An Open Letter to the Member Organizations of the Mental Health Professions


From the Coalition Against Medicalized Psychiatry and Psychology (CAMPP): “The mental health professions are in crisis. After more than two centuries of earnest efforts to discover the pathophysiological causes of mental disorder, none have been found. The number of Americans on social security disability due to a mental disorder has risen dramatically from 1 in 750 in 1950 to 1 in 70 today. The suicide rate has increased significantly in recent years. The recovery rate from arguably the most serious mental disorder, schizophrenia, hasn’t improved since 1900 and is far lower than the recovery rate in Colombia, Niger, and India (see figure below).

This glaring failure of biological psychiatry clearly warrants that we abandon the failed medical model of human distress. The lesson of this long line of research is that mental disorders are natural and meaningful, yet problematic, human responses to life situations, concerns people have about their lives and themselves, and efforts to cope with life the best they can. Therefore, calling them disorders or illnesses is only metaphorical, not literal, and addressing them with a medical approach is unjustified.

There is no doubt that individuals suffer from serious emotional distress, and some of them can act in very upsetting and harmful ways. But we have not found evidence that they do so because of internal dysfunctions that can be addressed with a medical model.

. . . By defending the medical model of human distress, the mental health professions have put themselves in an ethically untenable position that is not worthy of trust or respect.

Therefore, we, the undersigned practitioners and academicians of the mental health professions, call on our professional member organizations to do their ethical duty and respond to this crisis.”

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  1. “. . . By defending the medical model of human distress, the mental health professions have put themselves in an ethically untenable position that is not worthy of trust or respect.”

    I completely agree. Glad to see at least some “mental health professionals” are confessing to the need to end the scientifically “invalid” “medical model of human distress,” however.

    But I am just one of the many who – years ago – lost almost all trust and respect for the “mental health professions.” And as too many “mental health professionals” know – since too many treated their clients as if they were “not worthy of trust or respect,” for decades. (This is a systemic problem.)

    It’s not that hard to destroy a person’s life and/or reputation, if you view their life as “not worthy of trust or respect.” A friendly reminder … to the unethical and unrepentant, who have recently found themselves unworthy “of trust or respect.”

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  2. I don’t think the drugs were ever thought of as a cure. They are a control mechanism, reducing the need for previous methods such as incarceration. They were and are used as a stopgap whilst other ways were supposed to help improve mental health.
    There is no medical solution for a crisis of thoughts. Dialogue and relationship seem to be the most important factors, which is well evidenced.

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    • Or they were (and still are) designed to provide convenience and practical utility to adults who are responsible for caring for people with difficulties. I worked with a kid in a group home who refused to brush his teeth and so forth, and they asked the doctor to increase his Risperdal dosage. It is often very simply about compliance and control.

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  3. Thank you for this. I also have observed a lack of success in the profession, and that often the worst thing I could do for someone was to deliver them to “professionals” for help.

    Having said that, I have no viable alternative that can be easily implemented.

    At an antidotal level, my experience is that relationship with people works. However, in a time where “Psycho-social Isolation” is the norm, I have no tools to test my hypothesis, and thus I can only muddle on.

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