| Barbara, thanks for your answers. I personally agree with you when you say "not without some agreement on the standard and purpose of ethics." I am concerned about who will ultimately decide those standards and ethics in our current culture.|
I understand what you are saying about people taking drugs without knowing how they work...I think I am more concerned about people taking drugs without knowing why they are being prescribed, if it is true that there are ulterior motives behind the ones prescribing them. I am not concerned about faith in the drug as much as faith in the doctors. (I can hear the cries of paranoia now...)But after reading Szasz, combined with personal experiences and observations, I am not so sure that it is paranoia (the need for objectivity in this discussion is a must, I realize. I am not a conspiracy theorist, even if I have entertained some ideas.)
I don't doubt that drugs can affect our brains and our minds. But something in your post bothers me, and I don't think you intend to equate the two (Because you write that "we don't have to blindly trust them with our minds"). But not everyone in our society is as rational, and does precisely that, I fear. The claim you make about medicine (we don't quite know how aspirin works, but we know it does) have been made about religion and prayer. The difference, as you point out, is that there are objective quantifiable tests that can be done...I do not doubt the power of the drugs. I worry about the power of the drugs in the wrong hands. I can speak of one relation with a psychologist who admitted to me that he tried to control others with psychology because he couldn't control his own life. And I worry about the people who would substitute religion with drugs. There have been news reports of the benefits of prayer and faith, with claims of scientific evidence to prove the reports. Not trying to understand themselves, not trying to face their problems, but escaping them. Better living through chemistry. Like a soma trip from BRAVE NEW WORLD. (It is this that made me fear the viability of BRAVE NEW WORLD more than 1984. I know far too many people who would accept this kind of control willingly.)
You ask: "Why do you blame psychiatrists for the fact that medicine is now largely in the hands of the state? Blame psychiatric and medical unions in part, but not necessarily individual psychiatrists. And why do you assume that bioethicists would somehow stop medicine from falling into state hands?"
Barbara; I was referring to the field of psychiatry by referencing psychologists in the plural, though I do believe that there may be individual doctors who believe in the cause of the state, or their own misguided agendas. But why do I blame them, either way? The arguments made by Szasz concerning Freud and his attempt to link mental illness and medicine, his attempt to replace religion with medicine, for one...(Jung was more honest in this respect, when he claimed that what they were doing was more akin to religion.) Both Jung and Szasz have written extensively on the treatment of schizophrenics, how the history of the sanitorium is tied up with the idea of social control. I believe that there is a link between social control and psychiatry from the very beginning, and that many who enter the field learn this right away. This is something I have deliberated on for a while, because I considered entering the field of psychology myself...but the more I looked into the profession, my findings revealed that many are attracted to the field to gain mastery over others (the supposed high suicide rate among psychologists is disturbing, also.) I had to confront the same tendency in myself, and concluded that the best I had to offer was my ability to listen, but I was also attracted to the idea that people would be under my influence, and I could fix their problems according to my beliefs. (I strongly identified with Nathaniel Branden's self professed hero fantasy, I call it my "messiah complex.) My theory is that psychology as a field has become a replacement for organized religion, and that the psychologist is now a substitute for the pastor. At best, I feel that psychologists can be an objective listener, offering advice, which is what a religious advisor does...
I don't believe that bioethicists necessarily would stop medicine from falling into state hands, but I do ideally believe they could, if their ideas are based in Libertarian ideals. (Any ideas how many Libertarian/Objectivist psychologists there are compared to nonobjective ones, anyone?) I think of Rand's support of Szasz in this example. It is an unknown ideal, to be sure.
I think I understand why you would want to defend psychiatry, Barbara. I remember your anecdote in PASSION concerning your panic attacks, and your footnote about the biological causes of such, and how medicine can be effective in controlling them. (BTW, in the copy of PASSION I borrowed from the library years ago, someone had crossed out the part about medicine, and replaced it with "proper diet"). This is meant with respect, but I believe you have a personal stake in defending the doctors and the use of drugs. (I am using this example with respect, mind you, towards your situation then, and only because you felt comfortable enough to make it public in your book. It is not meant as a personal attack.) I do recognize that there are chemical imbalances that may need medication. I don't know if that was your situation, but I personally think that is more the realm of neurology as opposed to psychology. And knowing you from your posts, I believe that you are defending the field of medicine and the doctors at their best, both as they are and might be, so I appreciate what you are doing. When I wrote that last sentence in question, I was writing about the psychiatrists at their worst, in a BRAVE NEW WORLD type of scenario. If you remember, the use of drugs was also coupled with forced bisexuality on the children in the story as means to control the populace. We saw the horror of reason and medicine perverted by the Nazi's, who used forced to achieve their ends. In BRAVE NEW WORLD, such force was not required, because the controlling forces had made such control appealing. I am concerned with the potential horrors of state controlled medicine because I want to see a world where the ideal doctors you write of can flourish.