Oh holding treatment of mental and behavioral disorder to a higher standard

August 17, 2012

Gurdur has an excellent post on “How not to criticize psychiatry“. It’s a must read.

Many psychomedications – just like many medications in general – can have bad side-effects. So do you for example recommend vaguely against antibiotics or cortisone or aspirin because in each case there can be bad side-effects? Or how about whether Lipitor (a statin, used to lower cholesterol level) can cause memory loss or not? Or chemotherapy meds that can really go to town in side-effects? This is yet again the hurdle of lack of exactness; a very vague accusation made without context or consideration. There is also the factor that a severe mental dysfunction is itself very dangerous to the sufferer – and as with many other conditions, such as the also-as-yet-poorly-understood autoimmune conditions, it becomes a matter of weighing risks and effects of a medication against risks and effects of the original illness.

Likely because like most people, most skeptics etc. simply don’t know enough about psychiatry – or medicine in general. Access to good healthcare is an even more important issue, and includes psychiatry, yet just how many skeptics, atheists etc. cover health and healthcare issues in any detailed depth? Very few indeed. SC is right to say psychiatry should be a concern for the left, for skeptics, for everybody. But then so too should immunology, paediatrics, and practically every other branch of medicine. Health care is a pressing concern, and often very much a class issue too.

No Responses Yet to “Oh holding treatment of mental and behavioral disorder to a higher standard”

  1. becca Says:

    There’s a lot of good points Gurdur makes there. Particularly on the side-effects (though I’m compelled to point out that weight-loss drugs are often treated like antidepressants- people ASSUME there should be a drug-free solution to the problem, ergo any side effects are considered suspect).
    And far be it from me to support the mind/body dualistic nonsense. Some psychiatric problems clearly are part of diseases we can recognize, and there definitely is a tendency to delegate all the problem-children syndromes to psychiatry instead of neurology or what have you.

    BUT… I also think it is true that people who have mental and behavioral disorders are generally marginalized in our society. In other words, the medical establishment would have to be separate from our society to not marginalize such patients more than average.
    So no, immunology does not merit the precise same level of scrutiny that psychiatry does. Just like the social/political implications of practicing orthopedics are different from the social/political implications of practicing obstetrics.


  2. drugmonkey Says:


    hahahaah. um, no.


  3. anony mouse Says:

    Re the coercive administration of drugs – of major concern to me, as of course nightmares as bad as they come for humanity lie down the road of using medical science for coercion and control instead of helping – it is society that does most of the coercing, not the psychiatric profession.

    And it goes both ways too. For example Occupy protesters were usually deliberately denied the drugs they were on when they were arrested, to cause them withdrawal symptoms. Which in the case of many common medications such as SSRIs, are severe or can be very damaging… think powerful electric shocks to your head, hallucinations, etc.

    A less acutely criminal but still very serious form is, for example, requiring people to “undergo treatment” as a condition, either imposed by courts, or far more often, just to go to school and so forth. These requirements are of course not set by people who have the vaugest understanding of the cost/benefits tradeoff, thinking that “treatment” is some sort of magic cure that you can simple choose at any desired moment, and that the doctors will take care of everything. Just throw the integrity of your brain’s neurochemistry at the mercy of “the professionals” (in many cases no more intelligent, competent or considerate than the principals, lawyers or judges requiring treatment) and Everything Will Be Fine. For us.

    I would say maybe 80% of the problem is not actually due to the problems within psychiatry, but the way the rest of society treats and uses it. If competent psychiatrists had as much influence as SC makes them out to have in the courtroom etc. for instance, then psychiatry would probably have a much more beneficial role in society, not less.


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