Western Psychiatry in Crisis: UK Psychiatry Re-Positions Itself
“Western psychiatry is in crisis.” Not just our words, but the opening line of the powerful recent statement by Mental Health Europe (2013), a large and respected umbrella organisation representing both professionals and service users. It goes on to deplore “the simplistic and imposed application of… reductionist science” which can “encroach on basic human rights.”
In this post we examine the ways in which the profession of psychiatry is, in the UK, re-positioning itself in response to the widely-acknowledged threat to its power and status arising from the DSM-5 debacle and the ongoing failure to find the biomarkers that will confirm its theories. There are likely to be parallels with the response in the US and elsewhere. We illustrate this by reference to recent national radio debates between Lucy Johnstone and two psychiatrists who represent respectively the ‘biological wing’ (Professor Nick Craddock) and the ‘social wing’ (Professor Tom Burns) of the profession. These discussions took place in the wake of the Division of Clinical Psychology’s call for a move away from diagnosis and the ‘disease’ model of mental distress.