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Read About Psychiatry
Psychiatry is the branch of medicine concerned with mental disorders. To become a psychiatrist you first study to be a medical doctor. However the practice of psychiatry struggles to fit within the scientific rigour of a medical model.
The "bible" of psychiatric diagnosis is the Diagnostic Services Manual, or DSM for short. This is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is now in its fifth edition. The majority of diagnostic criteria in the DSM are called "disorders", however unlike most medical diseases they are not validated by biological criteria. Despite this, these diagnoses purport to represent, and take the form of, medical diseases. They are "top-down" classifications of a subjective nature based on observation of symptoms.
Psychiatry has been strongly influenced by, and leans heavily on, the effects of a number of psychoactive drugs, euphemistically called "medication". The manufacturers of these medications like to distinguish between their utility and their side-effects, however this is a largely artificial distinction, and it would be more accurate to say some side-effects are useful, and have been marketed as the prime action of the drug, while other side-effects have been described as such by the manufacturers.
The availability of these medications has transformed mental health care across the world. Long-term inpatient care of the mentally unwell has almost disappeared as it is prohibitively expensive compared with the cost of medicatiing. The medicated patients have been transferred into the care of the community, often under-funded, and this has placed an enormous burden on some communities. There is almost no "asylum" available for the most desperately ill, where a patient can be carefully attended to and the causes of their suffering understood.
Some medications are more focussed in terms of their action than others. Some are more "dirty" and hit-and-miss, having one effect at one dose and something quite different at a higher dose. Many psychiatrists have become extremely skilled in administering a cocktail of drugs that manage their patient's symptoms and relieve their immediate suffering. This has saved many lives.
However psychiatry understands and treats symptoms as the disease. To justify this it tries to make links between the psychopharmacology and structure of the brain through neuroscience, but so far studies have been unconvincing.
Psychiatry does not understand symptoms as someone's best attempt to manage a distturbance within them. In treating symptoms as the disease it risks making the sufferer more unwell even though their symptoms may not be so pressing.
Read about psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis as a discipline was founded by Sigmund Freud at the beginning of the nineteenth century as a method for investigating the mind. Freud revolutionised our understanding of who we are as human beings through his recognition of the unconscious and the way it shapes our lives. He stands alongside Darwin as one of the great minds that gave birth to contemporary Western thought and popular culture.
Psychoanalysis has developed in a number of directions from this initial impulse, but remains grounded in its research of unconscious phenomena, in individuals, in groups and in society.
Freud did not have the benefit of the technology that is now available to investigate our minds such as the tools of contemporary neuroscience, for example functional MRI scans. He brought his background as a scientist to carefully observe his patients with exquisite attention and then formulate hypotheses in an endeavour to make sense of what he was seeing. He kept reformulating and revising these hypotheses as he proceeded, and as his mind, the instrument of his observation, became more attuned to the minds of his subjects.
Over past hundred years in some quarters psychoanalysis has become deeply unpopular and subject to scathing attacks. At one time no psychology department would be without Freud’s extensive writings, but more recently they may be conspicuously absent! One way of understanding what might be understood as a hatred of Freud and his writings is that he is telling us things about ourselves we don’t want to hear. It is deeply unpopular to think we are less the masters of our own destiny than we would like to think, that we are shaped in all kinds of uncomfortable ways by what has happened to us over the course of our lives, and that we never entirely abandon the seething mess of our babyhood. He also placed our sexuality centrestage and this is also awkward!
Interestingly the findings of contemporary neuroscience have confirmed many of Freud's ideas. It is now clear that most of the activity of our brains occurs outside our awareness - it is unconscious to us. According to Eric Kandel, who won a Nobel Prize for his work in neuroscience, despite all our advances in knowledge, “psychoanalysis is still the most coherent and intellectually satisfying view of the mind."
There is now an enormous body of literature within the disciplines of psychoanalysis.
Read About Psychodrama
Psychodrama is an action method, often used as a psychotherapy, in which clients use spontaneous dramatization, role playing and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight into their lives.
Read about psychology
Psychology is the science of perception and cognition. It is the study of the mind and behaviour. It is a wide subject that ranges from, on the one hand, a strictly quantitative and scientific approach to, on the other, a more qualitative and personal approach. It also ranges from the strongly theoretical to the eminently practical.
Read About Psychosynthesis
“What Aurobindo called yoga, what Abe Maslow called self-actualization, what Fritz Perls called organismic integrity, Assagioli called psychosynthesis. All these share basically the same idea – that there is a natural tendency toward evolution, towards unfoldment, that pervades the universe as well as the human sphere, and that our job now is to get behind that and make it conscious. But the disciplines that emerge to deal with this unfoldment have to reflect the many-sidedness of the human psyche, and this is why psychosynthesis is so valuable. Assagioli himself was really a man of very wide European culture. He was the truest sage I’ve ever met.”
Read about psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a broad term describing a range of approaches to psychological distress.
Read About Body Therapies
There are a wide rtange of body therapies including yoga, cranial osteopathy and massage.
Read About Counselling
Counselling is a broad term describing one person attempting to help another with their difficulties through listening and talking.
Read About Life Coaching
Life coaching is a synergistic relationship between an accredited life coach and a client designed to tap into your full potential.