Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Psychoquackery



From the very beginning, the so called psycho-sciences (psychology, psychoanalysis, psychiatry, psychotherapy) were built on a foundation of deranged nonsense. Sigmund Freud came out with a lot of pseudoscientific gibberish (all little boys are latent motherfuckers and all little girls fantasise about a good fucking from their dad). To use a phrase that is common to the psycho-brigade this looks like a classic case of projection. 

Even today Freud's ideas still have huge influence over the field, his theory that adult problems can be traced to unresolved conflicts from certain phases of childhood and adolescence is still popular, his descendants also heavily influenced the field and the vast majority of people able to name a famous psychoanalyst would probably come up with Sigmund Freud.
One of "Pavlov's children."
In the early 20th century, psyco-sciences progressed from Freud's deranged pseudoscience to barbaric experiments on animals and people. Most people have heard of Pavlov's dogs and the "conditioned reflex" but few are aware that Pavlov carried out the same experiments on children too, including surgically adding taps to their salivary glands and force feeding them.

Others like William Sargent pioneered some horrifying treatments like insulin therapy (regularly inducing comas with huge insulin overdoses), Electroconvulsive therapy (giving huge electric shocks to the patient in order to "burn out" their mental illness) brain surgery like lobotomies and all kinds of experimental drug therapies. It seems that many of the people working in the field in the early 20th century would be described as psychopaths by today’s standards because of their willingness to inflict unproven and traumatic treatments on people, often with little or no scientific justification.

By the 1950s the idea of treating "deviance" was commonplace. People such as young women who had a child out of wedlock or refused to stop seeing a boyfriend that their parents disapproved of would be institutionalised and given treatments like electroshock therapy and in many cases lobotomies. Many victims of this regime can still be found in mental institutions to this day and have suffered whole lifetimes of bogus psychotherapeutic treatments and institutionalisation just for failing some social conformity expectation in their early years.

Thankfully the "profession" has left some of the worst treatments like insulin induced comas and lobotomies in the past, however the concept of medicalisation of "deviance" and "non-conformity" is still fundamental to the profession. As you can see from the video there is an ever growing cloud of so called psychiatric disorders, the most famous being ADHD for which hundreds of thousands of children are treated with a stimulant called Ritalin (which has pharmacological effects similar to a mix of amphetamines and cocaine). Imagine the public outrage if I were to set up a website aimed at selling amphetamines to children in order to help them stay awake and concentrate on their school work, however the psycho-brigade can get away with it by deflecting criticism with their expertise and qualifications and pointing to the evidence base they have built up to support their methodology of drugging children with powerful stimulants.

The experimental data does show that the kids become less disruptive when they take these powerful stimulants but the methodology of medicalising symptoms like hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour and inattentiveness with extremely powerful drugs at such early ages must lead to medical dependence in the same way that mass institutionalisations of the mid 20th century led to a huge number of completely institutionalised patients.

The creation of medical dependence is clearly beneficial to the big pharmaceutical companies that produce the drugs like Ritalin and to the professional prescribers, who with the right techniques can create lifelong patients out of children with "disorders" like not being able to "sit still and concentrate on boring stuff" which until recent times was considered fairly normal childhood behaviour and treated with corporal punishment in schools. The profession is not only punishing and stigmatising people that display non conformist behaviour they are making a profitable industry out of their medicalised treatments.

The rise of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has given traditional psychotherapists a lot to worry about. In layman's terms CBT is a methodology that focuses on helping patients to develop the mental skills to overcome their own behavioural problems and has been shown to work in the treatment of anxiety, depression, phobias, insomnia and a range of other "mental disorders". One of the main benefits of CBT is that it can reduce patient reliance on expensive long term drug therapy.

It is no surprise at all that leading establishment psychiatrists such as Andrew Samuels like to use their influence to characterise CBT as "a coup, a power play by a community that has suddenly found itself on the brink of corralling an enormous amount of money". It is frankly disgraceful to see a spokesman for, and proponent of, the traditional and expensive methodology of medicalisation and institutionalisation trying to smear the cheaper and more humanist approach as a bunch of money grabbing usurpers.

I don't see CBT as a magic bullet, but it is much closer to the holistic and humanist approach to mental illness that I favour. To me it is obvious that helping people to work out how to overcome their own problems where possible is a vastly superior approach to trawling their childhood for traumatic experiences and helping them to pin the blame for their situation on things that simply can't be undone, prescribing lifelong regimes of expensive and powerful drugs like stimulants and sedatives and herding patients into institutional care. It is time for the so called experts to get rid of the view of mental health conditions as deviances that can be categorised and medicated and start to see and treat their patients as people.

More info - CCHR

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