Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Destructive Trends in Mental Health

This extensive review of the new book Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm persuaded me to add it to my ever-growing "to read" list. The volume is edited by Rogers H. Wright and Nicolas A. Cummings who have served in leadership capacities within the American Psychological Association (APA) and who refer to themselves as "lifelong liberal activists." That self-description makes them unlikely candidates for editing this volume which sounds an alarm about how political correctness and other elements of ultra-liberal ideology exercise influence over the APA at the expense of scientific research and the welfare of patients. Here are a few interesting excerpts from the review:

The editors of this volume provide compelling arguments for many destructive trends in the mental health professions - most particularly, psychology, but also psychiatry and social work. They demonstrate from an insider's perspective how activism masquerades as science in the APA, and how "diversity" has been redefined into a kind of narrow politicism, where differing worldviews are not only summarily dismissed, but the holders of such views actually punished.
Wright says there are many treatments advocated by psychology with little or no evidence of efficacy - for example, grief and trauma counseling, treatment of repressed memories regarding sexual abuse, as well as the extensive use (or abuse) of medications for questionable diagnoses of depression and ADD/ADHD.
The authors note that there is no empirical data on political correctness because it is "politically incorrect to question political correctness" (p. 22). They post two questions regarding political correctness, and offer a number of hypotheses for potential testing. The questions are: "What psychological functions does political correctness fulfill for the individual?" and "What is the attraction of political correctness to certain personalities?" The hypotheses offered to understand these behavioral phenomena include:
  • Political Correctness Harbors Hostility
  • Political Correctness Reflects Narcissism
  • Political Correctness Masks Histrionics
  • Political Correctness Functions as Instant Morality
  • Political Correctness Wields Power
  • Political Correctness Serves as Distraction
  • Political Correctness Involves Intimidation
  • Political Correctness Lacks Alternatives
A chapter devoted to children called "The Diseasing of America's Children" addresses the myth that childhood behavior disorders are caused by genes, noting that there is no good scientific evidence. Rosemond concludes, "The perpetrators of the disease model of behavior disorders engage in disingenuous misleading arguments" (p.223). He notes that psychologists have confused biological conditions with developmental ones, citing the DSM [Diagnostic & Statistical Manual] criteria for a pathological antisocial condition which he says "perfectly describes the terrible twos!" (p. 226).
This new book provides a window into the American Psychological Association and into psychology in [a] way hithertofore only suspected. The courage demonstrated by Wright and Cummings is unparalleled. Their professional and scientific accomplishments and their positions of prominence in the American Psychological Association, along with their reasoned, evidence-based arguments, make their work essentially unassailable. Though the authors of the various chapters are critical in their judgments, their judgments are supported by evidence and their informed opinions.

1 comment:

Tom Naka said...
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