December 1975

The Position of Psychiatry in the Understanding of Human Disease

Author Affiliations

From the departments of psychiatry and anthropology, Michigan State University, East Lansing.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(12):1500-1512. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760300038002

• The article discusses psychiatry and the concept of disease. This is approached by first reviewing generic attributes of the concept and how it has come to be used in contemporary medicine. Psychiatry's time-honored concern with alterations in social behavior is analyzed in the light of the generic attributes of disease. A holistic and adaptational perspective toward disease is discussed, and in particular, how psychiatry stands in relation to such a perspective. Alternative paradigms for ordering behavioral changes that can be implicated in disease are suggested. In adopting such a perspective, and rigorously exploring how disease and behavior interrelate, psychiatry becomes one of the disciplines that examines fundamental questions about man and social adaptation.