I hear from quite a few people, generally part of special interest groups, who think psych meds are evil, psychiatrists are evil or psychologists are evil. Usually these statements of hatred come from negative personal experiences with psych meds or psychiatry/psychology. Usually these people are lashing out emotionally because they didn’t like how the medicine or other form of treatment went.
I Understand Why People Think Psychiatry and Psychiatric Treatments Are Evil
I get this. I really do. When you tie yourself in knots and live through painful psych treatments and do things you never thought you would do to get better, and then you don’t get better, you get a little bitter. I’d say that’s pretty normal and understandable.
(I am jaded and perhaps bitter but far too even-minded to form such a fanatical stance.)
But here’s the thing, psychiatry is no more evil than any other branch of medicine; psychiatrists are just doing the best they can with what they have. (And yes, I wish they had better options.)
Negatives about Psychiatry and Psych Meds
If we take me as an example, I have had many nasty interactions with the field of mental health:
- I had a psychiatrist not listen to me, or my symptoms, which led to a misdiagnosis
- I’ve had doctors not care about painful side effects
- Psychiatrists have typically not tracked blood pressure and weight even when it is standard practice as defined by the prescribing information on antipsychotics
- I wasn’t made aware of the tardive dyskinesia and diabetes risks with antipsychotics
- Psychiatrists refused to treat me because (essentially) I was a lost cause
Granted, that sounds pretty bad. I get that. Totally. But keep in mind some of these things could have been averted by me, and we’re talking about more than 12 years of data. Stuff happens in 12 years.
Positives about Psychiatry and Psych Meds
- I’m not dead
I could list others like quality of life and quality of skydive, but when it comes down to it, not being dead is really the key.
Special Interest Groups (Like Scientology) Skew Psychiatry Beyond Recognition
I don’t usually call people or groups out on my blog. That’s because I don’t want to engage in some sort of ridiculous war. I like to live and let live. But honestly, Scientologists and antipsychiatry groups like them, harm the mentally ill so gravely that they cannot be ignored.
Lies and Misinformation from a Scientology Group
A major Scientology site has articles like:
State Hospitals are Still Snakepits¹ of Patient Abuse, Betrayal of the Public
“The state hospital purpose appears to be one of keeping people institutionalized at the state’s expense with no concept or intention of improvement or rehabilitation.”
Psychiatric Drugs Cause Violence
“Psychiatrists continue to “sell” the wrong causes—from mental illness and poverty to broken families and genetic makeup (none of which they can cure)—yet the psychiatric drugs can themselves cause violence.”²
Psychiatry’s Pills That Kill
“Human suffering is NOT “mental illness””[push]”People suffer. But when this suffering is labeled “mental illness,” it is a guarantee that the patient will never experience a recovery.”[/push]
“People do get depressed. They can become overwhelmed by their emotions and start to feel that their minds or bodies are out of control. There is always a reason for this, whether it be an emotional upset, a loss or a situation with the body that is best addressed by a medical doctor or allied practitioner, such as a nutritionist or chiropractor.””
“Psychiatry is NOT medicine”
“Based on the DSM, psychiatrists declare that their drugs and other treatments work to improve mental illness, even though psychiatrists admit that they do not know how or why these drugs “work.””³
Psychiatry: Synonymous with Fraud
[pull]”If they don’t know the cause, then asserting that it is physical, chemical, biological or brain-based is fraud.””[/pull]
“Psychiatrists and the mental health industry claim that mental disorders, such as “ADHD,” “obsessive-compulsive,” and “bipolar” are medical conditions that are brain-based, due to a chemical imbalance or other physiological medical cause.¹¹ This claim is used to justify the use of electroshock, psychosurgery and psychotropic drugs to treat the so-called medical condition. This claim — that psychiatric disorders are no different than medical diseases — is fraudulent…”[push]”Psychiatry has no objective tests that prove the existence, cause or physical basis of a single psychiatric disorder. Psychiatrists merely observe a behavior or set of behaviors and give it a name. It looks like medicine and it sounds like medicine and that is where the similarities end…”[/push]
“Psychiatrists frequently cite “chemical imbalance” as the cause. This is nothing more than another psychiatric theory that has never been proven. This popular misconception is due to nothing more than heavy public marketing; we’ve just been hearing it for so long that many take for granted that it is true. It is not true and has in fact been thoroughly discredited by researchers.”
Psychiatrists & Psychologists: Professional Rapists, Perverts and Pedophiles
“But psychiatrists and psychologists rarely consider that raping a patient is rape. Instead, it is euphemistically called “sexual contact,” a “sexual relationship” or “crossing the boundaries” when one of its members sexually forces themself on a patient, often with the help of drugs or electroshock treatment.”
Misdiagnosis is Malpractice. Psychiatry is Misdiagnosis.
“Psychiatrists admit that there is no science to psychiatry and that they cannot cure their patients. But they prescribe heavy mind-altering drugs with a reckless abandon that has become a growing concern to the FDA and similar agencies abroad. The foregoing cases and thousands of others like them bear testament to the fact that psychiatry is a profession of willful negligence, refusing at nearly every turn to search out and treat the actual conditions that manifest as “mental illness.””²²
Note these people feel they have evidence for these statements (sort of). I really don’t have time to refute all their “evidence” but it certainly can be done. (I’ve added a few footnotes to the bottom of the page about the above quotes.)
If you would like to know more, simply Google one of the article titles and I’m sure you’ll find it. I’m not linking to these people as I consider them to be extremely harmful.
OK, so I have given this antipsychiatry group a lot of space and I have quoted only very brief parts of their biased crap. Some thoughts on antipsychiatry:
Some Doctors Do Bad Things
I would never suggest that there aren’t bad, abusive, fraudulent, money-focused, uncaring doctors, psychiatrists or psychologists out there. They are like every other segment of the population: some of them are paragons of their profession and some of them definitely aren’t. And those who break the law should surely be prosecuted, just like anyone else.
But really, basing the opinion of an entire field of medicine on the minority who hurt others is like getting food poisoning at a restaurant and then never going out to eat again because “all restaurants are out to make you sick.”
Psychiatry and Psychology Have Saved Thousands of Lives
I could write an article every day for a month on how many people psychiatry has saved. I know nasty special interest groups deny it, but every day people are helped by mental health care professionals.
Mental Illness Exists
One of the more hurtful lies these people tell is that mental illness doesn’t exist. Again, I could fill an entire book proving the physical nature of mental illness, but for now I’ll just link to PsychEducation.org’s explanation to the biological nature of depression.
Psychiatry and Psychology Have Saved My Life
I wasn’t kidding about that. For all their flaws, of which there are many, I wouldn’t have survived this long without psychiatry, psych meds and psychology. Moreover, I wouldn’t have experienced the quality of life I have had for the past decade+. [pull]It’s quite possible to rid someone of cancer only to have it reappear years later. This isn’t because the doctor did anything wrong per se, it’s just that we’re working with the best medicines we have, and they’re far from perfect.[/pull]
Now isn’t the best time for me. Now psychiatry is having a really hard time with me. Now things are looking extremely bleak. But current failure does not destroy past success.
If you hate psych meds, psychiatrists and psychologists you are quite free to do so. I’m not going to drag you to an appointment. But to make claims that essentially assert psychiatry and psychology are evil and that mental illness doesn’t exist is to be uninformed, disingenuous, ignorant and ultimately extremely harmful to the people around you.
Make a choice for yourself and stop spreading this vitriolic hatred that stops mentally ill people who truly need help from getting it.
(Feel free to agree or disagree but know up front there will be no personal attacks permitted.)
Footnotes:¹ Term used in the early 1900s to describe insane asylums. Probably warranted at the time. ² This is not exactly true. While there are risks of rage associated with antidepressants, let us not forget that the population who is taking these drugs are mentally unwell to begin with. Also note that alcohol use is more strongly associated with violence then any other drug. ³ It is not the case that no one with a mental illness recovers. People recover every day, some continuing medication and some going off of medication. Moreover, while it is the case that our understanding of psychopharmacology is limited, the exact mechanism of action of Tylenol is unknown too, but I don’t see people lighting their hair on fire over that. The medical community uses the scientific method to determine what works. Sometimes we know exactly why and sometimes we don’t. But in the case of psychopharmaceuticals our knowledge grows by leaps and bounds every year. ¹¹ Yes, doctors say there is a physical cause because there is one. And tests too. We don’t know it all, but we’re learning. ²² Honestly I’ve never seen a doctor willfully not look for another cause. I’ve had blood tests up to my neck looking for other causes. Believe me, I wish there were one.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.