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Are personal and emotional problems diseases?

Read the Comments of:
Physician Director of a Psychiatric Residency program
Chairman of a Medical School Department of Psychiatry
President of the American Psychological Association
Drs. Kutchins and Kirk, authors of Making Us Crazy (a critique of psychiatric labeling)
University of Michigan Neuroscientist, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, author of Blaming the Brain: The Truth about Drugs and Mental Health
American Psychiatric Association letter of resignation, by a former NIMH official, psychiatrist
David Kaiser, M.D., Northwestern University Hospital, Chicago
Consumer Reports
E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.
Wall Street Journal
Daniel Zeidner, M.D.
Michael S. Roth, Ph.D.

Charles E. Dean, M.D., Director of Psychiatric Residency, Minneapolis Veterans Medical Ctr.

“[T]here is no proven physical cause for any psychiatric disorder…

[W]hy are so many…convinced that the origins of mental illnesses are to be found in biology, when, despite more than three decades of research, there is still no proof?…

The absence of any well-defined physical causation is reflected in the absence of any laboratory tests for psychiatric diagnoses — much in contrast to diabetes and many other physical disorders.”

Minnesota Star Tribune, November 22, 1997

Gary J. Tucker, M.D., Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine:

“[W]e have no identified etiological agents for psychiatric disorders.”

American Journal of Psychiatry, February, 1998.

Dr. Martin Seligman, President of the American Psychological Association, asks

“Is depression biochemical?”, (APA Monitor, September, 1998).

He reviews research evidence, then concludes:

“So the actual evidence is weak that any known biochemical state can cause …depression…

“But CNN, Newsweek, most managed-care organizations, most psychiatrists and consequently the American public, think otherwise. Is there a double standard about evidence here? Why?”

Drs. Herb Kutchins and Stuart Kirk, authors of Making Us Crazy

(a critique of psychiatric labeling)

“…American psychiatry… has unsuccessfully attempted to medicalize too many human troubles…. Managed care companies recognize what the psychiatric bible has labored to conceal: not all human troubles contained in DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual] are mental disorders of a medical nature…[A child’s] school difficulties, your neighbor’s marital problems, your friend’s drinking habits, and your anxiety about an upcoming speech may cause great pain and be worthy of help from a psychotherapist, but that pain and that need for assistance require no psychiatric diagnosis to understand, and no specific medical therapy to treat.

DSM’s definition of mental disorder is flawed, the claims of validity and reliability of the manual as a whole are shaky, and the causes of most mental disorders are unknown…”

Dr. Elliot Valenstein, University of Michigan Neuroscientist and Professor Emeritus of Psychology, author of: Blaming the Brain: The Truth about Drugs and Mental Health

“Contrary to what is often claimed, no biochemical, anatomical or functional signs have been found that reliably distinguish the brains of mental patients”.

“…many are not aware of the enormous influence that the [pharmaceutical] industry has in shaping our views of mental disorders and the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic drugs…”

“I am convinced that the pharmaceutical industry spends enormous amounts of money to increase its sales and profits by influencing physicians and the public in ways that sometimes bend the truth and that are often not in the best interests of science or the public”.

“Elliot S. Valenstein has spent most of his career searching for biological explanations for behavior. Now, after more than 40 years, he is attacking the prevailing biochemical explanations for mental illness.”TREATING MENTAL DISORDERS A Neuroscientist Says No to Drugs

Excerpts: The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 4, 1998

“We have almost reached the point where there will be no limits to what people will believe brain chemistry can explain,” he writes in the introduction to his new book,Blaming the Brain: The Truth About Drugs and Mental Health (The Free Press).

It’s time to stop blaming mental disorders on brain chemistry, he argues….

The pre-eminence of drug treatments is no accident, he goes on. Pharmaceutical companies have a financial stake in their popularity, and promote them heavily among doctors and patients. … Valenstein cites studies that examined some of the literature distributed by the companies and found that much of it contained misleading or unbalanced information. Drug companies are also the largest sponsor of medical research in the United States and Canada, … Valenstein says. In some cases, they give complete freedom to researchers. In other cases, the contracts they require give them the right to exclude information from published reports, or to delay publication of the report itself… Psychiatrists, too, have supported the use of the drugs, he argues. For one thing, he says, an emphasis on medication allows psychiatrists to fend off competition from psychologists and social workers… While that may not be the reason for their support, he writes, “there is little doubt that since the 1960s, psychiatry has increasingly emphasized biochemical factors as the cause of mental disorders….physicians feel increasing pressure [e.g. from managed care] to ignore other treatments, like psychotherapy, in favor of costly drugs that may have serious side effects and little benefit.”

Loren R. Mosher, M.D., Former official of National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Letter of Resignation to the American Psychiatric Association (excerpts):

“There is neither a blood test nor specific anatomic lesions for any major psychiatric disorder… Is psychiatry a hoax – as practiced today? Unfortunately, the answer is mostly yes.”

Letter to the President of the American Psychiatric Association:

“After nearly three decades as a member it is with a mixture of pleasure and disappointment that I submit this letter of resignation from the American Psychiatric Association. The major reason for this action is my belief that I am actually resigning from the American Psychopharmacological Association…

At this point in history, in my view, psychiatry has been almost completely bought out by the drug companies. The APA could not continue without the pharmaceutical company support of meetings, symposia, workshops, journal advertising, grand rounds luncheons, unrestricted grants etc. etc. Psychiatrists have become the minions of drug company promotions….

Psychiatric training reflects their influence as well; i.e., the most important part of a resident’s curriculum is the art and quasi-science of dealing drugs, i.e., prescription writing…We condone and promote the widespread overuse and misuse of toxic chemicals that we know have serious long term effects — tardive dyskinesia, tardive dementia and serious withdrawal syndromes….

Finally, why must the APA pretend to know more than it does? DSM IV [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual] is the fabrication upon which psychiatry seeks acceptance by medicine in general. Insiders know it is more a political than a scientific document… The issue is what do the categories [diagnoses] tell us? Do they in fact accurately represent the person with a problem? They don’t, and can’t, because there are no external validation criteria for psychiatric diagnoses. There is neither a blood test nor specific anatomic lesions for any major psychiatric disorder. So where are we? APA as an organization has implicitly (sometimes explicitly as well) bought into a theoretical hoax. Is psychiatry a hoax – as practiced today? Unfortunately, the answer is mostly yes….”

Loren R. Mosher, M.D.

David Kaiser, M.D., Northwestern University Hospital, Chicago,  “Psychiatric Medications as Symptoms”
February, 1997

“…psychiatric medications often become symptoms, in the sense of symptoms as signs full of meanings which function to cover or fill in some lack in a person’s life — whether it is a lack of love, desire, purpose or whatever. The psychiatrist, as the dispenser of these medications, is often acting to reinforce the patient’s symptoms, further covering up of the patient’s ability to see the true source of their discontent or unhappiness. As a result patients often need medications in the way they need their symptoms, as a substitute for what they really need from people. Medications lessen their pain, help them forget, provide a kind of substitute for love, and these substitutes are all the more powerful because they are sanctioned by modern medicine, authority and technology. So it is possible for modern biological psychiatrists to unwittingly act out symptoms and fantasies with their patients, leaving them more alienated from themselves and more dependent on false forms of gratification….

Today’s patients, discontented, unhappy, fragmented and confused by an increasingly frantic, alienating and violent society, come to psychiatrists for help, only to have their illusions shored up by an increased dose of a technologic fix. They are told they have illnesses that are biologic and can be fixed, instead of being allowed to speak about their unhappiness, to speak about how difficult it is to be a human being, to speak about their suffering, because human being have always suffered and always will. To believe that we can conquer depression, despair, anxiety with modern technology is the height of hubris and bad faith, a mere childish fantasy, unworthy of any thoughtful person who has their eyes open to human history and modern culture. Psychiatrists have become part of the problem. Perhaps they have always been so….

An epidemic of depression? How about an epidemic of cozy relationships between academic psychiatry, pharmaceutical companies and managed care companies? How about an epidemic of psychiatrists who no longer think seriously about what suffering is? How about an epidemic of psychiatrists more interested in power and social legitimacy than in listening to their patients?

As a practicing psychiatrist, I often feel the pull of a patient’s symptoms, a pull in fact to participate with them to cover up what is really going on [by prescribing medication]. It is a seduction which should be resisted, because it is a seduction to enact a fantasy. Modern psychiatrists have been seduced wholesale, not only by patient’s wishes, which are fantasies, but also by positivistic science and technology, which are as much based on fantasy.”

Consumer Reports, “Pushing Drugs to Doctors”, February, 1992, p. 88, 90.

“Though doctors insist their scientific training, high intelligence, and sophistication enable them to resist manipulation, the truth is that skillful marketers can influence M.D.s just as easily as they can sway the rest of us. A landmark 1982 study by Dr. Jerry Avorn of Harvard showed that doctors’ opinions of two popular, heavily advertised drugs came straight from the ads and sales pitches. The doctors believed they’d gotten their information from objective scientific sources, but those sources, in fact , had said all along that the drugs were not effective for their advertised uses….

“From medical school on, physicians are taught to regard medical school faculty, medical journals, and professional meetings as sources of unbiased information. Pharmaceutical companies have found ingenious ways to influence all three. In the process, the distinction between promotion and true scientific exchange has been blurred and, in some cases, totally erased.

“The confusion is no accident; it serves drug companies well. ‘From a propagandist’s perspective, the less the audience knows it’s being manipulated, the greater the opportunity, because its defenses are down’…”

E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., quoted by Reuters Newsservice, “Researchers say drug companies, politics cheat mental health research”

July 17, 1998

“Researchers complained Friday that drug companies and political pressure have skewed the way mental health research is funded. Both the head of the National Institute of Mental Health and a prominent critic of drug companies and government agencies agreed that commercial and political influence have sometimes prevented vital research from being funded and carried out.

‘NIMH has not been doing the clinical trials, has really abandoned the field to the pharmaceutical industry,’ said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey… Torrey accused drug makers of bullying researchers and scientists of compromising their ethics.

‘There are colleagues of mine who have not only accepted tickets to football games, but been paid to go to football games, and then turn around and say this has not influenced them,’ Torrey said. He also noted that drug companies often pay researchers to speak at conferences. ‘Ten thousand dollars is not an unusual amount of money to be paid to stand up and make pronouncements,’ he said.

Later, Torrey told Reuters: ‘They are then given future speaking engagements depending on “how well they do.”’ The implication, he said, is that research must be reported in a way that puts the company’s drugs in a flattering light….

Dr. Steven Hyman, NIMH director, agreed with some of what Torrey said. ‘Dr. Torrey is absolutely right’, Hyman said. ‘The drug companies do what they do and they have certain goals, which are to get certain treatments approved…’”

Wall Street Journal, “Medical Journals Rarely Disclose Researchers’ Ties”

February 2, 1999

“Scientists are increasingly supported by for-profit companies, but a new study shows that critical fact is seldom revealed in published research.

To flag potential bias, researchers publishing studies are generally expected to disclose any financial conflicts of interest they have. But according to an analysis of 210 influential journals, mostly in the bio-medical field, authors almost never do.

The finding, presented at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science last week, raises questions about the independence of researchers and the credibility of their results in an era of creeping commercialization in science. Industry plies scientists with grants, fees for speeches and consulting, or gifts including lab materials. In many fields, its hard to find scientists who are conflict-free.

…a mere 0.5% of some 62,000 articles published in 1997 included information on the authors’ research-related financial ties, such as stock ownership or patent rights. The data startled prominent medical editors, who said authors who don’t disclose their business ties deprive readers of pertinent data in making health-care and other decisions.

…in a separate investigation of 800 scientific papers two years ago, [Dr. Krinsky] found that some 34% of authors had conflicts of interest, none of them disclosed.

…Last year, a New England Journal of Medicine study showed that virtually every researcher publicly supporting the use of new hypertensive drugs had financial ties to the drug manufacturers. And, significantly, none of their ties were disclosed…”

Daniel Zeidner, M.D. in Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2021

“In medicine, illness can be objectively demonstrated by physical examination and laboratory, radiology and biopsy findings. These visible findings can then be re-evaluated after treatment. Despite psychiatry’s use of medical language, such as mental ‘illness,’ no such biologic pathology is shown in a DSM ‘diagnosis,’ and neither pretreatment nor posttreatment biologic pathologies are sought in patients, let alone demonstrated.”

Michael S. Roth, Ph.D., President of Wesleyan University review “In search of a way to diagnose mental disorders – and to make money” of Allan V. Horwitz’s book: DSM: A History of Psychiatry’s Bible. in Washington Post, September 3, 2021.

“This [Horwitz’s] account underscores the economic incentives in play as psychiatrists tried to reach consensus on how to describe specific disorders to that they could treat them – and be paid well to do so. If these clinicians were going to live up to their medical credentials, the thinking went, they should be able to prescribe medications for a specific disease regardless of the particular circumstances of the person who had it. Treat the disease and not the patient. The problem is, says Horwitz, an emeritus professor of sociology at Rutgers University, “almost all psychotropic drugs do not work specifically for particular DSM mental disorders.” But there was money to be made in making it seem like they did…

DSM-III and subsequent revisions… revolutionized the treatment of mental illness in the United States – and made lots of money for the American Psychiatric Association, which owned the publications….revenue from the subsequent revisions became a “financial pillar” of the organization. When it came time to create DSM-V, a new group of researchers wanted to put diagnoses on a genetic basis, or at least at the level of the brain….research has revealed that most members of the work groups for DSM-V had financial ties to the drug industry. But their attempt to link specific disorders to specific genes was a failure….. Steven Hyman, then director of the National Institute of Mental Health, called the manual “an absolute scientific nightmare.”