Thursday, October 02, 2014

THE DEBATE ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS RAGES ON


The debate about mental illness rages on. 

“In an unprecedented move for a professional body, the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP), which represents more than 10,000 practitioners and is part of the distinguished British Psychological Society, will tomorrow publish a statement calling for the abandonment of psychiatric diagnosis and the development of alternatives which do not use the language of "illness" or "disorder".
The statement claims: "Psychiatric diagnosis is often presented as an objective statement of fact, but is, in essence, a clinical judgment based on observation and interpretation of behaviour and self-report, and thus subject to variation and bias."
The language may be arcane, but the implication is clear. According to the DCP, "diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders and so on" are of "limited reliability and questionable validity".” ( quoted from theguardian website)

The truth seems to be that no one knows what those of us with psychiatric labels are truly suffering from.  While it is true that DSM-5 has gone overboard with labeling behaviors as mental illnesses that probably should not be, it cannot be said with any certainty that there are no biological based mental illnesses that are influenced by psycho-social-spiritual factors and that having diagnostic labels are of no value.

In many cases it seems to boil down to how one receives their funds as to how they see the suffering of those of us with psychiatric labels.  I am not sure where one would find an opinion or research not tainted by the holy grail of money.  Note that it is the Division of Clinical Psychology which is part of the British Psychological Society calling for the end of the use of the psychiatric bible of labels.  On the other hand this is what the Washington Post had to say about Dr. Tom Burns’ book. “At the outset of “Our Necessary Shadow,” he marks his territory: Psychiatry is a “legitimate medical specialty” and a genuine and increasingly important “power for good.” Burns, a professor of social psychiatry at Oxford, brings to this manifesto a carefully measured combination of personal and professional experience. He has been a psychiatrist for over 40 years, working in both research and clinical care and thus was both participant and observer as deinstitutionalization and new pharmaceuticals took hold, and as diagnostic manuals with a troubling tendency to pathologize most of human behavior rolled off the presses.”

It is never a simple matter because the brain is not simple.  The following quote states it better than I can. “One is obliged to admit that perception and what depends upon it is inexplicable on mechanical principles, that is, by figures and motions. In imagining that there is a machine whose construction would enable it to think, to sense, and to have perception, one could conceive it enlarged while retaining the same proportions, so that one could enter into it, just like into a windmill. Supposing this, one should, when visiting within it, find only parts pushing one another, and never anything by which to explain a perception.”
— Leibniz
If you try to figure out why you have done something, it is hard for you to do.  I can’t explain most of the things I have done in my life.  That is why I am certain my psychiatrist cannot explain my behavior.  To put all the pieces together and then put a label on them would require total honesty from me and all the facts even unknown to me.  It would also require the psychiatric industry to be honest and without any influence other than truth.  It would require my psychiatrist to know all that is known in the field and to apply it properly.  It would require ruling out any physically illness that might be causing my behavior or psycho-social-spiritual stressors unrelated to the illness my psychiatrists was trying to determine if I had.  Are you getting the picture?  It is impossible. There is no way at present to come up with a diagnosis with any certainty.

That is where we are today.

© Ed Cooper, October 2, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
    All rights reserved


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