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Fact Checking Psychiatry

by Chuck Ruby, PhD
On April 28, 2024, psychiatrist Awais Aftab ridiculed efforts to challenge the medical model in his blog post, "People Are Stumbling From One Misguided Narrative About the Medical Model to Another." In it, he discounted critical psychology/psychiatry criticisms about the orthodox mental health industry's insistence on turning personal distress and behaviors into illnesses rooted in individual dysfunction. The title of his post suggests those criticisms are clumsy and ignorant views of a "diverse and dynamic" matter. He starts by explaining his displeasure with the term "medical model"; not necessarily the "medical" part of the term, but the "model" part. He complains that it "takes something diverse and dynamic—the theory and practice of medicine—and turns it into something circumscribed, fixed, and static...." He seems to be saying that we shouldn't establish models with which to understand phenomena. If this is so, he is supporting an unbridled mental health industry that has no bounds in its ever-increasing interest in overseeing the many problems we experience throughout life. This necessarily leads to a similarly boundless and unspecified construct of mental illness - it is what we say it is....

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