Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Psychiatry is still biomedical, even if not "narrowly biomedical"

Simon Wessely in a Guardian article says that psychiatry does not recognise the narrow biomedical way in which it is sometimes portrayed. Despite what he says, some psychiatrists are narrowly biomedical (see extract from my book chapter). However, I do agree that most psychiatrists are generally more pragmatic.

It's interesting that Simon is an acolyte of Anthony Clare, whose book Psychiatry in dissent was written to create a consensus after the anti-psychiatry debate of the 1960-70s. Clare wanted to avoid psychiatrists having to adopt a model of mental illness (eg. see previous post). This led to the common claim, which I suspect Simon would support, that psychiatrists adopt a biopsychosocial approach to practice (eg. see another previous post).

The problem is that even though most psychiatrists are not narrowly biomedical, they are still biomedical (see my edited book Critical psychiatry). They generally believe that mental illness, at least major mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder, is due to brain abnormalities, even though the evidence is against this conjecture. It's about time a president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists addressed this issue rather than avoiding and deflecting it, but I don't think Simon will.

1 comment:

micki z. said...

Psychiatrists stigmatize their patients more any anyone else, and they still don't have a clue how it works. They have some of the biggest egos in the medical community and say everything's ok to save their position and world view. I think psychiatry is still in the dark ages and are part of the problem not the solution.. I don't call them "Dr" anymore, but "Mr."