We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
From Yale Psychiatrist (and author of Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation) Charles Barber on the above topic in The Wilson Quarterly, a quote:
The new neuroscience has emerged from the last two decades of formidable progress in brain science, psychopharmacology, and brain imaging, bringing together research related to the human nervous system in fields as diverse as genetics and computer science. It has flowered into one of the hottest fields in academia, where almost anything "neuro" now generates excitement, along with neologisms, neuroeconomics, neurophilosophy, neuromarketing. The torrent of money flowing into the field can only be described in superlatives - hundreds of millions of dollars for efforts such as Princeton's Center for the Study of Brain, Mind, and Behavior and MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research.
Psychiatrists have been in the forefront of the transformation, eagerly shrugging off the vestiges of "talk therapy" for the bold new paradigms of neuroscience. By the late 1980s, academic psychiatrists were beginning literally to reinvent parts of the discipline, hanging out new signs saying Department of Neuropsychiatry in some medical schools. A similar transformation has occurred in academic psychology.
A layperson leafing through a mainstream psychiatric journal today might easily conclude that biologists had taken over the profession. "Acute Stress and Nicotine Cues Interact to Unveil Locomotor Arousal" and "Activity-Dependent Gene Expression in the Prefrontal Cortex" are titles of typical offerings. The field has so thoroughly cast its lot with biology, and with the biology induced by psychoactive drugs, that psychiatrists can hardly hope to publish in one of the mainstream journals if their article tells the story of an individual patient, or includes any personal thoughts or feelings about the people or the work that patient was engaged with, or fails to include a large dose of statistical data. Psychiatry used to be all theories, urges, and ids. Now it's all a search for genes, receptors, and neurotransmitters.
A few comments: He correctly describes the currents in Psychiatry today - the emphasis on the mechanistic view. Of course, this is just one view of the elephant, and you cannot eliminate the words "mind" or "soul." After all, the main role of current neuroscience is to understand "the mind." I try to take a balanced view. I am fascinated by the neurosciences, and I think our psychiatric medicines are Godsends for many. But, for many problems - let's use addictions as an easy example - I believe that a soul-change is needed, and is possible. I think it's best if we shrinks remain modest about our knowledge and our powers.
Another quote from Barber:
If there's any lesson to be gleaned from the recent history of psychiatry, it is, in the anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann's words, "how complex mental illness is, how difficult to treat, and how, in the face of this complexity, people cling to coherent explanations like poor swimmers to a raft."
We don't know much, but we should know just enough to recognize how primitive and crude our understanding of psychiatric drugs is, and how limited our understanding of the biology of mental disorder. The unfortunate fact remains that the ills of this world have a tantalizing way of eluding simple explanation. Our only hope is to be resolute and careful, not faddish, in assessing new developments as they arise, and to adopt them judiciously within a tradition of a gradually but steadily growing arsenal in the fight against genuine human suffering.
Ya know Dr Joy. You might wind up selling apples on the street, if all these new mind drugs come to fruition. You could always fall back on your modeling bathing suits career. I don't think you have to worry much!!
I was the social worker on a neuropsychiatric unit for two years. Most of what we handled were behavioral problems secondary to brain injury, developmental disability, or genetic disease. We can do so much more than we used to. But doing even more than that will be a blessing. Life is hellish for some of those folks, and those who care for them.
Assistant Village Idiot
Coleridge, with a debt to Schelling, put the complaint about any mechanistic explanation, ``Matter has no inwards.''
No discovery can get around that problem.
Biographia Literaria chapters 5-9 I think, has an extended treatment of mechanistic problems. Correctly doping out artificial intelligence.
He does not treat the temptation to mechanism, which is primarily a deferrment of the hard part. An eternal deferrment, in the end.
Cavell was going to write an essay showing that Biographia Literaria was written without digression, which as far as I know has not turned up. But Coleridge was, by digression, postponing what he could not figure out quite yet, a victim of the same effect.
At one major university, the dept of Psychology petitioned , successfully, to be moved from social science into biology. Yet, most of the faculty in psychology could never pass a Ph.D. oral exam (nor written) in biology. The move they made was a political shift, not based on a fundamental grasp of the discipline of biology.
My father was a pharmacist's mate stationed at Key West Naval Station in 1944. He, like everybody else, expected to be shipped out to the Pacific for the final push against Japan. He decided he would apply for a new rating that would have the longest training period possible. He filled out an application to be become a "neuro-psychiatric technician". Four weeks later he received congratulations and a certification for his new rating. He, for one, was thankful for the A-bomb.
I am half-way through Raymond Tallis' "Aping Mankind," Acumen Pub Ltd, Durham, UK. Tallis is a well-known British neuroscientist who is very critical about the claims made for brain imaging and the supposed correlations between brain activity and conscious awareness. If his criticisms are right (I can't judge), then modern neuroscience borders on pseudoscience. Freud and Jung are hardcore scientists compared to the neuromaniacs (Talling's word).