a dark cloud surrounds the silver lining of having one psychiatrist in a position of almost unopposed influence. Professor McGorry has developed the messianic blind spot that is so common in visionary prophets. His zeal has made him an unreliable evaluator of scientific evidence, allowing him to defend absolutely indefensible positions with the convincing, but inaccurate, force of a true believer. A review of Professor McGorry’s public statements shows his willingness to ignore any evidence contrary to his belief, to change stated views back and forth when he regards this to be necessary or convenient, and to unfairly attack those who point out the fallacies and inconsistencies in his comments. His are the skills of a prophet and rainmaker, not those of a policy maker or a program developer or a sober reviewer of scientific evidence.
PSYCHIATRISTS, psychologists and patients’ groups say there is a growing backlash against the federal government’s mental health reforms and have accused its expert adviser, former Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry, of a conflict of interest.
Several mental health specialists have told The Sunday Age the focus on early intervention for adolescents and young adults has been ”massively oversold” by the ”McGorry lobbying machine”.
They claim he used his position on the government’s mental health expert working group to recommend funding for programs he founded.
Early intervention to prevent psychosis requires first that there be an accurate tool to identify who will later become psychotic and who will not. Unfortunately, no such accurate tool exists. The false positive rate in selecting prepsychosis is at least about 60-70% in the very best of hands and may be as high as 90% in general practice. That’s right, folks, nine misidentified non patients for one accurately identified truly prepsychotic patient. Those are totally unacceptable odds.
It seems McGorry has a growing army of critics, pity the Aussie government can’t see through his crystal ball gazing as many others can – it’s akin to taking a losing lottery ticket up to a paypoint and…well, being paid the jackpot prize.
Patrick McGorry claims that early intervention for psychosis has much better outcomes in terms of return to work and quality of life, but his own data in a Schizophrenia Bulletin paper last year show no significant differences.