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Interesting mainstream article on "mental health"

Have you seen this week's New Yorker?
(cocktail party)
SEATTLE, Washington - It's nice to see some swipes being taken at the mental health industries in a mainstream publication. The New Yorker is the mainstream, an opinion maker, right? Are there actually cocktail parties where everyone stands around, the guys with a drink in one hand and the other hand in their pants pocket, which crumples up the bottom of their blazer under their forearm, as they discuss what's popped up in The New Yorker? I mean, does this happen outside of movies set in Manhattan.

The chattering class can now chew on Louis Menand's article on psychiatry. The article cites many books both past and present on the topic and plucks out many nuggets regarding the shifting and dubious nature of the alleged nature and causes of "mental illness", the current decades-long push of chemical explanations and solutions, and the pathologizing of everyday thoughts and emotions.

Some clips:
There is little agreement about what causes depression and no consensus about what cures it. Virtually no scientist subscribes to the man-in-the-waiting-room theory, which is that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin, but many people report that they feel better when they take drugs that affect serotonin and other brain chemicals. [I'd swear I saw an ad the other day about how low serotonin levels cause depression - jeff]
As a branch of medicine, depression seems to be a mess. Business, however, is extremely good... By 2005, one out of every ten Americans had a prescription for an antidepressant. [I never cease to be shocked by these massive ratios - jeff]
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than fourteen million Americans suffer from major depression every year, and more than three million suffer from minor depression (whose symptoms are milder but last longer than two years). [author Gary] Greenberg thinks that numbers like these are ridiculous—not because people aren’t depressed but because, in most cases, their depression is not a mental illness. It’s a sane response to a crazy world.

Greenberg basically regards the pathologizing of melancholy and despair, and the invention of pills designed to relieve people of those feelings, as a vast capitalist conspiracy to paste a big smiley face over a world that we have good reason to feel sick about. The aim of the conspiracy is to convince us that it’s all in our heads, or, specifically, in our brains—that our unhappiness is a chemical problem, not an existential one.
It has been claimed, for example, that up to 18.7 per cent of Americans suffer from social-anxiety disorder. In “Shyness” (2007), Christopher Lane, a professor of English at Northwestern, argues that this is a blatant pathologization of a common personality trait for the financial benefit of the psychiatric profession and the pharmaceutical industry... Turning shyness into a mental disorder has many downstream consequences... Centers are established (there is now a Shyness Research Institute, at Indiana University Southeast) and scientists get funding to, for example, find “the gene for shyness”—even though there was never any evidence that the condition has an organic basis. A juggernaut effect is built into the system.
But after recounting all the dubious history Menand rolls back to a pro-psychiatric-drug position, which is pointed out by Robin Hanson with what his colleagues would call a Hansonian explanation.