25 May 2013

Descriptive Psychiatry is a Shambles

Andrew Scull's commentary in the Los Angeles Review of Books is worthy of your time:-

We’re stuck. Descriptive psychiatry is a shambles, as both Taylor and Greenberg’s books help to show, and as the events of this month (May 2013) have made even more dramatically obvious. But, at present, it has no plausible rival. Speaking to Greenberg some moths ago, Thomas Insel, the self-same person who has now given the official thumbs-down to DSM 5, commented casually that most of his psychiatric colleagues:
actually believe [that the diseases they diagnose using the DSM] are real. But there’s no reality. These are just constructs. There is no reality to schizophrenia or depression […] we might have to stop using terms like depression and schizophrenia, because they are getting in our way, confusing things. 
Some might argue that to hear the head of NIMH saying such things is a trifle confusing, or even a little destabilizing. Surely, if someone in his position keeps uttering such unpalatable truths, he threatens the very legitimacy of the psychiatric enterprise. Remarks like these suggest it’s all a con game. Scientologists and their ilk must be rubbing their hands with glee.

N.B. Scull's essay is a great example of why book reviews should count for something and why we should regret their 'death'.  

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