A Psychiatric Diagnosis Is Not a Disease


From Psychology Today/Jonathan Shedler, PhD: “In my first week as a psychiatry faculty member, an advanced psychiatry resident—I’ll call her Dr. G—staffed a case with me. That’s medical speak for discussing a patient with a teacher. Dr. G gave me some demographic information, then began listing the medications she was prescribing.

‘Hold on,’ I said. ‘What are we treating her for?’


‘How do you understand her anxiety?’

Dr. G cocked her head to the side with a blank, non-comprehending look. I rephrased. ‘What do you think is making your patient anxious?’

She cocked her head to the other side.

‘What is causing her anxiety?’

Dr. G pondered, then brightened. ‘She has generalized anxiety disorder.’

‘Generalized anxiety disorder is not the cause of anxiety,’ I explained. ‘That is just the label we use to describe it.’

Another blank look. I tried a different tack. ‘What do you think is going on psychologically?’


‘Yes, psychologically.’

‘I don’t think it’s psychological, I think it’s biological.’

‘Okay, that’s a start,’ I said. ‘Tell me why you think that.’

‘Her mother was anxious.’

‘This means your patient’s anxiety is biological?’


It was my turn to cock my head.

‘Let’s try a thought experiment. Suppose your patient was adopted at birth and is not biologically related to the mother who raised her. Do you think an anxious mother, who is continually communicating that the world is unsafe, could make a child anxious?’

‘I never thought about it that way.’

I suppressed a momentary urge to bang my head against the cinderblock wall. Then I signed Dr. G’s treatment plan and hoped I had planted at least a seed of curiosity.”

Article →


Back to Around the Web


  1. “Here is the circular logic: How do we know a patient has depression? Because they have the symptoms. Why are they having symptoms? Because they have depression.”

    “In informal logic, circular reasoning is an argument that commits the logical fallacy of assuming what it is attempting to prove.” Thus, there is no logic in circular reasoning, and no logic in the DSM disorders.

    “If we speak of generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder as if they are equivalent to pneumonia or diabetes, we are committing a category error.”

    “In philosophy, a category mistake, also called a category error, is a philosophical concept used to describe a statement in which the speaker presents a concept from one category as if it belongs in another, or ascribes properties from one category to concepts from another.”

    The “DSM, at its core… is a guidebook to help clinicians describe … It provides clinicians with a common language.” The DSM disorders describe clusters of symptoms, but “A Psychiatric Diagnosis Is Not a Disease.” Thus it’s inappropriate to utilize the DSM disorders as medical billing codes, as if they were real diseases. Or for clinicians to lie to their clients, claiming they are are real “lifelong, incurable, genetic” diseases.

    “Doublethink, anyone?” Absolutely.

    “Doublethink is the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct … Doublethink is related to, but differs from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Also related is cognitive dissonance, in which contradictory beliefs cause conflict in one’s mind. Doublethink is notable due to a lack of cognitive dissonance—thus the person is completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction.”

    I think the majority of “mental health” workers may actually suffer from doublethink, more so even than cognitive dissonance. Since the majority are “completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction,” with respect to believing the DSM disorders are real diseases, not merely scientifically “invalid” stigmatizations.

    An example of doublethink: “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.”

    Just like calling drugs that cause violence and suicides, “antidepressants.” And calling drugs that create psychosis, via anticholinergic toxidrome, “antipsychotics.” “These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.”

    Psychiatry, and their pharmaceutical industry educators, are all about “deliberate exercises in doublethink,” and have totally deluded the majority of the “mental health” workers, and the public at large.

    Report comment

    • You wrote “I think the majority of “mental health” workers may actually suffer from doublethink”
      No they do NOT suffer from it, they make a living from the trick. They are fully functional. No one is going to stop them. They pay their bills with the paycheck they receive.

      A person is either nonfunctional or functional , there is no mental illness.

      If some one is too anxious , yes you can give them drugs to make them function.
      Stopping the drugs, who want to do that? its medicine! Cant stop giving medicine to a patient.

      Report comment

      • I don’t know, I’ve met “mental health” workers who were staggeringly stupid, wildly delusional and delusions of grandeur filled, who truly seem to believe the DSM disorders are real diseases. I think a lot of them may be ignorant of the “trick,” or “tricks.”

        The people who wrote the DSM, and most doctors, well that’s another story. They’re knowingly letting the psychiatrists utilize medical knowledge, to harm their patients. But the “mental health” minion – the counselors, psychologists, social workers – some of them seem to be just downright DSM deluded and/or stupid.

        Report comment

  2. “I suppressed a momentary urge to bang my head against the cinderblock wall. THEN I SIGNED DR. G’S TREATMENT PLAN {emphasis added} and hoped I had planted at least a seed of curiosity.”

    So the good doctor thinks he “planted a seed” and then went right ahead and signed off on this poor patient’s horrible “MISTREATMENT PLAN,” so she could be labeled and drugged with oppressive mind altering substances. This doctor in charge would have been much better off (and taken a much better moral stand) to have actually banged his head “against the cinderblock wall.”

    What happened to the oath to “do no harm?” Who will take responsibility when this poor patient suffers even greater decline in her life because she believes she has a “disease,” and becomes dependent on benzos and/or antidepressant psychiatric drugs?

    This article, not only tells us everything that is wrong with today’s oppressive Medical Model, but ALSO, what is wrong with how morally deficient the response is by those who think they know better. Just let the “cabaret” carry on!!!


    Report comment

    • Probably a good thing I’ll never be a psychiatrist. After the student told me her patient was anxious, I’d have to ask her what she did to rule out physical sources: did our intern do a dietary history to gauge the patient’s refined carbohydrate consumption; did our intern ask questions about such things as BC pills, mineral and allergic reactions, as both excesses (e.g. copper) and deficiencies (e.g. magnesium and/or calcium) can induce anxiety): did our intern ask about medications, etc. If none of the above were done, I’d have to shred the treatment plan in order to get the intern to properly prepare one that was based on fact instead of manufacturer persuasion.
      Yes, it’s a good thing I’m not made to be a psychiatrist.

      Report comment

  3. I think the problem is that Psychologists are not coming out and asserting that they have perfectly effective ways of dealing with “Anxiety”, even the “High Anxiety” of “Schizophrenia” or Neuroleptic Drug Withdrawal. That is if the Psychologists even know their jobs.

    Psychiatric drugs damage and disable, whereas psychological methods, return a person to full health and productivity.

    Even I can describe the psychological means by which a person can learn to cope with the High Anxiety of “Antipsychotic” Drug Withdrawal.

    Report comment

    • I agree. Most psychologists and counselors are 4 square with the DSM model and believe most of the mythology about “biological brain diseases.” Some psychologists in some states have even fought for prescribing rights! The therapists/counselors I’m talking about are generally mavericks who aren’t interested in playing along with any system, but are committed to meeting people where they’re at and being present with them to help them figure out their own solutions. I’m not in agreement with any kind of authoritarian approach to counseling, where the counselor somehow “knows more” or tells the client what to think, feel, or do. The only good counselors are the one that help increase the power and capabilities of their clients so that they are able to follow their own paths, not a path the counselor wants them to follow.

      Report comment