The Pseudoscience Called “Psychiatry”


It’s considered barbaric to challenge psychiatry these days. You can’t have a conversation with a self-styled intellectual white boy without him espousing his “deep respect for psychiatry,” which goes along with his deep respect for psychology and sociology. I’ll ask the same question the psychologist would ask: What the fuck does that mean?

Whenever someone gets filled with bullet holes in America these days, the only point the left and the right can agree on is that "America has a mental health problem that can only be solved by mental health treatment." In reality, Adam Lanza—the Sandy Hook killer—had some of the best therapy you could get in Connecticut. On the day of the Columbine massacre, one of the shooters took his last dose of the same medication that I now take.

But the rumor persists that these perpetrators of violent crime “just needed psychiatric help." There’s a much better argument: When it comes to rehabilitation, nothing works.

Ah, but then your defenses go up. If nothing works in the effort to alter behavior, shouldn’t efforts to alter physical health concerns, such as, say, cancer, be equally futile? Psychiatry apologists are always going on about how “If you knew surgery could remove a tumor, wouldn’t you have it removed? So if you had a problem with your behavior, wouldn’t you want it fixed? Psychiatry is the same as surgery. It’s illogical to think otherwise.”

But for psychiatry to be comparable to surgical medicine, surgical medicine would still have to be bleeding people to death and leaving cancer victims to die.

No, psychiatry is about the abstract. It’s about what’s in your head, obviously, not something that can be cut up and fixed with a knife. To argue that the kindergarten activities and semi-religious rituals employed in modern mental-health facilities are the equivalent to surgery is a grave error.

Nowadays, the psychiatrist no longer deals in any certain science. Today, the psychiatrist deals in abstracts. This is why those kindergarten games cannot continue to be referred to as on a par with surgical medicine. A surgeon doesn’t need to be very intelligent in discussing philosophy, romance, the nature of death, etc. He just needs to know what he’s looking at, what it does, what its implications are, and be good with his hands.

On the other end, most psychiatric doctors are not well-read enough to be anything more than special-ed workers. You can say that reading Kant, Hegel, and Schopenhauer isn’t the job of psychiatrists—they’re doctors, for Christ’s sake, not philosophy professors—but, actually, it is.

The reason that psychotherapists can’t afford to be anti-intellectual or uneducated is that their entire discipline is based on intellectualism. A surgeon doesn’t need to have read Comte and be able to adulterate it with Wittgenstein to know how to get rid of a cyst. A psychotherapist, however, hides under the pretension that they’re the same thing as an actual physician, and that, like a physician, they only require a medical education. They don’t, because none of the problems they solve are medical.

Psychiatry is all theory. If it works, it’s the psychiatrist’s success, and if it fails, it’s the patient’s failure. Freud was all about finding ways to support his theories, whatever the outcome was. Psychiatry is an a posteriori process. As Terence Hines said in my personal favorite of skeptic literature, Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, psychoanalysis is accused of being unscientific because the “science” takes place after the fact. Scientifically proven causes must be predictable, not explicable after the state of affairs is finished, which is the basis of analysis.

Then there are also those pills they prescribe. But hey, come on, who can live without those?