Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!: I think Mr Lindsay would do well to read Crazy Like Us if he hasn’t already.
Is psychiatry a pseudoscience?
Yes and no. That is, the phenomena of mental illness are genuine, but their investigation is sorely lacking in rigor. This added to the fact that psychiatry is a business in the US and the Anglosphere more generally results in huge over-diagnosis, pathologizing difference, etc., and children are the easiest marks for this con.
As someone who works with people who have actual diagnosed DSM disorders on a regular basis, I definitely think that a lot of these things are real, and they are indeed disorders. We actually try very hard not to pathologize anything that could remotely be seen as normal conduct, and we cast a wide net for that phrase.
The people I deal with have Axis 1 disorders, and they are suffering from the most incredible pain and misery. Many of them are almost literally living in Hell. I lost one client to suicide. Further, the disorder often makes it very hard for them to function well in society. It’s not uncommon that I have clients who have been hospitalized, sometimes on multiple occasions.
Axis 2 is real too. Those are real disorders. I have known some people on Axis 2 (personality disorders), and trust me, they are not normal in any way, shape or form. Mostly they are making other people miserable, but the disorder is usually screwing up their own life in a big way too.
As far as psychiatry being a pseudoscience, well, I get people who are misdiagnosed all the time. I’m not allowed to give legal DSM diagnoses, but I tell them my opinion on what they have and how they are misdiagnosed. Often I get people diagnosed psychotic who are not psychotic at all.
Some of them are pretty crazy, but just because you feel really nuts does not mean you are psychotic. Psychosis is a loss of touch with reality. If you are not out of touch with reality, you are not psychotic. Psychosis is grossly misdiagnosed in the US. If you feel really crazy, you get diagnosed “psychotic.” It is just the field’s way of saying “this person is seriously crazy.” But seriously crazy is not the same thing as psychotic. You would not believe how nuts people can feel without being psychotic. Your world can get seriously weirded out when you are not even psychotic at all.
I also get people who are mis-prescribed all the time. Psychiatrists hand this stuff out like candy and they severely play down the side effects.
In short, yes it’s a real science, but we don’t have formal tests like lab tests or X-rays to actually make a perfect diagnosis. So we have to go on symptoms, and it can be quite hard to diagnose a mentally ill person correctly. I have dealt with people who had been diagnosed with 10-15 different disorders. There was no way that they currently had all of those conditions when I spoke to them. This person was extremely ill though, I would agree with that. Unbelievably ill.