Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Diagnosis is bullshit, treatment sucks: knock it off!

It was Allen Frances, M.D., the esteemed lead author of DSM-IV, who admitted that psychiatric diagnosis is bullshit almost ten years ago. Two years later Frances wrote, "The history of psychiatry is littered with fad diagnoses that in retrospect did far more harm than good.”

Just in case Frances’ opinion is not authoritative enough on this subject, I should point out research recently reported in JAMA Open Network, which finds that 86% of all people should be diagnosed with a mental disorder by the time they are 45 years old! That’s almost nine out of ten of us who should be officially labeled “mentally ill”.

Nine out of ten staff at Elgin Mental Health Center, for example. Unless there is some way to rule out all mental illness as a routine step in the hiring process these people go through (and it’s a sure bet there isn’t!), there’s no reason to believe they are less likely than the general population to meet the criteria for DSM diagnoses. Most of them can just as certainly be deemed dangerous due to their “mental illnesses” — e.g., if they ever abuse alcohol or psychoactive substances, or if anyone ever notices them being verbally aggressive, or if they ever seem to lack insight into their own thinking, emotions or behavior.

So it’s logically and clearly arguable that staff and patients at EMHC are exactly like each other, as far as whether or not they should be controlled under the law for their own and others’ protection.

That brings us to the unfortunate fact that treatment sucks. The most highly valued medical “solution” for serious (and more recently even not-so-serious) mental illness is probably neuroleptic drugs, aka antipsychotics, aka major tranquilizers. But they take 25 years off your life! A recent thorough review of the scientific literature on this is discouraging at best for anyone who hopes benefits might outweigh risks. Needless to say nobody ever wants shock treatment either, unless it’s a last resort. It destroys memory and just fries your brain.

The APA needs to disband and disgorge all past profits from the 40-year fraud of its DSM’s. The Illinois General Assembly needs to extract all references to psychiatric authority from our statutes. We must ban the insanity defense and outlaw forced treatment.

Unless we’re all willing to succumb to a future of more and more mental and emotional disability, unless we’re so frightened of being human and so frightened of anything we imagine may be painful in any way, unless we intend spiritual suicide, unless we are idiots... then the whole project of psychiatry is a dismal failure!

So to anyone reading this, don’t be an idiot, don’t kill yourself. Refuse psychiatry and help others refuse psychiatry. See the picture above, of my dog? He’s inviting you to hang out on the beach on a summer afternoon, drink great wine from Oregon and grill pub burgers.

Here’s how my friend Sean Gunderson put it, just this morning:

“Maybe thinking about mental illness is a moot point. What if everyone in the world were black? There would be no point in discussing race. Maybe we should just call 100% of the population mentally ill, and then we can abandon the concept and focus instead on finding meaningful happiness in our lives.”

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