Unrecognised Facts About Psychiatry

I really like the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry website, in particular their Unrecognised Facts About Psychiatry. They say:

‘Most people assume that psychiatry is just like any other branch of medicine, with objective tests for diagnoses and drug treatments that cure real diseases.  In reality, however, psychiatric diagnoses and treatments differ enormously from diagnoses and treatments for say cancer or diabetes, since, for mental disorders, there are no known biological ‘diseases’ for psychiatric drugs to ‘treat’.

Here we highlight various Unrecognised Facts about modern psychiatry which every patient, practitioner and policymaker ought to be aware of.’

You can click on each fact to learn more. You gain access to videos and a summary of research. Here is the first fact:

‘There are no known biological causes for any of the psychiatric disorders apart from dementia and some rare chromosomal disorders. Consequently, there are no biological tests such as blood tests or brain scans that can be used to provide independent objective data in support of any psychiatric diagnosis.’

Check out video of Professor Sam Timimi above and a summary of research.

“A simplistic biological reductionism has increasingly ruled the psychiatric roost… [we have] learned to attribute mental illness to faulty brain chemistry, defects of dopamine, or a shortage of serotonin. It is biobabble as deeply misleading and unscientific as the psychobabble it replaced.” Andrew Skull, Professor of History of Psychiatry, Princeton University, in The Lancet



  1. eleanor levy says:

    Yes we’ve had enough of the “biobabble”. I have worked with many clients who were “diagnosed” as having a psychiatric disorder, under which burden they laboured for many years. Often their wellbeing has been undermined by over-medication.

    I have many examples in mind, especially among those cases which centre on the diagnosis of “Anti-social Personality Disorder”. These people are usually “more sinned against than sinning” and have ended up in trouble with the criminal justice system because of their antagonistic reaction to victimisation they have experienced at the hands of authority figures and institutions, which often traces back to some trauma in earlier life.

    Focusing on these clients’ strengths and supporting them to develop has often resulted in their emerging from the shadow of unhelpful psychiatric labels towards fulfilling lives. Nevertheless, I am suspicious of over-reaction towards the other extreme.

    Not all psychiatry or psychiatrists have a relentless focus on medication. Equating psychiatry with medication and then making the case against medication, to reach the conclusion that the case is made against psychiatry is fallacious. While many of my clients and friends have benefitted from a programme of abstinence, there are many cases where medication in conjunction with psychotherapy has supported the client to make progress, for example in coping with trauma, to the point where they no longer need either support, having developed an effective coping strategy.

    Some conditions which we term “psychiatric” are long-standing or recurring, and some cases respond well to medication being re-introduced in response to recurring issues. I have occasionally encountered professional reluctance to support clients to cease the use of medication as they make progress, but I think this is not as entrenched as it used to be.

    As it happens, I have two diagnosed conditions and both have responded to treatment without the need for psychoactive medication. I probably have two undiagnosed conditions too and my preference is to find ways to cope, though I would not rule out medication if either became too severe. That has happened recently to a close friend going through great difficulties and she received appropriate professional support from the NHS, though clearly if access had been swifter and easier to obtain, her problems would have been reduced

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