The Self Illusion and Psychotherapy

Originally published in Psychology Today on March 21st, 2017. One of the great privileges of working in psychiatry currently is witnessing the amazing progress of so-called ‘biological psychiatry’. Advances in neurosciences and brain imaging are providing us with closer and closer glimpses of the basis of psychopathology. But for some this reductionism can lead psychiatry…

Why Psychiatry Should Discard The Idea of Free Will

Published in Psychology Today, 30th March 2016: ‘Why Psychiatry Should Discard The Idea of Free Will’. Excerpt: “Consider the commonly used medical expressions “organic depression”, “rule out organic causes” and “non-organic psychosis”. What do these terms mean? Organic is defined as “relating to or derived from living matter” and, when used in relation to an illness, implies there is a…

The Illusion of Free Will and Mental Illness Stigma

Published in Psychology Today, 17th March 2016: ‘The Illusion of Free Will and Mental Illness Stigma’. Excerpt: “If the mind is truly free, it is only logical to extrapolate that illness of the mind must also be free; free to change on a whim, or at least free to change if one chose to do so. In a free and…

Rage Against The Machine

  “F### you, I won’t do what you tell me.”  – Rage Against The Machine. The rock band Rage Against the Machine reached worldwide fame in the 1990’s for their angry and impassioned lyrics. They protested for liberation and freedom from corrupt governments around the world, seeing the injustice that coupled scenarios where people were…

Execution: The Death of Compassion

The recent execution of two Australians in Indonesia for charges related to drug-trafficking has sparked an intense amount of attention and debate. Is the death penalty moral? Is it effective at preventing future crime? Is it cost effective? The fact that we are all asking these questions is a great step forward, and I thought I’d weigh in…

Free Will versus Psychiatry

The following video was recorded at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry Philosophy & Ethics of Psychiatry Seminar, 27th September 2014.

Free Will Is An Illusion

Most people feel like the complexity of human nature points to something other than the physical processes of their brains. From composers of orchestral symphonies that make the emotions soar, to the charitable who devote their entire lives to help others in need, to physicists who strive to answer questions of our own very existence,…

Free Will of the Consciousness Gap

  (artwork by Diana Zanfirache) Some people challenge the posit that consciousness is a product of the brain. They claim that if we do not know exactly how inanimate material can produce consciousness – how the complex interactions of billions of individual neurons actually produces self-awareness – then basing our experience in the brain is…

Psychiatry versus ‘Real Medicine’

(Artwork by Najin Tse) The commonly used phrases in psychiatry ‘organic psychosis’ and to ‘rule out organic causes’ strike me as very odd. Organic, in the sense of the word as it is used here, means there is a physical cause for the patient’s mental state. In turn, it implies that in other cases there…