An Ethical Enquiry that Questions Whether Psychiatrists Truly are Mental Health/Disability Experts? Reasons to Doubt!

In Patricia Hanna (ed.), An Anthology of Philosophical Studies, vol. 14. Athens Institute for Education and Research. pp. Chapter 13 pp. 143-158 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

The observation that a crisis of confidence regarding Psychiatry exists is a notion shared even among psychiatrists themselves. Psychiatry has a checkered history and its alliance with the pharmaceutical industry, aka Big-Pharma, continues to reinforce a need for healthy skepticism. Why? Mainly, an over-reliance on the questionable expertise and authority afforded psychiatry as the specialists of mental health. I contend that the authority of psychiatry is misplaced and too often harmful. Since the criteria required to justify and satisfy psychiatric expertise is not fully established as can be substantiated by compelling reasons to rethink its authority as a reliable profession in its current form. Psychiatric expertise is not particularly scientific and this is especially dangerous in a sector that prescribes mind-altering drugs. There are a number of identified criteria that would otherwise substantiate psychiatric expertise and whilst partially existent, are nonetheless deficient. These major yet deficient aspects of psychiatric practice concern diagnostic problems – reliability and verification of diagnoses and accurate testable validity of diagnoses - mainly due to an absence of identifiable underlying biomarkers ordinarily related to disease or biological conditions. Psychiatrists often fail to distinguish between reactive-depression (reaction to external event or circumstance) and endogenous-depression (biological) resulting, in part, from incorrectly distinguishing between conditions constitutive of ‘trait’ (endogenous) and of those of ‘state’ (e.g. reactive depression; adverse effects from medication, etc.).

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