Psychology and Psychiatry
Since the mid-twentieth century, psychiatry has undergone revolutionary changes in how psychiatrists diagnose patients, how they treat them, and how they evaluate whether a treatment works. These changes have brought with them major advances, especially in the neurosciences. But this history also suggests that psychiatry has lost something as it has narrowed its focus mainly to the brain and psychotropic drugs. Though psychiatrists are now trained to expertly manipulate a patient's drug regimen, they have become increasingly less able to situate a patient's suffering within a psychological and social context, and the doctor-patient interaction is often reduced to a querying and reporting of diagnostically sanctioned symptoms. Psychiatry, long charged with caring for those suffering from largely chronic conditions, has become focused on the diagnosis and cure of disease. This focus may someday bear therapeutic fruit, but until true cures are actually forthcoming it is important that the role of care not be lost. Like many of the shifts that psychiatry has undergone, these concerns are not unique to psychiatry, but are part of larger changes within medicine and the culture in which it is situated.
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Metzl, Jonathan. Prozac on the Couch: Prescribing Gender in the Era of Wonder Drugs. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2003.
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Joel T. Braslow
Sarah Linsley Starks
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