Friday, July 03, 2009

Critical psychiatry should not be dismissed as anti-psychiatry

At least Pat Bracken and Phil Thomas, advocates of postpsychiatry, have managed to get some response from mainstream psychiatry. They have an editorial in the Psychiatric Bulletin this month, which has an invited commentary from Frank Holloway to which they write an authors' response.

The problem is the way in which critical psychiatry/postpsychiatry gets dismissed as anti-psychiatry. It's not really clear what Frank Holloway means when he says the postpsychiatry project is strikingly similar to the anti-psychiatry of the 1970s. What he implies is that it doesn't really need to be considered. It'll end up in the same dead-end as anti-psychiatry, which was over the top anyway.

It is true there were excesses in anti-psychiatry (see my Historical perspectives on anti-psychiatry). However, the rotten reputation of anti-psychiatry should not be used to hide mainstream's psychiatry's defensiveness about the challenge of critical psychiatry, with which it does need to engage.