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Book and Media Reviews
November 8, 2006


Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;296(18):2263-2268. doi:10.1001/jama.296.18.2265

For much of the past century, psychiatry was a largely unscientific field whose practitioners relied upon unsubstantiated theory and ideology. Clinicians promoted theories to enshrine their own idiosyncratic treatments. In the 1960s, psychiatry divided into warring biological and psychoanalytic camps. Since the 1970s, however, psychiatry has undergone a scientific revolution. Diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) became reliable. Randomized controlled trials demonstrated the efficacy of pharmacotherapies, some psychotherapies, and their combination in treating patients with major diagnoses. More recently, differential therapeutics has begun to permit choice among empirically validated treatments to optimize outcome. Neuroscience is yielding fascinating understanding of the most complex of human organs, the brain. It is a golden era for psychiatric knowledge.