Chaos Theory With a Human Face: Niall McLaren, MBBS, FRANZCP


From Psychiatric Times: “Niall McLaren, MBBS, FRANZCP: There is a great deal that ails psychiatry—over-diagnosis, over-treatment, misallocation of resources, consistent breaches of patients’ fundamental human rights, and so forth—and they all go back to the one problem: mainstream psychiatry lacks a scientific framework. It is not a science because it does not have an articulated, publicly available model of its field capable of generating testable predictions. Everybody thinks there is a model, called the biological or medical model of mental disorder, but it does not exist. It is like the phantom biopsychosocial model attributed to George Engel: He argued for the need for such a model, but he did not actually present one. Everybody thinks he did, he talked as though he did, but he didn’t.

A model needs to be set out as a series of internally consistent propositions that generate an empirical research program. Psychiatry does not have one, because we do not have a concept of the nature of mental disorder. This is not just our fault; it derives from the larger philosophical problem that there is not an accepted model of normal mind. When the psychoanalytic or psychodynamic models of mind were shown to be non-scientific, psychiatry retreated to the biological corner thinking it could save us, but nobody has ever shown that we can explain the mind in brain terms. Nor will they ever do it.”

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Model of one hemisphere of the brain.


  1. “People recover from adversity; they are very resilient creatures. But when they cannot recover, when they become trapped in a self-reinforcing cycle of mental distress and social failure, then it becomes a disorder. This says that we cannot impose treatment on people just because they do strange things like hear voices—as long as they are not damaging themselves or anybody else.” (article)

    I have a problem with the “damaging themselves”, but if others feel they need to be gatekeepers, although philosophically speaking, how do we decide, on what grounds, to be someone’s gatekeeper?
    Is there some moral law? Some law of nature?
    I would simply like to know what gives me the right to lock someone up, so they will not “damage” themselves.

    I would also like to know if Niall thinks it is okay to hang labels on people that end up causing them problems from simple things like credibility in legal areas, or credibility in medical hospitals. Or even if people need to hear that they are disordered.

    I think the disorders are mostly based on a certain capitalist system and perhaps if other avenues were available, other styles of learning or living, “disorders” would not be as common.

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    • I too have a problem with the “damaging themselves” line in the sand Sam.

      It’s a blank check, much like the concept of an “emergency” being used to remove the right to consent to ‘treatment’.

      I quite often run through the lack of consent in the area of medicine with friends explaining that if I, as a doctor, wished to drill a hole in their head and pour acid into that hole and they didn’t want me to do this, I would simply declare an emergency, state that they were anasognosic and have police restrain them while I went ahead with my ‘treatment’. The only reason that Jeffrey Dahmer wasn’t allowed to do this was that he didn’t actually have a licence to do it lol. The people down at administration not prepared to do a cover up of his administrative error lol.

      My “potential for damage to reputation or meaningful relationships” (ie that I was going to leave my abusive wife/family) grounds for having police snatch me from my bed and throw me into a Police van in front of my in laws and neighbours who I feel sure were informed that I had committed no crime but was merely being transported against my will to a locked mental institution. Oh how I miss the days when I could manage my own reputation and relationships rather than have a Community Nurse who had never met me do it for me based on the instructions of people who were prepared to drug me without my knowledge and plant weapons on me for police to find.

      It’s a tough job though, and so much easier now they are being enabled in setting people up. Much like our Court system which seems to be operating on what has been planted on ‘suspects’ by police rather than facts and evidence (see the case of Scott Austic and the ‘crumb trail’ of evidence to his home). I guess the threat by the Operations Manager to “fuking destroy” me was based on this knowledge that the State government is encouraging the manipulation of outcomes via fraud (particularly the corrupt practice of verballing). Plant whatever you need to obtain whatever outcome you like, any complaints fuking destroy them. Machiavelli would be pleased to see his ideas being adopted in such a manner.

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      • “….This says that we cannot impose treatment on people just because they do strange things like hear voices—as long as they are not damaging themselves or anybody else.” (article) Niall McLaren

        “we cannot impose treatment”
        I don’t know who “we” is, and I have no idea who gave “we” the power to be able to decide on treatment. I also do not understand why anyone would think they have the right to take away the credibility of another person.

        It seems Niall has no meter to decide on a normal, neither does psychiatry in general, yet it seems someone has a meter on “social failure”? I guess psychiatry and laws decide on what normal is, and they are not simply talking about stealing or killing, nope, they are actually talking about suffering.

        Suffering is a disorder and social failure now.

        Get over yourselves psychiatrists, stop trying to come up with answers, some TRUE system. You just end up talking yourselves into a corner, reinventing new language which will be changed in another century.

        Just spell the truth, that you think suffering and weak people need branding, those social failures and disordered people need it so that they do not deserve the same rights as others.
        Only those with proper working minds, who hold jobs, have houses, don’t suffer, only those are allowed rights, respect and credibility.

        The simplicity of psychiatry is that they imagine that if a person does Not function in one area, then that is the whole of that person.

        And here they sit, on their thrones of human definement, their thrones, lights, phones, made by some rather curious people.

        The MOST difficult thing for a shrink, or people in general is not to actually make a job out of judging people who did nothing to them or anyone else. But they did. They ACTUALLY made a job out of it.

        They got stuck, stuck in their own obsessions and prisons.
        Yep, they are correct, the mind gets stuck, goes around and around, believing it’s truth

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  2. “….Psychiatry does not have one, because we do not have a concept of the nature of mental disorder. This is not just our fault; it derives from the larger philosophical problem that there is not an accepted model of normal mind.”

    But “we” are still looking? Correct? “WE”, just cannot seem to get off our high horse, we need to “identify” what IT is that causes suffering, behaviour, fears, the THING, that causes a person to seek counsel. For it is wise counsel they sought, not labels, not indentification of their very character, to be boxed into a “disorder”.
    It is akin to a priest telling the sufferer that he is a sinner. Those wretched irish that were no good because they were failures according to the brits.
    Those Russian peasants that were just wretched.

    Our narrowminded approach to coming from privileged places, yes to be free from neurotic anxiety is a privilege, not due to anything you did. Your confidence and desire to help, to be industrious, or to be in power, your saving of money for retirement, the planning, your ability to succeed in sport, in chariot races and duels, your ability to overtake countries, to create works of art, works of speech and music.

    And on we go, to successfully “other” humans, but in a powerful way, to always delegate them a spot in the wretched lot of society.
    So many irish teenage girls were boated to Australia, those wretched starving souls, to be gawked at, talked about and othered.
    They were othered like the aboriginal before them.
    Why psychiatry who should know better than to keep othering, in fact, should be the LEAST of them, since they consider themselves to be wise and educated, and some even consider themselves to be philosophical.
    WHY THEY, they would continue in keeping the already adopted view of the counsel seeker alive?
    I come for counsel, and am told “yes my dear lady, indeed there is something “wrong” with you”.
    Because after all, the person in that chair, has the expertise to realize this wrong in me. And he can legally make it stick, because he himself suffers no such wrongs.

    But psychiatrists and the like can continue to live within that delusion, along with us. In this sense, there is indeed a WE

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  3. I’m not done yet.

    It is high time to accept diversity.
    It really is not the job of a psychiatrist to deem others as others. That is personal, not professional.
    One should be ashamed to grasp at that last straw, when exasperated at what to do.
    It is not the fault of the consumer to have been misled, but it is the fault of the shrink to get all twisted over someone’s suffering or behaviour in his ever ongoing obsession to have to label “IT”.
    In all his wisdom, his education, he still continues to try and rewrite past words into new words, twisting his brain into odd shapes to try and define what he is really doing, really continuing to engage in.

    I understand it is embarrassing to come to a realization that one believed in something completely false.
    The falsity was NOT in realizing that the person in front of you is different.
    It is in calling “IT” and having authority to make “it” stick.

    You might ask me what you should then do with the helpless that come to see you. To grasp onto the old patriarchal, entitled view, that you HAVE to do something, that you HAVE to name “it”, or treat “it”, is the obvious falsity, the place where psychiatry created it’s own stumbling block, but too godamn stubborn and egotistical or perhaps stupid, too understand it at the most basic human level.

    We cannot help psychiatry and it’s ills. They created their own obsessions, their own mind prisons and are not able to leave it, or change their irrational views.
    Very much like all the “mental illness” they diagnose.

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