Should you trust the diagnosis of a psychiatrist?  If it helps, individuals are free to choose.  Behind the scenes, however, there are severe, deep-seated debates about whether professional shrinks understand disorders, let alone diagnose them properly.

In New Scientist, James Davies reported about protests at the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) annual meeting.  Some protestors feel that psychiatry is “not even wrong”; psychiatrists don’t know what they are doing, and sometimes end up abusing patients:

The demonstration aimed to highlight the harm the protesters believe psychiatry is perpetrating in the name of healing. One concern is that while psychiatric medications are more widely prescribed than almost any drugs in history, they often don’t work well and have debilitating side effects. Psychiatry also professes to respect human rights, while regularly treating people against their will. Finally, psychiatry keeps expanding its list of disorders without solid scientific justification.

That list includes major changes with each new edition of the psychiatry “bible,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  Edition V is coming out, loaded with new maladies that were never diagnosed before, and altering the description of other disorders – changes that can have major effects on prescriptions, insurance policies and scientific “explanations” for various behaviors.

Davies said that some psychiatrists who filed past the protestors acknowledged that they had some legitimate concerns….

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