Dr Caroline Leaf – Not a mental health expert

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Dr Caroline Leaf is a communication pathologist and self-titled cognitive neuroscientist.  She wrote a PhD on a learning program developed for an educational setting.  She is not a medical doctor.  She is not a psychologist.  She has no experience or training in the diagnosis and management of mental illness.  She is no more qualified to give advice on mental illness than my hairdresser is.

And it shows in her latest social media post: “Lets really start loving as a church- true unconditional non judgmental love – pushing people away and locking them up and drugging them against their will is not the solution to the the problems of life.”

Her statements is a nonsense, nothing more than a scarecrow fallacy.  Yes, pushing people away and locking them up and drugging them against their will is not the solution to the problems of life, that’s why no one does it.  If people were locked up or drugged against their will because of “the problems of life” then we’d all be locked up and drugged.

The only people that are forcibly treated are those with the most serious of mental illnesses whose condition has deprived them of the insight they need to make the decision for themselves.  Even then, the consent for treatment is given by the next of kin, and if no next of kin can provide consent, then the consent is usually made by a independent statutory body so there’s no conflict of interest.

That Dr Leaf continues to make such inane statements about mental illness confirms that she is not fit to give the church, or anyone else for that matter, any advice on mental health.  She may have a PhD in communication pathology but that is a highly specialised field that doesn’t even begin to cross over to clinical knowledge of mental illness.

Dr Leaf has chosen to fill her vacuum of mental health experience with the opinions of Mad In America, a group that’s irrationally biased against modern mental health care.  She regurgitates their creed almost verbatim – mental illness is over diagnosed, psychiatric medications are useless and dangerous, and Dr Leaf also claims that psychiatric medications are only prescribed to bring the cabal of the American Psychiatric Association and the pharmaceutical companies more power and money.

Psychiatric medications are more helpful than harmful (Leucht et al, 2012, Torniainen et al, 2015).  I’ve discussed this in blog posts in the past.  Yes, they’re not without their side effects, and they’re not for every patient, but they have their place in psychiatric care.  That Dr Leaf can’t or won’t review this evidence is just another indictment against her ministry.  That she actively promotes the idea that pharmaceutical companies and the APA are actively attempting to harm people for their own power and riches is scandalous.

If Dr Leaf was serious about promoting good mental health through the church, she should stop promoting baseless anti-psychiatric propaganda, and start encouraging Christians with mental illness to seek the best treatment available, whether that be medications or counselling or both.  She should also start teaching the church the truth about mental illness … That mental illness isn’t caused by poor choices or toxic thoughts, but because of genetic abnormalities that make the affected persons brain more vulnerable to external stress.

Because to stop turning pain and trauma into shame, anger, fear and then hate, people need correct information to allow them to offer real loving understanding and nonjudgmental support to move through the pain.  At the moment, Dr Leaf isn’t offering the church anything even close to that.

References

Leucht S, Tardy M, Komossa K, et al. Antipsychotic drugs versus placebo for relapse prevention in schizophrenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet 2012 Jun 2;379(9831):2063-71.
Torniainen M, Mittendorfer-Rutz E, Tanskanen A, et al. Antipsychotic treatment and mortality in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia bulletin 2015 May;41(3):656-63.

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3 thoughts on “Dr Caroline Leaf – Not a mental health expert

  1. Great blog thus far Dr. Pitt! I am an aspiring neuroscientist in undergrad, and through my Christian ties and acquaintances I have been told many many times that this lady is the link between science and religion. While I do believe there to be a link, she does not present it well. I was extremely excited to see who this exciting neuroscientist was who was linking the brain and mind with God, but was severely disappointed. Her credentials are a huge exaggeration bordering on outright lie, and her lectures are filled with pseudoscience charlatan “quackery”. I am glad there is someone that is showing the other, and particularly more peer reviewed and critical side of the story. I mean, c’mon. The heart is where the mind is located? That the mind is a completely unphysical entity that interacts with the brain? This dualist thinking does absolutely nothing to further science or religion.

    Anywho thank you for your critiques. To be frank, it is exactly people like her that give a bad name to Christians and people of faith. She arms religious people (including some of my friends) with poor knowledge and then expects that the scientific community will respect the Christian belief system? Again, thank you for your blog.

    • Hi Ben

      Many thanks for the encouraging comment. I wholeheartedly agree with your summation about Dr Leaf. All the best to you in your studies … study hard! We desperately need Christians who are good scientists and scientists who are good Christians. We need people in the church who value truth, whether it be scientific or Biblical. Please share your concerns about Dr Leaf’s teaching with your friends and your pastors. The more people stand up for the truth, the more people will start to question Dr Leaf’s pseudoscience charlatan quackery.

      Thanks for your feedback and all the best to you mate 🙂

  2. Pingback: Where are all the shepherds? | Dr C. Edward Pitt

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