To the litany of quackery that is much of the medical profession, in my view, we can add psychiatry, and its discount brand psychology.
Louis Lehand's piece in the New Yorker, Head CaseCan psychiatry be a science?, makes the argument well.
Everything in it, from the science (do the meds really work?) to the metaphysics (is depression really a disease?), will confuse you. 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.
There is suspicion that the pharmaceutical industry is cooking the studies that prove that antidepressant drugs are safe and effective, and that the industry’s direct-to-consumer advertising is encouraging people to demand pills to cure conditions that are not diseases (like shyness) or to get through ordinary life problems (like being laid off).Most psychiatry (but not all, there are truly insane people) is an elaborate con designed to bilk people out of much money as possible who are experiencing perfectly normal reactions to events.These complaints are not coming just from sociologists, English professors, and other troublemakers; they are being made by people within the field of psychiatry itself. As a branch of medicine, depression seems to be a mess. Business, however, is extremely good. Between 1988, the year after Prozac was approved by the F.D.A., and 2000, adult use of antidepressants almost tripled. By 2005, one out of every ten Americans had a prescription for an antidepressant. IMS Health, a company that gathers data on health care, reports that in the United States in 2008 a hundred and sixty-four million prescriptions were written for antidepressants, and sales totalled $9.6 billion. As a depressed person might ask, What does it all mean?
Today, much of psychiatry is simply drug pushing or a consequence of a placebo effect that comes from speaking with a "witch doctor" or even a rabbi, priest, or bar tender. Even a good friend will do.
If it makes you feel better to think your shrink is a scientist, then good for you. But that doesn't make Dr. Phil a scientist.