This recent comment seemed to set off a spirited discussion on the treatment of mental illness:
I believe we have redefined normal life suffering as pathological.
I thought of this when I read about Dr. Paul McHugh, a “professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a tenacious skeptic of the crazes that periodically overtake his specialty”.
First, let’s be clear that he believes “mental illnesses are real things . . . that need to be studied, and can be treated”. On the other hand, he believes some illnesses are “iatrogenic—a Greek word meaning “brought on by the healer”—implanted by the therapeutic process that purports to discover them”
Dr. McHugh gives some examples of iatrogenesis: some cases of recovered memory, transgender/sex reassignment surgeries, and PTSD.
Dr. McHugh argues that the treatment of returning soldiers for the liberally applied PTSD diagnosis is another example of iatrogenesis. Such diagnoses are far rarer among Israel Defense Forces veterans, who experience plenty of trauma. Israelis “know that you can get a terrible psychological reaction out of a traumatic battle. And they do take the soldiers out, and they tell them the following: ‘This is perfectly normal; you need to be out of battle for a while. Don’t think that this is a disease that’s going to hurt you, this is like grief. You’re going to get over it, it’s normal. And within a few weeks, after a little rest, we’re going to put you back with your comrades and you’re going to go back to work.’ And they all do.”
By contrast, American psychiatrists say: “ ‘You’ve had a permanent wound. You’re going to be on disability forever. And this country has mistreated you by putting you in a false war.’ They make chronic invalids of them. That’s the difference.”
What are your thoughts?
Some related links if you feel like reading some more:
The Real Problems With Psychiatry
A psychotherapist contends that the DSM, psychiatry’s “bible” that defines all mental illness, is not scientific but a product of unscrupulous politics and bureaucracy.
Psychiatry’s Incurable Hubris
The biology of mental illness is still a mystery, but practitioners don’t want to admit it.
In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association voted to declare that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness and thus should be removed from the DSM, psychiatry’s “bible” of illnesses.
The obvious question—how scientific is a discipline that settles so momentous a problem at the ballot box?—was raised by the usual critics.