Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Comments by Michael Clark, PhD

Showing 10 of 10 comments.

  • I think the situation is a bit more complicated than what you say.

    Like anything in life, there are good psychiatrists, mediocre and incompetent ones. Some of the better ones, I would argue, question the paradigm in which they practice but also realize they need to toe the line if they are to do what they do as a “medical” doctor.

    It can become intensely political. Some psychiatrists may try to penalize or de-license other psychiatrists because they have different approaches and ideas. The sad thing is the average vulnerable patient doesn’t realize all this is going on and buy into a monolithic ideology about psychiatry that simply does not exist in actual practice.

    I find a similar dynamic within Catholicism. And that’s not surprising. Both are human organizations. Psychiatry and Catholicism both have this human element which they tend to play down in favor of a “front” of unity.

  • I tend to tailor the way I talk about this material to my audience or, while on the web, perceived audience. I try to connect with people, to bridge the gap, realizing that their experience and ‘theory’ probably differs from mine. Such is the nature of the beast. Language itself is a wonderful medium. Just talking about this is good. Silence does nothing. Well, it could do something if someone intercedes for another person and vice versa thru contemplative prayer. But in terms of building a working public knowledge base, we also have to talk.

    I once knew someone who seemed to possess extremely high psi or gifted intuition, yet was reluctant to talk about it. This made me wonder if they were afraid others might “pick up” what they were really up to. There might be a dark side to psi, just as we see in the movies.

    True, some may not talk because they think others just won’t understand what they are about, what they do (as Jesus in the NT says, “Do not cast your pearls before swine…”). But others might be quiet because they are using their gifts to do bad things and are afraid of getting caught.

  • RIght. I was painting some pretty broad strokes and you are correct to point out that the so-called “paradigm shift” might be underway. Having said that, I personally find that some – maybe not all – scientific studies of the paranormal are sort of rinky-dink and do not interest me. I myself am more interested in a holistic approach where we try to personally be scientific about our perceptions thru reason, humility, fact-checking (as much as possible) and a willingness to admit error. I think this last point is very important.

    I think Christian mysticism is just as valid – if not more – than any other type of mysticism and those who believe that it cannot happen within the Church are misguided, IMO.

    So for me, holism means considering as much as we can. Not just the flavor of the month.

  • Our culture is caught up in science/scientism. With great relish, the Church was dethroned, only to be replaced by the White Lab Coat. I find it amazing how so many folks uncritically accept scientific truth claims. Perhaps the pandemic has pulled the pants down (somewhat) on the hegemony of science. But as the author will know, science/scientism still wields power in a court of law. Courts take the testimony of psychiatrists, not priests, shamans or gurus.

  • That’s an interesting perspective. No doubt social power plays a role in the whole setup. I’ve also noticed how incredibly skewed the doctor-patient relationship can be. Anyone who has been to a psychiatrist might get the feeling that they are talking to an answering machine and not a real person. It’s all about the patient “confessing” their inner workings while the doctor wears a phony mask of objectivity.

    For the most part, I don’t believe in objectivity.

    Having said that, I do embrace what we might call “working theories.” I think we need to limit reality to some extent. Actually, I don’t think we can escape it. So best to be honest and admit where we are coming from, be open to being wrong, to making mistakes, and to developing a more comprehensive theory or model.

    The psychiatric model is a farce, philosophically speaking. It’s just so bad that I don’t know where to begin critiquing it. I tried doing so at grad school but met with a backward-thinking prof. who just cut me down.

  • Interesting point about enjoying impairment. I knew one person who said their evening pill was like a daily drink (alcohol).

    I tend to view the issue like this. If any potentially harmful substance prevents someone from say, suicide, harming someone else, or being hospitalized, then it’s a lesser evil. That’s not to say that there are not better ways to deal with psychological unwellness. Problem is, we live within certain structures, at a given moment in history. So it’s true, many people do believe the sometimes dubious findings of scientific research. I think many people on drugs (note that I do not say “meds”) should do so with a view toward finding a better solution.

  • I like this site and the work you’re doing here. I just looked over this article quickly, but would like to add that the placebo effect isn’t only about the patient wanting to play the role of good patient. The patient can also actually feel better, for whatever complex of reasons. Forgive me if you’ve mentioned this here or elsewhere.

    Also, I’m not convinced that all psychiatric assessment hinges on patients’ self reports. I think a good psychiatrist could monitor the patient over time and make a reasonable assessment. So even if a patient says, “I had a lousy week,” the doctor might reply, “Well, let’s remember that over the past 6 months, you’ve made significant gains in several areas…”

    As for this statement:

    “psychiatric drugs; illegal street drugs; alcohol and nicotine, all have in common that they confer a temporary good feeling. That’s why people use them.”

    I don’t agree. Some people have “bad trips” with street drugs. And some say they “feel nothing,” especially with THC. Moreover, some say that prescribed drugs make them feel badly. That’s why patients often “play around” when beginning a new drug regimen.

    Pls understand that I’m not emphatically for or against psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. I think the benefit/detriment totally depends on the situation.