THOUGHTS ON TRADITIONAL PSYCHIATRY
The study of traditional psychiatry leads to the general conclusion that every single chapter in it - either theoretical or practical - is characterised by ambiguities. The following are a few typical examples:
Its inability to reply clearly and without verbiage to the questions: "What, in essence, are mental disturbances (the term means mental illnesses and is equivalent to the notion of disturbances of mental functions) ". "What are the causes of mental disturbances?" "How are they classified?" "What are neuroses?" "What are psychoses?" "What is the difference between neuroses and psychoses?" etc.
• Its inability to determine the bioneurological process in nerve cells which results in the subjective feeling of existential identity, feelings (fear, anger etc.), in thoughts, memory and other functions.
• The ambiguity of the psychotherapeutic methodology practised on patients.
• The ambiguity of the therapeutic results using its various types of therapies. (It is known that not a small percentage of mental disturbances show a temporary improvement with various types of therapy, and then there is a relapse and then it becomes chronic (producing a permanent clientele for psychiatric facilities).
An inevitable consequence of the general ambiguity has been the creation of an unspecific and inadequate psychiatric vocabulary, which cannot help but constitute a problem not only for those who teach psychiatry but also for those who practise it. Here, too, the victims are the mentally ill.
The inadequate vocabulary, together with the disappointing results of treatment and the unethical behaviour of certain psychiatrists - in both high and low positions - generated the antipsychiatry movement which correctly emphasised the fact that the society and the family are themselves illness-producing factors; but instead of helping, this movement increased the confusion which prevailed in the field of psychiatry. Among other things, the movement argues that psychiatry is not a branch of medicine and should not be practised by doctors. On this ...question, the following observation can be made: As long as mental disturbances are disturbances of mental functions and since the latter are interwoven with the function of the nervous system, then neuro-psychiatry is a branch of medicine.
WHAT FACTORS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE VAGUENESS OF TRADITIONAL PSYCHIATRY
Some of the factors responsible for the vagueness of traditional psychiatry are set out below:
Psychiatrists and authors of traditional psychiatric books - obviously followers of the Cartesian spirit - examine and describe the mentally ill in the light of Western scientific methodology. It is known that the latter, from Bacon, Descartes and Newton up to the present, has one sole purpose, to describe natural phenomena "objectively". Irrespective of whether this purpose is or is not absolutely applicable in practice, as claimed, we wonder: "Is a mentally ill person a natural phenomenon?" and if so "Is it possible to describe objectively the natural phenomenon which is a sick person?" Instead of a reply, I should like to make the following observations.
The patient who is suffering from mental disturbances does not constitute a single phenomenon but an infinity of phenomena which take place simultaneously, are interdependent and reciprocally influential. These phenomena are (a) external, visible and, taken together, constitute behaviour and (b) internal, invisible (here one realises once more the inadequacy of the
meaning. of words, i.e. how can they be phenomena when they are internal and invisible) and as a whole, constitute symptoms, i.e. all the neurobiological processes of the nerve cells which accompany mental disturbances.
Up to the present time, a great many scientists cannot rid themselves of the blinders placed upon them by Western scientific methodology. Psychiatrists and traditional psychiatric authors fall into this category.
The processes which result in internal/invisible phenomena take place within the human body.
And we ask psychiatrists and psychiatric writers:
• What is the number of internal phenomena that constitutes a mental disturbance?
• How many of these can be studied?
• What are the physicochemical and laboratory possibilities for an objective investigation of what is happening in the nervous system of a mentally ill person?
We are not going to wait for an answer to these questions and shall refute the statements by psychiatrists/ authors that "they can describe the behaviour of the patient objectively, and through this behaviour describe what the patient is feeling subjectively", by asking:
• Is the study of behaviour conducted in the light of the subjective judgement of the psychiatrists/authors?
• How objective can their subjective judgement be?
• Up to what point can the study of behaviour evaluate its psychological motivations?
Let readers draw their own conclusions from the above. Observation: Exceptions to the view that mental disturbances do not present any clear-cut objective findings are organic psychoses and toxic psychoses. In fact, these psychoses do present objective findings. But in these cases too, we ask: Can psychiatrists/authors explain to us with absolute clarity the bioneurophysiological processes in the nerve cells which result in the morbid factors causing organic damages? Of course the same question can be asked for every type of mental disturbance and the lack of a reply constitutes another basic element in the general vagueness and wordiness of traditional psychiatry.
Personal conclusion: If psychiatrists/authors don't stop turning a blind eye, if they won't admit the weaknesses of their "rationalism", and if they don't pursue a radically different road in the scientific methodology they have been following to date, they will keep on being wordy and vague in all spheres of their psychiatry.
MY PATIENTS AND I
As a point of information, I mention that both my patients and myself were victims of the Western scientific methodology, up until the day when my patients - and not my university teachers - liberated me from the bonds of so-called rational knowledge/thought. I am not arguing that my patients turned me into a wise psychiatrist but I do feel that they put some order into my psychiatric thought.
My patients, and not my university teachers, taught me:
• That every mentally ill person is a special case whom the psychiatrist has no right to restrict to the narrow diagnostic therapeutic moulds of traditional psychiatry.
• That there are people who retain the memory of their experience of intrauterine life or expulsion-birth and that these experiences constitute a primary factor which strongly influences the shaping of their personality, their mental health and their everyday reality in general.
• That it is not the psychiatrist but the patient himself who knows exactly what he feels, whether he is suffering or not, whether he is frightened or not.
• That for certain patients, their mental illness is the daily reliving of the hell they experienced in the distant past, i.e. a rejecting intrauterine process.
• That in the psychotherapeutic pattern of psychiatrist mental patient, the primary person and the only one who can interpret his mental illness is the patient himself and not the psychiatrist who is just a supporter.