Psychiatry as quackery

There is no doubt in my mind that psychiatry is at about the same stage as medicine was when they believed in humours flowing in the body, i.e. ignorant quackery. Psychiatrists practice the fad du jour, messing with people's lives in blind ignorance of what they might actually be doing to them. I don't talk from personal experience - I'd never let a trick cyclist near me - but these musings are triggered by the most wonderful article sent to me.

Enjoy this insanity:

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (popularly known as the DSM-IV), human life is a form of mental illness...
Not content with the merely weird, the DSM-IV also attempts to claim dominion over the mundane. Current among the many symptoms of the deranged mind are bad writing (315.2, and its associated symptom, poor handwriting); coffee drinking, including coffee nerves (305.90), bad coffee nerves (292.89), inability to sleep after drinking too much coffee (292.89), and something that probably has something to do with coffee, though the therapist can't put his finger on it (292.9); shyness (299.80), (also known as Asperger's Disorder); sleepwalking (307.46); jet lag (307.45); snobbery (301.7, a subset of Antisocial Personality Disorder); and insomnia (307.42); to say nothing of tobacco smoking, which includes both getting hooked (305.10) and going cold turkey (292.0). You were out of your mind the last time you have a nightmare (307.47). Clumsiness is now a mental illness (315.4). So is playing video games (Malingering, V65.2). So is doing just about anything "vigorously." So, under certain circumstances, is falling asleep at night.

The foregoing list is neither random nor trivial, nor does it represent the sort of editorial oversight that occurs when, say, an otherwise reputable zoology text contains the claim that goats breathe through their ears. We are here confronted with a worldview where everything is a symptom and the predominant color is a shade of therapeutic gray. This has the advantage of making the therapist's job both remarkably simple and remarkably lucrative.

Or here's another great demolition of head-shrinking

For six years Spitzer held editorial meetings at Columbia. They were chaos. The psychiatrists would yell out the names of potential new mental disorders and the checklists of their symptoms. There would be a cacophony of voices in assent or dissent - the loudest voices getting listened to the most. If Spitzer agreed with those proposing a new diagnosis, which he almost always did, he'd hammer it out instantly on an old typewriter. And there it would be, set in stone... The previous edition of the DSM had been 134 pages, but when Spitzer's DSM-III appeared in 1980 it ran to 494 pages...

Allen Frances, continued the tradition of welcoming new mental disorders, with ...DSM-IV ...

Frances told me over the phone he felt he had made some terrible mistakes. "Psychiatric diagnoses are getting closer and closer to the boundary of normal," he said.