If you have an intimation that something is very wrong with psychiatry today; If you have a sense that suffering is not a brain problem, but a human problem; If you are a therapist, a patient, a person who is searching and you question if pharmaceuticals address the agency of human suffering, that a drug can cure what ails us; then this blog is for you, and I welcome your contributions, even if you disagree.
Throughout my practice of the intensive psychotherapy of character for the past forty years, it has been gratifying to see my patients recover from their suffering. Over the course of my career, I have witnessed the rapid and tragic degeneration of psychiatry. Psychotherapy has become a lost practice. It is on the verge of extinction, no longer taught in most psychiatric residencies. Contemporary psychiatry has fallen under the sway of biological psychiatry, where patients no longer receive proper care. It views the cause of human suffering to be the brain itself, rather than the person. Its treatments have been to act directly on the brain. And the prescribed treatments for its phantom brain diseases are psychoactive drugs. Pharmaceutical psychiatry is, in fact, an extension of its forebears in somatic-brain psychiatry – Insulin shock treatments, Electro-convulsive shock treatments, and lobotomies – all acting on the brain itself in destructive and harmful ways. Unfortunately amnesia has set in and its forgotten history is repeating itself.
There are now many illuminating critiques of biological and pharmaceutical psychiatry. I will address this as necessary. However, this blog is intended to present a constructive alternative. I will present a new biological paradigm for consciousness itself in the brain-body. It is organized as a ‘play’, with a cast of characters, feeling relationships between them, plots, stage sets, and a landscape. Our characters form as a result of how our nature – our specific genetic temperament -fields our formative experience, our nurture -responsiveness, abuse, and deprivation. The ‘play of consciousness’ is consonant with dreams, myths, art, personality, neuroscience, and belief itself.
The wisdom, the art, the science, the neuroscience of psychotherapy respects the complexities of the human condition. It is consonant with the biological organization of human consciousness itself. Psychotherapy addresses the workings of the brain in precisely the way our consciousness forms in the first place, through mourning the traumas of life in the human context of boundaries and relatedness with the therapist. This allows one to deactivate a problematic and damaged play and form and inhabit a new one that heals symptomatic suffering, and fosters authenticity and the capacity to love.
“The Recovery of Psychiatry” is also posted in my Psychology Today Blog, “The Theater of the Brain”