Tag Archives: Thomas R. Insel

THE PERNICIOUS PSYCHIATRY


Can it be said, with concrete evidence, that the modern psychiatric profession has been able to reduce the problem of mental illness? Has it been able to have any significant break-through, based on ‘science’, in the understanding of mental illness?

I have been fascinated by (director of the National Institute of Mental Health-NIMH) Thomas Insel’s recent statements about the DSM because there he answered no to those two questions. (See my first Long Live Psychiatry post.)

Don’t delude yourself, his statements were anti-psychiatry, not merely anti-DSM.  The problem is, you can’t trash Santeria’s cowrie shells reading as ignorance and then refer me to a Santero for a reading.

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That’s EXACTLY what Insel did when he trashed, not only the DSM, but the whole psychiatric ‘chemical imbalance’ model: he’s asking you to go to your shrink to have him read your DSM-cowrie.

He even trashed the pharma, well, the so-called psychiatric drugs they make to ‘cure’ emotional problems. Of course, he could only wink at the moral implications of calling on the lies that the pharma sells to us (all highlights and brackets by me):

“Given that over 95% of compounds [drugs] fail during the clinical phases of development (a fact not appreciated by looking at the published literature which is biased towards positive results)…” In ‘Experimental Medicine

So, yes, Insel DID trash the current psychiatry profession and the pharma.

He even said that MENTAL ILLNESS does NOT EXIST!

Who in the anti-psychiatry movement would disagree with his statements?

One problem with Insel’s correct statements is his ALTERNATIVE to this obsolete, inefficient and growingly irrelevant profession: EXPERIMENTAL medicine, PSYCHOSURGERY and NEUROPSYCHIATRY. The last two practices are as discredited as the one he is discarding.

The practice of poking holes in the human skull to find in the brain the seats of ‘depression’ or of road-rage behavior is older than Methuselah. You can give it a new name and call it ‘science’; it will continue to be the same ol’ useless TREPANNING practiced by the priests of ancient ages.

Left skull, iron age. Right skull - modern 21st century.

Left skull, iron age. Right skull – modern 21st century.

The new psychiatric model: Experimenting with an experiment (seriously!)

“But do we really understand the circuitry for depression or psychosis or autism? Not by a long shot.” Wanted: A Few Good Brains

So, nobody knows how mental illness ‘works’, not the old psychiatry and, as confessed by Insel, the new ‘scientific psychiatry’ knows even less. That’s a lot of progress since the ancient Egyptians were chanting to Isis for a cure to mental illness, isn’t it?

Ancient capsulotomy.

Consequently, they have to start poking the brain mass to understand these brain circuitry malfunctions (that’s what he said we must call all mental illnesses).

“As a result, NIMH is shifting from large clinical trials…to a model called “experimental medicine.” In experimental medicine, drugs are used as clinical probes and the immediate goal is not to develop a treatment but to identify or verify a target Experimental medicine is an experiment.”

The goal here is not to develop treatment. That’s progress too! Woo-hoo!

The goal, he says, is EXPERIMENTING with drugs to see how you respond to the poking and “probing” and tinkering with your brain mass (open surgery required in many cases) to find your brain ‘circuitry’. “Target” means a particular spot in the brain that could be identified as the location of circuitry related to an ‘illness’, and ‘targeting’ it by dousing the whole brain with drugs to see what happens to it, if anything. ‘Hey, let’s see what happens when we drug this dude with LSD, again!

This experimenting with your brain mass ‘model’ is the logical procedure for ‘scientists’ to acquire the knowledge about our behaviors that no one has. That’s why the millenarian Egyptians used it. Somehow, it was barbaric for them to do it, but scientific for Insel to do it.

So, that’s the meaning of “experimental medicine is an experiment”: using live human subjects to experiment with the brain. The lab rats shall be free!

“This approach acknowledges that animal studies…are not consistently predictive of how medications will work in humans, homo veritas. Experimental medicine focuses on human studies rather than rodent research.”

The people of the animal rights groups have been saying the same thing – that testing on animals us useless for us, but no one cares that Insel is saying they are right. We just seem unable to put two and two together.

Who will be the new rodents for this experimental medicine model? Round up the usual suspects:

“For NIMH…people with our most prevalent disorders seem to be everywhere—homebound, homeless, in prison, schools, primary care—except the academic health center. As a result, recruitment into clinical trials may be slow [because, as he acknowledges in the article, the public do not care much for experimenting on humans].”

You can’t say you have not been warned.

In the next post: Psychiatric profession’ struggle to remain relevant. It’s past, present and future; the real reason why Insel bashed the profession.

Psychiatry is dead. Long live psychiatry. Part 2


It has to be said now, get it out-of-the-way before we dive into discussing the ‘new psychiatry’ and its neuroscience and new lobotomy: modern psychiatry (since the 1800s) has always suffered from an acute case of ‘scalpel envy’. There, I’ve said it.

scalpel

Psychiatry’ scalpel envy: surgery to remove that sadness from your brain.

Let me give you a recent manifestation of that envy, as expressed recently by Thomas Insel, director of the NIMH, in his blog post Transforming Diagnosis.

There he made that cliché comparison between “the rest of medicine” and psychiatry. Trying to discredit (now) the DSM, he said:

Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure… In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever.

Can it be, could it be, will it be any other way, the diagnosis of a ‘psychopathology’?

For a case of sadness and ‘major depression due to bereavement caused by the sudden loss of a child in a car accident’, which organ would you look into? Into the heart? As President Bush2 infamously said about the weapons of mass destruction as he bent over to look underneath a table, “no they are not there.”

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Would you look into the brain? You are getting warmer! Can you see that ball of sadness blocking my happiness (like a ball of fat clogs an artery) using your X-rays or MRI’s or whatever tool you have now for looking at ORGANS?

Of course you CAN’T see it! A color in a brain imaging is NOT the sadness.

Picture of the location of bereavement: is the left big yellow spot...or the right one? Who knows!

Picture of the location in the brain of ‘bereavement’: is the left big yellow spot…or the right one? Better get it right or they’ll cut the wrong piece of brain.

But that doesn’t prevent the new psychiatry from recommending a cyngulotomy, the modern term for lobotomy, if the sadness persists for over a year (more on this later.)

The scalpel envy consists of that self-knowledge of the psychiatric profession that what they do does not constitute ‘medicine’, it is not ‘hard science’, that they are NOT scientists as defined by the ‘real’ scientists. It consist of that painful embarrassing awareness that even ‘regular doctors’ look at psychiatrists with contempt because psychiatrists try too hard to be what they are not: like ‘regular doctors’ who can operate on a particular organ and actually cure the illness (mostly, they have their ‘issues’ too).

Why envy of surgeons and not of, let’s say, psychotherapists or of priests, both of who can actually help in soothing sadness? Because there is not $$$ there nor PRESTIGE, that’s why.  Because, as Insel said, psychiatry is not based on science; anyone can do today the job of psychiatrists: treat mental disorders.

It is NOT the DSM that is not based on science, it is the PROFESSION. But don’t expect Insel, or anyone else for that matter in the mental health system, to put it that bluntly. Instead, put the blame on the DSM, boys, paraphrasing that song.

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Therein resides the problem with the ‘new psychiatry: it is NOT new and it is going back to the future with lobotomy because ONLY the scalpel can separate them from the old psychiatry, from the psychotherapists and social workers and priests who can do the job BETTER without drugs or scalpel.

It is that envy which has caused so much suffering in our modern society to people suffering from mental disorders or whatever you want to call it.

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It comes from the perennial and UNSUCCESSFUL human search to find the seat of ‘sadness’ and joy and the soul. That’s why the meaning of the word ‘psychiatry’ is ‘the medical treatment of the soul’; it has inherited a lot more from ancient civilizations than from ‘modern’ psychiatry.

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Lobotomy: you’ve come a long way, baby.

Tomorrow: the new psychiatry,neurosurgery and, again, experimentation on humans.