The Bias Of The MadSci Network

I’m upset. The MadSci Network website will have a pseudo-scientist, a psychiatrist, answering questions concerning “mental disorders” if you should ask one. How mad is that!? I do a search on psychiatry, and what comes out on top?

John Doe of West Virginia asked

Since schizophrenia is a life long illness and schizophreniform is a short-term one time episode, are they caused by the same things. Is a person with schizophreniform simply a lucky schizophrenic in permanent remission?

To which the answer, from one Dr. Gabriel Vargas, came.

Schizophrenia is a devastating mental illness with no known cause. It has a genetic component but likely involves many genes. Schizophreniform disorder is the name given to a cluster of symptoms which are very similar to those seen in Schizophrenia but occurring within a time frame of more than one month and less than six months. If those symptoms (which include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech and behavior, affective blunting) last for less than a month the disorder is labelled brief psychotic disorder; if it lasts more than six months it is called schizophrenia. It is thought that 60-80% of those diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder will eventually meet criteria for schizophrenia. As in the case of schizophrenia there is no known etiology. Furthermore, in revising the Diagnostic and statistic manual of mental disorders (DSM), the criteria for schizophreniform disorder was changed from symptoms lasting at least one week to symptoms lasting at least one month. Therefore some of the research that was done using the old definition will not apply. In short, it seems most people with schizophreniform disorder will develop frank schizophrenia though it is clear that a small minority do not and the reasons for this are poorly understood.

Kaplan & Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry/VII
by Benjamin J. Sadock (Editor), Virginia A. Sadock (Editor).

If schizophrenia has ‘no known cause’, how can you go onto say that it has a genetic component? Good try, doctor. Additionally, regarding the small minority of those deemed schizophreniform that do not develop into schizophrenia. 20% may indeed be a small minority, but is 40%? Most psychiatrists I have encountered repeatedly make the same mistake of emphasizing the negative at the expense of the positive. Results may differ from place to place. World Health Organization studies have shown that in developing countries that rely less on psychiatric drugs than in the developed countries, recovery rates from schizophrenia have been found to be much better than 50%, and these rates are nearly twice as high as they are in the more industrialized world.

Search for madness or mad pride on the MadSci Network site, and you get results dealing with mad cow disease. Ask about antipsychiatry, and the site draws a complete blank.

I thought I would ask a question of my own. I don’t expect an answer really, but we will see what happens in this case.

Question: Is psychiatry hard science or is it psuedo-science, junk science?

Comments: In Russia disagreeing with the government is characterized as a mental disorder. In America a polygamist Mormon, a possessive parent, an unfaithful spouse, or a stingy heir can get rid of an associated threat by having him or her admitted into a state mental hospital. Most diseases can be placed on a microscope slide, this is not true of so called mental illnesses. Don’t these factors ask some serious questions about the validity of psychiatry as a science?

I would expect better of any science website making a claim to madness. I get the idea these guys and gals don’t have a clue as to what psychiatric torture is really all about. I’m not optimistic about my prospects of getting a satisfactory answer to my question. Until such time as I do get an acceptable answer, I can only say, “ Shame on you, MadSci Network!”

The Mad Science Network Responds:

Stumping The Mad Science Network