HEALTH VS DISEASE

Professor Herb Kutchins from the School of Health and Human Services at California State University, Sacramento and Stuart A. Kirk, Dean of

the School of Social Welfare at the State University of New York, Albany, state in their studies of psychiatric diagnostic methods, “If, in

examining patients, clinicians or researchers cannot agree on who has a particular [disorder]—or even whether someone has any mental

disorder…the agreements about these…are suspect.” If the diagnostic system is not reliable, then it is invalid and “cannot be used to

distinguish mental disorders from other human problems.”4

 

DIAGNOSTIC VALIDITY  CHALLENGED

All diagnoses made by psychiatrists and psychologists are based on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of

Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the tool used to diagnose “mental disorders” such as bipolar. It is the means by which psychiatrists can bill

insurance companies for reimbursement of patient treatment prescribed for such disorders.

As Professors Kutchins and Kirk point out, there is still not a single major study showing that psychiatry’s lack of diagnostic reliability has been

overcome.5 Further, for something to be scientifically valid, it must have the ability to produce a consistent, replicable result.6 DSM is neither

reliable as a diagnostic tool nor based on science, as the following sample medical expert quotes show:

• “Making lists of behaviors, applying medical-sounding labels to people who engage in them, then using the presence of those

behaviors to prove they have the illness in question is scientifically meaningless. It tells us nothing about causes or solutions. It does,

however, create the reassuring feeling that something medical is going on.”7

John Read, senior lecturer in psychology  Auckland University, New Zealand

• “Unlike medical diagnoses that convey a probable cause [and] appropriate treatment…the disorders listed in DSM-IV are terms

arrived at through peer consensus”—literally, a vote by American Psychiatric Association committee members.8

Tana Dineen, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Manufacturing Victims

• “To say that we’ve solved the reliability problem is just not true….There’s still a real problem, and it’s not clear how to solve the

problem.”9

Robert Spitzer, M.D., Columbia University psychiatrist Chairman overseeing DSM-III and DSM-III-R, 2005

• People “may gain false comfort from a diagnostic psychiatric manual that encourages belief in the illusion that the harshness,

brutality, and pain in their lives and in their communities can be explained by a psychiatric label and eradicated by a pill. Certainly,

there are plenty of problems that we all have and a myriad of peculiar ways that we struggle…to cope with them. But could life be any

different?”10

Professors Herb Kutchins and Stuart A. Kirk, authors of Making Us Crazy

• “Restless, impatient people are convinced that they have attention deficit disorder (ADD); anxious, vigilant people that they suffer from

post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)….All have been persuaded that what are really matters of their individuality are, instead, medical

problems, and as such are to be solved with drugs.…And—most worrisome of all—wherever they look, such people find psychiatrists

willing, even eager, to accommodate them….”11

Paul R. McHugh, professor of psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, American Jewish Committee Commentary, 1999

Indeed, even the diagnostic manual itself admits: “For most of the DSM-III disorders…the etiology [cause] is unknown. A variety of theories have been

advanced…not always convincing—to explain how these disorders come about.” And in DSM-IV it says the term “mental disorder” continues to

appear in the volume “because we have not found an appropriate substitute.”

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