Since psychiatrists have a whole thick book of “mental disorders” (the DSM-5), it’s too bad that it is essentially meaningless for diagnostic purposes.
That’s the conclusion of a new study, anyway, published in Psychiatry Research, which “concluded that psychiatric diagnoses are scientifically worthless as tools to identify discrete mental health disorders,” reports NeuroscienceNews.com.
“The study, led by researchers from the University of Liverpool, involved a detailed analysis of five key chapters of the latest edition of the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), on ‘schizophrenia’, ‘bipolar disorder’, ‘depressive disorders’, ‘anxiety disorders’ and ‘trauma-related disorders’,” the site continues.
The DSM (currently in its fifth edition) is considered the “psychiatrist’s bible” and was “created to provide a common diagnostic language for mental health professionals and attempt to provide a definitive list of mental health problems, including their symptoms,” NeuroscienceNews.com also informs. Unfortunately, far from being infallible, the researchers warn that the book’s diagnostic labeling represents “a disingenuous categorical system.”
The study’s main findings were, NeuroscienceNews.com tells us:
• Psychiatric diagnoses all use different decision-making rules
• There is a huge amount of overlap in symptoms between diagnoses
• Almost all diagnoses mask the role of trauma and adverse events
• Diagnoses tell us little about the individual patient and what treatment they [sic] need
In summary, lead researcher Dr. Kate Allsopp, University of Liverpool, said in a release, “Although diagnostic labels create the illusion of an explanation they are scientifically meaningless and can create stigma and prejudice.”
A colleague of hers at the university, Professor Peter Kinderman, chimed in, “The diagnostic system wrongly assumes that all distress results from disorder.” He can say that again, and this explains something noted at Study Finds’ report on the research. To wit: “More people are being diagnosed with mental illnesses than ever before.”
Study Finds theorizes that this could be owing to screen addiction and heavy social-media use and people’s greater willingness to acknowledge mental-health problems. But there’s perhaps an even bigger factor: Most everything formerly labeled a sin is now diagnosed as a disease or condition of the brain.
Think about it: If you drink too much, it’s simply because of your genetics or chemistry; ditto for homosexuality; if you’re an ill-behaved child, it may be ADHD; if you murdered your husband, you perhaps were in the grip of PMS; and the list goes on.
This happens because, first, psychology embraces a mechanistic approach in which “problems” aren’t defined via metaphysical concepts such as right and wrong, but in terms of malfunction of the organic robot that it assumes man to be. So there’s no room for “sin” (which I’d call psychological poison), only “disorders.”
Second, like all groups, mental-health professionals have desires for power, the privilege of their corps, and money. And every newly minted disorder widens their market and increases their societal significance and earning potential.
Study Finds also quotes University of East London professor John Read, who rendered his prescription. “Perhaps it is time we stopped pretending that medical-sounding labels contribute anything to our understanding of the complex causes of human distress or of what kind of help we need when distressed,” he said. Or, perhaps, we should rediscover timeless wisdom and stop regarding psychology as any kind of science.
Note here that “psychology” was once not an “ology” but merely part of “philosophy.” As I wrote in “From Social Sciences to Socialism” in 2017:
As early as 550 B.C., ancient Greek philosophers began developing an intricate theory of what they termed the psuché, from which we derive the first part of “psychology.” Fifteenth-century thinker René Descartes, dubbed the “Father of Modern Philosophy,” developed the idea that came to be known as Cartesian Dualism, that the mind and body are different but can influence each other. But it wasn’t until quite late in history, 1879, that German physician, physiologist, and philosopher Wilhelm Wundt — often regarded as the “father of psychology” — separated psychology from philosophy. It was a development that would result in the separation of the scientific study of man’s nature from the nature of that nature.
Psychologists’ claim that they’re pursuing authentic science matters “because science investigates and recognizes the material world and only the material world,” I continued. “Thus, if they’re true to this scientific mandate, psychologists will view man merely as a material being. (If they conceptualize him as something more, they’re going beyond science.) And proceeding in this manner makes it difficult to remedy mind-based problems because therapists won’t be treating what man is — a being of body and spirit — but what he isn’t — an organic-material robot.”
This is ironic given that “psychology” is a Greek word meaning “study of the soul.” Yet this mentality prevails in “social science.” It was reflected when famed psychiatrist Sigmund Freud said of religion and morality, “It would be an undoubted advantage if we were to leave God out altogether and admit the purely human origins of all the precepts and regulations of civilization.”
Actually, though, it would be an undoubted advantage if we accepted that a “soft science” is no science at all.
Then psychologists could stop giving scientists a bad name and start giving philosophers a worse one.