Name Calling, Insults and Teasing

A Guide To Anger, Conflict and Respect

Name Calling by Psychiatrists: Is it Time to Put a Stop to it?

central parkOn one fine spring day, I was sitting on a Central Park bench and two women were sitting one bench just to my right reading their newspapers.  Suddenly, one of them cried out, “Sophie, can you believe this!  The story I’m reading here, oh my God!  This young boy, seventeen years old mind you, the same age as my Jonathan, he’s struggling with ideas about suicide.  Seventeen years old, his whole life before him and he wants to kill himself.  What would lead a boy to this?”

“Such a young boy, Bessie?”

“Yes.  My God.”

“He must have some type of mental illness.”

“Oh, you’re right, Sophie.  I just glanced at the next paragraph, and a psychiatrist explains that the boy has a mental illness called major depressive disorder.”

HamletWith that explanation, the two women nodded to one another, and continued on to another story, seemingly satisfied that they now knew why the boy was dealing with this issue.

This notion that when a psychiatrist says someone has a mental illness, or some type of mental illness, that this offers a valid explanation for why the person is struggling with personal difficulties is, as far as I’m concerned, a bunch of nonsense.  Just before the incident in the park, I had seen a performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which tells the story of a boy about the same age as the story Bessie was reading who is also struggling with feelings of committing suicide.  As Shakespeare’s story unfolds,  the audience is presented with a character that has motivations, conflicts, frustrations, disturbing situations and emotions.  In the end, I left with some insights into why a character such as Hamlet might struggle with feelings of suicide.

In my opinion, even a play, which lasts but two or three hours, can only provide in its narrative a simplified account of what real life stories are all about.  And yet, in today’s world, for many people a very different type of play is sufficient for providing the reason why someone is dealing with a challenging concern.  This new type of play begins with the curtain rising.  A character says to the audience he is struggling with feelings of suicide.  A psychiatrist then proclaims the character has the mental disorder known as major depressive disorder, and then the curtain comes down.  That’s the whole play. And people walk away fully satisfied that an adequate explanation has been provided.

psychiarty1When psychiatrists start calling people names, they get them from a book called The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  They claim that they are not just calling people names, but, instead, they are making a diagnosis.  Diagnosis, as it is defined in Wikipedia, “is the identification of the nature and cause of anything” (

psychiatry5It would be reasonable to assume, therefore, that the DSM would assist in identifying the nature and causes of the types of personal concerns that come to be called mental disorder. But the DSM uses a descriptive approach that attempts to be neutral with respect to theories of the nature and cause of the various “disorders” that it describes. Therefore, referring to the DSM as a “diagnostic” manual is contrary to reason.

My Personal Understanding of the Nature of Diagnosis

When I was fifteen years old, I was tackled hard in a football game. After the pile of tacklers got off of me, I found that when I tried to put any weight on my left leg I felt excruciating pain. Shortly after this unwelcome discovery, I arrived at the Coney Island Hospital. A doctor asked a few questions and decided to take an x-ray of my left leg. Minutes later, he showed me the x-ray, and pointed to where a bone in my leg was broken. His “diagnosis” was that my left leg had a fractured fibula.

broken legNow, what if the doctor did not take an x-ray, but instead just said to me after he asked me a few questions, “Your problem is that you have ‘Major Inability to Stand Disorder.’” Making such a statement, as far as I am concerned, is quite different from what the doctor did when he took an x-ray, looked it over, and declared that my left leg had a fractured fibula. To refer to both types of statements as examples of the same thing—that is, a diagnosis—makes it more difficult to see this difference.

auto mechanicConsider, if you will, another situation. A few years ago I had trouble starting my Ford Pinto. I brought the car in and the mechanic provided me a theory that perhaps I needed a new starter. This, it seemed to me, was his initial theoretical diagnosis. He then inspected the starter and found that it was in fine shape. Thus, his original theory of what was wrong proved incorrect. He then theorized that my spark plugs were dirty. He took a look and found that they were indeed dirty. He cleaned them up, put them back in their proper place, and the car started right up. In the end, as far as I was concerned, he “diagnosed” what was wrong with my car as having dirty spark plugs. If the mechanic had instead just asked me a few questions, and then told me that the problem with my car was that it had “Major Non-starting Disorder,” then this to me is something very different than “diagnosing” my car’s problem.

psychiatry3The DSM, by claiming it is a manual for making diagnoses, masks the difference between the following two statements:

1. “You have a fractured fibula.”
2. “You have ‘Major Inability to Stand Disorder.’”

Similarly, the DSM, by claiming it is a manual for making diagnoses, masks the difference between making the following two statements:

1. “My theory for why your car is not starting is it has dirty spark plugs.”
2. “Your car is not starting because it has ‘Major Non-starting Disorder.’”

psych labelsIn both of these examples, the number “1” statements offer some theory for understanding the cause for what we believe has gone wrong. The number “2” statements just restate the expressed concern about something we believe has gone wrong in some technical terminology.  The DSM actually is just a classification system for expressed mental health concerns, and it would be far more accurate if it honestly said so.


A major reason why scientists classify is to speed up the process of obtaining useful information. The classification, when useful, is a labor-saving contrivance. Let’s look at an example that makes this vividly clear.


Biology Example

Suppose a biologist named Steve comes upon a whale for the first time. He has never seen such a creature before. He wants to learn more about it. He observes that it is a vertebrate, gives live birth to its offspring, and uses mammary glands to feed its offspring. Once this is observed, Steve can see if other biologists have collected any information on this creature by looking in a book that uses a certain classification system. By looking in the book under mammals, which has a pretty clear definition, he can save an enormous amount of time because he will not have to bother looking at all the insects, birds, and reptiles. This saves him from needlessly examining millions of specific listings—a clear time saver.

I hypothesize that there would be no significant difference between the so-called diagnosis system called the DSM and a classification system that simply classifies expressed personal concerns in retrieving valued scientific information. Individuals would not be classified, only their expressed concern.  If I want to find out about any scientific studies that looked at different ways that addressed concerns about depression, in Google Scholar I can now simply put in the search engine— “depression, treatments.” Without adding the words “major” and “disorder” in the search engine, I can currently get numerous relevant hits. If the new concern classification system was adopted, soon the term “addressing concerns” would be receiving the same number of relevant hits that I now get by using the search term “treatment.” Thus, this scientific requirement would be amply fulfilled without using the search terms of “major depressive disorder” and “treatment.”

psychiatry2The DSM and the concern classification system would both serve a valuable scientific function—the retrieving of relevant scientific information in a time- saving manner. The accepted term for such a system in science is “classification,” not “diagnosis.” If “diagnosis” was clearly recognized as a perfect synonym for “classification” then it wouldn’t matter which term was used. But “diagnosis” indicates that something more than classification is being provided in the DSM, whereas the concern classification system would make no such claim. The concern system would not seek to present itself as something that it can’t back up as accurate.  And it avoids the negative name calling of people that so many find offensive and stigmatizing.

Another Problem with Psychiatric Name Calling

Furthermore, when psychiatrists provide a so-called “diagnosis” of a mental disorder it indicates that there is something wrong with the person. This masks an alternative possibility. It is very possible that the experiences typically being diagnosed as mental disorders are more aptly construed as tools. That is, a hammer can be used to drive in nails in the construction of a life-preserving shelter or to bludgeon an innocent person to death. A car can be used to rush a child to an emergency room so that life-preserving treatment can be administered, or it can be used to tragically end a prom night.  Similarly, there are numerous people who have had the experiences that are said to be diagnosed in the DSM as a mental disorder, who report that the experience ended up helping them to achieve enormous benefits; whereas, others became ambivalent, and others agree that they proved to be all bad. It may be very true that it is up to each one of us to find the wisdom to use these tools for good.

psychiatry4The percentage of people who report that the experiences now referred to in the DSM as mental disorders turned out to be good, bad or mixed is a question for science. Mental health practitioners when using the DSM participate in proclaiming that all of these experiences are all bad, thus masking these vitally important variations of experiences.

A scientific classification system is better when it helps us to see things of interest more clearly, rather than to mask them. The classification system of mental health concerns would serve to break us out of the DSM cloister of words and reopen us to the source of our experience.


Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional and social intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.


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56 thoughts on “Name Calling by Psychiatrists: Is it Time to Put a Stop to it?

    • Hi Robert, I enjoyed reading your Psychology Today Blog article. At one point you wrote, “I am contending that all emotional disturbances are constituted in a context of human interrelatedness.” I fully agree. My Best, Jeff

  1. Marv Brilliant A.A. on said:

    It’s true, the DSM is nothing more than a classification system of mental categories. What disturbs me the most is the fact that this publication is sometimes referred to as the bible of psychiatry. Nothing can be farther from the truth! Each mental disease usually consists of co-morbid conditions which may be factual or not. The DSM is nothing more than guesswork or bias. We need a manual with detailed research observations, that as close as possible, can weed out incorrect information which can’t be proven, as opposed to a more scientific approach to the physical and behavioral realities relating to an evidence based conclusion. Name calling leads to stigma. It’s time for the behavioral community to wake up!

    • Hi Marv, nice to hear from you. Although I agree with most of what you said, at one point you wrote, “Each mental disease usually consists of co-morbid conditions which may be factual or not.” Apparently you believe there may be some conditions that should be properly viewed as “mental diseases.” I, on the other hand, wouldn’t use the term “mental disease.” What would a “real” mental disease look like to you?

      • Marv Brilliant A.A. on said:

        I would regard schizophrenia as a real mental disease. which would consist of auditory or visual hallucinations. Perhaps a co-morbid condition may be more emotional than mental, but isn’t it true that an emotional condition may in the extreme become a mental psychotic structure?

    • dont blame the DSM, blame the idiot doc who didnt follow it the wsy it should be applied. the kids depressed does not by itself equate to MAJOR depressio until it severely effects coping and having a life and has done so for a specified LONG TIME

      I suppose docs next move was to prescribe a ssri tobaleviate the depresdion. only problem is that the effect on those without M.D. is often to supply the mood elevation necessary to climb out of the pit and carry out the suicide. This is so common that it is remarked on and raising red flags among legitimate, concientious providers. Malfeasance kills, not DSM, but MALFEASANCE!

      p.s. most these cases (as all psycoactive prescribing) involve general practicioners with no psychiatric training, just script privleges. thats criminal but legal!

  2. Marv, why not just say that the person you are referring to has expressed a concern about hearing and seeing things that others can neither hear or see? Wouldn’t that more precisely state what we know without going to a more abstract level of calling someone schizophrenic or the person possesses some psychotic structure?

    • As someone who is schizophrenic as well as autistic, I have no issue with the ‘names’ or ‘labels’ They help me feel defined in what is wrong with me. I have meaning in these ‘names’ that helps me understand who I am and how my mind works. If I was the guy who just hears and sees things others don’t, I’d feel like a complete freak to be honest. If I had no autism label, I’d be viewed as just quirky and would likely never receive the proper care I need in dealing with it.

      Every symptom or behaviour falling under one category keeps things simple and does in the end give the best help for people. Anyone that would choose to avoid me after hearing ‘schizophrenic’ clearly isn’t worth my time as it shows they’re uneducated about the subject and don’t seem to be willing to learn to understand. A word is just a word and as far as any mental illness related words go, I see nothing wrong with any of them. Every illness is different so in my opinion they need these ‘names’ to keep them separated and categorised properly, cause without, the best help could go missed.

      • Hi Ryan, much thanks for sharing with us your views on this important topic.

        You mentioned that you hear and see things that others don’t. Can you explain a little more why saying these types of experiences means you are schizophrenic helps you to understand what is wrong with you?

        You say that the label prevents you from feeling like you are a complete freak. There are groups of people that have similar experiences as you, such as members of Mindfreedom International, and Intervoice: The International Hearing Voices Movement, that despise the pathologizing of their experiences, and provide support for one another so they don’t feel like they are complete freaks. I wonder what your view is of such groups.

        As a result of your interaction with psychiatrists you feel there is something wrong with you. Is it possible that what you were experiencing that led to the labels could be more aptly construed as potentially one useful way to process challenging experiences?

        You are undoubtedly aware that the drugs that psychiatrist prescribe in an effort to normalize your experiences have some serious risks. Could there possibly be a different way of understanding what you are going through that would lead to healthier, less risky treatments?

        Finally, let me just add that for those people who want and value having their concerns converted into a language of mental disorders, I believe they should be free to have this done. I’m only advocating that for those who want to seek help without having their experiences pathologized, they should have this option.

        Hope to hear more of your thoughts on all of this, Ryan.

        Wishing you well, Jeff

      • Marv Brilliant A.A. on said:

        Ryan: I appreciate your courage to explain to the ordinary citizen your views on medical terminology. You stated that labeling does not affect your feelings about your conditions. People who are not educated in the field of psychiatry or psychology haven’t a clue about the devastating effects that the mystery of the brain can, especially the imbalances, through no fault of your own produce incorrect signals that interrupt the normality of cognitive attention; however you do survive despite the name calling and the idiotic remarks by ignorant minds. It’s not fair to be stigmatized by labeling. I wish you all the best, and if you choose, please respond with additional comments you wish to share.

      • youre brave and wise. i only wonder about your journey to a “final” diagnosis, because i am seeing a pattern , reported by many parents of a frustrating , changing over years, seemingly random sequence of dx and tx/drugs. we now realize this is due to relying on guesses based on behavior. its the old dkinerian “dont need to look under the hood” blavk box idea. yet they prescribe an overhail of the engine/brain this way. where once it was all there was science has progressef. i read a certain testing of the eye may correlate its results to later diagnosis of schiz. this test sees developemental biophysiological reality, not a construct of behavior applied post symptoms. dyslexia, learning dissbilities, attention issues are common early digns often given a diagnosis ofbtheir own in this sequence. so i wonder about your experience. also a test last month suggest we pluralize schizophrenia to reflect how certain different symptom expressions and gene variants cluster to create differing schizophrenias.

        Dr Ruben?

    • since those who hear voices are 5 to 25% of various, otherwise fine populations, while schiz affects far less, you would think!

  3. Gabrielle on said:

    In light of this article, do you have any thoughts on Borderline Personality Disorder?

    • Hi Gabriel, If I was providing counseling to Jane Doe and she told me that she has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and she wanted me to discuss this with her, the first thing I would ask is, “What concerns did you express to your psychiatrist that led to the psychiatrist saying you had Borderline Personality Disorder? By doing so, I would end up understanding more clearly what her concerns are and I’d be in a much better position to address her concerns. The Borderline Personality Disorder tells me essentially nothing of value about what she wants help with.

      • I agree. One of the things I’ve found is that the label can influence what you understand about someone. Whenever I meet someone with a label, I’m always struck by how unlike the label they are, and how what they’re bothered by is some aspect of life, relationships, loss, trauma and so on. Labels seem to leave people passively in the role of someone with something wrong with them, or of someone tackling the “illness” the diagnosis purports to have discovered within them, a kind of inner struggle with feelings, rather than seeing feelings as stemming from life and experience and seeing that acting in the world is essential. I’ve worked with many people who have no friends, traumatic pasts, no work, few opportunities, in poverty, who think they feel bad because they are mentally ill. I’m often stunned by how labelling leads people to overlook completely the situation of their lives.

      • Marv Brilliant A.A. on said:

        A medical diagnosis is a delusion! Concerns derive from emotions which are characteristic of all human beings. If I told you that you suffer from a mental illness such as brushing your teeth too often, I could diagnose you with the term toothpaste syndrome. Just think, you could tell all of your friends, I’ve been diagnosed with “Toothpaste Syndrome.” As absurd as that sounds, so are some labels, related to emotional feelings. Fact is, you may brush three times a day, rather than twice a day. This doesn’t even fall into the category of a concern. I’m just pointing this out in jest, to show the silliness of a so called diagnosis. Do you get the point?

  4. Exceptionally well said. But it’s more than demanding a higher degree of accountability from the doctors with a God complex that wrote the DSM 5. It’s about insurance. Why should we have to render a diagnosis to receive payment for services? Why can we not simply submit a bill to insurance because our clients request services because they want to be more healthy? A PCP doesn’t have to diagnose a patient to receive payment for treatment, right? Wellness checks, annual physicals, you get the idea. Mental health professionals shouldn’t have to attach a label to anyone just to get paid.

  5. Hi Timothy, I agree with you that the insurance companies’ manner of doing business puts pressure on professionals who fully recognize the serious problems of the DSM to nevertheless call the person seeking services a name. I like your point that there is now policies that cover prevention services. That may be a model that can can provide reform advocates a way to convince insurance companies to eliminate the requirement for a so called “DSM diagnosis.” Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Jeff

    • Marv Brilliant A.A. on said:

      To change the subject, lets talk about suicidal tendencies. If a close friend of mine approached me and confessed to me he feels suicidal, how would I react? I may say, surely you jest. My friend reply’s I’m not joking, I’m really contemplating suicide. I would then reply, call a crisis hotline, or proceed to an emergency department. This would be an extreme of name calling; however a psychiatrist may indicate that the emotional thought of checking out may be due to events that have occurred in the past to produce the extreme escape from unrealistic thought patterns. I do not believe medications would reverse the patients desire to consider a different and more realistic way of alleviating his temptation. What cognitive therapy should be employed to end suicidal tendencies

      • Hi Marv, First of all, I don’t view providing an opinion to do something, such as calling a crisis hotline, name calling. To me, that’s more aptly construed as “a suggestion to do something.” With regards to answering your question about what cognitive therapy should be employed to end suicidal tendencies, that’s simply way too complicated to answer in this type of forum. Different individual dealing with different situations would have to be taken into account. It certainly depends on a discussion with the person experiencing suicidal thoughts, what he or she thinks led up to these troubling experiences, etc. I wish I could be more helpful, but I think it is better to avoid giving too simplistic answers to such complicated issues.

      • Marv Brilliant A.A. on said:

        Children who have been diagnosed with so called A.D.H.D. are being overmedicated with drugs which, in my opinion do not alleviate the mental anomalies which exist in the brain. The human brain still contains many mysteries which have not yet been evaluated. A relative of mine has a 9 year old male who has been diagnosed with the aforementioned so called mental disease. The psychiatrist has prescribed medications too numerous too mention. I have observed the child for a significant amount of time, not noticing any changes in temperament. I filled out an assessment form about five months ago indicating no noticeable changes in behavior. I concluded that the child should be placed in a facility for continuous observation. The initial observations were carried out by social workers and therapists at home; however they didn’t seem to understand the severity of the child’s behavior. I mentioned to them clinical observation would be the right move. The child presents with loud outbursts, stealing, lying, and a disrespect for adults. A couple of weeks ago, the child was hospitalized in a clinic and to this day remains there. He has been off all medications since arriving. His psychiatrist prior to hospitalization was prescribing too many medications. At each visit, he would change doses or prescribe other medications. I told my wife and others the child should be hospitalized, but that went in one ear and out the other.

        Before his delivery to the clinic, he was received at a local hospital and the decision was made for transport to the clinic. I feel my assessment was correct. One would have to observe the child to affirm my assessment. Feedback please!

    • Thank you! I enjoy reading articles on how the DSM and diagnosis hurt the fields of psychology, counseling, social work, and psychiatry.

    • mental health and physical health are completely separated systems. one is med the other “behavioral.” until integration, this b.s. will continue. diagnosis to the billing code , it sucks!

    • us house resolution : h.r. 3717

  6. Again, Marv, you are asking for advice about a case that I don’t know enough about to offer advice. I wish I could be more helpful.

  7. Marv Brilliant A.A. on said:

    I’ll make it easier. Are kids with emotional problems being overmedicated unecessarily?

    • Marv Brilliant A.A. on said:

      Psychotic disorders are defined as severe mental disorders that cause abnormal thinking(cognitive distortion) and perceptions. People with psychosis lose touch with reality. Two main symptoms are delusions and hallucinations. For instance, a treatment depends on a cause, such as schizophrenia. Common remedies are drugs and talk therapy to alleviate symptoms.

      What is reality as opposed to the perception of reality? Is cognitive distortion a reality or nothing more than an emotional imbalance in the brain? So called mental (emotional imbalances) are an inherent trait in all of humanity. So why does it seem that mental (emotional) imbalances are identified as mental disorders? This is a distortion in conceptual thinking

      • talk therapy is to relieve anxiety and depression, not directly aleviate symptoms. they do that by relieving the stress hormone load.

        your discourse in semantics is not meritless, but is confused. you try to separate classes and void them for any content beyond normal. shooting at police/ aliens and being shot dead for it is beyond such philosophical leisures. there is a point, somewhere on a slope that is at first gradual, then, progressively, steeper. this distinguishes normal from abnormal. there is no set marker to show it. all it means is were not gods.

    • Marv, I do think kids with emotional problems are being over medicated unnecessarily.

      • Marv Brilliant A.A. on said:

        Jeff: Did you receive my last message? Please opine.

      • lazy system pandering to parents while trying to avoid the least hint of blame. freud had to invent hysteria to placate abusers of young women in his prim &propper- on the surface- world. billing codes and a certain appeal of brutal efficiency are also implicated.

  8. Thank you, Jeffrey, your article simply nails it.

    A few words to Marv: IMO, you’re failing concerning one crucial point. I take it that since you use terminology like “disorder”, “distortion”, “schizophrenia”, etc., you find it difficult, if not impossible, to imagine the possibility that certain experiences like hearing voices — which others don’t hear — could represent meaningful responses to life, these too, and actually even survival strategies that are in no way “distorted” once the life-historical context to which they are a response to is taken into consideration. Just because one person, due to their own life story, personal and cultural background, experiences, expectations, values, etc. has a difficult time, or even is unable to understand another person’s experience it doesn’t mean the other person’s experience is meaningless in general, and just the result of some sort of disorder. If we accept this kind of reasoning, we also would have to reason the other way round, and label difficulty or inability to understand a “disorder”, “distortion”, etc. And then the ones who label are just as disordered, their mental processes just as distorted, as those they label.

    I would challenge you to have a look at the work of the Hearing Voices Network, , and also, this especially in regard to the child you think needs clinical observation, at Open Dialogue, lots of internet resources out there, maybe the best to get an idea if you’re not familiar with the approach and its philosophy is Daniel Mackler’s documentary: Living organisms, be they single-celled like amebas, or complex like human beings, never just act. They re-act. Remove them from their natural environment, their context, and put them under the microscope in a clinical setting, focusing only and solely on the individual, and you’ll miss the “re-“. And then, of course, you can only end up not understanding what you see.

  9. Marv, it seems to me that you are wrestling with some important issues. Keep at it. Where you are now, I find it hard to reply at times because you are currently at an abstract level that is too vague to me. For example, you use the terms emotional and mental imbalances. These terms may help you as you begin to reason these issues out. If you mean that we all experience personal concerns and problems, I certainly agree with that.

  10. I agree whole heartedly that the DSM in and of itself is nothing short of name calling, however, a good psychiatrist or psychologist for that matter regardless of what this book tells them will not stop there with a patient in explaining what is “wrong” they will explore and identify symptoms and causes, and treat accordingly, the problem does not lie IMO with the profession or the book but the use of it as a quick and easy answer, and the fact that people forget to ask, why that young boy was depressed in the first place.

  11. Marv Brilliant A.A. on said:

    Dear Twins from scratch: There are no quick and easy answers for so called mental disorders. A good medical manual must contain facts, not theoretical abstractions. True disorders must not be correlated with name calling. The DSM is more akin to a dictionary containing meaningless jargon. Until the day, sometime in the future, when medical research reaches the truth, present day medical behavioral manuals should be regarded as containing unsubstantiated information which impedes the continuum of knowledge. This is strictly my opinion which usually falls on deaf airs. What do you believe?

    • I agree with you. There are no facts in the DSM, all the diagnoses are presumed to be of brain origin (with no evidence to corroborate) and all are invented from lists of symptoms, rather than simply names given to things discovered. For instance, if I discover a new mammal, I would give it a name. By contrast, using the DSM method of labelling, I would write down the characteristics of a new mammal, label it, and just presume it existed. And that’s a delusion.

      • the dsm contains prsdumptions of causes, not all of which should be considered “orriginating” in brain disorders. properly it is to distinguish between.

        ive quotemarked “orriginating” because this is a dsngerous either/or concept. ptsd may start in the stressful chaos of battle but due to responses over prolonged time, that stress, within the brain, “orriginates” the condition which is behaviorally observable and fmri demonstrable.

  12. Pingback: Psychiatric Name Calling: Are the Insurance Companies to Blame? | Name Calling, Insults and Teasing

  13. I think the information on this page is dangerous and misleading, mental illness such as depression , OCD, schizophrenia are real and not simply a “label” you can’t just blame the dsm system.

    MRI scans which monitor brain activity show that these conditions are real, the least thing we need is some quack doctor telling people that they are just labels because further increases the stigma of mental health. Even if you are trying to achieve the exact opposite…what we need is better education and awareness not a new name that sounds more happier.

    I find it quite shocking you seem to indirectly persuade people that medications are bad just because they have serious side effects…what do you mean by serious? Headaches, dizziness, nausea are dangerous? Or are you focusing on the ultra rare side effects? The benefits out weight the risks in many cases and we should not run away from every medication just because small risks. Drugs for psychosis can be very effective and without them many would harm themselves or possible others, not everything can be managed with therapy and meditation or “spiritual” nonsense. Some people need genuine help and drug therapy.

    I think some of the information on this bold is interesting but overall shows a low level of intelligence for a doctor, I would not see you for treatment. I for one think this website should have a disclaimer warning people to get proper professional advice and to NOT stop taking medications. I also think this puts doubt into people’s mind over their doctor and trust may be lost, it’s important to question the DSm System but not doubt psychiatric conditions which have been shown to exist for decades.

    • Hi Leebe King. Thanks for your heartfelt comment. You begin by stating that “I think the information on this page is dangerous and misleading, mental illness such as depression , OCD, schizophrenia are real and not simply a “label” you can’t just blame the dsm system.” I think you misunderstand me. I wonder if this would help. I very much believe the concerns expressed to mental health professionals are real, and the words used by the person expressing the concern refer to very real experiences. So, I think we actually agree on this. Where we do seem to disagree is on this point–I don’t think that pathologizing these real experiences is the best way to refer to these real experiences for a variety of reasons that I point out in my article. Your comment then refers to MRI scans which you say “monitor brain activity show that these conditions are real.” Again, I don’t deny that the experiences being referred to are real, calling them mental illnesses are just misleading. Demonstrating that there is a correlation between, say, depression, and an MRI pattern doesn’t demonstrate that one has an illness,” only that people who express concerns about being depressed tend to have have a “different” MRI pattern than those who don’t. No doubt people who express support for the Republican Party’s ideas have somewhere in their brains some difference than those who have Democratic Party ideas, but that doesn’t mean the Republicans have some mental illness. As for the value of psychiatric drugs, that is an issue that is way too complicated for me to reply to here. I’ll get to it in a future article and I certainly invite you to freely reply to it as you wish. Wishing you well, Jeff

      • when I Q drops, executive function has deteriorated to the point one can no longer go about a days business, when memory is gone and the lack of such can be seen in fMRI, I think it is valid to say pathology, as one would say poisoning if there were certain substances present known to do this, which there are. Because there is no known external poison, you prefer to never “pathologize? I find that demeaning of the situation in which some try to live.

  14. •• Quote: “In today’s world, millions of people have been diagnosed with “depression,” “anxiety,” “bipolar,” “schizophrenia,” “mania,” and a whole slew of other “conditions,” “syndromes,” and “disorders.” Are these real things or are they just part of a labeling system created by the psychological and medical world? Are the labels useful? Are the labels harmful? Is there a better way to go about helping people with difficulties in their lives?”
    • BeiYin: As people depend on authorities, not wanting and not being able to take *self responsibility*, it will not be possible to ‘Put a Stop to it’!
    • Medical doctors, even though they have the good intention to help people, are part of the common social system, that is bound and limited to the established mindset, that due to the limited state of evolution of humanity, only can be erroneous!
    • Who is asking for the *real cause* of a disease? The *root cause*? Obviously nobody!
    • Since several years I am trying to give creative information to people who are suffering. Pointing out that ‘problems’ are ‘challenges’ that are part of our *learning and growing* process and we need to take self responsibility, questioning oneself and ones conditions, to be able to heal oneself…
    • Hardly anybody is ready for it, being able to allow any change in ones established mindset and ones self image: That what one believes one ‘IS’, should NOT be touched! Because every body is ‘identified’ with ones ‘properties’ and so getting ones feeling of ‘existence’ out of it!
    • There are multible methods and tricks to survive with ones precious ‘properties’. From simply ignoring something unwanted, up to defending ones position with violence, defending oneself with all means…
    • If life conditions and happenings are bringing an individual to the limit what one can take of suffering, then many people prefer to take their life, instead of questioning themselves and finding a solution by letting go of their worn out erroneous expectations. – – – What an irony!
    • When I am writing about this since many years without any real responses and questions, then this could bring me into serious disappointment and ‘depression’, but it doesn’t.
    • It is a *challenge* and has opened my eyes to *reality*! My way of ‘going on’ is to *relate* to every thing that shows up in my daily life, welcome it as an opportunity to *learn* and to *grow* and then I respond to it the best I’m capable.
    • That’s what I have done right now!
    • Does it tell and give something to you? Is there an essential urgent question showing up?

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  18. Martin McGill on said:

    Hello Jeffrey; it’s been some time since I last commented on one of your blog entries, and I hope you are keeping well?

    This is a wonderfully insightful and provocative article, and I might “borrow” some of your inspirational commentary next time I lock horns with my own clinical supervisor, who like some of the MDs/GPs mentioned in your blog, enjoys the narrow vision afforded by her undying loyalty to her Holy Book that is the DSM. Interestingly, akin to your blog comments, I had a similar discussion with her just 2 weeks ago regarding the labelling of clients attending ( for CBT therapy). I say discussion, when in fact I was advised I was not permitted to question the suitability of the DSM, rather to simply accept its tenets and of course apply to clients. Asking some colleagues to question its validity is like asking a river not to run it seems.

    All this aside, I am very pleased not to be the only person in practice (anywhere in the world!) questioning psychiatric labelling in this manner, and I am grateful and heartened by the post, and of course, for all the great comments that accompanied it from divergent respondents.

    • Hi Martin, your comment has put a smile on my face. I really put a great deal of work writing these posts and to hear, from time to time, from people like you means more than you might imagine. Thank you.

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