Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 16, 2012 

Importance of the Mind-Body Problem in Psychiatry

How does philosophy figure into the practice of psychiatry and psychoanalysis? In a variety of ways. And often quite dramatically.  By a person's "philosophy", we may refer to their ideology.  And a ideology can be something one applies without thinking.  Philosophy in the best sense of the word is the opposite of ideology: it is the activity of thinking itself.

One clear psychiatric ideology and the dominant one today is that psychiatric conditions are brain chemical disorders.  The other ideology, in descent for so long that we have to be near a bottom of the market, is the view associated with psychoanalysis and other psychological theories.  Here the psychiatric disorders, or suffering, is all the product of emotional development and conflict.  Psychiatry is the realm of mental disorders or products of the mind.  Both ideologies can bear interesting fruit alone.  A compromise between these two approaches can be a silly as giving the depressive disorders to the biology of brain chemistry and the anxiety disorders to psychological conflict of mind.   A true bipartisan approach is the most  fruitful.  This may all seem quite obvious and boring to some, but let me assure you that I am confronted with these ideologies on a continual basis.  And not just from colleagues.  The sufferers themselves often are strong believers in one  ideology or the other.  Currently, more people believe, or want to believe, that everything is brain chemical disorder.  It is a kind of denial of mind.  So then my job is pulling strongly in the other direction for the truth.  But the other ideology is not rare.  Sometimes this all is psychological ideology is driven by a desire to deny that the problems are severe enough to be impacting the brain.   If an individual wants to approaches self-improvement totally from the psychological side, I am not opposed if this is not dangerous; it is more in the service of the truth, however, if the person realizes that the brain has been affected as is usually the case with more severe suffering.  I do not want to argue at all that medication is the answer.  The research supports the possibility of success without medications, even in severe disorders.  We'll explore these facts in later posts.  On this blog in general, I hope to work out what true ideological bipartisanship means by looking in detail at particular cases.  It varies from one particular case to another.

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