The psychiatric and phramacuetical industries are a twin headed hydra, a symbiotic parasite that feed off of each other and of us, of our fear, anger. grief, lonliness, despair and depression.
I no longer see these two as two separate industries, their interests are so closely intertwined, they model the industrial-military complex, where one creates the situation in which the other provides the solution and they both get rich on other people's misery.
I believe we should coin a new phrase that signifies this relationship between the two, so it no longer lies hidden, let's just call it the Psych/Pharma Complex. So whenever you meet a pyschiatrist, recall this phrase and acknowledge to yourself their close ties to the other side of the coin.
Together, these two generate profits in the billions and are busy classifying normal human emotions as mental illnesses so they can increase those profits, milking us, their cash cows, even more.
Think I'm overstaing the case? Then would you believe Dr Jerome Kagan?
And who is he? Well, Dr Kagan is one of the most celebrated psychologists ever, he was voted higher in the top 100 psychologists of the 20th Century than the legendary Carl Jung, coming in at no 22. He spent most of his career at Harvard and is currently an emeritus professor at Harvard and a faculty member at the New England Complex Systems Institute.
In a recent Der Speigel interview he had very little good to say about his profession. He has even attacked his own profession in his recently published book "Psychology's Ghost: The Crisis in the Profession and the Way Back." In it, he warns that this crisis has had disastrous consequences for millions of people who have been incorrectly diagnosed as suffering from mental illness.
SPIEGEL: … you could also say skyrocketed. In the 1960s, mental disorders were virtually unknown among children. Today, official sources claim that one child in eight in the United States is mentally ill.
Kagan: That's true, but it is primarily due to fuzzy diagnostic practices. Let's go back 50 years. We have a 7-year-old child who is bored in school and disrupts classes. Back then, he was called lazy. Today, he is said to suffer from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). That's why the numbers have soared.
SPIEGEL: Experts speak of 5.4 million American children who display the symptoms typical of ADHD. Are you saying that this mental disorder is just an invention?
Kagan: That's correct; it is an invention. Every child who's not doing well in school is sent to see a pediatrician, and the pediatrician says: "It's ADHD; here's Ritalin." In fact, 90 percent of these 5.4 million kids don't have an abnormal dopamine metabolism. The problem is, if a drug is available to doctors, they'll make the corresponding diagnosis.
How damning is that, and he says more....
SPIEGEL: What does it mean if millions of American children are wrongly being declared mentally ill?
Kagan: Well, most of all, it means more money for the pharmaceutical industry and more money for psychiatrists and people doing research.
SPIEGEL: And what does it mean for the children concerned?
Kagan: For them, it is a sign that something is wrong with them -- and that can be debilitating. I'm not the only psychologist to say this. But we're up against an enormously powerful alliance: pharmaceutical companies that are making billions, and a profession that is self-interested.
SPIEGEL: Should one just wait to see whether depression will go away by itself?
Kagan: That depends on the circumstances. Take my own case: About 35 years ago, I was working on a book summarizing a major research project. I wanted to say something truly important, but I wasn't being very successful. So I went into a textbook-type depression. I was unable to sleep, and I met all the other clinical criteria, too. But I knew what the cause was, so I didn't see a psychiatrist. And what do you know? Six months later, the depression had gone.
SPIEGEL: In a case like that, does it even make sense to speak of mental illness?
Kagan: Psychiatrists would say I was mentally ill. But what had happened? I had set myself a standard that was too high and failed to meet that standard. So I did what most people would do in this situation: I went into a depression for a while. Most depressions like that blow over. But there are also people with a genetic vulnerability to depression in whom the symptoms do not pass by themselves. These people are chronically depressed; they are mentally ill. So it is important to look not just at the symptoms, but also at the causes. Psychiatry is the only medical profession in which the illnesses are only based on symptoms …
SPIEGEL: … and it seems to discover more and more new disorders in the process. Bipolar disorders, for example, virtually never used to occur among children. Today, almost a million Americans under the age of 19 are said to suffer from it.
Kagan: We seem to have passed the cusp of that wave. A group of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital just started calling kids who had temper tantrums bipolar. They shouldn't have done that. But the drug companies loved it because drugs against bipolar disorders are expensive. That's how the trend was started. It's a little like in the 15th century, when people started thinking someone could be possessed by the devil or hexed by a witch.
Kagan: I share your unhappiness. But that is the history of humanity: Those in authority believe they're doing the right thing, and they harm those who have no power.
Kagan: Psychiatrists should begin to make diagnoses the way other doctors do: They should ask what the causes are.
SPIEGEL: The problems you describe are not new. Why do you believe psychiatry is in a crisis at this specific time?
Kagan: It's a matter of the degree. Epidemiological studies are saying that one person in four is mentally ill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta recently announced that one in 88 American children has autism. That's absurd. It means that psychiatrists are calling any child who is socially awkward autistic. If you claim that anyone who can't walk a mile in 10 minutes has a serious locomotor disability, then you will trigger an epidemic of serious locomotor disabilities among older people. It may sound funny, but that's exactly what's going on in psychiatry today.
SPIEGEL: Do you sometimes feel ashamed of belonging to a profession that you think wrongly declares large parts of society to be mentally ill?
Kagan: I feel sad, not ashamed … but maybe a little ashamed, too.