Saturday, September 07, 2019

Reclaiming the term ‘biopsychosocial’

Joanna Moncrieff comments in a tweet on Niall McLaren’s Mad in America blog, saying that the biopsychosocial model is “just a phrase used to dress up biomedical reductionism”. I’ve commented before several times on the biopsychosocial model (eg. see previous post). I do understand what Jo means when she implies that psychiatrists who say they adopt a biopsychosocial model are really using a weaker version of biomedical reductionism (see eg. extract from my book chapter). And, as Niall indicates in his blog, despite Ronald Pies claim that psychiatry is biopsychosocial, Pies himself is quite biological in his approach to psychiatry (see previous post).

The definition of biopsychosocial has become quite confused and I have advocated using the term ‘sociopsychobiological’ (see previous post). But George Engel’s original biopsychosocial model was a deliberate challenge to biomedical reductionism and I think that critical psychiatry does take a biopsychosocial position (eg. see my article). What happened was that Anthony Clare (see previous post) deliberately avoided any ideological implications for psychiatry, encouraging an eclecticism as a way of dealing with the challenge of anti-psychiatry (see eg. my eletter [original layout has been lost on website upgrading]). We need to move on from this eclecticism (see eg. previous post). The original meaning of ‘biopsychosocial’ needs to be reclaimed by critical psychiatry.