Philosophy of Psychopharmacology

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Psychotropic agents have been effective for the treatment of the emotional, and cognitive symptoms of serious psychiatric disorders. At the same time, the availability of such agents raises questions about the appropriate use of what might be termed 'smart pills', 'happy pills', or 'pep pills'. This volume argues that developments in modern psychopharmacology raise a range of important philosophical questions, and may ultimately change the way we think about ourselves. It provides a framework for addressing important philosophical issues in psychiatry and psychopharmacology. The approach is a naturalistic one, drawing on theory and data from modern cognitive-affective neuroscience and attempts to address objective and subjective aspects of psychiatric disorders, to integrate our knowledge of mechanisms and meanings, and to provide a balanced view of the good and the bad of psychotropics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Philosophy of Psychopharmacology focuses on the conceptual, explanatory, and ethical questions raised as the result of the new knowledge we have about psychopharmacology and relies heavily on comparisons of the classical and critical approaches to outline the framework of the discussion...Each chapter is deeply researched and takes the reader on a journey to examine questions from multiple areas and contexts. The chapter on moral questions, for example, comes in at a spare 16 pages but is epic in coverage. Opening with a quote from Nietzsche, Stein introduces a case study as an appetizer and then reveals the broad ideas of the classical and critical approaches. He then pits the ideas against each other—starting off with the biggest questions (Is it good to treat psychiatric disorders?), then moving on to focus on more particular issues of psychopharmacology as a preferred intervention and ending by challenging the reader to ponder the ethics of cosmetic psychopharmacology. He weaves together Plato, case studies, Pope Pius XII, Huxley’s Brave New World, ideas of psychopharmacological Calvinism, the ethics of erasing painful memories, and well over 200 references in just over a dozen pages.
Philosophy of Psychopharmacology is not a quick read for all the right reasons. It is complex, thought provoking, and earnest...This text should be on the short list of books for anyone wishing to expand his or her philosophical field within psychopharmacology."
—PsycCritiques, The American Psychological Association
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521856522
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/13/2008
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan J. Stein is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

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Table of Contents

1. Psychopharmacology - a remarkable development; 2. Philosophical questions raised by psychopharmacology; 3. How to think about science, language, and medicine: classical, critical, and integrated perspectives; 4. Conceptual questions about psychotropics; 5. Explanatory questions about psychotropics; 6. Moral questions about psychotropics; 7. Conclusion.

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