Monday, March 13, 2017

Polarisation in the debate about mental illness

I have mentioned Mike Owen in a previous post. In a recent blog, he argues for less polarisation in the debate about the nature of mental illness. I couldn't agree more.

However, Mike does need to represent his opponents correctly if there is going to be a rapprochement. He says, "They assume, implausibly, that mind and brain are separate entities rather than different aspects of the same thing". This isn't true. The argument being made is not Cartesian. As Steven Rose says, "That brains enable minds is uncontroversial. That they 'are' the mind is a reductionism too far" (see Lancet article).

Similarly, Mike also says "They also fly in the face of a large body of evidence indicating the importance of genes and altered brain states in contributing to disorders of mental health". Again, not true. The critiques are evidenced-based. Genes, of course, set the boundaries of the possible but environments define the actual. More caution is needed in interpreting so-called altered brain states.

It is important that Mike understands what people are saying who are critical of his view. As Steven Rose says, people like Mike should not "dismiss without a backward glance not only millennia of philosophical debate but also a huge current literature on mind/brain relationships". There is a "conceptual innocence" about his position, although he is, of course, trying to dismiss any criticism. Despite what he may think, modern psychiatry has not solved the mind-brain problem.


cobweb said...

Is Mike just playing politics with people lives? He titled one blog 'United we stand, divided we fall' Who are the 'we'? He knows that the gene researchers based in Cardiff are not likely to share out their funding with those who hold different beliefs. That is what much of research actually is - The research premises in Cardiff are actually as big as a small village while people in the community cannot get even good basic access to treatments. Integration? Health and social services have been defending their own turfs for decades. Psychological services? they are non existent for the majority, too mzny people commit suicide for lack of care. There is not one mother and baby unit in the whole of Wales, children are shunted around the country, Mike had a golden opportunity to expose on Radio Wales what many people are aware of anyway..that the provision of help in Wales for mothers and babies (or most others) is a national disgrace..He used weasel words to defend the Welsh Government which he claims has the situation high on it's agenda. Well tht's alright we can all put things on our agendas. One lady on the programme he shared described her horror and distress when referred to a Welsh psychiatric hospital with 'post partum psychosis'- after a Skype discussion by 'the team' and Mike at the other end of the country she was eventually given 10 treatments of ECT - Wales has been notorious for it's use of ECT. So what's left? Neurobiology - well thousands of service users have already been used as research fodder. And last of all - involving service users and people with mental illnesses- tokenistic and insulting inclusion as far as researchers etc allow. Many of the conferences and events and applications for research completely exclude them.

Olmy Olm said...

Ironically, the co-inventor of MRI, Dr. Raymond Damadian (the one who didn't receive the Nobel Prize because of his views, but received several other prizes) is a Biblical creationist, and obviously not a materialist. So were several founding fathers of science: Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Johann Kepler, Blaise Pascal, John Ray, Nicolas Steno, Issac Newton, Carolus Linneaus, Michael Faraday, James Joule, Louis Pasteur, James Clerk Maxwell, Lord Kelvin, etc...

The idea that these people's philosophical and religious views have somehow been refuted is absurd. In fact, it's worse than that: Modern scientists constantly borrow from religious thought, or else science would not be possible. If there were not a God over and above everything, a guarrantor of the existence of the Universe, and a source of Truth, there would be no sense in trying to figure out what these truths are.

Any materialist that thinks they are not thinking like a religious person when they claim to be discovering the truths of the Universe is deluding himself. How could matter in motion possibly know what is "true" or what isn't? There has to be an absolutely rational being in whose image we are made for science to be even possible.

There's also the good ole Kalam cosmological argument:

1.Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
2.The Universe had a beginning (this is seldom refuted nowadays, even by atheists)
3.Therefore the Universe had to have a cause.

And that cause has to be timeless, spaceless, eternal, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient: basically a Mind. What else could possibly create the Universe? Especially considering how finely-tuned it is (the so-called Anthropic Principle). If you look at the several constants that exist, if they were only slightly different at the beginning of the Universe, then life would be impossible. The chance of these constants being the way they are coincidentally is so ridiculously small it just screams Design.

All of this has great implications for the body-mind problem.