At the very least the methodology is incredibly suspect.
Is medical psychiatry a scam? -- Why Evolution Is True
A while back I did some research on the genetics of mental illness, and was appalled to discover some disturbing things about medical psychiatry (by “medical psychiatry” I mean psychiatry centered on drug therapy rather than talk therapy). First of all, for the vast majority of drugs used to combat mental illness—and especially depression—the doctors had no idea how they worked, yet they pretended they did. Patients were regularly told, when prescribed antidepressants like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; Prozac is the classic specimen) that their depression was due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. SSRIs, for example, increase the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the synapses (gaps) between neurons by preventing its reabsorption by the neurons. Because these drugs seemed to work (more on that below), doctors and pharmaceutical companies blithely concluded that depression resulted from a deficit of serotonin. But that’s ludicrous, for just because a drug alleviates a symptom doesn’t allow you to conclude that the symptom was due to the deficit of that drug. It’s like saying that headaches are caused by a deficit of aspirin! As Marcia Angell notes in her reviews below, “. . . instead of developing a drug to treat an abnormality, an abnormality was postulated to fit a drug.”
An acquaintance of mine, visiting a psychiatrist for depression, was told that her “brain was wired up wrong”! That verges on medical malpractice.
I also learned that the genetics of mental illness is a subject rife with uncertainty and unreproduceable results. For every study localizing a “gene” or gene region responsible for a condition like depression, there was a counter-study showing no effect at all. Nevertheless, medical students in psychiatry are taught that the major mental illnesses have a genetic basis (I’ve seen the textbooks).
Despite all this, psychiatry continues to be increasingly “medicalized,” that is, talk therapy is replaced by drug therapy (doctors can make a lot more money prescribing drugs than talking, for during the hour occupied by a talk therapy session, a psychiatrist could see and prescribe meds to three or four patients). And pharmaceutical companies make millions of dollars prescribing drugs for mental illnesses, so they continually try to expand the range of conditions that count as drug-requiring “illnesses,” including obsessive-compulsive disorder, various attention-deficit syndromes, and so on.
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