January 12, 2013

Correlations: DSM & Madness, Lead & Crime
1. Correlations
2. DSM & Madness
3. Lead & Crime

About ME/CFS


There was no Nederlog yesterday. The day before that there was
Arguments against psychiatry and the present has some more about psychiatry, crime and madness, and mostly consists of references - which I think are quite interesting.

Indeed, if you are sick of psychiatry: Don't miss the
Lead & Crime item: This is really interesting, quite important, statistically well based social and medical  science.

1. Correlations

There is a good saying that everyone who got some more or less decent introduction to statistics very probably heard: in some form "correlation does not imply causation". The link is to an article with that very title in Wikipedia, which is well worth looking at, especially if you are new to the idea, or did not finish a course in statistics.

The general idea, though, is simple: Things X and Y that go together, in the sense that presence of the one makes presence of the other more likely, and absence of the one makes absence of the other more likely, may go together for all manner of diverse reasons.

In fact, both correlation and causation are not easy to define clearly and usefully, and I linked again to Wikipedia for clarification: Both articles are well worth perusing, as are the related articles in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on probabilistic causation and on causal processes.

If you are at all interested in clarifying your mind as regards these concepts - that are very important in both common sense and scientific reasoning - a look at Mill's methods is also helpful.

My reasons to mention this are that I think these are interesting and worthwile subjects anyway, and they are also quite relevant to the two sections that follow, because these are both about clear and interesting correlations.

2. The DSM and madness

The previous Nederlog (and 100 more beside it: ) is critical of the DSM aka the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and of modern psychiatry, especially since DSM-III of 1980, that much extended the previous DSMs in thickness, in pretensions, and in social effects: Since 1980 there has been something like an explosion of purported "psychiatric disorders", and also an explosion in people diagnosed "mentally ill" i.e. having a "psychiatric disorder" [1], as there also has been an explosion in the number of prescriptions of psychiatric drugs, and an explosion in the turnover of and profits on their sales.

It seems to me that there is a simple explanation for these correlations of explosions: of people diagnosed as having a "psychiatric disorder"
[1]; of people who are being prescribed psychiatric drugs; and of the corporate profits on the sales of psychiatric drugs - and I quote myself from "Arguments against psychiatry" and also refer you to a brief Nederlog I wrote in 2010, based on a published finding in a supposedly scientific journal for a class of persons who have a strong financial interest in the paid prescribing of drugs to people: Brit. Jn. Psychiatry: 78% of the British are not sane:
My position is that psychiatry is a pseudoscience that the last decades has been  designed on purpose  to push dangerous and medically worthless or unproven drugs into and onto naive and defenseless people in the name of medical science, and that this is to my way of thinking, that agrees with Hippocrates' primum non nocere = the prime duty of medical doctors is not to do harm, a crime that deserves criminal proceedings.

What I also say is that if this does not happen, the reason is that psychiatrists and their professional associations have succeeded in convincing the public that their pseudoscience is a real science, and that they succeeded to do so not by any rational scientific argument but by the propaganda of public relations: Loads of cleverly designed manipulative lies, deceptions, frauds, and misinformation.
Somebody who seems to have been thinking along similar lines - much earlier also: I am not claiming any originality, other than that I do my own thinking, and many people have criticized many aspects of psychiatry, indeed ever since this pseudoscience was created - is Marcia Angell (<- Wikipedia):
In fact this is set up as a review of three books, and is from the New York Times of June 2011. Here are three successive key paragraphs:

A large survey of randomly selected adults, sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and conducted between 2001 and 2003, found that an astonishing 46 percent met criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for having had at least one mental illness within four broad categories at some time in their lives. (...) Most met criteria for more than one diagnosis. Of a subgroup affected within the previous year, a third were under treatment—up from a fifth in a similar survey ten years earlier.

Nowadays treatment by medical doctors [for "psychiatric disorders" - MM] nearly always means psychoactive drugs, that is, drugs that affect the mental state. In fact, most psychiatrists treat only with drugs, and refer patients to psychologists or social workers if they believe psychotherapy is also warranted. The shift from “talk therapy” to drugs as the dominant mode of treatment coincides with the emergence over the past four decades of the theory that mental illness is caused primarily by chemical imbalances in the brain that can be corrected by specific drugs. That theory became broadly accepted, by the media and the public as well as by the medical profession, after Prozac came to market in 1987 and was intensively promoted as a corrective for a deficiency of serotonin in the brain. The number of people treated for depression tripled in the following ten years, and about 10 percent of Americans over age six now take antidepressants. The increased use of drugs to treat psychosis is even more dramatic. The new generation of antipsychotics, such as Risperdal, Zyprexa, and Seroquel, has replaced cholesterol-lowering agents as the top-selling class of drugs in the US.

What is going on here? Is the prevalence of mental illness really that high and still climbing? Particularly if these disorders are biologically determined and not a result of environmental influences, is it plausible to suppose that such an increase is real? Or are we learning to recognize and diagnose mental disorders that were always there? On the other hand, are we simply expanding the criteria for mental illness so that nearly everyone has one? And what about the drugs that are now the mainstay of treatment? Do they work? If they do, shouldn’t we expect the prevalence of mental illness to be declining, not rising
The answers are not simple, but a key factor are the DSM-III and DSM-IV, that in May are going to be followed up by the DSM-5, that will once again increase the number of people with attributed "psychiatric disorders"[1].

For more, see the article linked above and here:
The epidemic of mental illness: Why? and
Note that it seems to me that the explosions in diagnosed "psychiatic disorders" [1], prescribed "psychiatric drugs", and enormously increased profits of pharmaceutical companies is quite easily and rationally explained by the wide acceptance of the DSM-III and DSM-IV, while the main reason for the presence of the diagnostic labels and the utter rational idiocy of the diagnostic system in the DSMs that enable all of the above is also quite clear for realists about human motivation: "It's the money, Leibowski". Doing it the way it was done was hugely profitable: The DSMs are not related to medical science: they are related to marketing, public relations, salesmanship, greed and dishonesty.

And psychiatry is not and never was a real science (and won't be as long as the brain is as ill explained as it is to this day) [2] and is presently less than ever a real science precisely because the profit motive is so very much stronger and more effective in it than it ever was, until the DSM-III and Prozac, the former the phony utterly pseudoscientific "psychiatric diagnostic manual", and the latter the latter an anti-depressant drug that was claimed to work, probably at least in part, as with many other psychiatric drugs, on the basis of falsified, flawed and consciously furthered psychiatric pseudoscience, but very well marketed.

3. Lead & Crime

There is another quite interesting correlation, that reached me through The Young Turks, namely between the increase in the last forty years of violent crime and the presence of lead in the air, mostly through fuel "enriched" with it for driving cars:
Actually, there seems to be quite a lot to it, although the argument is really one of correlation - but (supposing the data to be real, and in this case that can be easily checked, and it seems they are) it is quite convincing, and a truly interesting and also rather frightening finding.

Here is the article the above item refers to, with a lot of detail and background:

This is from Mother Jones, that - see the previous section - also had the quite interesting and quite frightening video on how drugs are sold these days:
Back to lead and violent crime: America's Real Criminal Element: Lead seems quite persuasive, in principle, and is a very interesting finding.

It may even explain a part of the rise in "mental illness", or conditions related or predisposing to that, although the main reason for that rise, as explained in section 2, is the combination of DSM and profitable psychiatric drugs. And it should be noted, speaking of real science and correlations, that the relation between violent crime and lead in gasoline is in fact a lot easier to track and trace statistically than - for example - lower IQ, increased anxiety and learning problems in children, simply because there are far better data available on cars and crimes than there are on children, in this modern age.


[1] It seems that currently psychiatrics prefer "psychiatric disorder" (without quotation marks) for various reasons. One good one - that many psychiatrists will not admit - is that in fact (outside psychiatry, and those who believe the sayings and writings of psychiatrists) there is no rational scientific theory of what is a  "psychiatric disorder", and there usually also is no empirical evidence of disease that would explain an imputed "psychiatric disorder".

Then what is a
"psychiatric disorder"?

What makes a
"psychiatric disorder" a "psychiatric disorder" is that it is a label that occurs in a DSM, these days usually DSM-IV, where it usually is defined in terms of being present if m out of n "conditions" are present, with m<n, with m usually in the range of 1 to 5 and n in the range of 2 to 9. The conditions are supposed to be "empirical", and depend usually on judgment of a psychiatrist (or sometimes: other medical doctor, or psychologist), and are supposed to be "diagnostic" of what the label - "Asperger", "ADHD", "autism", "anxiety disorder", "somatization disorder" etc. - says because they are part of the DSM.

They are part of the DSM because a group of psychiatrists has, at some point in the creation of a DSM, voted them into being, usually on grounds that are either not made public, or if made public are not valid or validable rational science, outside the circles of psychiatrists, and those who believe psychiatrists.

Once there is a "diagnosis" and once one is "diagnosed" this justifies the prescription of drugs or therapies, where the former are bound to be profitable for the companies that make and sell them, and the latter are bound to be profitable to the people who provide them.

And that is what it seems all about, in principle: Not patients but profits, not science but salesmanship, not psychiatry but public relations.

[2] This does not mean that there are no people with psychological problems of many distinct kinds and causes, and it does not mean that such people do not merit help. What it does mean is that what makes people have psychological problems, and what can be done about this to help them, are questions with far less certain and far less good and scientifically based answers than especially psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, which are both groups of professionals with a positive financial interest in selling their remedies and therapies, like to pretend.

Jan 13, 2013: Corrected a few typos, added a few links, and added Note [2] above.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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