Psychiatric reductionism

Helen Spandler from the London School of Economics & Political Science discusses psychiatric survivors & mental health work

“Just two examples will suffice. First, many survivors report their stories of abuse — both prior to, and subsequently within, the system — are not believed and seen as a ‘symptom’ of their mental illness. Second, the psychiatrisation of conditions like Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) where organic and physical conditions become ‘all in the mind’. Here, whilst there is a complex inter-relationship between the mind and body, psychiatric reductionism has resulted in a catalogue of instances of maltreatment, neglect and abuse.
In both examples, sexism rears its ugly head. Women and girls are more likely to suffer abuse, especially sexual abuse. In turn, abuse victims find their coping mechanisms labelled as diagnoses like ‘borderline personality disorder’ which Judith Herman described as no more than a ‘sophisticated insult’ pathologising trauma into a mental illness. Most ME/CFS sufferers are female, many of whom have been referred to as ‘hysterical’ and ‘irrational’ by doctors and psychiatrists.
The medical and psychiatric establishment has yet to come clean, admit to or apologise for these abuses.”

~ Helen Spandler in the LSE Business Review, from the London School of Economics & Political Science (21 November 2016)

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