Thursday, March 26, 2015

Going Clear and Psychiatry Under the Influence

I can’t remember when I’ve been so excited about the upcoming release of two works harshly critical of two bitter enemies. Possibly never.

This Sunday, March 29, HBO will premiere Alex Gibney’s documentary about Scientology, Going Clear.

Just a few weeks later, on April 23, Robert Whitaker and Lisa Cosgrove are set to release a new book, Psychiatry Under the Influence: Institutional Corruption, Social Injury, and Prescriptions for Reform.

In this post, Whitaker discusses his reaction to former APA president Jeffrey Lieberman’s new book Shrinks, which he characterizes as a narrative “quite unmoored from science and history.” He describes it as “an institutional self-portrait. What you hear in this book is the story that the APA and its leaders have been telling to themselves for some time.”

In this sense, I feel sorry for people like Lieberman. Even if he continues to believe, and continues to convince others, that he and his colleagues are heroes of health and science, that isn’t how they’ll be remembered.

On the other hand… It’s admirable to have a good-faith belief, test it, learn that it was wrong, and share that information - that’s a contribution to science, and negative results aren’t generally treated with enough respect. It’s not admirable to test your belief, learn that it was wrong, and publicly pretend that this didn’t happen. It’s not admirable to continue to cling publicly to a scientifically discredited claim. It’s not admirable to cling to this discredited claim to secure riches, prestige, and authority. It’s not admirable to use this discredited claim to gain power over others and violate their rights. It’s not admirable to ignore the evidence of harms while presenting yourself as a hero for advancing and institutionalizing this claim long after it’s been discredited.

May both of these pseudoscientific cults rot.

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