The Instigator
Sidetrack
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
tommylibertarian1
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Phobias In DSM Are Psuedoscience

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after 1 vote the winner is...
tommylibertarian1
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/23/2016 Category: Science
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 722 times Debate No: 98373
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (14)
Votes (1)

 

Sidetrack

Pro

The rules are that the arguments must be in the form of formal deductive and inductive arguments. Terms in premises must be linked to provide conclusions, but easy to follow implications that cause leaps for convience and readability are fine. Please make an effort to do this. It makes our arguments easier to deal with.

Stipulation

Phobia: irrational fear of an object or situation

Mental disorder: behavior or mental pattern that causes suffering or a poor ability to function in life

Pseudo-science: a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.

Argument:
Phobias in the DSM are psuedo-science.

That which causes a disorder is the disorder. That which causes a disorder can be found with the empirical method and falls under science.

Phobia in general is a mental disorder and can be empirically proved, so it is science.

Specific objects and situations, such as water, sex, heights, etc. do not always cause irrational fear or always cause rational fear. The situation or object in these cases is never the cause of the fear. To say a person has a fear of an object or situation is not actually provable empirically, because the object or situation is not the empirical cause. The phobia is of subjective in origin, not an objective origin.

Therefore, all definitions of phobia that include specific objects or situations are pseudoscience.

This argument, although I do not want to argue it, may be principally applied to the -philia disorders as well.
tommylibertarian1

Con

First we must define what science is and how that differs from pseudo-science. Science involves investigating the world and reality we experience via using methodology we call "The Scientific Method."

How do the steps in the scientific method relate to mental disorders(specifically phobias)?

1) Making observations: Behavioral have made prima facia observations that people experience fears in life that impact their ability to function successfully in life as defined by a conventional standard of functioning and ability. We can observe how people behave and collect data about it.

2) Making hypotheses: Here we can ask questions about causes of the disorder. Mostly these will fall under investigating causes which may or may not be biological in nature. Research around many mental disorders including phobias centers around common experiences happen in a person's environment. For example, we see that people with borderline personality disorder experienced child abuse or domestic violence in their homes.

3) Testing hypotheses: We can test the claims we make though either experimentation(for medical or biological causes) or data collection and human survey(for environmental or situational hypotheses). We can make predictions and see if they come true. This is the basis of scientific inquiry. We can do this for all conditions including mental disorders and phobias and it has been done.

4) Conclusions, theories, or refinement: Based on the data and tests gathered we can make conclusions, theories, or refine our ideas for further testing. A simple good search of "Peer reviewed data about phobias" will bring you hundreds of scientific inquiries into the nature of phobias, causes, and therapies.

I would ask pro, since they are making the claim of pseudo-science to provide evidence that any mental disorder is based anything but the proper scientific method.

A claim of "That which causes a disorder is the disorder. That which causes a disorder can be found with the empirical method and falls under science" does not follow logic. That is the same as saying that "high cholesterol is a heart attack" it is not the disorder or disease but rather one way that it could be caused to manifest. Mental disorders have been shown to have multiple causes and unknown causes. We can see that direct injury to the brain, communicable disease affecting the brain, biochemical causes, and environmental/sociological and economic challenges can all be causes of mental disorders.

Pro should address how causes are the disorder to clarify however, that does nothing to prove any type of claim that phobias are pseudo-science.
Debate Round No. 1
Sidetrack

Pro

Con has asked me to provide evidence of a claim of a mental disorder that is not based on the scientific method.

The term mental disorder implies cause and effect. The name of the disorder implies a specific mental state will be the cause of behavior that causes one to function poorly in life. The specific mental state is the cause and the poor behavior is the effect.

Irrational fear causes poor behavior. Rational fear does not cause poor behavior.

Rational fear requires a situation where a person is in significant danger of being harmed. Science can prove fear exists in the person. Science can prove the situation is dangerous. Science can prove the objective situation caused the subjective state (rational fear).

Irrational fear requires a situation where a person is not in significant danger. Science can prove fear exists in this person. Science can prove the situation has no danger. Science cannot prove the objective situation caused the subjective state(irrational fear).

Science cannot prove this and therefore it is nonsense to define disorders on things that do not cause mental illness.

I will attempt to extrapolate this onto a specific example: Acrophobia.

Acrophobia is a term used to describe a mental disorder. It is the extreme or irrational fear of heights.

A rational fear of heights can be proven using the scientific method. Heights that can kill can be proven. Fear of those heights in a human can be proven. The cause of the fear can be proven by science; the person who senses the situation through vision and uses spatial sense and basic understanding of physics to understand the danger.

An irrational fear of heights cannot be proven. Fear in the person can be proven. A situation that has little or no elevation can be proven. But, science cannot prove a situation of low elevation causes fear in the person.

What science can prove is that a person has irrational thinking that causes irrational fear. But, arbitrary objects and situations that do not cause fear have nothing to do with the cause of the irrational thinking or fear. They are arbitrarily associated, not causally associated.

Irrational fear cannot exist without irrational thinking. Irrational fear is caused not because of a safe objective situation, but instead by irrational thinking.

Taxifying mental disorders on things that cannot cause mental disorder is nonsense and unscientific. Science call things what they are. Considering proper stipulation, that brings me to my next point.

My statement, 'that which causes the disorder is the disorder', in the context of the rest of argument implies that one should name the disorder based on the cause, not on things that cannot be proven to be the cause.

Con makes use a comparison to attempt to say my logic does not follow. He says, what I'm saying is the same to say is: "high cholesterol is a heart attack". He misrepresents the logic of my main argument. It is not what I am saying. I"ll explain.

If you have cholesterol levels that are high enough to cause a 'heart attack'(which slow or block blood flow to hear), it could be said the disorder is high cholesterol. That disorder is called Hypercholesterolemia, which is the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood.

My argument is what causes fear, not what fear causes. So this comparison may look valid on the surface, but isolating the components and considering their relative meaning show that it"s not what I"m saying. Calling things what they are is what I"m arguing versus calling them what they are not.

The scientific method is restricted to the affirmative and does not try to prove things that do not exist or cannot be proven to be part of a cause and effect chain.

Bells don"t cause a dog to salivate, and low elevations don"t cause irrational fear. Pavlov didn"t prove bells cause a dog to salivate. He proved one could be conditioned to be reminded of the presence of something when it"s not there. If the dog escaped, and instead of hunting for food ran to the church, it may threaten his life. This could be called a canine mental disorder. Do we call it belliphilia? Or, irrational thinking, since the real thing causing the disorder is irrational thinking. Bells do not cause food to appear. Bells do not cause the disorder. Irrational thinking does.
tommylibertarian1

Con

Pro's claims that the term mental disorder implies cause and effect is false.
DSM-IV defines 'mental disorder' based on the following criteria:

A) a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual

B) is associated with present distress (e.g., a painful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom

C) must not be merely an expectable and culturally sanctioned response to a particular event, for example, the death of a loved one

D) a manifestation of a behavioral, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the individual

E) neither deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict is a symptom of a dysfunction in the individual.

The APA and DSM committee does not concern itself with causes because the very cause of many mental disorders is unknown. The main function of psychiatry and psychology is the assist people with pervasive problems in thinking and behavior lead functional lives.

Pro further claims that "Irrational fear causes poor behavior. Rational fear does not cause poor behavior" However, there is a need to be precise here. Not all irrational fear causes poor behavior and it is possible that people can make poor choices and behaviors under the stresses of rational fear.

Pro states "Irrational fear requires a situation where a person is not in significant danger. Science can prove fear exists in this person. Science can prove the situation has no danger. Science cannot prove the objective situation caused the subjective state(irrational fear)."

Pro ignores the fact that science can prove a physical fear response in a person with an irrational fear as well as a rational fear. We can study scientifically the body's biological responses to fear situations. We can also observe similarities in behaviors of those who have fear, rational or irrational. We can know that a person with a irrational fear of heights will have the same biological flight or fight response as someone who is in real danger say from a animal attack.

Pro claims an irrational fear of heights cannot be proven. I would ask how do we make this determination that it cannot be proven? The idea is that the person has a fear that manifests in a way that affects their functioning. DSM V gives us clear criteria upon which we can measure specific phobias.

"Fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation (In children fear/anxiety can be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or clinging)

The phobic object or situation almost always provokes immediate fear or anxiety

The phobic object or situation is actively avoided or endured with intense fear or anxiety

The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the specific object or situation and to the sociocultural context

The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, typically lasting for 6 months or more

The fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

The disturbance is not better explained by symptoms of another mental disorder, including fear, anxiety, and avoidance of situations associated with panic-like symptoms or other incapacitating symptoms; objects or situations related to obsessions; reminders of traumatic events; separation from home or attachment figures; or social situations"
(DSM V 300.29)

All of the above criteria can be measured. It should be noted that it states ."...The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the specific object" In other words the absence of all danger is not a requirement.

Pro admits that we can prove that people who have irrational thinking have irrational fears or anxiety disorders and other mental disorders. That is precisely the point of mental health diagnosis, treatment, and research. Thus it would seem that Pro has conceded that the original proposition that phobias as DSM listed mental disorders are pseudo-science.

Pro did not initially clarify the statement about that which causes the disorder, is the disorder. That point is still unclear but since pro has conceded the topic seemingly it is of little importance.

Pro's final point emphasizes the reasoning that DSM V takes all specific phobias and makes them part of one diagnostic code. It is possible that some patient may at some point have a irrational fear of low elevation. In fact, can Pro know all the cases of specific fears that anyone has ever been treated for? I would think not. The tying of Pavlov and behavioral research to this topic does not have any relevance. It sounds as if Pro is attempting to put forth ideas that behavioral conditioning can be responsible for irrational fears and specific phobias. Since that hypothesis can be studied scientifically it does nothing to further Pro's claim of pseudo-science.
Debate Round No. 2
Sidetrack

Pro

1.

Con claims that the term mental disorder does not imply cause and effect, yet he contradicts himself because in the definition he provides we clearly find it in item E:

E) neither deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict is a symptom of a dysfunction in the individual.

The cause is the dysfunction and the effect is the deviant behavior.

2.

This is not the only thing Con has contradicted himself on.

Con claims: "it is possible that people can make poor choices and behaviors under the stresses of rational fear."

No it is not possible. They may begin with rational fear but the first irrational though that leads to poor behavior is irrational and then categorically becomes irrational fear. Again, in his own definition, we see that when the poor choices come we see "mental disorder" begin to rear it"s irrational head defined under Item B:

B) Is associated with present distress (e.g., a painful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom

3.

Con states that science can prove that people can have the same subjective responses to real fear and irrational fear. I agree, but this does not disprove any of my points, nor contradicts my main argument.

Science may prove a person has an irrational fear occurring when they are near a low elevation environment, but they cannot prove the low elevation is the cause. The reason for this is that a low elevation does not cause discomfort to the rational mind. It also doesn"t cause discomfort to the irrational mind, because low elevation can only be proven to do one thing, cause comfort. To argue other wise is like saying that sometimes the laws of physics change, that there is no conservation of energy or that if two spheres have exact collision there is more than one outcome. Laws don"t change and low elevation only causes confort. Ignorance of cause, doesn"t mean laws change.

If we had a Pavlov dog and Diamond, Isaac Newton"s dog, and we rang a bell and Diamond was the only dog that didn"t salivate, it is not science to say a bell causes a dog to salivate. You could never prove the bell causes the dog to salivate, because it is not the cause and never can be the cause. Nor is low elevation when a person is filled with extreme fright and saying it"s too high.

If salivation were a mental disorder in this case we would be able to track down a cause and help them to get over the disorder. Finding the cause is the solution to preventing the continuance of any problem. I am saddened to hear you say the APA and DSM committee have no interest in causes. I hope you are wrong or there is a misunderstanding.

4.

Con states I have conceded that phobias that DSM list as mental disorders are pseudo-science, because I said people have irrational fears. But I didn"t say people have irrational fears, I said people have irrational fear. I never said science can prove any x-phobia. Therefore I"m nowhere near a concession.

5.

Con says I did not initially clarify the statement about that which causes the disorder, is the disorder. Con says that point is still unclear and that I have conceded the topic.

My whole argument extrapolated on the point of cause and effect being implicated. I showed how I came to the conclusion, gave a conceptual example as well as a specific example of how cause and effect is tied into the definition of the disorder.

The most obvious address of this point was how medical doctors, who clearly practice science, name high cholesterol. After that example I went on and proved how Con"s analogy was very poor choice of comparison because it missed my point entirely, yet I showed how it could be salvaged and used properly which proves my main point: call it what it is, not what it isn"t.
tommylibertarian1

Con

I would like to thank Pro for this debate.

Has asserted and keeps asserting that "The dysfunction is the cause" which makes no sense. We do not talk about this with any other medical or mental health condition. We generally understand that causes of conditions are external to person experiencing them. To say "the dysfunction is the cause" is circular.

Pro states that I have contradicted myself while continuously providing circular reasoning. This doesn't follow general logical conventions.

People indeed can make poor choices under the stresses of rational fear. Our choices of behavior are independent of the fear itself. Pro tries to tie irrational behaviors taken under fear to irrational fear itself which are separate concepts.

Pro states: "Science may prove a person has an irrational fear occurring when they are near a low elevation environment, but they cannot prove the low elevation is the cause"

However, if we find such cases we can use the scientific method to find out what is the cause. We can also use deduction as the patient reports to us what causes the fear. We can also use current therapy and methodology we have to see what in the patient's past experiences or environment would cause such a fear.

Pro keeps going to Pavlov and behaviorist models and thinks they are making a solid point. However, we already understand how conditioning works that fear could be caused by past experiences or engrams. That does nothing to forward the idea that specific phobias are pseudoscientific in fact it shows the opposite.

Pro had the burden of proof to prove a psuedoscientific basis for phobias as codified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and has failed to meet that burden. As such I ask the voters award points to me. Again, thank you to my opponent for this civil debate.
Debate Round No. 3
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
tommylibertarian1
@Sidetrack No problem...challenge me to a debate anytime you would like. Let's do it again sometime.
Posted by Sidetrack 1 year ago
Sidetrack
@tommylibertarian1 I've learned a few things from the debate. Thanks for taking the time to argue. It's always been the case with me that my argument improve over time and yes I agree there are better approaches. This has helped me understand things better. It will be interesting to play with the argument down the road.

I only tried this argument because my gut tells me all those x-phobias just cannot be real science. No other science taxifies that way. Anyway, thanks for being a good sport!
Posted by Sidetrack 1 year ago
Sidetrack
When you build an argument, you cannot claim a conclusion is valid if a major point leading to the conclusion is not proven. Restating the point of departure in reasoning is necessary to show the conclusion is not valid. This is what I was doing, which is distinguished from 'a proof by repeated assertion'. Just because it was required to repeat the fact a point in the argument was never passed doesn't mean I was creating a proof from repetition other wise every time some one has to repeat something is just a fallacy, which is nonsense.
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
tommylibertarian1
You would have a much better time and more access to proofs debating whether or not psychiatry as a medical discipline separate from psychology is unscientific or has a unscientific basis. You didn't frame the debate as psychiatry focused.
Posted by Ragnar 1 year ago
Ragnar
Proof by repeated assertion tends to lose arguments. Repeating that in the comment section after you've lost is just pathetic.
Posted by Sidetrack 1 year ago
Sidetrack
Psychiatry uses the patients incorrect belief of the cause to define their terms of what the disorder is. My opponent failed to prove that 'a false belief causes the problem' with the scientific method.

Proper science calls things what they are, not what they are not!

If a medical doctor applied this x-phobia taxification these nut jobs in psychiatry do with cholesterol, you'd create a million diseases with false origins for high cholesterol, yet there is really on one in the end: hyperlipidemia.

Either those agreeing with my opponent and himself are not intellectual competent enough to see that or just on the bandwagon of pseudo-science because they would be condemned by the status quo if they didn't.
Posted by Ragnar 1 year ago
Ragnar
I used to be a combat medic. On a report I could write down "...gunshot wound to the _____," or I could spend half a page writing out the precise details of the injury, never mentioning the obvious correlation of a gunshot wound. I hope no one needs to guess which is more useful to the patient's recovery, and for the doctor administering treatment.
Posted by tommylibertarian1 1 year ago
tommylibertarian1
It seems that you have a certain bent as to what constitutes science and the scientific method. Most if not all mental disorders are discovered in terms so what would be termed as social science rather than hard experimental science.
Posted by Thoguth 1 year ago
Thoguth
The rigor of your stipulations makes your case nearly a tautology. Problem is ... you not also only cover *-philias with your definitions, you cover pretty much the entirety of analytical psychology.

Is it all pseudoscience? Maybe, really. Maybe it is. However, psychotherapy based on analytical psychology tends to produce results, and since the idea of "not really science" is taken by many as "not really useful" or "not really true", I see some potential harm in the idea that psychotherapy is pseudoscience. If it leads to people avoiding treatment for real issues causing harm in their life, then that's a pretty big downside.

Of course, you could probably argue that if it leads to people avoiding treatment for stupid issues that cause more harm to believe-in than to ignore, then it could arguably be net-positive to eschew it even if there are some negative effects to be seen.
Posted by Unstobbaple 1 year ago
Unstobbaple
Imo it's a field of science that does not get a lot of interest and draws a lot of manipulative or mentally fked up people and pseudoscientists, yes. Phobias can be understood and I'd be willing to bet there is a good amount of legitimate research on the topic. My favorite therapist, life coach or whatever you'd like to call it is Nathaniel Branden. Still curious to read up on Piaget's ideology that inspired many of his ideas.

https://en.wikipedia.org...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 1 year ago
Ragnar
Sidetracktommylibertarian1Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con had this in R1 with the walkthrough of the scientific method, and how phobias can be tested scientifically. Pro's attempted rebuttals mostly boiled down to proof by repeated assertion and argumentum ad lapidem (he did however do well on the cholesterol bit, clarifying what he meant; he was also right in saying he did not concede anything). He wants instead of labeling testable details of phobias, to just label people as "irrational thinking." The whole dog thing... that was a weak point, since labeling the dog's reaction to bells is easily testable, and yeah it'd be great to dig down and find out why the dog reacts that way, but in the meantime why not label the testable reaction? (I am unsure what he hoped to prove by saying not all dogs react to bells... of course the healthy mind doesn't react to someone else's phobias/philias) I saw no benefit pointed out to dismissing such behavioral diagnosis in individual patients as pseudoscience, nor how it failed the scientific method.