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Gabor Mate: The myth of diagnosis in psychiatry, it’s simply a circular argument

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

An exhaustive new review debunks the “chemical imbalance” theory of depression.

Whilst reading the book of Gabor Mate I read something I love to share with you as it is really important!!

The myth of diagnosis equals an explanation: in psychiatry, it’s simply a circular argument

The dead end comes when we assume or believe that the diagnosis equals an explanation—an especially futile view when it comes to illnesses of something as inherently abstract as the mind.

As the British psychologist Lucy Johnstone said to me, “In physical illness you have, in principle, a way of checking it out. You can say, ‘Let’s look at the blood test or the enzyme levels.’ And you could, in most cases, confirm or disconfirm it. But in psychiatry, it’s simply a circular argument, isn’t it? Why does this person have mood swings? Because they have bipolar disorder. How do you know they have bipolar disorder? Because they have mood swings.” My mind goes to A. A. Milne’s Pooh and Piglet walking in the snow in an unwitting circle, shuddering as they come across yet more “Heffalump” tracks at every turn.

Why, does he persist in his critique of the diagnostic model?

Because diagnoses reveal nothing about the underlying events and dynamics that animate the perceptions and experiences in question.

They keep our gaze trained on effects and not their myriad causes.

There could be multiple reasons why a child may have trouble paying attention or be restless, disengaged, and fidgety: anxiety, stresses at home, boredom with material she finds uninteresting, resistance to the constraints of sitting in a classroom, fear of bullying, an authoritarian teacher, trauma—even birth month, believe it or not.

A University of British Columbia study looked at the prescription records of almost one million B.C. schoolchildren over an eleven-year period and found that :

kids born in December were 39 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than classmates born the previous January.

The reason?

December kids entered the same grade nearly a year younger than their January counterparts—they were eleven months behind in brain development.

They were being medicated not for a “genetic brain disorder” but for naturally delayed maturation of the brain circuits of attention and self-regulation.7

no one has ever identified any gene that causes mental illness,

Despite the genetic hoopla in the popular media and all the lavishly funded DNA-hunting in the scientific world, no one has ever identified any gene that causes mental illness, nor any group of genes that code for specific mental health conditions or are required for the presence of mental disorder.

Professor Jehannine Austin, an academic and researcher, leads a genetic counseling clinic for mental health in Vancouver.fn5 “Everybody has some genes that predispose to mental illness,” she told me, but these are “a very, very long way away from causing anything … Literally what separates those of us who do suffer from those of us that don't is what happens to us during our lives.

Other psychological and sociological dynamics add to the adhesive appeal of genetic theories.

The first shouldn’t come as any news: we all hate feeling culpable.

Whether as individuals for our own actions, as parents for our children’s hurts, or as a society for our many failings, we have our ten-foot poles at the ready when accountability comes to call.

Genetics—that neutral, impersonal handmaiden of Nature—seems to absolve us of responsibility and of its ominous shadow, guilt. If genes truly rule our fate like capricious, microscopic gods, then we are off the hook.

So if it is good news or not YOU are in charge of your health.

What could we do to take back control?

Simply said: Learn the resources that assist you in in dealing with the "ugly truth" and release yourself from your burden. I am aware that the process can be a bit more bumpy and still it can be done without becoming a therapist.

One of the solutions is coaching on the 3 Brains - Head, Hear and Gut - Intelligence.

As there is where we store all our painful memories and if we know behind which door we can release the emotions connected with it.

When we perceive life and work from our 3 Brains we are aware that:

​1. Our heart is in action when it is all about relationship and bonding, a pain there can lead to depressed feelings.

​2. Our gut is 24/7 busy with your personal well being a uncertainty there about "survival" is originating the feeling of anxiety

3. Our head love to provide the right prediction so when our Heart or Gut is in stress, our head is running overtime in doing over analyses and remuneration to find a solution for the future or past - PS both impossible as we can not change the past or predict the future- .

If you like to know more about how your 3 Brains are in charge?

Why not do the free 3 Brains preference test?

It provides you insights how you make decisions and how your self protective system works

Love to read you thoughts, and have a beautiful happy week.

Cheers Christoffel Sneijders​


The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture, 2022 Gabor Mate

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