For a doctor to be reimbursed by the insurance company, he must fit the patient into a category, and the DSM (“Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” the industry bible) keeps adding more.
Modern psychology can do more harm than good, asserts retired psychiatrist Anthony Daniels (pen name: Theodore Dalrymple) in his book, “Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality.”
Instead of taking responsibility for ourselves, “checklist psychiatry” allows us to blame any pattern of behavior on a “disease,” said Daniels, 65.
When he is not writing books (this is his 23rd), Daniels serves as an expert witness at murder trials, chases wild boars from his wife’s garden and dreams of having a tidy study. He and his wife, Agnes, a retired psychogeriatrician, split their time between their homes in France and England.
The Tribune caught up with Daniels during a recent trip to the U.S.:
Q: Why the pen name?
A: When I started writing books, I was a prison psychiatrist, so I wanted to keep my name separate. I thought “Theodore Dalrymple” sounded old-fashioned and ill-tempered.
Q: You lead with Shakespeare’s King Lear saying mental illness is “the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune…we (blame) the sun, the moon and the stars.”
A: Four hundred years later, it’s still true, but we blame psychology instead of astrology. We call it progress.