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straight talk psychiatry


with Paul Minot MD

Can We Talk Frankly About Psychiatry?

Frank talk psychiatry

I’ve been practicing psychiatry for 36 years, and I absolutely love my job. I love my patients, my professional colleagues, and my coworkers. I couldn’t be happier with the work that I’ve chosen. But I have come to the conclusion that I am participating in the biggest scientific scam of this era.

 Many billions of dollars are spent each year in an industry  built on a corrupt body of pseudoscience, that has been maintained and exploited by monied interests for decades. This audacious scientific fraud has been more successful than any other of our day. 

The assumptions of the general public are that we psychiatrists have a good understanding of how the brain works; that we can diagnose distinct disease states, of which we have some pathophysiological knowledge; and that we can prescribe treatments, usually medications, with full awareness of how it is that they benefit us. But every one of these assumptions is unequivocally and demonstrably false

We have no idea how the brain executes the higher functions that generate thought, emotions, or behavior–all of which are the focus of psychiatric treatment. With the exception of a few distinct syndromes that were identified over a century ago, psychiatric diagnosis nowadays is a slippery process of vague boundaries and symptom checklists–negotiated by a committee every decade or so, with the assistance of moneyed interests, who are hopeful that new “indications” for pharmaceutical treatment will be generated. 

That “chemical imbalance” you’ve heard about? There is absolutely no scientific evidence that it exists. It’s just a made up story to explain and market the benefits of psychiatric medications; and nowadays psychiatrists won’t even admit that they concocted that trope, even though we did.

Since we don’t understand how thought works, it’s not likely that we would be able to figure out how it is broken. Most of our remedies are chosen based on the observation of incremental improvements in clinical trials that are promoted, funded, and contaminated by corporate interests.

I don’t think that psychiatrists are prescribing medications for depression simply because we make money from doing so, although that happens. We do so because we have allowed ourselves to be sucked into a pseudoscientific scam that feeds our egos–by inflating our sense of worth, our validity, and our efficacy. It has brought us more respect from our peers in other medical specialties, and more swag from pharmaceutical companies.

But let’s not pretend that we’ve earned this newfound respect. The only reason it’s happening is because Big Pharma, insurance companies, and healthcare corporations are allowing it, encouraging it, and profiting from this biological treatment model.

With more people carrying psychiatric diagnoses and receiving treatment than we ever could have imagined, you would expect to see improved psychiatric health and decreased suicide. But the opposite has occurred. The percentage of Americans on psychiatric disability benefits more than doubled from 1987 to 2007. And from 1999 to 2016, in the midst of this Age of Prozac, the incidence of suicide in America has increased by 30%.

This fraud takes one of the greatest mysteries unknown to science–our wondrous brain-mind–and dumbs it down to a model that is treated as if it was nothing more than a complicated gland. It is an ongoing manipulation of  scientific truth more successful than the false sciences advanced to deny climate change, or to refute evolution. 

Any objective assessment of  our scientific grasp of psychiatric physiology would come to the conclusion that ours is the blackest of black holes. But psychiatry has successfully concealed its ignorance by wrapping itself in a cloak of invented pseudoscience–a collection of phony theories and diagnoses that scientifically speaking are one big nothingburger. Much of its jargon has penetrated the lay lexicon, loosely passing in our common conversation as scientific fact–terms like chemical imbalance, bipolar, ADD and OCD.  While largely failing at science, psychiatry has clearly mastered public relations.

In imposing this corrupt, simplistic model on our internal worlds, it has succeeded in hijacking our own perceptions of ourselves–our lives, our personalities, our feelings and experiences–spinning them into a catalog of phony, pseudoscientific “diagnoses” that are ripe for economic exploitation. It’s a woefully incomplete picture of the brain and mind that makes little room for normal variants, and maximizes economic opportunities. It distracts the public from the vast ignorance that remains–projecting a false image of clinical mastery to appease our audience, and to reassure ourselves.

It is this delusional body of pseudoscience that is the main target of my work here. I want to inform the public of psychiatry’s ignorance, how science is being abused in my profession, and the dangers of a simplistic treatment model that is based more on economic success than its clinical results.

Much of the truth of psychiatric disorders is unknowable to us at this time. The general public is entitled to know what isn’t the truth, and to understand how science is being abused by my profession. But to do so, the public first has to have a clear understanding of how science works--because the scientific method is how consensus truth is established in the natural world.

Once you understand the process of science, it will become obvious that modern psychiatry isn’t at all based on science. Because good science is driven by doubt and skepticism–and it is increasingly clear that the modern psychiatric model is primarily driven by ego and economic investment.

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