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March 1973

Psychiatry and Pseudopsychiatry

Author Affiliations

Memphis; Madison, Wis
From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Tennessee College of Medicine and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center, Tennessee Psychiatric Hospital, Memphis (Dr. Akiskal) and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison (Dr. McKinney).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;28(3):367-373. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.01750330055010

Traditionalists in psychiatry have been reluctant to declare new information as "officially professed" knowledge. In many present-day classification systems, conceptualizations of the schizophrenias, affective disorders, and neuroses are not much different from those available at the turn of the century, despite tremendous advances in the past two decades. "Eclecticism" is often disguised dogmatism. Much ink, energy, and talent is wasted on semantic battles: heredity vs environment, organic vs functional, disease vs psychosocial models. "Tough-headed" psychiatrists indulge in rigid neurologizing, while "soft-headed" psychiatrists have diluted the concept of mental illness to such a degree that there is a pseudoepidemic of mental illness in the US. An anti-intellectual movement is gaining momentum with potentially deleterious effects for patient management and psychiatric education. A truly modern psychiatry must be broadly based in the medical, neurobiologic, and sociobehavioral sciences.

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