Individual wrote:As my wisdom has grown (or so I think), western psychiatry seems less and less valid. . . .
It is all probably just demons.
Actually, that was a problem we sometimes faced. A well-meaning pastor would be advising someone that they didn't need doctors and medicine and counselors. They should just toss that stuff and get Jesus back in their life to cast out the demons. Only problem was that not remaining stable enough with medication and counseling could also mean not maintaining their employment, providing shelter, food, etc for their kids, or getting them up and on the school bus every day. Following the lead of the pastor could result in losing their job, their housing, being able to provide for the kids, etc.
Just as medicine and counseling need to be attended to wisely. So does attending to people that caution others against their use.
My experience so far is that neither the Buddhists nor the pastors have enough education or experience to provide needed assistance, nor can they determine when and what kind of help might be needed. In short they are not pros in the fields they are criticizing, so they are ill-equipped for anything but limited claims. If they are advising others, expecially against medical or professional advice, they open themselves up to liabilities, which amazes some of them.
My suggestion to most nay-sayers against psychiatry is to become one, then see if you still have that opinion. At least go volunteer at a hospital so you can see how it works. Or volunteer with a community mental health agency to visit mentally ill persons who are living at home in in their own places to see what kind of support is needed. It's easy to lob pot-shots at a field you don't know or work in, and when you believe you have no responsibilities to uphold.
JMHO, but being Buddhist qualifies no one for anything. So what qualifies just any Buddhist to be a critic of a profession?
Modern neurology and oncology can't cure me of my tumor, either. That's no excuse for me to sow doubt about the field, or an indictment of the field. No disrespect intended to anyone, but I would be dead by now if I was following the advice of naturopathy and alternative medicine to the exclusion of neurology and oncology. They are all useful fields, it's just that no one of them is able to replace the rest. Taken togather, as complimentary, they would be far more effective than any one would have been for me.
But don't believe it just because I say it. I can only share that Buddhism alone would hve let me die earlier. But with the appropriate medical treatment, I live on for a while. Unfortunately this is a terminal illness, so If I go tomorrow it isn't an indictment of anything.
Buddhism has been a regular support during this process, from being able to reduce suffering through the knowledge that all of it, including this "me," is impermanent, not self, and just more suffering....to meditating during the inevitable waiting for/during MRIs or radiation...to not picking up I/ME/MINE issues, ...and especially in minful practicing what is in front of me, rather than getting bound up in past and future. One of the best, though, has been the free-flowing compassion for others. At a time when I might have felt at risk and might have easily fallen into self protection, trying to control for my comfort, etc....I was able to largely let go of that and simply be in the moment, with compassion for those around me
I'm thinking the title of this thread could have been, like, "The legitimacy of Buddhism to criticise professional fields?"
Maybe a title for my view is that "the middle way is best. Neither Buddhism nor psychiatry is all the answer to everything."
A touch of both might be the better mix. Something similar was true in my case, at least. The medical allowed me to live this long. Buddhism allowed me to live it without creating so much suffering and enabled me to be more compassionate than I would have expected, given the circumstances.
But you can be sure that if I experience any neurological symptoms, it won't be a Buddhist that I consult first. Ditto clinical-grade anxiety or depression. Fortunately I know of one - just one - Buddhist clinician that I can access. He even has better professional qualifications than I do
My views are like any others, just views to be considered if one likes. Feel free to use anything you find useful, and discard any of it at will.