For ages psychiatry was associated with Freud and all your problems were thought to be rooted in your childhood or from your mother. Psychiatric drugs came on the scene in the 1950’s and psychiatrists shifted away from talk therapy to focusing on the brain with drugs as the solution.
Then psychiatry’s image took a hit. The drugs of that time period were exhibiting serious side effects, people like Thomas Szasz were speaking out against psychiatry and the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was released. Psychiatry was lacking scientific respect at this time and needed a “makeover.”
In the late 1970’s, the medical director of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) said, “a vigorous effort to remedicalize psychiatry should be strongly supported.” He accomplished that with a big PR campaign and by ensuring this was reflected in the soon to be released third version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) in 1980.
The DSM is the “bible” all psychiatrists use to diagnose mental illness. The first two versions in 1952 and 1968 respectively, are indicative of Freud’s theories and the book was pretty much used only by psychiatrists themselves. When DSM-III was being developed by the APA, this was abandoned and a new direction was deliberately taken to make psychiatry comparable to any other medical specialty and be on par with the rest of the medical community. The brain was now declared the source of all mental ills and drugs were the treatment.
Psychiatrists being medical doctors already have the ability to write prescriptions for drugs. However, some consistency was needed so that all psychiatrists would uniformly diagnose the same behavioral symptoms as the same mental disorder. DSM-III provided that tool. The book listed out multiple behavioral symptoms with corresponding numbers for 265 disorders so that all psychiatrists could diagnose the same disorder and prescribe a psychiatric drug for treatment.
Now that all psychiatrists were on the same page, the marriage of mental disorders and psychiatric drugs came to fruition. To make sure that marriage was going to last, DSM-III was put into the hands of insurance companies, hospitals, courts, prisons, schools, researchers, government agencies and other areas of the medical profession.
Psychiatrists may have been provided with the DSM as a reference for uniformity, but it’s only backed up by uniform opinions and not anything whatsoever scientific. There are no blood tests, urine tests, MRIs, x-rays or any other medical test you can think of to find the source of a mental disorder. However, all medical journals, articles, textbooks and the like are supported by scientific facts. We may have been pitched the idea that mental disorders are brain diseases and that psychiatry is a medical specialty, but without any scientific proof, basically we have been taken for a ride.
When a psychiatrist is trying to diagnose a patient he is looking for symptoms that fit a disorder in the DSM. The only problem is one symptom could qualify for several disorders which could mean several diagnoses and several drugs and more drugs to treat the side effects. Since there are no medical tests, opinions could change and as a result disorders could be redefined, symptoms rearranged or broadened, to fit any old form.
In fact DSM-5 which is due out in 2013 is doing just that. Already existing disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Schizophrenia are being expanded and generalized to include the word “spectrum.” Other disorders will have the word “risk” in them such as “psychosis risk syndrome” so the early stages can be treated with psychiatric drugs. If disorders continue to get more and more general and preventive, it won’t be long before there will be no distinction between normal and abnormal.
What is most shocking is that the choice of drug treatment is similar to rolling the dice. Psychiatrists admit that with only symptoms to refer to they try different drugs with no real idea of what they are trying to handle or if the drugs will be effective. Or perhaps your prescription is randomly made based on the day of the week because your psychiatrist feels like prescribing Cymbalta on Mondays and Lexapro on Thursdays for example.
The pill-popping culture of today may appear to have solutions for your emotional ills, but it would benefit you to get yourself educated on the marriage of mental disorders and psychiatric drugs and divorce yourself from it. Your life is too important to leave it to chance, lack of science and dangerous mind-altering drugs with severe adverse side effects.