Search Results for "baughman"

Apr 27 2007

Mental Illness Denial – Part V

I have dedicated this week to discussing the complex topic of mental illness, specifically responding to those, like Dr. Fred Baughman, who deny that it is legitimate. In my final installment I will deal specifically with the issue of drug therapy, covering some general principles, as it applies to mental illness in general, and to ADHD in particular.

Rational pharmacotherapy is a critical and effective part of modern medicine. The bottom line is that drugs save lives, extend our lives, and improve our quality of life. Like any technology, they are a tool. Because they are a potent tool, however, they also have the ability to harm.

This duality is reflected in public opinion, that both desires the benefits of modern pharmacology, but also harbors a deep fear and mistrust of drugs and chemicals – words that are often used as pejoratives. This distrust extends to the pharmaceutical industry, which is also the target of much conspiracy and anti-corporate ideology. I am not going to discuss the vices and virtues of big pharma today – that’s for another time – but rather try to close the gap between how physicians think of and use drugs and the public perception of them.

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Apr 26 2007

Mental Illness Denial – Part IV

In my previous posts on this topic I have argued that mental illnesses are as real and scientific as any medical entities, they often have a biological basis in brain function and we now have the tools to see aspects of this dysfunction, there is no clean distinction between mental and other medical symptoms as even classical pathology can cause psychiatric symptoms, the clinical basis of their diagnosis is legitimate medicine, and objections to the very existence of mental illness are not valid. But even many who accept all this still may have a problem with the current practice of mental health, especially the tendency to overdiagnose and prescribe drugs to treat mental symptoms. Today I will address these concerns.

First it is important to recognize that these questions are distinct from the underlying question of whether or not mental illness diagnoses are legitimate and represent real biological entities. Dr. Baughman and other mental illness deniers often make, in my opinion, the argument from final consequences logical fallacy – the implementation of mental health is flawed, therefore the underlying theories must also be flawed.

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Apr 25 2007

Mental Illness Denial – Part III

I have been writing this week about mental illness denial, as a follow up to my debate with neurologist Fred Baughman on The Debate Hour. In my previous entries I pointed out that mental phenomena are manifestations of biological brain function, that sometimes classical diseases (like tumors and infection) of the brain can cause psychiatric symptoms, and further that brain function also depends upon more subtle biology – specifically the pattern of neuronal connections and the robustness of neurotransmitter activity, and that problems there can also result in mental disorders. Today I will discuss in more detail the evidence for a biological correlate to mental illness.

Dr. Baughman insisted numerous times during the debate that there is no evidence for a biological cause of any mental illness. This statement is demonstrably false – so let me demonstrate.

Of course, as mentioned above, there are numerous cases where classical pathology, the kind that Dr. Baughman admits into his privileged list of acceptable biological causes of disease, cause mental symptoms – such as depression, apathy, sedation, mania, and psychosis. Here there is no controversy – treat the underlying identifiable cause (if possible) and the mental symptoms should resolve, or at least improve or stabilize.

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Apr 24 2007

Mental Illness Denial Part II

Yesterday I wrote about my debate with Dr. Fred Baughman, who denies the existence of mental illness and the scientific legitimacy of the field of psychiatry. I laid out the basic foundation of modern neuroscience and how this leads to the conclusion that there must be mental illness, for the brain causes the mind and the brain is a biological organ like any other. Today I will discuss some of the specific arguing tactics that Baughman and others use to avoid this seemingly unavoidable conclusion.

All behavior is normal

Dr. Baughman’s points are more semantic arguments and misdirection than valid logic. He argues, for example, that the entire range of human behavior should be considered normal. All traits vary, he argues, and it is not valid to simply label the extreme ends of this variation as abnormal. To reiterate what I wrote yesterday, he returns to his position that only classic pathology can be considered a disease, he excludes all other criteria a-priori, and only disease can be considered a medical condition.

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Apr 23 2007

Mental Illness Denial – Part I

On Friday I appeared on The Debate Hour hosted by the Infidel Guy, the topic of discussion being “Is psychiatry a legitimate science?” I was defending psychiatry as legitimate while Dr. Fred Baughman, also a neurologist, defended his long time position that psychiatry is (to quote his website) “100% fraud.” I thought I would use my next few entries to delve into some of the issues raised more deeply.

Now, there is much to criticize about the mental health professions. It is a very diverse collection of beliefs and methods, and it is not possible to paint this diversity with a single brush. It ranges from rigorous science to pure pseudoscience. It is also an extremely challenging field, dealing with the complexity of human thought and behavior and confronting difficult ethical issues such as autonomy and legal responsibility.

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