Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm Than Good
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But this book is not written with patients in mind; it has not been written with people affected by mental illness and leaves lay readers feeling optionless and powerless by the end of the book. It is incredibly insensitive to the suffering endured by people with a mental illness through not only living with their condition but also accessing support for it. Dr James Davies graduated from the University of Oxford in 2006 with a PhD in social and medical anthropology. He is now a Reader in social anthropology and mental health at the University of Roehampton. Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.
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Patients have been diagnosed with chemical imbalances, despite that no test exists to support such a claim, and that there is no real conception of what a correct chemical balance would look like.’ (Dr David Kaiser, Psychiatric Times) At Roehampton, we provide a wide range of opportunities for you to get involved, through volunteering, playing sport or music, or joining one of our many active student societies. We also have a beautiful parkland campus, in the heart of south-west London. The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.
The utter greed of the bankers who caused the financial crash in 2008 is now mirrored by the greed of big corporations who are raising prices exponentially while wages stagnate. It is that same greed for profits in the pharmaceutical corporations that is failing psychiatry today and all who suffer from the system as patients. The utter corruption we are witnessing today in Government and in big business has also undermined the idea that psychiatry can be trusted to be scientific. A simplistic biological reductionism has increasingly ruled the psychiatric roost … [we have] learned to attribute mental illness to faulty brain biochemistry, defects of dopamine, or a shortage of serotonin. It is biobabble as deeply misleading and unscientific as the psychobabble it replaced.’ (Andrew Skull, Professor of History of Psychiatry, Princeton University, in The Lancet)
2013) Cracked: why psychiatry is doing more harm than good (2013) Cracked: why psychiatry is doing more harm than good
At Roehampton, we are focused on creating new knowledge and ideas that help us to understand our world and make it a better place. We are ranked the most research-intensive modern university in the UK. Our staff undertake world-class research across all our academic departments. This means that if you join us as a student, you will benefit from being taught by leading thinkers from your first year of study. The book concludes that change is possible, so long as we identify and reform the real social drivers of our mental health crisis. I find it worrying that a practising psychological therapist in the NHS knew so little about mental illness, diagnosis and treatment (!) as he claimed at the outset of writing this book. I learnt all about the problems with the diagnostic system (most prominently, the DSM) and how antidepressant medications work (or don't) during my undergraduate degree in psychology, and so what bothers me the most is that the picture he paints is one of a completely clueless psychological and psychiatric profession - which is plainly not true. And yes, it is correct that there are very few (if any) biomarkers for mental illness, but that does not mean they are not real illnesses. I would like to remind (or inform) James Davies that Alzheimer's disease does not yet have a biomarker, nor do any of the other dementias at present. Does he not think they are real illnesses either? This is why we keep doing research. Furthermore, his keenness throughout the book to keep referring to mental illness as 'perfectly normal human reactions' made me quite sad, because who is he to trivialise the suffering of people who are quite literally crippled by depression, social anxiety, schizophrenia? While I completely agree that the grief of losing a loved one and similar reactions should not be thought of as illness, and while I agree that medication should never be the first option (especially in children), I find his argument hopelessly one-sided. The points he is raising are extremely important and equally, we should be critical with regards to how psychiatry, psychology and medicine works. But reporting only one side of the story is not helping anyone, it just creates a basic mistrust in the psychological and psychiatric profession which is unwarranted. He is painting a picture of psychiatrists as pure, money-minded evil and completely fails to see the complex picture of treatment that psychiatry can form part of. Psychiatrists go to work every day wanting to help alleviate people's suffering. They chose that profession wanting to make a difference. His claim that "the only ones who have ever benefitted from psychiatric drugs are the drug companies" is not just biased, but very ill-informed.
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Cracked: Why Psychiatry is Doing More Harm than Good
The most frustrating book I have read in a long time. I am interested in the sociology of mental illness, and believe that critical approaches to psychiatry and the medicalisation of conditions have a place in modern treatment of mental illness. Another experiment showed that diagnoses were not consistent between psychiatrists. It sent the same patients to different psychiatrists and showed that they got different diagnoses from psychiatrists around a third of the time. Additionally, the prevalence of different diagnoses seemed to be regional, with some diagnoses being more prevalent in certain countries. So the illnesses defined in the DSM are deeply suspect and the criteria used to define them are deeply suspect but worse, the DSM has led to a situation where the drug companies have medicalised the illnesses and produced drugs to treat these "illnesses".
Davies also writes about the conflicts of interest that have become endemic to the field recently. Namely, a large number of medical professionals, universities, and medical associations collect bountiful fees from large pharmaceutical companies; in the form of pro-drug speaking fees, donations, consultancy work, and other assorted compensations and incentives for prescribing and advocating for these controversial medications. I can't believe that drug companies can have this type of relationship with health professionals--effectively paying them to use and aggressively promote their products to patients. Of course, the professionals are then going to prescribe these drugs, no one is immune to this kind of monetary temptation. This thought-provoking book will make people think twice before sitting on a psychiatrist’s couch or filling a prescription."