A Project of the Empathic Therapy Center is an online library and newspaper project of the 501c3 nonprofit Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education & Living, founded by Peter R. Breggin, MD and Ginger Breggin, working toward replacing the biological theories, diagnoses and treatments of "modern" psychiatry with better therapeutic and educational approaches

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Psychiatric Diagnosis


Do You Have a Biochemical Imbalance?  #1 in the series: Simple Truths in Psychiatry


What is Psychiatry and Psychiatric Diagnosis?

Psychiatry is a specialty within the field of medicine. Psychiatrists are fully qualified physicians (medical doctors) who specialize in treating people defined as having psychiatric problems.  Psychiatry as a field sets the tone and direction for the field of mental  health and has driven it into a biological/medical perspective.

 How does a person become defined as having a psychiatric problem?

Psychiatry has developed a manual that contains all the various possible psychiatric diagnoses call the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  The current DSM is in its fourth edition.  The DSM defines the various psychiatric diagnoses and the symptoms that make up these conditions.  There are no blood tests or actual physiological conditions that confirm any of these diagnoses.  The symptoms have to do with mood, attitude, perception on the part of the patient, behavior and other emotional aspects.

 The lack of genuine physiological underpinning to psychiatric conditions allow for a great deal of variability in how the patient is perceived and diagnosed by their doctor.  This simplistic approach to the complicated distress of an individual human being generally leads to simplistic, biological solutions such as prescriptions for psychiatric drugs or electroconvulsive therapy.  

 Biological psychiatry has so taken over the field that some psychiatric training programs such as Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine no longer require training in psychotherapy.  Compassionate psychologically oriented psychiatrists are a lost breed, and have been replaced by biochemists and lab researchers.  Patients see a psychiatrist for a 'med check' fifteen minute appointment. If they are fortunate enough to be able to obtain psychotherapy or counseling they are seeing a different professional.

People suffering from emotional crisis--what used to be thought of as "neuroses" and "personal problems" are being treated with psychiatric drugs and shock. Children with problems that once were handled by remedial education or improved parenting are instead being subjected to psychiatric diagnoses, drugs and hospitals. Elderly, who used to be card for by their families, are being locked in nursing homes that find it more cost effective to drug their charges than to offer a caring, stimulating environment.  Increasing numbers of elderly are being given electroshock.

And it all begins with a psychiatric diagnosis. 


Articles and Scientific Papers [under construction]

Some Concerns Regarding Diagnosis By Joseph Friedman, PhD, and Robert E. Kay, MD, Psychiatric Times, October 21, 2011


"Origins of DSM-I: A Study in Appearance and Reality" by Gerald Grob, PhD Am. J Psychiatry, 1991