Psychiatry beyond the current paradigm

Two interesting references today:
Bracken, P., Thomas, P., Timimi, S., Asen, E., Behr, G., Beuster, C., . . . Yeomans, D. (2012). Psychiatry beyond the current paradigmThe British Journal of Psychiatry, 201(6), 430-434. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.112.109447
A series of editorials in this Journal have argued that psychiatry is in the midst of a crisis. The various solutions proposed would all involve a strengthening of psychiatry’s identity as essentially ‘applied neuroscience’. Although not discounting the importance of the brain sciences and psychopharmacology, we argue that psychiatry needs to move beyond the dominance of the current, technological paradigm. This would be more in keeping with the evidence about how positive outcomes are achieved and could also serve to foster more meaningful collaboration with the growing service user movement.
(freely available at – also a link to psychiatrist Pat Bracken’s talk on “post-psychiatry”)

Leo, J., & Lacasse, J. (2008). The Media and the Chemical Imbalance Theory of DepressionSociety, 45(1), 35-45. doi: 10.1007/s12115-007-9047-3

The cause of mental disorders such as depression remains unknown. However, the idea that neurotransmitter imbalances cause depression is vigorously promoted by pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatric profession at large. We examine media reports referring to this chemical imbalance theory and ask reporters for evidence supporting their claims. We then report and critique the scientific papers and other confirming evidence offered in response to our questions. Responses were received from multiple sources, including practicing psychiatrists, clients, and a major pharmaceutical company. The evidence offered was not compelling, and several of the cited sources flatly stated that the proposed theory of serotonin imbalance was known to be incorrect. The media can play a positive role in mental health reporting by ensuring that the information reported is congruent with the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

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