Day of Wrath, 5

Julian Jaynes and the bicameral mind

In recent decades several historians without any link to the deMausean school have written about thirty books on histories of childhood. I will mention only a couple of those published in 2005: When Children Became People by Odd Magne Bakke and Growing Up: The History of Childhood in a Global Context by Peter Stearns. DeMause has iteratively complained that books of this sort are presented to history students as if childrearing in the past had been as benign as Western childrearing in our times. Stearns for example is author and editor of more than forty books, but he attempts to absolve the parents by claiming that infanticide had an economic motivation; when it is well documented that in some periods infanticide was more common in well-off families.

Psychogenesis is the process of the evolution of empathy, and, therefore, of childrearing forms in an innovative group of human beings. In a particular individual it is an evolution of the architecture of his or her mentality, including the cognition of how the world is perceived. A “quantum leap” in “psychoclasses” depends on the parents’ breaking away from the abusive patterns in which they were educated; for example, stop killing their children: a prehistoric and historic practice that deMause calls “early infanticidal childrearing.”

A fascinating essay by Julian Jaynes throws light on how, by the end of the second millennium before our era, a huge alteration occurred in human mentality. In 1976 Jaynes published The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes calls “breakdown” the transit of bicameral mind—two chambers or brain hemispheres—to modern consciousness. The transit is relatively recent, and it represents a healing process from a divided self into a more unified or integrated one. Jaynes describes how society developed from a psychological structure based upon obedience to the god’s voices, to the subjective consciousness of present-day man. Like deMause’s psychohistory, Jaynes’ model caused many of his readers to see mankind from a new perspective. He elaborated a meta-narrative purporting to connect the loose pieces of previously unconnected fields—history, anthropology, ancient texts, psychiatry, language, poetry, neurology, religion, Hebrew and Greek studies, the art of ancestral societies, archaeological temples and cuneiform writing—to construct an enormous jigsaw puzzle.

Jaynes asked the bold question of whether the voices that people of the Ancient World heard could have been real, a common phenomenon in the hallucinated voices of present-day schizophrenics. He postulated that, in a specific lapse of history a metamorphosis of consciousness occurred from one level to another; that our present state of consciousness emerged a hundred or two hundred generations ago, and that previously human behavior derived from hearing voices in a world plagued with shamanism, magical thinking, animism and schizoidism.

In the Ancient World man had a bipartite personality: his mind was broken, bicameralized, schizophrenized. “Before the second millennium B.C., everyone was schizophrenic,” Jaynes claims about those who heard voices of advice or guides attributed to dead chiefs, parents or known personages. “Often it is in times of stress when a parent’s comforting voice may be heard.” It seems that this psychic structure of a divided or bicameral self went back to cavemen. Later in the first cities, the period that deMause calls “late infanticidal childrearing” (Jaynes never mentions deMause or psychohistory), the voices were attributed to deities. “The preposterous hypothesis we have come to is that at one time human nature was split in two, an executive part called god, and a follower part called man. Neither was conscious. This is almost incomprehensible to us.” Preconscious humans did not have an ego like ours; rational thought would spring up in a late stage of history, especially in Greece. However, orthodox Hellenists usually do not ask themselves why, for a millennium, many Greeks relied on instructions coming from a group of auditory hallucinating women in Delphi. To explain similar cultural phenomena, Jaynes lays emphasis upon the role that voices played in the identities, costumes and group interactions; and concludes that the high civilizations of Egypt, the Middle East, Homeric Greece and Mesoamerica were developed by a primitive unconscious.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind describes the theodicy in which, three thousand years ago, subjectivity and the ego flourished. For the common man consciousness is the state of awareness of the mind; say, the conscious state at walking. Jaynes uses the term in a more restricted way: consciousness as the subjective universe, the self-analyzing or self-conscious mind; the “I,” the will and morality of an individual, as well as the development of the linear concept of time (which used to be cyclic to the archaic mind, perhaps due to the observation of the stations of the year). The man who left behind his bicameral thinking developed a more robust sense of the self, and Jaynes finds narrative evidence of this acting self in the literary record. He examines Amos, the voice of the oldest Old Testament text and compares it with the Ecclesiastes, the most recent one. Likewise, Jaynes scrutinizes the Iliad looking for tracks of a subjective self, and finds nothing. The Homeric heroes did what Athena or Apollo told them; they literally heard their gods’ voices as the prophets listened to Yahweh’s. Their psyches did not display brightness of their own yet. (If we remember the metaphor of my first book, the mentality of ancient man was similar to what astronomers call a “maroon dwarf”: a failed star like Jupiter, not a sun with enough mass to cause nuclear fusion so that it could shine on its own.) Matters change with the texts of Odysseus’ adventures, and even more with the philosophers of the Ionian islands and of Athens. At last the individual had accumulated enough egocentric mass to explode and to shine by itself. Jaynes believes that it was not until the Greek civilization that the cataclysm that represented the psychogenic fusion consolidated itself.

By Solon’s times it may be said that the modern self, as we understand it, had finally exploded. The loquacious gods, including the Hebraic Yahweh, became silent never to speak again but through the bicameral prophets. After the breakdown of divine authority, with the gods virtually silenced in the times of the Deuteronomy, the Judean priests and governors embarked upon a frenetic project to register the legends and stories of the voices that, in times of yore, had guided them. It was no longer necessary to hallucinate sayings that the god had spoken: man himself was the standard upon which considerations, decisions, and behaviors on the world rested. In the dawning of history man had subserviently obeyed his gods, but when the voice of consciousness appears, rebelliousness, dissidence, and even heresy are possible.

Through his book, which may be called a treatise of psycho-archeology, Jaynes follows the track of how subjective consciousness emerged. His ambitious goal is to explain the birth of consciousness, and hence the origin of our civilization. Once the former “maroon dwarfs” achieve luminescence in a group of individuals’ selves, not only religious dissent comes about, but regicide, the pursuit of personal richness and, finally, individual autonomy. This evolution continues its course even today. Paradoxically, when the West reaches the stage that deMause calls “helping mode” in child-rearing, it entails ill-fated consequences such as Caucasian demographic dilution and the subsequent Islamization of Europe (as we will see).

Although Jaynes speculates that the breakdown of the bicameral mind could have been caused by crises in the environment, by ignoring deMause he does not present the specific mechanism that gave rise to the transition. Due to the foundational taboo of human species, explained by Alice Miller in my previous book and by Colin Ross in this one, Jaynes did not explore the decisive role played by the modes of childrearing. This blindness permeates The Origin of Consciousness to the point of giving credibility to the claims of biological psychiatry; for example, Jaynes believes in the genetic basis of schizophrenia, a pseudoscientific hypothesis, as shown in my previous essay. However, his thesis on bicameralism caused his 1976 essay to be repeatedly reprinted, including the 1993 Penguin Books edition and another edition with a 1990 afterword that is still in print.

In the bicameral kingdoms the hallucinated voices of ancient men were culturally accepted as part of the social fabric. But a psychogenic leap forward gives as much power to the new psychoclass as the Australopithecus character of 2001: A Space Odyssey grabbing a bone. “How could an empire whose armies had triumphed over the civilizations of half a continent be captured by a small band of 150 Spaniards in the early evening of November 16, 1532?” The conquest of the Inca Empire was one of a handful of military confrontations between the two states of consciousness. A deMausean interpretation would lead us to think that it was a clash between the infanticidal psychoclass and an intermediate state of ambivalent and intrusive modes of childrearing. The Spaniards were clearly up the scale of “psychogenic leaps” compared to the Incas.

This reading of history is diametrically opposed to Bartolomé de Las Casas, who in his Apologética Historia claimed that in some moral aspects the Amerindians were superior to the Spanish and even to Greeks and Romans. Today’s Western self-hatred had its precursor in Las Casas, who flourished in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In identical fashion, in the 21st century it is irritating to see in educational TV programs an American in Peru saying that the Incas of the times of the Conquest “were much smarter than the Spanish.” The truth is that the Incas did not even know how to use the wheel and lacked written language. They literally heard their statues speak to them and their bicameral mind handicapped them before the more robust psyche of the Europeans: something like an Australopithecus clan clashing with another without bones in their hands. The Spaniards were, certainly, very religious; but not to the point of using magical thinking in their warfare stratagems. According to a 16th-century Spaniard, “the unhappy dupes believed the idols spoke to them and so sacrificed to it birds, dogs, their own blood and even men” (this quotation refers to Mesoamericans, the subject-matter of the next section). The Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa believes that his ancestors were defeated due to a pragmatic and basically modern European mentality in contrast to the magical thinking of the natives; and the Mexican Carlos Fuentes wrote that the conquest of the American continent was a great triumph of the scientific hypothesis over the indigenous physical perception.

Jaynes overemphasizes that the prophets of the Old Testament literally heard Yahweh’s voice. Because the minds in the Ancient World, like present-day schizoid personalities, were swarmed with sources of hallucination, humans still lacked an inner space for retrospection and introspection. Bible scholars have debated at length about what could have caused the loss of prophecy gifts in the Hebrew people after the Babylonian exile. I would say that the elimination of the sacrificial practice of infants meant a leap toward a superior psychoclass, with the consequent overcoming of the schizoid or bicameral personality.

But going back to Jaynes: Formerly terrestrial and loquacious, the later mute gods were transported to a heaven, making room for human divination: the consultation of human beings that (for having been raised by more regressive parents I may infer) still heard the fateful voices. Even though the divine voices made themselves unnecessary for the new kind of human, praying continued to a god who was incapable, centuries ago, of communicating through divine voices.

The entire succession of [Old Testament] works becomes majestically and wonderfully the birth pangs of our subjective consciousness. No other literature has recorded this absolutely important event at such length or with such fullness. Chinese literature jumps into subjectivity in the teaching of Confucius with little before it. Indian hurtles from the bicameral Veda into the ultra subjective Upanishads. Greek literature, like a series of steppingstones from The Iliad to the Odyssey and across the broken fragments of Sappho and Solon toward Plato, is the next best record, but still too incomplete. And Egypt is relatively silent.

Jaynes’ book is dense, closely argued, and despite its beautiful prose often boring. But the chapter on the Hebrew people titled “The Moral Consciousness of the Khabiru” is must reading. If he is right, it was not until the fifth century before the Common Era when the bicameral mind began to be seen as the incapacitating disorder that is presently labeled as psychosis. In contrast to the mystic psychohistorian Robert Godwin, I am closer to Jaynes in that one of the most persistent residues of bicameralism is our religious heritage.

Jaynes, who died in 1997, may be the proverbial author of a single book, but many people continue to read The Origin of Consciousness. Tor Norretranders, a popular author on scientific subjects, expanded the bicameral hypothesis in a book published a year after Jaynes died, The User Illusion, and he cites more recent investigations than those collected by Jaynes.
 
Popperian falsifiability

Despite the book’s popularity and the fact that Jaynes taught in Princeton University and did archaeological work, his colleagues did not pay him much attention. Many academics reject theories that have been presented through literary books. It is understandable that a book with such lyric passages has been ignored by the dry science taught in the psychology departments; by neurobiologists, and by evolutionary theorists. Jaynes, basically a humanist, had not presented his theory in a scientific or falsifiable format.

Adepts of social sciences grant such authority to the hard sciences that, when they run across a text that emphasizes the humanities, they want to see everything translated to the language of science. They do this in spite of the fact that, in the reign of subjectivity, hard sciences are incapable of producing something truly significant. Notwithstanding this scientific demand, I concede that if we humanists make claims that could be interpreted as scientific hypotheses, it doesn’t hurt to present them in such a way that they may be refuted, if per chance they are wrong. Consequently, I must make it very clear that the trauma model is falsifiable.

For instance, it occurs to me that, if the model is correct, in the Israeli kibbutz children cannot be easily schizophrenized. The cause of this would be, naturally, that in the kibbutz they are put farther away from potentially schizophrenogenic parents than the children in nuclear families. Something similar could be said about Jaynes’ ideas. His hypothesis can be presented in falsifiable form always provided that the presentation is done through a deMausean interpretation of it, as we will see almost by the end of this book.

Once it is conceded that even humanists who venture into foreign lands can present their theories in falsifiable form, I must point out that very few academics, including psychologists, are willing to delve into the darkest chambers of the human psyche. To them it is disturbing that prehistoric man, and a good deal of the historic man including their ancestors, had behaved as marionettes of hallucinated voices or nonexistent gods. Jaynes’ ideas represent a serious challenge to history as it is officially understood and even more to religion, anthropology, and psychiatry. He seems to postulate that a scant connectivity of the two brain hemispheres produced voices, and that the changes in consciousness caused the brain to become more interconnected through the corpus callosum. In case I have interpreted him correctly, I am afraid it is not possible to run tomographs on those who died millennia ago to compare, say, the brain of the bicameral pythoness against the brain of the intellectual Solon. Let’s ignore this non-falsifiable aspect and focus on hypotheses that may be advanced by epidemiologists in the field of social sciences. Studying the changes of incidence patterns of child mistreatment through history or contemporary cultures is a perfectly falsifiable scientific approach.

In the book reviews of The Origin of Consciousness available on the internet it can be gathered that the experience of many readers was as electrifying as a midnight ray that allowed them to see, albeit for a split second, the human reality. If the ultimate test for any theory is to explain the most data in the simplest way, we should not ignore the psychohistories of Jaynes and deMause. If they are right, the explanatory power of an unified model would help us understand part of the human mystery, especially religion and psychosis.

 
___________

The objective of the book is to present to the racialist community my philosophy of The Four Words on how to eliminate all unnecessary suffering. If life allows, next time I will publish here the section on schizophrenia theorist Silvano Arieti. Those interested in obtaining a copy of Day of Wrath can request it: here.

A postscript to my prolegomena

Further to what I said yesterday.

A deeper response to the questions raised by Stubbs would imply reminding my readers that, at the end of his Critique of Practical Reason, Kant said that there are two universes: the empirical universe and the subjective universe. Karl Popper comments that he who doesn’t believe in the second universe would do well to think about his own death—it is so obvious that a whole universe dies when a human being dies!

What I find nauseating in today’s academia is that it is an institution that denies the existence of this second universe. One could imagine what would happen if a student of psychology or psychiatry tried to write a lyric essay about why Nietzsche lost his mind, like the one that Stefan Zweig wrote and I have been excerpting for WDH. (And wait for the next chapters where Zweig’s story reaches its climax…)

A proper response to Stubbs would require an absolute break from the epistemological error, a category error, so ubiquitous in the academia. That is to say, we must approach such questions as if they were questions for our inner worlds.

The best way to respond to Stubbs, following what I have said about psychoclasses, is imagining that few whites have touched the black monolith of the film 2001. Those who have touched it—and here we are talking of the “second” universe that the current paradigm barely acknowledges—know that the most divine creature on Earth, the nymph, must be preserved at all costs.

This is not the sphere of objective science. Since we are talking of the ideals of our souls, let me confess that I became a white nationalist in 2009 when I lived in the Spanish island Gran Canaria, near Africa. The big unemployment that started in 2008 affected me and, without a job and completely broke, I spent a great deal of time in the internet. When I learned that a demographic winter was affecting all of the white population on planet Earth I was watching a Harry Potter film featuring a blondest female teenager. I remember that I told to myself something to the effect that, henceforward, I would defend the race with all of my teeth and claws.

However, to understand this universe I would have to tell the (tragic) story of the nymph Catalina: a pure white rose who happened to live around my home’s corner decades ago, who looked like the girl in that Parrish painting. But I won’t talk about the tragedy (something of it is recounted in Hojas Susurrantes). Suffice it to say that since then my mind has been devoted to her beauty and, by transference, it is now devoted to protect all genotype & phenotype that resembles hers…

Once we are talking from our own emergent universe (emergent compared to the Neanderthals who have not touched the monolith), Stubb’s questions are easily answered if one only dares to speak out what lies within our psyches:

So let me think of some fundamental questions that need to be answered: Why does it matter if the White race exists, if the rest of the humans are happy?

Speaks my inner universe: Because the rest of humans are like Neanderthals compared to Cro-Magnon whites. Here in Mexico I suffer real nightmares imagining the fate of the poor animals if whites go completely extinct (Amerinds are incapable of feeling the empathy I feel for our biological cousins).

Why does it matter if the White race continues to exist if I personally live my life out in comfort?

Speaks my inner universe: Because only pigs think like that. (Remember the first film of the Potter series, when Hagrid used magic to sprout a pig’s tail from Dudley’s fat bottom for gulping down Harry’s birthday cake.) We have a compromise with God’s creation even when a personal God does not exist.

Why should I be concerned with the White race if it only recently evolved from our ape-like ancestors, knowing that change is a part of the universe?

Speaks my inner universe: Because our mission is that we, not others, touch again the black monolith after four million years that one of our ancestors touched it.

Why should I be concerned with the existence of the White race if every White person is mortal, and preserving each one is futile?

Speaks my inner universe: It is a pity that no one has read The Yearling that I had been excerpting recently. I wanted to say something profound in the context of child abuse but that is a subject that does not interest WDH readers. Let me hint to what I thought after reading it.

To my mind the moral of the novel is not the moment when the father coerced his son to shoot Flag, but the very last page of Marjorie’s masterpiece. Suddenly Jody woke up at midnight and found himself exclaiming “Flag!” when his pet was already gone.

moment of eternity

The poet Octavio Paz once said that we are mortals, yes: but those “portions of eternity,” as a boy playing with his yearling, are the sense of the universe. The empirical (now I am talking of the external) universe was created precisely to give birth to these simple subjective moments: figments that depict our souls like no other moments in the universe’s horizon of events.

Why should I be concerned with preserving the White race if all White people who live will suffer, some horribly, and none would suffer if they were wiped out?

Speaks my inner universe: The boy suffered horribly when his father obliged him to murder Flag, yes. But the moment of eternity, as depicted in Wyeth’s illustration, had to be lived. It will probably leave a mark if another incarnation of the universe takes place…

Why psychiatry is a false science

“An irrefutable hypothesis is a
sure-fire sign of a pseudoscience.”

—Terence Hines [1]

 

According to Ron Leifer, there have been four parallel critiques of psychiatry: Thomas Szasz’s conceptual and logical critique of the mental illness idea; Leifer’s own parallel critique of social control through psychiatry, Peter Breggin’s medical evaluation of the assaults on the brain with drugs, electroshock and lobotomy, and the cry of those who have been harmed by it.[2]

Another way to question the validity of psychiatry is to examine the scientific basis of biological psychiatry. This fifth parallel critique, which I would call the evaluation of the scientific status of psychiatry, takes psychiatry to task on its own theoretical base. Exponents of this late strategy have focused on the various bio-reductionist claims and logical fallacies in psychiatry;[3] on the dubious science behind psychopharmacology,[4] and on statistical analyses that show that poor countries with few psychiatric drugs called neuroleptics (“antipsychotics”) fare much better in the treatment of people in psychotic crisis than the rich countries.[5]

Here I will present an apparently innovative way to call into question the scientific status of biological psychiatry.

However odd it may seem, biopsychiatry has not been attacked from the most classic criteria to spot pseudosciences: Karl Popper’s test that distinguishes between real and false science, and the principle known as Occam’s razor. Both of these principles have been very useful in the debunking of paranormal claims,[6] as well as biological pseudosciences such as phrenology.

Mario Bunge, the philosopher of science, maintains that all pseudosciences are sterile. Despite of its multimillion-dollar sponsoring by the pharmaceutical companies, biological psychiatry remains a sterile profession today.[7] Despite its long history of biological theories since 1884 when Johann Thudichum, the founder of modern neurochemistry, believed the cause of madness were “poisons fermented in the body” to the current dopamine theory of schizophrenia, psychiatrists have been unable to find the biological cause of the major disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.[8]

This lack of progress was to be expected. If the biologicistic postulate on which psychiatry lays its foundational edifice is an error, that is to say, if the cause of mental disorders is not somatogenic but psychogenic, real progress can never occur in biological psychiatry; and the subject of mental disorders should not belong to medical science but to psychology.

Nancy Andreasen, the editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, the most financed and influential journal of psychiatry, recognizes in Brave New Brain, a book published in 2001, that:

There has not been found any physiological pathology behind mental disorders;

nor chemical imbalances have been found in those diagnosed with a mental illness;

nor genes responsible for a mental illness have been found;

there is no laboratory test that determines who is mentally ill and who is not;

some mental disorders may have a psychosocial origin.[9]

A better proof of sterility in biopsychiatry can hardly be found. It is worth saying that a book reviewer tagged Andreasen’s book as “the most important psychiatry book in the last twenty years.”[10] The above points show us why, since its origins, psychiatry and neurology are separated.
 
Popper’s litmus test

While neurology deals with authentic brain biology, it is legitimate to ask whether psychiatry might be searching for a biological mirage.

In The Logic of Scientific Discovery philosopher of science Karl Popper tells us that the difference between science and pseudosciences lies in the power of refutability of a hypothesis.[11] Despite its academic, governmental and impressive financial backing in the private sector, psychiatry does not rest on a body of discoveries experimentally falsifiable or refutable. In fact, the central hypothesis in psychiatry, a biomedical entity called mental illness—say “schizophrenia”—cannot be put forward as a falsifiable or refutable hypothesis.

Let us consider the claim that psychiatrists use the drugs called neuroleptics to restore the brain chemical imbalance of a schizophrenic. A Popperian would immedia-tely ask the questions: (1) What is exactly a brain chemical imbalance? (2) How is this neurological condition recognized among those who you call schizophrenics and which lab tests are used to diagnose it? (3) Which evidence can you present to explain that the chemical imbalance of the so-called schizo-phrenic has been balanced as a result of taking the neuroleptic?

Before these questions the psychiatrist answers in such a way that he who is unfamiliar with the logic of scientific discovery will have great difficulties in detecting a trick. For instance, Andreasen has acknowledged that there have not been found biochemical imbalances in those diagnosed with a mental illness and that there is no laboratory test that determines who is mentally ill and who is not. That is to say, Andreasen is recognizing that her profession is incapable of responding to the second and third questions above. How, then, does she and her colleagues have convinced themselves that neuroleptics restore to balance the “chemically unbalanced” brains of schizophrenics? Furthermore, why does Andreasen have stated so confidently at the beginning of the section in Brave New Brain that addresses the question of what causes schizophrenia that the disorder “is not a disease that parents cause”?

Speaking in Popperian terms the answer is: by contriving a non-falsifiable or irrefutable hypothesis. In contrast to neurologists, who can demonstrate the physiopathology, histopathology or the presence of pathogen microorganisms, Andreasen and other psychiatrists recognize that they cannot demonstrate these biological markers (faulty genes or biochemical imbalances) that they postulate in the major disorders classified in the revised, fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-IV-TR. If they could do it, psychiatry as a specialty would have disappeared and its body of knowledge merged in neurological science. What psychiatrists do is to state that after almost a century of research in, for instance, schizophrenia, the medical etiology of the “disease” is still “unknown,” and they claim the same of many others DSM-IV behaviors.

As Thomas Szasz has observed, in real medical science physicians observe the pathological alterations in the organs, tissue, and cells as well as the microbial invasions, and the naming of the disease comes only after that. Psychiatry inverts the sequence. First it baptizes a purported illness, be it schizophrenia or any other, but the existence of a biological marker is never discovered, though it is dogmatically postulated.[12] A postulate is a proposition that is accepted without proof. Only by postulating that these disorders are basically genetic and that the environment merely plays a “triggering” role can psychiatrists justify to treat them by physical means. On the other hand, if neuroses and psychoses are caused by poor parenting and extreme parental abuse respectively, to treat them with drugs, elec-troshock or lobotomy only “re-victimizes” the victim.[13]

In the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s tens of thousands of lobotomies were performed in the United States,[14] but since the advent of neuroleptics only about two hundred surgical lobotomies are performed each year in the world. About 100,000 people are being electro-shocked every year in the United States alone, many against their will.[15] North America consumes about 90 per cent of the world’s methylphenidate (“Ritalin”) for American and Canadian children. Many parents, teachers, politicians, physicians and almost all psychiatrists believe in these “medical model” treatments for unwanted behaviors in children and teenagers.

On the other hand, the “trauma model” is an expression that appears in the writings of non-biological psychiatrists such as Colin Ross. Professionals who work in the model of trauma try to understand neurosis and even psychosis as an injury to the inner self inflicted by abusive parenting.[16] As shown in the next essay of this book, the psyche of a child is very vulnerable to persistent abuse while in the process of ego formation. Some books of the proponents of the old existential and “schizophrenogenic” mother are still in print.[17] More recently, the books by Alice Miller have also become popular.[18] In a moving and yet scholarly autobiography John Modrow maintains that an all-out emotional attack by his parents caused a psychotic crisis in his adolescence.[19] Despite claims to the contrary, the trauma model of psychosis is still alive. Only in 2004 two academic books were released on the subject,[20] and in the Journal of Psychohistory Lloyd deMause still suggest that the gamut of mental disorders, from the dissociative states and psychoses of ancient times to the neuroses of today, are consequence of child abuse.[21]
 
Unfalsifiability

Let us take as an example an article published in a July 2002 Time magazine. The author used the case of Rodney Yoder, abused during his childhood and as adult hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital in Chester, Illinois. From the hospital Yoder undertook an internet campaign for his liberation. Catching on the favorite phrases of psychiatrists the Time writer tells us: “Scientists are decades away [my emphasis] from being able to use a brain scan to diagnose something like Yoder’s alleged personality disorders.”[22] In the same line of thinking, Rodrigo Muñoz, a former president of the American Psychiatric Association in the 1990s, stated in an interview: “We are gradually advancing to the point when we will be able [my emphasis] to pinpoint functional and structural changes in the brain that are related to schizophrenia.”[23] That is to say, psychiatrists recognize that at present they cannot understand a mental disorder through purely physical means, though they have enormous faith they will in the near future. Hence it is understandable what another psychiatrist told the Washington Post: “Psychiatric diagnosis is descriptive. We don’t really understand psychiatric disorders at a biological level.”[24] Psychiatrists only rely on conduct, not on the individual’s body, to postulate that there is a biological illness. Child psychiatrist Luis Méndez Cárdenas, the director of the only public psychiatric hospital in Mexico which specializes in committing children, told me in a 2002 interview: “Since the cause of any disorder is unknown, the diagnosis is clinical.”

More to the point, in February 2002 I debated psychiatrist Gerard Heinze, the director of the Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatría (the Mexican equivalent to the American National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH.) Arguing with Heinze I rose the question of the lack of biological markers in his profession. Heinze answered enumerating two or three diseases that medical science has not fully understood; he tried to make the point that mental disorders lie in this category of still incomprehensible diseases. For example, until 2006 the Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, which makes some children start to age since their childhood, was an authentic biomedical disease of unknown etiology. But its existence was not controversial before 2006: it was enough to see the poor aged children to know that their problem was clearly somatic. On the other hand, diagnoses of the alleged psychiatric disorders are so subjective that their inclusion in the DSM has to be decided by votes in congresses of influential psychiatrists. Heinze’s point would not have strained my credulity to the breaking point if most of the 374 DSM-IV diagnoses were already proven biomedical illnesses with only a few of them remaining as mysterious diseases. But we are asked to believe that virtually all of the DSM behaviors are mysterious diseases “of unknown etiology”!

One last example related to a 2003 hunger strike of psychiatric survivors in Pasadena, California, who demanded scienti-fic proof of mental illness as a genuine biomedical disease, will illustrate this attitude.[25]

A demand of the hunger strikers was addressed to the American Psychiatric Association and the offices of the Surgeon General. Psychiatrist Ron Sterling dismissed the strikers’ demand for positive scientific proof describing the mental health field in the following way: “The field is like cardiology before cardiologists could do procedures like electrocardiograms, open-heart surgery, angiograms and ultrasound […]. Since brain structure and physiology are so complex, the understanding of its circuitry and biology are in its infancy.”[26] The Surgeon General Office did not even bother to respond. However, in a statement released in September 2003 the American Psychiatric Association conceded that:

Brain science has not advanced to the point where scientists or clinicians can point to readily discernible pathologic lesions or genetic abnormalities that in and of themselves serve as reliable or predictive biomarkers of a given mental disorder or mental disorders as a group… Mental disorders will likely be proven [my emphasis] to represent disorders of intracellular communication; or of disrupted neural circuitry.

The trick to be noticed in the above public statements is that psychiatrists, physicians all things considered, are stating that even though the etiology of mental disorders is unknown such etiology is, by definition, biological, and that it is only a matter of time that it will likely be proven. This is the hidden meaning of the code word “of unknown etiology.” By doing this psychiatrists dismiss in toto the work of the many researchers who have postulated a psychogenic origin of mental distress and disorders.

Although it is more parsimonious to consider a psychological cause for a mental disturbance that has no known biological markers, with its somatogenic dogma orthodox psychiatry ignores the simplest hypothesis, the model of trauma. To inquire into Yoder’s childhood, for instance, is axiomatically dismissed in a science that clings to only one hypothesis. In other words, by postulating unknown etiologies that will be discovered in the future by medical science—never by psychologists—, these physicians have presented us a biological hypothesis of mental disorders in such a way that, even if wrong, cannot be refuted.

If psychiatrists were true scientists they would present their biological hypo-thesis under the falsifiability protocol that Popper observed in hard sciences. Let us consider the hypothesis:

“At sea level water boils at 40º C.”

This is a scientific hypothesis in spite of the fact that the proposition is false (water does not boil at 40º but at 100º C). The hypothesis is scientific because it is presented in such a way that it just takes putting it to the test in our kitchen with a thermometer to see if it is true or not: if water does not boil at 40º C, the hypothesis is false.

In other words, according to Popper the scientific quality of a hypothesis does not depend on whether the hypothesis is true, but however paradoxical it may seem, it depends on whether the hypothesis may be refuted assuming it is false.

Thus the hypothesis that at present water boils at 40º C can be refuted: it is a scientific hypothesis. On the other hand, the hypothesis that schizophrenia and the other major mental disorders are biological and that this “will likely be proven,” the words of the American Psychiatric Association, cannot be refuted: it is not a scientific hypothesis. Against this biological hypothesis there is no possible evidence at present, that is, there is no empirical evidence that can show that the hypothesis is wrong.

This is the sure-fire sign of a pseudoscience.
 

Conclusion

A biopsychiatry that drugs millions of children with healthy brains is not a genuine science. True scientists, such as geologists or biologists, never postulate their central hypotheses as non-falsifiable hypotheses that “will likely be proven.” It is the futuristic stance of psychiatrists what gives the lie to the claim that their belief system is scientific.

A pseudo-science is a belief system that pretends to be scientific. Psychiatry is not the only biological pseudoscience, but it exhibits the same unequivocal signs of pseudoscience present in every system that pretends to be scientific. Other biological pseudoscientists such as phrenologists or the communist proponents of anti-Mendel genetics did not comply with the Popperian requirement of presenting their conjectures in falsifiable form either.

All pseudosciences, biological or paranormal, have four things in common. Just as its biological sisters (phrenology and anti-Mendel genetics) and its paranormal cousins (e. g., parapsychology and UFOlogy), psychiatry is a “science” that (1) presents its central hypothesis in a non-falsifiable way; (2) idolizes in perpetuity that sole hypothesis; (3) violates the economy principle by ignoring the more parsimonious alternative, and (4) is completely sterile. After decades of research neither phrenologists nor psychiatrists, para-psychologists or ufologists, have demons-trated the existence of the (alleged) pheno-mena they study.

In other words, psychiatrists do not have medical or scientific evidence to back their claims. Their own recognition that they cannot tell us anything about the above-mentioned question—with which lab tests do you diagnose this so-called neurological condition?—demonstrates that their schizophrenia hypothesis is unscientific. The same can be said of ADHD, bipolar “illness,” depression and the other major DSM disorders.

In a nutshell, psychiatry is not a science. Since the middle 1950s the lack of a mental health science in the medical profession has been compensated by an invasive marketing and the aggressive sales of psychiatric drugs by the pharmaceutical companies.[27]
 

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[1] Terence Hines, Pseudoscience and the paranormal: a critical examination of the evidence. New York: Prometheus Books, 1988, p. 2.

[2] Ron Leifer, “A critique of medical coercive psychiatry, and an invitation to dialogue,” Ethical Human Sciences and Services, 2001, 3 (3), 161-173 (the journal has been renamed Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry).

[3] Colin Ross & Alvin Pam, Pseudoscience in biological psychiatry: blaming the body. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1995.

[4] Elliot Valenstein, Blaming the brain: the truth about drugs and mental health. New York: Free Press, 1998.

[5] Robert Whitaker, Mad in America: bad science, bad medicine, and the enduring mistreatment of the mentally ill. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus, 2001.

[6] The Committee for the Scientific Inquiry, that publishes the bimonthly Skeptical Inquirer and whose members included luminaries such as Martin Gardner, Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, has been a think tank in the debunking of pseudosciences since 1976.

[7] Cf. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, a journal authored by a group of mental health professionals that specializes in debunking biopsychiatry.

[8] For a critical review of the dopamine theory of schizophrenia see for example Valenstein, Blaming the brain, pp. 82-89; Ross and Pam, Pseudoscience, pp. 106-109.

[9] Nancy Andreasen, Brave new brain: conquering mental illness in the era of the genome. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

[10] Ty Colbert, book review in Ethical Human Sciences and Services, 2001, 3 (3), p. 213.

[11] Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery. New York: Routledge, 2002, chapters 4 and 6 esp.

[12] See for example Thomas Szasz, Pharmacracy: medicine and politics in America. Connecticut: Praeger, 2001.

[13] César Tort, “Cómo asesinar el alma de tu hijo” in Hojas Susurrantes, Lulu distributors, 2016.

[14] As to date Whitaker’s Mad in America is the most readable exposé I know of the darkest period in American psychiatry.

[15] Ibid.

[16] See for example Silvano Arieti, Interpretation of schizophrenia. New Jersey: Aronson, 1994. Originally published in 1955, this celebrated treatise is worth revisiting.

[17] See for example Ronald Laing, The divided self: an existential study in sanity and madness (Selected works of R.D. Laing, 1). New York: Routledge, 1999.

[18] E.g., Alice Miller, Breaking down the wall of silence: the liberating experience of facing painful truth. New York: Dutton, 1987.

[19] John Modrow, How to become a schizophrenic: the case against biological psychiatry. New York: Writers Club Press, 2003.

[20] Colin Ross, Schizophrenia: an innovative approach to diagnosis and treatment. New York: Haworth Press, 2004. See also John Read, Loren Mosher and Richard Bentall, Models of madness. New York: Routledge, 2004.

[21] See e.g., Lloyd deMause, “The Evolution of the Psyche and Society” in The Emotional Life of Nations. New York: Other Press, 2002.

[22] John Cloud, “They call him crazy,” Time, 15 July 2002.

[23] Rodrigo Muñoz, quoted in Jeanette De Wyze, “Still crazy after all these years,” San Diego Weekly Reader, 9 January 2003.

[24] Thomas Laughren, quoted in Shankar Vedantam, “Against depression, a sugar pill is hard to beat: placebos improve mood, change biochemistry in majority of trials of antidepressants,” Washington Post, 6 May 2002.

[25] Fred Baughman, Peter Breggin, Mary Boyle, David Cohen, Ty Colbert, Pat Deegan, Al Galves, Thomas Greening, David Jacobs, Jay Joseph, Jonathan Leo, Bruce Levine, Loren Mosher and Stuart Shipko, “15 December 2003 reply by scientific panel of the Fast for Freedom in Mental Health to the 26 September statement by the American Psychiatric Association.” (I read this article at the beginning of 2004 in mindfreedom.org.)

[26] Ron Sterling, “Hoeller does a disservice to professionals,” op-ed rebuttal, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9 September 2003.

[27] Valenstein, Blaming the brain (op. cit.).