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The Fundamental Error of Psychiatry

The Fundamental Error of Psychiatry

The Myth that Psychiatric Disorders are Genetic Diseases

(p.113) 6 The Fundamental Error of Psychiatry
Doctoring the Mind
Richard P. Bentall
NYU Press

This chapter talks about how, in addition to fuelling eugenic fantasies, the fundamental error of psychiatry has a number of other important consequences for patients and mental health professionals. First, blinding doctors to factors in their patients' histories prevents the medical profession from addressing patients' psychological and social needs. Second, educational campaigns designed to address the stigma experienced by psychiatric patients have often encouraged the belief that serious mental illnesses are genetically determined. Educating people that mental illness is caused by genes actually increases the extent to which they want to avoid psychiatric patients. Finally, substantial resources have been spent in the attempt to discover the genetic origins of mental illness, whereas its social origins continue to be neglected. The chapter shows how no patient has ever benefited from genetic research into mental illness.

Keywords:   psychiatry, mental health, psychological needs, social needs, genetic mental illness, psychiatric patients

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