Psychiatry’s Cycle of Ignorance and Reinvention: An Interview with Owen Whooley

Ayurdhi Dhar has interviewed sociologist Prof. Owen Whooley – author of On the Heels of Ignorance: Psychiatry and the Politics of Not Knowing – about psychiatry’s stubborn perseverance in the face of recent DSM embarrassments and the failures of the biomedical model. The interview begins:

Ayurdhi Dhar: How did you end up studying psychiatry, its ignorance, fault lines, and tumultuous history?

Owen Whooley: My research is linked to my personal biography. Growing up, my father had mental health challenges—major depression, comorbid substance abuse, and multiple suicide attempts.

I was a kid, but two things were deeply ingrained from that experience. One is the uncertainty that permeates living with a loved one who is going through mental health crisis. The other was seeing the failures of my father to get adequate help. Whether that was a failing of his, of his providers, or some combination of both, the problem never got solved.

I realized that not only do I not understand what’s going on with my dad, but he also doesn’t seem to understand it, and his providers don’t seem to understand either. Flash-forward 30 years, and I’m writing a book on psychiatric ignorance.

The other moment was in graduate school, where someone flippantly said, ‘Everyone knows that the chemical imbalance theory is a myth, or it’s not supported.’ I was like, ‘What? I’ve been told this for decades! Everyone knows that it’s not true?’ I realized it was not quite that the emperor has no clothes, but the emperor is scantily clad …”

You can read more from here.

Rate this post

Any reply would be very welcome


Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox:

Your email address will not be passed to any other organisation. It will only be used to send you new posts made on this website.