Nov 222016

Support for psychiatry and clinical psychology theory development—Promoting the benefits of theoretical research, providing guidelines, and personalized assistance in developing theories (for psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, professionals in related disciplines, and trainees in these areas).

“There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” (Kurt Lewin). Good theory fosters very practical approaches to treatment.

According to Karl Menninger in Man Against Himself (1938) “A theory, even a false one, is better than to attribute events to pure chance. “Chance” explanations leave us in the dark; a theory will lead to confirmation or rejection.”

Good theory
  • Brings creative intellectual processes to bear on major issues
  • Facilitates shifts from fixated to more productive lines of enquiry
  • Produces viable answers to complex questions
  • Provides focus and direction
  • Generates testable hypotheses
  • Helps synthesis disparate data
  • Creates a meaningful context for interpreting empirical findings
  • In balance with empirical studies enhances true research outcomes
  • Improves the conceptual understanding of statistics
  • Fosters cross discipline knowledge often hampered by other research methods

Academic departments often favor empirical research over theoretical research. From issues of conflict of interest, researcher bias, patient selection criteria, statistical treatment of the data, slanted interpretation of the data, and under-reporting of negative results to mention a few concerns, so-called objective research is highly subjective. On the other hand theoretical research conducted with an open mind and spirit of curiosity adhering to rigorous guidelines can be relatively objective.

The take home message is that good theoretical research has value in psychiatry and clinical psychology, and at least as much as empirical research. Progress in science occurs with a balance of theoretical and empirical research, and in an ideal universe both exist in balance. Those conducting well grounded theoretical research in psychiatry, clinical psychology, and related disciplines are performing a very valuable function for the advancement of science and need to be fully aware of this reality. Actively resist internally and externally generated notions to the contrary. Believe in what you are doing!

Visit the

Centre For Theoretical Research In

Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology

Apr 142017

These days the term “evidence-based medicine” is tossed around to the point where it loses any meaning. In conversations about virtually any topic in psychiatry and clinical psychology, the term spills out as a knee-jerk, or more appropriately, mouth-jerk, reaction. The speaker seems to feel that he or she has stated something profound. Meanwhile, those expressing it rarely consider the quality of the evidence that medicine is based on. In areas of medicine where there are hard endpoints such as blood pressure, research by the pharmaceutical industry itself reveals 80% of even top tier lab results are false, and these appear in top medical journal. In psychiatry and clinical psychology, with very soft endpoints such as points on a rating scale, the bias can be far worse. In psychology generally a crisis exists, whereby even top results are not being replicated. In psychiatry, largely due to the capture of the discipline by the pharmaceutical industry, antidepressants results have been presented in a very biased fashion suggesting that they largely suffice for depression and anxiety; forget about psychotherapy. More objective investigations have revealed that the positive impact is far less, such as only 52% of studies showing a benefit. Theory applied to psychiatry and clinical psychology can anticipate and rectify much of the bias that plagues these disciplines, such as showing why combined treatment with medications and psychotherapy is likely to work better, and demonstrating solid mechanisms to diverse psychotherapies, not just a specific type. In the, A Conflicted World: Research Bias chapter of At The Tipping Point: How To Save Us From Self-Destruction, I apply solid theory to demonstrate the extensive bias in psychiatry and clinical psychology, and indicate how we can shift to truly objective evidence based medicine!