Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical Psychiatry, a serious medical discipline or an uplifted pseudoscience?

  1. Aug 5, 2010 #1
    I'm sure we can all agree that psychiatry is at least not as hard as physics. To evaluate people's conditions by a 'professional opinion' is a little worse than calculating things by physical laws and then testing it to conform to experimental results and clearly defined margins of errors.

    Someone on ##not-math on freenode though gave me this to read:


    And more importantly this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Antipsychotic&oldid=376628382#Structural_effects

    Now, the Wikipedia article seems to some-what have a tone indicating it being mainly maintained by people who are critical towards antipsychotics medication and psychiatric ethos and practices in general. However, at the very least we may say that the effacy of commercial pharmaceutics in this field is at best 'inconclusive' and its damaging effects are also 'a risk that warrants further research'.

    The point is that in various jurisdictions, psychiatrists have the authority to more-or-less force people to take these drugs against their will, on the assumption that they are capable of accurately assessing when this is a good choice. The question is if this assumption is justified? The Wikipedia article seems to indicate that it is not. And it wouldn't be the first time that 'professionals' had had ideas in history that were simply gravely off. The same people 60 years back would have tried to cure you from homosexuality. 60 years is not that much.. the same people 40 years back would have told you that autism is caused by chilly parenting and can only occur to white people and similar things..

    It's all particularity interesting to me because I have been offered such an ultimatum once, I would either have to take 4.5 mg of risperidone a day, or I would have taken my freedom away because I was a supposed danger to myself. I was at that point not convinced of their ability to assess that, and years later now I am lingering towards being convinced that psychiatry is basically a pseudoscience that's only marginally more effective at reducing symptoms than faith healing, and a lot more damaging. Faith healers don't have the legal authority to lock people up against their will by their 'professional opinion'.

    What I think is more interesting though is this hypothesis: People are willing to believe things that are quite obviously nonsense, until truth comes along. People need an explanation / solution to a problem. If there is a problem in society like 'schizophrenia' or even 'terrorism', people cannot except the idea that there currently is no solution t it. And they will infest in the 'most likely solution' even though this solution still does more harm than it does good. People find it very hard to accept the harsh reality that in some cases 'there is nothing you can do, and all you try is only going to make it worse'.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2010 #2
    Both, depending on the setting, use, and practitioner.

    Ask me the same question about stem-cell research, and get the same answer. There is no single, simple answer to such a complex question, but in general the "ultimatum" to take an anti-psychotic medication is not capricious, but a hard one. I can't, and won't speculate about your case, but there are reliable tests and simple "talk" therapy which can make it clear that someone is delusional, psychotic, or has other thought disturbances; we're not talking about a recommendation to take some Prozac after all. If someone is determined to be a danger to themselves or others, it is incumbent upon any doctor to commit the individual for at least 72 hours and medication may be involved.
  4. Feb 1, 2011 #3

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Thread locked.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook