Huffington Post: Dr. Peter Breggin: The Hazards of Psychiatric Diagnosis

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Psychiatric diagnoses are seductive. They seem to give us important information about ourselves and our emotional ills. They provide a key to what psychiatric drug we may need. It seems rational and scientific. In reality, psychiatric diagnosing is a kind of spiritual profiling that can destroy lives and frequently does.

First, there’s the obvious cookie cutter problem. People can’t be easily fit into the prefabricated labels contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from whence all official diagnoses emanate. Diagnoses frequently change, often in an effort to justify this or that drug. It’s not realistic, enlightening or empowering to reduce yourself or your child to one of these diagnoses. Psychiatric diagnoses are simplistic.

Consider this: Psychiatric diagnoses are always negative. There are no such diagnoses as “Exceptionally Able to Face Stress” or “Remarkably Resilient” or “Courageously Independent in the Face of Abuse.” That’s how I like to think about the people that I try to help–as heroes or potential heroes in their own life stories. I never want them to sum up, categorize or symbolize their lives in such a demeaning fashion as a psychiatric diagnosis.

But that’s only the beginning of the problem.”

Read the whole piece at the Huffington Post

Peter R. Breggin, MD is a psychiatrist in private practice in Ithaca, New York, and the best-selling author of many books including Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition (2008) and Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime(2008). His website is Dr. Breggin and his wife Ginger have formed a new reform organization that encourages professionals and laypersons to appreciate empathic therapeutic approaches to themselves and to others. The first Empathic Therapy Conference will be held April 8-10, 2011 in Syracuse, New York.

Jenny Hatch

Psychiatric Totalitarianism and the Role of Psychiatry in Nazi Germany. Learn more about Dr. Peter Breggin’s work including scientific papers, weekly audio reports, and sign up for our newsletter at


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