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The Psychiatrist’s New Clothes


Two psychiatrists, Drs. Charles F. Zorumski and Eugene Rubin, have a book out now called Demystifying Psychiatry. I think the title is very much a misnomer. More appropriate titles would be Re-mystifying Psychiatry, or The Mystique of Psychiatry, or something more along those lines. The Selling or The Reselling of Psychiatry as potential titles also come to mind.

Psychiatry for some time has been at pains to legitimatize itself as a medical science. This volume represents perhaps the latest effort on behalf of the psychiatric profession to hold its own ground next to real schools of medicine, and the exact sciences. On the surface it has a scientific look and feel to it, but just delve a little deeper, mirrors glint, and the smoke begins to dissolve.

The jargon is appropriately thick for the task these two have set out for themselves. You don’t, for starters, demystify people with a jargon as dense as that used in this book. Don’t be fooled, folks. This is a mystique; there is nothing matter of fact, or bare bones about it. Should you probe far enough, you will understand that much of this research detailed in this volume is based upon presumption.

What we do get is mainstream psychiatry’s evolving vision of itself, its impact, and its future, or to put it more bluntly, its illusions. What’s missing is the input from members of that profession who have a critical perspective on the profession. Psychiatry’s view of itself, as you’d imagine, is fraught with blind spots, and that’s why it’s always a good idea to get the input of more independent minded observers.

Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t read the book, nor have I any intention of doing so. If I have made any mistakes in my appraisal of the volume, please, by all means correct me. I would be delighted to find something in the book that was dead on target. I would love to find something in it that clicked with me. I don’t think such is likely to be the case, and so I’m not going to waste any more of my time with it. I certainly don’t need to read something I can see through.