The philosophy of psychiatry explores philosophical questions relating to psychiatry and mental illness. The philosopher of science and medicine Dominic Murphy identifies three areas of exploration in the philosophy of psychiatry. The first concerns the examination of psychiatry as a science, using the tools of the philosophy of science more broadly. The second entails the examination of the concepts employed in discussion of mental illness, including the experience of mental illness, and the normative questions it raises. The third area concerns the links and discontinuities between the philosophy of mind and psychopathology.
Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders. These include various maladaptations related to mood, behaviour, cognition, and perceptions. See glossary of psychiatry.
The philosophy of medicine is a branch of philosophy that explores issues in theory, research, and practice within the field of health sciences. More specifically in topics of epistemology, metaphysics, and medical ethics, which overlaps with bioethics. Philosophy and medicine, both beginning with the ancient Greeks, have had a long history of overlapping ideas. It was not until the nineteenth century that the professionalization of the philosophy of medicine came to be. In the late twentieth century debates among philosophers and physicians ensued of whether or not the philosophy of medicine should be considered a field of its own from either philosophy or medicine. A consensus has since been reached that it is in fact a distinct discipline with its set of separate problems and questions. In recent years there have been a variety of university courses, journals, books, textbooks and conferences dedicated to the philosophy of medicine. There is also a new direction, or school, in the philosophy of medicine termed analytic philosophy of medicine.
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.
A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitting, or occur as a single episode. Many disorders have been described, with signs and symptoms that vary widely between specific disorders. Such disorders may be diagnosed by a mental health professional.
A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in psychiatry, the branch of medicine devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, study, and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists are medical doctors, unlike psychologists, and must evaluate patients to determine whether their symptoms are the result of a physical illness, a combination of physical and mental ailments, or strictly psychiatric. A psychiatrist usually works as the clinical leader of the multi-disciplinary team, which may comprise psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and nursing staff. Psychiatrists have broad training in a bio-psycho-social approach to assessment and management of mental illness.
Anti-psychiatry is a movement based on the view that psychiatric treatment is more often damaging than helpful to patients. It considers psychiatry a coercive instrument of oppression due to an unequal power relationship between doctor and patient and a highly subjective diagnostic process. It has been active in various forms for two centuries.
Thomas Stephen Szasz was a Hungarian-American academic, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He served for most of his career as professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. A distinguished lifetime fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a life member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, he was best known as a social critic of the moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry, as what he saw as the social control aims of medicine in modern society, as well as scientism. His books The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) and The Manufacture of Madness (1970) set out some of the arguments most associated with him.
Hypochondriasis or hypochondria is a condition in which a person is excessively and unduly worried about having a serious illness. An old concept, its meaning has repeatedly changed due to redefinitions in its source metaphors. It has been claimed that this debilitating condition results from an inaccurate perception of the condition of body or mind despite the absence of an actual medical diagnosis. An individual with hypochondriasis is known as a hypochondriac. Hypochondriacs become unduly alarmed about any physical or psychological symptoms they detect, no matter how minor the symptom may be, and are convinced that they or others have, or are about to be diagnosed with, a serious illness.
Philosophy of psychology refers to the many issues at the theoretical foundations of modern psychology.
Karl Theodor Jaspers was a German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher who had a strong influence on modern theology, psychiatry, and philosophy. After being trained in and practicing psychiatry, Jaspers turned to philosophical inquiry and attempted to discover an innovative philosophical system. He was often viewed as a major exponent of existentialism in Germany, though he did not accept the label.
Cognitive neuropsychiatry is a growing multidisciplinary field arising out of cognitive psychology and neuropsychiatry that aims to understand mental illness and psychopathology in terms of models of normal psychological function. A concern with the neural substrates of impaired cognitive mechanisms links cognitive neuropsychiatry to the basic neuroscience. Alternatively, CNP provides a way of uncovering normal psychological processes by studying the effects of their change or impairment.
Forensic psychiatry is a sub-speciality of psychiatry and is related to criminology. It encompasses the interface between law and psychiatry. A forensic psychiatrist provides services – such as determination of competency to stand trial – to a court of law to facilitate the adjudicative process and provide treatment like medications and psychotherapy to criminals.
Ganser syndrome is a rare dissociative disorder characterized by nonsensical or wrong answers to questions and other dissociative symptoms such as fugue, amnesia or conversion disorder, often with visual pseudohallucinations and a decreased state of consciousness. The syndrome has also been called nonsense syndrome, balderdash syndrome, syndrome of approximate answers, hysterical pseudodementia or prison psychosis. The term prison psychosis is sometimes used because the syndrome occurs most frequently in prison inmates, where it may be seen as an attempt to gain leniency from prison or court officials. Psychological symptoms generally resemble the patient's sense of mental illness rather than any recognized category. The syndrome may occur in persons with other mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depressive disorders, toxic states, paresis, alcohol use disorders and factitious disorders. Ganser syndrome can sometimes be diagnosed as merely malingering, but it is more often defined as dissociative disorder.
The mental status examination or mental state examination (MSE) is an important part of the clinical assessment process in psychiatric practice. It is a structured way of observing and describing a patient's psychological functioning at a given point in time, under the domains of appearance, attitude, behavior, mood, and affect, speech, thought process, thought content, perception, cognition, insight, and judgment. There are some minor variations in the subdivision of the MSE and the sequence and names of MSE domains.
Social psychiatry is a branch of psychiatry that focuses on the interpersonal and cultural context of mental disorder and mental wellbeing. It involves a sometimes disparate set of theories and approaches, with work stretching from epidemiological survey research on the one hand, to an indistinct boundary with individual or group psychotherapy on the other. Social psychiatry combines a medical training and perspective with fields such as social anthropology, social psychology, cultural psychiatry, sociology and other disciplines relating to mental distress and disorder. Social psychiatry has been particularly associated with the development of therapeutic communities, and to highlighting the effect of socioeconomic factors on mental illness. Social psychiatry can be contrasted with biopsychiatry, with the latter focused on genetics, brain neurochemistry and medication. Social psychiatry was the dominant form of psychiatry for periods of the 20th century but is currently less visible than biopsychiatry.
Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason is a 1964 abridged edition of a 1961 book by the French philosopher Michel Foucault. An English translation of the complete 1961 edition, titled History of Madness, was published in June 2006.
Adolf Meyer was a psychiatrist who rose to prominence as the first psychiatrist-in-chief of the Johns Hopkins Hospital (1910-1941). He was president of the American Psychiatric Association in 1927–28 and was one of the most influential figures in psychiatry in the first half of the twentieth century. His focus on collecting detailed case histories on patients was one of the most prominent of his contributions. He oversaw the building and development of the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital, opened in April 1913, making sure it was suitable for scientific research, training and treatment. Meyer's work at the Phipps Clinic is arguably the most significant aspect of his career.
Nancy Coover Andreasen is an American neuroscientist and neuropsychiatrist. She currently holds the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
Vladimir Petrovich Serbsky was a Russian psychiatrist and one of the founders of forensic psychiatry in Russia. The author of The Forensic Psychopathology, Serbskiy thought delinquency to have no congenital basis, considering it to be caused by social reasons.
Islamic psychology or ʿilm al-nafs, the science of the nafs, is the medical and philosophical study of the psyche from an Islamic perspective and addresses topics in psychology, neuroscience, philosophy of mind, and psychiatry as well as psychosomatic medicine.
The Critical Psychiatry Network (CPN) is a psychiatric organization based in the United Kingdom. It was created by a group of British psychiatrists who met in Bradford, England in January 1999 in response to proposals by the British government to amend the 1983 Mental Health Act (MHA). They expressed concern about the implications of the proposed changes for human rights and the civil liberties of people with mental health illness. Most people associated with the group are practicing consultant psychiatrists in the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS), among them Dr Joanna Moncrieff. A number of non-consultant grade and trainee psychiatrists are also involved in the network.
Rachel Cooper is a British philosopher specialising in the philosophy of medicine and philosophy of science, especially the philosophy of psychiatry. She is currently a professor in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University. She is the author of Classifying Madness, Psychiatry and the Philosophy of Science and Diagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
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