it’s just more evidence that even though most people are completely unaware, scientism reigns supreme in our modern age. In a scientistic age, pseudo-sciences such as psychiatry will continue to flourish, at least until they are abolished.

      • More an example of real science being confused with pseudo-science and why it’s important to know the difference. (By “real” here I mean environmental science btw, but I have no desire to further divert the discussion with a climate change argument.)

      • Dragon Slayer

        While I commend your ability to use both logic and elements of the scientific method to deconstruct the oppressive nature of Psychiatry, I am astounded by your willingness to abandon science when it comes to understanding global warming.

        And I am very intrigued to know what is your scientific appraisal of the Trump regime and its political agenda?

        Richard

        • I champion science, properly understood. I am probably more astounded by your willingness to abandon reason, or science, in order to embrace propaganda, and to attempt to enforce such propaganda by calling skeptics “climate change deniers.” That’s the same tactic that pro-psychiatry mongers use when they refer to “mental illness deniers.” It just doesn’t hold water.

          In order to answer your question about Trump, which seems entirely irrelevant to this thread, I would need to understand what you mean by “science,” or “scientific.” Whatever the case, I gladly set these distractions aside to emphasize the truth that we share, namely, the justice inherent in the cause of abolishing psychiatry.

          • Slaying the Dragon

            Let me rephrase my questions:

            1)Is Donald Trump (and in general his supporters) a friend to those people wishing to end all forms of psychiatric abuse?
            2) Is Donald Trump (and in general his supporters) a friend to those people wishing to promote genuine science in the world, as opposed to pseudoscience?
            3) Should MIA readers who want to end all types of Human Rights violations in the world support Donald Trump?
            4) and finally, Does supporting Donald Trump advance the progress of humanity, as a whole, or hold it back and possibly make it worse?

            Richard

          • Still a red herring in my view. You can’t generalize about Trump voters, for one; some just despised Clinton more, which is completely understandable. Further, you could ask the same questions about Clinton and her supporters and all my answers would be NO.

          • Slaying the Dragon

            Are these not fair and important questions given the turbulence of the times and way lines are being drawn in the world?

            Apparently Oldhead doesn’t want to hear the answers, but there are probably many others here who would find it interesting to know your broader political perspective on what it will take to end psychiatric oppression in the world. This includes knowing the necessary political alliances needed to accomplish this goal.

            Richard

          • Richard, I do not believe that there are any “necessary political alliances needed to accomplish this goal.” It would be nice if a maligned group wanted to ally with us but I do not envision that as a possibility. Political groups align with each other to advance their own causes- not because they feel a philosophical alignment. Since the stigma of a “mental illness” is worse than most others, few political groups gain any advantage by aligning with us.

            Single-issue political groups that center on human rights or disability rights seem like our only true allies. I concur with most of your criticism of psychiatry but I do not consider it representative of a political group. Regardless, I believe that you underestimate the power (and number) of those maligned by psychiatry to avenge their abuse when they become fully aware of the nature of the hoax and reach a “critical mass.”

          • Apparently Oldhead doesn’t want to hear the answers, but there are probably many others here who would find it interesting to know your broader political perspective on what it will take to end psychiatric oppression in the world.

            I’m pretty clear on DS’s “broader political perspective,” he’s a right wing Christian conservative — with a very clear understanding of the fraudulent and oppressive nature of psychiatry. He also believes in “uniting all who can be united” (a phrase you often employ in a much different way) to fight psychiatry. I don’t see you demanding a similar political resume for others here.

            I also disagree with Steve S. regarding the nature of political alliances;. I don’t consider anti-psychiatry to be a “single issue,” or believe that what we are trying to do has anything at all in common with “disability rights.” I reiterate my personal belief that some sort of revolutionary socialism is the interim solution to the problems we face in the material world. But a “conservative” who is drugged into oblivion is as capable as a “leftist” of recognizing that he/she is being oppressed; it does not require revolutionary “credentials.” Further, there are exactly ZERO socialist minded “revolutionary” organizations in the U.S. that take any sort of stand against psychiatry, so it makes little sense to be lecturing someone on the “other side” ideologically when there are NO examples of the “correct” way of doing things out there, at least not today.

            I look forward to the day when an understanding of psychiatric oppression is an integral part of any self-respecting revolutionary analysis. Nonetheless the issues which presently unite us are pretty basic ones of civil/Constitutional rights, deconstructing psychiatric ideology, and uniting those who have been psychiatrized around a basic set of demands. This is well within the purview of just about anyone with a functioning brain.

          • Steve

            You raise an important question here. I don’t think I underestimate the number of those harmed by Psychiatry nor the power of such a movement, IF it is organized and grows in strength.

            But, if you believe this movement can go it alone in today’s world, then I believe you are underestimating how critically important it is for those in power to have Psychiatry as an instrument of control especially using labels and drugs to silence the more volatile and rebellious sections of this society. AND the importance to the economy that the Psychiatric/Pharmaceutical/Industrial/Complex plays given its historic levels of profit.

            The depth of the this oppression and how it serves this profit based system requires important allies in other Human Rights struggle for us to be successful in the long term.

            And all this means recognizing the high number of women and minorities who are controlled and damaged by Psychiatry’s broad reach in society. AND consciously educating people about all the connections and seeking allies AND alliances within these movements (such as Black Lives Matter, Women’s Movement, Me Too Movement, Environmental Movement, etc.).

            Richard

          • Oldhead

            I do not believe my question is unfair or inappropriate here. “Slaying the Dragon” has a very worked out analysis of Psychiatry and psychiatric abuse in society. He also has his own website and presents himself as some type of “leader” in this struggle and wants people to follow along with him on this path.

            Why is it unfair that I want to ask exactly where he wants to take us and how he proposes we get there?

            And Oldhead, does this mean you believe in the slogan “unite all who can be united,” and exactly how is my interpretation of the slogan different?

            Richard

          • ““Slaying the Dragon” has a very worked out analysis of Psychiatry and psychiatric abuse in society. He also has his own website and presents himself as some type of “leader” in this struggle and wants people to follow along with him on this path.”

            Not quite. My simple aim has been to expose the truth about psychiatry so that people can make their own choices based on correct information. My goal is not to recruit followers but to promote education based on truth toward emancipation from psychiatric slavery, and hence, toward genuine freedom of choice.

            Just for the record, most of the major advances in human liberty have been rooted in reason as well as religious faith, from the founding of this country, to the emancipation of the slaves, to the civil rights movement. These are freedoms that benefit even those who deny this fact. The abolition of psychiatric slavery will be no different, even though abolitionists may come from a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives. That is a wonderful thing. People uniting to promote the cause of liberty.

        • All of this is a distraction from the goal of abolishing psychiatry. But here are my responses to Richard’s distracting questions.
          1)What has Donald Trump to do with any of this? I rejected both horrible Hillary and terrible Trump in the election.
          2) Again, what does Donald Trump have to do with any of this? Presidents are notoriously ignorant about psychiatry, and some have even promoted it in various ways (Kennedy, for example, Clinton, and Obama too)
          3) MIA readers should do whatever their conscience prompts them to do.
          4) One more time, what does Donald Trump have to do with any of this? As far as the progress of humanity, what do you mean? Progress toward what? What do you mean by better or worse? What is your standard of measurement?

          • Slaying the Dragon

            Thank you for the response.

            You ask: “What has Donald Trump to do with any of this?”

            For me and many other people on the Left, Trump and those people in power aligned with him, represent a dividing line question in today’s world. Meaning, he represents a significant leap in our society towards Fascism. This is a serious threat to a qualitative reduction in personal liberty and freedom of expression and the right to dissent.

            For these reasons I could not, and would not, under any circumstances knowingly work with some one (or any organization) that supports the Trump agenda. And as an aside (as I’ve stated in other comments) I put Scientology in the same category of a group I will not knowingly work with for related, but somewhat different, reasons.

            And since I believe it will be essential in the future (in order to be successful) for the anti-psychiatry movement to work along side other Human Rights struggles and activists, such as women, minority activists, environmentalists etc., any connection to the Trump agenda (and those supporting it) would represent a serious impediment to these sort of alliances.

            Having stated why this is a dividing line question, this does NOT mean that I support any other political candidates or bourgeois political parties. I do not believe any substantial systemic changes in society can take place within a profit based/capitalist system.

            And finally, I believe any emerging vanguard type anti-psychiatry organization must, as a precondition, have a general anti-system orientation, in order to play a FULL ROLE pushing forward the struggle.

            Of course there probably will emerge many other groups opposing various aspects of the “mental health” system that should be supported, but they will not necessarily take advanced positions on bigger issues and therefore not play a vanguard type role.

            Richard

      • Actually, Dragon Slayer, I would compare pollution emission (the cause of climate change) to psychiatric drug intake (the cause of much physical disability and the intractability of so called “mental disorders”). Cigarette smoking has taken, as it should, a dive. Psychiatric drugs, on the other hand, drugs that are as potentially debilitating as nicotine, are still selling like hot cakes. People who ignore pollutants, whether the pollutant be a psychiatric drug or a smokestack emission, do so at their own peril. People who realize the dangers, and how it ties into the profit motive, know better.

          • I can easily explain that. The globe is warming, of that there is no denial. Average annual temperatures continue to climb. However, many who don’t understand climate issues complain that “Hey, it’s been super cold this winter, so that proves there is no ‘global warming.'” I think that in order to address this misunderstanding, the term “climate change” began to be used, because a warming earth doesn’t mean it’s warmer everywhere all the time, but it does mean that the expected climate for different regions becomes less predictable, including significantly more or less rainfall than average, extremes in temperature, more extreme storms, longer dry spells leading to a longer fire season (as happened in the US West this year), and rising sea levels.

            The degree to which this is caused by human activity is debatable. The question of whether or not it’s actually happening is not debatable. This, I think, distinguishes global warming from psychiatry in a pretty dramatic way. Psychiatry simply makes up categories and counts them based on arbitrary checklists that don’t measure anything at all. Global warming is measurable by averaging the temperature around the globe, and can be verified to occur. Climate changes relating to warming temperatures are also predicted by mathematical models, though as we all know, climate prediction is a much more imprecise activity than measuring the average temperature. Temperatures rise, glaciers melt, sea levels rise – all completely predictable and measurable. Psychiatry has nothing remotely similar to measure or report on.

          • Psychiatry denies the harm it does with health destroying debilitating pills. Ditto, when it comes to industrial pollutants, climate change deniers. Donald Trump removes regulations on pollutants put in place by people who have concerns about global warming. Let me tell you, he didn’t do so in order to make the world a more livable place, he did so to protect some corporation’s profit margins, a corporation polluting our air currents and our waterways. Denying climate change is NOT the way to a cleaner more healthy environment. Why should anybody support rapacious habitat destroying polluters? Oh, yeah, because they’ve bought somebody’s money grubbing tall-tale hook, line, and sinker.

        • People should simply leave topics like climate change, vaccines, homeopathy, astrology, HIV being causative of AIDS etc., out of critical discussions of psychiatry. There is no need for comparisons with any of those things. When talking of psychiatry, talk of psychiatry. I think that’s the best rule to follow.

          It is one of the tactics used by skeptic movement dilettantes and pro-psychiatry activists to correlate people who abhor psychiatry with other groups like “climate change deniers, HIV/AIDS denial etc.”. It is also a tactic that has worked well (even unintentionally) to sell the public a lie which they find out too late. No wonder there are people who consider people who abhor psychiatry to be scientologists or whatever.

          Those talking about psychiatry are talking about psychiatry. No need to obfuscate that by bringing in the rest of the stuff.

          Also, I think, debates regarding “the scientific status of psychiatry” are a pseudo-problem for intellectuals to mentally masturbate over while neglecting truth.

          Observing the trajectory of a planet is different than building a car engine. Performing surgery is different than creating optimal paths for roadways. Creating chemicals in a lab is different than writing code to perform a specific task.

          All these activities have different people, different methods of investigation, different processes etc. involved in order to find the truth about a specific inquiry. Subsuming them all under “Science” and then debating whether something is “Science” or not is a futile exercise.

          This whole “science” charade in psychiatry, with all the advertising of brain scans, its journal publications etc. completely removes the focus from what psychiatry is like in real life, and what its social, legal, physical, medical and political consequences are. What is required for people to know is the truth.

          The truth is that only a few things happen in everyday psychiatry:

          1.) Listening and talking.

          2.) Labelling of individuals, which rob away their life’s truths, and can have egregious social, medical, legal and political consequences, sometimes permanent.

          3.) Prescribing drugs, which can also have egregious consequences.

          4.) Infantilisation and coercion, which ranges from subtle to extreme and so on.

          • As an extension to the above, some of the other things are:

            1.) Labelling of effects of psychiatric drugs as new illnesses (antidepressant or stimulant induced mania gets turned into “bipolar disorder”).

            2.) Gaslighting and the social, legal and political misuse of DSM labels to harass people, defame and lie about them.

            3.) The medicalisation of socio-legal problems into “brain disorders” in victims of abuse.

          • registeredforthissite

            You have put forward many insights into the oppressive nature of psychiatric abuse.

            HOWEVER, in order to someday end all this abuse, we must find answers to the following questions (whether or not it disturbs your current sensibilities):

            1) What is Psychiatry?
            2) How did it get here?
            3) What role (and for whom) does it serve in society?
            4) And finally, how do we get rid of it?

            In order to truly answer these questions, it REQUIRES that we address these broader issues that you seem to be saying are extraneous.

            Richard

          • Good point! Neither political party supports our movement.

            I believe if anyone could convince Trump that psychiatry is hurting our economy by crippling workers and forcing them to live at tax payer expense it would be very helpful. But he is an unreflective extrovert who never reads–like almost everyone I know offline. (My dad excluded.)

  13. It’s interesting to see how people get set up and used. Here Johann Hari is being set up and used via a plagiarism scandal:

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2018/jan/08/is-everything-johann-hari-knows-about-depression-wrong-lost-connections

    And then when you look at the writer Dean Burnett

    http://www.deanburnett.com/about-dean-burnett/

    ” However, a run of bad lack with his experimental results and several embarrassing appearances in the local media meant Dean’s academic credibility and career prospects were essentially ruined, so he channelled most of his energies into comedy, writing and science communication. This eventually resulted in a regular blog on the Guardian website in 2012, and everything else just flowed from there.”

    He will probably wish to edit that, but that’s OK… I have a screen shot.

    Yes indeed everybody….. everything just flowed from there….

  14. So now marketing techniques are being used to get people into psychiatry:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34Xh9TI8giI

    http://zulucreative.co.uk/portfolio/project/health-education-west-midlands-careers-in-psychiatry

    Edward Street Hospital:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxCe141QP9w

    What they do not say is that this is the hospital which subjects people to ECT in the West Midlands UK.

    Is it time to address this marketing with some facts everybody ?

  15. I like to see /facts and evidence/science….coming from biology and psychology and sociology in an integrated fashion….I see a lot of fighting over who is going to get the money and power…mainly between psychology and psychiatry…they both need fixing…..maybe we need to pay more attention to sociology…yes

  16. Thank you for this excellent article. As a medical student with a strong interest in psychiatry, it encourages me to see that there are other people “on the inside” who share and so eloquently express my views on psychiatric scientism. I cannot wait to read the next articles!

  17. Dr. Timimi, I am now reading your book edited with Rebecca Mallett, and Katherine Runswick-Cole
    Re-Thinking Autism: Diagnosis, Identity and Equality
    https://www.amazon.com/Re-Thinking-Autism-Diagnosis-Identity-Equality-ebook/dp/B01F2HV7D4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515969324&sr=8-1&keywords=sami+timimi+autism

    Almost everything we are told about mental health and disabilities is philosophically defective at core, worthless rubbish. I thank you for working to correct this.

    And something I just sent to a friend in email which may be of interest:

    I have no objection to disability money being paid out. I think such payouts should be expanded in scope and quantity. We are in the latest stage of industrialization. But our politics is completely driven by scapgoating the poor, plus minorities and immigrants. We are dividing into a two tier society. Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and the Recovery Movement are simply resurgences of the bogus sciences of Social Darwinism and Eugenics. If we expect our democracy to continue, then we absolutely have to move to Social Democracy.

    But I am very critical of disability identities. And generally I feel that access to disability payments is being used to coerce people who are already marginalized into accepting a disability identity. No one should be subjected to such coercion. And in my observation the disability identities are usually flimsy and more the product of abuse, injustice, and social marginalization. Accepting such an identity merely exonerates perpetrators.

    It will never change so long as people ask for pity. Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, The Recovery Movement, and Born Again Christianity are all based on pity seeking. Things will only change when people organize and start fighting back.

    There is one thing and one thing only which ended slavery in this country, the fact that 180,000 black men refused to be Uncle Tom’s, and instead trained with rifles and bayonets and served in federal uniform. If this had not been so, we would still be practicing slavery today.

    • If you ask a shrink for pity you really are out of touch with reality. 😀

      Dr. Mengele doesn’t care when his test subjects scream in pain. He simply jots it down in his notes for publication in the APA journal and attributes it to the “subjects’ severe mental illness.” Very insightful of you, Dr. Asrael.

  18. Great article ! What else can I say ? Oh, yes, I cans also add that it stimulated a very fascinating string of comments. I’m trying very hard to go through all of the intelligent responses before I comment further but I’m a little overwhelmed. I dont mind being overwhelmed when the discussion is so captivating.

  19. Finishing up with the book Sami Timimi edited with Rebecca Mallett, and Katherine Runswick-Cole
    Re-Thinking Autism: Diagnosis, Identity and Equality

    https://www.amazon.com/Re-Thinking-Autism-Diagnosis-Identity-Equality-ebook/dp/B01F2HV7D4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515969324&sr=8-1&keywords=sami+timimi+autism

    I want to list some of its book references here:

    M. Kimmel (2004) The Gendered Society

    Anne McGuire (2016) War on Autism: On the Cultural Logic of Normative Violence (Corporealities: Discourses Of Disability)

    works of Rebecca Mallet and Katherine Runswick-Cole

    works of D. Goodley

    works of Kim Davies

    works of Fiona Kumari Campbell

    and online Jim Sinclair, don’t mourn for us:

    http://www.autreat.com/dont_mourn.html

    http://autismmythbusters.com/general-public/autistic-vs-people-with-autism/jim-sinclair-why-i-dislike-person-first-language/

  20. Want to list a few more references from the above book, co-edited by Sami Timimi

    from Chapter 12, Critical Systemic Therapy, by Mark Haydon-Laurelut

    I don’t see Family Systems Therapy in the same sort of negative light that is most all other forms of therapy. It is more a kind of mediation. But, the child must still be represented by an attorney in court, as this is the only way to have any authority over the parents.

    mentions an article by this Lynn Hoffman, she has books too.

    Mentions works of this W. B. Pearce.

    Mentions works of Mara Selvini-Palazzoli
    This would be that Milan School of Family Systems Therapy. Again, more mediation than psychotherapy. From their books I much better learned to understand what is distinct about the Middle-Class Family, as opposed to other forms.

    http://www.massimoschinco.it/the%20Milan%20Approach%20-%20roots%20and%20evolution.pdf

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Mara+Selvini-Palazzoli

    And here, about harmful eating patters, otherwise known as ~Eating Disorders~
    https://www.amazon.com/Self-Starvation-Mara-Selvini-Palazzoli/dp/0876683103/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517963696&sr=8-1&keywords=Mara+Selvini-Palazzoli

  21. Want to list a few more references from the above book, co-edited by Sami Timimi

    For Chapter 13, written by Tom Billingon

    he has written:
    https://www.amazon.com/Separating-Losing-Excluding-Children-Narratives-ebook/dp/B000FA6234/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518299036&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Tom+Billingon+separating+losing

    then we have Henri Bergon, Baruch Spinoza, Gilbert Ryle,

    and the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabelle_Stengers

    https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Whitehead-Free-Creation-Concepts/dp/067441697X/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1518299227&sr=8-9&keywords=isabelle+stengers

    Then much by this Antonio Damasio

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Damasio

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&text=Antonio+Damasio&search-alias=books&field-author=Antonio+Damasio&sort=relevancerank

    Note: If you want a body and sense oriented book from Deleuze and Guattari, rather like a Mearlu-Ponty sort of thinking, then that would be Logic of Sense.