Although there has been scientific advances and definite benefits developed through the study of psychiatry as an academic subject, nevertheless, there remains a number of scientific and ethical issues that need to be explored concerning its application as a medicine, and the culture of patient disempowerment it represents. Psychiatry is a relatively new academic subject that is used in the medical (i.e. ‘clinical’) treatment of the human brain. It is premised upon the idea that chemical compounds affect (and alter) the chemical functioning of the body. This means that a ‘personality’ is reduced through psychiatric definition, to chemical reactions in the brain. This treats the ‘mind’ as if it is a shadow projected by the physical organ of the brain. In other words, the brain is treated like any other organ that has a limited (and identifiable) function, such as the liver, kidney or spleen, etc. The personality is viewed as a ‘function’ of the brain, and its manifestation is thought to be alterable through chemical intervention. This ignores the socio-economic origins of personality disorders and mind dysfunctionality, and instead blames the individual for the problems he or she is experiencing. Furthermore, as a medicalised academic subject, psychiatry is highly experimental and not yet fully established as fact. It is a theory that has many concerning philosophical issues and medical contradictions, that collects its experimental data from living subjects, i.e. those who come under its remit, and who are described as ‘psychiatric patients’.
Every human being without exception is the product of their environment and genetic inheritance. Environment, which includes terrain, climate, resources (i.e. food and shelter), politics, economics, family, community and belief systems, presents opportunities for the very diverse genetic coding to manifest. Environment can affect genetic coding, and genetic coding (through human behaviour) can alter and change the environment. As a result, human evolution has occurred over a long period of time and a tremendous out-pouring of cultural diversity has been the obvious outcome of this development. Medicine has developed to treat the human body and aid its recovery from illness. In China, for instance, medicine also has a very strong ‘preventative’ aspect, where individuals are advised to follow various health regimens and take numerous herbal compounds to ensure good health BEFORE any illness has the time to develop. Once humanity had evolved away from superstitions and spells, modern medicine is the development of the idea that various chemical compounds can cure various diseases by altering the chemical dysfunctionality that defines an illness. So far so good. The inner organs all have an identifiable function, and medicines have been developed to correspond to those functions; the same is true for the treatment of bones and skin, etc., which includes the various types of cancers. This is the correct application of logic and reason to the understanding of the human body and its function, as well as its dysfunction and treatment. The question is whether the same premise can be applied to the organ of the brain without a certain amount of clarification.
The problems with this assumption are many;
1) The ‘personality’ as a distinct psycho-physical construct, cannot be realistically limited to residing only in the organ of the brain. One of the main philosophical objections to the notion of head transplants (which has been carried-out in the past between monkeys) is that the ‘personality’ of a unique individual does only reside in the brain. This idea appears to be supported by relatively recent academic research which suggests that each cell in the human body is ‘conscious’, and that consciousness is not unique to the brain.
2) The human mind – or that which is believed to be behaving in an abhorrent manner in psychiatric patients – cannot be limited to the physical structure that is the brain, or the chemical reactions that occur within that structure. The functioning mind, therefore, is a psycho-physical construct involving not only the entire body, but also the pressure asserted upon it by the environment within which it exists.
3) The physical organ of the brain is a special type of organ that cannot be scientifically understood by reducing its functionality to that of an ordinary organ, such as a kidney or a liver, for instance. The function of the brain is amorphous and not yet fully understood by modern science, and this faulty premise serves as the foundation for the academic subject of psychiatry. It has been observed that when the physical structure of the brain is damaged in a limited sense, often the control of cognitive and physical functions usually associated with one part of the brain, are migrated to another in a relocation process that is observable but not fully understood. The brain does co-ordinate the functionality of the body (and itself) including the human senses, but it also facilitates conscious awareness which cannot be limited to its own physical structure, despite the key role the brain plays in the maintenance of life.
4) When the socio-economic (as well as genetic) origins of dysfunctionality in the mind are ignored, a person deemed as a ‘psychiatric patient’ is reduced to a presumed chemical dysfunctionality occurring in their brain. In this circumstance, it is obvious that such people are victims of a medical misdiagnosis. This is compounded by the fact that these people are often subject to lawful confinement (i.e. medicalised imprisonment) where the authorities have the legal right to forcibly administer highly experimental psychotropic drugs that often have debilitating side effects that are worse than the original issue the person was being treated for. This situation means that individuals caught in the psychiatric system are legally and medically disempowered, and have their Human Rights violated under the guise of authentic medical care. This is similar to visiting a GP for a sore back and being forcibly strapped to a gurney and injected with an experimental drug that removes your personality, and prevents you from understanding and responding to reality in an appropriate manner. Add to this indefinite imprisonment, and you can begin to understand what happens to individuals who genuinely believe in the medical system and sincerely approach it for help, only to be judged as being inherently dysfunctional, thus ignoring the effects of the external environment.
5) Psychiatry appears to be something of a pseudo-science at the moment. Yes, it does have access to research and development, and yes, there is a certain logic to its premise, but it also functions under the false premise that everything an individual experiences is the product of that individual – namely the dysfunctioning of his or her mind. Radically altering the chemical constitution and functionality of the mind in an individual, does not change the socio-economic conditions surrounding the individual that actually cause the apparent issues. Furthermore, psychiatry completely ignores psychology – or the higher thought processes of the mind. Psychiatry erroneously conflates the chemical reaction in the brain, with the thought processes themselves. This is incorrect, because thought constructs are the product of mind-body interaction with the environment, and not just chemical reactions in the brain, even if it is acknowledged that chemical reactions in the brain serve as part of a thought-construct. In short, those mistreated through the medical fraternity have a right to be angry and resentful for the bad experience and treatment they have been forced to endure in the environment within which they live. This is a natural response for an ordinary person for the abuse they have experienced at the hands of psychiatrists.