Friday, June 05, 2015

Neurology-psychiatry integration

I've hesitated before (see previous post) in case I undermine an enthusiastic psychiatric trainee, who has just been successful in getting a journal paper published. In the same issue of BJPsych Bulletin, mentioned in my previous post, Thomas Reilly has a special article concluding there is no dividing line between neurology and psychiatry (see article). Perhaps he needs to read my previous post because he incorrectly comes to this conclusion because he believes psychiatric illness is a neuropathological disorder.

What worries me is what trainees are being taught. I've no objection to Thomas Reilly getting neurological training. It might help in his understanding of the differences between neurology and psychiatry. Of course all doctors should have a biopsychosocial understanding, as he suggests. I'm not wanting to overemphasise the difference between psychiatry and the rest of medicine. But psychiatry primarily treats functional disorders not organic. Of course, conversion disorders may present to neurologists but it may well be the skill of their neurological examination that makes the diagnosis, because they don't find the expected signs. Medicine is full of cases with "unexplained symptoms" that never get referred to a psychiatrist and the psychological origin of the problems is missed. I hope that Thomas Reilly does become slick in neurological examination, as the best of neurologists are. But in practice, he'll not need that skill very much in his assessment of psychiatric patients. What he needs to develop is his psychological formulation of cases (see another previous post).

No comments: