By Bruce Levine
January 6, 2015
“What’s a guy gotta do around here to lose a little credibility?” asked ProPublica reporter Jesse Eisinger in a 2012 piece about top Wall Street executives who created the financial meltdown but remain top executives, continue to sit on corporate and nonprofit boards, serve as regulators, and whose opinions are sought out by prominent op-ed pages and talk shows.
Wall Street is not the only arena where one can be completely wrong and still retain powerful influence. Influential “thought leader” psychiatrists and major psychiatry institutions, by their own recent admissions, have been repeatedly wrong about illness/disorder validity, biochemical causes and drug treatments. In several cases, they have been discovered to be on the take from drug companies, yet continue to be taken seriously by the mainstream media.
While Big Pharma financial backing is one reason psychiatry is able to retain its clout, this is not the only reason. More insidiously, psychiatry retains influence because of the needs of the larger power structure that rules us. And perhaps most troubling, psychiatry retains influence because of us—and our increasing fears that have resulted in our expanding needs for coercion.
But before discussing these three reasons, some documentation of psychiatry’s lost scientific credibility in several critical areas.
Psychiatry’s Lost Scientific Credibility
DSM Invalidity. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic bible, the DSM, was slammed by the pillars of the psychiatry establishment. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the highest U.S. governmental mental health official, offered a harsh rebuke of theDSM, announcing that the DSM’s diagnostic categories lack validity, and he stated that “NIMH will be re-orienting its research away from DSM categories.” Also in 2013, Allen Frances, the former chair of the DSM-4 taskforce, published his book, Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life.
Biochemical Imbalance Theory Debunked. It was a great surprise for NPR reporter Alix Spiegelin 2012 to discover that the psychiatric establishment now claims it has always known that the biochemical imbalance theory of depression was not true. Ronald Pies, editor-in-chief emeritus of the Psychiatric Times stated in 2011, “In truth, the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend—never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists.” NIMH director Insel had already told Newsweekin 2007 that depression is not caused by low levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. However, psychiatry made no serious attempt to publicize the fact that the research had rejected this chemical imbalance theory, a theory effectively used in commercials to sell antidepressants as correcting this chemical imbalance—an imbalance psychiatry knew did not exist.