Showing posts from November, 2020

Understanding Depression: A Pluralistic Approach

The controversy surrounding the report “ Understanding Depression ” by British Psychological Society has prompted much reflection on my part. In particular, it appears to me that it is no longer sufficient to criticize. What is needed is an alternative answer, one that can do some justice to the complexity of the issue at hand. What is also needed is not a medical answer, for that is already dominant and pervasive. Rather we need an answer that goes beyond the medical, and that provides a space for societal dialogue. In this blog post, I attempt the beginnings of such an answer. While I have confidence in the earnestness of my attempt, I have less confidence in its success.   Understanding Depression: A Pluralistic Approach Depression is a common human experience characterized by feelings such as unhappiness, despondency, dejection, sadness, despair, or misery. However, the depression that is the subject of our discussion, the depression that comes to the attention of clinical p

The Users and Abusers of Psychiatric Criticism

This post continues the dialogue between James Barnes and me on the topic of criticisms of psychiatry. See last post by Barnes here . I am going to respond to some of the specific points raised by Barnes, but in order for this exchange to be more meaningful, I want to do so in the context of some larger theses about the common ways in which criticisms of psychiatry can be problematic. In line with my previous post, the intention is not to shut down or suppress criticisms, but rather to encourage more thoughtful and more nuanced criticisms.  1) On analysis, many (certainly not all) criticisms about psychiatry are actually about the current system of mental health care, but these criticisms are often directed at psychiatry as a medical specialty . By conflating the two, critics often ignore or downplay the “market forces” and systemic influences in shaping contemporary practice. 2) Many criticisms that apply to psychiatry also apply to psychology, but psychiatry is typically single

Critics and Their Psychiatry

This is a guest post by James Barnes , who offers a response here to my earlier blog post Psychiatry and its Critics . Your response-blog was much appreciated and clarifying. I wanted to respond in kind to some of what you said, partly to explore certain misunderstandings and identify differences, but also to highlight degrees of agreement. I do want to just say, though, that I disagree with your premise. I do not think this should be characterized as a conversation that is being had “over and over again.” The implication is that what is/has been missing is some sort of better appreciation of a set of facts about what psychiatry actually is or does. I think that is a serious underestimation of what is going on. Ultimately, this debate concerns a clash of ‘world views.’ Similar themes can of course be traced back to the “antipsychiatrists” of the 1960’s — though they are not simply regurgitations of those arguments — but that movement itself can and should be located within the p