Are critics of psychiatry stranded in a ‘Jurassic world?’

This article by psychotherapist James Barnes has been published by Mad in the UK. It begins:

“In a recent Psychiatric Times interview with Lucy Johnstone,1 the interviewer took the very unusual step of seeking ‘clarification’ from two psychiatrists that she mentioned in the interview. These ‘clarifications’ were then published at the end of the interview. One of these psychiatrists, the eminent professor Sir Robin Murray, concluded with the following statement:

‘Sadly, a few psychologists appear to have been stranded in a Jurassic world where they spend their energies railing against a type of psychiatry which became extinct years ago.’

This is a bold statement. It is also an increasingly common example of psychiatry’s critics being dismissed out of hand for allegedly being ‘out of touch’ with the theory and practice of modern psychiatry.

In times past, the standard rebuttal to those who highlighted the lack of evidence for biomedically caused ‘mental disorders’ was some version of ‘yes, but we will obviously find evidence of this causation eventually’ which affirmed the approach but denied that there was a problem. It is increasingly common in current times, however, for critics to be dismissed on the grounds that psychiatry is not, as it apparently turns out, committed to biomedical causation/explanation after all. This is often accompanied by suggestions that such critics have not understood what psychiatry — and indeed medicine at large — actually does, and/or that psychiatric theory has evolved philosophically from its biomedical days and the conceptual naivety of the past has matured. Sir Robin Murray seems to be alluding to this kind of position.

If true, this would obviously pose a problem for those critics of psychiatry. So, it would seem proper to examine the arguments behind these sorts of statements in order to see whether the critics are now in fact the naïve ones, or whether the charges brought against psychiatry remain valid. I will look at 3 core arguments below …”

You can read more from here.

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