Is it iatrogenic, or is it the result of trauma?

Here’s a weird one. This doctor responds to the question, Is dissociative identity disorder real? He claims that other doctors have suggested that “dissociate identity disorder”, or what used to be referred to as “multiple personality disorder”, is often an iatrogenic condition.

Many biological psychiatrists who base their practices around medication management will tell you the condition doesn’t exist, or that if it exists it is “iatrogenic,” meaning it is caused by therapists training their patients to interpret their symptoms as if they have a whole set of distinct personalities. On the other hand, there are clinicians who specialize in the condition and they take the presence of multiple personalities so seriously that they will separate therapeutic meetings with each of a patient’s “alters” (i.e. individual personalities). True believers will point to data that different personalities have different electroencephalogram tracings. Cynics will point out that actors can generate different EEG tracings when they switch characters.

Iatrogenic is not so much a matter of interpretation, iatrogenic means physician caused, and thus an iatrogenic disease is a disease caused by the treating physician. We seldom refer to “schizophrenia” or “bipolar disorder” as iatrogenic conditions, but when you make the claim that “dissociate identity disorder” may be such a disorder you are opening up the flood gates for doing so. The implication being made is that this “mental disorder” development is based upon the power of suggestion, but the problem here is that there are real and physical iatrogenic diseases that exist beyond the confines of any individual’s head.

By biological psychiatrists Dr. Charles Raison means psychiatrists who subscribe to the biological medical theory of psychiatry. Non-biomedical minded psychiatrists like to point out that there are iatrogenic diseases that are not psychiatric in the slightest that can be laid at the feet of these biological medical minded psychiatrists. There is no doubt involved that these conditions are real, unlike in the case of DID, and there is no doubt as to the doctors culpability. These are the neurological conditions and the metabolic changes that develop due to the cumulative effect of neuroleptic drug use.

Neuroleptic drugs, the drugs most often used to treat schizophrenia and sometimes bipolar disorder, have long been known to cause movement disorders indicative of brain disease. These brain diseases, progressive and often irreversible, are the tardive, which in latin means ‘late forming’, syndrome of diseases. The most notorious manifestation of this brain disease is known as tardive dyskinesia, but there is also a tardive dystonia, and a tardive akathesia, and other related illnesses that may develop as a consequence of the taking of these drugs. Tardive dyskinesia is a crippling condition that manifests itself in involuntary facial twitches, torso twistings, and tongue curlings.

The atypical neuroleptic drugs, developed in the 90s in an effort to lessen some of the more pernicious effects of the original neuroleptic drugs, have been found to cause excessive weight gain and a slew of associated health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes, any one of which has the potential of cutting short a life. The metabolic changes associated with these drugs are the primary reason why the average age at death for people in psychiatric treatment has been shown by some recents studies to be 25 years younger than that of the general population.

This doctor is not very optimistic about the prospects for treating patients labeled with dissociate identity disorder. He sees the source of the dissociation phenomenon as origining in traumas experienced early in life.