Philosophy of psychiatry

There is an increasing criticism on the validity of psychiatry and the general public is losing its trust that psychiatry will one day meet its promise to provide evidence for its ‘brain disease model’ of psychological problems.

(2019) Psychiatric diagnosis ‘scientifically meaningless’
Clinical psychology professor John Read, University of East London, said: “Perhaps it is time we stopped pretending that medical-sounding labels contribute anything to our understanding of the complex causes of human distress or of what kind of help we need when distressed.”
Source: Science Daily (PDF backup)

There is a great force at play to defend psychiatry. Only with a disease, it is possible to prescribe medicine and psychiatry is the biggest money maker for pharmaceutical companies.

The well known medical investigative journalist Robert Whitaker from Mad in America once wrote the following to me, which indicates that people who critically question psychiatry are systematically attacked and ‘destroyed’ and that people in general are losing faith in the validity of psychiatry.

robert whitaker mad in americaDear ,

Yours is a good question. I think at the moment American society as a whole is rather confused about psychiatry. There is a growing suspicion among the public that psychiatry really doesn’t know much about the “biology” of mental disorders, despite all of its claims to the contrary, and there is a growing suspicion that the drugs aren’t all that great. Moreover, there is a growing recognition that psychiatry is totally compromised by pharmaceutical money. At the same time–and I know this is odd–the public does generally view criticism of psychiatric drugs as coming from people with a bias. So it’s a confused picture.

You’ve put your finger on an important problem. The presence of Scientologists in this debate serves to deligitimize criticism that arises from an honest examination of the science. The public has this vague sense that the criticism arises from religious principles rather than from a look at what the science really has to say.

As for the rest of the medical profession, well, doctors basically belong to a big tribe, and part of the tribal rules are that those in one discipline don’t publicly criticize the doctors in another discipline. This keeps non-psychiatrist doctors from weighing in on the matter, and as far as criticism that arises from within psychiatry, psychiatry as a field has been very successful in letting its members know that they will be ex-communicated and their careers will suffer if they speak too critically. Psychiatrists are allowed to make minor concessions, such as saying that pharmaceutical money has become too influential, but they are not allowed to say that the drugs don’t really work.

So it’s complicated. Think of a society that has bought into a medical delusion, and that’s where we’re at in the U.S. The public knows that something isn’t right, but at the same time it maintains its general belief in the medical model story.


Bob Whitaker

Psychiatry vs psychotherapy

What distinguishes a psychiatrist from a psychotherapist is a medical approach that is based on psychopathology.

Psychopathology is based on causality which requires determinism – the idea that there is no 🦋 free will – to be true.

If psychiatry is really a branch of medicine, we should see the specific causal hypotheses emerge about mechanisms that cause the symptoms of mental illness. Psychopathology is to be identified as the departure of a psychological system from its proper state.


As can be seen, the whole of ‘psychology’ is to be removed within the concept psychopathology and it is psychiatry’s task to provide a causal hypothesis on the basis of which a disease can be identified, by which a medical cure can be applicable.

The use of ‘really’ in the Stanford reference on philosophy of psychiatry implies that it is not considered certain that psychopathology is valid.

Standard of normalcy for the human mind

Since psychiatry has failed until now to provide a valid causal hypothesis and hasn’t been able to start with such a hypothesis (note the use of ‘really’ in the Stanford reference on philosophy of psychiatry, indicating that such a hypothesis has never been proven valid until now), an attempt is made to define a standard of normalcy for the human mind with the promise that psychiatry will one day be able to provide a corresponding causal hypothesis.

The assumption that a causal hypothesis must be possible and will one day be found is used as a basis for an attempt to define a standard of normalcy for the human mind, which is then used to medicate people because that is what ultimately should be done once a causal hypothesis is found, and the only reason that psychiatry would be a branch of medicine.

Psychiatry’s validity is therefor based on a promise which in turn is based on a theoretical concept that depends on determinism to be true for it’s validity.

Psychopathology simply requires a sound causal hypothesis before a disease is diagnosed and before a medical treatment is applied since otherwise it cannot be known what is being done and whether someone is medically cured.


At question is whether causality and determinism can possibly explain mind and the origin of life.

With psychopathology, one is to establish a direct 1 on 1 causal relation for psychological problems. That the environment, such as for example a neurological disease, can result in mental health problems does not by itself count as evidence for psychopathology.

In the case of humans, they have a great capacity to overcome problems in the environment with their mind. An example is the philosophy stoicism. By using stoicism, people experience life differently and can even think pain away.

(2019) Is it possible to think pain away?

There are people with merely 5-10% brain tissue that live a healthy life with wife, children and a job or that have a high IQ and are capable of achieving an academic degree.

consciousness without a brain imageConsciousness without a brain?
“Any theory of consciousness has to be able to explain why a person like that, who’s missing 90 percent of his neurons, still exhibits normal behaviour,” Axel Cleeremans, a professor philosophy of cognitive science from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium”

Within the concept psychopathology mental problems are not subjective (i.e. psychological) but require a scientifically valid causal hypothesis.

Psychopathology is based on causality which implies that ultimately it will come down to the debate determinism vs free will to establish its validity. At question will be: can causality explain mind and its problems?

The website (2021) by philosophy professors Daniel C. Dennett and Gregg D. Caruso is an indication that the determinism vs free will debate is not settled.

On the basis of current knowledge, it can be argued that a belief in determinism is questionable. Therefor psychiatry’s ability to deliver on its promise one day, may be considered improbable from some perspectives.

Determinism vs 🦋 free will

The recent great push in favor of determinism by ‘an increasing amount of scientists’ may be an attempt of psychiatry to save itself. All that psychiatry would need to do to secure its future, is make a strong enough case for determinism.

(2021) The clockwork universe: is free will an illusion?
A growing chorus of scientists and philosophers argue that free will does not exist. Could they be right?
Source: The Guardian (PDF backup)

A consequence of determinism is the abolition of the retributive justice system, which is to be replaced by psychiatry.

By far the most unsettling implication of the case against free will, for most who encounter it, is what it seems to say about morality: that nobody, ever, truly deserves reward or punishment for what they do, because what they do is the result of blind deterministic forces (plus maybe a little quantum randomness). “For the free will sceptic,” writes Gregg Caruso in his new book Just Deserts (, a collection of dialogues with his fellow philosopher Daniel Dennett, “it is never fair to treat anyone as morally responsible.” Were we to accept the full implications of that idea, the way we treat each other – and especially the way we treat criminals – might change beyond recognition.

For Caruso, who teaches philosophy at the State University of New York, what all this means is that retributive punishment – punishing a criminal because he deserves it, rather than to protect the public, or serve as a warning to others – can’t ever be justified.

(2021) The clockwork universe: is free will an illusion?
The Guardian (PDF backup)

rejecting retributive justice

Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society: Challenging Retributive Justice
Source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

There is a growing movement that believes that human behavior can be reduced to brain chemistry and that there is no free will or guilt. According to this movement, criminal law should ideally be replaced by psychiatric treatment.

What would happen when people start to believe that there is no guilt, and that people are not responsible for crime, and that criminals instead should be submitted to psychiatric care?

It will effectuate something in human interaction.

Preventive psychiatric measures are by definition about prosecuting people on the basis of vague suspicions and not on the basis of facts. It will cause people to lose the basic dignity as a human being (the presumption of innocence) before they have committed a crime, so that they will commit a crime faster.

When vague suspicion based prosecution becomes effective in society it will put some people at risk while they did not commit a crime. In a conflict situation, it is logical that the opposing party can concretize the requirement for preventive psychiatric measures by which the person affected has lost a reason to not commit a crime. The measure for a crime that he did not commit has been determined beforehand. The dignity as a human was already gone. (psychiatric disorders/treatments are highly stigmatizing)

Criminal behavior is a potential, so when people come to believe that it is caused by a brain disease that they themselves cannot be blamed for, they will logically commit a crime faster.

Denouncing a ‘belief’ in Free Will

When it concerns a potential strategy by psychiatry to save its future, it would not matter whether Free Will Skepticists can make a strong case for determinism. It is more easy to simply question the validity of a belief in free will.

The people who make the decisions when it concerns retributive justice (legislators and people working in the criminal justice system) will have to make their decisions based on an evaluation of the validity of a belief in free will.

Why would the interest of a criminal weigh higher than for example a desire by victims for retribution, or to set an example for society with regard to good and bad behavior?

It will ultimately come down to abolishing a belief in free will.

Law makers and people who work in the criminal justice system are giving in because they ultimately have only a ‘belief’ in free will as a foundation for their practice.

If a law maker is provided with the idea that crime can be prevented, and when that idea is substantiated and promoted by a science-field in general, there appears to be little argumentative ability to resist a proposition to replace the retributive justice system with psychiatry.

Despite the financial interests of Big Law, Big Pharma + psychiatry + the idea of the ability to prevent crime may be able to gain the upper hand. There is simply much more money involved for them and they can paint a picture of a better world.

It will come down to the ability to defend free will. And if that defense is impossible (for an individual) they will likely simply put their trust in a science-field. It is a non-risk choice versus taking responsibility for defending free will. It may explain why psychiatry has been winning so easily, while from the outlook, Free Will Skepticism may appear questionable.

At question is: Why would one want to defend free will?

Will people who work in the criminal justice system be able to hold on to a belief in free will? They have a much tougher time. They may not have a philosophical background and may merely be confronted with the reality of crime within the scope of their profession.

When a judge is confronted with horrific crimes on a daily basis, at some point in time it may be logical that the judge wishes for a mere chance to be able to prevent the crimes. The abolishing of a belief in free will may then seem worth the chance. A multi-trillion USD science+business is eager to take over responsibility and control. As it appears, a mere plausible philosophical consideration may have a hard time to defend free will at the moment that a hint of a chance of prevention presents itself as a choice.

No one can blame someone who chooses to abolish a belief in free will in favor of a replacement of the retributive justice system with preventative measures. On the contrary, holding on to a belief in free will on the basis of philosophical consideration bears a heavy responsibility.

A case for Free Will

A recent study suggests that all particles in the Universe are entangled by kind, a qualia of which it is assumed that it is non-physical. It would be proof of free will.

free will(2020) Is nonlocality inherent in all identical particles in the universe?
The photon emitted by the monitor screen and the photon from the distant galaxy at the depths of the universe seem to be entangled only by their identical nature. This is a great mystery that science will soon confront.
Source: (PDF backup)

The main argument by Free Will Sceptics is the following, which is the idea that mind is necessarily ’caused’ within the scope of physical reality.

To make a choice that wasn’t merely the next link in the unbroken chain of causes, you’d have to be able to stand apart from the whole thing, a ghostly presence separate from the material world yet mysteriously still able to influence it. But of course you can’t actually get to this supposed place that’s external to the universe, separate from all the atoms that comprise it and the laws that govern them. You just are some of the atoms in the universe, governed by the same predictable laws as all the rest.

(2021) The clockwork universe: is free will an illusion?
The Guardian (PDF backup)

As can be seen from the reasoning by Free Will Sceptics, only the idea that mind has a primary role in nature could prevent a belief in determinism.

Scientific evidence for the idea of “a primary role for the mind in nature” is mounting from several angles. For example, recent quantum physics studies through experiments have shown that the observer precedes reality (the scientific “observer” = consciousness = mind).

(2020) Do Quantum Phenomena Require Conscious Observers?
“Experiments indicate that the everyday world we perceive does not exist until observed,” writes scientist Bernardo Kastrup and colleagues earlier this year on Scientific American, adding that this suggests “a primary role for mind in nature
Source: Science and Nonduality (PDF backup)

How observers create reality

(2018) Is the Universe a conscious mind?
Source: (PDF backup)

(2021) Can our brains help prove the universe is conscious?
If it is proven that consciousness plays a causal role in the universe, it would have huge consequences for the scientific view of the world, said Kleiner. “It could lead to a scientific revolution on a par with the one initiated by Galileo Galilei,” he said.
Source: (PDF backup)

(2019) Quantum physics: objective reality doesn’t exist
Clearly these are all deeply philosophical questions about the fundamental nature of reality. Whatever the answer, an interesting future awaits.
Source: (PDF backup)

Logical evidence 1: perception-as-signifier necessarily precedes physical reality

The simplest departure from pure randomness implies value (patternness). This is evidence that all that can be seen in the world – from the simplest pattern onward – is value.

Perception-as-signifier (which performs as an observer when manifested in diverse ways, e.g. a human or a science experiment) must necessarily precede physical reality by the nature of a pattern that implies that meaning is applicable as precursor to value (with value being ‘the essence of patternness’).

The following logic provides evidence:

  1. a pattern is necessarily meaningful (without meaning a pattern is not possible)
  2. a pattern is signified by perception (signification provides a pattern with meaning)
  3. as representative of meaning perception-as-signifier must precede a pattern on a fundamental level

The indicated meaning is to be considered ‘pure meaning’ because it cannot be a pattern. Alternative names for what is indicated would be ‘good per se’ (good that cannot be valued) or truth.

The logic implies that the origin of value is to be considered ‘pure meaning’ and that perception is not just pre-conscious (i.e. only relevant to consciousness) but also pre-physical and that the origin of physical reality is the same as the origin of consciousness.

The logic would explain subjective experience since what preceded life on a fundamental level logically lays beyond it from the perspective of the individual. Therefor, the origin of life is also the purpose or goal of life. Life logically will seek the origin of itself, develop subjective experience and become self-conscious.

Conclusion: perception-as-signifier must precede a pattern on a fundamental level because as signifier it represents ‘pure meaning’ that cannot be a pattern.

Logical evidence 2: the origin of value cannot be valued

The origin of value (meaningful pattern) cannot be value by the simple logical truth that something cannot be the origin of itself.

By the nature of value, valuing requires a distinguish-ability which it logically appropriates from what can be indicated as ‘good per se’ (good that cannot be valued).

Since it can be stated that ‘good per se’ cannot be valued, one cannot pose that one is not free to choose with regard the appropriation of ‘good’. If one would not be able to choose it would imply that the indicated ‘good per se’ has been valued, which is impossible.

Conclusion: free will is evident.

The following logic provides a simplified version:

“If life were to be good as it was, there would be no reason to exist.”

Replacing retributive justice with psychiatry

Given the trillion-dollar profit motive involved in replacing the criminal justice system with Big Pharma linked psychiatric care, it may be important to note that fact when considering arguments from Free Will Skepticists. Are their intentions honest or are there financial motives at play, or for example the interests of psychiatry that attempts to maintain itself against reason?


It may be important to question the validity of the theoretical fundament on the basis of which psychiatry is able to diagnose medical diseases.