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SYMPOSIUM: THE TASK BEFORE PSYCHIATRY TODAY
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 92-103

Shrug ambivalence and disagreement; search commonalities in psychiatric phenomena


" MD. Editor, Mens Sana Monographs, India

Correspondence Address:
Ajai R Singh
14, Shiva Kripa, Trimurty Road, Nahur, Mulund [W], Mumbai, Maharashtra 400 080
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DOI: 10.4103/0973-1229.130316

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Holistic understanding is necessary to study intimate nuances of psychological/psychopathological processes; also, individual manifestations and individual approach are laudable goals in treatment and approach. But we cannot forget that major therapeutic advances result when we are able to delineate commonalities and stable symptom clusters that cut across geo-cultural boundaries and are amenable to study and intervention. Even though the purpose and approach of psychiatry, as of all medicine, has to be humane and caring, major therapeutic advancements and aetiologic understandings result only from a scientific methodology that stresses and figures out the commonalities of psychopathological phenomena. It is a mistake to stress individuality so much that commonalities are obliterated. Although stress on the individual's needs has helped psychiatry at times become more humane, it has hurt the task enormously by making some very bright minds question the very scientific basis of psychiatry and its status as a medical discipline. Hence, even as it is necessary to promote holistic and individualistic caring, it is equally necessary to shrug ambivalence and crippling disagreements that can result if individualism in therapy is carried beyond limits. Psychiatry's tradition, and field, will always allow for diversity in its practice, even in its theorising. For, psychopathology has both a personal, deep inner dimension - due to biogenetic and personality factors - and social, manifest/unmanifest, outer dimension - due to the environment. And the practice, and theory, of both are likely to be different, although we do try to amalgamate them in our 'bio-psycho-social' model. Such differences are only manifestations of an intricate network of influences that make for the human condition in health and disease. Psychiatry is the one branch which realises this diversity the most, but equally important for it is to stress its unity:
  1. Of purpose - that of reducing individual and social psychopathology;
  2. Of goals - that of unravelling the aetiopathology of psychiatric disorders; finding precision in diagnostics and investigative tests; finding biomarkers; and finding precise therapies for precise disorders that control such disorders; and not just control, but finally cure them; finding methods of primary prevention; of moving from mental disorder to mental health; and, further, of progress to individual actualisation and personal and collective well-being with longevity;
  3. Of practice - a) in therapy: By synergising psychopharmacology/somatic therapies with psychotherapy/therapies, social therapies and pharmacogenetics; b) in diagnostics: By identifying the phenotype-genotype-endophenotype axis; and (c) by promoting such therapy and diagnostics as brings about control, and finally, cure/primary prevention of psychiatric disorders.
The future course for psychiatry involves a goal oriented forward movement - while allowing for diversity in practice and theory, stressing on unity of purpose, goals, and practice.


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