I received an e-mail first thing this morning from a person who identified himself as Peter C. Gøtzsche, MD. It looked official, but if this was not sent by Dr. Gøtzsche, all he has to do is send me an e-mail and I will delete this post. For those unfamiliar with why he might be sending me e-mails he is the author of the "Psychiatry Gone Astray" post that I critiqued. The body of the message was straightforward and said:
" Incidentally, I found out that some one has written about you and the way you treated my paper about the 10 myths in psychiatry. See attached"
The attachment read: "Asshole of the Day - George Dawson, MD" The proud author of that post made this statement after a completely respectful response to him on this blog.
Anyone who has been around the Internet and knows about malicious code would have to be a fool to click on an abusive attachment like this and put their data and identity at risk. Although this is a very simple message it says a lot about the way people expect to treat psychiatrists and get away with it. Dr. Gøtzsche had sent me an earlier e-mail saying he had responded to my criticism of his criticism of psychiatry. At this point I have not read it for various reasons including the low volume of web traffic from the Healy web site, the fact that I have been physically ill and exhausted, and my focus on other areas such as the recent series I am attempting to post on the reality of dangerous drugs.
Implicit in the e-mail is that his original "paper" had been treated poorly. I put "paper" in quotes here because as far as I am concerned it is a blog post. Where I come from a paper is published in a referred, peer reviewed journal. It is certainly possible to get rhetorical criticism against psychiatry published in that format, but even then it would not be beyond criticism. I also disagree with any implication that his opinions were treated poorly. It is called arguing and as every scientist, philosopher, and rhetorician knows there are at least two sides to every story. Practically all of the psychiatry critics don't seem to understand that these arguments can be done without taking things personally and using emotional invective. What many people don't seem to grasp is that it is also part of the scientific method. Arguments, theories, speculation, conjectures, etc. all have to withstand scrutiny over time. Even though every top scientist and mathematician expects these challenges, apparently only the critics of psychiatry consider themselves to be above criticism.
There is an asymmetry to the position that psychiatrists should not object to being criticized no matter how irrational, unscientific, or personal the criticism is. The implicit contention here is that the blog post was "treated" poorly but what about the way psychiatrists are treated and their work with people who have conditions that are treated by nobody else? And as I pointed out in my original criticisms, why do none of these critics ever look at closely at their own fields and the huge problems that exist there?
These dynamics are why there is such a blizzard of unscientific and unreliable criticism of psychiatry on the Internet and in the popular press. This is what happens if you are a psychiatrist who dares to speak out against it and not get into the usual patterns of silence or taking the position that you are somehow better than your colleagues.
My message to these people, no matter who they are is quite simple. If I have not been deterred by 35 years of irrational and mean spirited criticism - name calling is certainly not going to stop me now.
So to all of the proud critics of psychiatry - flame away! But don't expect me to engage you in a "debate". Anyone with an ounce of self respect knows that is not what is going on here.
George Dawson, MD, DFAPA
Supplementary 1: The other important disclosure that I have relative to the critics is that I have no conflict of interest or appearance of conflict of interest. I have no book to sell. I am not invested in pharmaceutical or medical device makers apart from mutual funds where I have no control over the investment decisions. I have never been paid for my commentary or writing and don't see that ever happening. I am not a paid spokesman for any commercial or professional organization. This is a completely noncommercial blog with no advertising. If I post copyrighted material here I have to pay for those rights out of my own pocket. I have no relationships with any pharmaceutical companies. I do not consider myself to be a celebrity and I am therefore not trying to enhance my celebrity status and in fact will be he first to admit that hardly anybody reads this blog. This entire blog is written in my spare time and yes I have a day job. I encourage a similar analysis of any critic of psychiatry you might be listening to.