“No behaviour – or mis-behaviour – can ever be a disease” – Professor Thomas Szasz, Diagnosis by Design, 2002

Psychiatric ‘disorders’ are not medical diseases

In medicine, strict criteria exist for calling a condition a disease: a predictable group of symptoms and the cause of the symptoms or an understanding of the physiology (function) must be proven and established.

Chills and fever are symptoms. Malaria and typhoid are diseases. Diseases are proven to exist by objective evidence and physical tests. Yet no mental ‘diseases’ have ever been proven to medically exist.

The Basis of Psychiatric Diagnosis

The general public has been lead to believe that a diagnosis of mental disorder is the same as a legitimate medical diagnosis of disease, which is false. This is common knowledge among psychiatrists, but not something they often admit to the public at large, simply because it is the foundation upon which psychiatry is built.  The fact is, all mental disorders are contained within psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), or its European companion used in the UK, the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, Mental Disorders Section). Mental disorders are arrived upon by psychiatrists literally voting on what is, or is not, considered a mental disorder.  Unlike the rest of medicine, mental disorders are arrived at by a political, not medical process.

“There is no blood or other biological test to ascertain the presence or absence of a mental illness, as there is for most bodily diseases. If such a test were developed … then the condition would cease to be a mental illness and would be classified, instead, as a symptom of a bodily disease.” Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, New York University Medical School, Syracuse

Studies Expose Conflicts of Interest

dsm-moneysmA landmark study published in the journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in 2006, found that for more than half of the panel members that reviewed which disorders would be included in the fourth edition revision of the DSM (1994), more than half had undisclosed financial links to major pharmaceutical companies. For mood disorders (“depression” and “bipolar”) and “schizophrenia/psychotic disorder”, 100% of the panel members had financial involvements with drug companies. Sales of the drugs prescribed for these (by virtue of their inclusion in the DSM) reach more than £51 billion worldwide.

For the DSM-V revision, another study found that 18 of the 20 members overseeing the revision of clinical guidelines for treating just three “mental disorders” had financial ties to drug companies, with drug treatment for those disorders generating some £16 billion a year in pharmaceutical sales (U.S. alone).

The late Dr. Sydney Walker III, a neurologist and psychiatrist, wrote: “Drug company money influences every aspect of modern-day psychiatry. The American Psychiatric Association is literally built on a foundation of drug money…In return, the APA bends over backward to help drug companies promote their products…That influence,” he said, “has focused on expanding the number of ‘psychiatric disorders’ recognized by the APA, and the number of drug treatments recommended for these disorders. After all, every DSM ‘diagnosis,’ is a potential gold mine for pharmaceutical firms.” Sydney Walker, III, M.D., A Dose of Sanity, ( John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New York, 1996), p. 229.

Many experts agree

The late Loren Mosher, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry who resigned from the APA (American Psychiatric Association) because of its drug company influence, wrote: “DSM-IV has become a bible and a money making bestseller—its major failings notwithstanding. It confines and defines practice, some take it seriously, others more realistically…The issue is what do the categories [in the DSM] tell us? Do they in fact accurately represent the person with a problem? They don’t, and can’t, because there are no external validating criteria for psychiatric diagnoses. There is neither a blood test nor specific anatomic lesions for any major psychiatric disorder.”

Richard Bentall, psychology Professor, at Bangor University, Wales noted in 2009, “Research has also shown that psychiatric diagnoses are poor predictors of response to treatment, giving little indication of which patients will respond to which drugs. They are therefore hardly more meaningful than star signs – another diagnostic system that is supposed to tell us something about ourselves and what will happen in the future, and which is widely embraced despite no evidence of its usefulness.”

Dr. Harold Pincus, Vice Chairman of the DSM-IV task force admitted, “There has never been any criterion that psychiatric diagnoses require a demonstrated biological etiology (cause).”

Psychologist Renee Garfinkel, a staff member of the American Psychological Association, said of the DSM-III-R review committee: “The low level of intellectual effort was shocking. Diagnoses were developed by majority vote on the level we would use to choose a restaurant. You feel like Italian, I feel like Chinese, so let’s go to a cafeteria. Then it’s typed into the computer.”

J. Allan Hobson and Jonathan A. Leonard, authors of ‘Out of Its Mind, Psychiatry in Crisis, A Call for Reform stated, “…DSM-IV’s authoritative status and detailed nature tends to promote the idea that rote diagnosis and pill-pushing are acceptable.”

Elliot S. Valenstein, biopsychologist, author of Blaming the Brain: “DSM-IV is not an exciting document. It is purely descriptive and presents no new scientific insights or any theories about what causes the many mental disorders it lists.”

Dr. Thomas Dorman, internist and member of the Royal College of Physicians of the UK, Fellow Royal College of Physicians Canada: “In short, the whole business of creating psychiatric categories of ‘disease’, formalizing them with consensus, and subsequently ascribing diagnostic codes to them, which in turn leads to their use for insurance billing, is nothing but an extended racket furnishing psychiatry a pseudo-scientific aura. The perpetrators are, of course, feeding at the public trough.”

Håkan Eriksson – Swedish author on Neuropsychology, 2002: “We must be alert to psychiatry, which declares as illness nearly all forms of unpleasant mental conditions and reactions – even normal expressions of human life.”

Lucy Johnstone, Clinical Psychologist – Author ‘Users and abusers of psychiatry’: “We have known for a long time that the term ‘schizophrenia’ is scientifically meaningless. It is not actually a ‘diagnosis’ in a medical sense, since it is not based on bodily symptoms or signs. Instead, the criteria consist of a ragbag of social judgments about people’s thoughts, feelings and behavior…”

Dr. Pat Bracken & Dr Phil Thomas: Let’s Scrap ”Schizophrenia” Sept 1st 2006: “For psychiatry, schizophrenia is a dogma, an unquestionable article of faith, and to question schizophrenia is to question psychiatry. The failure of biomedical science to reveal the cause of schizophrenia is the ultimate condemnation of the medical model in psychiatry.”

“The modern concept of depression, as a common condition in need of medical treatment, was invented and promoted in order to market the earliest antidepressants in the 1960s. However, it was when the market for benzodiazepines collapsed in the late 1990s that the pharmaceutical industry turned to depression to create a mass market.

“It was during the 1990s that the idea that depression affects up to 1 in 4 of the population and other such figures were publicised and the motive was to create a market for the new and profitable antidepressants known as SSRIs.”

“Research has also shown that psychiatric diagnoses are predictors of response to treatment, giving little indication of which patients will respond to which drugs. They are therefore hardly more meaningful than star signs – another diagnostic system that is supposed to tell us something about ourselves and what will happen in the future, and which is widely embraced despite no evidence of its usefulness.” Prof. Richard BentallThe Guardian 31st Aug 2009

“I believe, until the public and psychiatry itself see that DSM labels are not only useless as medical ‘diagnoses’ but also have the potential to do great harm—particularly when they are used as means to deny individual freedoms, or as weapons by psychiatrists acting as hired guns for the legal system.” —Dr. Sydney Walker III, psychiatrist

“Unlike medical diagnoses that convey a probable cause, appropriate treatment and likely prognosis, the disorders listed in DSM-IV are terms arrived at through peer consensus.” —Tana Dineen Ph.D., Canadian psychologist