Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I just started psychiatry this week and so far, it's been pretty good. I feel pretty comfortable talking to the patients I've had so far (although, they really haven't been out there, so I've got plenty of more chances to feel uncomfortable). Although I'm glad that we don't see much of it in medicine these days, in the 3 short days that I've been on psych, I've been exposed to the psychoanalytic model (Freudian stuff) more than I'd like (including part of our formal lectures). As a scientist who believes in theories based on objective experiments, I find it incredibly hard to believe the ideas in the psychoanalytic model. I mean, it's hard to believe that there are actually trained physicians (though decreasing in numbers) that actually believe stories about things like the "oral phase," the "id versus the ego," or the un(sub or whatever)conscious. It all really sounds like the quack cult psychology books (like The Secret) that Oprah and other daytime talkshow hosts promote. I know that the mind is difficult to understand and we essentially know nothing about where psychiatric disorders come from, but do we really need to make up colorful stories about some sort of hidden internal struggle in the brain? Some ideas may be useful in developing a treatment strategy, but still using outdated ideas and teaching untestable stories seems a little backwards to me.


  1. The psychobabble has provided the framework for psychiatritc philosophy for the better part of a century and, without it, I think the discipline would have substantially less structure and communicability. While I agree that talking about ego and id and such is propping up worn out ideas, I think some of the concepts are still good stop-gaps until psychiatry and neurology feel comfortable merging back together again. So while I understand your frustration and skepticism, I would still maintain that it serves its purpose. And I also believe that 30 years form now, a lot of those concepts will be replaced by more scientific models.

    Ha ha ha! My word verification is totally "babble."

  2. I suppose you're right... all fields have to start somewhere. I'm just uncomfortable listening to people tell me (with absolute confidence) how something works when they really don't know what they're talking about.