Mood

Why Psychiatry is Irrelevant


There is a principle in science called parsimony. It refers to the idea that the simplest explanation for an observed event is most likely the best explanation.

An example would be when I tuck in my children to sleep and ask if they had brushed their teeth. If they say “Yes” and then I go in the bathroom and notice that the toothbrushes are dry, I can consider several possibilities:
  1. They didn’t brush their teeth at all.
  2. They brushed their teeth but then took the time to meticulously dry their toothbrushes.
  3. They brushed their teeth but my wife then came and dried the toothbrushes.
  4. The children were bought a new type of “quick-dry” toothbrush.
  5. Aliens intruded our home and dried out the toothbrushes.
The rule of parsimony suggests that the simplest explanation—that they didn’t brush their teeth at all—is the likeliest explanation.

This same principle can be applied to the question, “Why do some children misbehave?” There are several possible explanations for this phenomenon:
  1. The child has a biochemical imbalance in the frontal lobes, which makes him unable to make good decisions, except of course when the child is watching TV, playing video games, or building with Legos.
  2. The child is possessed by the spirit of Sponge Bob Square Pants, which mysteriously releases its grip from the child when the child is watching TV, playing video games, or building with Legos.
  3. The child possesses the ability to behave, but has not yet learned how to inhibit his impulses or obey his parents, and will when his parents properly motivate him to do so.
Explanation #3 is more than sufficient for the vast majority of children with behavioral and academic problems. We don’t need any other explanations.

Sometimes a medical explanation—even a scientific explanation—is unnecessary, because common sense offers a sufficient explanation. The same can be said for the most common mood disorders (Depression and Bipolar Disorder) and anxiety. There are plenty of sound, sensible explanations for these struggles that do not require a medical diagnosis.

Let’s stop looking for brain dysfunction in our children and start seeing the functionality of their behaviors and emotions.
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