How modern psychiatry developed: A few decades ago, psychiatrists were losing their status. Then, the fabrication of new diagnoses along with the invention of medications to treat them saved them economically. First the antidepressants, and then the newer antipsychotics came to the rescue. This moved the specialty into the medical mainstream because the psychiatrists were the only ones who purportedly understood it all.
The novel diagnoses—some say concoctions—were enshrined in the psychiatric manual, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Pharmaceutical companies played a huge role in its creation.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) started aggressive disease-mongering of the new ailments. They hired ad agencies to produce “public service” drug advertising. The corporations marketed the new supposed cures alongside.
By 2008, twenty-eight percent of the APA’s income came from drug companies. According to influence theory, this made the APA virtually a subsidiary of the companies. Senator Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa) publicized the story in a congressional investigation.
Ben Furman, MD, a psychiatrist in Finland, explained how it happened in a 2018 blog:
The psychoanalytic belief system was thrown out and replaced with the DSM and the biomedical doctrine: everyone should have a diagnosis, and everyone should have medication. The psychiatrists now treated all the conditions that had been treated with therapy with medication. This became the treatment of choice for almost all mental health conditions regardless of whether the patient was an adult, teenager or child. A patient without medication became a rarity. The data system of mental health services required clinicians to diagnose anyone who sought help.
The psychiatrists and corporations ignored studies showing damage from long-term drug use. They left disparaging critics out of the debate and out of the textbooks.
Finally, long after the science matured, a few of the doctors are telling the truth. In 2012, an editorial in the British Journal of Psychiatry said the psychiatric medication revolution was at an end. Others now echo this sentiment.Support the show