Are psychology and psychiatry pseudosciences?


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Concubine

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I've seen some physicians, many soon to be physicians, and lots of pre-meds touting "X" study from "X" psychiatry journal as evidence to support a claim. With Psychology and psychiatry's absence of solid controls, do you view them as pseudosciences?
 

paranoid_eyes

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With Psychology and psychiatry's absence of solid controls, do you view them as pseudosciences?
umm...neither of them are pseudosciences. There are solid controls and there is solid evidence. It's usually the ignorant folks who have no idea about real research that make these kinds of comments about "solid controls". What on earth do YOU consider a solid control??? Do you even know what that is? Most premeds fall into this ignorant lot, because their dishwashing "research" is so devoid of any intellectual processing, that they think they know it all because they've read a couple nature papers. Psychology research is WAY ahead of any of the research I do in neuroscience, and a lot of what my research project entails is based off of strong evidence presented by psychology researchers.

it's no wonder that PI's hate premeds...:thumbdown:
 
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Concubine

Concubine

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umm...neither of them are pseudosciences. There are solid controls and there is solid evidence. It's usually the ignorant folks who have no idea about real research that make these kinds of comments about "solid controls". What on earth do YOU consider a solid control??? Do you even know what that is? Most premeds fall into this ignorant lot, because their dishwashing "research" is so devoid of any intellectual processing, that they think they know it all because they've read a couple nature papers. Psychology research is WAY ahead of any of the research I do in neuroscience, and a lot of what my research project entails is based off of strong evidence presented by psychology researchers.

it's no wonder that PI's hate premeds...:thumbdown:
Let me explain what I mean by "solid" control. If you want to study the behavior of animals such as rats, there are no significant ethical limitations – you can kill them, you dice them up, give them an experimental drug, and no one will complain. They are expendable. Without ethical limitations, a true control group is easy to set up. There's no problem in withholding treatment or medication from rats.

Studying human behavior (as in psychology and psychiatry), on the other hand, will present significant ethical limitations. If you want to know whether removing a specific part of the brain results in specific behavioral changes, you can't perform the study on humans. If you want to determine whether a specific therapy protocol will result in lower suicide rates, then is withholding the therapy from a control group of suicidal patients and giving them a "placebo" therapy ethical? Thus psychology and psychiatry (without using animal models) relies on "retrospective experiments", where conclusions are taken from past events rather than formal laboratory experiments. Do you see what I mean by "solid" controls?
 
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Concubine

Concubine

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Concubine, your post made me laugh. The way your post is worded intentionally guides the outcome. You worded it like a political push poll, thus creating a pseudo-poll. :rolleyes:
:laugh: perhaps I did. I'm just interested in what people think.
 

Quadratic

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Thus psychology and psychiatry (without using animal models) relies on "retrospective experiments", where conclusions are taken from past events rather than formal laboratory experiments. Do you see what I mean by "solid" controls?
All experiments are based on events from the past. That's why there is the need to do the experiment.
 
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Concubine

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All experiments are based on events from the past. That's why there is the need to do the experiment.
??? - Not sure I get what you mean. Could you elaborate?
 

PainKiller69

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Let me explain what I mean by "solid" control. If you want to study the behavior of animals such as rats, there are no significant ethical limitations – you can kill them, you dice them up, give them an experimental drug, and no one will complain. They are expendable. Without ethical limitations, a true control group is easy to set up. There's no problem in withholding treatment or medication from rats.

Studying human behavior (as in psychology and psychiatry), on the other hand, will present significant ethical limitations. If you want to know whether removing a specific part of the brain results in specific behavioral changes, you can't perform the study on humans. If you want to determine whether a specific therapy protocol will result in lower suicide rates, then is withholding the therapy from a control group of suicidal patients and giving them a "placebo" therapy ethical? Thus psychology and psychiatry (without using animal models) relies on "retrospective experiments", where conclusions are taken from past events rather than formal laboratory experiments. Do you see what I mean by "solid" controls?
Boyyy... where to begin. Institutional Animal Care And Use Committee (IACUC)

or the Animal Welfare Act
 

Aidan

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Let me explain what I mean by "solid" control. If you want to study the behavior of animals such as rats, there are no significant ethical limitations – you can kill them, you dice them up, give them an experimental drug, and no one will complain. They are expendable. Without ethical limitations, a true control group is easy to set up. There's no problem in withholding treatment or medication from rats.

Studying human behavior (as in psychology and psychiatry), on the other hand, will present significant ethical limitations. If you want to know whether removing a specific part of the brain results in specific behavioral changes, you can't perform the study on humans. If you want to determine whether a specific therapy protocol will result in lower suicide rates, then is withholding the therapy from a control group of suicidal patients and giving them a "placebo" therapy ethical? Thus psychology and psychiatry (without using animal models) relies on "retrospective experiments", where conclusions are taken from past events rather than formal laboratory experiments. Do you see what I mean by "solid" controls?
you're making a swift broad generalization of psychological professions, it's not all rat medicating, slicing and dicing, and performing prefrontal lobotomies. if the suicidal patient is kept under monitoring and a safe environment, I don't see the problem in performing a drug experiment that could save his life soon thereafter. hell, the placebo effect alone may even help his condition:).

I think I understand what you mean by experiments being taken from the past? such as experiments that previous psychologists have done that couldn't be repeated because of ethical codes today? this is a true problem that psychologists face, but usually they are pretty good about dodging ethical dillemas and still being able to achieve their results.

a lot of the things you are saying is true in other medical professions too, drug experimenting specifically. there are tests that have to be done on patients to see if the drug works in other fields too, not just psychology - and again, there are many divisions of psychology, behavioral, cognitive, familial, etc., many of them don't even touch drugs or a scalpel.

it's not a psuedo science, it's a true science that follows the scientific method to achieve meaningful data just like any other science.
 

HumidBeing

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Let me explain what I mean by "solid" control. If you want to study the behavior of animals such as rats, there are no significant ethical limitations – you can kill them, you dice them up, give them an experimental drug, and no one will complain. They are expendable. Without ethical limitations, a true control group is easy to set up. There's no problem in withholding treatment or medication from rats.

Studying human behavior (as in psychology and psychiatry), on the other hand, will present significant ethical limitations. If you want to know whether removing a specific part of the brain results in specific behavioral changes, you can't perform the study on humans. If you want to determine whether a specific therapy protocol will result in lower suicide rates, then is withholding the therapy from a control group of suicidal patients and giving them a "placebo" therapy ethical? Thus psychology and psychiatry (without using animal models) relies on "retrospective experiments", where conclusions are taken from past events rather than formal laboratory experiments. Do you see what I mean by "solid" controls?
You're going to run into similar arguments for any branch of medicine, and development of pharmacological products.
 

diosa428

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Let me explain what I mean by "solid" control. If you want to study the behavior of animals such as rats, there are no significant ethical limitations – you can kill them, you dice them up, give them an experimental drug, and no one will complain. They are expendable. Without ethical limitations, a true control group is easy to set up. There's no problem in withholding treatment or medication from rats.

Studying human behavior (as in psychology and psychiatry), on the other hand, will present significant ethical limitations. If you want to know whether removing a specific part of the brain results in specific behavioral changes, you can't perform the study on humans. If you want to determine whether a specific therapy protocol will result in lower suicide rates, then is withholding the therapy from a control group of suicidal patients and giving them a "placebo" therapy ethical? Thus psychology and psychiatry (without using animal models) relies on "retrospective experiments", where conclusions are taken from past events rather than formal laboratory experiments. Do you see what I mean by "solid" controls?
#1 - Neuroimaging is widely used in psychiatry research. You don't need to cut up people's brains to see what's working and what's not.
#2 - Why are you talking about removing parts of brains anyway? We don't go around cutting up the other organs in the body, even if they're not functioning correctly. Generally treatment occurs with drugs.
#3 - Your example of giving suicidal people drugs is ridiculous. You may treat depression, for example, but you don't treat suicidality, because there are countless reasons why one would be suicidal, and you can't just give someone a drug that is all encompassing. And yes, researchers do do controlled trials in which some people get a drug and some people get a placebo. If you had a drug that you thought could cure cancer, you'd do a study in exactly the same way. You can't market a drug without proving it works, and you can't prove it works unless you do a study. You clearly have no idea how scientific research occurs.
 

Quadratic

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??? - Not sure I get what you mean. Could you elaborate?
No. It's obvious that you're either 1) bored or 2) an idiot. Not worth it.
 
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Concubine

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#1 - Neuroimaging is widely used in psychiatry research. You don't need to cut up people's brains to see what's working and what's not.
Whether Neuroimaging is widely used in psychology or psychiatry is irrelevant to the discussion.

#2 - Why are you talking about removing parts of brains anyway? We don't go around cutting up the other organs in the body, even if they're not functioning correctly. Generally treatment occurs with drugs.
Clearly you are not understanding my poll.

#3 - Your example of giving suicidal people drugs is ridiculous. You may treat depression, for example, but you don't treat suicidality, because there are countless reasons why one would be suicidal, and you can't just give someone a drug that is all encompassing. And yes, researchers do do controlled trials in which some people get a drug and some people get a placebo. If you had a drug that you thought could cure cancer, you'd do a study in exactly the same way. You can't market a drug without proving it works, and you can't prove it works unless you do a study. You clearly have no idea how scientific research occurs.
"Therapy" my friend...not drugs...therapy. Did you even read my post?
 

diosa428

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Clearly you are not understanding my poll.
You're right, I don't understand your poll. And I don't think anyone else here does either. Because it makes no sense. Maybe you have beef with a particular article, but the majority of research done in psychiatry is done with controls. Similarly, there are plenty of retrospective studies done in areas other than psychiatry.
 

Aidan

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You're right, I don't understand your poll. And I don't think anyone else here does either. Because it makes no sense. Maybe you have beef with a particular article, but the majority of research done in psychiatry is done with controls. Similarly, there are plenty of retrospective studies done in areas other than psychiatry.
maybe he needs psychiatric evaluation:confused::p
 

45408

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Someone might want to submit the names of Concubine, gatorsbball, Hemichordate, the donkey to the AAMC for blacklisting.
 

notdeadyet

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1. People who equate psychiatry with therapy don't really understand the scope of psychiatry. Read up on it. It's enlightening.

2. Every ethical concern and dilema about psychiatry that's been raised is also applicable to non-psych research. Substitute therapy with pharmacology and you'll get the same issues.

3. The examples used by the OP (psych is problematic 'cause you can't remove parts of the brain to study behavioral changes; the thought that you can take mice, "dice them up" and do whatever you want without ethical constraints) make me suspect a lack of exposure to how medical research is done.

4. Why does anyone set up public polls? I'm always curious. Seems very silly.
 
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Concubine

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[YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E-QFljl7nY[/YOUTUBE]
 

chessknt87

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After reading all these posts I feel really out of the loop. I thought Pavlov-esque experiments where you study behaviors under different conditions and draw sweeping generalizations was psychological research, what is all this about rat brains and imaging?
 

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umm...neither of them are pseudosciences. There are solid controls and there is solid evidence. It's usually the ignorant folks who have no idea about real research that make these kinds of comments about "solid controls". What on earth do YOU consider a solid control??? Do you even know what that is? Most premeds fall into this ignorant lot, because their dishwashing "research" is so devoid of any intellectual processing, that they think they know it all because they've read a couple nature papers. Psychology research is WAY ahead of any of the research I do in neuroscience, and a lot of what my research project entails is based off of strong evidence presented by psychology researchers.

it's no wonder that PI's hate premeds...:thumbdown:
Concubine, your post made me laugh. The way your post is worded intentionally guides the outcome. You worded it like a political push poll, thus creating a pseudo-poll. :rolleyes:
Seconded to both.
 

Salsa45

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1. This is a troll.

2. You cannot lump psychology and psychiatry in a poll like this.

3. This is a troll.
 

Nanon

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Let me explain what I mean by "solid" control. If you want to study the behavior of animals such as rats, there are no significant ethical limitations – you can kill them, you dice them up, give them an experimental drug, and no one will complain. They are expendable. Without ethical limitations, a true control group is easy to set up. There's no problem in withholding treatment or medication from rats.

Studying human behavior (as in psychology and psychiatry), on the other hand, will present significant ethical limitations. If you want to know whether removing a specific part of the brain results in specific behavioral changes, you can't perform the study on humans. If you want to determine whether a specific therapy protocol will result in lower suicide rates, then is withholding the therapy from a control group of suicidal patients and giving them a "placebo" therapy ethical? Thus psychology and psychiatry (without using animal models) relies on "retrospective experiments", where conclusions are taken from past events rather than formal laboratory experiments. Do you see what I mean by "solid" controls?
1. As a real, honest to goodness, get paid a lot of money for it and everything clinical research analyst, I can tell you that almost all of the prospective studies I've been involved with have had ethical issues, and I work in the surgery department. Giving any kind of drug - even a well studied drug for a novel purpose - has an ethical component. Hence, (almost) all institutions that conduct or support human research of any kind have Institutional Review Boards that review studies to make sure that they're feasible, scientifically solid and ethical. This is why my job exists - to make these kinds of studies do exactly that.

2. Retrospective studies are the meat and potatoes of most of human research, and yield a lot of valuable information... to extend the food metaphor, they yield the low-lying fruit that many prospective studies are built on.

3. All of that being said, I do think that the way that psychiatric illness is defined currently is a crock - nosology gone awry, and I wrote a 40 page senior thesis on it. However, that does NOT mean that there is no such thing as psychiatric illness, or that drugs don't help ease suffering. It just means that our current nosological constructs for defining mental illness are not adequate. We can't cure plenty of other types of diseases, and we can't even adequately define a lot of diseases - like Alzheimers, for instance. But saying that it doesn't exist is kind of silly.
 

SaveThisLabRat

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Sorry guys, but I just came back from a session with a therapist, and by the end of it I was being signed up for electroshock therapy and Adderall. And the session was intended for my brother.

Screw the haters. This is an awesome science.
 

Aidan

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Sorry guys, but I just came back from a session with a therapist, and by the end of it I was being signed up for electroshock therapy and Adderall. And the session was intended for my brother.

Screw the haters. This is an awesome science.
The ECT wouldn't get rid of your ADHD? :p
 

cpants

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Uh, that youtube was absolutely absurd. Just because there isn't a blood test for a disease doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Unfortunately, we don't have the technology to understand how many psychotropic drugs work, but we can still see that they do work.
 

Hurricane95

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Tom Cruise, is that you? Of course they are science....now get off sdn and go worship xenu or something...don't you have some auditing to do? :smuggrin:
 
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Concubine

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What is pseudoscience?

1. A tendency to invoke ad hoc hypotheses, which can be thought of as "escape hatches" or loopholes, as a means of immunizing claims from falsification
2. An absence of self-correction and an accompanying intellectual stagnation
3. An emphasis on confirmation rather than refutation
4. A tendency to place the burden of proof on skeptics, not proponents
5. Excessive reliance on anecdotal and testimonial evidence to substantiate claims
6. Evasion of the scrutiny afforded by peer review
7. Absence of "connectivity" (Stanovich, 1997), that is, a failure to build on existing scientific knowledge
8. Use of impressive-sounding jargon, whose primary purpose is to lend claims a facade of scientific respectability
9. An absence of boundary conditions (Hines, 2003), that is, a failure to specify the parameters under which claims do not hold.

(courtesy of Lilienfeld, S. O., Lynn, S. J., & Lohr, J. M. (2003). Science and pseudoscience in clinical psychology. New York: Guilford. and wikipedia)

Does Psychology encompass at least some of these problems at a significantly increased level than traditional science (physics, biology, chemistry, math, etc.)?
 
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Concubine

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Uh, that youtube was absolutely absurd. Just because there isn't a blood test for a disease doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Unfortunately, we don't have the technology to understand how many psychotropic drugs work, but we can still see that they do work.
Then where is the burdon of proof? Without a good test, doesn't the diagnosis seem a bit subjective?
 

kronickm

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Is every major other than Biology, Chemistry and Physics a pseudo-major?

Is everyone who is not a Biologist, Chemist, Physicist or Doctor a pseudo-human being?

wate for pole.



Do you get high on science after school every day?
 
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Concubine

Concubine

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Do you get high on science after school every day?
Back in undergrad, yep! Since then, it's not just after school, it's all day every day.:D
 

notdeadyet

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Uh, that youtube was absolutely absurd.
That youtube clip is from the Church of Scientology.

Concubine, I gotta hand it to you, you must be a guy with a pretty well developed sense of irony to whine about pseudoscience and bias and then pull up as evidence Scientology material. Are you going to throw scripture at us next? Or curses from Thetan?
 
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Concubine

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That youtube clip is from the Church of Scientology.

Concubine, I gotta hand it to you, you must be a guy with a pretty well developed sense of irony to whine about pseudoscience and bias and then pull up as evidence Scientology material. Are you going to throw scripture at us next? Or curses from Thetan?
I'm not a damn scientologist, but I do recognize a lion in sheeps clothing when I see one. I never said the video was accurate and I could care less what "authority" is responsible for making the video, but rather the evidence it brings up if valid. Instead of whining about the source of the video, how about providing some constructive criticism? Astounding.

http://www.arachnoid.com/psychology/index.html
 

kronickm

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In order to consider whether psychology is a science, we must first define our terms. It is not overarching to say that science is what separates human beings from animals, and, as time goes by and we learn more about our animal neighbors here on Earth, it becomes increasingly clear that science is all that separates humans from animals. We are learning that animals have feelings, passions, and certain rights. What animals do not have is the ability to reason, to rise above feeling.
What a bunch of malarky.

You want some constructive criticism? How about this, there is no possiblity for true objective knowledge since we, as human beings, cannot possibly escape our subjectivity. All the data collected and happenings observed, are done so through our senses and our conciousness, as such, all of science is unequivocally subjective. Attempts are certainly made to reduce such subjectivity to as small an amount as possible but science cannot be completely seperated from it.

Science is science, philosophy is philosophy and psychology is psychology. Each has its own value. The mind is the gateway through which all of our contact with the outside world must pass through. The study of psychology can have an immense effect on our view of ourselves and of reality, much more so than the study of some remote aspect of quantum mechanics. Stop trying to bash psychology and stop being such a troll.
 

BigRedder

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Let me explain what I mean by "solid" control. If you want to study the behavior of animals such as rats, there are no significant ethical limitations – you can kill them, you dice them up, give them an experimental drug, and no one will complain. They are expendable. Without ethical limitations, a true control group is easy to set up. There's no problem in withholding treatment or medication from rats.

Studying human behavior (as in psychology and psychiatry), on the other hand, will present significant ethical limitations. If you want to know whether removing a specific part of the brain results in specific behavioral changes, you can't perform the study on humans. If you want to determine whether a specific therapy protocol will result in lower suicide rates, then is withholding the therapy from a control group of suicidal patients and giving them a "placebo" therapy ethical? Thus psychology and psychiatry (without using animal models) relies on "retrospective experiments", where conclusions are taken from past events rather than formal laboratory experiments. Do you see what I mean by "solid" controls?
Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Does this mean that all of medicine is a pseudoscience because all the trials are done on people? I hope you are trolling...
 
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Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Does this mean that all of medicine is a pseudoscience because all the trials are done on people? I hope you are trolling...
If you think trials start with people then you are truly ignorant.
 

prettymonkey

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you are all GLIB!!! you don't know the history of psychiatry. i do.

whatever tom cruise says i agree with. that's all i know.
 

Textuality

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If you think trials start with people then you are truly ignorant.

Hey Concubine, congrats on getting accepted this cycle! Where are you matriculating next year? And how come you're a "non student" status?
 
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Concubine

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Hey Concubine, congrats on getting accepted this cycle! Where are you matriculating next year? And how come you're a "non student" status?
I've always been a bit uncomfortable categorizing myself as "premed" since I've been out of school so long and having a career and such. The minute I start school I'll probably put up that I'm a medical student...if I have time.
 
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Concubine

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Hey Concubine, congrats on getting accepted this cycle! Where are you matriculating next year? And how come you're a "non student" status?
Congrats to you on what I assume is an engagement? That's awesome!
 

cpants

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Then where is the burdon of proof? Without a good test, doesn't the diagnosis seem a bit subjective?
There are plenty of Dx's that we don't have tests for. That doesn't make them less of a disease. There is an observable constellation of symptoms that is seen over a wide population of patients. Before karyotyping, didn't people still have Down Syndrome? Before HIV tests were developed, didn't those patients still have HIV? Psychiatrists diagnose based on real symptoms that their patients present with. Yes it is a more subjective Dx, a lot of medicine is subjective.
 
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Concubine

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There are plenty of Dx's that we don't have tests for. That doesn't make them less of a disease. There is an observable constellation of symptoms that is seen over a wide population of patients. Before karyotyping, didn't people still have Down Syndrome? Before HIV tests were developed, didn't those patients still have HIV? Psychiatrists diagnose based on real symptoms that their patients present with. Yes it is a more subjective Dx, a lot of medicine is subjective.
Yes, but I think the film brings up a good point. A patient is subjectively diagnosed with a "chemical imbalance", in which no test can confirm or refute, then prescribed medication to "fix" this chemical imbalance for an indefinite amount of time and with no measurable outcome. Correct me if I'm wrong, but would that ever fly in non-experimental medicine?

I question the DSM's validity as a manual. From what I understand, it was originally intended to standardize the diagnostic criteria, so that two psychologists similarly trained would be able to use the manual to produce the same diagnosis on the same patient independently. How often does this work?
 

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Yes, but I think the film brings up a good point. A patient is subjectively diagnosed with a "chemical imbalance", in which no test can confirm or refute, then prescribed medication to "fix" this chemical imbalance for an indefinite amount of time and with no measurable outcome. Correct me if I'm wrong, but would that ever fly in non-experimental medicine?quote]

It's unrealistic to say that there is NO measurable outcome. I had an internship for a year at an out-patient clinic for people with schizophrenia. The part of the clinic I worked in ran several studies at a time regarding the effectiveness of therapy, drugs, etc. If someone with schizophrenia (or another diagnosis) comes in exhibiting X, Y, and Z symptoms that significantly hinder their life to the point that they can't hold down a job, live on their own, maintain relationships, or clean themselves and then they receive therapy, a prescription, or both and then several weeks later they CAN get a job, live on their own, etc. then I would argue that the above would be considered a measurable outcome. Is it a definite test? No. Is it easy to measure that a person's life is more manageable and improved. Yes.
 

Depakote

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Yes, but I think the film brings up a good point. A patient is subjectively diagnosed with a "chemical imbalance", in which no test can confirm or refute, then prescribed medication to "fix" this chemical imbalance for an indefinite amount of time and with no measurable outcome. Correct me if I'm wrong, but would that ever fly in non-experimental medicine?

I question the DSM's validity as a manual. From what I understand, it was originally intended to standardize the diagnostic criteria, so that two psychologists similarly trained would be able to use the manual to produce the same diagnosis on the same patient independently. How often does this work?
You're putting too much emphasis on biological testing. When you become a physician, the majority of your diagnosis will come from a history and biological testing will be used to confirm that. The reason no testing is used in psychiatry is not that we wouldn't use it, it is simply that the brain is such a complicated organ, we have yet to figure out how to properly test it from person to person in a way that would successfully identify a disorder.

That is not to say that psychiatry doesn't involve substantial amounts of testing which your youtube video does not appear to mention. There are vast numbers of standardized surveys and written tests that may be administered to patients that show strong efficacy in identifying personality, mood and other psychiatric disorders.

As far as the DSM is concerned. From my understanding, it is a standardized tool as well in that any trained clinical psychiatrist should come up with the same diagnosis as another after a proper patient interview.

EDIT: and this does fly in non-experimental medicine, if a drug shows efficacy but the mechanism is unknown (as is the case with many meds on the market today), physicians will still prescribe it.
 

werd

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i think the historical argument that psych is a pseudoscience is based on the fact that many aspects of the field cannot be systematically tested. for instance, the notion of an "id," or that past experiences with parents/abuse/whatever is causal for a person's future behavior or pathology; the idea of the different "stages" one goes through in life. these sorts of things are philosophical and seem to fit, but can't be tested in the normal scientific fashion. certainly not all of psych is pseudoscientific, but "pseudoscience" refers to seemingly-scientific claims that cannot be adequately analyzed or tested in the a scientific way.