Debunking Denialism

Defending science against the forces of irrationality.

Anti-Psychiatry in the Atheism+ Forum?

balance scale

I find my self slightly unsettled to watch the slow infiltration of anti-psychiatry into the various skeptical movements. This is probably facilitated by political ideology. Some left-leaning liberals have a suspicion of psychiatric medication because they are provided by large multinational corporations. Some libertarians are susceptible to anti-psychiatry because the government helps to finance psychiatric care. This is the kind of situation that made me have careful qualifications about new aspiring social movements in my post Crossing the Chasm. Even though there is a broad agreement on social values, there can be a strong disagreement on what empirical methods are best used to fulfill these values. I am carefully optimistic about Atheism+ and I support many of its values, but I first want to see where the movement is going in practice.

Recently, a thread appeared on the Atheism+ forum discussing mental health issues. Right now, it is just one thread and we should not overestimate the size of the problem. We should also not approach the ideas of a few as if they were a majority position. I am not saying that any particular forum poster is necessarily anti-psychiatry and I am also not saying that Atheism+ has been corrupted by anti-psychiatry. After all, anti-psychiatry proponents can probably be found in every movement. I am also not telling marginalized people to stop telling their stories. With those qualifiers out of the way, I do note that arguments commonly put forward by anti-psychiatry proponents has started to appear on the Atheism+ forum. I do not want to make accusations against any individual poster, but I feel it is important and worthwhile to address the claims being put forward. I could have done it the forum thread itself, but as anti-psychiatry is a topic that this blog covers, I thought I might as well make a blog post about it.

The thread is called Mental Illness Support. It starts out completely reasonable where the opening poster is inviting others for discussing things like how mental conditions affect group participating in the atheist movements and what can be done to help those coping with mental conditions become more involved in the movements. I think these questions are highly relevant. In passing, the opening poster apfergus mentioned that a new medication had been beneficial for him or her. For those of you experienced with debating anti-psychiatry proponents, you know what happens next.

Medications and therapy together is the best treatment for most mental conditions

When assigning treatments to an individual with any given mental condition, what factors should determine what treatment is given? One such factor is evidence. It seems reasonable that people should get treatment that has been shown to be effective in scientific studies. In other words, people should get treatments that works. As it turns out, combining different treatments that are effective on their own usually produce better outcomes than any of the treatments alone. If we take depression as an example, three treatments that work on their own are antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy and moderate physical exercise. Treatment protocols that combine some of these elements work better than any of them in isolation. It is not necessarily a strictly additive situation, but there is some interaction going on. So, on the balance of evidence, a combined treatment should be the first resort, if possible. This is not to say that the individual components are not effective on their own, because they are. For a example study on this interactive effect that has been referenced before on this blog, se Walkup et. al. (2008).

With this in mind, let us look at a comment made by the forum user rriverstone made the following claim: “I see dependence on an dysfunctional medical model where prescribing medications is the FIRST resort, rather than farther down in the treatment regime, because it’s convenient to medical personnel and because Big PhRMA has had a devastating impact on the medical industrial complex.” This argument is confused, because the best treatments available should be given to patients as a first resort (although there are other factors to take into account). In other words, medication is an effective treatment, so it should be used. Preferably, every individual who needs it should get medication and therapy, but there may be issues with insurance etc.

Note that the argument asserts that modern psychiatry uses a “dysfunctional medical model”, yet no evidence for this is presented. Also note the implicit appeal to Big Pharma conspiracy theories. The user rriverstone then goes on to make claims about level of prescriptions and suicidality.

Medications are not over-prescribed as most individuals with mental conditions are never discovered

A fairly standard textbook in psychology (Passer et. al. 2009) delivers the following statistics on depression: 1 in 33 young people suffers with depression, yet only 1 in 3 of these are detected and treated. So how can e. g. antidepressants be over-prescribed if the majority of individuals with depression never get them?

Frequency of emergent suicidality is the same in antidepressant and psychotherapy treatments

I explained this in more detail in my post Antidepressants, Psychotherapy and Emergent Suicidality. The general idea is that since the frequency is the same, the effect is probably not directly due to antidepressants. As another forum user (Grimalkin) notes in the topic, the apathy goes away faster than the depressed mood. Seemingly paradoxically, individuals with severe depression may sometimes not have enough motivation or hope to make a suicide attempt. It is also worth noting that self-reports during a week before intake is a stronger predictor of emergent suicidality than interview-rated suicidality. A lot of the studies that claim to have found a link between antidepressants and suicidality did not control for baseline level of suicidality.

I covered this a lot more in a previous blog post on anti-psychiatry called Stefan Molyneux’s Unfortunate Spiraling into Anti-Psychiatry, where I wrote that:

the Mayo Clinic (Mayo Clinic, 2011), most antidepressants are generally safe although, the FDA requires that all antidepressant medications carry black box warnings, which is the strongest warnings that FDA can issue for prescription medications. The warnings note that in some cases (children, adolescents and young adults 18-24 years old) may have an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors when taking antidepressants. However, does this state that there is a mere possibility, rather than a documented fact, or is it an uncommon side effect? However, the increase that media reported was just from 2 to 4% and this may have been due to increase in reports (Hall, 2009). Also, after the prescription rate fell by 18-20%, suicides increased by 18% (Hall, 2009). Of course, we have to keep in mind that just because B follows A does not mean that A causes B, but is an important fact to keep in mind. The Olfson et al. (2006) study that appeared to show an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors was problematic, since it made the incorrect assumption that the two groups had the same risk for suicide, whereas it was likely that the group treated with antidepressants had more severely depressed patients and thus a higher risk for suicide. Furthermore, Bridge et. al. (2005) showed that suicidal behavior and thoughts in antidepressant tests where similar to psychotherapy trails and Simon et. al. (2006) showed that suicide rates before starting antidepressant treatment where higher and that this declined progressively after starting medication. Cuffe (2007) describes this situation in additional detail.

Are psychiatric labels stigmatizing?

Rriverstone also puts forward the common claim that psychiatric labels are stigmatizing. To a certain extent, this is true, but the story is more complex and nuanced than that. The stigmatization appears to mostly come from the reaction of other people to the thoughts and behaviors of the individual with the specific mental condition e. g. paranoid delusions in some individuals schizophrenia. Also, the residual stigmatizing of diagnostic labels have to be balanced against the benefit of diagnosis. Just as in other areas of medicine, psychiatric diagnosis are important for things like communication, provision of treatment etc. (Lilienfeld, Lynn, Ruscio and Beyerstein, 2010).

Psychiatric medications are not part of a eugenics program

After a little while, the user Alyss enters to conversation and makes the claim that psychiatric medication has eugenics-like properties. I kid you not! The justification for this claim is that these medications reduce sex drive and makes people infertile. No evidence is presented for the claim that psychiatric medication makes people infertile, and I have not been able to find any such information on high-quality medical websites like the NHS or Mayo Clinic.

It is true that some e. g. antidepressants may have side effects that include reduced sex drive, this can be handled by telling your doctor and having the doctor switching your over to a medication with less sexual side effects.

In any case, the psychiatric-medications-have-eugenics-like-properties conspiracy theory does not even make internal sense. Why would the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies are perpetrating a global eugenics program on individuals with mental conditions? Most mental conditions have some degree of genetic influence, so eugenics would mean that these individuals would not reproduce, and thus there would be much fewer individuals with mental conditions in the next generation, thereby making the profit for these companies much less.

Mainstream psychiatry holds that mental conditions are multifactorial

Alyss beings up another classic anti-psychiatry trope: the notion that modern psychiatry thinks that mental conditions are exclusively caused by “chemical imbalances” and then invents drugs to treat these. In reality, almost all psychiatrists and clinical psychologists understand that mental conditions are multifactorial and results from a complex interplay between biological, psychological and social factors. The “chemical imbalance” idea is really a straw man against psychiatry and was originally a simplified way of explaining the mechanisms of action of certain medications against depression and schizophrenia.

I wrote a more detailed explanation in Stefan Molyneux’s Unfortunate Spiraling into Anti-Psychiatry:

In most introductory textbooks, any given mental condition is explained as a complex interaction between many different biological, psychological and environmental factors. This means that since there are many different causes, there can be many different treatments, not just psychiatric drugs, but many different forms of therapy depending on the specific condition.

Let us look at two examples, namely major depression and anxiety disorders. These descriptions come from the Passer et. al. textbook from 2009 called Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior (p. 27 for depression and p. 796 for anxiety disorders).

Major Depression:

Biological factors: genetic predisposition, chemical factors in the brain affected by antidepressants, perhaps an exaggerated form of adaptive withdrawal shaped by evolution etc.
Psychological factors: negative thought patterns/distortions, pessimistic personality style, susceptibility to loss and rejection, perhaps linked to early life experiences etc.
Environmental factors: previous life experiences of loss and rejection, current decrease in pleasurable experiences, increased life stress, loss of social support, cultural factors etc.

Anxiety Disorders:

Biological factors: evolutionary preparedness to fear certain stimuli, genetic predisposition, over-reactive autonomic nervous system, low levels of inhibitory transmitter GABA, other possible neurotransmitter dysfunctions, possible sex-linked biological factors etc.
Psychological factors: displacement of neurotic anxiety, “catastrophizing” appraisals of threatening events, exaggerated appraisals of anxiety symptoms, classically conditioned fear response, observationally learned fear response, negatively reinforced avoidance responses etc.
Environmental factors: previous exposure to aversive unconditioned stimuli, traumatic experiences, avoidable fear-inducing conditioned stimuli, exposure to fearful models or to other individuals traumatic experience, fear-inducing media exposure, cultural learning experience etc.

It is important to understand that these factors interact in complex ways, and that putting forward, say, genetic predisposition as a factor that influences mental conditions is not an attempt at dismissing psychological or environmental factors.

So by erecting the straw man that the scientific mainstream position is all about “chemical imbalances”, Molyneux has loaded the dices in favor of anti-psychiatry from the very start. Mainstream psychology and psychiatry absolutely does accept other important factors influencing mental conditions and absolutely does accept treatments other than drugs.

No hugs? :*(

Grimalkin complains about a no-hug rule at a certain treatment facility. The relationship between a client and a treatment provider is very different from the average friendship because they are complicated by something called treatment boundaries (Westbrook, Kennerley and Kirk, 2011). These exists to protect the patient because there is a large power difference between the provider and patient and the relationship is designed to be overall non-reciprocal. While context should matter, some treatment facilities have strict rules governing the physical contact between providers and patients.

Try finding a friend to hug. Or a large teddy bear.

Conclusion:

There are more claims that could use a skeptical analysis, but I think I will end here for now. In some sense, this corroborates a point made by some of masterminds behind Atheism+: being an atheist does not guarantee that you are rational or that you accept scientific evidence.

References and further reading:

For most of the references in the blockquotes, see the reference list in the corresponding blog post.

Lilienfeld, S. O., Lynn, S. J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B. L. (2011). 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Passer, M., Smith, R., Holt, N., Bremner, A., Sutherland, E., & Vliek, M. (2009). Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Walkup, J. T., Albano, A. M., Piacentini, J., Birmaher, B., Compton, S. N., Sherrill, J. T., . . . Kendall, P. C. (2008). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Sertraline, or a Combination in Childhood Anxiety. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(26), 2753-2766. doi: doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0804633

Westbrook, D., Kennerley, H., & Kirk, J. (2011). An Introduction to Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Skills and Applications (2nd ed.). London: SAGE Publication.

26 responses to “Anti-Psychiatry in the Atheism+ Forum?

  1. Adam Benton August 31, 2012 at 19:50

    I think one of the main problems is simply that the issues surrounding mental health are a lot more complex than, for example, vaccines. It’s not like creationism, where most of the complex issues have been explained in laymans terms (ala TalkOrigins) or the vaccine debate where their success is cut and dry (polio anyone?). As a non-expert it’s harder for me to come to the defence of anti-depressents meaning we wind up with more and more people being anti-anti-depressent, but few leaping to its defence. This echo chamber effect could snowball, which makes it more important that those who do know what they’re talking about talk about it. So I applaud this post.

  2. Thaumas Themelios September 1, 2012 at 00:25

    Emil, Thanks for tackling (again!) this pernicious trend. I for one greatly appreciate your work here. :-)

    Adam: “As a non-expert it’s harder for me to come to the defence of anti-depressents meaning we wind up with more and more people being anti-anti-depressent, but few leaping to its defence. ”

    I think you are right that it’s a bit harder to defend anti-depressants and other psychiatric-related issues (though a bit of googling can yield useful information fairly quickly if one is sure to keep one’s skeptic toolkit handy). As a suggestion, one way that skeptics who are non-experts can contribute to the conversation is simply to express skepticism of unsupported claims against psychiatric medicine. “How do you know that? Got a source for that? What’s the evidence to support that claim?” Etc. Don’t just let unsubstantiated memes float around; challenge them directly.

    I often speak out against uninformed rants from people who claim to suffer from mental health issues by first being very clear that I sympathize with whatever condition they report having (and also acknowledging their negative experiences with particular medicines — usually side effects or lack of efficacy in their particular case), but second going on to challenge their unsupported claims, and third to tell them that it is irresponsible to go around spreading unsubstantiated opinions against scientifically validated medical treatment because there are countless *other* people who are suffering from similar conditions and who *would* be effectively treated by the same or similar medicines (see below*). By bad-mouthing psychiatry without being able to back up their opinions with facts, they are doing a disservice to the public, and should be called out, even if the one calling out isn’t an expert.

    (* Psychiatric medicines are very often patient-dependent in their efficacy; they may not work for some people (and perhaps for totally unknown reasons), but do work for others. This is not a problem as long as the side-effects are not too excessive, and as long as the Dr. modifies the treatment in response to the patient’s specific condition (which is what typically happens, though there are some bad and/or irresponsible Drs. out there).)

  3. alan david anderson December 25, 2012 at 14:51

    wonderful sight thanks for leting me clear up the fact that you have no education that is legit it in this subject. psychiatrists have worthless educations. psychiatrists drugs are not needed under any circumstances. they give synthetic drugs that resemble things that are naturally produced. why would we need them? you simply do not need them at all. you ignorant fool. you cannot win an argment with me. you HAVE NO EDUCATION ON THE SUBJECT.

  4. alan david anderson December 25, 2012 at 14:57

    I’m really sorry your stupid and or not educated. You are obviously not educated. I went to college for seven years. There is no debate or argument that psychiatrists are stupid and or ignorant. If they believe they are helping people they are ignorant. Psychiatrists do nothing but KILL. ITS NOT A DEBATE. serotonin, melatonin, and every other hormone your glands make are produced naturally FROM EXERCISE AND A BALANCED DIET AND VITAMINS. If psychiatrists give a drug it is synthetic, and it most likely resembles serotonin. We don’t use human bodies to farm their hormones. This is why drugs are bad. synthetic drugs send a signal to the gland. The signal says I don’t need it at this time. The gland will quit making it and also shrink and rott. If the gland does not make the hormone we need it will stop making it and your life will end early. The drugs psychiatrists use are not natural and are naturally rejected. This is why there are so many negative side effects you can google for geodon, seroquel, haldol loxapine, resperadol, thorazine, and zyprexa. These drugs are used in geriatrics to euthanize elderly that have not practiced a balanced diet and or abused alcohol or other illegal drugs. These drugs cause death and suicide. Most people given these drugs abuse illegal drugs. John Nash was an alcoholic in a beautiful mind. Its not rocket science. If this does not clear things up for You. YOU ARE STUPID.

  5. alan david anderson December 25, 2012 at 15:17

    In my country, the people labeled falsely with mental illness are primarily drug addicts. over 50 percent of the people in the USA are also overweight and obese. They do not have mental illness at all. Its because they are not exercising and not eating a balanced diet. Some people in my country will live way past 100 possibly 200 I suspect simply because we have vitamins on the shelf. allergies are also a problem. Some people can afford to get allergy tested, exercise vigorously, and avoid psychiatrists who will kill early. you obviously can not debate me with science you have no clue what you are taking about. You need to look at what food in the mainly used in your country. In the USA people eat wheat for most of their diet. This does not qualify as a balanced diet. They also eat at fast food places like McDonalds, sonic, wendy’s, and bugar king. This means they are eating wheat mostly with meat. Meat is high in dopamine. They are eating large amounts of dopamine and not expending it through exercise so they are problems with sleep. Sleep problems lead to insomnia not mental illness. people who do not exercise when they have insomnia are sent to worthless psychiatrists. I suspect, but I am ignorant on your countries situation. I am very fond of sweden. I do not care for USA and their politics. I suspect people in your country are not fat as much like mine, and I suspect that your country has labeled people falsely who are drug addicts. Detoxic, exercise, balanced diet, and vitamins are needed in drug addicts. The more naturally detoxic is for the drug addicts the sooner they recover. Their are many people In USA in their 60s that still look thirty. Tom Cruise is a wonderful example. I am 30 and honestly cant tell if some 60 year olds are older.

    • Dave March 31, 2013 at 02:35

      I don’t consider myself anti-psychiatry but simply skeptical of psychiatry. I find interesting that you call psychiatry a science. Here is my problem, if psychiatry is a science where is the self-corrective mechanism of psychiatry. Psychiatrists vote in disorders instead of discovering them. This is an authoritarian model. Science is the path to knowledge and it is only this way by having a self-corrective mechanism of anti-authoritarianism
      (http://thecuckingstool.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/science-is-inherently-anti.html).

      Meaning anyone can submit evidence that is peer-reviewed and peer-replicated. I personally would love you to point out the self-corrective mechanism of psychiatry if you can do this I will support psychiatry. I think that unfortunately psychiatrists ignore this aspect of science and think that they can do without this aspect. For why this is important take a look at (http://pps.sagepub.com/content/7/6/645.abstract)

      You see that real science is done by people accepting strange ideas as long as they have a good chain of evidence that has been peer-reviewed and peer-replicated. People don’t go calling those who question gravity, anti-gravitationalists. Good scientists try to answer the skeptics. Also as lawrence krauss (a physicist) has pointed out “there are hundreds if not thousands of challenges to newtonian gravity” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtP020hXiAU)

      A point of research that has been peer-reviewed and peer-replicated is the Soteria Project (http://www.moshersoteria.com/articles/soteria-and-other-alternatives-to-acute-psychiatric-hospitalization/) which was done by a psychiatrist that was head of psychiatry at a hospital and done under conditions where it has been published in a journal (THE JOURNAL OF NERVOUS AND MENTAL DISEASE 187:142-149, 1999) but has been totally ignored by psychiatrists because it is against dogma.

      So since you spent an entire article against someone who hasn’t really read up on some of the issues I would ask that you afford me a little mention so I can really start to understand the “science” of psychiatry. I enjoy reading up on any evidence as it helps me to understand how psychiatry works.

      Further, if I am correct, I would like to start a new science that addresses everything psychiatry does but does so in a way that adds the self-corrective mechanism of science meaning that it will get directed towards the answers that so elude psychiatry. This new science will be strict with evidence and results of every test needs to be published. It would accept psychiatrists posting as well as long as they follow strict guidelines to make sure that their published research is accurate.

      References:
      1. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-02/psychiatrists-redefine-disorders-including-autism.html
      2. http://thecuckingstool.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/science-is-inherently-anti.html
      3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtP020hXiAU
      4. http://pps.sagepub.com/content/7/6/645.abstract
      4. http://pps.sagepub.com/content/7/6/645.abstract

    • Emil Karlsson March 31, 2013 at 09:39

      Like any other science, psychiatry is self-correcting. There are many examples of this, such as the removal of homosexuality as a mental condition, the transition from psychoanalysis to cognitive behavioral therapy, new generations of more effective psychiatric medications etc.

      When you are constructing any manual, whether it is specifically for psychiatry or for medical conditions in general (think ICD-10), you need a process to establish consensus. This means that experts in the field come together and discuss. Then they come to an agreement based on the evidence, and that gets put into the diagnostic manuals. You call this authoritarian, but it is really an anti-authoritarian process. This is because no single view can win by fiat, but need evidential support.

      There is no contradicting in both labeling people who reject psychiatry promoters of anti-psychiatry and at the same time provide evidence that they are wrong. This is no different from evolution, where denialists are labeled anti-evolutionists.

      The Soteria Project appears to be some kind of deinstitutionalization project. While I do not know the specifics of Soteria, deinstitutionalization project are well-known and have not been ignored by psychiatrists. Also remember that while there are benefits with deinstitutionalization, there are also some risks such as homelessness and not receiving the care they need.

    • Dave April 6, 2013 at 03:38

      I think there is another way of interpreting the evidence of homosexuality being removed as a political move rather than of a research based move. Homosexuality was voted out it was not taken out because evidence didn’t support it. If I am wrong about this then I look forward to finding out evidence presented by psychiatrists as to why homosexuality is no longer a mental illness. I’m looking for very compelling evidence including experiments that show such a move was warranted with evidence.

      You see science is about evidence and not political views. The self-corrective mechanism is that anyone can present overwhelming evidence and get accepted. They don’t have to be psychiatrists to present evidence and get accepted.
      Why can’t somone like me present evidence at one of their meetings if I have researched and considered the skeptics? Most other science’s would accept this. In fact homosexuals had to disrupt their meetings not allowing psychiatrists to talk to get recognised instead of calmly having a psychiatrist presenting evidence.

      I am very interested in the evidence in support or against homosexuality as this would settle the point against churches that it is normal or provide evidence that it is possibly abnormal. I think if experiments haven’t been done in this area they should be. There should be brain scans and genetic determinations. I think science can settle this area as it can in almost any discussion. If there is not overwhelming evidence either way it indicates that psychiatry cannot understand the issues and mental illnesses that it presents to the public.

      There is plenty of material in studies done by psychologists that have been rejected by psychiatry not because they are not correct but because they are against dogma. For example the Soteria Project that you so easily rejected had 90% of the mentally ill treated with this condition getting better and leading normal lives without drugs. 10% still required drugs but that is a large number to consider. Psychology has done many studies on the model that psychiatry has adopted in hospitals of the nurse/patient relationship and found that they system is flawed (Stanford Prison Experiment for example). Psychiatry has not adopted these old findings in any of its treatment sessions.

      I don’t reject any evidence as I want to build a solution that is effective. A solution based on all the best science of the day. When considering something in science you must consider the critics and build on all observations and not just observations that fit your model. The one thing that is important in science is that you not label your critics as anti-something. You consider them skeptics and attempt to answer their questions. If they continue to present the same arguments such as creationists then you compile a list of their common questions and answer them. I see no such compilation in psychiatry and in-fact am considering creating a compilation so that others can make their own mind up on whether psychiatry is a science and not flatly reject evidence without reading it like you have done.

    • Emil Karlsson April 6, 2013 at 10:47

      Homosexuality was voted out it was not taken out because evidence didn’t support it. If I am wrong about this then I look forward to finding out evidence presented by psychiatrists as to why homosexuality is no longer a mental illness. I’m looking for very compelling evidence including experiments that show such a move was warranted with evidence.

      There were a couple of different scientific critiques leveled against the notion that homosexuality was to be considered a mental illness:

      Methodological flaws in studies asserting that homosexuality is a mental disorder:

      – Psychoanalyst bias: the theoretical positions, expectations and attitudes biased the observations, no adequately blinded procedure was carried out.

      – Psychoanalysts mostly studies gay people already under psychiatric care. This meant that this was a huge confounder and patients under psychiatric care are not representative for the overall population.

      Scientific evidence:

      – Research carried out by Alfred Kinsey demonstrated that it was inaccurate to view homosexuality as carried out by a tiny population of social misfits.

      – Comparative studies showed that same-sex behavior was shown to be quite prevalent among most non-human animals and among most societies in the world.

      – Many unpublished studies done in the U. S. Military (reviewed by Berube) strongly questioned the notion that homosexuality was a mental illness and showed that gay soldiers could be just as good as straight soldiers.

      – Studies carried about by Hooker (1971) showed, using a sample of people not under psychiatric care, that gay and straight people did not differ in their levels of psychological adjustment. This study was also properly blinded and concluded that homosexuality was not a mental illness.

      There is more, but I think this is enough to fulfill my burden of evidence.

      To be sure, science does not exist in a vacuum and is always affected by society, but it is completely erroneous to assert that it was purely “a political move rather than of a research based move.”

      Why can’t somone like me present evidence at one of their meetings if I have researched and considered the skeptics?

      Professional scientists who want to criticize some aspect of psychiatric models do so all the time at meetings.

      Why someone like you cannot do it is probably because most anti-psychiatry proponents (not necessarily you) often behave like cranks and have nothing of value to contribute. It is the same reason why creationists generally do not get to speak at conferences on evolution or why HIV/AIDS denialists do not get to speak at virology conferences. It is not that they are censuring you, it is just that they have come to understand that it would probably be a waste of time.

      If there is not overwhelming evidence either way it indicates that psychiatry cannot understand the issues and mental illnesses that it presents to the public.

      No, it would just mean that the field has not yet found the proper way to investigate the topic. The fact that it took scientists decades to find the Higgs boson does not mean that physicists do not understand the standard model. It just meant that they had not found it yet. Science is normally a long and difficult process.

      For example the Soteria Project that you so easily rejected had 90% of the mentally ill treated with this condition getting better and leading normal lives without drugs.

      Actually, if you read what I wrote, you would see that I did not reject de-institutionalization, but gave it a moderate amount of praise.

      Psychology has done many studies on the model that psychiatry has adopted in hospitals of the nurse/patient relationship and found that they system is flawed (Stanford Prison Experiment for example).

      The Stanford Prison Experiment has nothing to do with “the model that psychiatry has adopted in hospitals of the nurse/patient relationship”.

      The SPE experiment showed that if you put people in jail, call them by a number, use arbitrary punishments and have then watched by immature and relatively uneducated people, then those prisoners will be abused.

      Psychiatric nurses are not uneducated and immature men, psychiatric health care is not a prison, patients get to keep their names and there is no overarching guideline that calls for arbitrary punishments are not used.

      If they continue to present the same arguments such as creationists then you compile a list of their common questions and answer them. I see no such compilation in psychiatry

      Such lists exists, such as here and many blog posts addressing specific arguments have been composed, both on this blog and on others. Steven Novella has a 5 part series on anti-psychiatry (first part here). Perhaps I will compile my own list of quick assertions and responses, but right now I don’t have that much spare time.

    • Dave April 8, 2013 at 08:54

      Thanks for your comments. I will be reading through the literature you posted and get back to you on that. However, your comment that the stanford prison experiment doesn’t apply because it is not a guard/prisoner experiment doesn’t really outline the case. There are many cases where choices are made by nurses and guards at hospitals for very detrminental treatments to patients. Such as seclusion. There are no scientific studies about the benefits/pit falls of seclusion yet it is used regularly for very small incidents. I do know studies have been done on prisoners where they exposed to sensory deprivation and the studies indicate that it is harmful (law.wustl.edu/journal/22/p325grassian.pdf ) and causes insanity.

      Now hospitals and seclusions rooms do seem to fit the pattern of sensory deprivation but not as severe as that exposed to prisoners. Psychaitric hospitals make sure that they remove many levels of activities and design the place to be extremely boring so as to possibly “help” the patients. In seclusion rooms there is a large loss of sensory information as there is no human contact or things such as television and this is not a normal situation for someone.

      What I propose and want to know is that why these techniques have not been studied and that why are they continued to be used when they are potentially causing the problems that they are trying to “fix”. I propose that this type of treatment be studied and experimented and if as I suspect prove harmful that alternative
      forms of control be studied. I suspect again that by treating people with respect and talking calmly to those that are agitated that the desired behaviour will be achieved for the
      patient with reduced risk of psychosis and much reduced risk of violence.

      The whole point of the self-corrective mechanism of science is that people with alternative views that are grounded in science not be rejected. The Soteria project about which you agreed with in part was vehemently opposed by the top levels of psychiatry and Loren Mosher a chief psychiatrist was forced to lose his job over his findings. This is not how science works, it stops science from acheiving its goals of getting closer to the truth and
      takes away the self-corrective mechanism of science.

      I will read the articles you posted consider them and provide my response to the other
      arguments.

    • Emil Karlsson April 8, 2013 at 22:22

      Thanks for your comments. I will be reading through the literature you posted and get back to you on that.

      Since you are unable to respond to my refutation, will you now stop using the argument “Homosexuality was voted out it was not taken out because evidence didn’t support it”, not just with me, but with everyone?

      There are many cases where choices are made by nurses and guards at hospitals for very detrminental treatments to patients. Such as seclusion.

      That may very well sometimes be the case, but the nurse/patient relationship in psychiatric hospitals does not generally resemble that of the guard/prison relationship in the Stanford Prison Experiment. It is a deeply flawed analogy.

      The Soteria project about which you agreed with in part was vehemently opposed by the top levels of psychiatry and Loren Mosher a chief psychiatrist was forced to lose his job over his findings.

      The very existence of such a debate is evidence for a self-corrective mechanism.

    • Dave April 10, 2013 at 13:47

      “Since you are unable to respond to my refutation, will you now stop using the argument “Homosexuality was voted out it was not taken out because evidence didn’t support it”, not just with me, but with everyone?”

      I may be able to respond but cannot at the moment. I have a very busy life and work full-time as well as work with different clubs. But consider this, I actually want to consider the evidence before replying. If I consider that the evidence is clear then yes I will stop using the argument but I will not do that on your saying I should, I will do that in my own time based on the evidence at hand.

      I honestly care more about getting closer to the truth then holding a particular view and part of that is this:
      Question Authority and Think for yourself. The late Christopher Hitchens stated in one of his talks to …” Think for yourself, much more truth, beauty and happiness will come for you if you do” So I intend to review the evidence and see if it matches what you have said. If correct, then yes I will stop using that argument. However, if there is not enough experimentation and evidence then I will use that argument and back it up with evidence.

      You are also prone to negate some of the evidence that I posted such as the soteria project. Rather than read the whole paper (you don’t have time) you simply based it on something similar that you knew. Unlike you, I intend to look deeply into the evidence provided and give you my response in good time which could be in agreement with you or not I cannot say at this point.

      That being said I appreciate the time you have spent providing a response to my particular questions as I have not been able to have a fruitful discussion with many people on this topic. All they do is call me anti-psychiatry or a scientologist which then doesn’t allow me to learn more about the issue that I am discussing.

    • Dave April 10, 2013 at 14:22
      The Soteria project about which you agreed with in part was vehemently opposed by the top levels of psychiatry and Loren Mosher a chief psychiatrist was forced to lose his job over his findings.

      The very existence of such a debate is evidence for a self-corrective mechanism.

      This is simply not true. If this were done by government or other groups such as climate change scientists everyone would be up in arms. So I find it surprising that you allow such abuses of science and its self-corrective mechanism. Science doesn’t work when many people are censored when presenting research that conflicts with current theories. If you think this is how science works then you are the one that needs to change your arguments.

    • Emil Karlsson April 10, 2013 at 18:24

      I may be able to respond but cannot at the moment. I have a very busy life and work full-time as well as work with different clubs. But consider this, I actually want to consider the evidence before replying. If I consider that the evidence is clear then yes I will stop using the argument but I will not do that on your saying I should, I will do that in my own time based on the evidence at hand.

      That is fine. Will you stop using this argument with other people until you have performed such a consideration of the evidence?

      You are also prone to negate some of the evidence that I posted such as the soteria project. Rather than read the whole paper (you don’t have time) you simply based it on something similar that you knew.

      I am moderately positive towards deinstituionalization, so therefore I do not reject the Soteria project simply because it is focused on deinstituionalization. While of course I do not have detailed knowledge about this particular project, the overarching topic of deinstituionalization is more important.

      This is simply not true. If this were done by government or other groups such as climate change scientists everyone would be up in arms. So I find it surprising that you allow such abuses of science and its self-corrective mechanism. Science doesn’t work when many people are censored when presenting research that conflicts with current theories. If you think this is how science works then you are the one that needs to change your arguments.

      The fact that internal scientific disagreements are allowed to exists in the first place is evidence of the self-corrective mechanism of science. Even within climate science there are often vitriolic debates about certain details and this does not mean that climate scientists are suppressing dissent.

    • Emil Karlsson April 12, 2013 at 14:44

      I am not here to educate you. I have given you sufficient detail to look up the arguments on your own, but if you need additional hand-holding, here is a short overview that includes references: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_mental_health.html

    • Dave April 11, 2013 at 09:10

      Finally, why must the APA pretend to know more than it does? DSM IV is the fabrication upon which psychiatry seeks acceptance by medicine in general. Insiders know it is more a political than scientific document. To its credit it says so — although its brief apologia is rarely noted. DSM IV has become a bible and a money making best seller — its major failings notwithstanding. It confines and defines practice, some take it seriously, others more realistically. It is the way to get paid. Diagnostic reliability is easy to attain for research projects. The issue is what do the categories tell us? Do they in fact accurately represent the person with a problem? They don’t, and can’t, because there are no external validating criteria for psychiatric diagnoses. There is neither a blood test nor specific anatomic lesions for any major psychiatric disorder. So, where are we? APA as an organization has implicitly (sometimes explicitly as well) bought into a theoretical hoax. Is psychiatry a hoax — as practiced today? Unfortunately, the answer is mostly yes.

      — Loren Mosher, Director of Soteria Associates, San Diego, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego.

      Note that similar statements are not made by prominent evolutionary biologists in their field about evolution but they have been and are being made by prominent psychiatrists in their field. These issues raised by Loren Mosher do need to be addressed. If he cannot get Soteria accepted then what chance do other scientists have.

      Loren Mosher Brief

      For over a decade Loren R Mosher, MD, held a central position in American psychiatric research.
      He was the first Chief of the Center for Studies of Schizophrenia at the National Institute of Mental Health, 1969-1980. He founded the Schizophrenia Bulletin and for ten years he was its Editor-in-Chief. He led the Soteria Project.
      The Soteria research demonstrated that there is a better way: A better way to treat schizophrenia and other psychoses that destroy the lives of so many young people. The Soteria research showed that the prevalent excessive destructive psychiatric drugging of all these young people is a huge and tragic mistake. The psychiatric establishment was offended. Prestige and Money won. Truth and Love lost.
      The success (!) of Soteria was the reason that Dr Mosher was forced to leave his key position in American psychiatry.
      When Dr Mosher died he was Director of Soteria Associates, San Diego, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego.

      So after reading this how can you say that the self-corrective mechanism is intact. You do know that self-correction in science is anti-authoritarian. Psychiatry is an authoritarian system in research and if you do have evidence to prove its not I’m all ears. What should have happened in this case is that the Soteria project would have been peer-replicated by many others. Instead Loren Mosher did organise for it to be peer-replicated and peer-reviewed and it has passed these criteria.

      Now onto the homosexuality discussion.
      the following link (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1172711/posts) seems to describe a different story to the voting out of homosexuality in psychiatry.

      Dr. Charles Socarides has set the record straight on how homosexuals inside and outside of the APA forced this organization to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder. This was done without any valid scientific evidence to prove that homosexuality is not a disordered behavior.

      and

      “To some American psychiatrists, this action remains a chilling reminder that if scientific principles are not fought for, they can be lost–a disillusioning warning that unless we make no exceptions to science, we are subject to the snares of political factionalism and the propogation of untruths to an unsuspecting and uninformed public, to the rest of the medical profession, and to the behavioral sciences.” Dr. Socarides’ report is available from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality: http://www.narth.com.

      It is one source of many as there are many books that indicate similar events occured.
      Now before criticising this source it would be wise to say that you have not cited any sources in your debunking of the voting out of homosexuality in society. So, if you want me to stop my claims about homosexuality being voted out link to scientific papers describing an alternative to the events described. It was largely a political move forced by homosexuals taking over an APA conference and not letting psychiatrists say anything until they agreed to do something about it.

      Further there are many articles about democracy not being self-correcting in which psychiatry practices a democracy for information. (http://www.breitbart.com/InstaBlog/2013/03/06/Lesson-of-Ch-vez-Democracy-is-not-self-correcting)

      For another perspective on the voting out of homosexuality in psychiatry see (http://www.behaviorismandmentalhealth.com/2011/10/08/homosexuality-the-mental-illness-that-went-away/) from the article:

      There was no new fact or set of facts that stimulated this major change. Rather, it was the simple reality that gay people started to kick up a fuss. They gained a voice and began to make themselves heard. And the APA reacted with truly astonishing speed. And with good reason. They realized intuitively that a protracted battle would have drawn increasing attention to the spurious nature of their entire taxonomy. So they quickly “cut loose” the gay community and forestalled any radical scrutiny of the DSM system generally.

      I look forward to finding your sources of information so I can get an unbiased view. I appreciate that I have a particular view but that is based on the evidence that I have at hand.

    • Dave April 11, 2013 at 09:42

      Reading through your examples it could be true that there is scientific evidence now that indicates that homosexuality is not a deviant behaviour now. But, I’m specifically talking about the issue as it was at the time. Many people have indicated that politicization occurred at the time and not just anti-psychiatrists or psychiatry skeptics.

      For example this issue highlights and states what the articles above stated and it is pro-psychiatry:

      http://www.psychiatricnews.org/pnews/98-07-17/dsm.html

      another article:

      http://conservativecolloquium.wordpress.com/2007/10/01/homosexual-activists-intimidate-american-psychiatric-association-into-removing-homosexuality-from-list-of-disorders/

      Dr. Ronald Bayer, author of the book Homosexuality and American Psychiatry, writes:

      The entire process, from the first confrontation organized by gay demonstrators to the referendum demanded by the orthodox psychiatrists, seemed to violate the most basic expectations about how questions of science should be resolved.

      Instead of being engaged in sober discussion of data, psychiatrists were swept up in a political controversy. The result was not a conclusion based on an approximation of the scientific truth as dictated by reason, but was instead an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times.

      (http://unhappygay.wordpress.com/the-american-psychological-association-apa/)

    • Emil Karlsson April 11, 2013 at 14:12

      All of the arguments I pointed to was discussed prior to the removal of homosexuality as a mental illness. You lose.

    • Dave April 11, 2013 at 14:49

      I don’t look it as a loss, I really do want the references so I can look further. I may have lost the argument against you but it wasn’t a win or lose situation for me. It is about finding out what I can about your opinions and more about psychiatry.

      I see all you were interested in was winning an argument instead of actively helping another person to find out what research is out there. I appreciate the time and am happy to have lost. I do state though that your winning is a Pyrrhic victory. You may have won this argument but you project arrogance in such a way as to indicate that you like many atheists are not interested in the science but merely winning arguments.

      I am more interested in the science and as someone who presents themselves as defending science you don’t seem to project such an image. I personally am a secular humanist and I can see why I have adopted such a stance. There are too many atheists out there looking to win arguments instead of helping others. I care more about science than about winning an argument and I care more about the truth.

      I wish sometimes there would be scientists actively helping people to understand the world instead of atheists trying to tell people what to think. I wish that people would show others how to fish instead of giving them a 2-week old fish and telling them that they must accept this and that they are the best that is out there.

      Despite this I do thank you for your time and effort to respond. I rarely get to discuss such topics with people. I would like to have an honest discussion with evidence and a theory to back up all the evidence. I guess the only real way to get answers is to actually get involved in psychiatry and psychology and maybe that way I can learn more about the system. Thanks for an interesting discussion nonetheless.

    • Emil Karlsson April 11, 2013 at 17:23

      I would like to have an honest discussion with evidence and a theory to back up all the evidence.

      Ironic.

      Also wrong, as evidence backs up theory, not the other way around.

    • Dave April 12, 2013 at 08:54
      I would like to have an honest discussion with evidence and a theory to back up all the evidence.

      Ironic.

      Also wrong, as evidence backs up theory, not the other way around.

      I did mean that a theory matches all the evidence, the evidence confirms the theory. I do persistently want to find out the answers and I guess I started from a different point of view than you have done. Just because I don’t agree with your non-referenced material doesn’t make it ironic. If you are professional you will cite your sources for the research that indicates that homosexuality had evidence at the time and it was this evidence and not the homosexual lobbyists that was the reason that homosexuality was voted out of psychiatry.

      So, if I wanted to be mean I could say it is ironic that I am the only one posting with references when your material has no such references, weblinks or scientific paper references. But I don’t I want to learn and you are impeding that by not providing references and sources for your arguments.

      I quote:

      Methodological flaws in studies asserting that homosexuality is a mental disorder:

      – Psychoanalyst bias: the theoretical positions, expectations and attitudes biased the observations, no adequately blinded procedure was carried out.

      – Psychoanalysts mostly studies gay people already under psychiatric care. This meant that this was a huge confounder and patients under psychiatric care are not representative for the overall population.

      Scientific evidence:

      – Research carried out by Alfred Kinsey demonstrated that it was inaccurate to view homosexuality as carried out by a tiny population of social misfits.

      – Comparative studies showed that same-sex behavior was shown to be quite prevalent among most non-human animals and among most societies in the world.

      – Many unpublished studies done in the U. S. Military (reviewed by Berube) strongly questioned the notion that homosexuality was a mental illness and showed that gay soldiers could be just as good as straight soldiers.

      – Studies carried about by Hooker (1971) showed, using a sample of people not under psychiatric care, that gay and straight people did not differ in their levels of psychological adjustment. This study was also properly blinded and concluded that homosexuality was not a mental illness.

      No easy way to find the material, the unpublished studies especially difficult to confirm. If I had done the same thing as you had done you would have rejected it as not accurate enough in providing evidence. So, I am asking you to professional and cite your references to the studies and then read up on them. Many good scientists do just that without any problems they don’t just cite some material without providing paper and published references.

    • Dave April 12, 2013 at 08:57

      *then read up on them*, I meant that I would then read up on them before responding.

  6. Pingback: Responding to Incoherent Anti-Psychiatry Drivel « Debunking Denialism

  7. Emil Karlsson December 28, 2012 at 22:16

    I made a new post called Responding to Incoherent Anti-Psychiatry Drivel explaining the errors in the above comments.

  8. Pingback: Why Stephen Bond’s Case Against Skepticism Is Profoundly Unconvincing | Debunking Denialism

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