|Resolution of the polarisation of ideologies and approaches in psychiatry
Ajai Singh, Shakuntala Singh
November-December 2004, 2(2):5-32
The uniqueness of Psychiatry as a medical speciality lies in the fact that aside from tackling what it considers as illnesses, it has perchance to comment on and tackle many issues of social relevance as well. Whether this is advisable or not is another matter; but such a process is inevitable due to the inherent nature of the branch and the problems it deals with. Moreover this is at the root of the polarization of psychiatry into opposing psychosocial and biological schools. This gets reflected in their visualization of scope, in definitions and in methodology as well. Whilst healthy criticism of one against the other school is necessary, there should be caution against hasty application of one's frame of reference to an approach that does not intend to follow, or conform to, one's methodology. This should be done within the referential framework of the school critically evaluated, with due consideration for its methods and concepts. Similarly, as at present, there is no evidence to prove one or the other of these approaches as better, aside from personal choice. We can say so even if there is a strong paradigm shift towards the biological at present. A renaissance of scientific psychoanalysis coupled with a perceptive neurobiology which can translate those insights into testable hypotheses holds the greatest promise for psychiatry in the future. This suggests the need for unification of diverse appearing approaches to get a more comprehensive and enlightened worldview. It requires a highly integrative capacity. Just as a physicist thinks simultaneously in terms of particles and waves, a psychiatrist must think of motives, emotions and desires in the same breath as neurobiology, genetics and psychopharmacology. However, the integration must be attempted without destroying the internal cohesiveness of the individual schools. This will give a fair chance for polarization in which a single proper approach in psychiatry could emerge, which may be a conglomerate of diverse appearing approaches of today, or one which supersedes the rest. A synthesis of cognitive psychology and neuroscience offers the greatest promise at present.
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