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.