10. Received Wisdom



Psychiatry and some psychotherapies are utterly part of the status quo, sincerely believing that what they do is the only good way of doing things. 


This reminds me of the attitudes of arrogant western colonisers who were disgusted with tribal societies.  The West has been for centuries the author of “treuing” i.e. that there is only one truth, that alterative methods of thinking or behaving are invalid and that the only Right and True way of comportment is the Western way.


Psychiatry is guilty of “trueing”.  People who attack it are derided.  Peter Breggin the author of Toxic Psychiatry was branded “un-American” after the publication of his book.  So much money at stake – so many vested interests.


The enormously powerful pharmaceutical companies have too much cash to gain from the pain of the most vulnerable in society.


Morality and the Questioning of Received Wisdom[1]


When I was at University we were encouraged to always question the received wisdom.


Challenging received wisdom is important. Thank goodness that now women aren’t put in the ducking stool to discover if they are witches, the “condition” of being gay has been removed from the list of psychiatric disorders (It was once also classed as BPD!), the slave trade has been abolished and women can now have the vote due to the suffragettes who were labeled “mad” by psychiatric “professionals”.  Even as recently as the 1950’s single mothers were locked up in mental institutions purely on the grounds of their “lack of moral fiber”.  Such measures were threatened if mothers of illigimate children refused to give up their children for adoption.  Single mothers at that time were considered to be unfit to bring up children. 


Parallels can be drawn today where it is not uncommon for female survivor mothers have their children taken away from them at birth due to BPD diagnosis or other trauma symptoms – sometimes on the orders of psychiatrists they have not even met. (See Fran Lyon example below).


I would suggest that the challenging of received wisdom still needs to be encouraged in the Sciences – and in particular psychiatry.  This because the system as it currently stands serve to further invalidate and abuse patients who have already suffered abuse from partners/spouses/parents etc.  People, already ignored, marginalized often misbelieved by authorities on the validity of the rape / abuse etc, are then denied treatment.


Is such a position is morally justifiable?


I don’t believe we understand the human mind enough to justify prescribing psychiatric medication on such a massive scale.  From what I have read I doubt the clinical trials veracity and above all I doubt the motives of large pharmaceutical companies who are out for profit – not the good of human kind. 


This applies especially to victims of childhood trauma – some of who suffer from dissociation.  Dissociation is the blunting of emotions and penting them up (because remembering is too painful) and is what causes the sadness and depression in the first place.   So to further blunt a person emotionally with prozac and suchlike just aggravates and prolongs the traumatic symptoms. 


Furthermore, Electro Convulsive Therapy is apparently back in vogue and is even being given to Dissociative PTSD type II patients. Despite the fact that ECT is clearly contrs-indicated for patients suffering from Dissociation, because it can cause flash backs and further dissociative symptoms.


How can they rationally justify damaging a persons brain to cause memory loss – a person forgets their troubles for a bit – but often subsequently relapses anyway.  This is surely a human rights violation!


The emphasis on pharmacologic treatment of distressing symptoms neglects the fact that recovery from trauma requires healing on an emotional, social, and spiritual level.


Not only does the reliance on psychiatric medication and ECT make a fortune for the pharmaceutical companies, it also lets society off the hook.  If people’s minds are considered defective or “ill” then it means society doesn’t have to do anything about the situation.  Moreover, abuse, especially sexual abuse, is more often than not a taboo within families and is either brushed under the carpet, or, if the victim speaks out, it is not uncommon for her to be rejected by the entire family – even by her own mother, siblings and entire extended family.  The victims deserve support and compassion – not stigmatisation and psychiatric medication.


But support, compassion, and love are erroneously considered to hamper our industrialised capitalist western lifestyle: that they interfere with business and money.  Yet, with so much of our workforce currently on anti-depressants surely even the most hard nosed of capitalists can see that this attitude is no longer good for business!


But compassion and nurturing are essential to human survival.  In this sense it is us in the West who are primitive, and the tribal people (patronised and exploited by colonisers) who are our superiors.


The human race has managed for centuries without pills or psychiatric intervention… I think tribal societies could teach us in the West much about how to cope with trauma…how to cope as human beings … not just money making cogs or conveniently dehumanised objects of psychiatry that shields society from its need to look at itself.


The issues surrounding mental health and recovery from childhood trauma can be complex.  But ultimately the true answer to trauma is love and compassion. It’s that simple.

[1] Mention Antonio Gramsci????


One response to “10. Received Wisdom

  1. Myrtle

    Not sure how long ago this was posted, but just wanted to say this is just… well, it sums up everything that is wrong with society and the psych system – even that we have a ‘psych’ system at all. Wow… hit the nail on the head utterly.

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