I have been a psychiatrist for 25 years but have not felt a need to prefix what I do as “real”. I feel the same way about “improvement science”. Science, by definition, should not be predetermined.
A few days ago (21st March 2019) Dr George Dawson, MD, shared a picture of his study along with the above picture of a stack of his psychiatry textbooks. Dr Dawson explained his reason for doing so:
“More than thirty years of psychopharmacology texts and not a single mention of ‘Chemical Imbalance’ – if you a re reading a book that includes the term burn it – [as] it was written by an antipsychiatrist”
Dr Dawson’s assertion attracted a number of responses:
One respondent said:
“Oh, come on. You must be a lot younger than I am – I heard it repeatedly referred to in my psychiatric training in the 1980s . . . we manufactured and popularised that myth”
Another respondent said:
“Textbooks may not use the term but patients are saying that’s what their doctor told them. Many doctors rely on pharma-sponsored”
Dr George Dawson, MD, replied to the above correspondent:
Another respondent said:
“They still teach this in Grad School to new social workers. ‘Neurotransmitter theory’ is what my teacher called it last night” [this was shared with a screenshot of the lecture]
A further correspondent asked Dr George Dawson, MD, if his advice applied to the advice given by this NHS website:
Dr Dawson, MD replied: “[this] shows the extent of antipsychiatry propaganda”
A further correspondent said:
“NIMH website (today) states that ‘scientists think an imbalance in complex, interrelated chemical reactions of the brain involving neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate plays a role in Schizophrenia”. Is this meaningfully different form saying ‘chemical imbalance’?”
Dr Dawson, MD replied: “I think it is different and I think the statement is incorrect”
A further correspondent said: “The books not may say it, yet nevertheless it’s pervasive in our society. What is worse it suggests little effort is made to correct this misinformation to the public.”
Another correspondent from the UK said: “My daughter is a final year Medical Student – she and her colleagues ARE taught ‘chemical imbalance’ … and that SSRI’s fix imbalance . . . I’m [writing as] a concerned prescribing psychiatrist”
Dr Samei Huda responded to this UK psychiatrist: “Our medical students aren’t locally taught this so maybe she needs to go to a better school . . .”
Why I have written this post:
I trained as a psychiatrist in Scotland. This was much of 25 years ago now. Throughout this time I was taught [and I told to patients what I was taught] that mental disorders were the result of “chemical imbalance”. I was “taught” this year-after- year throughout my training. It is likely that without reproducing the Stahl diagrams of neurotransmitter-endings [where the “Chemical imbalance” occurs] that I would not have gained my membership of the Royal College.
It is worth noting that so very little material on the UK “Defeat Depression Campaign” can today be easily accessed. Yet this campaign extended across the UK and was integral to the “education” of psychiatrists like myself. I understand that the Royal College of Psychiatrists keeps some of this material in their archive but it has not been made easily accessible.