Reindeer, I share some of your concerns about the field of psychiatry. I don't, however, write it off as a whole.
Psychiatry is not a hard science like physics, but it does contain hard science components, eg biochemistry. It also contains soft science components, such as behavioural psych. Scientology contains neither hard science (reproduceable results) nor soft science (statistical results that are more greatly reinforced the larger the sample is).
according to Wikipedia, the first known madhouse got established in 1247 for much the same reason as today, as a response to the dirty, homeless, if not frightening, people living in cities.
so if the asylum system started in 1247 then pretty clearly the asylum concept precedes psychiatry. Foucault first concieved this notion... I haven't read him... that psychiatry evolved out of the asylum system.
big elapse between 13th and the 19th century when the first "scientific" theories of psychiatry developed. and virtually everything "known" in the 19th century has gotten overturned, especially in terms of attitudes towards women. it all has to do with the social climate. compare that to actual medicine, where discovery build on discovery. I have a 1950's general guide to medicine which I consult from time to time. the 1950's psychiatric equivalent to that would look very dated.
when you say psychiatry you think of a science. when I hear the word I think of a legal and social mechanism designed to "manage" people. if the psychiatrists didn't do it, the cops would. in many cases, the cops do do the job. (when my mother had me put in a mental institution the second time she first phoned the cops, told them I don't know exactly what, and took me to the police station for questioning in the basement. when that failed to get me put away she did the same thing the next day.)
I do not regard neuroscience as a pseudoscience.
but I view the common attitude towards neuroscience, where our minds have no control over a "chemical imbalance", as incomplete. we do have minds as well as brains.
I also have respect for much of psychology. psychiatry has ignored everything that psychology ever taught us (or rather confirmed as true). for instance people tend to reflect their environment. psychiatry puts people in depressing, futile environments, like the typical halfway house or psych ward and ignores the obvious consequences.
historically, however pseudoscience has lived in temporary harmony with hard science. astrology with astronomy, alchemy with chemistry. some would argue, psi research with psychology (though I believe psi research has some value).
your argument that that the DSM has evolved doesn't really move me. the corpus of Scientology's scriptures evolved from the 1950's up until L. Ron Hubbard's death. religious texts evolve. astrologers have taken into account more planets (and asteroids) than they acknowledged originally in making their charts. so? that makes DSM a scientific text?
Regarding the DSM, the fact that it is regularly revised neatly distinguishes it from a "sacred text". Working definitions are an invaluable tool.
yeah, for the insurance companies.
Yes, language effects the way we view things. Regardless, you can shop for a psychiatrist that does not "mistake the map for the territory", and you can find one.
assuming you want to shop for a psychiatrist at all.