Four years ago, I wrote that,"The ultimate security threat is a catastrophic failure of confidence in authority." Now and then my own warning comes back to haunt me.
Today's Chicago Tribune contains an editorial under the headline, "Vaccine ignorance: Deadly and contagious" by Laurie Garrett and Maxine Builder. The authors point out how public misinformation can cause paranoia and derail rational programs when conspiracy theories go viral and the public proves unable to weigh facts accurately.
Think of psychiatry's long and well-financed misinformation about "chemical imbalances in the brain" needing medical cures, for diagnoses of mental illness.
Today's Wall Street Journal featured another opinion piece, "The Last Anti-Fat Crusaders" by Nina Teichols. It turns out that 35 years of official American nutrition advice favoring low-fat diets was simply bad. The balance of science shows that what almost all the authorities were telling us to do has been more likely to make us obese and diabetic.
Think of psychiatry's "treatments" with drugs causing more long-term disability, dramatically reduced life expectancy, suicide and random violence.
When authority has proven untrustworthy and the world seems out of control, individuals, families and small groups of people look for their own solutions and fend for themselves. Surprising movements rise as if from nowhere, wielding utterly unpredicted power. Safe and comfortable centers no longer hold; anarchy is loosed; a blood-dimmed tide flows.
I believe, as did Thomas Szasz, that psychiatry has had the single most destructive influence on human culture since the Middle Ages. It's basic tenets are falsehoods. A human being absolutely is not merely a brain, and his/her thoughts, emotions, beliefs, dreams and goals are not reducible to neurotransmitters and receptors, or circuitry.
Yet psychiatric misinformation has derailed time-tested religious authority, substituting clinicians for spiritual leaders, biochemistry for ethics and genetics for philosophy. It has steadily reduced centuries of jurisprudence in criminal responsibility to cheap evaluations of DSM criteria. It has even wasted the prestige, utility and honor of medical practitioners and scientists, so the public now sees them as little more than another untouchable class of dubious experts with an agenda for profit and power.
There is no more deadly and contagious ignorance than public belief that psychiatry helps people. The last crusaders for medicalization of all human travail, for coercion of all humanity into psychiatric slavery, are way overdue for their reconciliation with reality.
That, or the rough beast comes slouching.