Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Science and Pseudoscience in Mental Health

By Tim Hannan

A new book explores the range and popularity of unproven therapies for psychological disorders.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

For those inclined to the view that contemporary healthcare should be founded on good scientific evidence, the past few months have provided some good news. The final report of the National Health and Medical Research Council affirmed that homeopathy lacks any quality evidence to support the claim for effectiveness in treating health conditions. The anti-vaccination movement has been challenged by health professional and parent campaigns, and the threatened loss of childcare rebates. Paleo diet publications have been pulped, detoxing deconstructed, and so-called wellness cures for cancer critiqued in the press.

It has almost been enough to lead one to imagine that reason may yet illuminate the dark places where pseudoscientific health practices lurk, but a new book landing on my desk quickly snuffed out that candle. In Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology, a team of psychologists reviewed the range of psychotherapeutic methods marketed in the USA that are either unsupported or inadequately evaluated. The number and popularity of these is both astonishing and disturbing.

Treatments promoted for emotional disorders include energy therapies such as Thought Field Therapy and Emotional Freedom Techniques, bodywork therapies including massage, yoga and craniosacral therapy, and a range of brain-based techniques that purport to derive from...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.