The Three Babbles of Mind Brain Research

Back in 1973, the late Dr. Thomas S. Szasz published a slim volume of aphorisms and sayings under the title The Second Sin. The title of this book referred a parable found in the Old Testament. This parable dealt with the sin of clear and decisive language, back at a time when only one language ruled the world, for which God punished man through the tower of Babel with a confusion of languages. This confusion of languages, according to Dr. Szasz, has become a means the authorities use to deceive and manipulate a gullible public. Among the authorities, of which Dr. Szasz was acutely concerned, were the mental health authorities.

I’d say that the use of babble has evolved much since the publication of The Second Sin. A metaphoric second tower of Babel, you could say, is expanding skyward. Recently I’ve come to identify three primary forms of babble used by the psychiatric profession’s hacks to achieve it’s ends, and to facilitate social control. These three languages, three jargons, three pig-Latins, if you will, are psycho-babble,  bio-babble, and the newest arrival on the block, neuro-babble. Given these three specialist technological languages, I think it can be safe to say that nonsense has a great future in the realm of psychiatry.

Perhaps you’ve heard about psychobabble, a popular book was published under that title a few decades back. Wikipedia defines psychobabble “as “(a portmanteau of” “psychology” or “psychoanalysis” and “babblle”) is a form of speech or writing that uses psychological jargon, buzzwords, and esoteric language to create an impression of truth or plausibility. The term implies that the speaker or writer lacks the experience and understanding necessary for the proper use of psychological terms. Additionally, it may imply that the content of speech deviates markedly from common sense and good judgement.”

Psycho-babble has it’s antithetical complement in bio-babble, or nonsense, in lieu of credible convincing evidence,  asserting the primary role of biology in the development of psychiatric disorders. The bio-psychiatrists seem to think that if we continually make the same assertions, over and over again, regarding the primacy of biology over other factors involved in the development of psychiatric disorders, that this effort will give those assertions the ring of authenticity. Science and logic, on the other hand, insist that we must dig a little deeper, and be a little more fastidious in our investigations.. Bio-psychiatry has been supremely effective in having this bias taint much of it’s research attempts with shoddy methodology.

More recently, we have seen the arrival of neuro-babble. Neuro-babble is a sort of hybridized bio-babble with a blur of epiphenomenon thrown into the mix. As the dawn of the second decade of the brain fades into artificial sunlight, neuro is here to stay. Neuro is the new fad, trendy prefix, and buzzword.  Everything is neuro these days. I tried to count the number of neuro-words I’d encountered not long ago, but as would be expected, I lost count eventually. Neuro-babble would resolve the Cartesian mind body duality by declaring mind body. Neuro-scientists, mostly neuro-psychiatrists, are intent on making the “substance” of mind, the substance of body, or brain. Getting that thought under a microscope lens though has proven more elusive than I care to elaborate on.

2 Responses

  1. It is indeed true psychiatry assumes the guise of medecine and science (two of the last remaining instutions people still respect in this secularized modern world) and employs its jargon in order to keep up appearances (for most people if anything sounds scholary and profound and they don’t understand it then it must be true and valid) and avoid having to admit they know very little about what they profess to be experts at, study and treat. In truth they can do very little but drug people into oblivion and/or lock them up if they don’t ‘respond’ well enough to their ‘treatment’ (do note the language: not conform but respond, not poison but treat: it does sound so much nicer doesn’t it?).

    There is no real cure for any mental disorder for the simple reason that there is no clear cause and still they insist they’re real medical men and researches making real progress in understanding and treating real diseases. It’s quite unbelievable their colleages in medecine (real doctors like heart specialists, neurologists, internists…) and real scientists studying the brain don’t speak out against their intellectual charade and force them into the fringe where they belong: pseudoscience and the profession of glorified policemen and jailers so henchmen for the state.

    They should just admit their gigantic failure at improving the nation’s ‘mental health’ (the more attention they get in the media and elsewhere the more mental patients are discovered and the more money is made by the drug companies) and either turn to more worthwhile pursuits in medicine or drop the borrowed medical authority and just do what dr. Sasz did in his time: be a mentor, life coach, moral councelor or whatever you want to call it for people voluntarily paying for this service.

    The primary rule in medicine is still ‘primum non nocere’ (first do no harm) and they break it all the time: giving people harmful, addictive drugs, indoctrinating them into their own ideology and social mores and taking away their freedom and dignity through involuntary commitment: surely this reminds one more of the past abuses of medcine in nazi-Germany and Sovjet-Russia than of the image of the good doctor who truly cares for the well-being of his/her patients and employs his wit and knowledge of scientifically sound, evidence based treatments to make them well again or at lessen their suffering as much as possible. Truly: an honest, competent physician is an asset to the community and a person to be respected but a dishonest and incompetent one (which psychiatrists are: they lie through their teeth about their knowledge and effectiveness of their treatments and they are completely incapable of curing anyone who doesn’t manage to change by himself) is to be loathed and avoided like the plague, especially if he has the state’s power behind him.

    Still there is good news: a while back I read in a newspaper that more and more medical students (at least in my country) shy away from psychiatry and refuse to specialise in it. Among the next generation of doctors psychiatry is increasingly getting a bad reputation as a discipline which isn’t really scientific and generally has more common ground with social sciences like psychology than with medecine proper (an applied natural science).

    • Medicine or social control? When one is locked up on suspicion of being a potential “danger to oneself or others”, when one is being removed from the community to protect the public, the medical issue is completely scifi. Let it be said, additionally, that this is only the excuse for locking people up as we know that there are completely innocuous people in confinement, too, and possibly for their innocuousness at that.

      There is no real cure for mental disorder because there is no real test for mental disorder. What we’ve got instead is a checklist. Check off a certain number of behaviors characterized as “symptoms” from a list, and a doctor can certify what you’ve got a “bona fide” “mental disorder”. Problem. Nobody has ever found any “mental disease” in actual fact. They’ve only got what amounts to circumstantial evidence. People have only found behaviors they don’t want other people to display. Removing your clothing is not a “mental disorder”, however removing your clothing in a public place could get you sent to the loony bin if, and only if, a lack of reason on your part was construed as the reason. Otherwise, it’s off to a jail cell. How do you cure a private delusion? With a public delusion, of course.

      What “gigantic failure”? If you mean the failure to recover people to functional contributing non-burdensome membership in the community at large, it wouldn’t put bread and bacon on the table. The mental health problem grows because if you can get the government (I.e. the tax payers) to pay for it, one person’s survival problems are the solution to another person’s, and it is not in his or her interest to see that other in a sustainable situation. The system is a “gigantic success”, and I have heard this success story referred to as the psycho-pharmaceutical industrial complex. Most direct example, when it comes to closing state hospitals the one big argument against doing so that they usually put forth is the matter of losing those jobs that it brings to the area.

      I agree wholeheartedly about harmful practices. Your singing to the choir here. The problem is that you cannot expect people who have lost their reason, or fools, to agree with you. That’s why I think we need to legalize folly. When you lock up fools under a quasi-legal pretext (i.e. for mental health reasons), you have essentially outlawed folly. Does outlawing folly prevent fools from pursuing their folly to it’s inevitable conclusion?. Of course not. Folly should be a right, and should not be seen as a “sickness” to be “cured” by medical science. The only “cure” for folly is the wisdom that comes of knowledge, awareness, and experience. Some people get there through trial and error, some people don’t get there.

      Your good news is a mixed blessing really. Many of the current crop of mad doctors in this country migrated to this country from the near and the far east. These doctors are often, in a sense, failed medical doctors. Okay. Mad doctoring is far from fizzling out. On top of this influx of foreign mad doctors, psychologists are demanding prescribing rights. Their claim is that there simply aren’t enough mad doctors to serve rural areas, and so they should have prescribing privileges and extra training. There is actually something of a power struggle between professions taking place. There are also calls for training more mad doctors. I suppose to meet demand. Mad doctors themselves aren’t suffering. Recent reports have them so busy in private practice that taking medicaid is a minority matter, and this with the recent advent of mental health insurance parity into law.

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