Monday, June 22, 2009
'The psychologist Richard Bentall says that psychiatrists dish out drugs but ignore the value of good relationships
Ed Halliwell - The Times Online
Complain to your doctor about a mental health problem and you will probably leave the surgery with a prescription for drugs, despite increasing doubts about their effectiveness and fears about side-effects. The prevailing wisdom is that psychiatric disorders are genetically based brain diseases, biological abnormalities that can be controlled with medication. Every year, doctors in England dole out 31 million prescriptions for antidepressants alone.
It is a state of affairs that makes Richard Bentall furious. In 2004, Bentall, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Bangor, wrote Madness Explained, in which he argued that hearing voices, hallucinations and other symptoms of “severe” mental illness are just exaggerations of quirks experienced by us all. That won him the British Psychological Book Of The Year award. Now, in Doctoring The Mind: Why Psychiatric Treatments Fail, he criticises mental health services, and psychiatry in particular.
Doctoring the Mind paints a stark picture of a mental health system riddled with corruption and incompetence, in which shrinks live it up on pharmaceutical company cash while patients are disrespected, dehumanised and drugged to the eyeballs. Like the legendary “anti-psychiatrist” R.D. Laing before him, Bentall believes that people with mental health problems need understanding, support and respect. Unlike Laing, he offers evidence to back his claims, declaring himself a “rational anti-psychiatrist”.
“I am committed to the scientific world-view,” the 53-year-old says, his urgent voice rising above the rush-hour clatter of the station café in which we meet. “But the evidence doesn’t support the hardline biomedical view behind most psychiatric practice.” He takes a sip of coffee, then continues. “More alarmingly, the treatments based on it are not very effective. Outcomes for psychiatric disorders are no better than in the Victorian period.”'
Also see The Thud Experiment
The 29 medical causes of schizophrenia - infection, intoxication, deficiency or imbalance - are explained here.