INTERNISTS OF THE MIND OR PHYSICIANS OF THE SOUL: DOES PSYCHIATRY NEED A PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY?

Authors


Abstract.

Although psychiatry is interested in what both body and mind contribute to behavior, it sometimes emphasizes one more than the other. Since the early 1980s, American psychiatry has shifted its interest from mind and psyche to body and brain. Neuroscience and psychopharmacology are increasingly at the core of psychiatry. Some experts claim that psychiatry is no longer interested in problems in living and positive goals such as mental health, happiness, and morality but rather has narrowed its focus to mental disorders addressed with psychotropic drugs. In view of this trend, psychiatry needs to confront two questions in social philosophy. If it is no longer directly concerned with health and happiness, how does it relate to these positive goals? And how does it relate as a medical institution to religious institutions, schools, and other organizations that directly promote health, happiness, morality, and the purposes of life? It is not enough for psychiatry to renounce its moral role; its practices still shape cultural values. Psychiatry should take more responsibility for developing a public philosophy that addresses these issues.

Ancillary