The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby Individual » Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:16 pm

As my wisdom has grown (or so I think), western psychiatry seems less and less valid. Because the effects of their drugs and counseling is uncertain, but the effects of Buddhist meditation are certain and enlightened people are far better counselors than people who merely go to school for it.

If we accept Buddhism as being descriptive of the reality of the mind, then pretty much any supposed mental illness could be translated into Buddhist terms as fetters, etc..

Most people are diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but far from being abnormal, it is natural and normal for most human beings to be fettered with anxiety, doubt, and despair. We call it "Attention Deficit Disorder," but I would simply say, "Some people lack mindfulness."

You could apply the same thing to more extreme forms of mental illness, but this would probably be a cause for contention. I am not declaring that psychiatry should be abolished, that we should let loose the mental hospitals, and nobody should take their medications anymore; I am just skeptical. In particular, it seems like doctors and drug companies are established for purposes of profit-generation, by making people dependent on drugs and therapies that never help them in the long-term. :)
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 20095
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:44 pm

Individual wrote:As my wisdom has grown (or so I think), western psychiatry seems less and less valid. . . .
It is all probably just demons.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

Hoo
Posts: 189
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:24 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Missouri, USA

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby Hoo » Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:22 am

tiltbillings wrote:
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.

Hoo

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:29 pm

Hoo wrote:JMHO, but being Buddhist qualifies no one for anything. So what qualifies just any Buddhist to be a critic of a profession?

Not just being a Buddhist, but from personal experience drugs have uncertain results, side-effects, and frequently short-lasting results.

The entire methodology is also flawed, because it relies too heavily on patients' own self-assessment, which is taken for granted by psychiatrists.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

old dead wood
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:16 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby old dead wood » Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:58 pm

I don't think the effects of Buddhist meditation are certain, especially for those who are psychologically unstable. There is a lot of up and down (dark night, etc.). Is anyone out there permanently "enlightened" ? I know several successful corporate type people who have had major problems even after years of retreats and "proper" teachers. Maybe that's why the process is called "The Razor's Edge". Didn't some teacher say something like, "It's better not to start on a spiritual path, but if you do, you had better finish". Mindfulness techniques are probably preferable for those who have the milder problems. I remember waking up one morning so depleted of mental and physical energy and so darkly anxious that I couldn't figure out how to tie my shoes or balance my checkbook. If I hadn't had the med alprazolam during those months, I may have contemplated something worse. Is anything certain ?

User avatar
clw_uk
Posts: 3621
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby clw_uk » Fri Dec 24, 2010 6:04 pm

Most people just dont get Dhamma so applying it to them wont work, so they then need alternative effective methods
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

User avatar
KonstantKarma
Posts: 117
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:21 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Asheville, NC
Contact:

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby KonstantKarma » Fri Dec 24, 2010 6:52 pm

http://shop.fpmt.org/Becoming-Your-Own- ... _1288.html

I highly recommend this...and it's free.

"Perhaps of greatest interest is the lecture entitled "A Buddhist Approach to Mental Illness." Lama presented this talk to a group of psychiatrists at Prince Henry's Hospital who were delighted to meet and question Lama, and this historic exchange underscores the difference between Western and Buddhist concepts of mental health."

Suffice it to say the panel of psychiatrists were not thrilled with Lama's opinion on their profession.

(Hope not to offend anyone by posting a link the FPMT store... this book didn't come across to me as explicitly Mahayana, it was moreless a view of western therapy from the dhamma.

User avatar
Viscid
Posts: 928
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Toronto, Canada
Contact:

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby Viscid » Fri Dec 24, 2010 8:24 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Individual wrote:As my wisdom has grown (or so I think), western psychiatry seems less and less valid. . . .
It is all probably just demons.


Engrams, actually.

Image
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 20095
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 24, 2010 9:11 pm

KonstantKarma wrote:http://shop.fpmt.org/Becoming-Your-Own-Therapist-Make-Your-Mind-an-Ocean-Free_p_1288.html

I highly recommend this...and it's free.

"Perhaps of greatest interest is the lecture entitled "A Buddhist Approach to Mental Illness." Lama presented this talk to a group of psychiatrists at Prince Henry's Hospital who were delighted to meet and question Lama, and this historic exchange underscores the difference between Western and Buddhist concepts of mental health."

Suffice it to say the panel of psychiatrists were not thrilled with Lama's opinion on their profession.

(Hope not to offend anyone by posting a link the FPMT store... this book didn't come across to me as explicitly Mahayana, it was moreless a view of western therapy from the dhamma.
Yes, I'd like to see the lama deal with an individual in a full blown manic episode or a full blown psychotic break..
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 10833
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001
Location: New Zealand

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:04 pm

clw_uk wrote:Most people just dont get Dhamma so applying it to them wont work, so they then need alternative effective methods

I agree. Obviously Dhamma or some Dhamma-derived techniques can be useful in some cases, but as Tilt says, there are conditions that need serious intervention. Same with physical stuff. Meditation can be relaxing and help certain conditions, but if I had a heart attack or a broken leg I'd go to a hospital...

It's also not much of an argument that medical interventions don't always work. It's a matter of carefully assessing the pros and cons, and statistics.

:anjali:
Mike

Anicca
Posts: 393
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:11 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Edmond, Oklahoma

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby Anicca » Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:10 pm

Individual wrote:As my wisdom has grown (or so I think), western psychiatry seems less and less valid. Because the effects of their drugs and counseling is uncertain, but the effects of Buddhist meditation are certain

To quote Practical Advice for Meditators by Bhikkhu Khantipalo
... the number of ways a meditator may go astray is legion ... Another danger is trying to meditate while one is still too emotionally insecure, unbalanced or immature.

Seems that for some, what is certain is that meditation can be dangerous.

Individual wrote:it seems like doctors and drug companies are established for purposes of profit-generation, by making people dependent on drugs and therapies that never help them in the long-term.

Of course they are established for purposes of profit-generation - by making drugs and therapies available to those in need. Is there abuse in the profession? Duh! Being skeptical is healthy - but to deny the help some receive is not justified IMHO.

metta

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:42 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
KonstantKarma wrote:http://shop.fpmt.org/Becoming-Your-Own-Therapist-Make-Your-Mind-an-Ocean-Free_p_1288.html

I highly recommend this...and it's free.

"Perhaps of greatest interest is the lecture entitled "A Buddhist Approach to Mental Illness." Lama presented this talk to a group of psychiatrists at Prince Henry's Hospital who were delighted to meet and question Lama, and this historic exchange underscores the difference between Western and Buddhist concepts of mental health."

Suffice it to say the panel of psychiatrists were not thrilled with Lama's opinion on their profession.

(Hope not to offend anyone by posting a link the FPMT store... this book didn't come across to me as explicitly Mahayana, it was moreless a view of western therapy from the dhamma.
Yes, I'd like to see the lama deal with an individual in a full blown manic episode or a full blown psychotic break..

All western psychiatrists can do is sedate them, to prevent them from being violent. How does that help?
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

Anicca
Posts: 393
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:11 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Edmond, Oklahoma

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby Anicca » Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:54 pm

AN 4.111 Kesi Sutta: To Kesi the Horsetrainer
"And if a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, what do you do?"

"If a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then I kill him, Kesi."

"But it's not proper for our Blessed One to take life! And yet the Blessed One just said, 'I kill him, Kesi.'"

"It is true, Kesi, that it's not proper for a Tathagata to take life. But if a tamable person doesn't submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild & harsh training, then the Tathagata doesn't regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. His knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don't regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing. This is what it means to be totally destroyed in the Doctrine & Discipline, when the Tathagata doesn't regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing, and one's knowledgeable fellows in the holy life don't regard one as being worth speaking to or admonishing."


Individual wrote:All western psychiatrists can do is sedate them, to prevent them from being violent. How does that help?

You have obviously never had a near and dear loved one fully unbalanced - to prevent them from hurting themselves and others can be a blessing.

metta

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 20095
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:01 pm

Individual wrote:All western psychiatrists can do is sedate them, to prevent them from being violent. How does that help?
You are criticizing that of which you have next to no understanding.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:38 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Individual wrote:All western psychiatrists can do is sedate them, to prevent them from being violent. How does that help?
You are criticizing that of which you have next to no understanding.

On what basis do you say that? I've had plenty of experience with it and studied it in school too. :)

No medicals school, but I've taken intro to psych, social psych, abnormal psych, and I was about halfway through educational psych before I got kicked out.

Academic stuff isn't that deep. You can walk into a university library, pick up the relevant texts for a course, and without having the money or status for the degree, read the book carefully and your understanding is essentially equal with the academic elites... :)
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 20095
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:40 pm

Individual wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Individual wrote:All western psychiatrists can do is sedate them, to prevent them from being violent. How does that help?
You are criticizing that of which you have next to no understanding.

On what basis do you say that? I've had plenty of experience with it and studied it in school too.
My basis for what I have said here are years of working with pysch patients in hospitals.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:44 pm

tiltbillings wrote:My basis for what I have said here are years of working with pysch patients in hospitals.

I see.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby Individual » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:46 pm

What's mental health like in Asian countries?

Same basic practice: lock 'em up, drug 'em up, and fancy techniques for talking to them nicely?
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

User avatar
clw_uk
Posts: 3621
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby clw_uk » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:48 pm

Individual wrote:What's mental health like in Asian countries?

Same basic practice: lock 'em up, drug 'em up, and fancy techniques for talking to them nicely?




Evidence?
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 10833
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001
Location: New Zealand

Re: The legitimacy of western psychiatry?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:53 pm

Hi Individual,
Individual wrote:No medicals school, but I've taken intro to psych, social psych, abnormal psych, and I was about halfway through educational psych before I got kicked out.

Academic stuff isn't that deep. You can walk into a university library, pick up the relevant texts for a course, and without having the money or status for the degree, read the book carefully and your understanding is essentially equal with the academic elites... :)

Having a few psych courses is a rather long way from being a clinical psychiatrist.

I have absolutely no qualifications in the area, but I've known a couple of manic-depressive people who were clearly helped by psychiatric drugs. Not perfectly, but what do you expect from medical intervention? Miracles? Sadly one killed himself when he decided to try life without the medication (after many years of relative stability). I'm therefore not particularly impressed by sweeping dismissals such as yours, which might dissuade someone from getting effective help.

:anjali:
Mike


Return to “Open Dhamma”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Alex123, citta, Fruitzilla and 7 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine