Why Is Psychiatry So Defensive About Criticism?

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INTRODUCTION

On January 6, 2022, Awais Aftab, MD, a psychiatrist and clinical professor at Case Western, published a piece in Psychiatric Times.  The title is It’s Time for Us to Stop Being So Defensive About Criticisms of Psychiatry.

Photo: selective focus on the word "psychiatry" in a dictionary

Dr. Aftab’s paper is essentially a response to another paper, published also in Psychiatric Times.  This latter paper is titled It’s Time For Us To Stop Waffling About Psychiatry, by Daniel Morehead, MD, director of training for the general psychiatry residency at Tufts.  Dr. Morehead acknowledged the generous assistance he received from Ronald Pies, MD, in the writing of the article.

This is all a bit complicated.  But the gist is this:  Dr. Morehead wrote a piece condemning psychiatry’s critics.  Dr. Aftab responds by suggesting a more moderate approach, and expressing the opinion that “…we need to reconceptualize psychiatry’s relationship with critique in a more productive manner.”

And although Dr. Aftab’s call for moderation sounds positive and conciliatory, and he certainly avoids the overt vituperation of Dr. Morehead’s piece, he also clings to an image of psychiatry that is not, in my experience, in line with the theoretical and practical realities that actually underpin and drive modern psychiatry, with its profusion of profound failures and ongoing errors.

SO LET’S TAKE A LOOK

Here are some quotes from Dr. Aftab’s paper, interspersed with my observations and opinions.

“Dr Morehead and I agree about a lot of things: the fundamental legitimacy of psychiatry as a branch of medicine; the essential role psychiatry has to play in the treatment of mental health problems; that a defense of psychiatry is warranted against egregious and misplaced criticisms; and that the value of psychiatry must be conveyed to legislators, insurers, and the general public.”

Dr. Aftab’s contentions in this quote are essentially unproven – and probably unprovable – platitudes.  He is apparently expressing some of his own core beliefs on these matters.

For instance, he asserts “the fundamental legitimacy of psychiatry as a branch of medicine”.  If by this statement he means that the various psychiatry schools have been granted the appropriate state charters and have passed the various inspections for quality of teaching, etc., then of course, he’s correct.  But that’s not what critics have in mind when they challenge psychiatry on this particular issue.  What’s at stake here is not the successful completion of various bureaucratic expectations, but rather whether the subject matter of psychiatry is sufficiently tangible, coherent and valid to constitute a reliably definable and teachable body of thought, and whether this body of thought has been demonstrated effective in the amelioration of real illnesses.  Academic and professional legitimacy are not things that can be conjured up by committees to fit the mood of the moment or to obscure deep-seated societal problems, such as poverty, inequality, discrimination, unemployment, racism, substandard housing, child abuse/neglect, etc.

He also mentions “the essential role that psychiatry has to play in the treatment of mental health problems”.  What’s particularly interesting here is that Dr. Aftab apparently can’t even imagine a world without psychiatry (“the essential role that psychiatry has to play”), and seems entirely unmoved by the fact that many of psychiatry’s critics can.

Dr. Aftab also contends that “a defense of psychiatry is warranted against egregious and misplaced criticisms”.  This assertion is largely tautologous, in that the adjectives “egregious” and “misplaced” entail the notion that the criticisms should be challenged.

So we are left with his notion that “the value of psychiatry must be conveyed to legislators, insurers, and the general public” which of course, begs the question why?  If psychiatry had genuine value, wouldn’t these individuals be aware of this, and wouldn’t targeting them in the manner mentioned be a waste of time?  On the other hand, if legislators, insurers, and the general public are not persuaded on the value of psychiatry, doesn’t this suggest that psychiatry has some deep-rooted problems?  After all, there are no other medical professions (and with regards to psychiatry, I use the term loosely) about which legislators, insurers, and the general public entertain these kinds of misgivings, at least not to the best of my knowledge.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Psychiatry is a profession with a rich intellectual history…” 

This history, incidentally, includes the Bethlehem hospital in London, where townfolk were encouraged to visit the facility for the price of a few pence, and be “entertained” by the antics of the “lunatics” who were housed there in appalling conditions.  Other “treatments” used in psychiatry’s “rich intellectual history” include:  fever therapy, including malaria therapy; insulin coma therapy; the tranquilizing chair; the Utica crib; lobotomy; deep sleep therapy; rotational therapy; hydrotherapy, including ice baths; mesmerism; chemically induced seizures; high voltage electric shocks to the brain, etc..

“… that exemplifies some of the best of what medicine has to offer.”

To which I can only shake my head and wonder where in the world Dr. Aftab has been spending his time.

Is Dr. Aftab not aware that unlike real medical specialists, who painstakingly, and through years of study, discover their illnesses in nature, psychiatry dispenses with this tiresome formality, and simply makes them up to fit the fashions of the hour?  All that’s needed is a vote of the APA’s DSM committee, as if nature has the slightest interest in majority rule.  And besides, I know of no psychiatric breakthrough that can hold a candle to smallpox vaccination, the discovery of penicillin, or the successful transplantation of a kidney or liver.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“There are understandable reasons psychiatry is scrutinized way more than other medical specialties. It, for instance, exercises social control over the lives of individuals under its care to a degree exercised by no other specialty; it is subject to more value disagreements; it has to work across multiple disciplines and perspectives that are difficult to integrate; it has a tumultuous historical legacy; the state of scientific development is still comparatively rudimentary; and it deals with conditions that are stigmatized and poorly understood, etc.”   

Let’s open up this paragraph.

“It [psychiatry]…exercises social control over the lives of individuals under its care to a degree exercised by no other specialty;”

This is indeed true.  Hearings for civil commitments to mental hospitals are largely rubber-stamp formalities, sometimes held within the “hospital” itself.  “Patients” are assigned a lawyer whom they typically meet for just a few minutes before the hearing.  Many patients agree to sign in voluntarily because the odds of them prevailing in the legal arena are miniscule.  But in many jurisdictions, once committed, they can’t revoke their voluntary agreement.  They can only be released when and if the hospital authorities declare them fit to be released.  As a legal process, it is a farce.  But what’s particularly important here is that psychiatry was never forced to assume this role.  Rather, they willingly embraced it and considered it an integral part of the management of the asylums, and of psychiatric “treatment”.

“…it [psychiatry] has a tumultuous historical legacy;”

I would say that psychiatry’s historical legacy has not been particularly tumultuous.  I would describe it as cruel, unusual, and designed to break people’s spirits.  The old asylums were little more than torture chambers in which the welfare of the “patients” was often subordinated to the ambitions, whims and prejudices of their keepers.  Apart from those institutions that embraced moral treatment philosophy and practice, the asylums could claim little in the way of efficacy or even the very basic regard for human rights.

“…and it [psychiatry] deals with conditions that are stigmatized and poorly understood, etc.”

This assertion is difficult to reconcile with the glowing self-promotion that one finds on websites of prominent psychiatric institutions and other pro-psychiatry groups, which convey the impression that the root causes of “mental illnesses” are well understood, and that any stigma associated with these “illnesses” is a function of the reckless claims from the anti-psychiatry movement.  This notion is pushed hard within the context of psychiatry’s “rich intellectual history”, even though the evidence has long indicated that it is the avid promotion of mental illnesses as neurochemical imbalances that has been the major source of stigma. [Angermeyer, MC, et al (2018); Lee, AA, et al (2013); Read J, et al 2006; Deacon, BJ (2013)]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“These and other factors ensure that psychiatry will be under the spotlight (just as we can expect that the police force will almost always be more scrutinized than the postal service). This additional scrutiny intersects with disorder within psychiatry’s own house, giving critics plenty of flammable material to work with. Even problems that are pervasive across all of medicine—such as industry influence and corruption of evidence-based medicine—become more noticeable in the context of psychiatry thanks to the additional scrutiny.3 There are also too many ‘unhappy customers’ when it comes to psychiatry, so to speak: recipients of psychiatric care who have been left traumatized, disenchanted, even devastated by their experiences. There has been [a] tendency within the profession to not take such individuals seriously, at least not without being forced to do so.”

So, Dr. Aftab tells us, there is “disorder” within psychiatry, which gives critics plenty of “flammable material to work with”.  This is nice imagery, of course, but when reduced to plain prose, it simply means that there are problems within psychiatric practice which provide critics with ample opportunity and legitimate incentive to criticize.  If there is “disorder” in a medical profession, then it is right and proper that this should be identified and corrected.  But Dr. Aftab’s imagery subtly shifts the blame for this to the critics, who are portrayed as mischievous searchers for “flammable material to work with”.

It is a fairly common experience in society that individuals who don’t clean up their own acts will, sooner or later, have someone come along and clean them up for them.  And this is exactly what’s happening to psychiatry.  For decades they have wallowed in spurious science and corruption, and have blatantly lied to their customers concerning the nature of their problems, and the efficacy of the treatments.  There were, and still are, occasional dissenters, but the majority of psychiatrists went along with the illness ruse, the routine 15-minute med-checks, and the pill-for-every-ill that collectively came to constitute established psychiatric practice.  And now the anti-psychiatry movement is calling them out, demanding proofs of efficacy, exposing conflicts of interest, exposing the ill effects of psychiatry’s treatments, etc.  These are things that need to be said, and need to be said repeatedly and convincingly, yet Dr. Aftab likens us to arsonists looking for easy targets.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“There are also too many ‘unhappy customers’ when it comes to psychiatry, so to speak: recipients of psychiatric care who have been left traumatized, disenchanted, even devastated by their experiences. There has been [a] tendency within the profession to not take such individuals seriously, at least not without being forced to do so.”

And this comes from a psychiatrist who earlier affirmed unambiguously “the fundamental legitimacy of psychiatry as a branch of medicine;” “the essential role psychiatry has to play in the treatment of mental health problems;”  that psychiatry should defend itself “against egregious and misplaced criticisms;” “that the value of psychiatry must be conveyed to legislators, insurers, and the general public”; and that “Psychiatry is a profession with a rich intellectual history that exemplifies some of the best of what medicine has to offer.”

But now he acknowledges that psychiatry has too many “unhappy customers”.  And these are:  “recipients of psychiatric care who have been left traumatized, disenchanted, even devastated by their experiences.”  The fact is that psychiatry needs to be held accountable for the unhappy customers who have been traumatized, disenchanted, and devastated by their experiences.  And if psychiatry’s leaders aren’t willing or prepared to hold the culprits accountable, can anyone blame the anti-psychiatry movement for stepping into this breach?  It is also worth asking what exactly psychiatrists are doing that leaves “too many” of their customers traumatized, disenchanted, and devastated by their experiences?

And then:

“There has been [a] tendency within the profession to not take such individuals seriously, at least not without being forced to do so.”

There are indeed “understandable reasons psychiatry is scrutinized way more than other medical specialties.”  These reasons are:  because they systematically lie to their customers concerning the source and causes of their woes; they administer dangerous drugs and shocks without explaining the potential for damage and even death; they routinely induce a sense of dependency, powerlessness, and unworthiness in their customers; and then tend to not take these individuals seriously unless and until they are forced to do so.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Psychiatry has been vulnerable to diagnostic fads. The profession has allowed itself to be exploited by pharmaceutical companies. Psychiatric theory has been vulnerable to ‘single-message mythologies’ and zealous reductionism.4 Its leaders have neglected structural determinants of health. The state of science is what it is; we can make conditions conducive to scientific research, but discoveries and breakthroughs cannot be rushed or forced. While acknowledging the state of psychiatric science should lead to an attitude of humility, many psychiatrists in positions of power and influence have often made grandiose claims—and at times have displayed stunning arrogance.”

In the above paragraph, Dr. Aftab asserts that psychiatry “has allowed itself to be exploited by pharmaceutical companies.”  So, we have these highly educated physicians (10 years of university training) being “exploited” by …what?  Well-dressed sales reps who bring free samples?  Pharma ads?  Slick presentations?  Payments for pushing drug presentations to colleagues?  And these highly educated physicians actually fall for this tawdry schmoozing.  Poor lambs!  Were they just born naïve, or is there some nepenthe doled out to psychiatry trainees that causes them to forget the basics of science, and to mindlessly swallow the self-congratulatory pablum that passes for professional education in psychiatry schools?

Psychiatrists have not allowed themselves to be exploited by pharma; rather they have actively and willingly embraced a hand-in-glove relationship with pharma for their own ends.  This has been happening at the academic and practice levels for decades.  To characterize this as exploitation is to miss the point.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“…but discoveries and breakthroughs cannot be rushed or forced.” 

Yet that is precisely what psychiatry has been doing with the chemical imbalance theory, that claims that depression is not caused by adverse events or abiding adverse circumstances, but rather by neurochemical imbalances.  This spurious notion has been promoted by psychiatry for several decades, has been reinforced by the cause neutrality statements in successive DSM editions, and has induced millions of people worldwide, who would not otherwise have done so, to take psychiatric drugs to which many of them are now addicted.

“While acknowledging the state of psychiatric science should lead to an attitude of humility, many psychiatrists in positions of power and influence have often made grandiose claims—and at times have displayed stunning arrogance.”

I would say that a good majority of psychiatrists fall in this latter group.  In my experience, grandiosity, arrogance, and self-serving fabrications are pretty much the norm in psychiatric circles.

“This is not to say that psychiatry does not face unfair criticisms. There is rampant hostility, misinformation, misguided arguments, etc, exemplified well by Scientology, Szasz, and other actors. It is right to be wary of them and to push back against them, but at the same time, many psychiatrists have been too trigger-happy with allegations of ‘antipsychiatry’ and have lumped all sorts of critics under the same banner.5

So, Dr. Aftab tells us “There is rampant hostility, misinformation, misguided arguments, etc, exemplified well by Scientology, Szasz, and other actors.”  It seems to me that the various flaws in psychiatric theory and practice, that Dr. Aftab himself has conceded, justify a generous measure of hostility, rampant or otherwise.  As to whether Scientology, Thomas Szasz, and other actors also promote “misinformation, misguided arguments, etc.” depends on one’s perspective.  I would respond that anyone who asserts the “fundamental legitimacy of psychiatry as a branch of medicine” and promotes the notion that psychiatry is “a profession with a rich intellectual history”, while at the same time and in the same paper, acknowledges that many psychiatrists in positions of power and influence “have often made grandiose claims – and at times have displayed stunning arrogance”, and that “recipients of psychiatric care have often been left traumatized, disenchanted, even devastated by their experience” is not being entirely consistent.  Dr. Aftab correctly describes a truly dreadful state of affairs, but berates certain selected members of the anti-psychiatry movement on the grounds that their hostility to psychiatry is “rampant” and that in Dr. Aftab’s opinion their assertions constitute “misinformation” and “misguided arguments”.

Perhaps if he were to set out precisely which arguments of Scientology, Thomas Szasz, and the unspecified “other actors”, constitute misinformation, we could form our own judgments as to who is misguided or misinformed.  Or is Dr. Aftab suggesting that we should just leave these thorny questions for him to decide, and pass on to the rest of us the results of his superior knowledge and wisdom?

Note, incidentally, that Dr. Aftab uses the phrase “allegations of ‘antipsychiatry'” as if being anti-psychiatry were some sort of a crime, and that only critiques approved by Dr. Aftab have genuine validity.  Is this an instance of the “stunning arrogance” that he earlier attributed to “many psychiatrists in positions of power and influence”?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“As I have mentioned, based on the social role that psychiatry currently occupies, excessive scrutiny is inevitable.”

Note the implied assertion that the scrutiny is inevitable and excessive, and stems from psychiatry’s “social role”.  In response to this assertion from Dr. Aftab, I contend that based on the quasi law-enforcement role that psychiatry has willingly embraced and continues to willingly embrace, and on the harm done to their customers in these and other contexts, a high level of scrutiny, and indeed condemnation, is not only inevitable, but warranted.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Morehead references the 2012 paper by Phillips et al on conceptual and definitional issues in psychiatric diagnosis.20 This article highlights some of the most prominent names in philosophy of psychiatry and reveals the philosophical difficulties that surround the notion of mental illness and the elusiveness of a satisfactory definition. This has been a topic of interest to me for many years, and my own philosophical work in this area reflects the conceptual inadequacies of our notion of mental illness.21″

This is the core issue in the entire debate.  But the notion of mental illness is not elusive; in fact, it is crystal clear.  It is an error – but it is not elusive in any ordinary sense of the term.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This post, however, is becoming lengthy.  I will return to this theme in my next post.

I should also mention in passing that although I disagree with much of Dr. Aftab’s article, it is, nevertheless, a courageous piece of writing.  He calls out many of psychiatry’s contradictions and errors, and the primary question in my mind is why he doesn’t switch specialties to something more valid and helpful, and leave the inane rantings of psychiatry to its inane ranters, of whom there is no shortage.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

56 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Dr Hickey for expressing so well the counter arguments to Dr Aftab’s convoluted and defensive reasoning.

    ” I contend that based on the quasi law-enforcement role that psychiatry has willingly embraced and continues to willingly embrace, and on the harm done to their customers in these and other contexts, a high level of scrutiny, and indeed condemnation, is not only inevitable, but warranted.” Thank you! What a silly, diminishing and factually incorrect phrase ‘unhappy customer’ that Dr Aftab uses to refer to psychiatric patients is. How many customers are involuntarily detained or made to ingest a product against their will? None of them can chose to discard the label they’ve been given once a psychiatrist has assigned it. Only another psychiatrist can do that.

    I am very tired tonight having received a letter from my mental health facility. Bipolar which was added three years ago has now been removed from my list of psychic ailments; today I find that I have been relabeled again with borderline personality disorder having had it removed with much aplomb during the same period. I carried this disorder around for 26 years only to be told by another esteemed psychiatrist in his report that ‘I reassured her she did not have borderline and have little doubt she has a variant of bipolar disorder manifesting as a dysphoric high’. Several months later I was informed by another clinician that autism was the culprit all along. Last year borderline was again re-introduced as I had the misfortune to meet a psychiatrist who ‘had a special interest in personality disorders’.

    While all the labelling, re-labelling and drugging was going on for the past few years the remains of my life were draining away and none of the issues that brought to psychiatry in the first place – childhood abuse – were ever dealt with.

    In Ireland there has been a recent outcry because some poor sod of an overworked registrar in a rural area with no backup has been drugging children and adolescents with Risperidone and other major neuroleptics for several years and the childrens’ parents are aghast at the changes in their children’s health. The Irish national airwaves have been ringing with shock for several days; it has been reported that these children have developed high blood pressure, huge weight gain and have in some cases excreted breast milk. Reports and legal cases against the public health service are being prepared.

    It would appear that the Irish media and the legal teams representing the children are completely unaware that these side effects are common and that these drugs are commonly prescribed to adults who suffer the same effects. The level of public blindness about psychiatry is still widespread.

    When I think of the damage I will go so far as to say the destruction of any potential that my life might have had by my engagement with psychiatry I do feel very hopeless. Reading such a spirited and reasoned response to an article by a psychiatrist who sees which way the wind is blowing but wants to protect his patch, does give me a little bit of a lift. I won’t go so far as to say hope but a bit of a lift all the same.

  2. Broken record music, #5,397: “Psychiatry is a PSEUDOSCIENCE, a DRUGS RACKET, and a MEANS OF SOCIAL CONTROL. It’s 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins. Psychiatry HAS DONE, and indeed CONTINUES TO DO, FAR MORE HARM THAN GOOD! The DSM is nothing more than a bogus catalog of billing codes. Everything in it was either invented or created. NOTHING in the DSM was discovered. The difference is crucial & vital. So-called “mental illnesses”, & “chemical imbalances”, are exactly as “REAL” as presents from Santa Claus, BUT NOT MORE REAL. Psychiatry is really PHARMACEUTICAL GENOCIDE FOR PROFIT and subjugation of inconvenient or troublesome persons. Psychiatry regularly covers up CRIMES of physical & sexual abuse, up to and including kidnapping, rape & sexual assaults, & murder. Several of my friends have DIED YOUNG because of psychiatry. I would today be a shuffling, drooling DRUG ZOMBIE, had I stayed with psychiatry & the grossly mis-nomered “community mental health centers”. ……………………………………………….
    I DEFY ANYBODY to refute the TRUTHS I have stated above, from my own personal experience. So-called “Dr.’s” Aftab, Pies, & Morehead, are all GUILTY of CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. I do NOT self-identify as “anti-psychiatry”, because psychiatry doesn’t deserve that much credit & recognition. May God DAMN all psychiatrists to the LIVING HELL they put so many of their VICTIMS IN!…. Can I spell out the “F” word?. F**K Psychiatry to death. LOL. But I’m serious. Remember, I speak for the dead, also…. // No psychiatrist will dare debate me here. My savior Doc Hickey already said it better above! You ROCK, Doc! LOL!….

  3. Dr. Hickey’s article is very interesting. The psychiatrists try to compare themselves to police who they say get much criticism, which is true in some circles—unlike the postal service which gets few. Obviously, the authors of this book must keep their heads in the sand as recently the postal service has been under assault. The funny thing is people do get upset when they don’t get their mail, or they find their mail and packages have been trashed down a ravine or at train tracks in a major state. The gist of the psychiatrist’s complaints reminds me of something my father would quote to me when I was upset about something I only thought I should want; “Methinks you doth protest too much.” Which is to say, the more they holler, the more they just underline how completely an illegitimate branch of science and medicine they truly are. Thank you.

  4. “Dr. Aftab’s contentions in this quote are essentially unproven – and probably unprovable – platitudes.”

    I have read some of Aftab’s work before and it mainly, perhaps entirely, consists of unproven platitudes, some of them dis-proven and roundly so. It doesn’t stop him pontificating like he is some kind of expert though, and probably getting a nice little fee for doing so.

  5. I will restate my viewpoint on this, as it is an essential point for us, and something we have not yet reached good agreement on. The “anti-psychiatry” movement (as they would style us) has been attacking psychiatry from several different angles. We have won a few legal victories based on fundamental agreements concerning human rights and medical ethics. We have gotten almost nowhere, though, in getting them to stop (or rein in) their use of drugs.

    Our first and primary argument is that this is a “profession” that has demonstrated a total inability to police its own members as to ethical behavior and honesty. This argument is weakened, however, by the observation that numerous “professions” also have the same problem and that this is in fact a fundamental human problem.

    Our secondary argument – actually potentially more potent – is that psychiatry is essentially nonscientific. This argument separates psychiatry even from ordinary Medicine. It is a powerful truth, but one which is not that persuasive to many of us (the opposition). I, being a student of Scientology, have no problem making this assertion. But this is more difficult for people who go along with the medical model to some degree, such as being convinced that the brain is the organ of mental function.

    I can, from my perspective, see how the entire society – nearly an entire planet – has been convinced of a basic falsehood about ourselves: that we are not spiritual beings but mere animals. It is this basic fallacy that has helped psychiatry to endure in its defense of its own status as the “mental doctors” of the planet. From this perspective, many persons outside of psychiatry have contributed to an intellectual climate in which psychiatry has been welcomed rather than laughed off stage.

    This is the argument I keep pushing because I see it as the most important truth that we are overlooking as well as the most important element in psychiatry’s continuing power. Psychiatry sees us as animals with animal minds, and that is a large part of their justification for treating patients the way they do. The “anti-psychiatry” movement is not yet convinced that this basic assumption is incorrect, and I feel that weakens us and our arguments. We do still have the more basic arguments concerning basic medical ethics and human decency, but if we were more sure of our spiritual identities, it would strengthen our own resolve considerably.

    • I agree with you to a certain extent. It is the “animal mind” thing. I have had cats and dogs as friends my whole life and their minds are quite excellent, some even superior to many humans especially psychiatrists, etc. The cats and dogs that have been my companions over the years have mostly listened to me, as opposed to the psychiatrists, etc. who just wanted to drug and therapize me. I have also seen how other “animals” act, etc. and they are quite intelligent and caring, too. Oddly, enough I have a prejudice against snakes, primates, mice, rats, and possums … otherwise… The latter four I have had some unfortunate encounters with … In my personal opinion, it is not that psychiatry, psychology etc. thinks we have “animal minds.” It is that they think we have “robot” minds, and they seem to believe that with more drugs and more therapy, we will achieve that robotic status they so desire of us. Thank you.

      • You make a point that many animals you know are more friendly than many people you have met! But I am using “animal” in the sense of something that can be enslaved and taken advantage of, like cattle or pigs. Your idea of robots is very similar.

        • I think the problem with the word, “animal” is that it can be used so many different ways. Think of Walt Whitman’s famous poem, “I think I could turn and live with animals. They are so placid and self-contained.” (I hope I remembered this quote correctly.) or “He or she is such an animal!” or the concepts and story of the book, “Anmimal Farm” by George Orwell. We are undoubtedly confused. Some say Human Beings are basically animals, mammals to be exact and others really, and even strongly, reject that scientific concept. The Native Americans speak of “four legged” versus “Humans” as “two-legged” and then they speak of those that fly, crawl, swim, etc. I, too have always felt usually much more comfortable around those not necessarily “human like me.” I even joked that I wish it were these fellow creatures who were interviewing me for jobs rather those who did interview me as perhaps I would more easily get hired. Sometimes, these distinctions may be necessary. Sometimes, they are not. Maybe, especially, in present times, the concept of “robot” is more apt, or even the concept from “Star Trek,” of the “Borg” who claimed “Resistance is Futile.” We laughed when they said that on tv back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but were they, then, giving a glimpse of the future to be. Honestly, I am not sure if Walt Whitman was right about “animals being so placid and self-contained.” But I will say, many times, they can be more life-affirming company than many humans. Thank you.

          • My major point about animals is that science does indeed see them as mechanical things, just bodies. We as “normal” human beings don’t experience them that way, but that’s the science model.

            Both animals and humans (as well as plants, etc) are motivated by Spirit, but science leaves that part out. In the case of humans, who have learned to communicate through language (unlike animals who remain largely telepathic) we have a way of sharing our experiences with each other without having to be psychic. Thus, remembering past lives is also possible, although it takes special procedures.

            We have learned from doing this that many of us have motivated robots in the distant past, indicating that even a “machine” can be “human.” These are possibilities (I consider them facts) that science and psychiatrists cannot embrace with their current way of thinking. In the realm of mental health it results in an extremely limited approach, because you have to address Spirit to get anywhere with the mind.

  6. Dr. Hickey you once again dissected with utter brilliance!
    I appreciate Dr. Aftab’s honesty and courage in acknowledging there are “too many recipients of psychiatric care who have been left traumatized, disenchanted, even devastated by their experiences” (and many have died from their experiences with psychiatry, psych drugs prescribed to my brother for grief caused his death at 40 yrs old) I also wonder why Dr. Aftab does not switch specialties. If he has the integrity to acknowledge the arrogance and level of harm done by psychiatry it has to be unsettling to try play both sides of the fence so to speak.

    “It is also worth asking what exactly psychiatrists are doing that leaves “too many” of their customers traumatized, disenchanted, and devastated by their experiences?”

    Very good question and would love for Dr. Aftab to answer this.

    Thank you so much for your fantastic blogs Dr. Hickey. Wishing you a Happy New Year and sending best of wishes to stay healthy and keep the blogs coming!

  7. Excellent work Dr Hickey and I know how much work went into it, yet on one hand
    it’s not a lot of work to show time and again how devious psychiatry is. How non sensical it is.

    It is not said enough, or acknowledged by the “critics”, that as you state, “psychiatry went willingly”. And on all counts they did.
    I see “critics” being critical yet constantly taking the chicken stance. Blaming everyone but psychiatry.

    Heck even psychiatry knows it’s an imposter, and they hate it. But it’s a living. Shmucks.
    I got NO respect for all the medical community that has taken the easy road and rides on the coattails of those they really don’t care for all that much.

    There they are, all licking each others boots.

  8. Thank You Again Dr Philip,

    Why is Psychiatry so Defensive about Criticism?
    Because it disables and kills its patients.

    Psychiatry is a disaster area in healthcare that we need to focus on – Dr Peter Gøtzsche
    https://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.k9/rr-15

    Hand in Hand with the Irish (Kerry children) over drugging scandal are the cases of a wife, and husband, suing the “Irish Medical System”, following the tragic deaths of their 3 children.

    https://m.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/deirdre-morley-who-killed-her-three-children-sues-hse-hospital-and-consultant-41261357.html

    https://www.newstalk.com/news/i-just-want-to-know-why-andrew-mcginley-suing-hse-over-his-wifes-care-1302149

    It might be difficult for an average person to understand how these things happen, but I know from my own experience that prescribed MH medications can leave a person with little choice. This is the reason I came off them.

  9. Thanks, as always, Philip, I always love to read your blogs. Apparently, according to the psychiatrists, I’d be one of the “mischievous searchers for ‘flammable material to work with’?”

    “The fact is that psychiatry needs to be held accountable for the unhappy customers who have been traumatized, disenchanted, and devastated by their experiences. And if psychiatry’s leaders aren’t willing or prepared to hold the culprits accountable, can anyone blame the anti-psychiatry movement for stepping into this breach? It is also worth asking what exactly psychiatrists are doing that leaves ‘too many’ of their customers traumatized, disenchanted, and devastated by their experiences?”

    Yes, malpractice insurance exists, for a reason. And as to “what exactly psychiatrists are doing that leaves ‘too many’ of their customers traumatized, disenchanted, and devastated by their experiences?”

    They, the psychiatrists – and their medically untrained, psychiatric DSM “bible” billing, miseducated, psychological and social worker minion – have been misdiagnosing the common adverse and withdrawal effects of the psychiatrists’ ADHD drugs and antidepressants as “bipolar,” for decades.

    https://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Epidemic-Bullets-Psychiatric-Astonishing-ebook/dp/B0036S4EGE

    And here’s you’re medical proof that way too many doctors – who’ve misdiagnosed people as “bipolar,” then treat them with the antipsychotics, blatantly lie to their clients – since all doctors were taught about anticholinergic toxidrome in med school.

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

    So what causes “psychosis”? Antidepressant and/or antipsychotic induced anticholinergic toxidrome poisonings – or sleep deprivation, et al – but not the “invalid” DSM disorders.

    And can the antipsychotics / neuroleptics also create the negative symptoms of “schizophrenia”?

    Yes, indeed, they can – and the doctors all learned about this in med school, as well.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroleptic-induced_deficit_syndrome

    I won’t go into all the psychiatric crimes I dealt with, after being weaned from anticholinergic toxidrome inducing drugs here, but I know I’m not alone. And the psychiatric and psychologic industries’ really have run amok. No industry should be given the right to play judge, jury, and executioner to anyone.

    “Dr. Aftab correctly describes a truly dreadful state of affairs, but berates certain selected members of the anti-psychiatry movement on the grounds that their hostility to psychiatry is ‘rampant’ and that in Dr. Aftab’s opinion their assertions constitute ‘misinformation’ and misguided arguments.'”

    Can Dr. Aftab actually disprove Robert Whitaker’s medical evidence of the iatrogenic etiology of “bipolar,” as pointed out in “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” and the DSM-IV-TR? Or my findings that the antipsychotics can create both the positive and negative symptoms of “schizophrenia,” via anticholinergic toxidrome and NIDS?

    “As I have mentioned, based on the social role that psychiatry currently occupies, excessive scrutiny is inevitable.”

    Oh, and what exactly is the primary “social role” that psychiatry and psychology currently occupy?

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/04/heal-for-life/
    https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/23/18820633.php?fbclid=IwAR2-cgZPcEvbz7yFqMuUwneIuaqGleGiOzackY4N2sPeVXolwmEga5iKxdo

    Oh, yes, “based on the social role that psychiatry currently occupies” – which is the systemic covering up of child abuse, ACEs, sexual assault of children and women, child sex trafficking, pedophilia, and all other related paternalistic crimes – is the “social role that psychiatry currently occupies.”

    Indeed, “excessive scrutiny is inevitable,” and much needed, given the literally criminal nature of “the social role” that psychiatry and psychology have chosen to take on.

    “I contend that based on the quasi law-enforcement role that psychiatry has willingly embraced and continues to willingly embrace, and on the harm done to their customers in these and other contexts, a high level of scrutiny, and indeed condemnation, is not only inevitable, but warranted.”

    Psychiatry and psychology have taken on a “quasi law-enforcement role,” but they’re doing it all wrong. They’ve been aiding, abetting, and empowering pedophiles – by systemically stigmatizing and neurotoxic poisoning child abuse survivors, and their legitimately concerned family members, en mass, for decades. And all this psychological and psychiatric pedophile aiding, abetting, and empowering has left us all living in a “pedophile empire.” Or vise versa?

    https://www.amazon.com/Pedophilia-Empire-Chapter-Introduction-Disorder-ebook/dp/B0773QHGPT

    “This has been a topic of interest to me for many years, and my own philosophical work in this area reflects the conceptual inadequacies of our notion of mental illness.21″

    I agree, the DSM needs to be flushed.

    “This is the core issue in the entire debate. But the notion of mental illness is not elusive; in fact, it is crystal clear. It is an error – but it is not elusive in any ordinary sense of the term.”

    No, not “elusive” at all. The psychiatric DSM5 is a scientifically “invalid” book of billing code stigmatizations, that ascribe the common adverse and withdrawal symptoms of the psychiatric drugs, to the psychiatric DSM “disorders.”

  10. I was reading the comments about cases in Germany and Ireland about the illegal use of psychiatry endangering the lives of children and considered America. I have noticed that especially since “covid” stories about the malpractice of doctors and also the attorneys’ ads regarding side effects of drugs (all prescribed drugs, not just psychiatric drugs) have basically diminished to next to nothing. When I speak of the doctors’ malpractice stories, I am considering stories of how people got intentionally misdiagnosed with an illness such as cancer and then had to go through the chemotherapy which did endanger their lives. I haven’t even heard of any stories lately of any medical personnel deliberately killing their patients in a serial manner and these stories did seem to proliferate. It’s just odd, if you ask me. Thank you.

  11. https://medicine.yale.edu/psychiatry/bpdconference/

    They’re so convinced they’re the good guys while they spread lies and stigma about vulnerable people. They don’t want to talk about their own behavior. The LIE of DBT certification, which means nothing. It means a fully certified DBT therapist can say things like:. I wouldn’t need consultation if it wasn’t for you and then she can collude with the psychiatrist to make the patient go impatient for an ECT consultation after the patient has explained in no uncertain terms that ECT is the thing that disabled her and afterwards that psychiatrist said, you have borderline personality disorder. That’s why the ECT didn’t work. They have no shame. They will keep spreading lies and destroying lives like they did to mine.

  12. Dr. Hickey thank you for your account. It’s definitely an interesting aspect of social change, that an individual cannot forthrightly state their distaste or disgust without being distanced. If Dr. Aftab was to tell us how he really feels, I think he would be at risk of being ostracized by his peers. I get a strong sense reading between the lines of his article that he sympathizes very closely with the conclusions you’ve drawn. If only more providers would be willing to understand this without having to be so buttered up or sugar-coated first.. the state of treatment might actually be salvageable into something person-centered. But with this much grandiosity, it seems like a total revision is the only way to create person-centered care as was originally imagined by the humanistic folks of the 60’s (Rogers, Gendlin, etc).

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