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Psychiatric imperialism

Fans of Theodore Dalrymple [1]
January 31, 2020

Under the empire of the shrinks, writes Dalrymple (himself a shrink), there is a dialectical tendency to reinforce people’s wish to

objectify themselves and their behaviour, the better to escape personal responsibility and avoid genuine but painful self-reflection.

He observes that

the doctor wants to give patients a diagnosis, and patients want the doctor to give them a diagnosis. Every unhappy person leaves the doctor clutching a prescription. And every study shows that, whatever they are given as an antidepressant, their pills have a powerful placebo effect. Unfortunately, they can have serious and unpleasant side-effects. Gone are the days when doctors can dish out coloured water as a placebo to a credulous clientèle.

We don’t believe any more in spirit possession, he says,

but we do believe in serotonin [2] – too much or too little or in the wrong place – as the root of all our troubles.