‘Psychiatric prejudice’ is a term being bandied about these days, mainly by aggrieved psychiatrists who feel that psychiatry is not being given equal status with other medical specialities. Ordinary people, other doctors and medical students are all prejudiced because they do not appreciate that psychiatry is a proper medical activity, and critics of psychiatry are prejudiced because their analyses undermine this medical point of view (1).
Obviously,no one can afford to be labelled as prejudiced, so whether it is conscious or not, this looks like an attempt to silence criticism and shut down debate . If successful it will deny people access to many valid criticisms of psychiatric diagnoses and treatments and to hearing other views about how to respond to mental health problems.
Some of the recent accusations of psychiatric prejudice were made in response to articles in the British press by Danish doctor, Peter Gøtzsche, a leading member of the highly respected organisation for analysing medical evidence, the Cochrane Collaboration (2). Gøtzsche argued that evidence for the benefits of psychiatric drugs, like antidepressants, was so weak and flawed, and adverse effects so often under-rated or ignored, that the widespread use of these drugs was likely to be doing more harm than good. Other people have made similar claims, including Peter Breggin, Irving Kirsch and Robert Whitaker, but coming from the heart of medicine itself, this attack may have been more painful than others.