Psychiatric illnesses are very hard to diagnose, as there are no tests available. And doctors completely rely on tests to diagnose any kind of disease nowadays. Psychiatrists only have lists of symptoms and their own interpretation of those symptoms, resulting in huge differences between psychiatrists. And because psychiatrists love to prescribe drugs the number of diagnoses has exploded since the number of drugs has increased so much. So what is bipolar disorder? That’s hard to say, but the disease was known as manic depression, which is much clearer. (Is the name change only meant to get more people diagnosed and on drugs? It definitely looks like it.) Bipolar disorder would mean that you go from extreme mania to deep depression and back in a neverending cycle. But nowadays just having mood fluctutions can already get you this diagnosis. Even teenagers are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but have you ever met a teenager who didn’t have mood fluctuations?
So now researchers have developed a test which determines whether you are at risk for a disease that is particularly unclear and severely overdiagnosed. Let’s see how much science is present in this research. “Australian scientists have identified weaker connections in the brains of young people with bipolar disorder and those at risk.” How big was the control group? How many people have these weak connections, without ever getting a psychiatric illness? Could it be that these weak connections are just a common thing in young people? Young brains are not fully developed, so it makes sense that some links are still weak. And by the way, how do you determine a risk? You would need to have pictures of the young brains of older people with bipolar disorder, but it sounds like these don’t exist. The lack of a control group makes this kind of research immediately meaningless.
“bipolar disorder having the highest suicide rate of any mental illness.” Does it? This illness is very often diagnosed in young people and they are immediately filled up with psychiatric drugs, which are known to cause suicidal tendencies. So does the disorder cause the suicides, or the drugs? If it’s the drugs, then making a risk diagnosis will only make things worse. If it’s the disease, then drugs will make it worse and a risk diagnosis won’t help much. So in absence of a safe and effective treatment a risk diagnosis is completely useless and will only make things worse. Oops!
“the insular is the part of the brain where you feel your body physiology,” Doctors have developed the habit to split the body up in umpteen different parts, like those parts don’t work together as part of one body. And now they have also started to split up the brain in many different parts and then they say that this part does this and that part does that. It suggests that they know a lot about the brain, but in reality they know close to nothing. It’s all assumptions, fantasies, wishful thinking and a lot of arrogance. Who says that psychiatric illnesses are in the brain anyway? That’s an assumption and once researchers have such a mindset they won’t look at any other options anymore. They will just look for proof that their theories are correct. But that way you can prove almost everything.
“could then be offered assistance such as lithium to prevent mania.” So professor Breakspear, you want to give healthy young people very heavy drugs to prevent a disease that can’t even be properly diagnosed? That sounds like a particularly bad idea. But I see what you are doing here. Since decades other doctors have been able to prescribe drugs to prevent diseases, but psychiatrists are still left out of this. They can first prescribe drugs when the patients show up with complaints. As psychiatrists have always had a low status among doctors they are desperate to keep up. So they start research to prove that people are at risk for a disease, so that they can also start with preventative drugs. (The idea that toxic pharmaceuticals can prevent disease is completely absurd, but I won’t go on about that now.)
“hope such tests could diagnose the disorder itself” Then you will first need to get a clear description of what bipolar disorder is. And that’s not so easy. That’s such a problem for psychiatrists. They don’t have tests. So a test would also be extremely welcome for doctors who aren’t taken completely seriously by their peers. It doesn’t matter that the test is useless. Many medical tests are useless, but that doesn’t bother anyone.
The article ends with an illustration of a boy who was diagnosed with mental illness. “There [were] years of misdiagnoses. I was told I [was] schizophrenic, I had OCD, I had anxiety,” This clearly shows the complete lack of science behind psychiatric diagnoses. Psychiatrists just come with all kinds of names, prescribe drugs and wait till one of those drugs seem to have some positive effect. And then they stick with the diagnosis that comes with the drug. That’s not science, it’s quackery. And in general, should you trust a doctor who is so clueless that he needs four years and multipe misdiagnoses before coming up with the correct one? That shows complete incompetence at best. But that’s a very common situation. And it shows that you should never trust psychiatrists. They just want to push pills, as that’s all they can do. That those pills have a high fatality rate is ignored and the deaths are ascribed to the mental illness. And that’s where the circle closes, for “you see how important it is that we diagnose the patients early”.