The Concepts of Psychiatry: A Pluralistic Approach to the Mind and Mental Illness

The Concepts of Psychiatry: A Pluralistic Approach to the Mind and Mental Illness


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Because most psychiatric illnesses are complex phenomena, no single method or approach is sufficient to explain them or the experiences of persons who suffer from them. In The Concepts of Psychiatry S. Nassir Ghaemi, M.D. argues that the discipline of psychiatry can therefore be understood best from a pluralistic perspective. Grounding his approach in the works of Paul McHugh, Phillip Slavney, Leston Havens, and others, Ghaemi incorporates a more explicitly philosophical discussion of the strengths of a pluralistic model and the weaknesses of other approaches, such as biological or psychoanalytic theories, the biopsychosocial model, or eclecticism.

Ghaemi's methodology is twofold: on the one hand, he applies philosophical ideas, such as utilitarian versus duty-based ethical models, to psychiatric practice. On the other hand, he subjects clinical psychiatric phenomena, such as psychosis or the Kraepelin nosology, to a conceptual analysis that is philosophically informed. This book will be of interest to professionals and students in psychiatry, as well as psychologists, social workers, philosophers, and general readers who are interested in understanding the field of psychiatry and its practices at a conceptual level.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801886300
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 06/25/2007
Edition description: ANN
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.95(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

S. Nassir Ghaemi, M.D., M.P.H., is director of the Bipolar Disorder Research Program at Emory University School of Medicine.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition
Preface to the First Edition
Part I: Theory: What Clinicians Think and Why
1. The Status Quo: Dogmatism, the Biopsychosocial Model, and Alternatives
2. What There Is: Of Mind and Brain
3. How We Know: Understanding the Mind
4. What Is Scientific Method?
5. Reading Karl Jaspers's General Psychopathology
6. What Is Scientific Method in Psychiatry?
7. Darwin's Dangerous Method: The Essentialist Fallacy
8. What We Value: The Ethics of Psychiatry
9. Desire and Self: Hellenistic and Eastern Approaches
Part III: Practice: What Clinicians Do and Why
10. On the Nature of Mental Illness: Disease or Myth?
11. Order out of Chaos? The Evolution of Psychiatric Nosology
12. A Theory of DSM-IV: Ideal Types
13. Dimensions versus Categories
14. The Perils of Belief: Psychosis
15. The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune: Depression
16. Life's Roller Coaster: Mania
17. Being Self-Aware: Insight
18. Psychopharmacology: Calvinism or Hedonism?
19. Truth and Statistics: Problems of Empirical Psychiatry
20. A Climate of Opinion: What Remains of Psychoanalysis
21. Being There: Existential Psychotherapy
22. Beyond Eclecticism: Integrating Psychotherapy and Psychopharmacology
Part III: After Eclecticism
23. Bridging the Biology-Psychology Dichotomy: The Hopes of Integrationism
24. Why It Is Hard to Be Pluralist

What People are Saying About This

from the foreword by Paul R. McHugh M.D.

Eventually we all can hope that psychiatry will join medicine in identifying how the disorders we recognize are not entities imposed from without on people but rather expressions of life under altered circumstances that we can work to correct. To achieve this goal, we need to grasp how we are both working with patients and thinking about their conditions. Read here and see the future—not darkly and indistinctly hoping for inspiration, but face to face with the methods and practices that will bring it to pass.

Leston Havens

Wide ranging and extraordinarily informed, Dr. Ghaemi gives us an indispensable guide to the difficulties and dilemmas of psychiatric work, plus the roadmap for a pluralistic future. A work of truly unusual intelligence.

Leston Havens, M.D., Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Hospital

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