Is Psychology a True Science?
Psychologist Roger Mills: “The field of psychology today is literally a mess. There are as many techniques, methods and theories around as there are researchers and therapists. I have personally seen therapists convince their clients that all their problems come from their mothers, the stars, their biochemical make-up, their diet, their life-style and even the ‘kharma’ from their past lives.” (“Psychology Goes Insane, Botches Role as Science,” The Natural Educator, July 1980, p. 14)
Sigmund Kock: “The hope of psychological science became indistinguishable from the fact of psychological science. The entir*e subsequent history of psychology can be seen as a ritualistic endeavor to emulate the forms of science in order to sustain the delusion that it is already a science.” (“The Image of Man in Encounter Groups,” The American Scholar, 1973, p. 636)
“Throughout psychology’s history as ‘science’ the HARD knowledge it has deposited has been uniformly negative.” (Kock, “Psychology Cannot be a Coherent Science,” Psychology Today, September 1969, p. 66)
Jonas Robitscher: “His advice is followed because he is a psychiatrist, even though the scientific validity of his advice and recommendations has never been firmly established…their insistence that they are scientific and correct and that their detractors, therefore, must be wrong.” (The Powers of Psychiatry, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980, p. 8, 183)
E. Fuller Torry: “The techniques used by Western psychiatrists are, with few exceptions, on exactly the same scientific plane as the techniques used by witch doctors.” (The Mind Game, New York:Emerson Hall Publishers, Inc., 1972, p. 8)
Karl Popper: “Psychological theories of human behavior ‘though posing as sciences,’ had in fact more in common with primitive myths than with science, that they resemble astrology rather than astronomy myths. They contain most interesting psychological suggestions, but not in testable form.” (“Science Theory and Falsifiability,” Perspectives in Philosophy, Robert N. Beck, ed., New York: Holt, Richart, Winston, 1975, pp. 343, 346)
Martin & Deidre Bobgan: “As we move from the natural science to the so-called behavioral sciences, we move away from reputability, predictability, reproducibility and controllability. In addition, the cause and effect relationship, so evident in the natural sciences, is ambiguous or absent in the behavioral ‘science.’ Instead of causation (cause and effect), psychotherapy rest heavily upon covariation (events which appear together which may not necessarily be related). From cause and effect, where there is a direct relationship, psychotherapy utilizes covariation even though the events which seem to be related may in fact have nothing to do with each other.” (Psychoheresy, Santa Barbara, Cal. Eastgate Publishers, 1987, p. 37)
“Psychotherapy is today in a state of disarray almost exactly as it was 200 years ago.” (Gregory Zilbroorg, Progress in Psychotherapy, p. 108)
They Say You’re Crazy, this book deals with how decisions are made by a “small clique in the psychiatric establishment as to what is mental illness and who shall be hospitalized against their will and judged competent or incompetent.” (Paula J. Caplan, research psychologist at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education)
The U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment of the United States Congress (1992) published a report titled The Biology of Mental Disorders. The report concludes: "Research has yet to identify specific biological causes for any of these disorders" (p. 14).
In a psychopathology textbook used for second-year medical students, the authors state, "psychiatry is the only medical specialty that...treats disorders without clearly known causes" (Maxmen & Ward, 1995, p. 57).
Colin Ross, discussing the chemical imbalance model for schizophrenia, claims that the "dopamine theory of schizophrenia is a political strategy" with the goal of obtaining additional research grants (Ross, 1995, p. 108).
In a recent consensus conference sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in November of 1998, the panel of experts concluded: “There are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction" (p.2). In their report they went on to state that the same can be said for "most psychiatric disorders, including disabling diseases such as schizophrenia" (p.2).
Peter Breggin, M.D. (1997), was formerly a teaching fellow at Harvard Medical School and full-time consultant with the National Institute of Mental Hearth. As author of Brain Disabling Treatments In Psychiatry, he declares that "there are no known biochemical imbalances in the brain of typical psychiatric patients" (p. 5b).
Dr. William Wirshing (1999), a researcher and professor of psychiatry at UCLA, stated to a room full of psychiatrists that “we have been lying to everyone for years concerning the chemical imbalance model.” No one in the audience challenged him.
In an article approved for continuing education by the American Psychiatric Association, the author states, “We don’t know how psychotropic medications really work” (Khan, 1999).
Dr. Ty Colbert, President of the Center for Psychological Alternatives to Biopsychiatry: “Believe it or not, it is freely admitted even within the ranks of psychiatry that no conclusive evidence exists to show that any form of mental illness is biologically caused…In contrast, there is considerable scientific evidence to show that psychotherapy can be more effective than psychiatric medication for disorders such as depression,
mania, ADHD, anxiety, and even schizophrenia.”
Whether psychotherapy or psychology is a science or not is at best debatable. It would be better viewed as a philosophical system of thought disseminated as a world view--behaviorism, humanism, determinism, existentialism and simple pragmatic utilitarianism.