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Dirk Steele on the couch….. initial rambling…

March 22, 2012

Psychiatry is a pseudoscience. A very sophisticated one. A ‘disease of the mind’ is an idea that everyone today adheres to and accepts as a fact. But when one looks at this claim with a critical eye – the idea falls apart. Over fifty years ago Thomas Szasz exposed the myth. The mind is not a thing. It is a concept. It cannot be examined with a microscope or an fMRI scan. The mind cannot be touched by any physical technology. A disease can be objectively measured. Whether it is a cancerous cell, a tumour,  a bacteria attempting to take over its host, a clogged artery caused by plaque causing heart failure, a stroke due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This is disease and can be objectively measured. By true scientific tests.

The term ‘mental disease’ is therefore a metaphor. A metaphor that is believed to be literal. A ‘sick’ economy has as much scientific validity as a ‘sick’ mind.

George Lakoff has shown how much of our language is metaphorical and can mislead us in our search for scientific proof. We all use the idea, the metaphor that the mind is a thing. An object. We can ‘lose’ our mind. We can find ‘ourselves’. He points out that our mind is a container in which we can ‘store’ our views. We can be ‘out’ of our minds. So our concept of mind as thing is very strong as conveyed by our language and the concepts it describes. But this is false. It is unscientific.

So where is the science in psychiatry? This is what I want to explore.


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