The concepts of psychiatry : a pluralistic approach to the mind and mental illness


    • Ghaemi, S. Nassir


The concepts of psychiatry : a pluralistic approach to the mind and mental illness

S. Nassir Ghaemi

Johns Hopkins University Press, c2003

  • : hc

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Includes bibliographical references (p. [321]-329) and index


  • The status quo: dogmatism, the biopsychosocial model, and alternatives
  • What there is: of mind and brain
  • How we know: understanding the mind
  • What is scientific method?
  • Reading Karl Jaspers's General Psychopathology
  • What is scientific method in psychiatry?
  • Darwin's dangerous method: the essentialist fallacy
  • What we value: the ethics of psychiatry
  • Desire and self: Hellenistic and Eastern approaches
  • On the nature of mental illness: disease or myth?
  • Order out of chaos?: the evolution of psychiatric nosology
  • A theory of DSM-IV: ideal types
  • Dimensions versus categories
  • The perils of belief: psychosis
  • The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune: depression
  • Life's roller coaster: mania
  • Being self-aware: insight
  • Psychopharmacology: Calvinism or hedonism
  • Truth and statistics: problems of empirical psychiatry
  • A climate of opinion: what remains of psychoanalysis
  • Being there: existential psychotherapy
  • Beyond eclecticism: integrating psychotherapy and psychopharmacology
  • Bridging the biology-psychology dichotomy: the hopes of integrationism
  • Why it is hard to be pluralist



Because most psychiatric illnesses are complex phenomena, no single method or approach is sufficient to explain them or the experiences of persons who suffer from them. In The Concepts of Psychiatry S. Nassir Ghaemi, M.D. argues that the discipline of psychiatry can therefore be understood best from a pluralistic perspective. Grounding his approach in the works of Paul McHugh, Phillip Slavney, Leston Havens, and others, Ghaemi incorporates a more explicitly philosophical discussion of the strengths of a pluralistic model and the weaknesses of other approaches, such as biological or psychoanalytic theories, the biopsychosocial model, or eclecticism. Ghaemi's methodology is twofold: on the one hand, he applies philosophical ideas, such as utilitarian versus duty-based ethical models, to psychiatric practice. On the other hand, he subjects clinical psychiatric phenomena, such as psychosis or the Kraepelin nosology, to a conceptual analysis that is philosophically informed. This book will be of interest to professionals and students in psychiatry, as well as psychologists, social workers, philosophers, and general readers who are interested in understanding the field of psychiatry and its practices at a conceptual level.


Contents: PART I: Theory: What Clinicians Think and Why1. The Status Quo: Dogmatism, the Biopsychosocial Model, and Alternatives 2. What There is: Of Mind and Brain 3. How We Know: Understanding the Mind 4. What is Scientific Method? 5. Reading Karl Jasper's General Psychopathology 6. What Is Scientific Method in Psychiatry 7. Darwin's Dangerous Method: The Essentialist Fallacy 8. What We Value: The Ethics of Psychiatry 9. Desire and Self: Hellenistic and Eastern Approaches PART II: Practice: What Clinicians Do and Why 10. On the Nature of Mental Illness: Disease of Myth? 11. Order out of Chaos? The Evolution of Psychiatric Nosology 12. A Theory of DSM-IV: Ideal Types 13. Dimensions versus Categories 14. The Perils of Belief: Psychosis 15. The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune: Depression 16. Life's Roller Coaster: Mania 17. Being Self-Aware: Insight 18. Psychopharmacology: Calvinism or Hedonism? 19. Truth and Statistics: Problems of Empirical Psychiatry 20. A Climate of Opinion: What Remains of Psychoanalysis 21. Being There: Existential Psychotherapy 22. Beyond Eclecticism: Integrating Psychotherapy and Psychopharmacology PART III: After Eclecticism 23. Bridging the Biology-Psychology Dichotomy: The Hopes of Integrationism 24. Why It Is Hard to Be Pluralist

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