Skip to comments.Psychiatry Ain't What It Used To Be
Posted on 07/19/2015 6:00:16 AM PDT by Kaslin
There was a time when most of what I knew about psychiatrists came from Woody Allen. In his 1973 movie "Sleeper," his character wakes up in the future and complains, "I haven't seen my analyst in 200 years. He was a strict Freudian, and if I'd been going all this time I'd probably almost be cured by now." But even his treatment sounded better than what Jack Nicholson's character got in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" for being rebellious: a lobotomy.
Those films imprinted a couple of lessons about psychiatry. The first was that mental health professionals were useless; the second, that they were dangerous. No surprise that in the 1970s, Thomas Szasz's book, "The Myth of Mental Illness," got a lot of attention.
Szasz had grounds for doubt. In his new book, "Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry," Jeffrey A. Lieberman writes, "Back then, the majority of psychiatric institutions were clouded by ideology and dubious science, mired in a pseudo-medical landscape where devotees of Sigmund Freud clung to every position of power."
Lieberman, a psychiatrist and chairman of psychiatry at the Columbia University medical school, is aware of the many wrong turns the profession has taken, which his book recounts. But he contends that it has come a long way and now offers real solutions to real problems.
Recently, he spent an hour on the phone with me -- well, more like 50 minutes. Two themes emerged. The first is that his profession has a lot to apologize for. The second is that judging today's psychiatry by what happened decades ago is like judging modern surgery by the battlefield amputations of the Civil War.
When he was born in 1948, Lieberman attests, "not a single therapeutically effective medicine existed for any mental disorder. There were no antidepressants, no antipsychotics, no anti-anxiety drugs."
In 1927, he recalls, the Nobel Prize for medicine went to Julius Wagner-Jauregg, who found a cure for a virulent form of psychosis. The remedy -- "which sounds barbaric now," he notes -- was to infect the victim with malaria. It was dangerous, but it was welcome, because "the alternative was so abominable."
Likewise for such remedies as stupor-inducing drugs, electro-shock treatments and lobotomies. Psychiatrists didn't resort to these methods because they were sadistic, but because they had no other ways to relieve devastating afflictions.
Today, it's clear that some of those "mythical" mental illnesses have physical origins. Schizophrenics have structural brain abnormalities -- and left untreated, says Lieberman, "their brains get smaller and smaller."
New medicines can alleviate the most common and debilitating conditions, particularly depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Where at one time psychiatry "couldn't do anything for anybody," Lieberman tells me, it now has treatments offering "the difference between a life of disability and suffering and possibly death, or living in a recovered state and, in many instances, fully normally and productively."
About one in 10 Americans now takes antidepressants. Do they help? A 2007 study for the National Bureau of Economic Research found that a 12 percent increase in sales of the most common type was associated with a 5 percent decline in suicides.
But most people with mental illness get inadequate treatment, if any. The rest of us see the results: homelessness, suicide and crime. More than a million of those afflicted are behind bars.
There are two ways to address the problem. The first is to make comprehensive treatment available to those who want it. But it's also crucial, as Lieberman notes, to treat those who can't care for themselves but lack the mental clarity to comprehend their plight.
This second option is controversial because it may involve medicating people against their will. We have no trouble allowing treatment of unconscious, injured people when doctors deem it necessary. But civil libertarians oppose involuntary treatment of people incapacitated by serious mental disorders -- many of whom, Lieberman points out, will end up in emergency rooms or jails if left to their own devices.
Fortunately, there is a growing sense -- reflected in the widespread adoption of state laws making it easier to mandate medication -- that the risks of unchecked mental illness are greater than the risks of treatment.
Psychiatry has made enormous advances from which many sick people never benefit. The tragedy of the past was that the mentally ill were mostly beyond the help of doctors. The tragedy of the present is that they are not beyond help, but many are beyond reach.
There is no need for psychotherapy or psychiatrists, the left as declared all former mental problems now as a “normal special interest victim group” to be loved, cherished and demand that they are accepted by society no matter how (previously) insane they would have been and should be now evaluated as.
I would not be surprised to find a movement by the left to outlaw psychology and psychiatry as occupations.
Apologies in advance to any Freeper MDs out there, but I don’t trust most medical doctors. I trust psychologists and psychiatrists even less. This is based on personal experience with various MDs, dentists and one family psychologist over the years.
Regardless of what oath they take, they are people in the end interested in making $$. Sick people generate more revenue than healthy ones. I am in my mid-50s. When doctors find out I am taking NO prescription meds, they are always surprised. Even though I am healthy, they still try to recommend some. I kid you not. Its an industry like any other.
It seems that I know more people that were not helped or their situation worsened as a result of a psychologist.
So I guess there is no need for research on Alzheimer’s. We can just bring them to your house and you can cure them?
Your comment is akin to the folks who pray over a broken leg and hope it gets cured.
” folks who pray over a broken leg and hope it gets cured.”
If you pray over it for 4-6 weeks, it will get cured.
My guess is that you can do research and make informed decisions. That’s a great.
Most medical treatment, aside from accidents, can be affected by eating right, moving around, and not taking poisons into your system. A trip to the ER at any hospital will confirm that.
However, when your condition is a little more complicated—including things like PTSD, Alzheimer’s, and other acute brain issues these doctors are key to research and treatment.
Just as most folks can do a brake job or change their oil...a valve job or transmission work requires different tools.
Yes, it will heal. If you are happy with walking like a gimp from the Middle Ages, you will be fine.
I was being sarcastic and thought it was obvious.
However, Alzheimer’s, which my late aunt and a best friend’s mother has, are in the medical realm, rather than Freudian psychology/psychiatry area; as it has been explained to me.
There was a time when most of what I knew about psychiatrists came from my psychiatry training.
Psychiatry as an active, clinical specialty has been destroyed by the government. The greatest opportunities for an MD psychiatrist today are a) private practice in Manhattan or San Francisco, or b) working for a public agency signing thousands of prescriptions a week for patients you've never seen, because psych social workers can't prescribe (yet).
Not going to happen because the left so dominates both of them. What we are seeing instead are these three phenomenon:
“Yes, it will heal. If you are happy with walking like a gimp from the Middle Ages, you will be fine.”
Hey, man, don’t mock my God!
Freedom of religion and all that stuff. Go for it.
Me? I take my kids to a barber for a good bloodletting a couple of times a year. So, we can agree to disagree, agreeably!
Bloodletting? Leeches, boy, leeches are the latest in bad blood removal.
Not too long ago there was a clear division in psychiatry over two distinct forms of mental illness: organic and induced.
A good way to compare the two is with psychopathy and sociopathy.
Psychopathy is a “spectrum state of mind” in which a person does not empathize with others. A little bit of it is essential for people to function, more than that is useful in providing objectivity to emotional situations, more than average makes for good leadership. Beyond that it starts to become pathological and dehumanizing to others. In the extreme, other people are nothing more than objects to be used or abused with indifference. Only a small number of “psychopaths” are unable to adjust their behavior so as not to criminally offend.
And all of psychopathy is a natural state of mind, how your brain is wired.
Sociopathy achieves a similar result, but it is trained behavior. If addressed before adulthood, sociopaths can be retrained so as not to be abusive. After adulthood, it is usually set for life.
In any event, if a person suffers from any number of organic problems, including brain damage and trauma, they need medical care before psychiatric therapy. And granted there can be some overlap between organic and induced mental problems, such as PTSD subsequent to a concussion.
That wasn't GreyFriar's personal stance on these professions.
When the SHTF who’s going to supply all of those meds?
I just jump on one of my motorcycles to deal with depression. If I come home in one piece it makes my day.
As Michael Savage says, liberalism IS a mental disorder.
Not by it self.
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