Friday, April 20, 2007

The State of the Art in Psychiatry

With all the discussion about America's ailing mental health care system following the shooting at Virginia Tech, I was reminded of an interview in Rake magazine:

[Question:] How well do psychiatrists understand the human brain?

[Answer:] We don’t. We’ve learned a lot in the last ten to fifteen years, but look at how that’s translated into action. If you see five different psychiatrists, and you have a mental problem, you are likely to get five different diagnoses.

Fortunately it doesn’t make much difference because whatever diagnosis you get, you are likely to get the same hodgepodge of medications regardless: an antipsychotic, a mood stabilizer, an antidepressant, a minor tranquilizer. It’s fair to say that we don’t know what causes any mental disorders and we don’t know how any of our medications actually work. |Rake| (emphasis added)
I'm not a total skeptic about mental health professionals, they are doing the best they can and we are learning more about the brain every year.

But the amount we don't know about the brain and how these drugs work is positively disconcerting.

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