Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Deconstructing" American psychiatry

My previous post mentioned the recent AAPP conference on critical psychiatry. At this conference, Nev Jones proposed Derridean deconstruction as a starting point for an American critical psychiatry. As I mentioned, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting was taking place at the same time. I wonder whether the guide to the APA Annual Meeting could be a text to "deconstruct". 

The welcome from the APA president in the guide mentions that the "field of psychiatry is rapidly evolving with new science, new technologies, new systems of care, and new collaborations and partnerships". In a conference of this sort, it is what she wants you to believe. But has there really been such progress? Perhaps it is just said to hide the real lack of progress. 

Apart from the programme of sessions, courses, lectures, case conferences, talks, symposia, workshops and new research poster sessions, exhibitors display information about products and services related to psychiatry. The meeting would apparently not be possible without the sponsorship of exhibitors. Some provide extra sponsorship of the meeting and pay for advertisements. There are also promotional programmes supported by pharmaceutical companies. 

There is no attempt to hide the commercialism of APA. In fact, the financial relationships with any commercial interest of presenters are listed, although there are a significant number who say they have nothing to disclose. The irony is that APA seems to think that by being so open about its commercial interests it has purified the scientific content of its meeting programme. In fact it does the reverse.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Exposing the self-interest of modern psychiatry

I have mused before about the lack of impact of critical psychiatry (eg. see previous post). Having just been to a conference on critical psychiatry in San Diego organised by the Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry (AAPP) (see programme and abstracts), I have been thinking about how critical psychiatry can be more effective. 

A paper by Peter Zachar, current AAPP President, suggested that what he called "populist uprisings against the establishment" are propelled by recognition of corruption within the system (see previous post about Modern psychiatry's disgrace). I have commented before about how even biomedical psychiatrists have expressed concern about the influence of the drug industry on psychiatry (see previous post), but merely doing this seems to be insufficient for change (see another previous post). 

Adjacent to where our conference took place, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting was in the Convention Center (see guide). The advertisements in the guide to the meeting portray the interests of APA as much as the content of the meeting. As was said at our conference, the economically successful model of APA is apparent.

Yet there should be disquiet about this situation. Another paper at our meeting by Katherine Larose-H├ębert described how the power dynamics in psychiatry act as a "total institution", transforming patients' identities, subjecting them to receive services in the way they have been designed. Biomedical psychiatry is primarily organised for its own interests leaving patients docile and marginalised.

I have always tended to concentrate on conceptual issues within critical psychiatry (see my previous post on the call for abstracts for the AAPP conference). Critical psychiatry needs to do more to expose the corrupting self-interests of modern psychiatry to support the wider acceptance of its ideas.