"Informed consent comes in here. You have to tell your employees that you are making a therapy available that, based on the best information in the scientific literature, will likely do nothing to help and might actually make matters worse — do you still want it?"

Prof. Richard McNally
Professor of Psychology
Harvard University

While most psychologists and psychiatrists continue to subscribe to the idea that they are scientific practitioners, dealing with many certainties, there is growing dissent from within the ranks that attests to the opposite.

For example, while millions of dollars have been spent to train "disaster workers" in psychological counseling, how effective is it? Consider the following reports.

"Instead of talking about 'tragedy,' we now talk about 'trauma,'" says Tana Dineen, Ph.D., author of Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry is Doing to People. "Under the guise of science, [psychology] pretends there are typical ways that people react to tragic or violent situations and some formula or standard for handling them. The message is: If you don't deal with this the 'right' way, you will get sick from it."7

Similarly, Professor Yvonne McEwan from Fife University, Scotland, who advised the U.S. government after the Oklahoma bombing, said that psychological trauma counseling at best is useless and at worst highly destructive to victims seeking help. "Ethically bankrupt" is one way she describes it.8 "By medicalizing what is a non-medical condition and introducing a therapy subject matter that is vastly under-researched, over-used and vastly abused, medicine is propping up a lot of dwindling careers," she says.9

In 1998, the British Psychological Society said that "psychological debriefing" for "trauma" may harm rather than heal and that three quarters of those experiencing "trauma" recover spontaneously within four to six weeks.10

In 1999, a San Diego psychologist, Dr. Michael Mantell, reports that following the Columbine High School shootings, "the kids were not talking to counselors. They were talking to religious leaders and among themselves. There were a lot more counselors there than counseling going on."11

A 1996 psychiatric study conducted on 110 burn victims revealed that those who received psychiatric trauma counseling were three times more likely to suffer long-term problems. Lead researcher, Dr. Jonathan Bisson, said: "…those that received the debriefings fared worse than those who received nothing at all. It is possible that the debriefing actually contributes to the patient getting PTSD."12

A follow up study by Doctors Richard Mayou and Mike Hobbs at Warnford psychiatric hospital, Oxford, England, established that "There's a bandwagon assumption that debriefing is a good thing. The reality is that in our study it did not reduce or prevent PTSD."13

An Editorial in the October, 2000, British Medical Journal noted several studies showing that Debriefing Psychology methods don't help and, in fact, may harm. Justin Kenardy, an associate professor in clinical psychology cited studies that questioned the validity and workability of psychological trauma counseling.14

Meanwhile, while the psychiatric lobby claims that research has demonstrated that so-called post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) are eminently treatable with medications and psychotherapy, many disagree.

According to psychiatrist Dr. Sydney Walker, III, author of A Dose of Sanity, "We've been led to assume, by the psychiatric 'crisis teams' sent almost immediately to any disaster scene, that people suffer severe psychic wounds from experiencing such traumas—or even from being in the general vicinity when they occur. DSM-IV (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Illness, Edition IV) categorizes the symptoms most survivors experience following a disaster as 'acute stress disorder,' suggesting that they are pathological and require treatment. But are these people really suffering from a 'disorder' requiring psychotherapy and the use of potentially addictive medications? Are they really at great risk of suffering long-term consequences from their trauma? The answers, surprisingly, are 'No,' and 'No.'

"In fact, some reported that the incidence of mental hospital admissions, crime, and marital discord tended to drop slightly after a natural disaster. This research raises questions as to whether the hordes of psychiatrists and psychologists who descend on flood- or earthquake-ravaged towns do good, or simply add to the residents' problems by labeling them as victims. And it raises more serious questions about the practice of prescribing drugs to normal individuals suffering from time-limited symptoms of anxiety following a disaster."15

- continued