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The Scientism of Psychiatry

Discussion in 'PsychoSocial ME/CFS News' started by Allele, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. Allele

    Allele Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    https://www.madinamerica.com/2018/01/the-scientism-of-psychiatry/
     
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  2. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think this guy has actually got his meanings wrong. Scientism is the belief that science provide the answers to all deep questions. The opposite is to reject science as a source of answers. It has nothing to do with whether or not the answers sound like science. The author is not suggesting that psychiatry is scientistic but that it is pseudoscientific. We want psychiatry to be scientistic.
     
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  3. Valentijn

    Valentijn Not a moderator

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    Terminology aside, the article makes some very good points:
     
  4. Valentijn

    Valentijn Not a moderator

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    True, but I think he's also suggesting that psychiatry is not capable of being studied scientifically, when it's also (treated as) something entirely subjective.

    So psychiatry could be the victim of both psuedoscience and scientism. In their failure to do the hard work and fully embrace science, researchers may be avoiding accusations of pseudoscience by claiming the subject of their work falls outside the realm of science and scientific evidence, but still seek to legitimize it with scientism.

    We've seen that with a lot of ME/CFS research - psychosomatic researchers cry that they can't use good methodology because the disease is supposedly entirely subjective. But then also they claim a scientific basis for their conclusions about its mechanisms and treatment so that they will taken seriously by people too ignorant to know better.
     
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  5. Trish

    Trish Senior Member (voting rights)

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    I read the article with the case of ME firmly in my mind. I agree that he probably misuses the term scientism when he actually means pseudoscience, but I found much of interest in his critique of psychiatry and just how unscientific it is, while at the same time it dresses itself up in scientific language and pretends to be evidence based.
     
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  6. Sean

    Sean Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Exactly. They can't have it both ways.

    Their legitimacy and claim to authority and resources must be proportional to the quality of their methodology. It can't be any other way.

    It may not be their fault that they run into inherent methodological limitations. But they then have to accept that this limits their claim to authority and resources.

    And that is before we get into their claim that is is an entirely subjective disorder. I find that one of the most disturbing and objectionable claims of all from them, and a very good example of their ex cathedra style of science.
     
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  7. Sean

    Sean Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Though, to be honest, I think that is more of an excuse to not use objective measures, than a genuine limitation.

    Even if it is entirely subjective, it still has objectively measurable consequences, e.g. for employment and physical capacity.

    Once again (bold mine):


    If Wessely and Chalder say it is true, then it must be.
     
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  8. erin

    erin Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I don't get it, once psychiatrists who wanted to explain psychiatric illness scientifically failed and found anti-psychiatry movement. According to them mental illness did not existed and could not be explained and treated. I don't know what happened to the anti-psychiatry movement. It feels like everything is related to psychiatry nowadays. We're living at the era of the "psychiatry movement".
     
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  9. Inara

    Inara Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I, too, have the impression the anti-psychiatry movement had its peak in the 70s and 80s. Although there still are organisations who are involved. But it's not easy for them, I'd say, because most people don't understand what psychiatry is. And they don't care. Most people think only those who "deserve" it (i.e. are strange, non-conform, have "weird" opinions) end up with psychiatry.
    It's a power complex, to say it with a Professor of Psychology's words.

    That's how I see it, too. And that's a huge problem.
     
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  10. Samuel

    Samuel Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    the term is used in different senses. philosophers might have a more narrow and agreed-upon definition.

    [which is kinda funny since we're talking about philosophers.]

    one common sense of the term is closely allied to the behavior of many pseudoskeptics, who excessively defer to science as an authority [they frequently are, but deny being, strongly authority-oriented while preaching that science is orthogonal to authority] and fail to be skeptical of their own misuse of science, or pseudoscience, in argumentation.

    note also that they frequently conflate what science should be with what it is as a real-world institution -- and at all the wrong times.

    frequently this is in defense of corporations or in bigotry [specifically misopathy] toward people with not-accepted diseases like m.e.

    a good test for a pseudoskeptic is: somebody in the skeptic movement who denies the existence of pseudoskeptics. [note: this is a joke. also a comment on the catch-22 that psychiatrists often impose on people wrt "no insight, which confirms the diagnosis". also contains a grain of truth.]
     
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  11. strategist

    strategist Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Not sure if pseudoskeptics is a good term. Maybe a better term is people who would like to be a skeptic but lack some of the required qualities. Anyone can be skeptical, and good skepticism is valuable, but many so called skeptics don't impress me much (neither am I a good skeptic myself, despite being very skeptical about some things). I like to think that I have become better at being skeptical thanks to this community though.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  12. Samuel

    Samuel Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    sounds good to me.

    eta: on reflection it's insufficent, as there are some who pose as skeptics but do not care about being good skeptics -- they have an axe to grind.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
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  13. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Seems to be two meanings, and the first one here seems relevant:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism

    No matter if the word is exactly right, it's a good article. Interested to note Dr. Sami Timimi belongs to something called the Critical Psychiatry Network.
     
  14. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I agree that he says some sensible things. I worry a bit at the end. He seems to be saying that whereas most psychiatrists give their patients drugs (presumably implying that might be as scientific as they think) he talks to them. That would presumably be 'psychotherapy'. He does not indicate whether or not he has any basis for thinking he is doing any good. I am not sure he is in a position to criticise others for shaky evidence if he has none of his own! Maybe at least he is not claiming to know what he is doing!
     
  15. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I agree, but I also feel nothing and no one is completely right. He at least seems to be a psychiatrist wanting to rattle his establishment's cage, and wake his colleagues up to so much that is wrong with his profession. I would hate to deter/discount strong advocates without adequate reason. He gives off signals he might be more prepared to listen than his colleagues.
     
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