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Friday, March 11, 2016

Notes From Psychiatry’s Battle Lines

By George Makari
The New York Times - Opinionator
February 23, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

Consider this: Like most clinicians, I am eager for scientific progress, something new that will yield more clarity and provide my patients with faster or deeper relief. However, as I take stock of a new “neuroenhancer,” or the latest genetic correlation that may point to the cause of an illness, or a suddenly popular diagnosis, the historian in me senses ghosts beginning to stir.

Historians have shown that psychiatry has long suffered from the adoption of scientific-sounding theories and cures that turned out to be dogma. Perhaps the clearest example of such “scientism” was psychiatry’s embrace, in the early 19th century, of Franz Joseph Gall’s phrenology, in which all mental attributes and deficiencies were assigned to specific brain locales, evidence be damned. During much of the 20th century, psychoanalysis proposed far more conclusive answers than it could support, and today, the same could be said for some incautious neurobiological researchers.

The article is here.