[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
November 10, 1975

The Psychiatrist as Physician

JAMA. 1975;234(6):603-604. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260190031016

THIS IS a time for reappraisal and reconceptualization for psychiatrists. Critics deny the concept of mental illness, question the special expertise of psychiatrists for treating emotional disorders, protest against the practices of involuntary commitment and behavior modification, cite the failures of the community mental health movement, argue against the expanded role of psychiatrists in social and forensic issues, accuse the profession of not being responsive enough to problems of poverty, minority groups, and social inequities, and even doubt the legitimacy of psychiatry as a medical specialty, indicating that its scope encompasses only mental disorders of unknown cause. These attacks cannot be simply dismissed as unreasonable, irrational, and prejudicial attitudes of critics; they are symptomatic of the particular vulnerability of modern-day psychiatry to such charges.

It is not my purpose to engage in polemics with this cadre of critics who, as Socratic gadflies, often force constructive appraisal or to indict psychiatry