In a recent post, I guffawed at former APA head Jeffrey Lieberman’s petulant demand to know “What does the New York Times have against psychiatry?”. Contrary to Lieberman’s view, so distorted by arrogance and a deep sense of entitlement, that printing an oped questioning the usefulness of psychiatric diagnosis revealed an underlying editorial hostility toward psychiatry, the NYT’s record, I pointed out, in fact shows a pattern of cringing deference toward the APA and psychopharmaceutical drugs.
I wasn’t expecting them to provide evidence of that deferential posture quite this quickly. Natalie Angier’s review of Jeffrey Lieberman’s newest exercise in mythmaking Shrinks is a piece of hackery worthy of the Times’ writing on Venezuela and US policy in Latin America. Lieberman, Angier asserts,
makes a convincing case that [the DSM’s] format has given the field a precision and reliability it lacked in the past. Psychiatrists have also taken advantage of new imaging technology to scan the brains of living patients, tracking subtle differences between the well and the ill that may not be obvious post-mortem.This is of course total toxic bilge. But completely in character for the Times.
Ultimately, though, the real secret to psychiatry’s success is drugs. One by one, the most devastating and formerly intractable mental diseases were tamed, if not completely routed, by pharmaceuticals: chlorpromazine for schizophrenia, lithium for bipolar disease, imipramine for depression….