Readers of Newsweek may be familiar with a column written by Sharon Begley, who has on numerous occasions extended her editorial opinion, research, and writing ability to the realm of the mental health profession. Notably, Begley wrote in her columns of May 4th, 2009, and October 2nd, 2009, on the themes of adherence to expensive and outdated medicine practiced by doctors and psychologists. The columns, entitled “Why Doctors Hate Science,” and “Ignoring the Evidence,” respectively, unleashed an angry assessment of modern treatment choices and trends in the medical fields, including mental health disciplines, suggesting that widespread rejections of modern advances and methodologies were a sign of disdain for progress and development in the health professional community.
Rebutting these ideas, psychologist and blogger Ivan J. Miller recently published an argument that invites readers to consider the necessity of making comparisons between treatment options and materials within a real-world context, rather than relying on two-dimensional data that often lacks relevant information that professionals use when making decisions. Miller’s rebuttal notes that psychologists, along with other doctors, must take a variety of factors into consideration when treating clients, and are also held to consider the potential for harm through the presence of unattractive side-effects and possible contraindications.
Though there are many areas ripe for improvement within the health professions, including the mental health fields, Miller posits that the basic relationship between health care and science has not been lost, as Begley suggests. Rather, hints Miller, it is a complex coupling with branches that are often below the surface of what statistics-driven records can show. While strong opinions prevail on either side of the debate, the verdict of the public at large has yet to be rendered.
Miller, I. J. (2009). Doctors and psychologists don’t hate science–they treat real patients: a reply to Sharon Begley and Newsweek. Retrieved from http://www.ivanjmiller.com/treatrealpatients_article.html
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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