For anyone who has listened to or witnessed the horrors and traumas associated with psychiatry and its ‘treatments,’ it will come as no surprise that the industry has been and continues to experience a recruitment crisis.
Dr Tom Brown is a consulant psychiatrist. He’s also Associate Registrar for Recruitment into Psychiatry, a position he holds with the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He has the task of recruiting high quality doctors to psychiatry.
When he took on the role in 2011, Dr Brown said it was all about improving the image of psychiatry. He got that right. He said, “There’s certainly a perception out there — and I don’t know whether it’s true — that psychiatry is held in low esteem within the profession and is the butt of jokes or bad mouthing from other medical professionals.”
The image wasn’t helped in 2008, when an article was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (BJPsych) under the heading ‘Wake-up call for British psychiatry’. It reported that “…it is commonplace in the UK to hear non-psychiatrists – and frequently psychiatrists themselves – referring to psychiatrists as not being ‘proper’ doctors.”
Dr Brown’s perception was confirmed in a survey carried out by the Royal College of Physicians in 2009, when non-psychiatric doctors were asked what they would do if they suffered mental troubles. According to the research, the majority of doctors would turn to friends and family before they would seek advice from a professional when faced with mental health issues. Doctors revealed how they were keen to keep their professional integrity intact, while also avoiding the perceived stigma attached to mental health problems and the negative impact it may have on their career.
Then in June 2009, Professor Rob Howard, the then Dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said there were difficulties enticing UK medical graduates into the specialty of psychiatry. There were reports that those who chose other medical specialties did not consider those pursuing psychiatry to be ‘real’ doctors.
Then in 2013, another headline in the BJPsych read ‘UK crisis in recruitment into psychiatric training.‘ It reffered to the perception of some undergraduates, stating that for some doctors, “… the very content of psychiatry is viewed as unscientific. The specialty can be perceived as low status and not ‘best use of a medical degree’ by relatives, friends and some members of other clinical specialties too. Negative comments or ‘bad-mouthing’ about psychiatry and psychiatrists from other clinicians is thought to deter medical students away from the specialty.”
Then in 2015, yet another article was published in the BJPsych titled ‘Psychiatry – recruitment crisis or opportunity for change?‘ It stated that psychiatry was suffering an enduring crisis in recruitment. It went on to say the profession was unique among other specialties in that it has its own ‘nemesis’ in the form of the ‘antipsychiatry movement.’
That’s true. We don’t hear about the anti-surgery movement, the anti-oncology movement or the anti-paediatrics movement. Why not?
One of the reasons is so fundamental, it is often completely missed. That fundamental reason is psychiatry doesn’t cure any of the problems labelled as mental illness. Dr Norman Sartorius, a former president of the World Psychiatric Association, confirmed this when he said, “The time when psychiatrists considered they could cure the mentally ill is gone. In the future, the mentally ill have to learn to live with their illness.” Psychiatrists openly admit they don’t cure their patients.
Further, in a major departure from medial diagnosis, psychiatric diagnoses are devoted to the categorisation of symptoms only, not the observation of actual physical disease. None of the psychiatric diagnoses are supported by scientific evidence of biological disease of any kind.
Then there are psychiatric ‘treatments’ which mask the real cause of problems in life and debilitate the individual, so denying him or her the opportunity for real recovery and hope for the future. Real recovery is the forte of real doctors who practice real medicine, not psychiatrists.
In an act of compassion and empathy, doctors, whether in primary or secondary care, should be encouraged to help their day-to-day patients as they themselves would like to be helped, assisting them with real solutions and real medicine instead of referring them to the profit-driven specialty of psychiatry.
In summary, it’s important to make reference to the Hippocratic Oath. It’s an oath taken by doctors. It may have changed over the years, and there may be different versions, but the message remains the same: primum non nocere – do no harm. For psychiatry, that’s a tall order.