Psychiatry Under Pressure: Reflections on Psychiatry's Drift Towards a Reductionist Biomedical Conception of Mental Illness
Nys, Thomas R.V.
Nys, Maurits G.
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2006; 9(1): 107-115
We argue that contemporary psychiatry adopts a defensive strategy vis-a-vis various external sources of pressure. We will identify two of these sources--the plea for individual autonomy and the idea of Managed Care--and explain how they have promoted a strict biomedical conception of disease. The demand for objectivity, however, does not take into account the complexity of mental illness. It ignores that the psychiatrist's profession is essentially characterized by fragility: fluctuating between scientific reduction and the irreducible complexity of reality. Therefore, the psychiatrist is not in need of hard and fast rules, but of judgment. At the end, we suggest that philosophy could inject some healthy uncertainty within psychiatry in order to restore its fragile identity. Our examples are drawn from the Dutch situation but we are confident that they apply to other countries as well.
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