Sunday, May 12, 2013

UK clinical psychologists call for abandonment of biopsychiatry

“I believe there is nothing more important that a professional body can do than speak the truth about the evidence – and that is what this statement does.” – Lucy Johnstone
the UK Division of Clinical Psychology, a sub-division of the British Psychological Society, will issue a Position Statement…which calls for the end of the unevidenced biomedical model implied by psychiatric diagnosis.
There are two articles about this positive development in the Observer, neither of which, unfortunately, is very good and both of which irresponsibly mislead in both their headlines and actual content. Lucy Johnstone’s post at Mad in America (MIA will make the text of the position statement available tomorrow morning) is a better introduction.

The basic position of the DCP parallels my own:
The main difference – and of course it is a crucial one – between the position of these eminent psychiatrists [those who’ve recently publicly acknowledged the lack of validity of psychiatry’s diagnoses] and the DCP is that the former are determined to pursue the biomedical model at all costs. Indeed, NIMH has…announced the intention of launching a 10-year programme to pin down, once and for all, the elusive biomarkers that have evaded researchers so far. The project starts from the remarkably unscientific position of assuming what needs to be proved: in their words that ‘mental disorders are biological disorders.’ Flawed as this enterprise is, it will allow traditionalists to continue to claim that ‘We’re getting there – honestly!’ In the meantime, the overwhelming amount of evidence for psychosocial causal factors is once again relegated to a back seat.
We’re in a moment of extraordinary opportunity. It won’t help to listen to the self-serving claims that abandoning a false, unscientific, and harmful model is dangerous and that there is no alternative. There has long existed an alternative in the form of a radical humanist (or post-humanist) reality-based psychology/psychiatry. While the movement claims no absolute consensus or single direction, there’s a rich tradition of thought and practice to draw from (including but of course not limited to Fromm) that can point the way toward a revolutionary transformation of our understanding of and approach to psychological well-being. It’s an exciting time.

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