Apr 10, 2023Liked by Awais Aftab

Your brilliant essay convinced me to upgrade my subscription. My only quibble is the description of Whitaker as “smart, intelligent, and well-intentioned.” Those adjectives cannot be simultaneously true in consideration of many Whitaker and MIA arguments. I tried reading Anatomy of An Epidemic, but was unable to get through it because of its reliance on imbalanced evidence and non-sequiturs to bolster an anti-psychiatry perspective. As chairperson of a university program committee that invited Whitaker to debate a psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Liffick, I had an opportunity to personally share with Whitaker my firsthand experience as the father of a child who began to have delusions and suicidal ideation as early as four years of age. Whitaker was unwilling to consider the possibility that I was telling him the truth or that a difficult choice to medicate our child at age 7 was motivated by a desire to keep him alive. Whitaker is an ideologue, which seems incompatible with being intelligent and well-intentioned with regard to psychiatry in particular and scientific inquiry in general. I think it is also incompatible with being a good journalist.

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Congratulations on a superb column, Awais--though I fear you may be among the last of a dying species called, "the reasonable and civil human being." The problems you point to are those of a modern-day subculture that harks back to Manichaeism--the 3rd century CE religion that viewed the universe in strictly dualistic terms, in which there is an eternal struggle between between a "good," spiritual world of light; and an "evil", material world.

The modern mindset you describe divides the world into two warring camps: the evil, lying, corrupt psychiatrists with their ineffectual and harmful drugs; and the good, honest, ethical critics of psychiatry who heroically expose the profession's nefarious conspiracy to defraud the public. The gravamen of your essay is its insistence that scientific truth is complicated; that the world is not divided into heroes and villains; and that--yes--psychiatry surely has its many problems and flaws, but is nevertheless a necessary, legitimate and helpful medical specialty.

How dare you, Awais! How dare you act as the voice of reason when there is so much vituperation and blame-casting to mine!

By the way, can we once and for all junk the manifestly bogus claim that the past 30-50 years have witnessed an "epidemic" of serious mental illness provoked by psychiatric medication? This falsehood has sold thousands of books and tarred an entire profession on the basis of sloppy terminology (using "epidemic" in a casual and colloquial manner) and flawed scientific understanding (e.g., drawing epidemiological conclusions about disease prevalence from notoriously unreliable "disability" data).

For readers who want the statistical and epidemiological foundations of my assertion, I respectfully refer them to these links:




Thank you again, Awais, for your civilizing voice in a wilderness of invective.



Ronald W. Pies, MD

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Aug 24, 2023Liked by Awais Aftab

This was a good read. I follow MIA on Facebook, I learn about some interesting stuff there, and it can feel like a nice antidote to the very different views you normally get from mainstream media and social media. But you're right that it's very skewed, which unfortunately many people fail to see.

I wrote my own blog post on antipsychiatry for anyone interested, from more of a patient/former patient perspective https://jeppssonphilosopherauthor.blogspot.com/2023/08/antipsychiatry.html?

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