Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Comments by NeilSC

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  • The article on the bias in the BBC assuming “that mental health problems are necessarily a manifestation of biological illness” put me in mind of an analogy that we used to use when I was studying Artificial Intelligence programming alongside Biological models in the 1980s as part of my Bachelor’s Degree in Experimental Psychology.
    Attempting to “fix” mental health problems using medical interventions exclusively is like trying to fix every problem with your computer using a screwdriver. The fact that your computer stops working is much more likely to be a “bug” in the Software (the programs running on the computer, like Windows or Microsoft Office) than a problem in the Hardware (the keyboard, screen, microchips, memory cards, etc).
    Now if you’d just poured a cup of coffee over your keyboard, I might assume a hardware problem, but more likely I’d be looking to see if you’d installed a new program or clicked on an unexpected email and got a computer virus.
    Trying to fix a complex computer system with a screwdriver or even a highly skilled electronic engineer has no chance of success if the problem is in the program – You need a computer programmer. To put it another way, if Windows stops operating, I’d call Microsoft, not Intel.
    To stretch the analogy a bit further ( and get a bit technical), psychopharmacology is like trying to fix a computer with a virus by pouring an electrolyte solution over the chips because somebody thinks there are not enough electrons moving around. Like using an SSRI to “fix” a bereaved person’s “depression” because someone has a theory about Serotonin.
    Limiting the search for relief of mental health problems to biological rather than social interventions which acknowledge the role of life experience is equally unlikely to succeed.