A growing number of people are seeking an alternative approach to healthcare; one that focuses on achieving optimal well-being rather than symptom management, and views the health of mind, body and spirit as interconnected. The Science and Pseudoscience of Mental Health podcast will explore insights and innovations from this integrative perspective.
The March 3rd, 2016 edition of the Wall Street Journal featured an article by past President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Jeffrey Lieberman and his colleague, computational neuroscientist Ogi Ogas. The article was entitled “Genetics and Mental Illness—Let’s Not Get Carried Away.” In their piece, the authors started by expressing the belief that a recent study identified a gene that causes schizophrenia, and then discussed whether it is desirable or possible to remove allegedly pathological genes in the interest of creating a future “mentally perfect society.” The authors of the article, like many previous textbook authors, seem unfamiliar with the questionable “evidence” put forward by psychiatry as proof that its disorders are “highly heritable” In fact, DSM-5 Task Force Chair David Kupfer admitted that “we’re still waiting” for the discovery of “biological and genetic markers” for psychiatric disorders.
Although it is axiomatic in psychiatry that genetic factors are involved in bipolar disorder (manic-depression), and that they play a predominant role, there currently exists little if any scientifically acceptable evidence that bipolar disorder and other “affective disorders” are caused by disordered genes. Given almost 50 years of gene discovery claims that were not confirmed by replication attempts, we must assume by default that current gene finding claims are false-positive results as well. In the 1920s, pioneering psychiatric geneticist Ernst Rüdin decided against publishing his large family study of “manic-depressive insanity,” most likely because the results did not fit his theories of Mendelian inheritance, and failed to support his advocacy of eugenic policies.
For the past four years, I have been deconstructing my views of my profession. My focus has been primarily in two areas: the efficacy and safety of the drugs I prescribe and the so-called “alternative” approaches (in this I include many things such as Open Dialogue, Hearing Voices groups, and Intentional Peer Support to name a few). I have shared much of this in the blogs I wrote during this time. I am also interested in how we can improve and reform the public mental health system since this is not only where I work but where most people seek services and help. I wonder where – if anywhere – psychiatrists fit in to a reformed system.